What’s in Store for 2018

2018 Plans and Trips

It’s 2018. Time for new plans and trips. This year I will mark my 5th anniversary at my company. That earns me a bonus week of vacation. So I’ll have 4 adventures to share this year. Of course I’ll be exploring local sights and scenes in between trips. So what do I have in mind for this busy year?

Surf's upHawaii Big and Small

First up is Hawaii. I mentioned in my last post that I am headed back to Maui in February. You won’t have long to wait for those details. In March I’m heading back across the Pacific to spend a week on The Big Island. The Big Island was what started all this travel. It was my first real vacation back in 2007. My mom and sister joined me at Sea Mountain Resort  on the windward side of Hawaii (The Big Island). This is the lush, rain forest side of the Island. It’s also quite close to Volcano National Park.  We only took one tour, a plane ride over the island. The rest of the time we rented a car and Big Island Waterfallexplored. We searched for everything from black sand beaches to erupting volcanoes and I was hooked. I fell in love with both travel and Hawaii. This trip will be to Kona on the dry side of the island.

Wyoming Again

After my March vacation the busy season starts at work. I’ve tried taking vacation then but it’s not easy so I plan to limit myself to weekend excursions until the End of September. I have unfinished business in Yellowstone. Originally I tried to get accomodations in Idaho so I could enter the western side of the park but nothing was available.  That means I’ll be going back to Teton Village in Jackson. It will mean alot more driving to reach the park sections I want to visit but the condo at Teton Village is gorgeous so I’ll make the sacrifice. One change, I plan to rent an SUV this trip!

An Active geyser

The Bonus Trip

I still have one more trip to plan. It’s my bonus vacation. I think that deserves a post of its own.



Where are the Bears and other Animals?


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Looking for Wolves, Bears and Other Critters

The Hayden and Lamar Valleys are known for wolves, bears and Bison and Elk. I’d had enough of the bison for one day. The Lesser Falls is really right at the junction of the 2 huge valleys. Hayden Valley is to the south. I would be driving right through it to return to Jackson.

Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley Yellowstone

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I stopped at several lookouts. The gentle rolling hills spread out below me but I didn’t see anything. Maybe it was too early in the afternoon or maybe the animals were back in the trees. Whatever was going on I was just there at the wrong time.

Entering Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton NP

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The rest of the drive out of Yellowstone was uneventful. I didn’t take the time for any more stops. There’s always tomorrow. As I approached the entrance to Grand teton National Park I saw cars overflowing the parking area. There were crowds of people lining the road and 2 rangers. My first thought was an accident but as I drove past it became clear something was in the woods. My curiosity got the better if me and I turned around. Wonder of wonders I found a a place to park in the lot! Camera in hand I headed for the crowd.


Where’s the bear?Grizzly

When I joined the fringe of the crowd I quickly learned there was a grizzly bear in the woods. The rangers were trying to keep the crowd a safe distance from the bear. At first I couldn’t see what everyone was looking at but finally the bear moved into sight. At first he paid no attention to all the gawkers. He just scratched around in the leaf litter. Then he seemed to notice the crowd. The rangers were pushing frantically to get the crowd back while the bear headed right toward us. That was my cue to head for the car. After my bison experience I wasn’t going to press my luck.

Overheard in the Crowd

Approaching Grizzly

One onlooker near me observed that he was going to stick it out when the bear started toward us. He said he didn’t have to be able to run fast. Just faster than the slowest person there. Well, I figured I was the slowest in that crowd so retreat was the best option for me.

One More Waterfall

Lower Falls Yellowstone River

I’ve got one more Waterfall on my list of stops for this day.  Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River is known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I need to warn you, I didn’t fall in or get chased down to the bottom by a bear , or go over them in a barrel. I’ve noticed that I get far more “likes” when something scary happens to me. Unfortunately this will be disappointing for my thrill seeking readers. Its just an absolutely beautiful waterfall.

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Norris to Canyon Junction

I’m saving Norris Basin for my next Yellowstone trip so as my friends in the white Navigator turned left I continued on toward Canyon Village. There were a few more critter jams. The bison were taking their time crossing the road. At one critter jam the wait was over 20 minutes. I couldn’t see what was going on but once we started moving it was apparent. It was a huge herd of bison.  At Canyon Junction I made a right and soon spotted the parking area for the Lower Falls. A boardwalk leads out to a platform known as Lookout Point.

Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River

Red Rock Point

I really need to get over my back injury because on my next trip the trail to Red Rock Point is on my bucket list. The trail is only about a mile round trip but it’s steep! And I mean very steep! The bottom of this trail is consider the best place to experience the Lower falls and to get the best photos. Sadly,  I definitely wasn’t up to that hike this trip.

