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Yellowstone National Park – Far more than I ever would have guessed! – Part 1

We recently visited Yellowstone on a cross country road trip. I was excited to visit it, but honestly we visited because it was on the way. Now that I’ve been though I’m already planning our next trip and it’s going to need to be for much longer than the 3 nights and 2 days we did this time.

We arrived through the west entrance around 5 o’clock at night and made it to our campsite in Canyon Village; 2 elk, 4 bison, and 1 hour later. If you haven’t been following along, let me catch you up. I am a reluctant camper at best, but I want to travel and that’s our travel option these days so I’ve jumped on board. I have openly said though, that I am still a fair weather camper, and if it’s raining on this little adventure of ours I’m checking into the closest hotel. Well as it turns out I was bluffing. Once you’ve gone through the effort of getting to the campground, taking your tent out of the car to have it start raining makes you realize that the idea of packing it all in actually seems like a lot more effort than moving as quickly as physically possible to put your tent up in the rain. That’s just the option we went with when such a situation arose at our very first camping destination.

Once the tent was up, I dropped my 4 year old directly from the car into the tent (since she was without muddy shoes) and had her close up all the windows while I worked on the rain fly. I then deposited cots and sleeping bags for her to lay out in the tents as well. She can’t do my cot, but she’s got the rest of it mastered. I worked on the outside stuff like a couple of chairs and a table so that we could eat dinner dryly under our canopy. All in all it could have been a lot worse; the rain never got too heavy, we got everything up without problem, and my little one was happy the whole time. After a quick dinner we were (okay, maybe just I was), happy to head to bed.

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The next day after nearly freezing during the night, I wasn’t feeling very motivated to pop out of my semi warm sleeping bag into the arctic outdoors. So we had a slow morning as I tried to regain feeling in my extremities and get my little one to sleep as long as possible. After a very hot breakfast we made it to the visitor center around 9:30 in search of info, a hike, and a Junior Ranger Book. We were successful on all 3 counts!

With both our map and Junior Ranger book in hand we headed out on our hike. My little one walked the first mile through open meadows; a very easy start. I then carried her for the middle portion (2 miles). Making sure there was no one around to watch the incredibly ungraceful heave of a 60 pound pack onto my 5’3” ‘hates the gym’ frame; in the end I was still standing though and no one was injured in the processes so we’re going to call that a win. We then continued on through woods, prehistoric looking mud-pots and hot springs (I didn’t know these things really existed) and up to the edge of the canyon to see the lower falls. She then walked the last mile on her own up and down hills along the canyon edge to the upper falls. We stopped for rests, pictures, vistas, and a snack and had a wonderful 4 mile easy/moderate hike! What a great start. After that I was strongly considering a nap after not sleeping at all the night before because I was too cold; but I feared that if we napped I would never get my tent mate to sleep that night so I powered through. So we headed back to Canyon Village and did some browsing in the shops and purchased warmer layers. We also sat in the sun and worked on some Junior Ranger activities and went to a Ranger Talk. Around 4 we headed back for a shower and an early dinner. After which we layered up in pants, socks, sweater shirts and hats before going to bed. When we were both asleep before 7:00 I thought nothing could get better; and then someone woke up at 8:30 ready for a party and all my hopes and dreams were shattered. After trying to convince her to go back to sleep I finally gave up and went to sleep myself. (Making that the second, and not last, night in a row I was the first one asleep).

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