Day 11: Yellowstone National Park ‘n’ Go

The weather in Yellowstone is bipolar, at best. We drove in through snow, then rain, then sun, then hail, then snow again, all within the course of 20 minutes or so. After passing up a campground at a higher altitude, we went with Madison Campground, at 6800 feet, below freezing temperatures, and whose 250+ campsites would all be full for the night.

Sandwiched between two RVs, we had a less than quiet dinner, to say the least. After soaking up as much warmth as possible in the heated bathrooms with flushable toilets (a luxury, I’ve learned), we pajamaed in layers and mummified ourselves in our sleeping bags.

By 7am, light started creeping into our tent, and we woke up to several unexpected and unwelcome puddles of water inside our tent. Among other things, the icy water infiltrated Sofie’s bed and Joe’s jacket and gloves and soaked my mittens. Not funny, Nature. Not funny.

On our morning drive, we promptly made a reservation for a heated, pet-friendly cabin complete with hot shower, mattresses, and non-battery-powered light sources. The cabin even had hangers, carpet, clean towels, and, dare I mention it, a blowdryer. Sheer extravagance. 

On our way back to the campsite to pick up our wet tent, we came across droves of people parked by the side of the road. Being the obedient tourists we are, we pulled up behind them and soon realized that everyone was pointing their binoculars and telephoto lenses at a grizzly bear well over a thousand yards away. That means that through our amateur binoculars, the bear was a mere speck.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Every piece of literature the park distrbutes to tourists has warnings about bears and tips about how to keep bears away, yet all anyone wants to do is see a bear up close. If someone would just take one for the team by leaving out their cooler of food, the rest of us could all enjoy a memorable and close up experience with a real life Smokey. Oh well.

The rest of the day was filled with Yellowstone’s many oddities: geysers, mud pots, yellow (lichen-covered) stone, and lots of stinky steam. They should really rename the park Yellowstone National Park ‘n’ Go, because that’s all anyone does. Drive until you see a sign, park, get out, take pictures, get back in the car, and repeat. Sometimes, we didn’t even have to get out of the car and just took pictures through the windshield. All this in and out between heated car and freezing outdoor temperatures meant countless zippings and unzippings of my jacket while I simultaneously donned my gloves, earwarmers, and two hoods. And then as soon as I get everything zipped, tied, and bundled up, the sun comes out. Here we go again.