New Book

The other day I saw Celine by Peter Heller suggested on one of my Facebook groups. Part of this mystery story takes place in Yellowstone National Park so I thought it would be interesting to read. So far I like it. Here is the description:

From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense–the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

Let me know what you think of Celine if you get it from the library or on Amazon!

 

Mysteries at the National Parks

showposter

A friend just told me about a new Travel Channel show called Mysteries at the National Parks. Here is their description:

America’s network of national parks represents vast, dense expanses of virtually unexplored wilderness — hotbeds for mysteries and the unexplained. Each episode delivers several haunting stories to add to the backdrop and natural beauty of some of the country’s most famous national parks.

I found some of the episodes on YouTube. They seem a bit cheesy, but I am looking forward to watching them during Halloween time. Enjoy!

 

Death in Yellowstone (and Other National Parks)

The past few weeks several very sad but avoidable accidents have happened at Yellowstone National Park. In May, a lady taking a picture of an Eagle stepped into the road and got hit by a car. On Tuesday, a pair of siblings from Oregon walked 225 yards off the boardwalks in Norris Geyser Basin and one slipped and fell into a hot spring. The water temperatures in Norris are the hottest in the park and range from 199 to 449 degrees. The day before, a 13 year old was being carried by his father as they walked off the designated trail in the Upper Geyser Basin. They slipped and got burned in a hot spring. Many signs are posted at the geyser basins warning visitors to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths. Information packets in different languages are also handed out when you enter the parks.

Rangers and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk have said that park visitation is already up 60% this year. It is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with cheaper gas, social media interest and unrest overseas, people want to travel to the parks. 

There have been a lot of “crazy tourist” news stories already coming from the parks. I am sure you read or heard about the two tourists putting a Bison calf in their car to save it because they thought it was cold. Or High On Life, a group of Canadian tourists with a clothing line that blatantly ignored several National Park rules and then posted the pictures of themselves doing it to Instagram and Facebook. They have warrants issued for their arrests, but made it back to Canada. Then you have the woman petting a Bison– a wild animal that weighs over a ton and can move at 40mph. Park warnings say to keep 100 yards from Bears and Wolves and 25 yards from Bison and Elk. This woman also made news by approaching an Elk too closely.

In Glacier National Park a young man just died jumping into a pool of water in Running Eagle Falls. A climber died in Zion in March and last year there was an awful accident in Keyhole Canyon.  The last time Craig and I visited Yellowstone in 2014, a young girl fell at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the day we were there. Last year, a park employee made news when a bear attacked him while he was out alone running or walking without bear spray. On Monday a man fell while taking pictures in Acadia National  Park.

Throughout history accidents have happened in our wild places. Some are avoidable and some are due to weather and nature. I for one am glad there are still so many wild places left in this country and I hope they stay that way. Some great books to read before your trips are Death in Yellowstone, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite and Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. There are also a few other parks with books like these. They will give you a new found respect for the parks and the people that have to try and rescue visitors that make often fatal mistakes.


If you are visiting any National Parks during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, do some research before you go, read the information and warnings at the parks, respect the animals in their home and respect the fragile ecosystems.  If you plan to hike, carry water and bear spray or join a Ranger led hike. Too many are carving and spray painting rocks, leaving trash everywhere and not following warnings. Please do not ruin it for those of us that love and respect these places. Go and have an amazing time and be an ambassador for our parks!

Full Time RV Route Planning

RVMapRoute2017/2018

After we decided on a date of 2018 for full time RVing, I have been planning a route. I think I have a good plan for our first year! I have been using Road Trippers again since it is pretty easy to map out a route online. Then the info shows up in the app on my phone. It is a rough draft right now since campsites are still too far out to book in a lot of the areas. I have to fill in stops in between major stops as well. I would like to keep our driving time to 3-4 hours or less on travel days. We also have to firm up where we would like to work. Interviews for the summer season (April-October) in the National Parks usually happen in November and December of the previous year. We hope to work in Yellowstone or Grand Teton for our first summer season since they have a lot of options for Workampers.

