9/4 – 9/8
If we had any control over our travel schedule I would hope that we’d be better at planning our destinations around the weather. I will admit to reading blog posts about getting to Patagonia in the right season but pushing it off as something I’d deal with when the time comes; getting rid of all my New England winter clothing and stuffing the truck full of flip-flops and snorkel gear.
Arizona in May, Florida in June, then West, then South.
That was the extent of our plan. We knew that “West” went as far North as Whidbey Island and we were aware that we would be running out of warm weather quickly.
Our night at Curt Gowdy State Park in Cheyenne, WY proved to us that Fall was well upon us and we weren’t going to be enjoying any warm weather for the foreseeable future.
Windy, rainy, downright cold night.
It was a beautiful site overlooking the water but that just allowed the wind to batter us with its cold air and pelting rains. Cuddled in the tent we watched a movie and when the rain let up for a moment we raced down to cook up some pasta and sauce – BRRR!
Another movie and off to dreamland.
Early to bed, early to rise.
We were on the road by 6:45am and cozied up to a free breakfast at the hotel we had stayed in a few days back… wait a second… we’re in Laramie??
We were just here 7 days ago!
We need to get going before we freeze ourselves out! As it is, I wasn’t going to get to go to Alaska, an idea I had been toying with since I found out it was located up North and not next to Hawaii like I had learned in school. (Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention, geography never interested me in school, but now I can’t get enough of learning where things are located!)
We drove as far as possible; we were well out of Boost Mobile’s service area. Our goal was to make it to the Tetons, unsure if that was realistic or not, we just drove and drove.
Made it. Beautiful. Cold.
Ok, now Yellowstone. I had heard things about Yellowstone but I really didn’t know much about it. Satisfied that I had found all the appropriate wildlife thus far (except a rattlesnake, but I feel there’s still plenty of rattler country in our future), I wanted to see a bear.
Driving into the park I was in awe of the immediate beauty.
“Oh my God, look at that water –STOP!”
I love water, and rocks… and water over rocks? Oh, forget it!
I wanted to get in so bad but it was c.o.l.d. so I settled for a little hair wetting and a load of picture taking.
Something tells me Tom’s gonna be pulling over a lot before we are done with this place.
On my mission to see a bear I made us go to bed early and get up before dawn.
I’ve never thought it such a great idea before in my life.
I thought this place was beautiful yesterday in the light.
I am having a hard time containing my excitement for the spectacular beauty that surrounds us in the dark morning with just the mere promise of life and light.
Like seriously. I can’t contain myself. I am like a child who is being showered with sensory overload, I can’t look in enough directions, can’t take it all in fast enough.
And it’s still dark out.
I wish I knew what I was about to embark on, if I had known how many uniquely different landscapes Yellowstone held I would have made a photo album of them alone. That’s not to say I didn’t take loads of pictures, but I wish I had captured every landscape; to flip through the album and see one after another in order would have been awesome for years to come.
We stopped at the Mud Volcano.
And Dragon’s Mouth Spring.
I am starting to wrap my head around thermal activity, I’m like a sponge right now, I wish I knew this stuff was so cool when I was in school. I say that a lot, “I wish my teachers explained how awesome this stuff was!” I’m a hands-on type of learner and I am sure my teachers did the best they could (no, I’m not sure of that, as an adult I understand daily grinds and how one year turns into the next and I am sure they were burnt out on teaching the same lessons year after year and they had lost their enthusiasm, and I for one am not interested unless you are enthusiastic!)… anyway, I’ve never learned so much in my entire life than I have so far on this trip. I wonder if algebra will rear its ugly head, I think I might be ready for it!
We drove through the park stopping about every 100 ft. to take pictures. Every time I saw a group of people looking in one direction I’d make Tom stop, “What are they looking at!? A bear I bet!” Sometimes I’d jump out to get a closer look but after the sun had been up for a couple of hours I was starting to resign myself to the fact that I probably wasn’t going to see a bear.
