“Get your …
Ok, we all know the alarm clock drill. We hush up mammy Yoakum and get to our morning chores.
At this point the earlier hassles of trunk repacking are a memory, we have a system down now. Instead of duffel each for me and the kiddo, one is for clean and one is for dirty. Voila, only one duffel a day needed.
The only hitch in a full trunk is no souvenir shopping. No place to store anything larger than a magnet.
So off we go back on to Route 90 west headed for our next adventure filled day.
As you head west in to Buffalo, Wyoming, you see signs for the scenic route to Yellowstone National Park. Scenic in this case meaning really far off the beaten path and adding an extra hour or two to your trip.
Does this faze us? Not at all, we are hearty adventurers looking for exciting new things and California will still be there whenever we get to her.
Turning off Route 90 in Buffalo you get on Route 16 and find the world’s best named liquor store and matching creek.
You also find a road, well, see for yourself.
Thankfully that doesn’t last long and you head in to Bighorn National Forest. Great views, pictures are better than words here again.
Leaving Bighorn you get to meander through some of the best named towns you will see. Ten Sleep, McNutt, and Thermopolis, which is so metropolitan for this area they even have an East Thermopolis. From there you head north towards Cody, but not before travelling through Meeteese. Kid you not, that is the name of a town in Wyoming.
Heading west from Cody we entered the first of three national parks that would consume the rest of our day, leaving us little time to remember to book a hotel room. Sometimes seat of your pants traveling takes you to places that enter the “you can’t make this sh*t up” club.
Shoshone National Park is expansive and beautiful. Mountains and trees as far as the eye can see. As you travel through it is as though the trees are touching the sky at points. Again, pictures are better than words to describe.
When you think that the landscape cannot get any more picturesque, you enter Yellowstone National Park. The route in from the east is really neat. You go through three tunnels cut into the mountains.
As you enter the park proper you are greeted by a series of natural waterfalls on the side of the road, the last of which is dedicated to Lisa and Hannah.
Once you get past the falls, from this entrance you are on the far side of Yellowstone Lake. This area was razed by a fire nearly 20 years ago but looks like it was just yesterday from the lack of new growth.
Rounding around the lake, we get our first glimpse of a local resident. I made J stop in the middle of the road to take that picture, for which she got a scolding from a park ranger. She HAS to learn to make friends with local law enforcement better on this trip.
Growling bellies getting the better of us, we find a spot by the side of the lake and have a picnic lunch; Yogi & Boo-boo didn’t show up to share our basket of goodies. Invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.
The Continental Divide crosses the park in three different places. This is where it crossed at the highest point, 8391 feet. The adults in our expedition were duly impressed with this fact, the jaded kid was not.
The whole area leading to and from Old Faithful is littered with hot springs. They are really neat to look at and take pictures near, but true to their name, it gets very hot standing next to them for more than a few minutes.
Finally we make it up to Old Faithful at about 6pm. Being the middle of the summer, and far enough west in a time zone, there is plenty of daylight ahead of us. Thankfully we are able to not only find spots on the boardwalk viewing area, but are in time for a pretty good show.
On the way back to the car we see this guy trying to hitch a ride out-of-town.
Headed south out of Yellowstone we get our first glimpse of the Tetons.
Once in Grand Teton National Park, we pulled over to take some pictures. By the grace of whomever it is that sits on my shoulder and watches over me, I was lucky enough to experience sunset over the Tetons. My everlasting gratitude goes out to that angel for allowing me to see that during my lifetime.
Sunset means it’s going to get dark and fast in the mountains. Mario Andretti is behind the wheel once again, so she steps it up as the realization comes again that we don’t have a place to hang our hats that night.
Doing a pretty good clip through a national park at dusk didn’t seem like a bad idea, until the park ranger passed us going north. You guessed it, a quick u-turn later and we made another friend. This time the lights looked much brighter.
Park Ranger Bob walks up to the car, and tells us exactly how fast we were going this time. No guessing for National Park employees. Park Ranger Bob begins lecturing us on how many moose have been killed in the park so far this year by speeders. We have on our best sympathetic faces while listening to these horrible statistics.
To this day I will never know if it was our pathetic feigned looks or the fact he just took pity on two women cramped in the car with a mid-sized dog, a tween and license plates from the east coast with the remnants of enough dead insects on the hood and windshield to prove we had really driven all those miles, but he let us off with a warning.
Thanks Park Ranger Bob! We promise we won’t speed again here in the park. True to our word we didn’t speed. At that point the road was filled with enough people leaving the park that speeding would have been impossible.
We finally get in to Jackson and look for a hotel that is dog-friendly. Pulling in to the first one we see, I inquire at the desk and sure enough they do have a room for us and love dogs. That will be $175 for the night ma’am. Ah, one second, let me just go out to the car and check with my traveling companion.
Back on the main road driving through Jackson we look for another dog-friendly hotel, $175 my foot! I would sooner sleep in the car. Half an hour later we are still driving south, looking for a place to stay, but I am too stubborn to have her turn the car back around.
We are driving south, and it is so dark that we can only see the road right in front of us. When I say dark, I mean eerily kind of dark. No one is saying anything, just looking around for anything that might jump out into the road at us. J turns to me and vocalized what we are both thinking at that moment. You just know we are driving through some narrow pass between two mountains, and that if it was daylight we would have some view.
Finally 40 miles out of Jackson we see a neon sign. Bull Moose Saloon & Inn. They are still open thankfully, so we pull in. It is one of those rustic road-side joints. Animal heads on the walls, big ol jukebox, stage for live bands on a Saturday night, and knotty pine boards on the walls.
They not only have a room, but the nice lady behind the counter takes one look at me and asks if we have eaten yet today and she will keep the kitchen open long enough for us to go stow our gear, walk the dog real quick and come on down for something hot to eat. It’s 10:30 on a weeknight. You don’t find this in the city, this is real America. People caring about someone other than themselves. Staying open a bit later because it is the nice thing to do.
That was the best greasy cheeseburger I had all trip. I was so thankful for the hospitality I even gave the kid a handful of quarters to go play Pac man in the game room.
Full bellies, dog walked and fed, alarms set for our next day’s adventure and off to the land of wynken, blynken, and nod. I fall asleep that night wondering what awaits us on Day 6.