Mountain Country

USA, 09/12/2016

12 September

After a good night’s sleep in the Buffalo Bill Cabins we hit the road at a leisurely 8am this morning.

Our morning tea stop is the Pahaska Tepee, I can’t even remember this place to be honest, only reason I know we stopped here is Google Maps.

As we head toward Yellowstone National Park, we have to make a detour and change our approach as there has been a massive forest fire in one part of the park. As we head higher in elevation the temperature is dropping and soon it’s snowing outside.

Craig pulled the bus over for us to get out and experience the snow. The further in toward Yellowstone we get the heavier the snow. It’s like a winter wonderland with all the trees heavy with freshly fallen snow.

After driving around Yellowstone for a bit we stopped at the area of the park where Old Faithful is are some massive lodges here and plenty of places to grab some food.

Matt built a little snowman and we had a snowball fight, the snow was amazing I have never been in snow this heavy before. We walked around in the snow and had a look at all of the hot pools and scenery

in the area then headed back up to wait for Old Faithful to go off, there is a countdown clock which shows when it’s going to go off.

As we waited in the viewing area more and more people came out from the lodges to brave the snow and watch Old Faithful do its thing.

When it went off we couldn’t see a thing as the snow and cloud completely masked it, we could hear it going but really couldn’t see much. Oh well we are here for 4 hours so it’s going off again while we are here.

So we headed back to the lodge and looked for somewhere to grab lunch. We went into an oddly set up little diner where there are rows of seats all of which are serviced by staff behind the counter, rows of counters, the only way in for staff is via little gates in the counters, which the Indian lady on the tour with us managed to stumble through and find her way into the serving area. Then our South African had a really confusing conversation with the staff and it was clear they had no idea what to make of him.

Our second attempt to see Old Faithful was no better the snow had got even heavier, but we had a great day playing in the snow and looking around.

To me Yellowstone is a lot like Rotorua just bigger and everything is more spread out, the lakes with the hot water seeping into them right by the shoreline are really amazing to see.

Our accommodation for the night is right near the edge of Yellowstone so it didn’t take long to get there, we arrived at around 5 O’Clock after dropping the bags in the room we headed off to find the Grizzly

Centre an attraction I had spotted on trip advisor, as we walked up toward it we bumped into some fellow bus travellers who had had the same thought, they told us it had closed at 4PM.

There is not a lot in this town we walked around for 20 minutes or so and covered the whole town twice, on our walk we saw the Gun Range where you can shoot all sorts of weapons including a Gatling Gun!

We went into Yellowstone Big Gun Fun and ordered the AK47, after a short wait and a safety briefing we were taken into the shooting range and given the AK47 with 10 rounds in it. We shot on Semi-automatic so as to make the rounds and fun last longer.

I went first and it was an awesome experience the sound was what surprised me you certainly couldn’t take someone out discreetly with one of these it is really loud. I was pleased with my shooting, I was happy with my grouping on the target. Matt had a go and his aim was amazing, even the guy at the gun shop looked impressed.

We kept our targets as souvenirs.

13th September

On the road again sharing stories with tour fellow travellers, remember being keen to tell them about the AK47 firing. I showed Craig & Doris the target sheet.

First stop Ashton, we had crossed over briefly into Idaho, basically a gas station with a subway out the back in the middle of farmland.



Seeing loads more yellow grasslands now and it’s looking a lot more like winter than summer outside.

Today we saw our first Buffalo in the wild, it wasn’t long before we saw groups of them huge beasts grazing happily on the yellow grass, we stopped for some picture opportunities.

Our lunchtime stop was Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming; this is a magnificent place, a massive lodge with stunning views.

After lunch we went for a walk into the surrounding hills, we spotted lots of wildlife as we walked along the ridge of a hill overlooking the reserve below, including a brown beer who came out of the shrubs below briefly then made a hasty retreat


We walked for about 3 KM until we reached the edge of the forest, then headed back to the lodge, it was a fantastic walk really enjoyed getting away from the beaten track a bit.

Short drive up to Lake Jenny where we stopped briefly for a look around, this is one of the many times I was happy I had brought Matt along on this trip, as everyone else is walking around the paths at the top of the hill overlooking the lake, Matt clambers down to the lakeside down a goat track, so of course I followed, it is so much better to get in and amongst it.

I caught a couple of the other blokes on the tour looking down at us with slightly envious looks.

After spending some time enjoying the views at Lake Jenny we got back on the bus and headed to Jackson’s Hole our home for the next couple of days, looking forward to the Chuckwagon Diner that evening.

Around 3 we arrive at the Painted Buffalo Inn today has been a nice easy day as far as travel goes nice to have just short hops on the bus after several long days.

