Note to Readers: The last installment of The Green Tortoise was published on September 9th, 2008. When we were last together, the bus has been diagnosed as having a broken level so it tilts at a sharp angle causing people to fall out of bunks and loose items rolling downhill to the driver's side of the bus. We visit Old Faithful at Yellowstone and were denied our campsite due to the Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming which has caused several disturbances and arrests...fucking hippies! So we are headed back to the Grand Tetons National Park to spend another night which is neaerly 5 hours headed West as we try to make our way across the country in 14 days.
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008:
I am cranky on the ride back to the Grand Tetons. We won't get there until after dark and will still have to set-up camp, build the kitchen, find water, start fires etc...so dinner won't be until 8:30 or so and I'm hungry and pissed off that we are not spending more time in Yellowstone. There is much discussion on the bus about the lack of alcohol and the party kids start pestering Driver Dave to stop off at a liquor store somewhere, but we are on National Park land and there are no ABC Drive Thru liquor stores here and many do not drink beer (which is what they do sell at the camp store.) An agreement is met and we will drive further south to Jackson Hole to stop at a liquor store inside a resort so the party can get started.
It will be another cold night tonight and sleeping outside will be required by many since half the berths are uninhabitabal. At the resort I find a coffee shop and order a club sandwich and fries to go and wolf it down with a Coke. You burn a lot more calories while at high altitude and it not only makes you sleepy, it makes you hungry too. When we make it back to camp the sun was setting and it was nearly 7:30. I rally some energy and stuff my dirty laundry and towel in a bundle and hike a mile and a half to the camp showers and laundry. Hot water feels good and my skin is warm as I slip on thermal underware fresh from the dryer.
Camp is set and dinner cleaned up by the time I returned and I found there was space on the lower side of the bus available for sleeping so I bundled up for another of temperatures in the low 30's F. (1 to 2 Celsius) and my mind races with complaints fading in and out as I fall into a deep sleep.
The camp woke-up drunk. Despite the bear warning signs everywhere, empty whisky bottles litter the fire pit. I am one of the first to wake and start hot water for coffee. The plan today is to get out of camp as early as possible so we can drive all the way through Yellowstone and Wyoming so we can get to Chico Montana hot springs. That means, all excursions in Yellowstone have been canceled and we have to boogie to get to Montana by the 4th of July so we can get the parts to fix the bus and the air conditioner.
This is what "Flexible Itinerary" means in Green Tortoise speak.
Driver Dave puts a positive spin on our itinary change saying that in all the years that he's been driver on the Green Tortoise, he's never been to a Rodeo before and there's one happening in Brodus MT, our next stop. Yippee.
The early risers finish breakfast wake the partiers who decline food choosing only coffee or tea. They reak and there is no time for the long trek to the showers. We have a tight schedule today and our goal is to hit the hot springs tonight. We pack a lunch after breakfast, tear down camp and hit the road.
Driver Dave hits the bunk to sleep a few hours so the drunk ones head to the back of the bus to sleep it off as we drive the exact same drive we did the day before. It is still spectacular despite the Weird Al Yankovich CD playing. The Germans think it is hysterical. And I thought only the French had terrible taste in humor!
Six hours later we approach the Mamoth Hot Springs area and Driver Dave emerges to instruct Casie to drop us off to get a hike in and to meet down another canyon. I pay attention to the pick-up point as they drive us to the drop-off a couple miles up a mountain. I decide on the ride up that I am not going to hike down. Instead I will ride back to the pick-up spot and spend some much needed time at the little shops and resort. Hopefully they have internet and cell phone reception. I think there is a town close by so I am pryaing for human contact with loved ones.
There is a god and I am able to find cell phone reception and a charger all at the same time so I call Karen to check-in. Time I steal for myself feels like gold. There is great ice cream here and all is well for the entire time I am alone sitting in the sun. I fill out postcards in different charactors, my favorite being a confederate soldier wandering in the cold foothills of Virginia that read,
"My Dearest Beloved, Another cold night in the hills but my heart is warm thinking of you. Days of walking are soon to pay off. General Lee says it won't be much longer before we take Pennsylvania and are back home with pig in our bellies. That would be good too since I have grown weary from the hot mush. A cold, lonly wind crosses our camp and I miss thee."
I look up from my writing as the "Adventure Bus" passes and I notice their bus isn't leaning hard to the left as it slowly maneuvers the sharp turns through Mamote Village. My two hours of solitude are nearly over and I am back on the bus for another 4 hours to Chico Hot Springs.
It costs $3.50 to go into the hot springs at the Chico Hot Springs Resort and Hotel and I wish I were checking-in. The hot springs are piped into a large swiming pool which is body temperature. There is a smaller very hot mineral pool that I try but can only stay in for a minute or two, it is so hot. Not all the passengers enjoy the hot pool. Others decide to eat at the resaurants or have drinks in the bar. I swim, take a shower and check my email and look for train tickets from Chicago to NYC. I try to make a reservation but cannot because I don't know when we will be in Chicago. At this rate, we may be several days late...and who knows if the parts have arrived or if there is a mechanic willing to work on Independence Day to install parts and fix the air conditioning.
We board the bus again and drive in the dark to Brodus Montana arriving late, we unpack and set-up camp in the dark.
So much love,
All the way from over here...