T R I P   J O U R N A L

W E E K   # 5


WEBSITE CATCH-UP - Monday, August 2nd, 2004

The day is rather uneventful. I replace a failing battery, then step into The Leaf and Bean Coffee Shop for some java and a place to stretch out and travel write. Writing, writing, writing, that was my day. I finally hit the hay around 11pm when writer's cramp finally takes hold of me.

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OFFICIAL WEBSITE LAUNCH - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

No traveling or sightseeing today. Rather, I concentrate solely on webmastering and travel writing. I eventually push a glut of new content to the website, content covering days 7/28 through 8/3. I'm happy to say I'm all caught up now. My website host provider appears to be stable now, enough so, that I inform all family, friends, clubs, and alumni associations of the intent of my trip and the existence of my travel website. Today is the official launch date of my website! The pressure is now on me to keep things interesting and informative!

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ROAD TRIP TO YELLOWSTONE - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Believe it or not, I've never been to Yellowstone National Park before. So understandably, I'm all excited now, because today it's my final destination. On my way to Yellowstone, by accident, I run across an interesting grizzly bear exhibit. I tour the bear habitat and make the acquaintance of Bud, the curator.

After the bear exhibit I make my way to Yellowstone on the off-beaten trail. A 20 mile dirt road detour from the Interestate proves to be a good escape from the boring highway. Along the dusty road I document a variety of entrance arches to private homes, make friends with two horses, and get an eye full of some pretty panoramas from atop a hill, having first tip-toed my way through a minefield of horse droppings on the way up. I also have a revelation of sorts about eating, which comes to me as I munch on a chicken sandwich while enjoying a pastoral setting through the van's double-doors.

Back on the pavement once again, I make my way south through Gardiner, MT into Wyoming, and finally to Yellowstone's Northern Entrance. After entering the park I see a sign announcing I've just passed the 45th Parallel, meaning I'm halfway between the North Pole and the Equator! I continue on to Mammoth Hot Springs Campgrounds, grab one of the last remaining campsites, cooking dinner, then I trek back out the the 45th Parallel because when passing through earlier I saw a sign for a swimming hole.

Further investigation undercovers Boiling River, a swimming hole located on the western bank of the Gardiner River that receives warm spring water from an underground feed. While not boiling in the swimming hole, the water is warm and pleasant, and I soak until 9pm, the closing time for the attraction. I head back to the campsite to do a little travel writing before retiring for the evening.

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YELLOWSTONE - DAY #1 - Thursday, August 5, 2004

Today is my first full day in Yellowstone National Park. I break camp and head straight to Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace, one of the park's 7 major attractions. The multi-level terrace is magical in both appearance and activity, half-convincing me I'm actually touring a Hollywood special effects set. The terrace formation is fueled by underground hydrothermics which flow to the surface, laying down colorful sediment that has slowly built the terrace over eons of time.

After finishing the tour I start my drive south to Norris Geyser Basin. On the way I notice extensive fire damage to the surrounding forest. Caused by a massive wildfire in 1988, it burned 38% of Yellowstone if you can believe that! A bit more driving takes me to a place where the ground is literally boiling, a strange sight indeed.

I eventually make it to Norris Campground where I find a campsite then fix a bite to eat. After lunch I trek to nearby Norris Geyer Basin for more hydrothermal fun. During my tour I witness a few spouting geysers and a multitude of colorful hot springs.

My evening winds down back at the campsite where I do a bit of planning for the remaining days I'll be spending in Yellowstone. There are still 5 more major attractions to see!

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YELLOWSTONE - DAY #2 - Friday, August 6, 2004

After sharing my breakfast with a gregarious chipmunk, I break camp and hit the road for more Yellowstone adventure. Today will be a busy one, I plan on touring 4 of the park's 7 major sights. On my way to the day's first sight, I run across two elk who create quite a stir with a camera toting crowd.

