I haven’t written in this blog in awhile, so I decided to get back into it by writing about our recent trip to Yellowstone. We had a really great time on our trip!
We started our vacation on Sunday, the day before Valentine’s Day. We drove east, taking in breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Pass. Once we got to the other side of the pass, the landscape became very familiar, very high desert…much like Victorville actually. It was a bit boring to look at, not what I think of at all when I think of Washington state. I’m so glad we live in the Puget Sound area and not further east.
We had lunch in Spokane, at Chili’s (yay Southwestern egg rolls!) and then continued on to Idaho Falls for gas. I haven’t really spent any time in Idaho, and I didn’t on this trip either. Before I knew it we’d crossed over into Montana. We stopped for the night at a Holiday Inn in Missoula, then found a yummy little hole in the wall Mexican place that was very generous with the tequila in their margaritas.
On Valentine’s Day, Monday, we slept in and found a local diner that served us fabulous bacon, as well as french toast for Paul and eggs for me. We began driving across Montana. The state is a pleasant mix of pretty mountain areas and flat grasslands. We stopped for lunch in Bozeman, and found a Johnny Carino’s, which is another one of my favorite restaurants. There’s one in Mt. Vernon but we don’t get up that way very often. We split a family-portion of Spicy Romano Chicken so that we would have leftovers to eat for dinner, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, got a raspberry tiramisu to split for dessert after dinner.
After about another eighty miles of windy, riverside road, we made it to West Yellowstone. There isn’t much open this time of year, but I did spy a few restaurants and stores with their ‘Open’ signs lit up. We parked and checked into our condo and hauled our massive load of stuff up to our room. Our room is fabulous. It has all this cool woodsy-looking furniture (which was actually made in Seattle, go figure), and lots of nice comforts, including a full kitchen so we could prepare our own meals if we didn’t want to go to a restaurant.
On Tuesday, we had our guided snowmobile tour. Not gonna lie, I was nervous. I’ve never driven a snowmobile before and I was intimidated. Paul and I went to the office of the tour we’d chartered, and once we’d checked in the staff began outfitting us. I’d had no idea this would be happening. I’d worn warm clothes: thermal shirt and pants, jeans, hiking boots, sweatshirt, and heavy jacket. We were provided with snow suits that were a lot like the one-piece driving suits my brother wore for drag racing, as well as helmets, heavy-duty mittens, and boots. I hadn’t realized how warm the suit would be or how little I would need my jacket, and we put our coats in the back of the Jeep. Our guide was Cynthia, a smiling woman who knew her way around Yellowstone and around a snowmobile. She walked us through the operation, and it was actually remarkably easy.
Paul drove first, and we headed into the park. Not too far into our ride, we spotted some elk on the bank of the Madison River and pulled over to look at them. Once we were back on the trail, we spotted a bald eagle sitting in its enormous nest. Cynthia told us that the eagle was about four years old, then asked us how she would know this. Paul correctly answered that she knew because the eagle’s head was white, and eagle heads do not turn white until they’re about three to four years old. He grew up around eagles in Washington so he knows this stuff. I was just impressed to be with the person who knew the right answer.
We quickly discovered that we would see a LOT of bison in Yellowstone National Park. See, bison seem very unfazed by snowmobiles, and are content to lumber on down the road whether there are vehicles present or not. Cynthia would guide us to either ride past them, keeping very close together, or to stop and get off our snowmobiles, standing on the opposite side of the bison and keeping the machines between the animals and ourselves. We had a few opportunities that day to put these instructions into practice. I was in awe of the bison. They are truly amazing animals, and up close, I could really tell how big and powerful they are.
We stopped for a quick lunch and a viewing of the eruption of Old Faithful. I’d never seen a geyser go off before, and was pretty impatient to see this one. When it finally launched water in the air, I was amazed at this natural phenomenon. Old Faithful is way, way better than the fountains at the Bellagio, to say the least.
After Old Faithful it was time to make our way out of the park. We did make a detour to see a waterfall off of the Firehole River. It was a sunny evening, perfect for seeing the waterfall. After that we continued on the main trail back into Montana (most of our park viewings were in Wyoming), and back to the rental store.
Our first few days of vacation have been amazing. I will continue writing about the trip soon.