Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

We didn’t actually see any lions or tigers or bears, but that’s a much catchier title than, “Elk and Bison and Coyote, Oh My!” Or, even less catchy, “Bear Lake and Dinosaur Statue and Old Dogs, Oh My!”

Last Sunday we left Paradise Valley, Montana, and headed south into Yellowstone. We didn’t see any bears in Glacier National Park but we thought we might see some in Yellowstone. It’s funny how when we were on foot we would think, “Please don’t let us see any bears!” But as soon as we got into the RV and were driving we would think, “Please let us see some bears!” (Or at least that’s what Suzanne was thinking. Maybe Kevin and the dogs were ready to take on a grizzly, who knows.)

We did see a few elk and we saw lots of bison and we thought we saw a wolf. After stopping to take pictures of the wolf, however, we realized that our wolf was a coyote. He also seemed to be a coyote who enjoyed the limelight. He jogged along, parallel to the road, for several minutes and caused what we are calling, “Coyote Jam 2012”.

We kept hearing about the infamous “bear jams” that occur in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. This is what happens when tourists are driving along the road and someone sees a bear. Everyone forgets that they are actually on a road. They throw their vehicles into park and hop out, leaving the doors wide open. Kids giggle and run amok and adults do the same. While we didn’t witness a bear jam, our dear little coyote in wolf’s clothing did cause a coyote jam. We’re assuming that everyone else thought it was a wolf too, because camera shutters were clicking away faster than the Italian Neutrino. Fortunately we were at the front end of Coyote Jam 2012 and were able to avoid the craziness that was happening behind us. We maneuvered through the front end without too much difficulty and left everyone else to take pictures of the “wolf”.

We spent Sunday night in Bridge Bay Campground, which is inside the park and sits on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. It’s a large campground but was surprisingly quiet for as busy as it was. We went for a walk in the evening and found our own little beach where we sat to enjoy the sunset.

The next day we were up early and wandered around near Old Faithful until she erupted. We had to wait a little while but she was worth waiting for. It’s quite a sight to see more than 3700 gallons of water projected 125-feet up into the air in a matter of minutes! We continued south through Yellowstone and then on through Grand Teton National Park. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped a few times for pictures and lunch and just to admire the view.

That afternoon we reached Bear Lake, which is a turquoise-blue lake straddling the border of Idaho and Utah. We settled in for the night at the Bear Lake North RV Park in St. Charles, Idaho. The welcoming committee there was a black lab named Lucky who belonged to the RV park owners and had the sweetest gray face. He fit right in with our two seniors.

St Charles is a quiet little town, with a population of around 200 and one grocery store (we use that term loosely) that happened to be right outside the RV park entrance. It wasn’t much more than a mini-mart but they let Molly come inside, so they get bonus points for that. St. Charles was the perfect place to hunker down so Suzanne could have a few long work days to finish up a project she was working on. We spent time at the lake and explored the other little towns nearby. We tracked down the shake shack that our friend Cyrena recommended and enjoyed one of their world-famous raspberry shakes. Kevin went out for a drive one day to go fishing but the only thing he caught was a flat tire on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Despite the flat tire we enjoyed our time in the Bear Lake area and Suzanne finished her project.

After Bear Lake we continued south to Morgan, Utah and parked outside the house of Matt and Charlotte Lowe for two days. Matt and Kevin went to grad school together at Kellogg School of Management and it was great to see these two again. A few hours after we arrived we went for a beautiful afternoon hike at Pineview Reservoir in Ogden Valley and then enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner at Carlos and Harley’s Fresh-Mex Cantina.

The next morning Suzanne flew to Minneapolis to give a fundraising presentation at the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy annual conference and Kevin and Matt went for another hike. Kevin also had to take Molly to the vet. We won’t go into too much detail but you can imagine that an old dog with an upset stomach plus a small living space in an RV makes for a less than pleasant experience. She is doing much better now (and, as a result, so is Kevin!)

While Suzanne was away Kevin moved the RV and the dogs to Park City, Utah, where he parked outside the home of Ed and Regan Rodgers. Ed and Kevin met through work several years ago and Ed was actually with Kevin at the fundraising concert in 2009 where Kevin decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Suzanne (or, at least that he was going to ask her out on a date). Ed showed Kevin around town and they spent an afternoon at the Utah Olympic Park watching the ski jumpers come flying down the hill, off the jump, through the air and into a pool of water.

Suzanne flew back to Salt Lake City on Saturday evening and Kevin and the dogs were there to pick her up. We enjoyed a fun evening and a delicious meal with Ed at the High West Distillery and Saloon in Park City. The next morning we went to the Farmer’s Market, said our goodbyes to Ed and Regan and continued on down the road.

We spent Sunday night at Steinaker State Park in Vernal, Utah. The Dinosaur National Monument is nearby, so there is actually a neighboring town called Dinosaur, there is an intersection where Brontosaurus Boulevard meets the Stegosaurus Freeway, and the town of Vernal has its own 30-foot tall pink fiberglass Brontosauras named Dinah. She’s really cute and has long dark eyelashes.

We went for a swim in the lake on Sunday night and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Kevin was up early the next morning to see the sun rise and go for an early morning run (Suzanne is more of an afternoon runner). We hit the road again and made our way to Colorado via the backroads and byways of the Utah desert. Suzanne is no longer phased by having semi trucks pass her on two-lane roads. We think she set a new world record yesterday in how many times she was passed by semis on a two-lane road with no shoulder. For some reason it was just us and the semis on this random little road and now she’s been desensitized to the whole thing (at least until the next time it happens).

We are now settled in a small RV park just outside of Aspen, Colorado, and we look forward to doing some hiking this week. Our current route map is below. Check it out if you want to see where we’ve been. We’ll see you on down the road!

This week’s photo gallery has a lot of pictures because we’re trying to catch up. Apparently we need to blog more than once a week. Enjoy!

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3 thoughts on “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

  1. Its funny to me that people will stop to take a photo of a coyote. My mom has them pass through her yard on a daily basis. She usually is grabbing a BB gun instead of a camera.

  2. Suzanne…Dick and I and our four kids stayed at Steinaker State Park, summer ’74 on our way back from our trip out west. Hope you collect as many great memories on your trip as we did!

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