Mesa Falls and Island Park

The morning of June 5th dawns bright and beautiful.  I feed the boys, walk them only long enough for them to do their business then we are on the road.  Today we take in Mesa Falls, the reason for our little side trip off Hwy 20.

Charlie is looking forward to the ride and the possibility of seeing a lizard. Or squirrel. Or prairie dog.  If it moves, he’s interested.

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It’s a short drive from last night’s camp to the entrance to the falls.

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I point Freedom’s nose northward and we finish up this beautiful drive on Hwy 47 heading for Island Park, billed as the “longest main street in America.”  It is that for sure, if your Main Street consists only of fly shops, a couple of motels, and gas stations every few miles.  I believe the signage said it’s 33 miles.

With Island Park behind us I begin looking for a place to roost for the night.

We make a quick stop here so the Chiweenie Brothers can stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Mom spent quite a bit of time at Mesa Falls. It was just so beautiful she couldn’t help herself! This scenic byway should be on your “to see” list if you’re traveling this way.

Driving into the town of West Yellowstone I find there is no place to park for the night and end up back up on the mountain.  Every forest service road along this stretch is for day use only it seems.  I settle on a trailhead at Targhee Pass in the Gallatin National Forest.

We are right next to the highway, but traffic noise does not keep us awake. With two nights of mosquito misery and then visiting Mesa Falls and climbing lots of stairs I am exhausted, and I don’t think anything would keep me awake.  That is until Fries wakes me up around midnight trying to get under the covers.  The air above us is fraught with thunder and lighting. And I do mean right above us; as in right overhead.

Charlie sleeps through it all, but poor little Fries is terrified.  He and I snuggle close as, thankfully, it is short-lived and moves on rather quickly.  I drop off back to sleep with the little guy snuggled close.  Morning comes too quickly, but I drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn.  Today we visit the upper half of the figure eight that is Yellowstone National Park.  To be continued . . .

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

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The Idaho side of the Grand Tetons

As we drive away from Palisades Reservoir we take Hwy 31 to Victor where I pick up my forwarded mail then we head north to the town of Driggs and begin looking for a spot to stay.

About Victor ID

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The Grand Tetons are even more amazing from the Idaho side.

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The Grand Tetons from the Idaho side
The Grand Tetons as seen from Swan Valley in Idaho

We end up in a boondock in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Our camp in this national forest ends up being a one-night stand as there are many mud puddles from recent rain and although they are drying up many remain with standing water.  Those remaining must be teeming with mosquitoes because we practically get eaten alive.  The air is so thick with the buzzing blood suckers that I can vacuum them up with my little portable vacuum cleaner.  The poor Chiweenie Brothers spend a too warm night under a light blanket, but still suffered many bites.

On the way out of our camp I spot these butterflies enjoy some refreshment at one of the dryer areas

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From Driggs, ID we take Hwy 33 toward Rexburg where we will hit a Walmart to get supplies and gas up the green beast.  It is a beautiful drive through  potato farming country in the Swan Valley, the seed potato capital of the world.

No overnight at the Wally in Rexburg, so we head on toward Ashton where I plan to do laundry.  The laundromat is easy to find, but it’s been a long day, and I just don’t have the energy to tackle that chore.

I take Hwy 47, finding a dispersed camp site again within the Caribou Targhee  National Forest–also loaded with mosquitoes–and we spend a too-warm, restless night with the windows rolled up. Tomorrow we visit Mesa Falls.

Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna

Palisades Reservoir, Irwin ID

On May 30, 2018 we begin the hunt for a new back yard. We pass the little town of Freedom, Wy and I can’t resist taking a photo. 

DSC_0048 (3)It’s not far before we find a beautiful campsite along the Palisades Reservoir outside of Irwin, Idaho.  We motor down the dirt road and take a left at the vault toilets, an offshoot of the main dirt road going down to the water, and I get nauseous as road gets a distinct  steep slope to one side. It didn’t look so bad when I walked it upon arrival.  Too afraid to back out I go on.  We made it — what’s to worry about.  Getting back out that’s what! 

