Jake’s Sunday Post: Road

The real winners are not those at the top but those who have come the farthest over the toughest roads. Your victory may never make the headlines. But you will know about it, and that’s what counts. Ernest A. Fitzgerald

Jake’s Sunday Post challenge “Road” had me searching through my photos. Hundreds of roads to choose from, but I’ve chosen a few of those which I remember the best.

Here we were in a busy main street in Hong Kong, one of the best places to shop in Asia, and an added bonus was, no sales tax. 😀

The main road on the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora, was definitely not a shopping Mecca. 😉

I never realized just how wide the Great Wall of China was until we actually walked along it. The section of the Great Wall at Badaling, is about 26 feet high and 23 feet wide at its base, large enough to allow six horsemen to ride along the wall. In mountainous northern China, it served as an elevated highway in ancient times. It was very impressive to see in reality, and we did what tourists do; wandered along it, snapping photos.

Of course we didn’t walk the full length of this road, as it stretches for almost 2,500 miles, from Central Asia to the East China Sea. 😉

At the end of our Li River cruise, we finished up in Yangshuo. As you can see, there’s not a car in sight on the road through this town.

On our way from Las Vegas to San Francisco, we stayed overnight at a place called Bishop in the spectacular Eastern Sierra region of California. The next day, we turned onto Highway 120, the road through Yosemite National Park. You may notice that I wasn’t dressed for the snow. It was the beginning of July, and I’d assumed that being summer in California, it would be really warm.

Another very snowy road, is this one on our way from Thermopolis to Rapid City, on our road trip to Yellowstone Park. We didn’t expect that at the end of May, we would have such wintry weather and with blizzards too.

Driving along the road through Yellowstone, we encountered some rather unusual pedestrians. These Bison thought the road was built for their use. At one stage, we had to wait behind a whole herd, until they decided to move off the road and back onto the grass.

This beach-side road in Bali, yielded quite a few treasures worthy of purchase.

Here is one of the roads through the main shopping area of Phuket. As you can see, once again,  the main mode of transport in this Asian town, is also by bicycle and motorbike.

Well I guess that’s enough roads for one challenge. My post is beginning to remind me of that old Bob Dylan song, “Blowing in the wind………..How many roads must a man walk down…….”

Have a great day everyone, whatever road you may be travelling on.





Old Faithful revisited, icicles and steaming geysers.

 The seventh day of our memorable journey to Yellowstone National Park.

From my journal, May 5th, 2010:

“Last night, (Monday) was very stormy and noisy, with the wind howling  and thunder crashing, way into the small hours. Nevertheless, I had quite a good night’s sleep except for the fact that the people in the room next door, got up at 1am and banged around until they left about 1-45.  Hubby didn’t even stir. He’s a much sounder sleeper than I am. We awake to wonderful sunshine, and -4 degrees C. Slightly on the cool side for my liking.

Hubby decides that we need to go  back to “Old Faithful” to get a pic  of the eruption in the sunshine instead of the snow. At the entrance gate to the Park, we have to open the door to give in our ticket, as the car window won’t wind down; it’s frozen closed for now at least. The road’s really icy but free of snow, and according to the GPS, our journey will take 53 mins.

At breakfast, a guy is showing around some pics he got of a Grizzly and a wolf yesterday. He has been here in the Park for a week though, so ought to have something to show for it. Before we leave the hotel, not to be outdone, I get a pic of me with a wooden Yogi Bear.

The rivers and mountains are glistening this morning, such a change from yesterday’s snowy grey mist. The road is very icy and we’re hoping it will be clear by the time we drive back along this route later today. We turn right at Madison Junction, elevation about 2000m and it’s now 25 kms  to “Old Faithful. ” The roads are pure white now, and a snow plough passes us going downhill in the opposite direction, and sprays us with snow. We can see blue sky in the distance, and it’s looking quite promising so far. Now we catch up with a long line of cars going very slowly. There are two Bison sauntering nonchalantly down the other side of the road, and they don’t even glance our way as we pass. I’m sure they are quite disdainful  of these strange metal creatures that whizz past them every day on four wheels instead of four legs.

A bit further down the road, the long procession of cars grinds to a halt on the snowy road. These regular sedans just aren’t coping with the icy roads as well as our huge 4X4 truck, and eventually we manage to overtake them. Now it’s all clear ahead and we might make it just in time for the next eruption. It’s due very soon, so we’re on a mission.  There are odd patches of melted ice on the road and hubby wonders out loud, if this may be an indication of a geyser underneath the tarmac at these points. I sure hope it doesn’t suddenly burst through the tarmac just as we get there. Only 5kms to go and the sun is brilliant in a clear blue sky. I hope it stays this way at least until after the next eruption. We pass more bison trudging along the road. Their coats look really mangy and matted. Not very cuddly at all.

