Michael drove a few hours the evening of Wednesday, September 10th before it started snowing, yes, snowing!!! Essentially we were in three different states on 9/10 = North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. We drove on highway 450, which was so desolate and scary. I had awoken from my nap to the snow coming down pretty hard. We finally came across a Rest Area in the town of Wright, WY, which was on the intersection of Highway 59 and 387. What a relief! We freshened up in the bathroom and used the projector to fall asleep to Captain America in the truck.
Throughout the night, we kept turning on the car for heat and I guess I had at some point opened the door because I was literally sweating. The next morning a gentleman pulled up to our truck and I was awake so he said there was a stuffed animal underneath the truck. I had just woken up and saw that my pillow pet was being handed it to me. At that point, I thanked him so much for his kind gesture. He said that he didn’t want us to leave it behind. That was definitely a nice impression of folks from WY.
That morning we made our journey through the mountainous region of the States, taking pictures of the beautiful scenery of the snow through Bighorn National Forest, and stopping at Cody, WY for the evening. We booked our night in Cody at the Best Western, which had coin-operated washers and dryers which we made use of. The small town of Cody was packed with resources and amenities we were hoping for on our way to Yellowstone National Park.
It took us about an hour to reach the East Entrance of the park we paid the $25 entrance fee which is good for that park and Grand Teton National Park for seven days. We were given a park map with information about the wildlife we could spot as well as a park newsletter. All of the information warned us not to get too close to bison or other animals.
We spotted our first lone bison hanging out by the water on our drive in the park. He was huge! Throughout our time there, we must have seen more than 50 bison (buffalo). Most of the ones we had seen were on their own, and there were a handful of times they were all grazing as a herd.
Yellowstone National Park seemed so big, as we drove though it passing many tall pine trees covering the mountains. It was just a beautiful place to be in to take our time in absorbing the natural beauty of the lands. We drove past some geothermal vents with the scent of sulfur that lingered in the air. That was our first of many sightings of steam coming up from the ground. We past numerous hot spring areas and once we reached the Canyon Village, we decided to check their room vacancies for the evening because it seemed to be completely sold out online. To our surprise there was a cabin available that evening which was below our budget of $120 that evening. We were excited and checked into our room before heading out to check out Mammoth Hot Springs which was about 40 miles away. On our way there we saw a bison walking along the road (we must have been about 5 to 10 feet away from it). The hot springs were pretty cool to see too!
The next morning we made our trek to Old Faithful, and which was only supposed to take an hour (about 50 miles away). It ended up taking us about 3-4 hours to get there because we stopped at various sites, including the Midway Geyser Basin, where we saw an awesome mini geyser called Vixen, erupt right in front of us! It was so awesome. Along the way, we saw many recreational fly-fishermen who were fishing with their waders and in the middle of the water. Michael got really excited and wanted to test out his skills, but we needed to get to Old Faithful so he fished for about 20 minutes then we were on our way.
We got to the Visitors Center area, and it was about 3pm. We were starving so we got something to eat first, and then headed to the site. The next predicted eruption was scheduled to be at 4:52pm + or – 10 minutes. It appeared we had just missed it. We meandered through the visitors’ center, and got a few souvenirs. Then we sat on the wooden bench for just under an hour before the geyser gave us a few teasers before the water shot up in the air. It was an interesting sight to see but not nearly as powerful as we had thought. There must have been over 500 people sitting around Old Faithful to watch it, and we had waited an hour, just to say we had seen it.
As we were driving back we finally spotted some elk! It was a mother and its calf! I had been hoping to see either elk or moose or both before leaving the park, and we were fortunate enough to see them. Because there were so many cars pulled over to the side, I hopped out and got a closer look because they were across the stream. Michael parked at the pullout, and he spotted a few fly-fishermen there. He could not resist fishing, as he pulled out his tackle gear and started to cast and attempt to catch some trout. I had been there for about 10-15 minutes taking pictures of the two animals interacting with each other, and moving downstream. I glanced over at Michael setting up his rod. They ended up going right past Michael and the other fishermen in the area (across the stream). Unfortunately, Michael and several of the fishermen were out of luck. They did not catch one fish, as they were all jumping out and everything. It was so frustrating. So we decided to take off before the sun fully set, leaving the park through the west entrance.
Our next stop: Missoula, Montana!