Day Fifty-Five & Fifty-Six: The Last Blog, Dun Dun DUN!

Well, okay, not completely the last blog. Just the last blog from the road. Tomorrow, we will be home. My wrap up blog for the trip won’t be up for a day or two after that. Our life is going to be exceptionally busy the first few days that we are home, and we won’t have internet service at the house until sometime over the weekend.

The drive from Cody to Yellowstone on Sunday was lovely. Rolling, snow-capped hills, open fields:

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Do you see that house in the lower left-hand corner? Think of his view. Out the back, the Bighorn Mountains. Out the front, open space that goes on for miles. I think I could get used to that.

We spent the entire day Sunday in Yellowstone, and of course that wasn’t nearly enough time. We could easily have spent another few days wandering around the park. It’s on our “return visit” list.

In a word, Yellowstone is spectacular. Geysers (we learned that two-thirds of the world’s geysers are located inside Yellowstone’s borders) wild animals roaming free, and scenery to make your heart soar.

We were a little concerned when we rolled up the east entrance to the park. As we had gained altitude, the temperature had dropped into the low thirties, and snow was pelting our windshield. There was a sign outside the entrance that stated: “Chains or snow tires required.”

Uh-oh.

We asked the ranger at the gate if the roads were really bad. She shrugged, said, “I’d just be careful.”

We were careful. This is typical of what we saw on the eastern end of the park:

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When we looked at the road conditions, figured that the average safe speed on the roads was about 20 MPH, and knowing that the loop around Yellowstone is 140+ miles, and we figured we were in for a long day.

Just a few miles inside the park, though, we dropped down in elevation, the snowflakes stopped, the road cleared, and we had great conditions the rest of the day, aside from a whipping wind that never let up, as you can see here:

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That’s not a leftover shot of our trip to Lake Superior, by the way. That is Yellowstone Lake, which covers 136 square miles of the park. We drove alongside the lake for mile after mile, and we both noted that we don’t have any lakes like this at home. The wind whipped whitecaps everywhere, and there was a brutal tide smashing against the shoreline everywhere we stopped. It was spectacular.

Of course, people come to Yellowstone to see geysers, and we were no exception. We arrived at Old Faithful just as it was blowing its top, so we spent 90 minutes in the visitor’s center, looking at exhibits, watching a film, and of course, buying another magnet. We are definitely going to have the best-dressed refrigerator in Seaview, WA.

Some people believe that Old Faithful goes off every hour, but that has never been the case. In fact, it’s not regular at all – it’s just predictable, within reason. A Ranger takes a measurement of how long it explodes, then does a lot of that math that I never thought I would need in real life, and predicts when it will blow again. They post that time in the visitor’s center. They do list the caveat that the projected time is plus or minus ten minutes, but they were farther off than that for the one we watched – about fifteen minutes late. No one complained.

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The eruption that we saw lasted several minutes, and yes, it was impressive. But, we were cold, so we hustled back in where it was warm immediately after.

I’ve mentioned before that my friend Al Kunz has given me a hard time for driving our Lap Around America counterclockwise, thus saving the coldest states for late fall. He had predicted that we would likely run into snow before we got home. I just want to say, once and for all, Al was right.

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We were lucky to survive the onslaught. 🙂

As we drove through the western part of the park, we began to get concerned that we weren’t going to see any animals, aside from a few birds and chipmunks. We needn’t have worried.

We saw this herd of buffalo right along side the road. No hiking necessary.

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I thought Dawn was excited by seeing the prairie dogs. Multiply that by several dozen, and you’re closing in on her reaction. Since we were spending our wedding anniversary still on the road, I tried to sell the idea that seeing the buffalo was her anniversary present. In the moment, that seemed to have worked

A few miles down the road, we spotted a family of elk in a field off to our left.

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We thought we might be done with wild animal sightings, but just before we got to the edge of the park, we saw this old bull, just walking alongside the road, giving us a bit of the old fish eye.

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Our day in Yellowstone made for a memorable anniversary, one that we will never forget.

We made it to southern Montana for the night, where we had a steak dinner (no Magical Mystery Bag on special days) and stayed in a nice hotel – a break from the seemingly endless series of crouched-on-the-side-of-the-road-motels.

Today? Today we woke up and realized how close we were to home, so we drove, drove, drove. No sightseeing. We made it to central Washington. We were surprised by how happy we were to familiar scenery and turn the TV on to familiar channels. It’s the little things.

Tomorrow, we will collect our Georgie-girl from daughter Samy, then Sadie and Hershey from our friend Jeff, and head to our “home” in Seaview – the end of our Lap Around America. I put home in quotation marks because the reality is, we’ve spent less than three hours in that house to date. Still, it’s been awfully nice knowing we have it to come home to.

I will have a blog in a few days that will announce the winner of the two free paperbacks of A Lap Around America.

Until then, we will be busy, but I will miss our daily give and take here on the blog. Thank you so much for following us on our trip. It’s been a life-changing adventure that will take us months and years to fully digest.

As soon as I unpack my desk in Seaview, I will start in writing the book about the trip. I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of November, and have the finished product out in December.

I’ve also come home with a head full of ideas for new stories, books, and series – enough to keep me busy for at least the next two years. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Thank you again, for being part of our trip.

Shawn and Dawn

 

16 comments

  1. I’m sad to have our vacation of sorys come to an end. But we all know all good things must come to an end & so do vacations. But it’s been a great journey & some intetesting history has been shared. Plus we got to share your anniversary with the 2 of you! Who could ask for more?? And who can say they celebrated their anniversary with ‘friends’ from all around the world??

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  2. Thank you! I followed you every day! I will probably not get the chance to see America, so thank you. Love you Dawn! Have fun on your next adventure! Your new home!

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  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed Yellowstone. I loved going there as a child with my parents, and it was a family favorite as an adult with my husband and 3 daughters. I always felt it was nature’s Disney World. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking us all along with you & Dawn. I truly appreciate how generous you were in sharing your adventures. I’m really going to miss checking in with your blog every night. Welcome home!!

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  4. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following along with you on your trek. Thanks for that. I’m curious now about Yellowstone. Did you see any remnants of the devastating fire that went through there years ago? Seems not that long ago, but could be as much as 30. ??

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    • Janet, I’m not sure what Shawn’s answer is going to be, but I went to Yellowstone twice this past summer and spotted signs of that fire. The area I specifically noticed was driving from Madison Junction (where the entrance from West Yellowstone hits the road the makes a big loop) following the loop down to Old Faithful. While there are a lot of trees that have grown back and are getting reasonably high I saw trees that had been burnt, but were still standing. There weren’t a lot, but a few.

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  5. So sorry to see this trip come to an end so soon! It’s been fun following you on Facebook and with the blog subscription. Glad this journey gave you lots of story ideas. Best of luck in your new house with your new full-time writing career!

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  6. I’m going to miss the daily updates. It was wonderful to share the trip with you. I”m so glad it went well with no major issues. Enjoy getting settled in at home and I am looking forward to reading the book.

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  7. What a great trip, thanks again for taking us along with you! Now on to the next chapter…..
    Much happiness and good health! Cheers!

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  8. You have had a wonderful trip. I am really behind on reading your blog, but I will catch up. We had our granddaughters for a week, so I did nothing but be with them for that week. They are getting older, so we cherish every minute we have with them. I am glad you had a safe trip and are now safely at home.

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