It’s 10 am when we arrive and hubby dashes for the loo before going to the visitors centre to confirm the time of the next eruption. Whilst I’m waiting in the car, a coach pulls up in front of me, and as the door opens I see someone sitting on the front seat, wearing red peep-toe sandals. “Not quite the correct footwear for this weather” I think, looking down at my snug and sturdy snow boots. We have almost an hour to wait, and go into the lovely warm shop to browse and have a hot chocolate. I go to the loo and have just sat down, when there’s a rapping on the door, and a man’s voice calls, “Can I come in?”  Eeeek,! I manage to squeak, “NO, I’m in here!” I suppose he just wanted to come in to clean, but he could have timed it better, and anyway, why do they have men cleaning the women’s loos?

The women at the cash desk says to hubby, “Love yer accent. Where yer from?” She seems fascinated that we’re so far from home. All too soon, it’s time to go outside again and I’m trying to work out how many layers of clothing I can fit under my coat. I have tights under my jeans, a vest under my T shirt, over which is a woolly jacket with a hood, two scarves, a hat, gloves and lastly my coat. That should do it; even my own mother wouldn’t recognise me.

It feels much colder than yesterday and the wind chill factor is serious stuff. Very crisp to say the least. There are icicles still hanging off the car and around the  wheel hubs.

We walk down to the viewing point yet again and join the other frozen viewers. The timing is spot on today and at 10-53am exactly, huge amounts of steam shoot way up into the air. It’s not quite as spectacularly high as yesterday, but at least we can see it better without the snow.

Back in the relative warmth of the car, we head for West Yellowstone to visit the Bear and Wolf park. The snow is melting on the roads and it’s -4 degrees. Someone has obviously put salt on the roads in the last hour or so. Hubby tells me to keep all my layers on as I have to go over the steaming bridge with him today and up the hill where he took the photos yesterday. We see copious clouds of steam rising in the distance and we’re almost at Midway Geyser. The wind chill is unbelievable as we slip and slide our way up the boardwalk. I’m so glad I’m wrapped up well.

It’s really worth braving the cold for as we look down into the icicle-ringed geyser.

It may be cold up here, but it sure looks hot down there.

There are only two loos in the car park; hubby takes one and I the other. Neither of them have locks, and after a couple of minutes, I hear hubby’s door open and his voice saying, “ I’m almost done.” A guy mutters an apology, and before I can get up and grab my door handle, it’s yanked open. This horrified guy, seeing me with my trousers down, hurriedly slams the door shut again. I scuttle out afterwards back to the car, hoping never to see him again. What a scream! I had to laugh, and chuckled for quite a while afterwards. I sincerely hope there won’t be a third such incident today.

I’m thawing out now and am looking forward to getting to the “Grizzly Bear Park.” It will be great to see the real thing. These are rescued bears and some were born in captivity.”

We got some great pics, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. 😉

Have a great day everyone.

A brush with the Wyoming Highway Patrol! & Wonderful Hot Springs in Thermopolis. ;)

Continuing on from Jackson Hole; the next page from my travel journal.

“I feel much better today. Bourbon hot toddies beat SA’s Med Lemon hands down. 😉 We awoke to a crisp cold morning and after posting my blog, and showering and dressing warmly of course, we went for breakfast, which turned out to be a wonderful buffet with so much choice it was really difficult. I settled for healthy home-made muesli, blackberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges and yoghurt. Then I decided on the not so healthy delicious French toast and huge rashers of crispy bacon done to perfection. Looking at the weather station on TV over breakfast, we saw a 70% chance of snow and zero degrees in Jackson for the day.

We had to take the Dodge Durango back to the rental place, as the power outlet for our GPS was faulty. They gave us an even bigger vehicle, a Chevy Suburban which is the preferred car used in America for the presidential protection unit. The car hire place was called “Adventure Rentals” and there was a whole row of quad bikes, snow-mobiles and motorbikes including a couple of Harleys in the lot outside. Sadly, not my style. I prefer to be inside when it’s freezing cold.

