The BTW Weekly Log: Week 3

Begin Day #12

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 11, 2000 
Day Number: Twelve
Miles Travelled: 100 miles
Region Travelling in:  Black Hills, SD
Approx Money Spent: $68

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

Today was a cool calm day. We took a break from travel and stayed back in the town of Custer for another day. However we still put on 100 miles on the car.

Coffee was in the room: we have mastered the art of using our rice cooker as an electric heater. We started in the morning by visiting the nearby wood carving museum in Custer. It is a great place with lots of pieces of wood carved art. Specifically it is meant to display the art of a person by name Dr Niblack. His woodcarving is special in the sense that he adds animation to his carvings. For instance, there is a whole farm scene. The characters carved by him are further animated through a series of gears and motors (of course hidden from plain view). There is also art by oher people now. Some of it is for sale, at unaffordable prices. In all it was worth the six dollars per person. After the museum, since we were starving, we took the luxury of having a full lunch at Taco Johns restaurant. For eight and a half bucks, we had a great lunch - so great that we had to take a nap. Hurray for Taco Johns!

Later on we went on a drive: the Custer state park loop. This is a scenic drive taking you through the black hills, the needles scenic highway, Peter Norbec Scenic highway and Mt Rushmore. We saw bisons, deers, elks and goats grazing in the park (in the US, forests are called parks). On one of the roads, we had a herd of bisons crossing our traffic. We were clicking away our cameras while they were doing whatever they were doing. Also featured is a Prairie Dog town. Prairie Dogs are squirrel like cuddly creatures, only more fearless. They live in colonies, so you could see tons of them at one place. Hence the name Prairie Dog Town. From the custer loop, we skipped mt Rushmore. We came back to the hotel for hot sambar-rice and crashed for the night.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Never pay parking fees :)

 End Day #12


 Begin Day #13

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 12, 2000 
Day Number: Thirteen
Miles Travelled: 320 miles
Region Travelling in:  Wyoming
Approx Money Spent: $61

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We were finally ready to leave South Dakota. Of course after finishing the one big landmark, Mt Rushmore. It is that famous four presidents sculpture in the mountain. Each of the faces is around eighty feet high. Correct us if we are wrong: there is George Washington, Abrahama Lincoln, Ted Rooswelt and Thomas Jefferson. It is an enormous monument to be proud of but is just a fifteen minute stop. Soon we were back on the road headed towards Wyoming with Pink Floyd blazing. On the way we stopped over at a place called Pactola Lake for a quick scenic view. Lunch stop was at Roughlock Falls in the Spearfish Canyon. After lunch we hiked down to view the falls. It is a good site but we would not have stopped if it was not for lunch. Later we stopped at the town of Spearfish for internet access. Local public libraries are helping us a lot to keep in touch with e-mails.

Soon we were driving in Wyoming. This part is sparsely inhabited and has spooky red landscape. We have hills on the horizon with lots of open space. Badlands looked like a part of moon whereas here it looked like a part of Mars.

Our first destination in WY was the Devil's Tower. This is an unnatural rock tower jutting out of the earth in an unnatural lanscape. It has a height of 867 ft and crosssection of almost one acre! The park around is very scenic and worth visiting. The big attraction it has is another prairie dog town. This one is bigger than the one in custer state park. Moreover, the prairie dogs here, are more fearless and come within a foot of humans. We spent quite a bit of time photographing and watching them.

We planned to stay the night at a place called Buffalo in WY. It was another 150 miles away. We reached Buffalo around 8 pm. The first hotel we went to had this sweet talking lady who told us that there are lots of activities going on in the town and no rooms would be available. She was trying to convince us that we should take the last one left in her hotel for fifty five bucks - a discounted price ! We were in a dilemma for a few moments but decided to skip her offer and look around. Soon enough, we found a good motel at thirthy five bucks. We learnt a good lesson. It seems like tourists are always omnipresent in WY so we are going to play it safe and book our motels ahead in time.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

The closest motel to the highway is usually full and the most expensive.

