|We re-fueled and hit the road Wednesday morning right at 11:00 and set the autopilot for the Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park – conveniently on the banks of the Yellowstone River – about 18 miles south of Livingston, Montana which, as luck would have it, is about 35 miles from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park...I did not plan it, it just happened that way :). We got set up and decided that since the weather was good, we pointed the Jeep south and by just after 6:00 we were driving in through the North Entrance of YNP.
From there the plan was to head to Lamar Valley to check out the activity as dusk approached...and we got pretty lucky. Aside from the normal bison and antelope, we got to spot 2 Black Bears way across the valley and just before we were about to pack it in, one of the other gawkers spotted something moving just on the other side of the river – about half the distance to where the Black Bears were – and it turned out to be an adult Grizzly. We got to watch him work his way in and out of the treeline for about 20 minutes before he disappeared and the darkness made it tough to keep track of him.
We have a spotting scope and binoculars so to the unprepared gawkers, we are pretty popular...and more than willing to let them take a peek at the wildlife. But as “experienced” as we think we are, we pale in comparison to some of the regulars in both Hayden and Lamar valleys. They can tell you about the wolves by their nickname or tracking number and which pups are theirs and which other pack members are their brothers and sisters, they know some of the grizzlies by nickname and how many cubs they have had in their lifetime...it’s pretty amazing and at the same time, kind of weird.
The plan for our full day near Livingston was to snoop around town – even though there ain’t much – and it worked out OK. Our first stop was at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum. It had 3 floors of displays about the history of the area including details of where Lewis & Clark camped as they passed through the area on their way to the Pacific, significant information on the Indians who lived in the nearby mountains and a big display about local residents who have served in the military. For a small town museum, it was pretty extensive and well-done.
Our next stop was another museum, the Livingston Depot Center which focused on the Northern Pacific Railroad that was instrumental in getting vacationers to the area and Yellowstone prior to the invention of the car and national highway system. An interesting fact...the building was designed by the same architect that designed Grand Central Station in The Big Hairy Apple. If you are a railroad history buff, it was probably pretty interesting...to us, it was OK but not a “wow”.
We walked across the street for a decent lunch, then did a short drive through town and pointed the jeepster back towards home, with a minor detour along East River Road to see what life is like on the other side of the Yellowstone River. It wasn’t much different than the west side. Actually, the whole Paradise Valley is really nice – the Absaroka Mountains to the east, the Gallatin Range to the west and Yellowstone at the south end...a pretty great combination.
If you recall back about 51 weeks ago, we had a mouse adventure. It now appears that this is going to be an annual event. Michele thought she saw something scamper across the floor out of the corner of her eye but couldn’t confirm it so we went on with our lives. Later I, not out of the corner my eye, saw it head past my feet toward the front of the house. Swell. If history tells us one thing, it’s that once you buy mousetraps, don’t get rid of them...you’re gonna need them again.
So I set out 2 traps baited with peanut butter, but not a lot of optimism. Just as we prepared for a sleepless night, we heard one of the traps snap and saw that it had done it’s job perfectly...a small gray rodent with a crushed skull was lying motionless under the kitchen sink. If you ever have a mouse problem, I highly recommend these http://www.victorpest.com/victor-quick-kill-mouse-trap-bm140s-4. We both slept a lot better knowing that at least one of the little beasts was now pushing up daisies...even though there may be more.
We had considered getting up at 4:00am and heading back to the Lamar Valley for some dawn gawking before we had to dash back to check out of the campground by 11:00 but another peek at the radar and forecast before bed kind of put a nail in that coffin. And it was a fortuitous peek because at about 4:30 Friday morning the rain and thunder started with the kind of enthusiasm that Mother Nature is really good at. So we slept in and at 11:00 hit the road towards our next stop, a grueling hour away in Bozeman.