I find a wonderful spot under some trees    DSC_0062 (1)

the Chiweenie Brothers and I take a walk down to the water.  It’s calm, with a few pelicans paddling around. Love this spot!

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Better yet, we find “our” road turns back onto the main dirt road, and we won’t have to worry about going back out the way we came in. Whew!!

Recent rains farther north have the creek flowing into the reservoir at a pretty good clip, but although we do get a bit of rain and a couple of thunderstorms, it doesn’t amount to much.

We have a beautiful view of mountains to the east, and this huge area has several spots with lots of shade given by a type of tree I can’t identify. A few groves of aspen also dot sections here and there, their leaves fluttering with the slightest breeze.

The wildflowers are in bloom

On Thursday night an uninvited guest in the form a tan colored little mouse with a white bib pays us a visit in the middle of the night, and the hunt is on. The Chiweenie Brothers spend the next two nights on the hunt. Every time something rattled even the tiniest bit they shot off the bed in search of Stewart Little. They were not successful. On Friday night I took several drawers out of various storage units to let them have a better chance, but still nothing.

On Saturday I spent the day tearing the van apart hoping that the little bugger would find his way out while I was tearing into things.  I assume he did as Saturday night not a peep was heard from the boys. Sleeping all night can sometimes be a wonderful luxury!

We spend five days in this lovely spot, but on Monday, June 4th, it’s time to move on.  We are low on water and foodstuff; like M&Ms and the Kosher Dill potato chips I have become addicted to.  :), and, like all good things (and not-so-good things, too), our time here must end. 

We haven’t been down to the lake’s shore since Saturday because the weekend was pretty busy here with local traffic, so this morning the Chiweenie Brothers get a walk down to the water before our departure. They enjoy wading into the water, something that they never used to do, but since camping by water a lot this past month, they’ve found they like it.

I, however,  am shocked by what I see.  The lake has come up quite a bit in two days,

and–horrors!–our way out is covered by a deep puddle of water.  Dang!  We’re going to have to get out of here by way of the steep slope and the driver’s side will be on the downhill side.  There’s nothing to do but suck it up and go for it.  Camp has already been broken and our gear loaded up so I get the boys inside and climb in the driver’s seat. Oh Dear God, get me through this.

 I am sweating bullets as we creep along feeling my body lean to the left as we cross that sloping area. Once past the worst part and we gain the remaining ground to the main dirt road I heave a sigh of relief, but . . . I need to use the facilities.  I think it’s the first time ever that I’ve been happy to use a vault toilet.  

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!  May YOUR travels be smooth sailing.

 

Dry Creek Road

From Montpelier Canyon Campground we again head north on Hwy 89 and back into Wyoming. At every turn is a scene I simply must photograph.

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Or a wildflower calls out not to be forgotten.  They are everywhere!
DSC_0048 (2)Surely the westward travelers were uplifted and encouraged by the sights of this area when they marched ever onward toward Oregon and California. How sad it would have been to be too downtrodden with exhaustion to enjoy the beauty around them, those who travelled this area when the grass was new and the wildflowers burst forth.

As we get closer to the little town of Afton, and the even tinier town of Smoot, I begin searching for a forest service road somewhere along the highway in the Bridger-Teton National Forest when I spot Dry Creek Road.

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and with all the rain up north, Dry Creek is anything but Dry. The roaring creek claws at the banks and the roots of the trees and bushes lining its path.

We drive back farther than I like to be without cell service and turn around, heading back to the very first camp site I saw once past the houses on private land.  It’s very shaded!

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We take long walks and long naps, spending two nights here.

 

 

 

 

The boys smell something in the air

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Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

CURRENT READ: Sweet Hollow Women   by Holly Tierney-Bedord

 

 

 

Montpelier, ID

May 24, 2018, with Montpelier ID as our intended destination, we head north on Hwy 30 and leave Wyoming behind.