Checked into the big old style country hotel, quite a nice pool in this hotel it has the hotel logo painted on the bottom and has a spa and sauna area.

We had a couple of hours till the dinner so grabbed a quick swim.


The bus took us out to the Bar T5 which is where all the covered wagons and horses were waiting to take us to our Chuckwagon diner.

We piled aboard our designated wagon and were given a rundown of all the horses by the drivers, as we head out there are guys on horseback dressed as red Indians and hillbillies pretending to attack the wagons.

The dinner place is like a big campsite that you go to as a kid with chow lines and wooden picnic tables

Despite the fact this was as touristy as you can get it was loads of fun, it’s a family run business which employs loads of students to help out all of whom are enthusiastic and clearly love what they are doing.


This was a really fun evening and several of our group were called up to take part in the skits that they put on Matt was called up first to ring the dinner bell and as a reward he got first go at the food, perfect.

One of the quiet guys on our tour bus with the big moustache was also part of one of the acts, his line was “Oh La La” and he got right into the spirit of it, we all played on it with him later, he seemed to enjoy it.

I enjoyed the show the guys doing the music were not too bad and the comedy routine was pretty funny if a bit over the top. The fiddle player was pretty good he did a great rendition of Devil went down to Georgia, the thing that impressed me the most was how much fun they looked like they were having, the interactions with each other and the crowd were genuine and they clearly enjoyed entertaining.

Matt was so taken by it he spoke to the owner about the possibility of signing up for some work there.

They took us back on the wagons, it was dark by now and it was a quick bus trip back to the hotel. Aussie guy had our wagon driver and the rest of us in fits of laughter on the way back.

This was one of the best nights out with the bus crowd and we have started to bond with quite a number of them a bit more now.



14th September

Its White-water rafting day!

So today is a free day in Jacksons Hole and we have a busy day planned.

We caught a local bus to the Teton Village Ski resort and found where the cable car went up, the weather was closing in a bit and it was quite chilly. There was a big group of German tourists getting tickets as we arrived so we quickly got in the line behind the only 2 other people who had arrived before us. Struck up a conversation with them they were a couple from Texas who were also travelling.

When we got to the top of the mountain it was snowing quite hard and visibility was almost zero, we wandered around a bit then decided that the waffle hut looked a warmer place to sit given we could not see the view. The same Texan couple were in there and we spent a good half hour chatting to them, really nice people.


We caught the next cable car down the mountain and as we got about half way down the weather cleared a tiny bit giving us a glimpse of the views we had missed, even though the trip up had been a bit of a fail due to the weather I actually really enjoyed it as it was nice to have some time to just chat with some locals.

So it was back on the bus from Teton Village to Jacksons Hole.

We wandered around Jackson’s Hole looking for somewhere to grab lunch, everything looked so expensive or not the sort of food we wanted, not much on offer for those with budgets in this town, eventually we spotted a Wendy’s and had lunch there.

Then we walked up to the white water rafting pick up point. There we were issued with our wetsuits and we got changed into them and waited for the bus to take us out to the river. Quite amusing watching some of the people who arrived after us getting into their wetsuits hilarious how long one woman took.

There was a woman of about 80 odd years old and she was going white water rafting what a legend!

We stopped off to pick up some folk from another pick up point, they had Trek America tour guide with them. There was this really huge Swedish looking guy struggling into his wetsuit as he waited on the bench outside the pickup point.

When we arrived at the starting point for the river rafting it was hosing down with rain and there was some fairly impressive lightning going on, the guides said if anyone didn’t want to go that was fine, but the tour was proceeding anyway.

Only one person pulled out, not the 80 year old woman but no the big Swedish guy.

Matt and I were assigned a raft with a family, they were a really nice bunch and I enjoyed chatting with the father, he was an interesting and likable guy.

White-water was cool and the scenery was great, it was exhilarating going down the river in the wet weather and hitting the small rapids, the guide was good and gave us clear instructions on when to paddle etc.

Great fun a couple of times I had to dig my foot under the strap to stay put on my seat and copped a couple of splashes but didn’t feel any cold at all.

Loads of floating between the rapids enabled us to enjoy the stunning views.

When we finished I discovered getting changed out of a wetsuit is not very easy and I forgot to bring dry clothes or a towel doh!

The bus then took us back into town and we said farewell to the nice family, Matt took a family shot for them before we headed off.

Later on we headed into the Million Dollar Cowboy bar, where we shot pool and I taught Matt how to play Nine Ball.

Couldn’t remember how to set the rack up and one of the friendly locals nicely showed us how to do it, he was nine ball fan as well.

We did some major damage to our 1/4s supply on those tables.

Great evening topped off another great day on tour so nice not to be on the road today.


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