We were planning to do 350 kms today and set off into the great white yonder. The sky and everything around was white and looked very uninviting as we set off. Just out of town, we passed signs like “Watch for migrating wild life” and  “Bear aware.” There was nothing in sight though, except for snow and fir trees, until hubby saw in his mirror some flashing blue and red lights and realised that we were being signalled to pull over. We did so, and a young fresh-faced kid in a Highway patrol uniform, driving a black Ford Explorer, gave us the 3rd degree. He wanted to know everything about us; where we were from, where we were headed and why, drivers licence, rental papers, when we’d arrived and how long we were staying. He then said , “You were going real quick, “ and disappeared back to his car with all our papers. According to him, we were doing 70mph in a 55 limit.  I was so glad that hubby didn’t quip as he is wont to do, and say something like, “We’re from South Africa and nobody cares how fast you drive there.”  He eventually came back and gave us a written warning. I didn’t like to ask if I could take a photo of him for my blog. This kid had no sense of humour whatsoever. Hubby heaved a sigh of relief, belatedly found the cruise control on the car, and we set off again. We passed a couple of signs saying “Frequent heavy drifting” and “Low visibility.” This did not bode well.

Along the route, we saw several big ranches, with names like “Moose Head Ranch, Lava Creek Ranch, Dude Ranch, Elk Ranch,” and a resort called “Hatchet Resort.” All these place had beautiful horses grazing in the fields alongside the road. As we got to higher ground, there was far more snow, and the roads had deteriorated somewhat. There was steady sleet making visibility more difficult and I couldn’t help feeling that this was becoming more of an adventure than a holiday trip. As we drove down an avenue of snow covered fir trees, I asked hubby, “What if we’re caught in a blizzard and freeze to death?” He replied, “Well, at least we’ll die together.” Is that romantic or what?!!  I wasn’t comforted.

There were very few vehicles on the road except for huge trucks which are called rigs here. I was reminded of the TV programme on DSTV called “Ice Road Truckers.”  This thought did nothing for my peace of mind. As we came into Togwatee Pass, at an altitude of 9658 feet, the temperature went down to -10C and the road was covered in a layer of compacted snow and ice. Hubby casually remarked, “I  must remember not to touch the brake to slow down.” Horrors!  I was too scared to take a photo through the windscreen and too busy holding thumbs anyway. A very apt song was playing on my iPod, “Just another Winter’s Tale,” by Mike Batt. We stopped in a lay-by to take a couple of pics, and I noticed Hubby was taking the opportunity for a quick pee. Lucky him! There was no way I was going to squat down with my butt in the snow, so I had to hold mine in.

Finally after about 10kms, we came out of the pass and the road started to clear. I breathed a sigh of relief. That last stretch was so scary. As we approached Dubois, the temperature rose to 0 C and we saw signs of civilisation again. We stopped at The Village Cafe for lunch and I headed straight for  “The Cowgirl’s Rest Room.” Everything on the menu was battered and fried, so I ordered a Caesar salad which turned out to be a heap of lettuce with 6 croutons, a few pieces of tomato, a teaspoon of grated cheese and a huge tub of creamy dressing. The hot chocolate was great though, and Hubby just had a coffee. This place was about as rural as they come.

On the road again, we passed through some scrubby farm lands and saw a couple of apiaries with guys in protective clothing tending them. We stopped at a supermarket in Riverton, a decent sized town. When I opened the car door, the wind blew it wide, and collected the map off the dashboard, forcing me to chase it across the car park. Even the river is called “Wind River.” The  faces of the people in the store, showed that they had come through many brutal winters. We passed through Shoshoni, a place of dilapidated houses, abandoned motels and trailer parks. Coming into “Hot Springs Country,” we passed through some dramatic scenery and awesome rock formations caused by glacial activity centuries ago, and even drove through 3 short tunnels hewn out of the rock.

Finally, we arrived at Thermopolis which has the world’s largest mineral  hot springs, and after checking into The Best Western Hotel, venturing out to survey the scenery, we spied a herd of bison. Check out this load of Bull! 😉 Here’s the HUGE alpha male surveying his family.

There’s a boardwalk over the terraces which are formations of lime and gypsum in a composition known as Travertine which has been deposited by the water from the hot springs over 1000’s of years. We walked over the swinging bridge first built in 1916, to view these terraces from the other side of the “Big Horn” river.

Then it was off to the one of the indoor hot springs to sample the mineral waters.

The jacuzzi was about 39C and those hot jets on my back were just what I needed after a day in the car. There were a few other people there too, mostly locals. We swam around a bit in the larger cooler pool, and hubby went down the foefie slide a couple of times too.  I stayed in the water until my fingers started to get really wizened, and then regretfully decided it was time to leave. I felt very relaxed and quite tired afterwards, but I’m sure it did me the world of good.

Tomorrow morning (Friday), we’re off to Mount Rushmore about 550 kms from here. Looking forward to seeing more interesting places along the way.”

Hope you will join me. 😉 Have a great day everyone.