Wednesday, May 23, 2007
May 23 --- Yellowstone and Billings
First things first:
HAPPY FIRST ANNIVERSARY TO OUR DEAR FRIENDS, DICKIE AND SCOTT!!
As promised, we toasted to your continued happiness and look forward to having another toast for good measure when we get home. Congratulations!!
Today was another awesome day. The sun was bright and the Grand Tetons were even more majestic then yesterday. As we drove along the parallel highway, we had to keep stopping for another look. We decided we would probably delete 2/3rds of the pics, but we were constantly impressed. We then drove through the Grand Tetons National Park to get to Yellowstone. Again, our lifetime senior pass to the National Parks saved the day. Without it, we would have had to pay $25 to get in and another $25 to get into Yellowstone just 17 miles down the road. We wondered how many people got that surprise because it is a federal highway running all the way through both parks. The scenery was spectacular. We saw some of the areas burnt by the wildfires, but learned at the visitors' center that this is healthy for the forest. What are called lodgepole pines have seed pods that are glued together and will burst open to release their seeds only when the fire melts the glue. The places where we saw the fire was being reforested with thousands of smaller pines. We spotted elk, mountain sheep and buffalo while we were driving along. The only things close enough for pics were the buffalo. We stopped at Old Faithful and watched its approximately hourly show. The fourth picture is of the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn. We entered Yellowstone from the South and exited in the North. We had hairpin turns, canyons, lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful scenery all the way. It also snowed, the sun was shining and it was snowing. The temps were around 40, so there was nothing on the road, but the trees looked like they were ready for Christmas. Note how the road is built out over the canyon in the sixth picture.
After leaving the park, we drove to Billings, MT, for the night. Along the way we were stopped for about 20 minutes as a rancher and his cowhands moved a herd of cattle across the highway. That's what is featured in the last picture. The rancher's wife talked to us while we were stopped and told us they had 7,000 acres with lots of grizzlies and elk. (A rancher would never tell you how many head of cattle they have.) She said the elk ate their 2nd cutting of alfalfa last year. Alfalfa sells for about $115 a ton and she said they could easily eat a ton a night. That could run into some real money and cut into the profits. When we reached Billings, we felt like we were in a heat wave. The temps were in the 60's for the first time since we were in Juneau.