Our plan is to head down to Florida in the fall of 2017. Hopefully the beginning of October. We will just have the truck at that point. We want to stop at Shenandoah, The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Smoky Mountains and Congaree National Parks on the way down. We would also like to see Charleston and Savannah since we have never been. Our cats Lotus and Bamboo have been on a road trip before from Florida to Massachusetts, and luckily several of the hotels are pet friendly.

We will stay the winter in Central Florida. My parents are there and Craig and I lived there for nearly six years. We hope to do some seasonal work at the parks and shop for an RV. 5-6 months should be plenty of time to find one we like (fingers crossed.) Towards the end of March/beginning of April we will head to Wyoming by way of Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. We hope to see several of the National  Parks in those areas on the way. I would like to get to Wyoming towards the end of April, so we will tell them that in our interviews or add that info to our resumes. 

After working the summer in Yellowstone or Grand Teton (hopefully), we would like to head down to Utah or Arizona again.  Zion and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are open year round. If we can, we would like to work a few months at one of these parks. Then we could head to San Diego for a month and up the coast to Yosemite! I am hoping we can work the summer season of 2019 (April-September) in Yosemite National Park. If they would let us leave mid September after Labor Day, we could see Lake Tahoe, Lassen, Redwoods and Crater Lake.  After that we will have to decide! 

Again, we are pretty flexible since we will have to see what job offers we get and what is posted next year. Craig and I have both worked in retail, merchandising, front desk and concierge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, waited on tables, bartended, etc. in the past. We have worked in travel, banking, library/archiving, IT, web design, marketing, PR and owned several companies. Both of us are good with computers. We used to own a pet sitting company so we can help out on farms. In the next year and 1/2 we plan on taking several AMC classes on trail work and building, wilderness first aid and  map and compass info. We already volunteer for several local outdoor organizations helping with walks, trails, hiking, etc. I think we have well rounded backgrounds for Workamping!

Wheelingits blog posts on Planning RV Travels are a big help. I have bookmarked and Pinned so much info it will take me a year to get through it all! A trip to AAA is in order so we can pick up some paper maps. I will also buy Benchmark Maps so we have paper maps on hand. 

Stay tuned for more planning!

   

Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

If you love waterfalls, do not miss Uncle Tom’s Trail in Yellowstone National Park. You descend 328 steps on a steel staircase 3/4 of the way into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. When you get to the bottom you have an amazing view of Lower Yellowstone Falls.  Just remember you have to go back up! Since you are already at 8,000 feet elevation, you may want to take it slow. There are some benches along the way.

Uncle Tom's Trail Down

Lower Yellowstone Falls

The sign at the trail head tells you a little bit about H.F. Richardson. His nickname was “Uncle Tom” and he built a trail to the canyon floor in 1898. People would have to climb down ropes and rope ladders to reach the bottom. Then they would have a picnic lunch and climb back up. I can not imagine climbing in the long dresses and skirts of the early 1900’s! Let us know how you like the hike/climb if you do it.

Uncle Tom's Staircase

Preview Yellowstone Treasures below!

Yellowstone Treasures

 

Yellowstone National Park Geysers and Thermal Features

At Yellowstone National Park there are around 500 geysers and over 10,000 thermal features! There are more geysers at Yellowstone than anywhere else on Earth. One of the best walks to see many of the pools, springs and geysers is the Upper Geyser Basin right near the Old Faithful Inn. I love this map of the area:

upper-geyser-basin-map

When we visited in 2014, Craig and I walked the whole Upper Geyser Basin, past Morning Glory Pool, through the woods to Biscuit Basin. It took about three hours round trip. We stopped to take pictures, videos and to sit near the Firehole River for a snack. Be sure and take your bear spray. We did not see many people past Morning Glory Pool.

