Archive for June, 2010

Dirt and grime down the shower drain

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Ok, I admit that was a tad disconcerting title. Let’s get into how that came to be though. This is the story of our way across Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming to get to Yellowstone.

It was about 2200 KMs from Chicago to Yellowstone and given that Jamhuri drives at about 100 km/h max with good winds on the back, it took us 3 nights on the road and 8-10 hours driving a day. First 2 nights we just parked and slept at real nice highway rest stops in Wisconsin and Minnesota that have bathrooms and water but no showers. What more can you ask of a free rest stop?

We didn’t mind too much thanks in part to wet wipes 😉 More than anything, it was the light at the end of the tunnel in our minds that we’ll stay at a front country or car campground in Yellowstone first couple of night when we get there which should of course have showers.

Not too much to mention about the long drive save that Wisconsin was one of the greenest states to drive through and South Dakota was a lot like Saskatchewan prairies except (thankfully) with many more hills and horses. I’m still reminded of one of the jokes that always crack me up “imagine Spiderman in the prairies, squinting with his eyes, wrist outstretched, wondering for the life of him what the hell he’s gonna jump onto…..”

sunrise in south dakota near lewis and clarke trail

sunrise in south dakota near lewis and clarke trail

We did stop by Mt Rushmore in South Dakota as it was only a couple hours side drive. The 4 presidential faces carved onto the mountain side are impressive but not so impressive as the fact that the sculptor Borglum began this monumental task when he was 60!!! Talk about a sweet retirement package.

Grinning in front of Mt Rushmore

Grinning in front of Mt Rushmore

Once we entered Wyoming, it was beautiful montane vistas all the way. Our 3rd night on the road we stayed at a free forest site in Big Horn National Forest where its basically a huge forest and you can park anywhere you see a firepit and there’s not much else in way of amenities. This forest was right under a 10,000 ft snowy mountain peak and its totally wild. After a bit of offroading with the van , we parked (in once piece) at a clearing in the pine forest overlooking the peaks.

jamhuri parked in bighorn forest under snowy peak

jamhuri parked in bighorn forest under snowy peak

True to its name, we saw many horned animals in big horn forest including bunch of moose, dozens of elks and few prong horns.

young bull moose having dinner

young bull moose having dinner

When we got to Yellowstone on Friday June 18th, we had to drive almost all around the park through 4-5 campgrounds to get a camping spot as this place gets packed like a beehive in summer weekends! Since we needed to get a camping spot, we passed by the showers at the entrance of the park! BIG mistake!

When we finally found a spot late evening after an initial sigh of relief from4 days on the road, we realized that our campground had no showers so we drove to another one 20kms at late night on uphill winding mountain roads without guardrails and full of animals that can total even our full metal van. Urge to feel human again can be a strong motivation!

Like corralled horses being let out of pans, we ran to the bathroom and could almost feel the divine light shining down on us! We opened the door of the washroom and our eyes took a few moments to adjust to the incandescent lights! What we did see was heartbreaking… only toilets and no showers!

Like Eeyore, we drooped our heads low and drove back to our camp spot with a firm decision to drive back to the entrance of the park 80kms away if we had to next day for a shower. We did finally got to showers on Saturday and were barely surprised at the $3.25 per person you have to pay in Yellowstone for a shower!!!

We’re still in Yellowstone right now and saving up for our next shower, stay tuned for an update in a week or so…

Leaving for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

We stayed about a week in Chicago with my sister Deepa and brother-in-law Mayank. They’ve been amazing hosts and were very patient with us while we slowly tried to ramp up our spice tolerance with Indian food.

After reading a few accounts on Yellowstone such as the fact that this has been the year with the most number of bear cubs and that a grizzly can close in a 100 yards gap in few seconds to the advice that a group of smaller than 4 people hiking in Yellowstone backcountry can be dangerous, we decided to take couple extra days to ensure we were well prepared.

Learned one important thing that the Bear Sprays sold in MEC are very weak compared to the ones required for serious grizzly country like that in Yellowstone or Denali. For that you need the ones sold in REI or Cabela’s such as Udap or Counter Assault which have 2% Capsaicin content vs. the 1% in the Frontiersman sold at MEC. Glad we figured that BEFORE we saw any grizzlies!

Now we’re off for 2-3 weeks in Yellowstone and will post updates afterward. Keeping my fingers crossed that we see many many bears.

We were on TV!

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Apparently, Josh works at a local Michigan TV station called WZZM and a colleague of his, Stephanie, wanted to do a small story on us and we agreed. What we didn’t know was what to expect as we did the interview about 10 minutes after waking up and with bright lights on our faces. I’m thinking “deer in headlights”….

Check out the clip on the station’s site:

We left for Chicago on the evening of Friday June 4th and made it there around 10 at night after catching some good draft off trailers that overtook us. This shoots our highway cruising speed through the roof (literally!) from 60mph to 70 mph!!!! Def. proud of Jamhuri to pull that off.

Think of it as a modern interpretation of God Speed and Good Winds!