Wednesday, 22 July 2009

14/07/2009 - 24/07/2009 - Glacier National Park, Montana - Mt Rushmore, South Dakota

15/07/2009 -Glacier National Park - Wow another spectacular National Park. Dave and I had decided that we would do the loop on the free Park Bus and then do a small 4 km Hike. Well as seems to be more the norm our plans changed. We were on the bus chatting to a really nice young couple (Mark and Mandi) who said they were going to do a 20 km Hike - apparently one of the best in the park. Our bus came to their stop, for the start of the hike, which was also where we needed to change buses. Well as we sat on our next bus we started chatting to the driver who said that he loves to go hiking and he stated that the hike that Mark and Mandi were going to do was also his favourite hike. So of course that got us both thinking and before we knew it we were on our way to a 20 km hike. The views were just magnificent, I felt like we were on top of the world, we were hiking more out in the open, so you could see down into the valleys - just spectacular scenery. Along the way we had managed to catch up with Mark and Mandi and we aslo had the opportunity to view some of the Big Horn Sheep (they really aren't too timid with us humans), squirrels, mountain goats and deer. The wild flowers were blossomming everywhere and were just gorgeious. The terrain was really diverse, one minute you are walking through the snow the next you are on rock. After about 15 km we reached the Chalet, this is were you can decide to either turn around and retrace your steps for 15 kms or you can hike for another 5 kms, downhill, and catch the bus back. Well needless to say that Dave and I, Mark and Mandi chose the 2nd option. At the Chalet we did stop and buy a nice cold drink. It was interesting to see that everying that is in this Chalet is bought in on Donkey - even gas. This was our first hike over about 8 km's and we knew we were going to be sore in the morning. Well for me that 5 km's going down hill was by far the hardest, I think the Big Fella also found this tough. It was really rugged and steep - to be honest at the end of the 5 km's, I still wasn't sure that we had made the right decision to go down rather than back. At the end of the 5 km's there was a really nice waterfall, which we all decided to stop, take our shoes off and let our feed soak up the cold refreshing water. We really enjoyed Glacier National Park.

15/07/2009 - The day after our hike was not pretty - it really looked like Dave and I were walking as if we had been on a horse for 20 days. ((We needed that walk in Calgary..) We looked like we had an A frame out in front of us- I wish we had. The worst thing was that we knew the next day was going to be worse - and ohh boy did we feel muscles that we never knew we had. We would struggle to get up and get going and then we would take a seat and after about 5 minutes we would start all over again. Day 3 we have a slight improvement. Day 4 and we are really starting to recover. All in all it was a really great hike and we would like to do many more - but I think we need to build up. Our fitness level was not too bad, but our muscles sure knew they had been for a bit of a workout.

17/07/2009 - We had finally recovered enough to drive into Yellowstone National Park - at this stage we had planned on going on a small hike. Unfortunately, our first impressions of the Park at the entrance and also at the visitors centre was not as good as we had received at all the other National Parks. It was extremely busy (Summer School Holidays) and the staff (rangers) were not as helpful or easy going as what we have experienced at other National Parks. This Park didn't seem to cater very well for RV'ers - which for being in the US is really something unusual. At the entrance Dave and I nearly turned around and left - but I really had to see Old Faithful and we knew that we would of regretted it later on. Of course after the visiting the Park - we knew that we had made the right decision not to turn around, however we didn't stay in the park and spent the day driving through it, admiring the scenery and the only time we parked Stubbie and got out was to either stop and have a cup of coffee or to view Old Faithful. We did get to stop many times along the way as people would stop wherever they were and have a look at the wild life - needless to say there were many traffic jams along the way - especially when there was a Grizzly Bear around, or a Bison that wouldn't get off the road and was oblivious to the traffice jam he was causing. We were fortuante enough to see some more great wildlife i.e. Grizzly Bear, Bison, Deers etc. Old Faithful must of been running on Elford time as it was late by a few minutes. We did get to experience something special at the Geysers according to one of the park rangers, he has never seen this) both Old Faithful and the Bee Hive Geysers went off at the same time. The Bee Hive being the larger of the two. Yet again we saw some fantastic and different scenery - mud pools, geysers etc. Part of the park reminded the Big Fella of New Zealand.

18/07/2009 - After leaving Yellowstone we drove on down to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Custer's Last Stand) which memoralises a major battle fought between the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and the US Army - among the dead was George Custer. I really do learn something everyday. I had heard of Custer's last stand and I knew that the Indians had one, but I certainly didn't know the full story and I certainly wasn't aware that the Indians had guns. In summary it is afrave site for a bunch of dead indians and cowboys.

19/07/2009 - 23/07/2009 - We have decided that Rapid City is our next stop to try and get a few things sorted out.
Whilst I was doing the laundry, I was chatting to a lady from Saskatchewan, Canada who was here holidaying with her family and she said that today would be the first day that her boys have been swimming in an outdoor pool - they are 11 and 14. We are starting to advertise that Stubbie is for sale - which is a bit sad and I'm sure will even be sadder if we do sell her, with the way everything is over here we are not expecting this to be a quick process. We will wait until we arrive in LA (probably in a couple of weeks) to get serious about trying to sell her. However we thought we would test the waters.

24/07/2009 - Today we leave Rapid City behind and start making our way to Mount Rushmore. We had looked at the other attractions around the area, one in particular was the Bear Country USA Wildlife Park, we made the decision that we would give this a miss, but as we were driving past we saw all these Bear Cubs in their enclosure, which got us thinking - however, we pushed onto Mount Rushmore. Dave did say that he would turn around and go back if I changed by mind. We arrived at Mount Rushmore which was exactly what we had expected, we spent about 30 minutes wandering around and taking some pictures. Then Dave said to me that he really didn't mind turning around and going back to the Wildlife Park (it was only about 20 minutes) so of course I couldn't resist and we turned around (he really is starting to get to know me - and my love for the animals in particular the Bears).
Well I'm so glad that we turned around, it really turned out to be so much more than I expected, there were about 150 Black Bears and about 19 cubs in the Park. As we were driving through
the park we once again saw some more Bison (this is what I call the Elford animal - with its Big Head). After about 15 minutes of driving through the park we came to a complete stop - and then we saw why - there were Black Bears everywhere, walking in front of the cars, behind the cars, completely oblivous to everything else that was going on - I just couldn't even imagine seeing so many Bears in one spot - (Dave did comment that we went all the way to the Yukon and Alaska to see Bears), it was just awesome - I was like a kid in a candy shop, there was so much going on, I didn't know where to look.

After our slow trip through the Bear enclosure and a few more enclosures, we arrive at the car park, which now means that we get out and walk around Babyland - this is where all the Bear Cubs are living (now I'm even more excited, as Julia Roberts would say "I nearly peed my pants". These Bear Cubs were born in the Park in late January and stayed with their Mums for about 3 months. Just as Spring arrived and before the Bears were completely out of their hibernative state, the cubs were weaned from their mothers for their own safety. Apparently male bears will sometimes eat and kill the cubs. Well needless to say I could have stayed here all day and watched the bear cubs play, they really are just like puppies and kittens, and it was something I will never forget. Of course The Head did get me back for the Bison / Elford head comment – he did say that one day those little Bear Cubs might grow into their ears – like the Eames family should of.

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