A winter wonderland lay waiting outside the door for us this morning. It’s funny how the snow sneaks up on you. No telltale drumming on the roof like rain, it just silently floats down to coat you as you sleep. It was still twilight as Cali and I walked down to the river to check things out. Wow, wow, wow, like a frosty painted Christmas card, the only thing missing was the horse drawn sleigh.
Don’t you sniff that yellow snow
Mammoth Hot Spring was on our agenda this morning before heading up the 89 into Livingston. We dug out the vehicles and got everything closed up and ready to go. As we were driving out, PJ went to drop our ticket in the check out box and the ranger came out to tell her that all of the roads were closed, go back to your campsite and wait for further news.
Hmmm… So we returned to site 118 and PJ went back to sleep while I did some writing and read the three day old newspaper that has been waiting for some attention. Around eleven, the rangers drove around the campground to let everyone know that the road westbound to the gate at West Yellowstone had been plowed one way and that it would probably be the only way out for the foreseeable future. So much for plan A. Our options were to stay here another night and freeze or escape to Livingston through Bozeman and freeze. We chose the latter.
It was slow, icy, crunchy going. PJ is terrified of the ice and kept disappearing off the back. It was amazingly beautiful but stressful at the same time. We made it out of the park and into West Yellowstone where a passing trooper told me that the road up to Bozeman was open, so not wanting to hunker down in West Yellowstone, we braved the conditions and drove on into the snowstorm.
The winter wonderland had become the nightmare before Christmas. Watch out for those icy patches. We saw a few motorists who were a little too careless or in a hurry that now found themselves in the ditches. We followed along the Gallatin River through various conditions, sometimes recently plowed and easy going, other times crusty slippery & crunchy, and occasionally through blustery, blowing snow that kept visibility to a minimum.
We reached Bozeman and stopped at a gas station to knock all of the accumulated ice off out the rims and from around the tires. Harsh as can be. The RV was vibrating from the wheels being so out of balance. Another decision had to be made. The Bozeman Pass was open but conditions were dicey. Do we shelter in place at a local Bozeman campground or push on to our original spot in Livingston? The lows tonight in Bozeman is forecast as 7 degrees and Livingston, 15. We opted to go for it to keep on track and hopefully the extra few degrees will keep a pipe or two from bursting.
The pass really wasn’t that bad. It was two lanes most of the way so we were able to crawl along in the right hand lane with the trucks that were working hard on the climb leaving the left lane for the macho drivers willing to risk an evening hanging out in the roadside ditch. And many of them did just that. We were only 6 miles out from our exit In Livingston when traffic came to a complete stop. And there we sat for close to two hours. Occasionally inching along but mostly just waiting. Luckily, I carry a bathroom with me wherever I go. I got comfortable and inserted the photos to complete the post from yesterday. Emergency vehicles kept racing by in the other direction also as we heard later that two eighteen wheelers had gotten tangled up going towards Bozeman. Finally we reached the off ramp into Livingston where all traffic was being diverted and the freeway was completely closed from that point on going to Billings. They were only letting so many vehicles at a time onto the city streets so that’s why traffic was sitting for miles awaiting their turn to move on.
At least there was a view
We crunched our way over the icy surface streets until we reached our destination for the night at Osen’s RV & Campground. They were keeping the light on for us. Peter guided us to our spot in the foot deep snow and we were able to find a spigot that wasn’t frozen to fill the fresh water tank and then disconnect to keep from freezing the line. Cali is definitely not a fan of the cold nor the snow. It had taken us six and a half hours to travel the 131 miles from Madison Campground in Yellowstone. Brutal day and a few more cold ones coming.