Friday, June 20, 2008

Final night at Mammoth

We are still at the Mammoth campground in Mammoth Hot Springs. We had actually intended to leave this morning, but when I called Xanterra to see if they could fit us in the Canyon campground tonight, they said no, so we settled for tomorrow instead, and re-upped for another night here.

Tuesday we had a nice hike through the "terraces," the hydrothermal feature which gives this place its name. We also rode around the little community here for a little bit before I had to get ready for my teleconference presentation. My call took us all the way to dinner time and beyond, and we rode back up to the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel for dinner.

Yesterday I had another conference call in the middle of the day, which kind of nixed doing any serious sightseeing. In the afternoon we rode the five miles north to the little town of Gardiner, Montana, where were were able to pick up a few groceries and essentials in a store that was a good deal larger and marginally cheaper than the Xanterra-run stores here in the park, with a somewhat greater selection of items. We also scoped for future dinner options, but decided there was nothing there that warranted another ten-mile round trip.

On the way to Gardiner we passed the spot in the river where a hot spring empties into it, making a nice soaking area. Unfortunately, the area is closed right now due to high water flow and levels, just as Firehole was. The one-way "old Gardiner road," which we had wanted to take on the northbound leg, is also closed as impassable. When dinner time finally rolled around, I made the chicken that we had purchased down in Grant Village.

Today we rode over to Roosevelt and Tower Falls, to see the various sites that we figured to be inaccessible to us when we pass that way in Odyssey. That included the petrified tree and Tower Falls themselves, as well as driving right up to the Roosevelt Lodge, in front of which were parked no fewer than six ranger patrol cars, two with lights ablaze. The rangers appeared to be searching a car item by item, and it looked for all the world like a drug bust. One of our planned diversions was the Blacktail Plateau Drive, but that, too, was closed as impassable. Actually, the sign said "POOR" conditions, but someone had altered the "R" to a "P" and added a "Y."

As long as we were at Tower Falls on the scoots, we looped through the Tower Fall Campground, which is listed in the guide as suitable only for rigs 30' and shorter, and as having a hairpin turn. In fact, no such sign is posted at the campground itself, and we found at least four sites that would fit Odyssey. The hairpin, while perhaps an obstacle for more conventional 39' rigs, would pose no problem for us, either. We've already got non-refundable reservations at Canyon, so it's moot, but, were we to do it over, I would zip over there on the scooter at checkout time and snag a long site before they fill up.

This evening I did the ranger-led walking tour of old Fort Yellowstone before we retired to our third and final dinner in the hotel. Tomorrow we will head down to the Canyon area, where I understand the visitor center is fantastic.

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