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Yellowstone National Park, WY

I have to admit that I arrived in Yellowstone with less than the appropriate attitude. Part of it was my fault: I never took the time to research the park before we arrived, and so I was repeatedly surprised by things that I should have expected.

As we passed through the North Entrance, I was expecting to drive a few miles to our campground and settle in before the thunderstorms arrived. But Yellowstone is a park the size of Connecticut, and so I should not have been surprised to see a sign advising us that the drive to Bridge Bay Campground was 62 miles further down a twisting road with a speed limit of 35-45 MPH.

Along the way, we passed through Mammoth Hot Springs, the northernmost of several "villages" that exist inside the park. To visit a park the size of Yellowstone (we belatedly discovered) you need to pick an area you want to explore and then choose a village nearby. Otherwise, you'll spend all day driving around the park. It is typically 35-50 miles between villages, and traffic sometimes moves slowly in the peak months of July and August.

Yellowstone bison backup.jpg
Bison can cause huge backups in the summer

It moves even slower when a bison crosses the road. We got caught in a series of thunderstorms, with small hail -- which always strikes fear into the heart of an Airstream owner -- and then of course, a bison showed up somewhere, and all traffic stopped dead. There's nothing like watching hail hit your trailer in a mile-long traffic jam with no way to escape. So we arrived much later than we expected, and I was not feeling very upbeat about it.

We found Susan and Adam in their campground, 2 miles from ours, but they had decided to depart in the morning, so that was the last we saw of them. We were sorry to see them go, but glad they felt they had a great adventure with us the past ten days.

Yellowstone ranger in fog.jpg

Knowing that crowds and traffic were going to be problems, we woke at 5:30 the next morning so we could get to a Ranger-guided hike at 7:00, about ten miles away. We figured the early start time would allow us to see lots of wildlife, and it would keep the crowds away. We were wrong on both counts. Over fifty people showed up, and the fog was so dense we couldn't see anything most of the time. There's no chance of spotting much wildlife with fifty people tromping around anyway ...

Yellowstone nature walk.jpg

Dropping in on the other roadside sights worked better for us. We hit the Sulphur Cauldron, the Mud Pots, and a few geysers, did a little more hiking, and then we started to feel that you can only look at so much belching mud in one day. We collapsed in the trailer for lunch and a nap (for me).

Yellowstone nr sulphur cauld.jpg

In the afternoon we were surprised by Wendimere "The Health Chic" and Bill, who we had met in Salem just a couple of weeks ago. We spent an hour chatting with them and talked about meeting up again in Florida, where they live. From here the plan is a quiet evening in, some movies, and early bedtime ... because tomorrow will be another early day.

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