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The Solar Eclipse & Vacation in a Volcano

Where The Buffalo Roam


View The Solar Eclipse & Vacation in a Volcano & East Of The Rockies on DillyLynn's travel map.

Hello, Friends! I finally feel like writing again. I can't wait to catch you up on all the places we've been. We're currently in one place with good internet access for at least 2 weeks and I'm determined to write a little every day.

This episode begins on August 15, 2017 as we head south from Billings, MT toward our Eclipse Viewing campsite at the Wyoming Eclipse Paramotor Fly-in. I'd planned to spend the night at the free campground in the Kaycee, WY city park. That campground was a joke, so we found a spot at the local rest stop and spent a quiet night there instead.

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Wyoming Eclipse PPG Fly-In - 8/18-22/2017

We arrived in Wheatland, WY a couple of days before we were allowed into the ranch where the Fly-in was to be held. We had to find a place nearby to spend a couple of nights.

Free and/or inexpensive overnight parking was impossible to find the week prior to the Eclipse. The cost of lodging and campsites within the Band of Totality, where the sun would be completely covered, had skyrocketed. Everyone was trying to cash in.

Luckily, we found an out-of-the-way spot at the Wheatland Airport and spent a quiet (& free!) Wednesday night there. We spent Thursday night at a rest stop just north of Wheatland and Friday morning we set off for the Fly-in site at Kamp Dakota Campground and Guest Ranch.

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This historic campground established in 1970 included a rodeo arena and once hosted amateur rodeos. These days the rodeo arena is long gone and campground is overgrown. The current owners, Adene and Randy Kusma, raise cattle on the land and operate the facility as a hunting lodge.

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Several abandoned RVs remain on the property; remnants of the ranch's former glory days. Just inside the door of this Winnebago Brave was one of the funniest things I'd seen in a while...

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Mike & I had a great time at the fly-in, meeting old friends and making new ones here in Wyoming.

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This group photo and the following one of the total eclipse were taken by Dallas Mount. The aerial shot of the flight line was taken by David Nebel. Click for more photos of the Wyoming Eclipse PPG Fly-In.

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Total Solar Eclipse - 8/21/2017

Wow! The total solar eclipse was an incredible, multi-sensory experience! Photos just don't do it justice. The temperature drops as the sun becomes covered completely. Crickets begin to chirp, just like they do at dusk, and there's an orange sunset glow in every direction. I'm already making plans to see the next one in the US in 2024!

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Medicine Bow National Forest - 8/22-24/2017

After the fly-in, we were invited to camp with some of our friends in the Medicine Bow National Forest. They led us to the Nash Fork Campground near Centennial, WY. It was a beautiful spot to spend a couple of days.

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One day we took a drive and found Little Brooklyn Lake. There's a little campground on the lakeshore. What a beautiful place!

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It was the end of August and the weather was still nice in Wyoming. Summer was winding down and many families had gone home. Back to school; my favorite time of year! :)

We'd made no plans to see Yellowstone National Park and decided we were too close not to try to see it. So we left Medicine Bow National Forest on Thursday and headed northwest to visit Jackson, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park and maybe even Yellowstone National Park.

On our way both to and from Yellowstone, we stayed in the camping area at the Lander, WY City Park on the banks of a river. We were lucky to snag the same private campsite each time we passed through town. You can see our rig in the distance through the trees along the creek in the second photo.

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming - 8/24-29/2017

Jackson Hole refers to the 48-mile long valley along the Snake River. This area includes Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson, WY. Here was our first look at the Teton Range:

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Our first campsite in Jackson Hole was on BLM land. Prized for being free and for its great view of the Grand Teton, this campsite was very popular and crowded. We only stayed here one night before moving on to Jackson, WY.

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We spent the weekend exploring the city of Jackson. Overnight parking on the street was allowed for 72 hours and spots were difficult to find, but we made it work.

One day we packed a picnic lunch and took a drive out to Atherton Creek Campground on the shores of Lower Slide Lake. We thought it might be a nice place to camp, but the sites were too small and not level. The view of the Teton Range from there was stunning, though:

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Jackson Hole is home to the largest elk herd on earth, but we didn't see any while we were here. Instead, on our way north we got as close as I would ever want to be to a large herd of wild bison! I'm sure the log fence between us and the herd was never meant to stop a stampede!

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Turn up the volume on this video to hear the sounds of bison:

Grand Teton National Park - 8/28/17

Since it was the end of summer, we decided to take our chances at getting a campsite in the Grand Teton National Park with no reservations. We were happy to learn there are plenty of campsites available this time of year!

We spent a very relaxing Monday night at Colter Bay Campground in site M263. The ranger that registered us gave us a site on the right side of the road so our cabin door would open into the forest. This would turn out to be our favorite campsite in Jackson Hole.

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Yellowstone National Park - 8/29 - 9/1

To be sure we'd have a place to stay, I did call ahead and make reservations for a couple of campsites in Yellowstone National Park. It was exciting to score a campsite in Yellowstone on such short notice. And they said it couldn't be done!

We entered the park on Tuesday, 8/29 and headed toward Bridge Bay Campground on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

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We were assigned to campsite H413 in Bridge Bay. These campsites were much smaller and closer together than the ones at Colter Bay. As you can see, our neighbor across the street was unconcerned that his slide-out was intruding into the roadway, effectively pushing all traffic much closer to our front door than it needed to be. I continue to be amazed at how inconsiderate other campers can be about fitting within the boundaries of their campsite.

