Road Trip 2011 – Part 3 - Yellowstone

Day 2. We opted to skip the breakfast at the hotel (a box of fairly picked over donuts) and got our Subway on. Actually, they do a pretty good (and cheap) breakfast. Plus, we got sandwiches for lunch, so we wouldn't be forced to eat at Old Faithful and pay their captive prices.

The drive down US-191 through the Gallatin National Forest and along the Gallatin River was breathtaking.

RT-03-Gallatin-02 RT-03-Gallatin-01
RT-03-Gallatin-03 RT-03-Gallatin-06
RT-03-Gallatin-04 RT-03-Gallatin-05

And in this video, I believe you just miss Cora swearing like a sailor or something.

The drive on US-191 down there is seriously beautiful.

We made it into Yellowstone around noon, and took a few photo-stops, and then headed for Old Faithful (and the bathrooms that it promised us). As we emerged from the washrooms, the crowds were heading for their cars. Arrrrg! Just missed it. And it erupts every 90 or so minutes?!? Double-Arrrg! Well, we explored around a little, then got our sandwiches out of the car, and totally broke the rules be eating them in the entry way to the visitor's center. It was a spot in the shade.

Eventually, we walked out to the benches that are around the geyser. (Not around the "geezer", when they blow off steam, you don't want to see it.) We were all prepared for one of the most fantastic, awe inspiring moments of our life…

Total eff'n rip-off! Are you serious? That's it!?! Frak me!

Shaking off the defeated feeling from "Moldy Faithful", we drove thru Yellowstone and out the east side.

RT-03-Yellowstone-08Isn't that an amazing picture? We didn't actually see this. This is stolen from the internet. We blasted passed this in a need to get to a bathroom. RT-03-Yellowstone-05 But upon further review, I'm starting to suspect what might have happened…
RT-03-Yellowstone-03I really enjoyed Yellowstone Lake. Here's a view from above. RT-03-Yellowstone-02And a view of my lovely wife.
RT-03-Yellowstone-04Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam RT-03-Yellowstone-07and the deer and the the… Well, we didn't see any antelope, and the discouraging words were to come later in the evening.
RT-03-Yellowstone-01We crossed the continental divide a few time on the trip, and we finally got a picture of us there. RT-03-Yellowstone-06And with that, we said good-bye to Yellowstone.

East of Yellowstone National Park is Shoshone National Forrest. Looks like a pretty straight line on a US highway, simple, right?

RT-03-Shoshone-01There were sheer walls in front of you. RT-03-Shoshone-02And winding down hill sections that just made you white knuckled hoping that you don't take the quick way down the mountain to the river below.
RT-03-Shoshone-03Thankfully, at one spot, they had the smarts to go THRU the mountain, instead of OVER the mountain. RT-03-Shoshone-04 And I loved blasting thru the tunnel.

We made it to Cody, WY for dinner (BK), some fuel and a look at the map. It looked like we can make it to Gillette for the evening. That would set us up great for getting to Mt. Rushmore the next day. And since I had driven all day, we switched out, and Cora took over the driving.

RT-03-Evening-01 But the road that I thought was going to look like this all the way… RT-03-Evening-02turned into this twisty, turny, road thru Bighorn National Forest with some serious drop offs…
RT-03-Evening-04 And the sun's setting… RT-03-Evening-03 Oh, and freakin' COWS are on the road!

And the stress level in the car was rising. Not between us, but as the sun is setting and you are driving thru the wilderness, as cool as seeing a moose is, it reminds you of how dangerous things are getting.

RT-03-Evening-05That's not a Google picture. That's by me, standing on the side of the road as this moose wandered thru the field, and across the road… RT-03-Evening-06And then it jumped the fence like most of you step over a curb.
RT-03-Evening-07We were psyched as the sun went down, and interstate was ahead, and hopefully this was the last animal we were going to see. RT-03-Evening-08I'm not going to comment here. No way.

Unfortunately, what I hoped would be the salvation of getting back on I-90 wasn't. The combination of the previous stint of driving, the unlit interstate that was also under construction and very unsmooth. [Note: I haven't focused on it, but in the back seat is a 4X4X5 water filled cube holding two frogs who really freak out while travelling. And the water's slopping out with every bump and jostle.]

And there are signs that for animal crossings constantly. So, you're driving blind along a rough and rippled surface road, wondering if the frogs are going to die of a heart attack, or if you are going to get a moose thru the windshield any second. Cora was INTENSE. Their was no monkey business and little sound as the miles ticked by. I asked Cora a few times if she wanted to switch, but she said she would have been just as tense with me driving, and I'd already driven most of the day.

And just before midnight, we pulled into the Comfort Inn in Gillette, WY. I'm pretty sure Cora has never been happier to get out from behind the wheel in her life. And this motel kicked the crap out of the Bozeman Inn from the night before.

And we needed to rest up, because there was a lot of things we were planning to do in and around Rapid City, SD the next day, and we were a few hours short of where I'd hoped we'd be at the end of the day*.

Just messing with you. Old Faithful was awesome. Excuse the fact that I took this on my point-n-shoot that decides to change focus sometimes, and won't change the zoom once it starts recording video.

* In retrospect, I would have spent more time in Yellowstone and Shoshone on day two, and have just spend the night in Cody, and driven thru Bighorn and to Rapid City on day three, with the sightseeing on day four then day 5 being another travel day instead of trying to do it all in four days.

Live and learn.


Cora said...


Crazy Woman Saloon was a VERY prophetic sign that night.

Ellie Mae said...

Bison, moose, AND Cows! Oh my!!
Great pix and storytelling. We have a pic of our family in front of the Old Faithful sign, too. But in winter.

Scope said...

Cora - How stupid do I look? Not baiting me in to bite on that! ;-)

Ellie Mae - Isn't the park CLOSED in the winter? Did you snowmobile in?

Anonymous said...

I spent one week in Yellowstone and could have easily spent a month and still not have seen everything there is to see. It's an amazing place.

Scope said...

Kirby - We kind of breezed thru. Next time, we will see a little more. But since we're really not the "outdoors" types, if you can't see it from one of the pullouts, it might not get seen.

So. Cal. Gal said...

At one time, I thought it would be cool to go there on my honeymoon.

That was a LONG time ago.

Great pics!

That Janie Girl said...

Ooooh! I so want to go there. Those moose will KILL your car, I know those intense drives from our recent trip to Alaska.

And as for the Crazy Woman Saloon? I bet I'm already a lifetime member.

Ask ThatManILove. He'll tell you!

Jan @ Struck by Serendipity said...

I love Yellowstone minus the rotten egg smell! Your road trip looks like a blast!

I'll actually be in your neck of the woods on Thursday, but just for a layover for a few hours. I'll wave from the plane. :)

Anonymous said...

Crazy, wandering moose.

Ellie Mae said...

No, Yellowstone is open in the winter, some at least. We went in Feb and took a track van tour--no tires, but tracks like on a tank. It was SPECTACULAR! Bison in the mist coming from the bubbling earth, wow. I'll see if I can post some on my fb page soon. :)

Ellie Mae said...

Ooops, Sam says the official term is "snow coach" not track van, haha. Whatever! I think mine is more descriptive.