We be snowmobiling in West

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We woke up to a perfect clear and cold morning with some fresh snow. We could hear the wolves howling from the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center across the street from the cabins. It was such a neat experience to hear them. Scott got out the drone and got some sweet footage around the cabin and town. We decided to go get a decent breakfast and headed out on foot to a recommended place, Running Bear Pancake House. It was a longer walk than we thought we were getting ourselves into but the food was delicious. We would be back! We definitely walked off the pancakes on our trip there and back! Shew!

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Before we could hit the trails we had to go buy trail permits for Montana and Idaho. We headed back to the cabin, stickers the sleds up to be legal and got geared up to head out on our sleds. Scott had gotten us both ABS packs which contain tools and airbags and trackers in case we are caught in an avalanche so I had to wear several pounds of gear in a backpack that I was not used to wearing. More on those tools in another post!!!!  I can’t say I was a fan of the weight on my back or the tracker around my waist but I understand their purpose and need so I tolerated it!  We finally took off and after winding through town on basically bare roads, and we were at the trail. Scott’s sled got a little hot bumping through town on mostly bare pavement but he was able to cool it back down once we got going. Wow – it was a clear day and every where you looked around you was something beautiful – little did I know what we would be seeing. I just followed as I always do and we wound through the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen on my snowmobile. This wasn’t my first time riding in the west, we honeymooned at Togwotee in 2002 but I didn’t remember it looking like this around the Tetons.

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We made our way through the fabulous trail system through Rea’s Pass to a mountain top called Two Top. H O L Y  C O W. I had never in my life seen anything like it. I didn’t know anything like this existed. We were at the TOP OF A MOUNTAIN – not hill but MOUNTAIN. I was having a minor freak out moment when we got there, however. Scott wanted to stop immediately and take a picture beside the trees which are called Snow Ghosts (fitting name), but I was certain we were going to fall off the side of the mountain. Turns out, what I was freaked about was a DRIFT, not an EDGE – duh. It was all just a bit overwhelming at first!!! He has to put up with my wackiness sometimes and I was having a moment for sure. After figuring out you could ride around up there and deciding that we weren’t going to fall off the side I started having fun and was able to see the incredible scenery around me. Scott wanted to go play in the trees so I found a great spot to take some photos and take it all in. If we had driven all this way and only got to see this I would have been happy – it was that breath-taking and beautiful.

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We left Two Top via a different way than we arrived and headed down the mountain. I will say there are some steep parts that made me a little nervous but I kept telling myself that this was a TRAIL – it was safe. I was glad to have my tree-hugging, 4 stroke 900 ACE with 3 different engine modes to at least make me feel safer climbing and decending steep grades. Standard Mode is perfect for going down – the machine really holds well on grades and doesn’t feel like it’s getting away from you at all. At least it makes me feel better!

Our next stop ended up at Meadow Creek Lodge – a restaurant outside Island Park, Idaho. It is in the woods, only accessible in winter by snowmobile. It was a GREAT place to stop and I’m so glad he brought me there. It’s basically bar food but the french fries are made fresh and were delicious. It was packed as expected and we had a great time there.

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We left Meadow Creek, I followed Scott, not knowing where our next stop would be. A few miles down the trail we came around a curve to a bridge over open water called Big Springs. The spring water is clear and beautiful and very large rainbow trout stay right near the bridge. We also saw a muskrat swimming around. It’s a popular stop for snowmobilers so I think the muscat must be used to being fed by visitors.

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After lunch we headed back toward West, stopping at a warming hut on the side of the trail. We didn’t need to warm up today but its there if necessary.

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After getting back we showered and took off on foot to The Buffalo Bar for dinner – another recommended place by the hotel and a little hike – again. It was perfect though and I had a delicious pot roast sandwich. Such a cool place. We were pretty much dead after eating and walking back and tomorrow’s adventure is BACKCOUNTRY so we needed sleep! These old people went to bed real early!

 


We are in West!

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After a 9 hour day in the car we pulled into West Yellowstone, Montana around 6:00 pm. The drive from Bismarck to West was much more interesting than the previous day. The terrain changes which makes the drive much more interesting and there is much to see. You go from wide open prairies as far as you can see to pine trees to winding rivers to finally seeing snow. The actual drive time was basically the same but it felt much shorter. We did not see snow until we were deep into Montana and I was beginning to wonder if there was any snow at all! The terrain and mountains are just beautiful along this way.

