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Chicago to SD via Billings MT, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons

I had six days to play with from the time I left the Chicago area until I had to check in to my new assignment in a small town in eastern South Dakota, so I decided to go visit my youngest son, Andrew who lives in Billings MT.

I couldn't take the company car that far for personal use, which is a bit of a hassle, but it is what it is, so I rented a car and left the company car at the airport in Sioux Falls SD. I didn't pick up the car until around 5:30 pm and drove most of the night to get to Billings although I did stop at a rest area to sleep for a few hours. I was awake in plenty of time to be driving while the world was waking up. I love driving at dawn. There is just something special about it. Not so much in the city, but in the country, it is kind of a magical time of day, especially with the wide open expanses out west. It kind of feels like it's just you and the earth, all alone, and there is nothing lonely about it.

I arrived at my sons about mid day on Sun. and we just lazed around and did a little shopping until he had to go to work. We decided to go to Yellowstone the next day. http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm We left around noon Mon. and took a few things with us on the off chance that we decided to spend the night in the area. It was pretty much a perfect day, and as Andrew said, we really deserved and needed it after moving all my things into storage.

You may already know, but Yellowstone was our first national park, and it is an amazing place. We saw a ton of wildlife, deer, elk, buffalo, a couple of beavers swimming across a river, pelicans, loons, and a bear crossing the road a little ways in front of us. We didn't see a moose though, but maybe next time! The views throughout the park are just amazing and there was still snow in a lot of spots and ice on the lakes. We spent a fair amount of time at the West Thumb Thermal Area. They have boardwalks that allow you to get pretty close to small geysers and thermal pools. There was quite a variety to see, both in size and color. This area is right along the shore of Yellowstone Lake and when you weren't looking at the geysers and pools, the lake views were breathtaking.

We were going to go to see Old Faithful that first day, but while we were heading in that direction, we saw it going off in the distance. It goes off approximately every ninety minutes and we weren't going to stick around just to see if go off again. We stopped by that area to see if there were rooms available and Andrew came back from checking to let me know that others visitors were being told that all they had left were rooms and suites that cost upwards of $400.00 a night. We decided to keep going and find a place outside the park as it was getting late in the day.

We kept going south and went through the Grand Teton National Park, and as beautiful as Yellowstone is, to me, the Tetons are even more beautiful. We ended up in Jackson Wyoming, where there is an elk refuge http://www.fws.gov/nationalelkrefuge/ and you see a ton of them from the roadside, at least you do around dusk. I was surprised to learn that Jackson Hole is not a city, but a valley, and Jackson is just one of the cities in that valley. It is a beautiful place, and I can easily understand why people want to live there. Jackson is an attractive town, and I am glad we were traveling on a Monday during the shoulder season as I doubt we could have afforded the hotel we stayed at, The Rustic Inn http://www.rusticinnatjh.com/ on a weekend or in season. It has a great location and the room was very comfortable. The front desk staff put us on to the Snake River Brewing brew pub and it was excellent. http://www.snakeriverbrewing.com/

In the morning, we took a quick tool around the downtown area and had our picture taken under one of the four elk antler arches that are on each corner of the town square. Then it was back on the road for more picturesque views. It was overcast, so not a great day for pictures, but a nice day anyway. We did stop to see Old Faithful on the way back as it was earlier in the day and it was chilly, rainy, and windy, but cool to see anyway.

On the way back, closer to Billings, Andrew spotted a huge eagles nest built on top of a telephone pole. You could see two eagles heads poking out the top. Sadly, it was too dark to take a picture.

Back in Billings, Andrew suggested we go up on the rims to get a view of the city at night and it was really pretty.

Wed. I left fairly early to go back to Sioux Falls. I dropped off the rental, which by the way was a Subaru Impreza which drove really nice, and spent the night in SF before heading to my current assignment the next day. Sioux Falls seems to be a really nice town, and I would like to explore it more if I get the chance.

Yellowstone Lake May 17, 2010

Yellowstone Lake May 17, 2010

Buffalo Yellowstone National Park  May 17, 2010

Buffalo Yellowstone National Park May 17, 2010

West Thumb Geyser Basin Yellowstone  May 17, 2010

West Thumb Geyser Basin Yellowstone May 17, 2010

Into The Deep Yellowstone  May 17, 2010

Into The Deep Yellowstone May 17, 2010

WestThumbY..5_17_10.jpgAndrew and I - Jackson Wyoming  May 18, 2010

Andrew and I - Jackson Wyoming May 18, 2010

Old Faithful Geyser Yellowstone  May 18, 2010

Old Faithful Geyser Yellowstone May 18, 2010

Posted by NancyA 20:51 Archived in USA

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