Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day #8: North to Alaska (in a few days, that is) Plus Yellowstone Photos

States Traveled: MT, Alberta, BC

Weather: High temp: 61       Low temp: 31
Flurries, Snow storm, rain, sun, more rain

Today was our second-longest day mileage-wise, but by far our longest day spent in the car.  We left Yellowstone at 7am and ran into trouble right away when the GPS gave us a route to Calgary that was 150 miles and 3 hours longer than the route we had pre-printed from Google Maps.  We should have known something was amiss then, but wanting to take the fastest route, we followed our Google directions until the GPS caught up.  We soon discovered why Mandy (the GPS- called so because that is the Tom-tom name of her pre-programmed voice) insisted on us taking the long route.  About 75 miles into our day, we were on a 2-lane winding road through the Montana prairie.  Then it started raining, and the winding road was now slick, causing us to slow down.  Soon after, the rain turned to big, wet snowflakes.  Then we started picking up elevation and realized we were climbing into the mountains.  The snow started to stick to the trees, and minutes later the road was starting to get coated, too.  At the top of the mountain, which ended up being the Showdown Ski Area, the snow was coming down so fast that there were actually plows clearing the roads.  In June.  Ugg.  While it was beautiful to see the pines coated in fresh snow, the drive was harrowing.  The Nana was at the wheel, and being a Floridian, she had never driven in a snow storm before.  She did a great job!  Thankfully, we began our descent shortly after and the snow turned back to rain.  Maybe next time we will listen when Mandy tells us to "turn around when possible."

It actually rained on us most of the day.  We crossed into British Columbia around 2pm and ran into another snag in Lethbridge after stopping for gas.  We sat in a stationary line of traffic on a 2-lane city road for over a half hour for what turned out to be a huge line at a gas station.  They must have been doing some sort of free/cheap gas promotion.  We were in the car for 11 hours by the time we finally made it to Calgary.  Thank goodness tomorrow is a play day for us.  We will be headed to the Icefields Parkway, which we have only driven through without time for stopping in the past.  We are spending 2 nights at Jasper National Park and plan to explore the glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and maybe even take a rafting trip while we're there.

As promised, here are a few of my best shots from Yellowstone:
Picnic spot by the river that we found before going into the park

View of Mammoth Hot Springs terraces right from our cabin porch

We had a squirrel the 1950s touches!

Bull know I had a zoom lens to get this shot!  No way would I get this close!

Terraces at Mammoth

Lower Falls as seen from Artist Point. This is with my telephoto lens, zoomed in as far as it goes.  The falls are HUGE!

We loved the textures and colors of the thermal pools

Old Faithful, which was much more impressive this time than it was back in 2005.

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