End Day #13


Begin Day #14

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 13, 2000 
Day Number: Fourteen
Miles Travelled: 210 miles
Region Travelling in:  Wyoming
Approx Money Spent: $53

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We started out with coffee in the room. It was a bit late because we were just lazing it a bit. We drove to a town called Sheridan from Buffalo (where we were staying). We left behind I90. We will be off the interstate for quite sometime now. We took US 14 West to our first destination in the Big Horn national forest. Shell Falls is a small and nice spot to stop at if you are driving anywhere near. The drive is excellent with curvy roads and fantastic vistas. We then retraced our route back to take 14 Alt. We were now searching for a place where we could cook lunch. We found signs for Burgess picnic area. The signs took us right into the mountains with a 1.5 mile dirt road. And lo behold! There was our picnic area next to a sparkling mountain spring. We had some nice solitude close to nature.

Our next destination was to be approached by yet another three mile dirt road. This was Medicine mountain. After the drive we had to hike 1.5 miles one way to get there. The Medicine mountain was spiritually important for the American Indians. It is supposed to heal diseases and ill happenings. On top of the mountain is a placement of stones in the form of a wheel with spokes. This is called as the Medicine Wheel. We found the place really quiet, a place where you can dig into yourself, moreover it gives you the top of the world feeling where you can see the mountains for miles. Its a splendid place to visit. The ranger there was kind enough to give us coffee for a donaton of a dollar. After the hike coffee was what we needed!

We next drove to a place called Big Horn Canyon. We dropped this one out for we were very tired and it was really hot. We drove on to a neighbouring town called Lowell. We got a not so clean motel for thirty four bucks but otherwise it was ok. We hogged for the night at Taco Johns - it was a heart fill.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Walking is good for your health - so, hike !

End Day #14


Begin Day #15

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 14, 2000 
Day Number: Fifteen
Miles Travelled: 210 miles
Region Travelling in:  Wyoming / Montana
Approx Money Spent: $78

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

Today was a big day. We were staying at Yellow Stone National Park and we were driving the Bear Tooth Pass. Read on and you will see ...

We started with filling gas in the morning and driving towards Montana. Montana announced itself with bone jittering roads. We were shaking all over in no time. However, as we drove further we were amazed by the picturesque scenery. We stopped on a local road for a few pictures. A guy stopped next to us to ask if we had any problems wih our car. Guess, in such rough country people have to help one another. Feels good.

Presently we reached Red Lodge. It is a big city nestled in the heart of Montana mountains. The funny thing about this town is that it still gives you that small town feeling. We stopped here for internet access at the local library (internet has already reached rocky mountain tops :). We were very hungry by the time we got out. We jumped right into the local chinese restaurant. It was good food but bad (discriminative) service.

We next started our climb onto the bear tooth scenic highway. This road skims the tops of the mountains on the border of Wyoming and Montana. Charles Kuralt calls this the most scenic road in America. We stopped a thousand times for pictures. It was fun but tiring. We entered Yellow Stone National Park around 4 pm. We were settled in our room in the Lake Lodge around 6 pm. This is a great rustic place. It cost us 52 bucks a nighgt, but heck, we were staying in yellow stone! Actually if you ask us, you should stay in the Old Faithful Inn for the complete experience. Later that evening we went for walk on the Yellow Stone Lake and crashed for the night.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Half the battle is won.

 End Day #15


 Begin Day #16

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 15, 2000 
Day Number: Sixteen
Miles Travelled: 120 miles
Region Travelling in:  Yellow Stone National Park
Approx Money Spent: $63

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

A quick primer on yellow stone: It is about 2 million acres of wilderness preserved as a national park in the USA. It got this status in the 1800's and is hence considered the first such park in the world. People claim that most of the park has remained the same since then. It gets its name because of the river flowing through it. In turn, the river gets the name yellow stone because, it flows through sulphorous rocks which are yellow. Its a different kind of park in the sense that it has exotic natural phenomenon happening in front of you.

A good breakfast is provided in all Yellow Stone lodgings. We lined up for the same in the morning and for $7.50, we were full. We headed to a place called the mud volcano. This region has a multitude of things to see. Some of the interesting ones were the black dragon - a boiling mud pot and dragon's mouth - which makes gurgling sounds and spits fumes into the air. We spent a fascinating amount of time here.

Our next site was the yellow stone falls. The yellow stone river goes through a lot of trouble in this area. There are two water falls - the lower and the upper. The upper falls is more majestic and quiet and the lower falls is more untamed and noisy.

We then got ripped of paying close to two dollars for a gallon of gas. There are five visitor centers in Y S. Each of these shows a movie about the park. In todays movie, we saw a bison attack foolish people who had troubled it. Lunch was at a place called Mammoth Village. We also had our afternoon siesta here.