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Along the way we stop in several places to read information at the kiosks provided. Hwy 30 is part of the Oregon Trail where early emigrants, mostly from Missouri, traveled by wagon train to get to Oregon and California. At this particular stop the descent from the BIG HILL was described as being the worst of the whole 2000 mile journey.

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We travel through some beautiful ranching country.

We get to Montpelier and the hunt begins for the dog park that is here. The boys need some free run time and I especially want to find this particular park as it was the senior project of a local high school girl. There is no address, just the name of the road, Adams. I plug that into the GPS and we are taken on ride out of town, around a loop named Sharon, and finally out into what is a housing area, and then onto a dirt road. Twelve miles out I see this going nowhere I want to be, and I turn the van around. Sorry guys. SOOOOO happy I didn’t mention the D.P. words!!! They know the difference. I’m learning.
As we get back into town I notice a sign advertising that Butch Cassidy robbed a bank here. That devil gets around! Last I heard his name was back in Circleville, UT!! We’re not stopping.
We do stop at a convenient spot, however, to check ice. There’s still a big chunk, and I want to see just how well the new little cooler will actually hold ice so … I read over the directions to our next probable camp and we head out.

The Montpelier Reservoir

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is located right off the highway, and by the way we are back on 89, and we find a nice little spot by the overflow spillway.  Lots of room to walk the Chiweenie Brothers and some lovely grass for lying in the sun.  They won’t even miss the dog park I couldn’t find!

We only spend two nights here.  The intention was to spend all of Memorial Day Weekend here and be off the highways, but not all of this gypsy life is moonlight and roses.  There’s partying going on at the other end of this parking area, but we don’t hear much of it, however, someone takes exception and a sheriff shows up.  A trailer that had been parked but unoccupied for the two days we are here is suddenly gone.  A woman–a very gleeful look on her face–begins backing HER trailer into that vacated spot.  I think we have the unhappy camper right here with us now.

Later in the afternoon someone, who apparently knows the unhappy-but-soon-happier camper, pulls their huge travel trailer right in front of us, and I do mean right in front of us. All I can see out of Freedom’s windshield is their trailer’s slide out.  UGH!   By Saturday morning the area is so packed full of people one cannot step outside without being in someone else’s camp.  We are out of here.

Back to the town of Montpelier we go to get an internet signal so I can do research on where to head for a camp.  KOA is real close, but they want $35 for a dry camp.  Nope, not going to happen.  I remember a campground just beyond KOA called Montpelier Canyon and with nothing else close by and a tentative  direction to head if it is full we head back up the way we came.

Driving into the campground I am delighted to discover not only are there several spots available, there is a site, fairly secluded, along a chattering creek, and the cost is only $10 per night, half that for us old folk.  And here we stay until Monday morning.

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Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

 

CAMP AMENITIES

Water: No                    Garbage: No
Bathrooms: Vault       Electricity: No
Tables: Yes                   Shower:  No
Fire Pit:  Yes                 BBQ: No
# of Sites:  15                Fee: $10 per night, $5 with senior pass
Other:  Not all sites are shaded, and the campground is right next to the highway although I didn’t find the traffic bothersome.  Sites are small, and probably only a couple of them will accomodate a real large travel trailer, probably not a motorhome. Most sites have enough shrubbery and aspen trees to give a very descent amount of privacy between sites.  I lucked out and even had privacy from the road through the campground.

Cokeville, Wyoming and Fossil Butte National Monument

We leave Evanston late in the morning, May 23rd, and head north on Wyoming’s HIGHWAY 89! It is a toss-up as to whether to go 189 or 89 ending up in Kemmerer or Cokeville. Considering we drove through Kemmerer late last summer — the mother store of JCPenney Company is located there along with James Cash Penney’s modest home, AND a dog park—I choose to head toward Cokeville, a name that for some reason sticks in my mind.
It’s still early in the day when we arrive at the junction the turn to the left to go to Cokeville, or turn right to go to Kemmerer. I want to see Fossil Butte National Monument so we hang a right and while the boys wait in the van (there’s that abuse again!) I enter the building along with two busloads of school kids to look at the impressive display of fossils.

