Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Part 4

To catch up on our Road Trip: Part 1Part 2Part 3

After leaving Grand Tetons National Park the morning of Day 5, we continued on the road and soon entered Yellowstone National Park.  Though I think seeing the moose so close was probably my favorite wildlife sighting, we had yet to see any buffalo up close.  But today was our day.  This guy was just walking through the clearing as we were checking out the geysers.

I find their shape so funny: big shoulders and rather slender hips!

Yellowstone's roads look like a figure-eight, and the easiest way to see all the sights is to drive around the perimeter, getting out of the car and taking short hikes to each of the exciting features along the way.  The first attraction of the day was Old Faithful.  We lucked out timing-wise, arriving only 20 minutes before the expected eruption time.  Pretty impressive and certainly louder than I had expected.

The water spurting out is almost as high as the tree line in this photo.
We took in all the sights off the figure-eight path: hot springs, huge water falls, fumaroles, geysers, and bubbling mud pots.

The hot springs were really clear and colorful.  Doesn't this one look inviting?
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
As long as you know your cue--pull off the road if you see lots of other cars pulled off--you will see interesting sights.  We pulled off here, where some other park visitors were expecting to see a young pack of wolves crossing the hills, based on the patterns they had come to understand after their two week stay in the park.  One visitor showed us his video from the night before when a bear and her two cubs had come up over the hills on their way home for the night.  If we had unlimited time, I would have loved to participate in a 2-week long wildlife watch.  But that will have to wait until retirement!

A buffalo crossing the river
"I'll just have grass: I'm watching my figure."
After wildlife spotting and observing the beautiful views until well past sun-down, we set up the tent once again.  This time we were a bit smarter and had booked a campsite earlier that morning, as we entered Yellowstone.  So day 5 of the road trip came to an end with our tent quickly assembled and eyelids rapidly closed.

Day 6 included over 12 hours of driving, without much to report.  More road games, interesting book-on-tape stories, and lots of small towns.  We finally ended up in Reno, Nevada, our final stop before pulling into California the following day.
We were able to book a hotel room in a casino while on the road, thanks to technology, which made for a pretty fun reward after a long day of driving.  I experienced my first true buffet (could barely walk afterwards), and I began the evening at the blackjack tables as merely a spectator, until I finally gained the confidence to try my hand.  Without much good luck, though, we called it a night.  The next morning we needed to leave Reno before 5am in order to pull into San Francisco in time to meet the mover (or so we thought....)

Leaving at 4:45am on Day 7 was a bit painful, but we were about to cross our final state line, and we could rest up at the finish line.

Still pitch black outside by the time we crossed into California.
A little over 4 hours of driving (and Sacramento traffic) later, we arrived at the storage unit to meet our moving truck driver, where we had agreed to unload.  Except, the moving truck was nowhere to be found, and our mover was conveniently ignoring my phone calls.  After several hours, we gave up and drove around San Francisco; at least we'd take this opportunity to get a feel for the different neighborhoods while we waited for any news from our mover.  Finally, a returned call confirmed our driver was a flake...a rather poor excuse for a big mixup (he was down in LA, unloading someone else's stuff that day.)

Almost three months later, I was still a bit annoyed at the unprofessional communication with the moving truck driver and the delay in our unloading.  However, last week I noticed a several hundred dollar credit to my card from the moving company.  I can only assume it is a refund for their mixup?  Whatever--I'll take it!

Anyway, the road trip ended with us in our brand new city.  We spent the next week apartment-hunting and house-sitting (well, I did, at least.  One of us had to start the new job the next day!).

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