There will be geyser eruption times posted at the Old Faithful Inn and the Visitor Center. There is also an NPS App you can download that will give you several possible eruption times. Sometimes, you will luck out while walking and see a group of “Geyser Gazers” that may be waiting by a certain thermal feature. They keep the rangers up to date on what might be ready to erupt. We got to see Beehive Geyser shoot 200 feet in the air! The rangers also give free walks and talks around the geyser basins during the day and evenings. 

Do not forget Norris Geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, the Lower Geyser Basin and Firehole Lake Drive. West Thumb Geyser Basin is also unique because it is next to Yellowstone Lake. I love the Fishing Cone hot spring where in the past people would catch a fish in the cold lake and then cook it in the spring!  Be careful! When you get past Morning Glory Pool, you are able to walk right next to some of the thermal features. The boardwalks can also get very crowded at peak times. Near Grand Prismatic Spring was usually packed. Stay on marked trails. What geysers have you seen erupt at Yellowstone?  Sometimes you will catch a surprise eruption!

 


Where Should I Stay in Yellowstone?

When I first started researching a Yellowstone National Park trip, I was not aware of how many hotels, lodges and cabins there were at the park. I only really knew about the Old Faithful Inn. The park is very large, and driving to each section can take a long time. You want to stop and see the sights and there may be traffic jams due to animals on the roads. It is not safe to drive when it is dark because you may hit an animal. You do not want to hit an elk or buffalo!

About a year ahead, I started to research the different areas and concentrate on what we wanted to see the most. We decided to split our time between the Old Faithful area, Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt and Lake.  Reservations open May 1st for the next summer. If you want an Old Faithful Inn room with a bathroom, a Roosevelt Lodge cabin with a bathroom or a Mammoth hot tub cabin, you must book ASAP. Xanterra runs the hotels and lodges at Yellowstone. You want to book through their web site or call them directly.  Here are some pictures of the different locations and what is near them.

The Old Faithful Inn area is very crowded during the day. Around the hotel and Old Faithful were the most crowds we saw the whole trip. A short walk away, the Upper Geyser Basin was much less crowded. At nighttime a ton of people also cleared out. We held a room in the old house section of the Inn. It had a sink, but shared bathrooms down the hall. The bathrooms were very clean and the shower stalls had shower gels and shampoo in them. The Inn is beautiful and they do give tours during the day so you can learn the history.

The Mammoth area is near the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Village has a hotel, cabins, a post office, visitor center, chapel and restaurants. Historic Fort Yellowstone is here and there is a walking tour you can do.  Elk are often seen in this area.  We stayed in a hot tub cabin and it was nice after walking all day.

One of our favorite locations was the Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins. Roughrider Cabins are basic and have a stove for heat. This location is near Lamar Valley and the Northeast Entrance. You would get to the Beartooth Highway from this entrance. You can sign up for the Cowboy Cookout during the summer and ride a horse from the Roosevelt Stables or take a stagecoach! The Lamar Valley is beautiful and a great place to watch for bears and wolves. If you want a cabin with a bathroom, you have to book on May 1st for the next summer. There are only about 14 of these cabins! Otherwise there are shared bathrooms.

The next area we stayed in was near Lake Yellowstone. There are several nice hikes near Lake. You can take boats out or go on a guided Lake cruise. The Lake Hotel rooms are refurbished and expensive, but there are also bright yellow cabins here. Lake Lodge is next door and more rustic. There are cabins in this area as well. You can walk over to the Lake Hotel’s dining room. This is a good spot to get to Hayden Valley and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as well. There is a nice large laundry area at the Lake Lodge.    

I hope this gives you some info on where to start planning. There are other areas to stay at near Canyon and Grant Village as well as campsites spread throughout Yellowstone. The Old Faithful area also has the Snow Lodge and Cabins. TripAdvisor has some great info that you may want to start with. Yellowstone Treasures is also a wonderful book for research!