I did see swans, and elk, and buffalo; boring ole buffalo, I don’t even take pictures anymore Hahaha
Around 9 we found our way to Geyser Hill and proceeded to walk around there with a tour guide. For anyone unfamiliar, this is where Old Faithful is located, but that is the least interesting attraction in the whole area! I am not sure how we managed to stay with our group as I came out of there with over 1,000 pictures. Which is great because my words could never, although the pictures hardly tell the story either. Just amazing. Water, rocks, steam, minerals, bubbling, colors – it’s just so cool!
We found a little picnic area in the woods and Tom made us sausage, onion and pepperoni omelets with last night’s left-overs and I grilled up some English muffins which I slathered with Jodi’s kind mason jar offerings, this first that we opened I had been dying to try since she gave it to us, apple compote.
I secretly wished a bear would smell our cooking, but as soon as the thought occurred to me I scared it out of my head as I really didn’t want that to happen right now!
We set out again and walked Black Sands Basin, Grand Prismatic, and Fire Hole Lake. Now the one thing I do know about Yellowstone (other than they have bears) are the many photos I’ve seen of Grand Prismatic, you know the areal views of it’s multiple rings of colors?
Yeah, well, you can’t see any of that from the ground.
Yellowstone is a grand place and is worthy of a week’s vacation, certainly trying to fit it all in one day is silly, but we are silly. I was very tired by the time we reached the base of the walk up to Grand Prismatic but I had to see it for myself. So I heaved my body up all the stairs and stood in front of the majestic hole, “This is it?? Are you sure??”
I explained to Tom what the areal view is like and tried to stand as far up on my tippy-toes as I could, but I had to leave it to my memory of the photos and concede that I wouldn’t have one of my own.
We found camp at Madison Campground and ate some salads and hotdogs then passed out as the rain washed over the park. We got up long enough to eat soup and grilled cheese then retired to our cozy bed to watch another movie on another cold and wet night.
We finished up with a few more sights on our way out the park, Mammoth and the [standing!] petrified tree, we were just about out of the park when I spotted a group of people standing staring at the other side of the road. Tom already knows the drill so he pulled over and I jumped out. I heard someone say the word “bear” and I couldn’t believe my luck that I was about to see one at the very last second I was in Yellowstone!
And there it was, a rustle of the branches and I saw the head of a playful black bear!!
Satisfied beyond belief, we drove out of the park and stopped for coffee and internet at a cute café in this cute little town just outside of the gates. 5 hours since we had left camp, and we are just outside of the park’s entrance.
The drive on 89 through Montana was gorgeous, I was so happy and peaceful… for an hour, and then the landscape turned on me and I was completely bored.
No 3G and out of Candy Crush lives I shaved my legs with the electric razor and tried to ignore the mounting boredom tugging at my insides.
Finally we stopped for gas and I was ecstatic to get out of the truck for a minute; that is until Tom informed me that he just found out we were going in the wrong direction. UGH! I have to do that all over again!?
And just as I couldn’t take any more of the boring drive back, a truck hauling a 5th wheeler ran out of passing lane and we came head to head in what I thought was going to be the end for all of us – luckily Tom was able to slow enough to allow the truck to swerve back into his own lane just barely in front of the truck he was trying to pass.
I can only imagine what is being said in his cab right now!
One thing we’ve noticed since driving into this part of the country is that everything is getting very costly. Gas is $4.20/gallon and the hotel we found in Great Falls was $110/night!
Once inside the Staybridge Suites however I realized it was a $110 well spent, I sprawled out on the bed to start my normal flurry of internet activity, only to find I couldn’t connect.
This wouldn’t have been such a huge deal had I not been famished and trying to find food. Anything that gets between me and food when I am hangry is cause for war.
It was a rough few hours but after the stomach was filled and Tom managed to get us a free night for the trouble, I was floating on cloud 9. You see, there is nothing better than waking up in a king-sized hotel bed knowing you have all day to do whatever you want to do under the protection of a roof and 4 walls. Usually for me that meant yoga in my underwear and loads of lying on the bed watching TV and playing CC, did I mention in my underwear? That’s the most important part.
A climate controlled, underwear-lounging room with no looming checkout time is pure heaven.
I wonder if there’s ice cream nearby….