08/07-13/10

A family Grizwold-esque RV trip that we planned last summer, but had to cancel due to a last-minute stay in the hospital for Miles. We arranged it exactly the same, and were glad to hit the road this time! We basically put a giant pile of all of our stuff in the garage, picked up the 25' Cruise America RV, moved the pile into the RV, started driving, and unpacked along the way. We spent two days driving up, two days driving back, four nights at the Canyon Campground smack-dab in the middle of Yellowstone, and each day exploring a different part of the park. We drove a total of just under 1600miles and I didn't even look at the gas pump when filling up the giddy-up-mobile, since its rated at 8-10mpg. It was great that Denali got to come along as well, and he made himself quite comfortable on the passenger seat and didn't move much all week.

8/7/10
We picked up the RV around 2pm after watching the thrilling video and getting the walk-around and speech aboutYellowstone01.JPG (111491 bytes) how to use everything. Just like driving a U-Haul! We were on the road at 3:30pm after loading up all of our crap and getting Miles situated in his car seat at the table. Luckily there was a giant window right next to his seat. Some traffic in Denver and construction in Wyoming, but we pulled into a Casper WY Walmart for the night around 9:30pm and got settled despite some noisy traffic. All three of us Yellowstone02.JPG (98778 bytes) tried to sleep in the back bed, but that proved to be too cramped given the amount of wiggling that Miles does in a night! Afterwards, we would take turns sleeping with Miles with the other one of us getting a solid nights sleep on the bed above the cab.

 

8/8/10
We ate some breakfast and filled up on coffee while letting Miles run around on the grass to get some ants out of hisYellowstone03.JPG (124908 bytes) pants before the long drive into the park. From Casper we drove through Shoshoni, Thermopolis, and Cody to the east entrance. This is such a cool part of the country to drive through because it reminds you that there is land not developed for miles and miles and miles around. Just west of Cody we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Reservoir to stretch our legs and run around a bit. A cool place with a giant reservoir, information about the building of the dam, and a nice visitor center where Miles enjoyed growling at a Yellowstone04.JPG (139648 bytes) dinosaur. It was funny to see him put his head in one side of a 4' diameter water outlet (on display) and say "echo" then run around to the other side and listen. Heading west, the road winds along the Shoshone River through a cool canyon and over the Absaroka Range and Sylvan Pass before dropping down towards Yellowstone Lake and inside of the "super volcano" 30x45 mile caldera that makes thisYellowstone05.JPG (190852 bytes) area so geologically active. The views just kept getting better and better! We drove along the short north-end of the lake, but it still seemed giant explaining why it's North America's largest mountain lake at 20miles long, 14 miles wide, and 430ft deep. At Fishing Bridge we turned north through Hayden Valley, where there were hundred of bison roaming around and making their presence known right along side of the road and IN the middle of the road. Some were rolling in the dirt and making funny snorting noises. Yellowstone06.JPG (159281 bytes) Miles definitely enjoyed the views through here! Once the bison-induced traffic jam let up, we checked into the campground and Miles took his first driving lesson. At camp we got settled and made some dinner while Miles and Denali started exploring. It rained quite a bit after we were in the RV for the night.

 

8/9/10
Drove west through forests of pine trees and meadows to Norris then north to Mammoth Hot Springs area. Along theYellowstone08.JPG (164500 bytes) way we stopped at the pull-off for Roaring Mountain to see the smoking/steaming/active mountainside. Obsidian Cliff was cool too, lots of giant boulders the size of houses strewn about. The road hugs a cliff-side before dropping down into the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Lots of burn area from the 1988 fire, just some trees left standing, but the new forest is already well on its way to growing. We walked Yellowstone11.JPG (150912 bytes) around the lower and upper terraces looking at all of the awesome colorful travertine mineral formations and hot bubbly pools. Miles learned how to say "hot steam" and was more then happy to keep pointing it out. Lunch and a nap at the parking lot near the upper terraces during a rain storm, then back towards camp with a stop at Norris Geyser Basin to see all of the cool thermal features. Here, Jean said the funniest quote of the entire trip.... "keep Miles on the boardwalk, that's sulfuric acid and he'll disintegrate!" h ah ahhahaa. I had the pleasure of emptying the full " black and grey water tanks" (aka, the shitter) inYellowstone22.JPG (136774 bytes) the rain. Pretty easy, and luckily.... no mess. While making dinner, Miles did a quick exit of the RV whacking his face on the door jam then getting covered in dirt and pine needles. He was due, since the last bump on his head just cleared up. More rain that night, but this time we had some good entertainment watching the family across from us setting up their giant tent.

