“Beartooth Pass, as far as I’m concerned, is the most scenic highway in the United States,” Steve Lindfors says emphatically. The drive from Billings to Yellowstone was “beyond wonderful” pronounced Steve. “The views are spectacular! The glacial valley, the mountains–some of them over 11,000 feet! There’s lots of switchbacks and beautiful trees. We all just loved it!” (Beartooth Pass is the highest elevation highway in WY, MT and the northern Rockies and takes our explorers 10,000 ft.+ high, above timberline.)
It seems their last night in Hill City was a fun one. They had dinner reservations at the famous Alpine Inn, known far and wide for its prime rib. They go in, they’re seated and come to find out that prime rib, wedge of head lettuce “with the best homemade ranch dressing I may have ever eaten,” baked potato, and Texas toast were the ONLY items on the menu, IF there had been a menu. The only choice is 6 oz. vs. 9 oz.. And, surprise again, they only accept cash. “Incredulous,” says Steven. I can see him shaking his head is amusement as he relayed the story. “But…delicious!! Really delicious.”
It’s Friday, August 20, and the Lindfors are headed for their first night in Yellowstone–toward the NE Entrance, of course. (I’m sure this was part of the trip plan from the get go. If you recall, the Ranger’s home located at the NE Entrance of the Park was the first house Steven Lindfors lived in. And, I find out later, his brother also “landed” in a Park Service cabin–only at the SW corner of the Park. Their father worked for the Park Service and was transferred around Yellowstone during the 50′s).
“It was right where my mom told me it would be,” exclaimed Steve. “You go in the Entrance, look to the right, up the hill, and the house should be sitting there. And, sure enough it was! I got out and took pictures and we walked around a bit. It was really cool. The kids visited with the Park Rangers at the Entrance and got a check-off list of mammals and birds to watch during their stay.”
“So let me tell you where we stand,” Steven continues. “Already we’re only missing two animals: a moose and a grizzly bear. We’ve checked off wolf, black bear, bison, bald eagle and elk. Jan and Steven, our family’s binocular nuts, even spotted a family of river otters today. At first they thought it was beaver–but it turned out to be playful otters. They totally entertained us–popping in and out of the water, wrestling around with each other. It was just too cute!”
As you’re apt to do in Yellowstone, you drive around and look for scenic vistas and interesting stopping points. Steve reports they did that for a good part of the afternoon. “You know, we stopped at the geothermal pools and bubbling mudpots. We stopped with all the other gawkers when there was an animal to view,” he laughed. “Then in the evening we loaded into an authentic Conestoga Wagon and a guide took us and some other folks out to an open field and we had a real chuck wagon dinner. It was fun and very ‘different.’ The kids really liked it, though. It was magnificent out there. What a beautiful day too.”
Tonight our chat is abbreviated. The Lindfors are tired and sunburned. They learned the hard way how harsh the sun is at high elevations. They’ll wear hats tomorrow when they engage their hub-and-spoke day trip down to Cody, WY to take in a rodeo and some Cowboy & Western history as only WY can deliver it.