Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Terrific autumn road trip yields surprises, critters, quiet and, pardon the cliche, quality time!

Fall blankets the Teton Range with splendid colors.  It's not to late to plan a trip.  Teton Village and Jackson await!
This tranquil morning reflection combines Teton mountains, water and stone.



IF YOU have not visited Grand Teton National Park in a while, or taken a day or two in Yellowstone or Glacier, get yourself there now if you're anywhere near!  Prime fall colors, an abundance of birds and wildlife,  and an absence of crowds make this my favorite "park time."
Fall is our reporter's favorite time to visit Yellowstone, for scenery and solitude.

You can't visit a national park too many times.  It's just not possible.  Each visit is nuanced, each drive or hike yields different sights.
Stop off for an ice cream, and a view of the elk in downtown Mammoth.
This healthy bison was on the "second choice" road -- a first-class encounter.
Especially in this changing weather, roads close and open on a moment's notice.  Critters and birds are on the move as winter approaches.
Examples, from our travels within the last few days in all three of Montana's and Wyoming's national parks -- Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier.
*A grizzly sow and her cubs were feasting on the lovely drive from Moose to Jackson, in the Tetons. Thus, the road was closed by the park service, necessitating a detour to Teton Village.  We saw a moose close-up on the revised route, and found a restaurant for a later supper!
*In Yellowstone, the direct road from Norris to Old Faithful was closed, so we skipped our favorite geyser and drove to Tower instead. We practically had the road to ourselves and the colors were breathtaking. We saw more bison on that afternoon than we've seen in the last two trips to Yellowstone combined! Mammoth provided great ice cream and dozens of nearby elk.
* In Glacier just two days ago, we had snow during our first few hours as we drove north from Fairfield. Undeterred, we  tossed our bags in the hotel room (the lovely Dancing Bears in East Glacier) and took off for Two Medicine Lake for fabulous snow photos.  Next morning, we spent an almost balmy day driving north, watching a grizzly bear at close range for over an hour.
FLEXIBILITY is the key when traveling anywhere, particularly in the parks where road repair and critter movement can close roads.)  But make that part of the fun and be prepared to embrace the change and enjoy the surprises. But aren't flexibility and cultivation of the art of rolling with the punches worthy credos for life itself? This kind of travel is relaxing, romantic and quality -- for conversation and closeness at the shared wonders!
We visited the Columbus Cemetery to pay respects to ancestors.
We also took the lovely back roads most of the way from Livingston to Columbus, stopping off at the cemetery there to visit our ancestors' graves on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
AS I WRITE this in early October, I hope you, dear readers, are not too far away to drive to one of our splendid national parks.
If you are an armchair traveler, get up, hit the computer and plan to book a trip for next season. Our parks are our national treasures. Off-season rates are available and the crowds are gone!
For lucky us, we're just minutes as the crow flies from our door in Beartooth country to Yellowstone's northern borders.
But each beloved national park has its own distinctive beauty and allure.
COMING SOON:  We're winding up our circuit tour of the three national parks closest to us.  Next up, Glacier National Park, the Fairfield Inn, Dancing Bears in East Glacier, and the elegant Barrister Bed and Breakfast in Helena. Plus tips on traveling happily with family. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com

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