Yellowstone in my heart.

Oh my.

Yellowstone National Park. This place is just amazing. I was up really early on Thursday to get into the park in time, as I would be hiking up Mount Washburn. I had read that the parking would be filling up early so I headed for the gates at 7 in the morning, as I had an hours drive to the trailhead. The park was so peaceful that early, it was just me and the fog basically.
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Get there early they said. It will be packed they said. 

It was absolutely freezing in the park that morning, just 2 degrees celsius. The clouds were low and heavy but I wore my thick sweater for the very first time since the plane coming here, and my rain jacket so I was fine. Mount Washburn is one of the highest peaks in the park at 10243 ft/3122 m
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The trail up was so beautiful, and so quiet. It felt like I was all alone for most of the time, which was nice because I enjoy the silence, but scary because there are signs everywhere not to hike alone because of the bears. Oh well, I lived to tell about it… I did meet a couple from Minnesota on the way up though who I stopped to chat to. They were very nice!
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The hike up was beautiful, but so cold. As I got closer to the top the wind really picked up, and for a moment I almost wished I had brought my thicker jacket instead.
IMG_5558At the very top is a fire lookout station, one of three still active in the park today. A ranger is always there, keeping an eye on the park from above to spot wildfires.
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After I took this picture I did such a stupid thing. I took another picture where I held myself up with the poles and jumped, and it hurt so much in my hand to put that much pressure on it. It ached for hours that afternoon, and it still feels more sensitive than before I did that. So, so stupid. But that is how I learn my limits, not from someone telling me what they are. I will definitely not be doing that again. And the picture? It was blurry. 

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Once I got to the top I could take shelter from the wind in the tower luckily, and enjoy a snack break with a few other hikers who had made it there. We had a beautiful view of the entire park, and on a clear day you’re supposedly supposed to be able to see the Tetons more than a 100 miles (160km) away.
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I signed the guest book of course. Yes, I write like a small child.

I hiked back down again and by then the trail was getting very crowded. When I made it to the parking lot it was full, and someone was very happy when I left so they could take my spot. It was a 6 mile/10 km hike and including the snack break it took around 3 hours. After Mount Washburn I decided to head south on the road. Yellowstone basically have two circular roads, so you don’t have a lot of options. And as I was driving south I remember that the Transamerica Trail passes through Yellowstone, and yep, as I got to the very south I saw a few of them. I felt SO sorry for them. The road is really small with no shoulders and with lots of cars, the poor cyclists looked so nervous. I was NOT jealous as all, I would definitely not have wanted to ride there! (which I would have, had I not been injured. Lucky me I say!)
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My next stop was Old Faithful at the southwest point, which is the most famous geyser in the park. I was lucky and got there just 20 minute before an eruption. It usually erupts every 94 minutes, + – 10 minutes. There were so many people there, but everyone just sat quietly on the benches waiting for an eruption. So funny when everyone went WOW at the same time when it finally happened.
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Yes, that is boiling hot water. 

After that I drove up the west side of the park, but it was getting late and I was getting pretty tired. After a while my brain just can’t process any more things, so no matter how impressive I just can’t bother to care. That’s when I know it’s time to head home and recharge! But on the way back to the hotel I decided to stop at a place I had heard about first, the Boiling River.
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Saw this guy along the way. Another reason why I can’t understand how so many people are speeding through these parks, I’m scared enough as it is driving at the speed limit that one of these will jump out in front of the car, and some idiots are driving even faster.

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The boiling river is a place where two rivers meet, one freezing cold and one scalding hot. It makes it the perfect temperature in some places, but also not. It was so weird walking into the water and one half of your body was absolutely freezing, and half felt like it would be getting huge burns. Weird! And painful… let’s just say I didn’t spend too long in that river. I would actually have preferred to swim where it was just cold I think.

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Oh well, it was good anyway. Slightly smelly but good.

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I was in two places at once on the way home! The park is mostly in Wyoming, but the very top of it is in Montana, which is also where my hotel is. So I stopped and took this photo. Straddling the state line so I was in both Montana and Wyoming at the same time… yeah, I’m such a dork.

