Idaho 2011, Day 23—Road Trip No. 4, Part 2

IMG_2085BThis road trip is a vacation from vacationing!  Seriously, the trip to the canyon area, Roosevelt Lodge, Lamar Valley, Red Lodge, and Bozeman was a bit too much for one day, so we spent the night at Roosevelt Lodge.  It is a rustic old place, with a log main dining room and lounge, and log cabins that offer the most basic services—a bed with clean sheets, towels, ceiling and bedside table lights, and a wood burning stove—no insulation, but clean and we share a bath house with other guests just like most campgrounds.
After a full day yesterday, I hit the bed early and awoke a couple of hours later to the sound of a mouse rattling some papers.  Said to heck with it, and went back to sleep.  It was chilly when morning broke, so we started a fire and it quickly heated the little cabin.  When Kay got up and went through her stuff, she found that the mouse had been in the peanut butter and crackers, and multi-grain bars.
Tower Falls, Yellowstone NPWe dressed, but it was too early for coffee in the dining room, so we headed for Tower Falls, the remaining major attraction in the area that we hadn’t seen.  At 6:30 AM no one else was in the parking lot, and we had the falls to ourselves.  At slightly less than 100 feet high, it seemed a bit small compared to the magnificent centerpiece falls of yesterday.  Our return to Roosevelt Lodge to checkout found the coffee to be strong and hot, just the way we like it.
The Lamar Valley awaited us, and as we arrived a few hardy wildlife watchers were already plying the road looking for grizzlies and wolves; they were not to be seen.  Bison calves were everywhere, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NPWe drove towards the northeast entrance, but were stopped by a herd of bison crossing the road, allowing us to get up close and personal.  There were hundreds of them scattered across the fog covered valley, with lots of young calves born just a few weeks ago.  We traveled through Cooke City, and stopped at Silver Gate for breakfast.
Switchbacks on the Beartooth Highway, WyomingAfter the late breakfast, we began Kay’s first trip on the Beartooth Highway—Charles Kuralt named it one of his top 10 drives in the US.  The road gradually wound up the mountains with meadows gently falling away on the downhill side.  Even the switchbacks were somewhat passive.  Many lakes and small snowfields dotted the landscape, and there were lots of motorcycles on the road as the Sturgis rally is going full bore and this was just a short day trip for attendees.  As we topped the pass, and began the descent into Red Lodge, Montana, the switchbacks were more perilous and the sides fell away abruptly. We drove into Red Lodge about noon and the western town was packed with tourists.  It’s a neat town, but has grown and become much more touristy than since my first visit almost 20 years ago.
Troubled by a Verizon cell phone charger that would not charge, a front tire with a slow leak, and the need for groceries, we drove north, then west to Bozeman for a stop at Costco, and Walmart.  Costco was packed and people were everywhere, but we got the tire repaired at $10 rather than the $35 at Henry’s Lake, bought some DVDs and paperbacks, and a few groceries.  At Walmart, Kay found a charger for my cell phone and I was once again able to communicate with the world!  We drove through the Gallatin Canyon on our way back to the RV park, and probably passed old friend, Mike, fishing just north of Big Sky.  We gladly arrived back at the RV park about 7:30 PM, ready to be “home” once again.

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