Off to The Tetons

We were planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest and to BC in Canada but most of that just wasn’t going to work with the pandemic this summer.

And we had our long list of projects to do at home. Much got done. Susan reminded me that we also finished the office windows. We removed three casement window sashes from the office and cleaned them up and stained and varnished them as well as sanding, staining and varnishing the window casing. Somehow these never got done (probably because I was working in the office) but now they are and the final trim details can be completed now that I am completely retired.

Our trip to the PNW was going to end with a short stay at Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park. This campground is on the east side of Jackson Lake about 1/2 way between the south and north end. There is a large marina there, the RV campground, a NP campground, a tent cabin village and cabins. There is a small Visitor’s Center, a grocery store, a gift shop (of course), a laundry and a couple of dining opportunities.

The Marina store and boat rentals are not open for the season, one of the eateries is open only for take out. Leek’s Pizza did not open this season. The Visitor’s Center, Gift Shops, grocery and laundry are open as are the campgrounds, tent cabins and cabins are open.

We added time to our reservations and now have about a week in the RV campground in Colter Bay, a week down at Gros Ventre campground closer to the south end of the park and Jackson and then another week back up at Colter Bay.

The Gros Ventre week will be all solar, no hookups and no generator. Should be no problem for us.

I brought basic fishing gear. I will buy a license and try my luck. I still need a net and some locally recommended lures which I can get in West Yellowstone on our way through or at the fishing part of the Colter Bay Store. Maybe some advice too. I have three possible sites in mind to try. Whether I catch a fish or not it will be fun. Last time I went fishing was with my sister in 1966. (As best I can recall.)

Our first night was at a city park in Fargo, ND. About a 6 hour driving day. It is a nice overnight stop, we have been there before. They were only using every other site but the fence posts and fencing blocking the unused sites made it a tight squeeze getting into our site.

We have been on the look out for a Popeye’s fast food place ever since their chicken sandwich caused such a ruckus. All last winter and up till now we were never near one. There was one in Fargo about 3 miles from the campground. So we drove over and got a Popeye’s chicken sandwich. Susan’s had pickles, mine did not. It was worth the trip and the wait. It really was a pretty good chicken sandwich. I would go back. They have a spicy version too. I will try that one.

Our next stop was Medora, ND. Another 6 hour drive. The Teddy Roosevelt NP is there as well as a large contingent of summer entertainment and concessions aimed at tourists. The campground in the NP was not open, the Medora Musical was not singing, the Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner thing was cold. Well over half of the stores were not open. A few of the eateries were, as well as the ice cream shops. We went in masks on! – we were almost the only ones with a mask. Even the ice cream scooping people were maskless. It made us a bit uncomfortable but it was in the 90’s and we stayed as far away from other folks as we could.

We drove about 50 miles through the park were there is a fairly large bison herd. Prairie dogs everywhere, ever vigilant.

We saw a deer and then nothing for the first 25 miles and then a small group of bison near a creek. We stopped to see the site of an underground coal seam fire that burned from 1955 to 1977. And then drove on with the goal of the picnic area near the closed campground. Just before we got there we found another bigger herd of bison, lots of cows and calves. They were right along the side of the road so we were very cautious, stayed in the car and let them make the first move. They seemed not tame by any means but not unfamiliar with cars too. If a car moved they just moved the other way, calves following closely.

It was hot in Medora, we stayed two nights, upper 90s both days. It did cool off at nigh into the 60s. We watched the last two nights of the virtual Democratic National Convention. If we have any coverage for streaming next week we will give the other side some equal time.

We left Medora heading west into Montana. Medora is in the badlands of North Dakota. The Little Missouri River has carved the soft sedimentary landscape in to deep washes and gullies. It is mostly gray and brown, not many trees, tough country but good for the bison, deer, elk and other animals that live there.

Bleak and desolate on the surface, but like most places pretty interesting when you take the time to look closely.

Further west into Montana the same landscape is there but much less erosion, no big rivers, small mostly dry streams have made their marks. And further on more flat, huge fields of hay and wheat. And then as the land begins to rise towards the mountains more rolling hills and cattle ranches. And then we crossed the Yellowstone River for the first time and followed it for a couple hundred miles. The Yellowstone River feeds the fields. Enormous fields of wheat, hay, corn, soybeans and sunflowers. We drove past Billings to Columbus, MT for one last night before we get to West Yellowstone for two nights. Billings is home to the first KOA. We stayed there a couple years ago on the way home from Oregon in October, off season, still a bit on the pricey side. An overnight in the prime time of summer was over $100. The small RV park in Columbus is fine with us. It is still in the 90s.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan.

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