After writing last week’s column I had time for a bit of reflection and assessment of the trip.
I probably had a lot more fun than I previously thought. I knew I had fun, but the amount of fun I had wasn’t really clear until I saw other people’s pictures of me on the trip.
I’m still not a fan of the driving, but I must have handled it better than I thought. The idea of repeating the trip doesn’t faze me. I will still white-knuckle the drive up and down the sides of mountains. Navigating over a dozen switchbacks on an unpaved road (it was undergoing construction) at night isn’t my idea of a fun, but it was a little bit exciting.
Day 4 (Continued) — We arrived in Jackson Hole, Wyo., that evening. I had been here over a decade before and the town is even more of a tourist trap than I had previously remembered.
It was my 19th wedding anniversary as well. So, we had to go out to eat and celebrate. We found an Italian restaurant (Nani’s Cucina) and they were very accommodating to sit all 16 of us. It was a great place and I would definitely go back.
Day 5 — Did the tourist thing in Jackson Hole that morning before heading out to West Yellowstone, Mont. Drove past the Grand Teton. I could really get used to the landscape in Wyoming and Montana. However, I think the only two things that prevent me from making such a leap is spotty Internet service and investing in a snowcat is considered a legitimate expense.
The only major down point for West Yellowstone was the loss of the restaurant that served the really big pancakes. We were looking forward to that.
(Yes, I equate my vacations with eating.)
Nevertheless, we had spent five days on the road and will be spending the next few in Yellowstone, right at the start of the bison migration season.
Day 6 — Instead of going to see Yellowstone to start, at the encouragement of my father-in-law’s cousin (who lives in Utah with her husband Brad) we visited Mesa Falls in Idaho, and the mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes. We headed over to Quake Lake for a picnic, but not before we all pulled over to the side of the road to photograph a wooden eagle. (Everyone else thought it was real.)
We closed out the day at the Norris Geyser Basin.
Day 7 — Waterfalls. Made our way over to Yellowstone’s canyon to see the Lower and Upper Falls. Then we braved the trail that included 300 steps down to vantage point to see the Upper Falls. The 300 steps are a bit of misnomer. There was a steep path to the steps and we had to climb back up. My oldest fell off the bottom step and skinned up her knee pretty good. She was a trooper and made it back to the top.
Next stop, Tower Falls (the girls were getting testy about seeing more waterfalls at this point) and then over to Mammoth Springs.
I recall Mammoth Springs from an earlier visit. The area seemed less active than it was in the past.
Day 8 — Old Faithful Inn. This would be our home away from home for the next two nights. We didn’t do much in regards to seeing the sights since we had to get checked in to the hotel and then get ready for the chuck wagon dinner. One of the options for the dinner was to ride out on horseback or sit in a chuck wagon. I opted to ride the horse, as did my youngest. As I sat upon the horse one of thoughts was "I should have brought a Stetson." It was an experience worth repeating.
Day 9 — Lots of geysers. And more geysers. Walked the trail near the Old Faithful Inn. There were a number of geysers that were active, so we got to see some rare treats. There was a bit of lingering sadness for me. The trip was almost over. We were leaving the next to start the trek home. Also, it was sad to see what jerks the human species can be by destroying natural treasures by tossing junk into geysers. It illustrated how fragile our system can be.
Next week — Last of Yellowstone, a cave tour, Devil’s Tower and the Badlands.