Friday morning I slept in for a while, before heading back into the park. I was going to hike up Bunsen Peak, which is the small mountain you can see in the background. It’s too bad that the air isn’t very clear, the mountains in the pictures below would look even more amazing if they were clearer.
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It was a fun hike, but pretty steep. Just switchbacks, switchbacks and switchbacks. A small snake slithered across the trail right in front of my feet as I froze right in a step. It was gone so fast that I didn’t even have time to take a picture though. It was dark and had a yellow stripe down its back, I have no idea what type of snake it was. (a quick google search tells me it might have been the non venomous common garter snake.)
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I enjoyed a snack at the top, and it wasn’t very windy luckily. And someone else wanted a piece of my snack too…IMG_5580 IMG_5607 IMG_5611
“I saw you putting a wrapper in the bag somewhere, it smells delicious, can I have it?” Chipmunks are so cute.
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But when I got back down, something had happened. I have no idea how or why, but my windshield had a huge crack in it. There was nothing indicating it when I left two hours earlier, so I really have no idea what might have happened and I got a huge shock when I got in the car. So annoying, but everything in my life has been so great recently that I guess something had to give… Oh well, I have called the rental company and reported it, and as I leave the park on Sunday I’ll drive by Idaho Falls and can exchange it there. So long Cherry Bomb… 
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The crack is right at the drivers side too, so typical.

But I drove around the park for a while anyway, and also did some souvenir shopping and had lunch. I’ve really tried to stay away from souvenirs on this trip but I love Yellowstone so much that I just had to!
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These signs are everywhere. I bought a bear bell to hang from my backpack that jingles and will alert the bears of my presence so they can leave before I even see them. A can of bear spray was INSANELY expensive but I carry regular peppar spray at least. 
IMG_5606I’m so glad I have another day in paradise, I mean Yellowstone, left. I’m so glad I decided to stay here longer than I originally intended, because it really has been a magical visit. I mean, Grand Canyon was cool, but out of all the parks I’ve visited so far it rates pretty low on my list. Yellowstone is definitely at the very top! This place is just so varied and beautiful, it has big open plains, big mountains, lakes and geysers and thick forests and so many different animals. Simply amazing. I would definitely recommend a visit here.

Next week I’ll be heading towards the coast! Even though I certainly have taken the long road, I will have made it coast to coast. I’m super excited about that, but I need to do some more research about things to see in both southern Oregon and northern California. I will gladly accept any advice!

Bikers and Men in the Mountains. 

On Monday I left Colorado behind, and headed first into Wyoming, but with the end goal of Rapid City, South Dakota. As soon as I crossed the border into South Dakota I realized that something was off. There was just SO many motorcycles on the road all of a sudden, so as I stopped to get gas I had to ask on of the bikers what was happening. I simply got the response “Sturgis” which I had no idea what that was. Apparently it’s a huge motorcycle rally and hundreds of thousands of bikers gather in the city of Sturgis and around the area to do some sightseeing and partying. Guess which town is closest to Sturgis? Yes, that’s right, Rapid City. No wonder it cost a fortune to stay in the area that night…

As I got closer to Mount Rushmore, the motorcycles just got more and more and I was so scared of hitting one of them. I looked both three and four times before switching lanes but they were seriously everywhere. Scary, but I bet it must be so much fun for them riding around with so many other bikers.

  
I got to Mount Rushmore, which was also filled with bikers. It didn’t take too long for me to get in though, I apparently came from the right direction because somehow I managed to kind of skip the line.


  
  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Rosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. 
It was a lot of fun seeing Mount Rushmore,  it was definitely a must on my list! It’s so surreal seeing all those things that I’ve only seen on pictures or film before.


I got a gift from the hotel.

After a good nights sleep I sat down to breakfast next to four bikers who were originally from Brazil. They invited me to come ride with them that day, but I felt like that wasn’t something my parents would really approve of. I don’t mind talking to everyone I meet, but getting on a motorcycle and riding around with four unknown guys for a day doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. Especially since so few wear helmets around here.

Instead I got in my car and headed back to Wyoming, to go see the Devils Tower. It wasn’t just me that had that idea…
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The Devils Tower is a big butte. A butte is what we learnt the other day a “an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top”. I walked around and giggled like a 5 year old and said to myself that it is indeed a very big butte. When I got wifi the next time though I googled how butte is pronounced and unfortunately it’s “byoot”, not butt. Oh well.
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At least I tried to get a jump shot. Didn’t really succeed though. 
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There should be six climbers in this picture. Can you find them all? Crazy people.

