My great west vacation – Yellowstone National Park

Six states, 1,400 miles, worst hail storm ever, snow squall, 45 degrees, 100 degrees – and it was a fun time.

My wife and I went out west to see a cousin for the first time and Yellowstone National Park. I added Oregon, Idaho and Montana to reach 43 states while also in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. I should reach my 50-state goal by 2021.

Every day was different – I find sitting at the beach boring. After flying to Salt Lake City, I covered 350 miles in 4 1/2 hours given 80 mph limits to reach Boise to meet my cousin Coleen for the first time. It was 100 degrees (felt like an 85-degree day in Washington given low humidity.) We then headed for Yellowstone, which is about 360 miles away. We stopped to see Craters of the Moon National Monument that was once a volcanic eruption. Just black debris everywhere. Pretty cool and conveniently on the way.

But Yellowstone was the focus. I’ve been to Yosemite and Yellowstone is much better. While Yosemite is more centrally focused from the valley, Yellowstone has two rings that bring you to different environments.

Of course, we went to Old Faithful first. Always wanted to see it and it did send water 100 feet upwards right on time. We then walked well designed trails to see other geothermal vents. Does that sound too brainy? Hey, it was simply cool to see throughout the valley.

Then there’s the lake that runs a good 40 miles long that is the highest elevated water in North America. Felt like sitting by Lake Michigan in late fall. That a bison was standing feet away from the road when I rounded a curve by the lake was jarring. I also saw elk in the park. Man, those antlers are impressive.

Then there was the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone that explains why it’s called Yellowstone. The great thing the park does throughout is provide perfect overlooks and trails by parking lots. You seldom walk far, which is helpful in 4,500 to 8,500 feet above sea level when I’m used to near zero in Maryland. Anyway, kind of gave me the willies looking down at the river that cut through the mountains over centuries.

It was a fun week that left me walking easily when landing in Washington, but instantly hating the heat and humidity. It’s gonna be a long, hot summer. I’ll have to stay in a Yellowstone state of mind.

By the way, I did see Yogi Bear and Boo Boo (but not Mister Ranger) in my final moments in town. Had to buy the sign. That cartoon, along with Smokey the Bear, sparked my interest in becoming a U.S. Park Ranger, which I’m still considering. Yogi didn’t have a pic-a-nic basket, though.




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