Mammoth village gets its name from a unnatural phenomenon which has built a mammoth calcium desposit. This place is called Calcite Basins. What happens here is that hot water carrying calcium compounds oozes out of the earth. It deposits all this calcium on the surface. Its not a big deal until you realize that about two tons of calcium is deposited in a day ! This leads to nice formations.

Our next destination was called Norris Geyser Basin. We watched a lot of elk, bison and also foxes on the road (this is very common in YS). A geyser is a periodic erruption of hot water and gases from the earth's surface. YS has geysers of every shape and size - some of them errupting periodically while some of them erratically. The Norris Geyser Basin has lots of these and more.

Our todays hotel hunt was in a town called West Yellow stone, next to the park. We found a motel for $40 !! Dinner was Deepa's special - souppit.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Souppit = soup + uppit !

End Day #16


Begin Day #17

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 16, 2000 
Day Number: Seventeen
Miles Travelled: 200 miles
Region Travelling in:  Wyoming
Approx Money Spent: $52

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:


Today we continued with our exploring of YS. We visited a lot of geysers and hot springs. Did we tell you that a hot spring is a pond of boiling hot water out of which the water keeps flowing. The Grand Prismatic Spring is one such beauty - it has a Mars like unnatural feeling around it and is almost 30 meters in width. After the geysers and springs we visited the geyser called Old Faithful. It is so called because it errupts regularly at an interval of 81 minutes. We were so lucky that we had to wait only ten minutes for it to errupt. After that lunch was at the old faithful cafeteria. We then visited the Old Faithful Inn. This is fabulous old wood building about seven stories high. A perfect place to stay - with a rustic odour around it. We were wishing that we spent our YS night here. After that we saw a movie on history of YS at the Old Faithful visitor center. The last thing we did in YS was seeing the movie on the fire of 1988. In 1988, almost one third of the national park was burnt down due to a wild fire. The fire seems to have started by a lightning bolt. About 25000 fire fighters were fighting the fire. Though a lot of the park was burnt down the naturalist believe that it is a part of nature and will grow back again. You can see that they are right, already. All the movies shown in the YS Visitor centers were of exceptional quality.

Next we drove to the Grand Teton National Park. This is a range of mountains rising abruptly to the south of YS. It is a scenic drive through the Tetons. We wanted to do the snake river float trip - this is a scenic boat ride through the Teton range. However we decided against it. We did not do much else. We stayed at a place called Alpine to the south of Grand Teton. We tried to stay at a town called Jackson but no rooms were available. The ones that were, were exorbitant.

SOTD (Saying Of The Day):


End Day #17


Begin Day #18

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: September 17, 2000 
Day Number: Eighteen
Miles Travelled: 250 miles
Region Travelling in:  Wyoming/Idaho/Utah
Approx Money Spent: $50 + $50 in grocery

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We drove out of Wyoming on the scenic US 89 route. Its a beautiful road passing through many mountain ranges inter-twining with the salt river. It was mostly a driving day for us. With fall in the air and all the trees turning colours it feels just good to drive. One of the interesing things that happened in the Bridger forest was a major sheep traffic jam ! For the first time in the US, we saw hundreds of sheep crossing the road and the traffic had come to a halt.

Today, lunch was at a town called Paris ! Dont expect an Eiffel tower here because this town has a population of 199 people. However it was still neatly kept and was blessed with a town park.

US89 then winds its way around a lake called Bear Lake. We stopped there and visited the visitor center. An old, feeble lady was behind the desk. Though her age did not permit she was earnest to help us, to talk to us. Further US89 winds up into a beautiful town called Logan. We replenished our groceries here. After that we landed on I15. We returned to the interstate driving after a long time.

I15 takes you around the salt lake area. The salt lake gets its name because it is salty - big deal. But it is surprising to know that the lake is saltier than most oceans and seas! The area around here comprises of a multitude of cities forming an urban sprawl. We almost felt at home like in New Jersey. We stayed at a town called Provo - south of Salt Lake City. Search for motel was not easy because we dont have the Utah Visior's guide. However we got it for $32. But it wasnt quite the place where one wants to stay. The street traffic was too noisy to let us sleep. You learn!


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Preserve openspace!

End Day #18

We have reached end of week 3. My god, how time flies! However we are on schedule and plan to visit New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. So a lot is still coming up. Stay tuned!

This week we spent around $475. This is welcome news! So our total tally stands at around 1275 dollars. We are doing just great.

To Week 2 Go To Calendar To Week 4

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