Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Into the Wild

Ok, so it's been a while since my last post. I am now back in the great state of Kentucky with my family. How I got back here turned out to quite the story, and like every rode trip it didn't go as planned (not even close!). My last weekend in Montana turned out to be better than I could have imagined. After packing up my belongings in Great Falls I said goodbye to my home of a year and headed over to the capital, Helena, to Brendan's to hang out with some good friends. I was able to make some new friends as well as see Josh, Jill, Claire, John Haley, Everit, and Megan again (My profile pic is from that night).

The next day we left early to head over to Yellowstone early so we could do some snowshoeing! We arrived in Gardiner just outside of Yellowstone to pick up the snow shoes and they were in a bit of shock when we told them we needed 9 pair! After the shock washed off we proceeded to enter the park through Roosevelt's Arch in which is enscribed: "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People", which was drawn from a speech given by President Roosevelt on April 23rd, 1903. Some cool facts about the park are that it was the first National Park in the world, not just the U.S. The arch is 50 ft high, The rocks were hewn from basalt, a volcanic rock, quarried locally, and Cost for the Arch was $ 10,000.00.

During the winter time there is only one road open so your options for driving are limited but your options for exploring are limitless! We stopped in to talk to the ranger and decided on snowshoeing up to Tower Falls. While there wasn't a real need for the snow shoes on this hike, I think it's always fun to wear them, although from now on I need some snow pants and to not wear jeans! Along the way we checked out Calcite springs which is in a beautiful area. Once we arrived to Tower Falls it was definitely worth the hike as it was mostly frozen but there was still a trickle of water coming down!

After leaving the park we headed back to Livingston where I had left my truck and I gave everyone big hugs and headed to Bozeman to pick up Chuck for our great adventure together! After picking up Charlie and making enough room for him we had dinner at Mckenzie River and then spent the night at my friend Eliza's place, thanks again Eliza! The following late morning we headed to the edge of town and stopped at the Pop Stand for lunch. After lunch we headed towards Yellowstone as I was going to take Chuck there to experience Yellowstone for the first time. Again, we stopped in Gardiner for the Snowshoes and proceeded to enter the park. I was most excited to show him the hot spring at boiling river that you pass not too far after entering the park. I'm not sure the name of the spot but we took the same trail that several Vista's and I took not too long after we first arrived in Montana a year earlier. We were very wise on this day to have snowshoes as this path had not been traveled on near as much and the

shoes were much needed in spots. We met a nice group of women at our turn around spot, as they took our picture with the Bison in the background, and of course we returned the favor!

Again, I was most looking forward to showing Chuck the hot spring, but I also really wanted him to enjoy the animals and the park did not dissapoint. We were able to see Bison, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, and a wolf! We had cut it a little short and didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked at the hot spring but Chuck still said it was his favorite part of the visit, thought so. After leaving the park we stopped in Bozeman to pick up suppplies, which meant me using the last of my food stamps! Once we filled up on goodies we got on the road and made great ground the first night as we sadly drove out of Montana and stopped about 2 hours outside Salt Lake City (SLC) at a little Store/Rest area. I tried to sleep but I was too restless and the snow was starting to come down so I decided to get on the road and get ahead of the storm. Here I had decided to do something I don't much care for, driving in the snow at night.

Once the sun started to rise however things were pretty good, although we did hit rush hour traffice in SLC. From there we were headed to Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah to check out the scenery and maybe camp for a night. Our dreams would be a little dashed though as once we got close to Bryce Canyon National Park it was basically closed due to the fog and heavy snow. We did get to enjoy some of the scenery just outside the park, such as Red Canyon, which I really enjoyed. The upside to not getting to Visit Bryce was that we could almost make to our next destination now before dark, Las Vegas! I had really wanted to visit my cousin Jenna and her fiancee Joe back a few months earlier while visiting Zion and the Grand Canyon but didn't quite make. However, I made sure to make it a stop this time!

Our visit to Vegas couldn't have went better, well other than less rain, as we were able to spend three awesome days in Vegas. I'd have to say the drive crossing into Arizona before you get into Nevada is one of the prettiest drives I've ever gotten to see! We spent some time on Fremont Street and checked out the light show. While there we had a shrimp cocktail at a casino (where they evidentally started the shrip cocktail in Vegas). I was also able to show Chuck the water show at the Bellagio which is one of the best things to see in Vegas! During our stay I was also able to spend a few hours with my good friend the Mailman aka Ben and I was also able to meet his friend Kristen(SP?). Although we were leaving that morning I stayed and hung out with Ben at the casino until about 4:30 and I'm very happy I did as trouble lurked in the not too far distance! I was also able to win $40 on the slots before I left the casino.

After leaving Vegas is where our fun really began as the rain we encountered in Vegas was nothing to what we were about to experience! As I mentioned earlier there was rain, as one of the biggest rain storms ever was moving through the Southwest; so much for taking an easier route home! While we were DRIVING through Arizona it actually rained 8 inches on us and to put that into context 8 inches of rain is what they USUALLY received in a year!

We were able to get through the rain ok and avoid the three feet of snow they were getting in Northern Arizona as we moved through the Phoenix area. Late in the evening I decided to stop and grab a burger and that's when the trouble began as my truck began smoking! Luckily we were right next to a Wal-Mart and we filled up the fluids an decided to sleep a few hours and let the truck rest as well. During the middle of the night the wind thought it would be funny and decided to slam a shopping cart into the truck scarring both Chuck and myself to death! The next morning the truck started pretty smoothly and we THOUGHT we were in luck. However, after getting on the highway the truck really started smoking and it just shut off. Here I was able to use my new TomTom to give my exact location when I called 911 for the first time in my life. Why 911 you ask? Well, it was 6 in the morning, none of the tow trucking companies on my list were evidently open and I really didn't want to spend too much time stuck on the highway. Luckily we met a very nice man, whom come to find out is the Great, Great, Great Grandson of the founder of Bryce Canyone National Park which I found to be very cool .

We got the truck towed to a town called Safford, which was still in Arizona and is home to some of the nicest people I've ever met. While spending hours on trying to figure out what to do to get home we watched the weather channel inform us of the storm and of the 3 more feet of snow that Flagstaff was going to get! They were calling it the "Western Wallop", which irked me more than anything I belive, what a dumb name. We decided to get a hotel room for the night and went with the one that had a pool, hot tub, and sauna; we needed it. Here's where you never know how things are going to turn out. That night was one of my favoite nights as Charlie and I had one of the times where you laugh so hard you almost soil yourself and you laugh until you cry as we ate our pizza, drank drinks, and talked on the phone with dad. The most enjoyable times often come during times you wish you weren't going through.

Well, I bought two tickets through Southwest Airlines as we were luckily only 85 from Tuscon and Chuck arranged for the cab to get us there. I crammed as much in my truck as possible and grabbed my hiking pack, guitar, wet clothes blag, and something else. The next morning we jumped in the cab and departed the town that gave such great laughs in our hotel room and outside where apparently a business had moved and moved next to "Berger King". We arrived at the Tuscon airport, where we had our next big laugh. As I check my carry on I noticed I had forgotten to take out my fillet knife and it had passed through the security check in, Holy Crap!

Well, luckily no one ever found out about the knife and we were able to make it back home to Kentucky. Later I'll detail what's happen since I've made it back to KY. For now, farewell.