Red Rock Point

Inspiration Point and The Upper Falls

Another reason to return is that I didn’t see the upper falls at all. The road to Inspiration Point was closed and I wasn’t even aware that there was a side road called North Rim Drive. From what I’ve heard since my trip this allows for close views of the upper falls. Lower falls is the more spectacular if you base this assumption on size alone.  The Upper falls drops 109 ft. Pretty impressive by eastern standards but Lower falls drops 308 ft! Yes, I definitely want to explore this area more next trip.

Lower falls throws up spray

Yellowstone Wildlife Adventure

ChipmunkBeware of the Wildlife

Wildlife watching is one of the top reasons people visit Yellowstone. Its thrilling to see animals in their natural habitat instead of a zoo. In every visitor center there are warnings and videos reminding you to give the animals their space. At the Old Faithful Gift Shop there’s a book titled  Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. Have you ever seen the TV show called When Animals Attack? There’s a clip from Yellowstone showing a Bison tossing a tourist into a tree. That was being shown at the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Talk about a cautionary tale!

Watch the Wildlife from Inside Your car

As I followed the White Navigator toward Norris Junction the road narrowed to a single lane in each direction. To my right the mountainside dropped down the the road. There wasn’t much of a shoulder. My Gaperguide was chattering about the geography of the area. To my left the mountainside continued to drop off. As I rounded a curve the White Navigator came to an abrupt stop. I couldn’t see why. There was a pull off on the left side of the road. Suddenly the Navigator pulled across the oncoming lane into the pull off. Now I could see the problem. There were two Bison on the barely existent road shoulder. I didn’t dare pass them.  I was much too close as it was.

Bison right next to the road

Bison are Unpredictable! 

The bison were clearly getting agitated. In an attempt to give them more room and diffuse the situation I pulled into the same pull off as the Navigator. I could see a narrow bridge ahead with no room for car and bison.  As the bison moved closer the lead animal began huffing and shaking his big head. As the pair approached our cars they focused on my little Toyota. It was as if the Navigator wasn’t even there. The big guy in front started to cross the road toward my car.

Before the Charge

Almost the Next Chapter in Death In Yellowstone

I was trapped! I couldn’t go forward and there was a drop off to my left. My first thought was to wonder if my rental car was covered for damage by bison. My 2nd thought was that if that 1500 lb animal hit my car I was going over the edge. I wouldn’t have to worry about the rental car. I’d be another chapter in the Death in Yellowstone book!

Getting ready to pass by

A Close Call

Just as I was saying my goodbyes to this world, the Navigator took off. This gave me room to move my car forward. When I did it was like I’d waved a red flag! Heads down the agitated animals  charged my car and I didn’t wait around. I slammed that gas pedal to the floor and headed for the bridge with both bison stampeding after me. Once I crossed the bridge the bison gave up. Heart  hammering I was happy to put some distance between those bison and me!

Too Close for comfort


Madison Junction to Gibbon Falls

Madison River joins the Gibbon River

At Madison Junction the road from the West Entrance joins the loop road. The Madison River also joins with the Gibbon River at this point. I continued on the Grand Loop to follow the Gibbon River

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls

I saw the stone walls and walkways first. Photographers were set up with tripods, intent on something I couldn’t see. I was coming up on the parking area for Gibbon Falls. Gibbon Falls is not the highest or wildest waterfall in the park but it is really wide. The water flows in lacy ribbons over the gradual rock drop. From the parking lot you have a walk of about .2 miles to the southern end of the lookout. Along the way you enjoy different views of the falls and interpretive boards that describe what you are looking at. This is a very nice stop.

Gibbon Falls

You’re Looking at the rim of a Caldera

The Gibbon River flows along the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera. Gibbon Falls is where the river falls off the rim. Its mind boggling. The rim just looks like a mountain ridge but its the lip of a giant volcanic crater! 

over the caldera rim

A White Navigator

Returning to my car I met a couple who, like me had just trekked the length of the walkway. They were driving a large white Navigator and once again I wished I had an SUV instead of my little black Toyota. That would soon be a factor in my next Yellowstone adventure. Little did I know what was waiting for me just a few miles ahead as I followed my new acquaintances out of the parking lot. They turned right and so did I. They were on their way to Norris Junction. I planned to skip Norris today and start my swing back toward Jackson through the   Hayden Valley. I was hoping to start spotting some wildlife. All I can say is “Be Careful What You wish For!”

Jousting Bison