My first stop today is the Fountain Paint Pot Area. In retrospect, this sight proves to possess my favorite hydrothermal attraction, the Fountain Paint Pot. It's a bubbling pot of blue mud, certainly something akin to the pre-historic doodlings found in a Fred Flintstone Cartoon. During my tour I'm dished up with geyers, hot springs, and bubbling mud. It's a very strange place indeed.

Next stop, the Old Faithful Area. While waiting for Old Faithful to spout, I tour Old Faithful Inn, a massive wooden complex boasting 327 guest rooms. Time ticks by and I make my way to Old Faithful's spectator viewing area. On schedule, good Old Faithful spouts, much to the enjoyment of the gathered crowd. I then tour the rest of the area, witnessing little geyser activity because it's all about timing. Fortunately, there are plenty of colorful hot springs to entertain and intrigue.

Threats of rain are finally followed through on as I drive over the Continental Divide to West Thumb Geyser Basin, my third sight of the day. After driving through the watery delluge, I arrive and discover the basin is bone dry, having escaped the wrath of the scattered thunderstorms. West Thumb serves up an interesting new feature, geysers that reside just off shore in Yellowstone Lake. I take notice that the colorful hot springs here are the most beautiful in the park.

Just up the way, I drive to the 4th and last sight for the day, Mud Volcano. Mud Volcano is, well, muddy of course. Many of the formations are filled with mud, ranging from thick and bubbly to thin and syrupy. While not too colorful, Mud Volcano makes up for that in eye-popping, churning activity.

After wrapping up the last sight of the day, I decide to exit the park and street camp in Gardiner, MT, just north of Yellowstone. After fixing a late dinner I decide to retire early, having sufficiently worn myself out from a long day of sightseeing.

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YELLOWSTONE - DAY #3 - Saturday, August 7, 2004

In the wee hours of the morning I'm rousted out of bed by the local Sheriff. It seems I've committed the cardinal sin of street camping in Gardiner, MT. Fortunately, he lets me go with just a warning, no overnight jailhouse stay for me. I'm actually grateful for the warning because he prevented me from being stranded by an action perpetrated by my own hand.

Today will be my last day at Yellowstone National Park. Unlike the past two days, today will be a day marked by significant physical exhertion, for I have plans to tackle two of the park's most popular hikes. Namely, Sepulcher Mountain and Bunsen Peak.

I drive to Mammoth Hot Springs to the trailhead of my hike to Sepulcher Mountain. Armed with bear spray, a bear bell, and enough Rock Star energy drink to propel me to the moon, I make my way up the mountain. The hike is difficult but enjoyable. Rather than encountering a bear during my hike up, I encounter Dave and Jana at the mountain's peak. We share life stories and as well as the hike back down.

Still feeling like I have more energy to burn, I continue on with my plan to hike Bunsen Peak. I drive south a ways to the trailhead, park, then start hiking up the peak. Halfway to the top I run into Brian, who is from Portland, Maine of all places (I'm from Portland, Oregon)! We continue up the mountain together, sharing stories about this and that. Once at the top, we discover a treasure of sorts in a rusted metal box.

After my second hike, I road-trip it to Yellowstone's last major sight, the Canyon Area. Wow! What a beautiful place. Hugging Yellowstone River that falls over an upper and lower falls, the canyon area sports a myriad of brilliant colors that really grab my attention. Artist Point is the climax of my tour, providing a clear view of the canyon looking west. Supposedly this spot is the most photographed in Yellowstone.

After hiking almost 15 miles with 4600 feet elevation gain, needless to say I'm both tired and famished. I take in dinner at one of Yellowstone's cafeterias, then drive south for 2.5 hours to Jackson Hole, WY. Exhausted upon arrival, I immediately find a street camping site then immediately hit the hay.

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JACKSON, WY - Sunday, August 8, 2004

I decide to stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a few days to catch up on my travel writing. To break up the monotony of my writing day, I tour the town and take in the sights and sounds of this little tourist-trap destination.

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1000 Year Old Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, NM
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Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
Arches National Park, UT
Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
Big Sur, CA
Somewhere in Central Colorado
Rose Parade, Pasadena, CA
Spokane River, WA
Kalispell, MT
The Graceland Mansion, Memphis, TN