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Roadtrip 2015: Yellowstone and more, part 1 - Salt Lake City

Saturday, 2015-09-12: Trains and Planes

I took an early train to Frankfurt airport. A few days before departure I read about all trains being diverted via Ansbach due to construction work on the main line, with the trip being half an hour longer than usual. Okay, still plenty of time in Frankfurt, but why wasn't that taken into account when I booked the ticket? And why does travel information still show the train arriving at the same time? Turns out, it started earlier in Nürnberg than usual, and that was already on my itinerary. Phew. That also explains why I wasn't able to reserve a seat earlier. The train had a different internal number from it's start point to Würzburg, and somebody forgot to add that information to the booking system.

Roadtrip 2015: Yellowstone and more, prologue

Yellowstone, America's oldest National Park, has been on my list of places to visit for many years. It's remote, rather expensive, and you're stuck with roughly mid-April to October to visit, unless you want to stay in the Old Faithful area all the time.

Nevertheless, even avoiding Winter, thorough planning is required to get there and find affordable accomodation. If you want to spend more than a night in the park, you're required to book via a travel agency for the double price, as the bus tour operators and travel agencies secure all rooms as soon as reservation opens. Well, unless you want to stay in Mammoth, but that's in the North of the park and rather far away from the main attractions. Another alternative would be staying in West Yellowstone, but that's not much cheaper than booking a room directly in the park.

What is the right time to travel? In my opinion the time between mid April to Memorial Day, or from Labor Day to mid October is suitable, with some roads probably still being closed for Winter until end of April and the concessions and lodges closing mid of September. Avoid main season in between: it can be very hot in July and August, and the park is crowded with tourists.

We decided to go one week after Labor Day, as we've been told that this is the best time observing wildlife.

The remaining question: how to get there? Hotel or RV? We decided against the RV this time, as we planned for a lot of hiking in the park. With a car, you can get on the road much faster in the morning, also parking an RV full with food for a whole day or over night in bear country wouldn't be a wise thing to do. Furthermore, traveling long distances with an RV in one go, especially over Wyoming and Montana state roads, is not much fun. Taking I-15 from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone would be bearable, but that's the most boring alternative to get to the park. Also that would require renting an RV in SLC. I've heard reports that made me ruling out that option. Most visitors from Europe start from Denver. The RV rental stations there have a much better reputation, but even choosing a closer entrance than the North-East one near Red Lodge it would still be an additional day just driving.

I do WHAT?

I work out. I can't believe it either, and you may think this is midlife crisis, but it isn't. Not even the surprising fact I'm squeezing myself into ridiculous tight lycra clothes is — quite frankly, it's a bit embarrassing for a man at my age to do so. Look, I can even explain everything in a completely logical way.

Vacation Photos!

I'm notoriously slow editing my photos, but I've finally put up those of our RV trip through Texas and New Mexico earlier this year. I've probably overdone it with the images from the Carlsbad Caverns, but that is a truely spectacular place.


So I'm moving my blog, but where to?

There are several hosting offers out there, for example:

Leaving LiveJournal — not yet

But I've decided to let my paid account expire next year and move to a self hosted solution. There are several reasons, one is that I'm generally unhappy with how LJ develops:

Back home from an awesome vacation

Not exactly news to those who follow me on Twitter, but we've been traveling Texas and a small part of New Mexico (as it was on the way) in an RV, thus it is time to update The Map™:

Roadtrip 2013: Great Lakes and the Midwest

I never have time or patience to write anything longer before and shortly after Eurofurence. Or to sort and edit the photos that I need for a travel report. And it's been so long that I'm not able to write an actual report anymore, for example I don't remember most of the hotels and motels at all, hence some musing based on the experience have to do. But at least I've edited and uploaded the photos, for the first time in three years.

April, 11th to 14th: Traveling and Furry Connection North

Flying on airline bonus miles for the first time, yay. Still having to pay for fees and taxes, boo. I met my travel companions Kayjay and Lynard in Frankfurt at the new concourse A+ (or is it Z?) and we had a rather uneventful and pleasant Lufthansa flight to Detroit. All of our luggage arrived in time as well, it was just a bit confusing to find the shuttle buses to the rental car station. The car we got from the choice line was a new Chrysler 300C. While it has a lot of leg room even for the back seats, it has not much space for luggage. The only alternative would have been a convertible with even less luggage space. The 300C is quite nice to drive, though it has a somewhat cheap interior. Surprisingly, not only was satellite radio reception enabled (thank you, Alamo!), the built-in satnav worked as well. But it quickly dawned on us why they try to rent out a portable one anyway. The Garmin navigation system is nearly unusable. It receives traffic information via satellite radio, but doesn't use it for navigation. It can only find POIs within your current location (no "find me all hotels near Niagara" while we are in Detroit). It keeps sending you via state routes parallel to the freeway, except if the freeway is a turnpike. It definitely prefers toll roads. The menu system is a confusing mess. I'm glad I brought my Tomtom. But I digress.