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This large sculpture is one of many along a highway in North Dakota. This one happens to also be close to the freeway. It was a little odd but huge.

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Love the speed limit in Montana!

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Finally in Montana!

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We finally pulled off I-90 at Bozeman to make our way south via US 191 into West Yellowstone. The drive to West from downtown Bozeman is beautiful. It’s about 80 miles and you wind your way through valleys with mountains on all sides just beside the river – just breath taking. You actually pass through a part of Yellowstone National Park. After passing through the ski town, Big Sky, Montana, we finally stated to see real snow. The closer we got to West the deeper it got and I finally felt like we were going to actually snowmobile!

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We arrived in town to see HUGE snow piles and a lot of snowmobiles. The streets were bare to the pavement and we could see that getting around town was not going to be fun but we would manage. We checked into our cabin and were blown away at how nice it was. It was going to be perfect for the week. There was even a fire pit right outside our door with the fire already made each day. The cabins supplied a s’more kit each day. We had to park the truck and trailer in the hotel parking lot across the street. At first we were concerned about this but it ended up working out just fine.

After unloading the truck and trailer and unpacking a bit we decided to head out to find something to eat. We needed to stretch our legs so we took the advice of Katie at check-in and headed out on foot for a restaurant called Madison Crossing Lounge. With a name like that it HAD to be good ; ) . It was pretty close to the cabin and as we walked through town we could see that the snowmobilers outnumbered the other tourists. We were in in the right place for sure! We got one of the 2 tables remaining at Madison Crossing and one glance at the menu we knew we were in a great place. We happened to be sitting a table over from a large group of people. Scott’s back was to them and he got up to go visit the bathroom. After he left I glanced over at them and thought some of them looked familiar but could not put my finger on a name. After Scott got back I had him look over and he recognized them right away. One of them was Carl Kuster who is a “celebrity” spokesperson for Ski-Doo and 2 of them were the hosts from Snowtrax TV. That got us real excited because Ski-Doo had just released their 2017 models to the public a few weeks before – would we see them in person sometime this week? This, added to the excellent food and wine started off our vacation in West with a BANG! We headed back to the cabin to prepare to hit the trails tomorrow.

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North Dakota here we come!

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Fortunately, Scott woke up feeling much better and after having a pretty good breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in Janesville we headed out around 7:30 am CST. Our next destination was Bismarck, ND. We had a pretty long drive ahead of us and we pulled into the Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck around 6:15 pm MST. Scott had stayed there on his Sturgis trip in the summer so we knew it would be a good location to stop for the night. There are a lot of restaurants within walking distance and we needed to stretch our legs so we walked over to Sickie’s Garage for a bite to eat. It was a fun place that actually had Founder’s Beer on tap – straight from Grand Rapids. Sickies had TVs all over the place and the 3 main ones were playing hockey – high school championship, college championship and the Red Wings. Good thing we like hockey! We watched a bit of the game, got a bite to eat and headed back to the hotel for the hot tub and then to bed. We had another long drive ahead of us tomorrow.

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We woke up to a beautiful sunrise in Janesville

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Goodbye Wisconsin, hello Minnesota!

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North Dakota at last!

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Straight from Grand Rapids.

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Sickies for hockey and beer – a great combo.


Montana Bound!

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Scott and I headed out today around 11:30 pm for West Yellowstone, Montana. We’ve been planning for weeks and I’m sure we have forgotten important things but we are off! One thing Scott had ordered that was to be delivered to our house this morning had not shown up. As we got in the truck to literally pull out of our driveway the FedEx guy comes around the corner. We planned on leaving at 11:00 so our 30 minute late start was perfect so we could get that package. Unfortunately, Scott woke up sick and it was a rough drive for him to the Holiday Inn Express in Janesville, Wisconsin. Fortunately, we made it safe and sound and it was not a horribly long drive. He hadn’t eaten all day and after laying down and resting a bit decided to give some food a try. There was a Quaker Steak and Lube right across the parking lot so we ordered a variety of things he may have been able to eat and walked over and picked it up and brought it back to the hotel to eat. He was able to eat a bit and was feeling better. Off to Bismarck, North Dakota tomorrow!

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