27 May 2011

Holiday Weekend Randomness

I am currently in the middle of taking a five state circuitous route to Colorado to do some work beginning on June 2.  I decided to take the family on this circuitous route to check out some areas that I have never had the chance to see before.  We left Grand Forks yesterday, and as I type this post in Pocatello, Idaho, we have been in the car for about 22 hours over the last two days.  We could have gotten here quicker if not for the 6 hour, 100 mile detour through Yellowstone National Park.

I saw the western half of North Dakota for the first time yesterday, and it is much different than the eastern half.  The Red River Valley is definitely about the flattest place that I have ever seen, with only Kansas coming close.  Starting about Bismarck, however, the land changes from farm to ranch.  The most impressive section of the trip was the 20 miles or so of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, home of the Badlands.  Shortly after stopping for a few minutes in 55 degree weather with about a 30 mile per hour wind, we drove into Montana.  This was the first opportunity that I have had to visit Montana, and it did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination.  Although the Yellowstone River has been flooding recently, leading to a partial closure of I-90, there were no obstacles to our getting through today.

From I-90, we took US 89 to Yellowstone National Park.  It would be easy to spend a week at Yellowstone and still have much to see.  One thing that I did not expect before I started checking the weather this week was a snowstorm.  After driving around for quite a while and checking out a huge canyon and some bubbling and steaming sulfur pools, we got to Old Faithful.  This geyser is probably the most famous feature of the oldest national park in the US.  However, about the time that we got to Old Faithful, near blizzard conditions began and continued until after we left the area.  We were able to see an eruption, but the snow led to less-than-optimal viewing conditions.  The switchbacks without guardrails that were necessary to maneuver to get into the park in a way reminded me of IRT Deadliest Roads and in a way weirded me out, but it was a great view.


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