Tag Archives: USA

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.

When the man doesn’t burn for you

A colleague at work said ahh forget Glastonbury & go with her to The Burning Man Event. Totally gabbed by this wild idea but unsure if a wind up I sounded her out when we were next on shift together.

Turns out she wasn’t joking which triggered a set of actions in motion that resulted in the booking of a motorhome & flights. Ahgast at the prospect of shelling out $1600 upfront for tickets we decided to play the official ‘lottery system’ where they would be around $500. Given the event is in Nevada it seemed sort of appropriate to take a gamble but we sadly played & lost due impart to a shaky internet connection. So with Plan A dead in the water so to speak we needed an alternative. Armed with my faithful Google maps I scuttled back to the virtual drawing board & came up with Plan B.

Colleagues at work were watched & listened somewhat agog at the unfolding plans possibly a little sceptical that we would actually carry them out. We ran the gauntlet of jibes re Thema & Louise etc but we just smiled enigmatically & firmed up the details of our oddessy.

Given we had never been on vacation together it may have seemed to some a little mental to sign up for the best part of 3 weeks in a camper van but we were game to give it a go. Turns out we were really on the same page for road tripping & as we made our way airport we found much to chat and laugh about that set the tone for the whole journey.