Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yellowstone National Park

First of all, beware of this post, because I included way too many pictures. But a lot of why I blog is so I can remember everything and I just loved this whole day and I couldn't choose between pictures. :)

We woke up super early yesterday morning in Cody (people outside our hotel room were talking - loudly - about jackalopes). We took the dogs for a walk and found a little coffee hut, then headed back to get ready for the day.

We left Cody around 9:00 a.m. and got to the gates of Yellowstone at 10:00 a.m. We forgot it was a $25 entrance fee, but once we got into the park and starting seeing everything, we knew it was totally worth it.

We started seeing buffalo right away! Buffalo are so cool looking. They are huge and slow and they just look at you as you pass like you couldn't interest them less.

This guy was laying right by the road and I imagined him saying "The damn paparazzi!"

We stopped at one of the large tourist buildings to walk the dogs and get lunch. The dogs had LOTS to smell and explore!

Then we had the most amazing experience! Joe had been saying since we started this trip that he wanted to see the bear. He had me on 'bear watch' every time we were in a place we thought bear might be, and as soon as we entered the park, we started chanting, "bear, bear, bear". Of course, we thought it was just all talk. We didn't think we'd actually see one. Well, we turned a corner and there were all these cars stopped in the road. We looked on the hill and there was a grizzly bear! AND two cubs!!

It was so awesome! Everyone was just in total awe. Joe had brought his binoculars with us, which was so lucky because we got to see them in total detail with those things. And those cubs were so incredibly cute. They looked like adorable stuffed animals.

We stayed until the threesome meandered their way up and over the hill. It was the greatest experience!!

A little way further down the road, there was a huge backup of cars and a ranger standing at the side of the road. Another bear! This time a black bear, with her cub, resting at the foot of a tree in the shade. You can't really see much in this picture, but they were there!

They kind of blend into the shade, but can you see them?

After the bear sightings, we started thinking about what else we really wanted to see. Joe said a moose, since he had never seen one before. So, as a joke, we started chanting, "moose, moose, moose" - it worked before! And I kid you not, about 20 minutes later, we came upon this guy!

We could not believe it! He was a little further away than the bears, but you could still see him pretty clearly. We tried our chant for bighorn sheep too, but I guess our luck ran out. haha. That was the one thing we wanted to see that we didn't. But we did see more buffalo and some elk!

Jackson looking at the buffalo.

We passed through Mammoth Hot Springs. We didn't stop, but drove around the little area, and there was an elk laying right in the middle of all the people.

Once again, Joe didn't let me drive all day. He had fun driving through the park.

Bubbling waterfall.

On our way out of the park, we saw these guys hanging out on their own little island. It was pretty cute.

We were in such a good mood when we left the park. We had such an amazing drive through there. The dogs were good and we were ready to head into Bozeman, about two hours away, for the night. We hadn't made a reservation, but we didn't think we'd have a problem. Boy, were we wrong!

Every hotel in Bozeman was booked! We got back on the road and I started calling hotels in every town I could find on the map along I-90. I called Belgrade, Manhattan, Three Forks, Deer Lodge, Butte, and more. All booked!!

Finally I enlisted my mom's help, hoping she could find something online that I wasn't finding. She gave me phone number after phone number, and every place I called - booked solid. Seriously, the entire state of Montana seemed to be booked. We didn't want to drive all the way to Missoula, but we had no choice. We started calling hotels there. All booked! We started worrying that we were going to have to drive straight through to Idaho! Joe started getting all pumped up, saying that he wanted to just load up on coffee and red bull and drive straight through to Wenatchee!

Well, my mom finally found a hotel in Missoula that when I called, had rooms available. And they were pet-friendly. I was a little worried about a random hotel that literally had the only rooms available in all of Montana. I mean, was there a reason people didn't book there? But mom read me the reviews and everything seemed okay. So, we booked it.

We arrived around 10:00 p.m., absolutely exhausted. And it's not a bad hotel. I did my usual checks and everything checked out okay. And this morning all still seems well. Joe had to take a picture of the bathtub and the walls, because he thought it was so funny.

bright blue!

concrete walls!

I slept like the dead last night and Joe said he felt like he was in "My Cousin Vinny". Lots of noises, including a train that ran right by our hotel. I never heard any of it. Maybe he'll finally let me drive a little today so he can rest.

All in all, we wouldn't have traded the time we spent in Yellowstone for anything. We should be in Wenatchee today!

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