Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Billings MT and Yellowstone National Park

Guess where we are parked in Billings MT?  That's right the Moose Lodge; this will make the 6th lodge that we have stayed at this year.  We rolled in on a Saturday night, Mark went to the lodge for breakfast the next day and found out they were having a picnic in the afternoon.  The benefits of the membership are great!

We are located on the west side of town with a grocery store across the street and views of the trains.  The first couple of nights it was noisy but after that you get use to it and we enjoy watching the trains.

I flew out on Tuesday morning for Peep Week in WV at Julie's house.  As always I look forward to spending time with my Sistahs and being creative.  The weather was really nice and I so enjoyed sitting on Julie's front porch looking out on her lovely garden with lush green grass as it has been so hot and dry in the West.  We create, drink, cook, laugh, stay up late, talk forever and couldn't live without each other in our lives.  I was so busy this time that I didn't take any pictures, shame on me!  One thing I did get a picture of is when Julie's dog ate Kari's car, yes that's right the dog ate the car.  The dog loves to chase small animals, well this squirrel ended up hiding in the cars engine compartment.  That didn't stop the dog, he was going to get at that squirrel if it was the last thing he did.  We all heard the dog barking like crazy so we went to investigate, good thing we did!

Well that was a first for the YSA sistahs!

Martha, Gini, Julie, Kari, Karen.

Love my sistahs and a big thank you to sistah Julie for picking me up and taking me back to the airport at the crack of dawn.  


Once I returned from Peep Week Mark and I did some exploring looking for places to put in and take out the kayaks on the Yellowstone river.  Well I have to say we were rather disappointed with what we found.  The river is a positive thing for Billings but the parks along the river don't really offer a safe place to leave your vehicle or easy access to launch from.  The day we were out looking we ran into a motorcycle hill climb event so we decided to check it out.  The riders have to be fearless to drive straight up a mountain side.

Fun to watch but this is one sport I will pass on.

We have been going to the parks in town and doing some metal detecting.  Haven't found anything of real value yet but did find enough quarters to do a load of laundry. 


We now have solar on our caravan which will allow us to camp independent of any hookups!  There are two panels on the roof for a total of 520 watts.

A 2000 watt inverter, which gives us AC current from the DC batteries.

The solar panel controller.

Plus two more batteries.  
Our total cost for this system was $4,540.00 and we really didn't lose any storage space in the bay.

We want to thank Handy Bob for helping us install the system.  If you are interested in getting solar on your rig we highly recommend that you check out Bob's Blog


When we first arrived here in Billings the temperatures were in the high 90's and some days they reached triple digits.  It was too hot to ride the motorcycle and there were also forest fires near Red Lodge which caused a smokey atmosphere.  So we stayed in town checking out some local sites and sampling micro brews at the local breweries.  Once we returned from getting the solar installed the weather started to cool down so we made our way to Yellowstone National Park.  

Heading south from Billings you first pass through the quaint town of Red Lodge then you jump on the Beartooth Highway.  Often referred to as "the most beautiful drive in America", by Charles Kuralt.  The highway is a 68-mile travel corridor beginning just south of Red Lodge, MT at an elevation of 6400 feet and ending near the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone at an elevation of 7500 feet.  The Highway is surrounded by the Custer, Gallatin, and Shoshone National Forests and is known for hairpin turns and switchbacks.

So here we go....

First stop is Rock Creek Vista Point which provides breathtaking views of Rock Creek Canyon and Hellroaring Plateau.

All along the highway you will pass beautiful lakes.

The West Summit, Beartooth Pass is the highest point along the Highway with spectacular views in every direction, elevation being 10,947.

We stopped at Island Lake to have a picnic lunch.

Another wonderful site along the way.

Pilot and Index Peaks , elevation 8718', rank in the top ten of the most often photographed scenes along the Highway.  Wish my photo turned out better.

Lake Creek Falls.

It was a fascinating drive and one that I highly recommend.

Now we are at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is the world's first national park and one of the largest in the contiguous United States.  Sprawling across volcanic plateaus in the northwest corner of Wyoming, Yellowstone contains more than 2 million acres of steaming geysers, crystalline lakes, thundering waterfalls and panoramic vistas.

One thing I can guarantee you will see is buffalo.  Not to long after we entered the park we were stopped dead in our tracks.

 The scenery was breath taking so we stopped at a turnout, put our lawn chairs out and just watched.

We looked to the right and then we looked to the left and saw this herd of buffalo.

