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October through December, 2012

On the Road

We began our Fall quarter with a RoadTrek camping trip to Yellowstone Park. In the past we have spent nights in hotels in the park; this was our first time “camping.” Local friends Phil and Joan accompanied us in their own RoadTrek. We had all been to Yellowstone many times so our intent was to get out and see things we miss when taking visitors on day trips.

Each of the first two days we did 5 mile hikes to see sights well off the road. This is breeding season for elk and bison and the bears are bulking up for Winter so we were constantly on the lookout for danger and were armed with plenty of bear spray. We had planned a loop for our first hike but came upon a sign saying the planned return trail was closed due to “bear activity” and had to return the way we came. On our second hike we encountered a badger digging a den. He kept a wary eye on us as we walked by at a safe distance.

On our third (and last) day, Phil and Gary did a 3 mile round trip hike to Fossil Forest to see many specimens of fossilized trees dating from a time when the Yellowstone area was subtropical. Here, Phil poses between two fossilized tree trunks; a third one is visible in the distance at the top left of the picture. Although the hike distance was short there is a 1,350 foot elevation gain (and loss), mostly concentrated in a short and very steep section. Phil's guide book referred to it as “a long session on a StairMaster set at 10.” They finished the hike in good time in spite of difficulties finding the trail and the gruelling trip up and down the steep section.

On the night of October 2 weather switched from Summer to late Fall. We drove home from Yellowstone in 80°F temperatures and woke at home the next morning to find snow on the ground. It continued to snow off and on for 4 days, with temperatures as low as 15°F at night.

This 3-day trip brought our cumulative days on the road to 77. The RoadTrek finished its third season with a bit over 50,000 miles on the odometer.

In mid-October we finally got a rainstorm that wet down the driveway enough to compact the road mix put down in early June. The first step was to use a road grader to “blade” the drive to remove the wash-board created by us driving up and down the uncompacted road mix. Then, a vibratory roller was used to compact the road mix. The vibratory roller is the white machine parked next to the Carriage House. When it is running, the ground shakes like a minor earthquake.

We spent the last week of October preparing the driveway and truck for Winter, then drove to Seattle on October 29. We spent a couple of days with Gary's mother, then flew to Japan on November 1. Our trip continued to China and Hong Kong, returning to Seattle November 26 for the drive home, arriving November 28. This brings our total days on the road to 107. The Asia trip will be documented elsewhere if and when Gary gets around to organizing the over 1,000 photos he took.

Friend Ken bagged an elk and deer, so we will have plenty of meat for the coming year. After hunting season the elk determined it was safe to return. Pumpkin is content to watch over them as long as they stay in a group; if any start to wander, she tries to herd them back to the group.

Dan and Jenny had to plow once while we were away, then we were treated to several good snows on our return. Bridger Bowl opened with a very good base. Pauline had to have follow-up tests at UCSF and took the opportunity to visit friends and family in northern and southern California, giving her an additional 10 days on the road. Gary stayed home on the excuse that Dan and Jenny had done enough house and dog sitting this year.


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