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Vacation From Vacation – Chasing the Stoke

Vacation From Vacation

Posted General Ramblings Travel

We took a little break from climbing to visit some friends in Wyoming and Montana, and we were completely spoiled by all of them.

First we stopped in Pinedale, a little town on the western side of the Wind River range in Wyoming, to visit some long time family friends of mine. They’re dog people and it didn’t take Kingston long to figure out just how to work them in order to get treats. I’m pretty sure he would have been totally happy if we had left him there for the duration of our trip and just picked him up on the way home. He would have been 15 pounds overweight, but he’d be happy.

While there we got the scenic tour of the area. Most things are within walking distance and there are a couple of nice parks right in town. On our walk home from dinner one night we saw a mama moose and her baby who couldn’t have been more than a few days old. We wanted to get closer, but we didn’t want to startle the little one, so we gave them plenty of room.

The Winds were still pretty full of snow, so we didn’t get to do any hiking. But we did take a nice drive to check out some viewpoints. Mark is already planning a return visit later in the summer to do some climbing in the Cirque of Towers.


After a few days of rest, relaxation, photo sharing, and trading adventure stories with the Petersens, we headed north to Montana. What a beautiful drive! We got to go through both Grand Teton National and Yellowstone national parks in one day. The Tetons are striking, jutting up from the flatlands like stegosaurus spikes.


Yellowstone, as expected, was busy with tourists. They say that car accidents cause more injuries and deaths than anything else in the park. I believe it. Some people want to race through while others want to slow down and check out the views. And the wildlife, what everybody is there to see, don’t always congregate near convenient pull-outs to pose for pictures.

And wildlife there was. We got to see buffalo, elk, antelope, rams, and even a young grizzly bear. Mark is pretty sure he saw a wolverine, too, but it was too quick to get a good look. A lot of the animals seem totally used to people by now. At one point there was a buffalo walking down the middle of the road, just feet from our van. We could have reached out and pet it. The one animal we didn’t get to see was a wolf. Apparently you have to get up really early to catch them. And they mostly stay away from where people are. I don’t blame them.


Some friends of ours from New York were visiting family just north of the park, so we stayed with them in Chico Hot Springs. We felt a little bit like we were crashing their family gathering, but they welcomed us with open arms and made us feel right at home. We made some new friends and even took a couple of them climbing one day at a cool little cliff south of Livingston, Montana.

There’s a grizzly sanctuary just outside of Bozeman, and even though we did see one bear in the wild, we wanted to see some big boys up close. So we met up with another friend of mine from Colorado and visited the Montana Grizzly Encounter. They rescue bears mostly from inhumane captive situations and care for them when they can’t be reintroduced back into the wild. The big guy, Brutus, is kind of a movie star. Raised by humans from just a few weeks old, he appears on TV and movies with Nat Geo host Casey Anderson. Their youngest rescue, Bella, though, looks like she’s vying to steal his spotlight.


A whole week of visiting with friends, relaxing, lots of good food, multiple showers, and a much needed haircut for Mark. It was so great to see everyone, but we’re ready to get back to camping, climbing, and “roughing it.”