Northwest Road Trip

December 2017

On our way to Steptoe Butte for a 360-degree view of surrounding farmland.

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Daily snow kept our car looking white instead of gray.

When we were planning this trip, we had an idyllic image in our minds of being in a warm cabin nestled among a conifer forest, surrounded by a blanket of fresh snow. So, when we found ourselves waking up in a warm cabin nestled among a conifer forest, surrounded by a blanket of fresh snow, it felt surreal. It was so fun to have our own private forest just outside our door, where we could snowshoe, have snowball fights, and make snow angels!

What can we do with lots of new snow?

Snow angels!

Or a snowball fight!

Bison enjoy an ideal environment in Yellowstone National Park, with a protected habitat and plenty of space to graze. The only downside to living in the park is a result of the same geothermal features that make the area so attractive to wildlife and people alike: the hot springs and steam vents release acids and minerals that get into all the surrounding vegetation. The prevalence of silica is especially problematic to the bison — effectively wearing down their teeth like sandpaper whenever they chew the grasses from geothermally active areas. Once their teeth are gone, bison starve to death. As a result of the silica, bison in Yellowstone have a dramatically reduced expected lifespan compared to elsewhere.

Yellowstone is a popular destination for Trumpeter Swans, which migrate seasonally to escape frigid winters in the arctic. They’re happy once they get to Yellowstone because the geothermal features keep the rivers from freezing over, so they can continue to feed on aquatic plants. If it gets warm enough to melt the snow, they head back north to the arctic. These beautiful birds are quite large, weighing around 25 pounds (11 kg) and possessing a wingspan up to 10 feet (3 m)!

Trumpeter swans

Lower Yellowstone Falls.

It’s no secret that motorcycling and snowy landscapes are among our favorite things in the world. Back home, we’ve attempted to merge the two by motorcycling on mountain roads in the winter, an activity that can be both technically challenging and somewhat dangerous. But there’s a much better way: snowmobiling! In West Yellowstone, we rented a snowmobile and explored the impressive network of “no wheeled vehicles allowed” trails in the area. The landscape is stunning: we rode through dense forest, across creeks and rivers, and at one point we ascended to the top of a mountain where we had an incredible 360-degree view of Yellowstone and the national forests that surround it. We started by following the trails, but soon went off-trail, making our own way through fresh powder, and reaching truly out-of-the-way areas. By the end of the day, our thighs were sore from standing to absorb the bumps, adrenaline was running through our veins, and we couldn’t stop smiling! 🙂

That’s us on the snowmobile!

Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Yin-yang highway.

Pixelicious Planet

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