Yellowstone, here we come!
We planned to enter Yellowstone through the south side, staying a little ways outside of the Grand Tetons in Moran, Wyoming. Listen, I did this thing pretty last minute. From what I understand it is important to book like a year in advance to get certain "special" locations. I don't think I will EVER be able to plan a vacation that far in advance. So, we deal with what we've got available. I think I used Expedia (not always a reliable method), and I found a lodge that looked right up our alley. It was a little remote, but we were super pleased with our stay and experience at Togwotee Mountain Lodge.
This was definitely part of the trip where I had researched a stop about 20 minutes ahead of our arrival to get groceries. It was a 3 night stay, and there wasn't much around. There was a nice restaurant and a little convenience store (with gas!) but...with 4 kids, we opted to have all of our little needs on hand. It was ESPECIALLY fun trying to find even more room to fit 3 days worth of groceries into our already uncomfortably stuffed Explorer. But guess what. We made it work. (Because neither one of us wanted to add on the extra time to backtrack to get groceries.)
Shopping in the little local store was actually fun, and it was nice to get out of the car after the long drive (and not have to jump right into unpacking and setting up house).
One of our biggest concerns with this trip was the amount of driving. I mean...we would be in the car for 10 hours at a time multiple days throughout. Of course, I planned for rest days, and I had plenty for the kids to do. But still...Evan wasn't yet 4. (For the record, we could NEVER have dreamed of this much driving with a couple of our other kids that young. Fortunately, for us ...he is a patient and content kind of personality. Just like his...oh, come on...we all know that is not me. 😉)
Turns out, even though he is the youngest, Evan was the least of our concerns during the travel days. In fact, Dillon is the one who wouldn't quit shouting in a very exasperated voice, "How much longer?!" At one point, Evan (who always ends up imitating EVERYTHING his big brother does) shouted in a happy voice, "How many more minutes?"
I replied in an equally happy voice, "About seven hours!" And Evan replied with cheer, "OKAY!" (Did I mention a friend has equated him to Buddy the Elf in character? 😂) The kid was just happy to be together with his family. 💕
When not serving up something for the kids...helping with directions...or staring out at the lovely scenery, I spent my time in the car trying to keep caught up on homework for my online Master's courses. (No rest for the wicked! 😉 Just kidding! Biblically speaking, it is "no rest for the weary" and weary I am for sure!) Whatever didn't require wi-fi ('cause reception in these parts is like...not existent!). I was fortunate to have internet at our lodging, so I got all done that I could during travels and uploaded the rest in the evenings...which is also when I would plan more specifically the days ahead. I did my how-we-feeling-what's-the-must-see in the evenings (prior to knitting, of course).
Day one, we learned REAL QUICK-LIKE that driving to Yellowstone was going to be an event in itself. We had to pass through Jackson Hole and enter Grand Teton National Park. Then, we had to drive through Grand Teton to get to Yellowstone. And you can just bank right now on a wait to enter each of these parks, because you have to get through the ranger station at each. And I can guarantee you will get in at least one line with one giant RV, who needs about 5 hours of the ranger's time for some ungodly, never disclosed reason. Just sayin'. Prepare yourself now.
While we're at it. Just get ready for the fact that while you are driving around the park (and it takes about 2 hours to get to wherever you want to go), it is also a guarantee that you will at one time be stuck behind an annoyingly slow driver and at another be stuck in front of someone who is really irritated with how slowly you are driving.
Now. Do we have that settled? Are you mentally prepared? Ok,then....we can have a good time.
Old Faithful was crowded, and cranky. We got out of the car, irritated by the painfully long drive. And everyone was not hungry until we'd walked 5 minutes away from the car (sans lunch), at which point everyone was suddenly starving. Such is life. I hustled my tush back to the car and had everyone happily fed in no time.
Then, we made our way through the gift shop and inn and checked the time slots (because Old Faithful...really is!). We made our way, at the appropriate time, to see her in all her glory. And you guys!...it was SO worth the struggle. (After all, the most valuable things in life seem to come through hard work and strife, don't they?!)
Old Faithful on high!
We decided to take our time here...because for us, for this day, here was good. Seeing everything there is to see would have left us haggard and weary. We wouldn't have appreciated anything in that state. So, we dropped our "hurry, see everything" impulse, and we appreciated this moment, here. at Old Faithful. There is a long board walk hike. We took our time, appreciating every sight. And I just can't choose which pictures to share, because they are ALL the best, and all the pictures in the world can't come close to the glory of the thing in person.
A good sample of the crowdedness.
Every now and then you happen upon a kind person who offers to take a pic of your whole family together. 💖
I love the way each of the geysers are named and labeled. We decided to each choose one that represented us best. Xander, in all of her teenage glory, of course, chose "Depression Geyser."
Mine, no doubt, was "Heart Spring."
But of all the sights to see, capturing THIS kind of moment is what makes the whole trip worthwhile. 💕
They even have one named after our hometown. I'll admit...comparatively speaking, it leaves a little to be desired. 😉 But the scrapbook wouldn't be complete without this one, I think!
This was definitely one of our faves!
But the time together and irreplaceable bonding is what we value the most.
First day completed. After Old Faithful, we opted to head home and have a nice, peaceful evening in the cabin. More adventure awaits in the morning, and we all wanted to be rested up and ready for the day ahead.