Travel story: Montana has edged out Kansas as our new least favorite state. The majority of the driving we did there was on desolate highways that went on for miles and miles and hours and hours surrounded by absolutely nothing but a flat, brown landscape. The ugliness would have been a bummer, but significant portions of these roadways were actually missing the road part. For miles on end we found ourselves crusing down dirt roads highlighted with the occasional constructions vehicle or orange barrel, and wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to just rip out the highway completely to repair it. This annoyance came to a head on our way down to Island Park from Canada. We came to one of these sections of dirt road, except it had rained the night before and the road had to turned into a muddy nightmare. Luckily, there were not many cars around, because those we saw, like us, were sliding all over the place, the thick mud was as slick as ice. We saw one unfortunate RV that had slid off the side of the road at a perpendicular angle and was stuck in the ditch.
So it was a great relief to arrive safely at our destination! We spent two days touring Yellowstone, one day on the lower loop, one day going around the upper. We were really glad we got to see everything we'd wanted to check out. We heard numerous horror stories about the traffic and the crowds, but we started our days early and were able to avoid any major delays.
Day one: lower loop. Geysers, geothermal wonders, and the Canyon.
I didn't realize there were so many geysers! We got lucky with our timing and saw several go off. And the hot springs were everywhere. So much of the park was like an alien landscape, unlike anything we'd ever seen before. The kids enjoyed seeing the colors of the rocks and held their noses in the stinky zones (there were many). It was all really interesting to see, it still seems crazy to me that such a place exists.
We got our fill of wildlife as well. Bison were all over the place, as were elk and various deer. We were lucky enough to see a mama grizzly bear with two cubs on our first day, and a black bear with one cub the next.
|I regret not purchasing this helpful reminder on a water bottle.|
We made a fun stop on the banks of Yellowstone Lake. The kids started out with their usual fare of dipping toes and skipping rocks, then Scott invented a game. He would heave a large rock into the water, and the duty of everyone else was to try to hit it in mid-aid with a smaller rock. I love everything about a spontaneous game like that. The rock throwers kept at it for some time, but no one ever made contact. Every time someone got close there was a roar of excitement and a confidence that a hit would be made on the next try for sure.
Our last stop for day one was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. That was my favorite thing we saw. While all of the geothermal stuff was interesting, it was ugly too. The Canyon was pretty, and really impressive. We went on just a short hike to a few good vantage points.
Cute detail story: Trey and Moe came up from Utah to join us too! It was fun to get to hang out and get to know Moe a little better. From the moment we arrived, Afton basically adopted them. Everywhere we walked she wanted to hold one of their hands. Whenever we sat down, she wanted to sit by them. "Because I don't get to see Trey and Moe very often!" she would explain over and over. They were kind and welcoming of their little shadow.