SUMMER 2016 – PART 1 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
This blogging thing, if you haven’t noticed, I’m not very good at it. There are so many other things to go do and see that this becomes…well, let’s just say it moves down on my priority list.
We really are having a blast and we’ve started posting some of our adventures on our personal Facebook pages because we can do that on the fly, feel free to visit us there.
We reached West Yellowstone in August 2016 with intentions of staying about a month. Again, another natural wonder right in our own backyard that we’ve never seen. So needless to say, we were pretty excited to pull in. We arrived and the RV resort we booked was less than desirable, our original site was so small we couldn’t open our slides, the park was overcrowded, and the roads were very tight and difficult to maneuver our rig thru. We were thankful we planned ahead and were fairly well stocked with groceries because the available shopping was pretty much essentials only. Our decision to stay a month lasted about a week before we started making other arrangements to move along in our journey.
With a limited amount of time in the area we took a very methodical and ‘strategic’ approach by breaking the park into loops and spending a day seeing the sites in each loop. Smoke and fires made some of our decisions very easy by closing or limiting access in the some of the west and south areas of the park.
Trek to the Northeast Entrance and Red Lodge
With our list in hand we set out across the center of the park to take in sites like Gibbon Falls, Tower Junction, and Beartooth Pass. This part of our journey took us through crazy windy roads, abundant views of wildlife, ridiculously stupid tourists, and snow-capped mountains. While the scenery was beautiful it didn’t feel too terribly different from what we grew up around in Eastern Washington.
Bear oh bear; oh-my!
Since the day we planned our trip to Yellowstone I had visions of bear sightings dancing in my head. The story (again, in my head) went something like this: it’s a warm sunny day meandering through the park with the top off the jeep. The breeze is blowing through our hair (well, my hair anyway) and we’re belting out ‘I Lived’ by One Republic at the top of our lungs. All the sudden I scream and point…what…wait…what’s that, over there….in the river…my-oh-my look at that massively huge grizzly bear catching salmon to feed her two young cubs who are patiently waiting at the rivers edge. Remember, this is a vision – only in my head – not to be seen by anyone but me. It’s exciting, it’s heart pounding, and beyond anything else I could have wished for.
Here is the reality. Remember those snowcapped mountains that sounded so blissful on Beartooth Pass? Well, it was stupid, crazy cold and windy up so we had to leave the top on the jeep. The only blowing hair was from heat blasting from the vents. But we were very likely belting out ‘I Lived’ by One Republic because that’s just how it is when that song plays. Shortly after we passed through a quaint little town called Cook City I looked over to the side of the road and the first thought through my little head was ‘why on earth would somebody put a metal silhouette of a bear right there on the side of the road…that’s distracting, someone could get in a wreck, how stupid is that?’ I could barely get the words out of my mouth to tell Travis when we passed it…a real live black bear….just sitting on the side of the road….watching traffic…doing nothing. There was no time for a picture, no fanfare, no turning around, no nothing, only the memory. A memory that was so anti-climactic that I wasn’t sure it really happened. What’s a girl to do when she doesn’t have a picture to back up her memory? You got it! I got out my big girl crayons and markers and drew a picture to show you the expectation vs reality. Granted the ‘expectation’ is a picture from the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center; but you get the idea, my vision of bear sightings.
An overnight in Red Lodge, Montana
Our weekend journey ended in Red Lodge, Montana where we added another first to our list when Travis booked an overnight stay at a Bed and Breakfast. We were feeling pretty lucky to find a room because the town was flooded with people in transit to or from Sturgis.
As we arrived at our location the dogs were quick to welcome us to their homestead with our host not too far behind. Facebook and YouTube have put horror stories in my head about using these types of services and the awful experiences people have encountered. Needless to say, I was presently surprised when we walked into a very CLEAN, comfortable house.
….and then I walked into the bedroom to discover that I would be sleeping under this. Huh…it took me a minute to process what I was looking at then the thoughts came in rapid fire succession.
- How on earth did they fit ‘that’ in ‘this’ room?
- That ‘thing’ is as wide as this KING SIZE BED!
- This is quickly turning into a true Red Neck experience!
- Thank you Jesus that there was no head attached.
- Deep breath, I can get through this.
- There is nothing to fear, you got this!
- At least there are no panties or bras hanging from it.
- Piece of cake, no really it’s OK, you can do this.
I know what you’re thinking; it can’t get any better than this. Oh, but it does. As our host is sharing information about the town, what it has to offer, and all the great places to eat she causally asks if we plan to go to the pig races. Yes, the pig races – this is not a typo – in Red Lodge, Montana it’s a real thing. How can we say no to this? So off we go to Bear Creek Saloon & Steakhouse, roughly 6 miles outside Red Lodge, in the middle of absolutely no where. Our GPS said that we are near our destination but it looks like we are entering a ghost town and then we round the bend and there sits. The place is packed and if you don’t have a reservation, you won’t likely get in unless you can find a stool at the bar. We took the advice of our host and got there a wee bit early so we could get a good spot for the races. Five pigs, run seven races, and people line up for hours to place bets on this. For real, I couldn’t make up something this good. And if you want to buy a shirt, or a mug, or a sticker; you will likely have to wait even longer. Go figure.
And there you have it, I have nothing else to share or any other great adventure from this weekend that can top pig racing at Bear Creek Saloon in Red Lodge, Montana.
Better late than never. Stay tuned, our next post is coming soon with our other adventures from Yellowstone.