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The display is well worth the stop, but I decline the five mile loop drive through the area. It has a—GULP—17% grade to deal with. NO! Just no. It looks so benign, but I am not going to question it.  NO WAY! DSC_0001 (2)

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I consider going on into Kemmerer (Fossil Butte N.M. is on a connecting road that links 189 and 89) to let the boys run through the dog park, but decide not to burn the gas and put the extra miles on the van. They’ll get an extra long walk this evening.

We travel back toward the junction and head to Cokeville, a tiny town of about 500 plus residents. We go through some lovely ranching area, and make a quick stop at the Cokeville Wildlife Refuge. A walk out where there is a bench and a lovely view provides me with this great photo opportunity. Unbelievably, I hear the mournful cries of the rare
BOVINE!!!

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What the … ??? *laughing* Not a bird in sight!! Information at the kiosk says the refuge has partnered with some of the ranchers in the area to make the refuge benefit not only wildlife but the livestock of the area as well. The ranchers provide water and plant various grasses that supposedly provides the area with what the wildlife needs to thrive.

Leaving the refuge I begin looking in earnest for the city park in Cokeville where one is allowed to “camp” for two nights. It’s pretty easy to find, the town being so small. It’s right in the town proper, right along—and I do mean right alongside—the very busy rail road tracks. I had intended on spending two nights, but I think one is all we will be able to handle.

The town’s people are very friendly and I did purchase a few items as a thank you for their hospitality, but we leave early the next morning.

I find a spot to stop alongside the highway to make lunch,

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and I pull out the copy of the booklet on what to see and do in Southwest Wyoming I picked up at the visitor’s center in Evanston to read while I eat.

As I thumb through it I come to a very small article on Cokeville. Among this tiny town’s claim to fame is the informal title of “Sheep Capitol of the World” from around 1918 when the industry peaked here with the addition of railroad access, the robbery of the State Bank of Cokeville by the Whitney Brothers, early female political activism when a woman, Ethel Huckvale Stoner, was elected more than 80 years ago (elected to what it doesn’t say!). Cokeville is also known for a miracle that happened in 1986 when a duo consisting of two terrorists trying to blow up the elementary school with classes still in session ended up blowing up just themselves. THAT’S IT! This is why Cokeville rings a bell. I read the book several years ago, Witness to Miracles: The Cokeville Elementary School Bombing giving firsthand accounts of most of the residents who were involved in this terrible attempt to kill children and adults here. I will have to reread it, because most of it I can’t remember.
Hugs, Shawna

Bear River State Park, Evanston, WY

Coming down off Hwy 150 with Evanston in our sight we make the Bear River State Park  our goal.  From the info I was able to obtain from internet this is a free state park with not only paved walking/biking trails that follow the Bear River, but unpaved hiking trails as well.  It’s been called one of Evanston’s biggest gems.

I easily find the park. It is threatening rain, but I head out with The Chiweenie Brothers anyway and we follow the unpaved path until we feel the first drops of moisture.  We scurry back to the van and head for Walmart..

I spend time in the store stocking up on supplies then trudge back to the van and put it away.  It’s not raining too hard, but enough that neither the boys nor I want to be outside.  I settle in for some reading, and the boys nap.

Next morning we try the unpaved trail again, and we make it pretty far back, the boys enjoying the new smells and time outside without getting wet.

LOVE this guy!

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DSC_0013 (1)I couldn’t get back far enough to get this in one shot without going in the drink, but imagine the two photos above as one. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see water cascading down over the little protected area in the bottom photo? I keep this spot in mind in case we are surprised with a downpour.

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Within the park is also a large enclosure with a small herd of buffalo and some elk. I did not see the elk, but the bison have calves!  What a treat to see!

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

CURRENT READ: Sweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord