Tag Archives: USA

Saddling up for Highway 50

Twin Falls was a ‘go to’ place on the map and it didn’t disappoint with the amazing waterfalls that tumble into the gorge along which we happily wandered down the footpath that followed the edge on one side. It was a beautiful hot day & the silence was only disturbed by sequential gunfire. This potentially was a little troubling until we discovered it was the local police firearms practice range. 

The other interesting discovery was that this is where the legendary Evil Kinevil attempted some of his bike stunts. I remember as a child the press in the UK coverage of the various stunts attempted by Evil Kinevil so stumbling across this was an unexpected bonus. Scaling the front of the ramp like a mountain goat I realised to my chagrin that I could have easily nipped up the smooth ramp at the back! 

It was a long drive from here to Ely which involved meandering between state borders to end up in Nevada. We drove into an area where wild fire raged on the hills and the smoke was so thick it blanked out the bright blue sky. It was as fascinating as it was horrific & we did what only British people probably do in the face of such adversity which was to stop & brew some tea!

It was a touch of the ‘ ground hog ‘ day for me in Ely having stayed there earlier in the year with my daughter as we stopped overnight enroute for Bend that had us turning off at Eureka. Sadly this was too brief a visit to dig for Rubies or ride the ghost train but it was a great place to kick start our bid to survive highway 50 or ‘ the loneliest road’

Armed with the booklet & a stamp the following day we pointed the van in search of the towns along the route that counted towards our goal. It meant we stopped in some odd places including a casino which we ventured into. With a self imposed limit of $10 we weren’t likely to bankrupt ourselves & for a few minutes we experienced the heady trill of the machines of chance. I lost all mine but hey it was fun & apart from the near confiscation of my phone all was good. 

Highway 50 is as you can see quite a long & lonely road indeed although to be fair we did travel on some roads that probably could have been considered equally as long & felt a great deal more isolated during our adventure. Still we were on a quest & as the miles rolled we were optimistic that we would get our certificate & badge as planned.

We stopped at one place for a coffee & I was captivated by the small plaque with the John Wayne quote so this was duly purchased & hung in Bertha for the rest of the way. It now adorns my office where I see it daily & it evokes memories of those wide empty spaces.

It was a long old drive that day & we had only had a rough idea of where the wild camp sites would be at the end. As the stamps amounted in the booklet the light was starting to fade & there was maybe a small concern of where we would park up for the night. 

No Bears but Bison & Blueberry Pie

Just passing by

Heading for Yellowstone part of my inner child was hoping for a glimpse of Yogi bear but as he is a cartoon my chances were pretty non existent! But apparently the reality of an encounter with a live bear was more likely hence the need to undergoing ‘bear attack training’ on a cold rainy morning in the Rangers Office.

I guess we had seen the bear spray & read that such creatures room wild but the prospect of entering an area in which potentially we could meet one was a slightly unnerving prospect. 

We listened intently and went off slightly bemused as to the likely hood of meeting a one of Yogi’s less friendly cousins & encountering snow. It was August so was the weather warning & bear stories designed to scare the tourists?

Snow – August!!

Turns out probably not as we ended up performing a multiple point turn on an alpine road as the snow came in horizontally. Thankfully (as I had to get out to ensure safe reversing) we did not need to put our new defensive skills to the test. Note to self though that the Ranger in deed was a wise man & to have ignored his warnings would have been foolhardy in the extreme.


Having altered our sight seeing plans due to the inclement weather we stopped to take in the scenery at a lower level and were rewarded with slightly less rain and some amazing views of the hot springs and slightly strange topography unique to the area.

We left the park and caught sight of some of the other interesting animals that live in the vicinity before heading to downtown Yellowstone for a meal. Whilst dodging the showers with our newly acquired plastic ponchos we spied a gun shop where for a few dollars you could pick a weapon & have a go.

My buddy had previously declared a desire to have try firing a gun so without much encouragement we found ourselves in the shop agonising over the choice of hardware.

I had previously been clay pigeon shooting with a shot gun, which hadn’t been the most enjoyable experience so I was a little nervous about this. Still we selected a handgun and followed the instructor into the range for a safety briefing.

bang bang – target practice

Taking in turns we fired off the rounds and collect our target papers that bore the evidence of our labours. If eyes were initially rolled by the two young men in the gun shop at the sight of two middle aged women when we first wandered they did offer some grudging respect when on inspection of the targets we had actually peppered them quite accurately! 

Clutching our paper prizes we entered the restaurant where we were able to sample meals that contained elk & bison & finished with some blueberry pie. We were stuffed but happy as we drove back to the campsite having ticked off several firsts all in a day.

shared as portion massive but yummy

Our jubilation was short lived though as the next day Bertha developed what could be politely referred to as ‘digestive problems’ & the humour of two Endoscopy nurses having to give the bus what amounted to an enema was not lost on us. Armed with the ‘book of words’ we prepared for the procedure but we were finally aided by two chaps (to whom we remain eternally grateful) that ensured we didn’t spray the contents of Berthas plumbing over ourselves & surrounding area. 

With Bertha sorted we hit the road and prepared to ‘head for the hills’ as it were with the prospect of catching a peek at the Grand Tetons.

Muddling our way to Montana

Waving bye to Washington with the satnav set for Bolder we muddled our way to Montana with the aim of watching the Jackson County Rodeo to help broaden our understanding of a bit of American culture. Rolling down the main street we were amazed how busy a small place could be. Turns out there was a classic car show and a national shooting competition going on at the same time.

So with time to spare we ventured down a bumpy track in search of the campsite, got invited to said shooting competition by a beefy looking bloke in a camouflaged buggy thing who also warned us the camp site would be busy. Driving across what we nicknamed the ‘bridge of doom’ we found his prediction correct. Unable to leave the van as it was too far to walk back we were saved by the kind people who offered to save a space for us. 

Dicing with death we went back across the bridge to downtown Bolder to take a look around the car show until it was time for the Rodeo to begin. A bit later we drew into the show-ground, parked, paid & wandered in. In no time we were chatting to people before being directed into the barn for great food with live country & western music playing as we ate. Fully repleated we then strolled through another barn where I was immediately struck by the similarities to the Horticultural Show held annually in our village except here the rosettes looked way bigger & better.

way to go we are at a Rodeo

Taking our seats in the small grandstand we nervously awaited the start having no real idea what to expect as all the research before hand had really only turned up the glossy shows put on for tourists and this clearly wasn’t the same.

Needn’t have worried though for as soon as our Brit accents were detected the lovely folk on either side of us took us ‘under their wings’ and filled us in on what we were watching. It made the event so much more interesting and memorable. I guess despite the many British traditions we are totally unused to the playing of the National Anthem prior to events unless a very formal occasion. So we did our best (despite feeling a tad awkward) to stand quietly & respectful while the rest of the crowd sang very patriotically.

I am sure there are as with many of these sorts of old country activities some feel they should be stopped because of potential animal welfare issues. Its a difficult one and left me with very mixed feelings as it was undeniably exhilarating but I was concerned about the methods of making the animals grumpy enough to buck the way they do.

ride’m cowboy

The cowboys are clearly an odd breed of man (women it seems generally are far too sensible to get involved) who like risking all for the prestige of winning on the local level lured by the opportunity of earning large amounts of money if they prove to be good at it. It is very dangerous and one guy was hurt while we were there.  I guess as with all these things we look at it from a very different perspective now back in the olden times it was probably essential to have those skills to manage the livestock to maintain your livelihood. 

The level of horsemanship was amazing views as someone who has only been on horseback a handful of times but I gather now the quad bike is a more likely steed of choice. Coming away from the event I couldn’t help smile when shuffle offered us “Cocaine Cowboys” by Margo Price. I can’t help but smile upon hearing the lyric ‘they don’t rope no cattle or ride no bulls’ as I now listen from a very different perspective jogging memories of Bolder that will stay with me for a long while.

We made it back to the free camp site which was a tranquil place once the shooting competition had finished and got a good nights kip before recalibrating the navigation to take us to Yellowstone.