Next we spotted a Pronghorn.

 We loaded up and continued on until we found another location farther back from the road looking onto this mountain side.  With some snacks and beverages we just absorbed our surroundings.  Binoculars in hand Mark spotted a huge herd of buffalo and a bridge in the raven.  Other folks stopped to see what we were looking at so the binoculars were passed from hand to hand.  One man stayed awhile and visited with us as he searched the mountain side.  Then Mark spotted 3 men on horse back with 5 pack mules coming down out of the mountain headed for the bridge.  Next the other man found Elk at a raven to the right.  What a wonderful way to spend the evening.

Our plan was to spend the night in a campground sleeping in the truck but to our surprise there wasn't a site to be found.  We really thought the park wouldn't be so busy with kids back in school but it was packed.  So we drove out of the park at the North entrance, had dinner in Gardner and spent the night there.  In the morning we awoke to find this Elk a few hundred yards from the truck.

After a hearty breakfast we reentered the park ready to explore.

First stop was Mammoth Hot Springs.  Mineral-laden hot water from deep beneath the Earth's crust finds its way to the surface and builds tier upon tier of cascading, terraced stone.  Begun thousands of years ago, the sculpting of the terraces continues as thousands of gallons of water well up and deposit large amounts of travertine daily.  The maximum water temperature is 163 degrees.

Liberty Cap stands 37 feet tall, created by a hot spring that was active in one location for a long time.  Its internal pressure was sufficient to raise the water to a great height, allowing mineral deposits to build slowly and continuously for hundreds of years.

Moving on to Norris Geyser Basin which is one of the hottest and most dynamic of Yellowstone's hydrothermal areas.  Many hot springs and fumaroles have temps above the boiling point.  Norris is part of one of the world's largest active volcanoes as it sits on the intersection of  3 major faults.

The hottest of geothermal features are fumaroles (steam vents).

These basins support an astounding diversity of life.  The majority of species are microscopic thermophiles - heat-loving microorganisms, they are the yellow green color in the above picture.

This is a Colloidal Pool or a thermal pool.

As the world's tallest active geyser, Steamboat can jet water and steam up to 380 feet into the air.  For hours following it's rare 3-40 minute major eruptions, Steamboat thunders with steam.

The magnificent color of Emerald Spring comes from the inherent blue of the water combined with the yellow of the sulfur-coated pool

Gibbon Falls is a cascade waterfall with an 84 foot drop.

Firehole Falls is another cascade waterfall on the Firehole River with a 40 foot drop.

A lost buffalo slows down traffic.

Firehole Lake Drive is a one-way paved road through a section of the Lower Geyser Basin.  First is Firehole Spring.

then Surprise Pool

and the Great Fountain Geyser with eruptions averaging over 100 feet with an occasional one of 200 feet.  The interval between eruptions is 10-14 hours so sadly we didn't get to see it.

Next stop is the big one, Old Faithful.  It erupts more frequently than any of the other big geysers.  The average interval between eruptions is about 93 minutes lasting 1.5 to 5 minutes and expelling 3,700-8,400 gallons of boiling water reaching heights of 106-184 feet.  Unfortunately when we seen it erupt it was a small one but none the less it was very impressive.

We then wandered over to the Old Faithful Inn which is a National Historic Landmark, built of local logs and stone in the early 1900's.

Moving on to the Mud Volcanoes.

Next to the mud volcano was the Dragon's Mouth Spring.  Water frequently surges from the cave like the lashing of a dragons tongue. The rumbling sounds are caused by steam and other gasses exploding through the water causing it to crash against the walls of the hidden caverns. 

Once again we ran into a traffic jam of buffaloes.

The park ranger had to step in to break things up.

Our last stop was Tower Falls which is a 132 foot waterfall and very impressive.

Well there you have Yellowstone National Park through our eyes.  This makes the fifth national park we have visited this year!  
On our way back home we took the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway through Wyoming.  Oh my it was a beautiful drive taking us through Two Dots Flats, climbing through switchbacks to view Dead Indian Summit, and crossing the highest bridge in WY, Sunlight Creek Bridge.


Our time here in Billings has come to an end as we will be moving on Friday the 20th, which also happens to be our anniversary,  to Sydney MT to work the Sugar Beet Harvest.  We signed up for this job back in January at Quartzsite AZ.  We will be working at a piling plant so stay tuned for more details.  A lot of full time RV'ers do this gig, just like Amazon.  For more information on the harvest go to

Thanks for following our travels.  

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