Friday, August 14, 2009
Yellowstone Journal, Read At Your Own Risk
Finally a chance to do what I love to do, write! I last written about the first day of our trip. By now many of you know the details of our “whip n ride” vacation! (For those of you who don’t know Chad personally, we’ll just say that he is not one to sit around and lounge! If I want to take a leisurely holiday, it is going to be by myself or with my girlfriends; he wants nothing to do with sand, sun and just hanging out.
Though the trip was fun, a great change of pace, and a chance to see beautiful country, it was NOT relaxing in any way. It was eventful. The precursor of running out of gas on day one should have been an ominous sign of what we’d experience on the way home. We were blissfully distracted by the amazing views and mountains.
Day Two: Geyser Day. It’s been a while since I’ve visited the park so I had forgotten how many of them there are! Of coarse Old Faithful is still the “Mac Daddy” of the geysers and we stayed to watch him (or her) blow out twice. We enjoyed the many trails that lead us around geyser valley, each with names and descriptions. One could easily spend an entire day at this site. Once could, we didn’t, not with Chad at the wheel. On we went.
There were three highlights of this day. The first was touring the geyser basins. The grand prismatic geyser was breathtaking. It looks like a rainbow from a bird’s eye view. From the ground it was pretty cool, though the aerial photos really give a better view. The turquoise pool was another favorite and the kids loved the paint pots, (boiling, and stinky mud.) Parker was wondering how he could concoct something like this at home. (Could this be the making of a scientist or just a new phase of bigger messes to clean up?!)
The second highlight was when Parker hollered, “It’s a moose!” Of coarse Chad slammed on breaks to take a second look. The other tourists in the park hadn’t discovered the pair of cow elk lying in the grass on the side of the mountain. It was nearly dusk so we were quite amazed with “ol eagle eyes”! He was very proud. It was a picture of peace watching these two just sitting there, chewing their cuds, totally oblivious to the traffic that continually threatened to disturb their tranquil domain.
The next highlight was one of sheer luck. What we didn’t know is where we were going to sleep that night. The park’s campsites, we were told, had filled up at 9 am that day. Availability was as rare as a snowflake in July. (Remember this is Yellowstone so that snowflake is possible!) Had I been alone, I would have moseyed on and looked for a campsite outside of the park, probably somewhere in Montana. Not Chad. He pulled in and kindly asked if there was anything available. At first the answer was no but then when they saw we had only a small camper one of the rangers said, “Well, you are in luck, “We just had someone pull out at five. Follow me.” Sweet. Sometimes it just isn’t about talent if you have luck! By 7 the next morning we had people inquiring about the site and if we were going to spend another night. If you are planning a YNP vacation, DO call ahead and reserve a sight. This is something that we will do next time.
We happily hung our hats in the camper that night. An almost full moon welcomed us to the park and I am pretty sure it was winking at us when we finally went to sleep.
Day Three: Big Scenery Day. It had gotten pretty chilly the night before so I was glad that I’d thrown in extra blankets. This was another long day and we covered as much ground as possible. We drove north to Mammoth Hot Springs, and then back south towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Another FYI: bring a poncho to the park! I had these packed, in the camper and in the suburban and not in my day pack where they needed to be. We only got soaked once and it wasn’t all that cold but it would have been better for the camera had I remembered a poncho.
The first highlight of this day was seeing a grizzly. It was ½ mile away so again, FYI, bring your field glasses! I have a pretty good zoom on my camera but it wasn’t clear. We could see the hump on its back though. Everyone got quite a thrill when it ran out of the timber chasing something. (Which was way more thrilling than seeing/hearing the door of a new jeep compass get ripped off by a van as it was passing by! That was a little too close to our vision!)
Seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was another highlight. There are three water falls that lie along YS River and each is fantastic. The tallest one is truly thrilling! I have a hard time with heights so this one made me dizzy. One of my sons kept trying to get a closer look! YIKES. The pictures sure don’t do it justice. None of the pictures that I took do. Seeing it in true living color is astounding. To think that this location has been here for eons is really mind blowing. These rocks have a lot of stories to tell, they were certainly talking during our visit. We ended the day at the cafeteria. We bought marshmallows but were to spent to roast ‘em.
Day Four: Departure Day. We hit Canyon Village to snag a few souvenirs, check out the visitor’s center and then bust it for Cody. It was hard to leave; this is a place I could hang out in for a long time. The trails were calling my name………….
We didn’t make it out of the park quickly; we are a family of procrastinators! The mud volcano and the bison herds were just too cool to pass by quickly. Thank Goodness for the mountains, they helped ease our transition out of the park and gave us something to look at and dream about. The highlight of this day was Cody Museum. The boys and Pryce (who goes wherever her dad does) went to check out the gun collection. I headed for the Plains Indians display. Amazing. I am a huge fan of beadwork and a great many of those exhibits are exquisite works of art. If you’ve never been there, Cody is a fun town with great little shops. We got our exercise this night and were happy to find a friendly family diner to end our day with.
Day Four, Disaster Day! Had we known what the day was going to deliver we would have probably voted to stay in Cody! I won’t go into all the details, I will just say that I am thankful that our time in the park was smooth, not relaxing nor was there much downtime but it was smooth. Key word there folks. By the time we hit Thermopolis, we recognized that our vehicle was not working so great. Luckily we made it to Riverton, a bit out of our way but the only place for miles (this is Wyoming!) that had a fuel pump, which we were severely in need of. Though being stuck at a dealership is not my favorite way of spending the day, this was a true blessing; this is the hometown of my sweet cousin Patty and her family! I haven’t gotten to see Patty for a long time so this was a treat. We were able to spend a little time chatting with her, her beautiful daughter Carrie and adorable grandson, Cale. Detours aren’t all bad!
We would have been only a bit behind schedule had we not blown a tire. Guys reading this, “LISTEN TO YOUR WIVES”. If they tell you to go BACK for gas, DO IT! If they say, “I think you better slow down, that shake could be due to a tire on the camper.” DO IT! Long story short, we spent a great deal of time that night in Douglas, changing a tire!
All ended up fine. Chad’s mom met us and took him on down the road to get to another rodeo and the kids and I happily headed home. Yes, there was nothing relaxing about this vacation. Many highlights, truly fun, saw beautiful country and made it back home to tell the story!
I celebrated my return by cleaning peanut butter out of the cupboard; the impact of blowing the tire actually blew the latch off of my cupboard and exploded the jar of peanut butter stored there. I am still trying to get it out of the toaster.
And meanwhile, our garden exploded while we were gone. The kids picked enough beans I canned 8 quarts on Saturday. It’s good to be home! The fun never ends!