After a small hike around it I was back in my car, but as I headed out of the park I saw a sign that said “don’t feed or go near the prairie dogs”. All of a sudden I looked closer at the field I was driving next too and realized that it was just crawling with prairie dogs. So cute! I’ve never seen them before.
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After Devils Tower I had a long drive to Billings, Montana. The weather is a bit more unstable up here in the north, that’s for sure. Luckily I drove just north of this storm. I was glad to leave most of the motorcycles behind though, although all the bikers were super friendly and nice, it’s scary having them surround you on all sides wherever you go.
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As I got to Billings I decided to go to the jacuzzi at the hotel, and I think that’s when all my neighbors heard a loud “NEEEEEEJ!” as I realized that my bikini was still hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door at the hotel in Rapid City. So annoying. No other choice but to look up the closest mall and get back in the car. I know there are some rivers that I can swim in when I get to Yellowstone, so I needed a swimsuit. Well, it’s the first thing I’ve forgotten in over two months, a pretty good record.

This morning I tried to get an early start but just as I was putting all my luggage in the car I heard someone say “did you really drive all the way from Florida?” which of course sparked a 20 minute conversation. Turns out his grandmother was from Sweden, so we talked about everything from travels here in the US to the Swedish show “Allt för Sverige” where Americans come to Sweden to find out about their ancestors. I love these random meetings.

Anyway, it wasn’t too long until I got to Yellowstone, but I quickly learnt that it’s absolutely huge. I also learnt that the weather can shift in seconds.
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I headed into the park and had to switch from shorts to long pants for the first time since I arrived in the US, over two months ago. I was freezing in 58F/14C. I had planned to go on a hike up to Mount Washmore, but time just seemed to fly by and it was late afternoon before I even got close to the trail. Well, especially since I was stuck in almost the same spot for two hours, when a herd of bison decided to block the entire road. Nothing else to do but wait, so I rolled down my windows and blasted Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woods. It would have been funnier if we had actually been in the woods at that moment though… but I decided that I have plenty of time to do that hike another day, and that I should just enjoy the scenery and the drive, so that’s what I did.
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And here, let’s enjoy some pictures from the amazingly beautiful Yellowstone.

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You know how I said the other day that I had taken my absolute favorite picture? I think this one comes at a very close second place. 
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So pretty, but smelled so bad. 
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I think this elk wanted to be fed too. 
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They certainly weren’t scared of people. 
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My first day in Yellowstone was absolutely great, I can’t wait to explore more and go on some hikes too. I know there are grizzly’s here though, so I should definitely see if I can get some bear spray before I go too far away from other people.

And I have something else to talk to you about. I got a pretty rude comment the other day, from a man who felt the need to tell me what he thought about my injury and how I’m feeling. I think that’s so interesting, when people think they know exactly how I’m doing. Well, you can read it here and my answer too if you want, it’s in Swedish though, but I feel the need to address my current situation. My hand is doing much better. I can use it almost without problems, except for when I use the knuckles to much, like when I’m typing. Every single post here takes me hours to write, because I have to pause so often to stretch out and massage my hand to get rid of the pain. But it’s when I’m keeping it still that it really begins to hurt. When I hold on to the steering wheel for more than a few minutes I get shooting pains down to the bones, that sometimes make me groan out loud from the intensity of it. When I walk for a longer period with my hands hanging down the blood gathers in my hands and for some reason that makes it ache too. My new hiking poles really helps with that, as long as I let go of my grip often so it doesn’t hurt too bad because of that. During the evenings is when it hurts the most, after having used it for a full day, but at least it comes and goes, it’s never a constant pain.

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Picture taken earlier today. There is still some slight discoloring to my skin, and a bump right between the two right knuckles. 

It’s been 6,5 weeks since I was hit, and I never expected me to still be in the amount of pain I actually am from time to time. I don’t write about it very often, because I don’t think it’s very interesting for you to read about, isn’t the adventures where I’m having fun much more interesting? But please never, ever judge me or anyone else based on what we can or can’t do. I am fully aware of my own limits, and no one but me can know what I’m capable of. If you for some reason get upset about what I’m doing, please just leave. What’s the point of being here if you’re not supportive of me or interested in what I’m doing?

The other day I was going through all of my photos from the trip, and found this. I have never seen this before, and I have no idea how I managed to take it. It must have been as I was typing Johns number into my phone when he was going to take care of my stuff right after the accident, and somehow the camera went off in my phone, before I was loaded into the ambulance.
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Because that is a picture off my hand, right after I was hit. The yellow part of my glove is super swollen at that point, it’s supposed to be completely flat. Isn’t that freaky, that I just found this now? I think it is… and just an hour later, this is what was happening.
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But no need to dwell on what is in the past, the present is what’s important and the present is GREAT. Life is so damn good.