Friday, October 31, 2014

Yellowstone and Geezer VII - The Trip Home and Final Thoughts

October 14 – The Trip Home

Although the first half of our drive home was pretty easy, the second half turned out to be the drive from Hell.  We got up early and were on the road just before 9:00 and got on Interstate 40 to find very little traffic.  It was a little windy at times, but otherwise, smooth sailing.  We got off I-40 in Barstow and headed west on CA Hwy 58 and that’s where the trouble began.

Just before the intersection of CA 58 and US 395, we found road construction and a massive line of cars.  It took us over an hour to go just a few miles before we finally got past the construction zone.  We had a great lunch at the Apple Shed in Tehachapi and thought we would have an easy drive for the final leg of our trip, but that turned out to be not the case.

After going through Bakersfield and getting on to I-5, the wind started to blow pretty hard and dust made it look like there was smoke in the air.  We got off on CA 46 in Lost Hills and headed east and the dust got terrible.  Visibility was very limited and cars were driving very slowly with their lights and hazard lights on, it was a very scary experience.  We finally made it home after 6:00, very tired, but very happy to finally be home.

Final Thoughts

This trip turned out better than expected.  I have been to Yellowstone when I was young, and Val and I have spent a day there several times, but to spend four days there was amazing.  There is so much to see and do, four days isn’t really enough time.  You hear so much about the park that you almost expect to be let down by having it not live up to its inflated reputation, but that’s not the case at all.  The scenery is so varied with the geysers, mud pots, hot springs, terraces, rivers, lakes, water falls, forests, meadows and of course, the animals.  It was also great to be able to stay at the Old Faithful Inn, one of the Grand Lodges of the National Parks.  The weather wasn't the best, but we were prepared as winter comes early at 8000 feet and we knew we were taking our chance this late in the season.  There are still many things we want to see and I hope we can find the time for a return trip.

Grand Teton National Park was also wonderful.  We weren’t able to spend much time there, but we did make the most of our time.  The Jackson Lodge, another of the Grand Lodges, was wonderful and we were treated to an amazing sunset that the staff said was the best they’d seen in a long time.

Flaming Gorge was a great surprise.  We didn’t know what to expect and on the drive down from the north it looked like an arid area with some interesting land formations, but nothing spectacular.  However, the south end of the area turned out to be great.  Spectacular scenery and views, plenty of fall color, scenic drives, rivers and lakes, and even some big horn sheep.  The Red Canyon Lodge also turned out to be a very nice place to stay.

And last but not least, our annual Geezer Gathering was wonderful as always.  Getting together with longtime friends who we don’t see very often is the best thing of all.  We had a great time together, there isn’t much excitement or action (after all, we are geezers), but we get along so well and really enjoy each other's company.  It is the best time of the year and the end to a wonderful trip.

We have been traveling a lot this summer and fall and Val and I are both ready for a break.  We don’t have anything planned until our South American cruise next March, and I expect there might be some short trips, but I think we will be catching up on things at home for a while and I have many, many photos to go through and process.  That’s it for now, see you on down the road.

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