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After one night at Bridge Bay, we were glad to move to Grant Village Campground site I311 for 2 nights. We had a heck of a time getting level at this site. I think we worked on it for over an hour before we were happy. Though I didn't get a photo of our campsite, here's one of the campsite next door. It was really beautiful there.

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One evening we took a walk along a sandspit on Yellowstone Lake and watched some kayakers float by.

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During our 4 day/3 night stay in Yellowstone National Park we were able to drive around the entire Grand Loop Road. We saw many of the park's most famous sights including:

Lake Village Lodge - Tuesday, 8/29

This was our first look at one of several historic buildings we would visit during our stay at Yellowstone. It really is awe-inspiring to see these places in person.

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Yellowstone River

These photos and video speak for themselves. It was a beautiful day to be on The Yellowstone River.

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Old Faithful Lodge - Thursday, 8/31

We were both excited to see Old Faithful. We got there early, so it was easy to find a parking spot. I was surprised that there was so much more to see here than 'just' a geyser eruption.

The Old Faithful Lodge was built in the 1920s. This is the front entrance and side porch of the Lodge. Moments after I took this photo of an empty porch, a busload of tourists arrived and soon every seat was taken.

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These photos are of the main lobby. The giant windows look out on Old Faithful and the fireplace is directly across the room. Truly magnificent!

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Old Faithful Geyser

There's a clock in the lobby of the Old Faithful Lodge indicating when to expect the next eruption of Old Faithful. As that time draws near, the crowds gather with great anticipation. That's the Old Faithful Inn in the background.

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Seconds before its eruption, Old Faithful begins to bubble & spray. And then...

Old Faithful Inn

After the eruption, we walked around the geyser to see the Old Faithful Inn, which first opened in 1904. Impressive from the outside, it was even more so on the inside. The woodwork was incredible!

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Having had our fill of the Old Faithful Historic District. we continued around Grand Loop Road. Our next adventure was to be a short scenic drive...

Firehole Canyon Drive is a one-way loop off of Grand Loop Road that goes along the Firehole River. This canyon cuts through 800-foot lava flows, passes a 40-foot waterfall, and accesses one of only two swimming holes in Yellowstone National Park. Even though crowded and slow, this was a beautiful drive.

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The next geothermic feature we stopped to see turned out to be my favorite feature in Yellowstone...

Grand Prismatic Spring - Thursday, 8/31

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the US. This area includes many smaller hot springs. As you approach the entry to this exhibit, you see this golden waterfall.

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This aerial view of the Grand Prismatic Spring is from Wikipedia. You can see the boardwalk we walked in the lower right corner...

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This photo of people standing on the boardwalk at the edge of the Spring. Yes, it really is that steamy!

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l was a little nervous being surrounded by this prehistoric stew. It seemed like the earth could erupt at any second! The hot springs are fascinating nonetheless, and I'm really glad I saw this place with my own eyes. The clear blue water and brilliant colors here are amazing!

The vivid colors are caused by the organisms living at the water's edge. During summer the microbes don't produce much chlorophyll and appear orange, red, or yellow. In winter, less sunlight causes more chlorophyll to be produced and the colors become muted. I'm glad we visited while the colors were brightest!

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Hayden Valley - Thursday, 8/31

Our next Yellowstone adventure would be driving through Hayden Valley. There are lots of happy bison living in this valley. Those dark spots dotting the landscape are bison.

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Here you see the Yellowstone River running through Hayden Valley. The mountains in the distance form part of the rim of the Yellowstone Supervolcano and we were in the middle of the caldera! Yikes!

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Once we experienced the requisite bison traffic jam, I felt our Yellowstone trip was complete:

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Our last stop on Grand Loop Road was at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Here there are more blue hot springs and a couple of boiling mud pots:

It was unsettling to be surrounded by so much volcanic activity and fascinating at the same time; It was the experience of a lifetime and I was glad to leave!

We left Yellowstone on Friday, 9/1. With one last look at the Grand Teton Mountains...

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...we headed south, spending our last night in Wyoming at the Laramie Walmart parking lot.

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Here's a map showing our route through Wyoming:


Next I'll tell about when we were East of the Rockies in Colorado and New Mexico. We were near Rocky Mountain National park during elk rutting season and had several close encounters. Tune in next time to see what happened... :)

If you're interested, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link. Thanks for coming along! Until next time...

Posted by DillyLynn 21:56 Archived in USA

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Comments

Nice of you to share. That's a long rig you've got. The main expense is the upkeep on the rig...for me and my Dodge. People. I like it better when they're not around. Good info on Wyoming. Haven't been there yet. Good to know that you can still storm the gates of National Parks' and still gain admittance...if you're lucky. We've got Ft. Pickens out here, which stays booked. I leave to get away from the hordes. Stayed in Florida enough this year. It generates steam constantly, without the caldera. Will be glad to leave again. Pretty close quarters for a couple. Y'all must really enjoy each other's company. Looks like fun. Jealous of the temperatures you're enjoying.

by Bob Traweek

@Bob - Our RV is 30' with no slide-outs and the floor-plan is so well-designed that we hardly feel crowded at all. Ours is frequently the smallest rig in the park, compared to most monstrous class As. We are almost always in perfect weather; when it gets too hot or cold, we move. This is the life! Thanks for writing!

by DillyLynn

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