 

8/10/10
Yellowstone35.JPG (252808 bytes) In the morning we stopped at the Canyon Village visitor center to get the latest on grizzly sightings and checked out the displays. They've really done a great job with the information presented and all of the friendly staff available. Along the five mile drive north to Dunraven Pass we kept our eyes out forYellowstone39.JPG (194204 bytes) the mama grizzly and two cub grizzly's that have been hanging around the area. No such luck, but we kept looking while on the 6mile/1400' hike up Mt Washburn (10,243). It was a beautiful hike up an old road to a observatory/look-out with views all the way to the Tetons and down into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. A bit windy at top, and we took turns carrying Miles and letting him hike on his own. Back at the RV we parked at the Upper Falls (109ft) then at the Lower Falls (308ft) for Yellowstone41.JPG (160714 bytes) lunch and a nap for Miles. We took turns hiking down Uncle Toms Trail for great views of the Lower Falls, then along the canyon rim trail. That's a whole lotta water! I took a jog down to Artist Point for the inspiring view, and once Miles woke up we drove to Artist Point. So beautiful with the falls framed by the giant colorful canyon walls. Back at camp we did our usual laps around the campground playing "stop and go" and helping Miles walk along the tops of downed trees. He even took an interest in sweeping camp for us and dragged/pushed around a broom for awhile!

 

8/11/10
On our last full day in the park we made a quick drive back up Dunraven Pass to unsuccessfully look for the grizzliesYellowstone47.JPG (87579 bytes) (we found out later they were spotted just south of Canyon Village, D'oh!) then on towards Old Faithful. We drove through Norris again, then winding south along the Gibbon River to Madison. Just one lane due to some construction, but the wait was only about 20mins. From Madison we continued south along the Firehole River making a stop at Firehole Falls. This area reminded me of a commercial for fly-fishing.... beautiful blue stream, green banks, hills of trees along all sides, etc. At Old Faithful we entered the mayhem. It's amazing how many thousands of people come to see Old Faithful's hourly unimpressive burst of steam. My hose squirts higher! But it is a great place to people watch. Denali was Yellowstone50.JPG (211762 bytes) allowed up here as well, so we all walked around laughing at the nonsense then took Miles back to the RV for his much needed nap. We took turns walking around the boardwalks near Old Faithful looking at the different bubbling pools and geysers. My favorite was Castle Geyser... lots of travertine and minerals built up around it and frequent small eruptions. After playing around at the picnic area near the RV, we packed it up and left the packed parking lot and hoards of tourists. A few miles north of Old Faithful we stopped at Midway Geyser Basin. Cooooool place! Hot springs were running down into the river and there was aYellowstone62.JPG (130982 bytes) giant hole in the earth with bright blue water and steam pouring off of it, called Excelsior Geyser Crater. More pools, colorful mineral deposits, and steps around the Grand Prismatic Spring. The parking lot was nutz, but Jean managed to squeeze the RV out without crashing. For our last stop of the day, we took the quick walk around the Fountain Paint Pots to see the bubbling pools of mud. Unfortunately we got stuck in traffic for a couple hours on the way back, I counted over 300 cars stopped in the other direction. Yikes! Back at camp we did the usual cooking dinner and exploring around in the dirt.

 

8/12/10
We were all sad that we had to leave, but got an early start for the long drive. Back through Hayden Valley Miles got Yellowstone73.JPG (145172 bytes)to practice saying "baby bison" again. Drove along the west side of Yellowstone Lake this time towards the south entrance. Man, what a gigantic lake! The Grand Teton's had some clouds swirling around the summits and we stopped at the Cutler Bay visitor center to stretch our legs and walk around. Miles enjoyed running between the displays and even whacked his head when he tried to step up into one, not seeing the glass! Continuing south we were stuck in more construction traffic and miles and miles of unpaved road. Despite it being a long day, we made it to Rawlins, WY and stayed in an RV park. Nothing around Rawlins but wind!

 

8/13/10
At the RV park Miles explored the putt-putt golf course and climbed all over. Not too bad of a drive the rest of the way. Just a long stop in Fort Collins for lunch and to stretch our legs. Back at home we unloaded the giddy-up mobile and cleaned it out. What a fun trip!

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