Fast & furious road trip with Pete…California 5.2007

Pete bought a car in Kansas City then flew back to pick it up.  I happily, unselfishly--begged-- I mean offered to ride back to California with him!  We were off on a cross country adventure in his new Jetta.

may 1 - may 8, 2007

day 1     rocky mountain national park, estes park colorado


the weather was rainy and cloudy and the mountains were socked in cloud cover. 

the elk were out everywhere, the people were nowhere (yeah!) and we enjoyed a long drive through the park. 

as the day went on, the clouds lifted and we were able to see the tops of the mountains.


After visiting the park, we ate at a colorful mexican restaurant and

I enjoyed coffee at the starbucks that wins my vote for "the best patio"! 

we left about 6pm and headed to wyoming.  The drive was beautiful.


day 2     teton national park, jackson wyoming

wow!  this is one of my favorite parks.  the "grand teton" is the big peak behind peter (above on the left). 

the weather was great and the views spectacular.  The photo below on the left holds a wonderful memory for me:

dan and I did a 20 mile day hike in between those two mountains, through a canyon,

and up to the summit of the mountain that's pictured way in the back.



Jackson is home to our favorite wildlife photographer...thomas mangelson, and i think, this is his best gallery.

we went in just as they were hanging some new releases, talked to one of his employees

(whom I'd met the last time I was in Jackson) and she gave us a tip

on viewing the wolves if we decided to head up to yellowstone. 

His images are so amazing, and we played the game "if you won the lottery, which photographs would you buy?"

so the big decision was to go yellowstone or not?  the south exit being closed would add several hundred miles

 and hours to our trip....we decided to go.  heading out of jackson, we drove up....and down...teton, it was amazing. 

the photo below on the left is from the top of the pass looking back down at jackson.

the photo below on the right is taken from Idaho (a first time visiting this state for both of us) and we're looking

at the backside of the grand cool!


so reading the map like good little road warriors, we knew we'd have to go through idaho to get into the west yellowstone

entrance...but we were surprised when we passed the "welcome to Montana" sign,

both sort of cracked up, and by the time we were done laughing, we'd left montana.

so who goes to yellowstone and doesn't see the old faithful geyser?


 one of my favorite sites at yellowstone is the "grand canyon of yellowstone"

and the falls.  Just so amazing!


cool scientific-type-hot bubbly stuff-smells like bad eggs-colorful formation


but the totally cool-blow-my-mind part of yellowstone, was the wildlife. 

Since there were so few people in the park this time of year,

the animals were everywhere. 


we saw 2 moose (above left) and about 500 elk (they were everywhere, and peter was impressed

that they actually looked both ways before crossing the roads);  at least 100 buffalo and deer....but.....


but the animals that we didn't get photos were fox, bald eagle, coyotes, and .....(this involves a story)

we were driving the extra 100 miles or so to go looking for wolves...peter pulled over to one of the pull outs where we saw two men with

spotting scopes looking far away to where a herd of elk were.  we stopped and over heard them talking about "10 babies".  Now, i'm a great

eaves dropper, but i thought to myself "wow, that's a lot of babies for an elk to give birth to" and while my mind was trying

to figure that out, they asked peter if he wanted to look through the scope.  and the look on his face when he was done was wonderful. 

he said something to me, but about the same time, they asked me if i wanted to look (and i was just hoping i could reach the eyepiece), so

i didn't pay attention to what peter said to me.

it was a wolf.  

A female with 10 pups.....i hope i never forget how i felt at that moment.  i've always wanted to see a wolf in the wild, but

looking through this scope, was a perfect view of the mama and her babies.  my world rocked! 

i felt like one of the luckiest people on the planet.

(get this.  the guy who owned the scope was from kansas!  another escapee)

after we left that spot, we drove on down the road to a huge valley, where we listened to either coyotes or wolves howling

(neither one of us know the difference, but it was really neat.) 

As we were driving out, we stopped and asked another guy with a spotting scope, what he was looking at....

it was a grizzly bear.

now, all peter and i got to see what the back of the bear, including the infamous grizzly "hump".  The guy thought

the bear had a kill he was eating, because he said the bear hadn't raised his head for 20 minutes. 

it was starting to get dark, and we had a lot of miles to drive, dodging all the same wild life we'd just seen, so

we headed out of yellowstone, both feeling grateful, lucky, awed and amazed and all that we'd seen. 

our night time drive took us back through idaho and onto oregon.

highway 20 was so of those highways that gives you warning signs about having lots of gas because none

is available for a long way.  it was very desolate, but quietly beautiful.  the landscape was so unusual, many colors, and almost "lunar" like

with the most beautiful river running through it.


day 3  crater lake national park, oregon. 

this is one of the snowiest places in the states; it had a 72" snow base.

there's not much to do at crater lake when there is that much snow on the ground,

so we weren't there very long, but it's breathtaking. 

I had been to crater lake hiking with danny before, and i'd always hoped i would get to see

it again with all it snow covered scenery....but never thought i would....see dreams do come true!



with some sleet/snow showers, we headed back to peter's home in arcata, california.  it's a beautiful drive back through the

winding roads, across the clear rivers and below the misty filled  redwoods. 

we got back to the apartment with big hugs delivered to lucas and blue, we were tired and in need of showers.

this may the end of my road adventure with peter .....but my trip is only 1/2 over (so check back).


3  days,

4 national parks,

2,700 miles,

one new car,

mother/son road trip.........

price less.

peter and his new baby...2004 vw jetta

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