The Big Trip


Sometime last year, my family decided we would recreate our 2008 trip to Yellowstone. Only this time, we’d take Captain America (the first time he ended up having to stay and work). The plan was to meet in Cody, Wyoming for a few days. If you wanted to tack on some Yellowstone to your trip, go for it. In January, we made our reservations for a cabin in Yellowstone, and for hotel rooms in Cody. Because that’s what you have to do if you’re going to be particular about where you stay in Yellowstone. Like if you want it to have a bathroom. So it sort of felt like we planned the trip all year long. And now it’s over. If I weren’t so vacationed out, I’d be sad. So let’s reminisce, shall we? Because on our way home Captain America started going on and on about how it wanted to write down things from our trip so we didn’t forget. As if we had no way of doing this. Ummmm…that’s why I have a blog.

Friday, August 10. We loaded up that minivan to the roof and set out. Southern Minnesota is boring. About halfway across it we started to notice all the motorcycles & RVs that seemed to be leaving Sturgis. Even though Sturgis was still on the far side of South Dakota from us. So whenever anyone was bored, they counted motorcycles for a while. We stopped in Sioux Falls for the night to visit Captain America’s sister’s family.

Saturday, August 11. {Yes. I think I am going to detail every day. At first I was kidding, but now I just feel like doing it.} We got a decently early start and continued west. We stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell – and spotted Alaska in the parking lot! You know I mean the license plate game, right? Captain America nearly crashed the van I squeeled so loudly. I may have been reprimanded. Then we were off to Badlands National Park. After a quick stop to feed prairie dogs. They sold bags of unsalted peanuts, and you could throw them out and watch the prairie dogs nibble through the shells. My toes must look like peanuts, because every time I got lower to the ground to take a picture, one would run up and lick my toes. We then drove through the Badlands, which was beautiful. We even had our first wildlife sighting – a big horn sheep. Then it was straight up to Wall for the infamous Wall Drug. After one zillion billboards advertising it. We took pictures. The older girls went mining. We ate dinner. Ella & Natalie managed to talk us into stuffed animals – a prairie dog, of course, and a wolf. We stayed at the Best Western in Wall, but I recommend you don’t.

Feeding the prairie dogs.


Sunday, August 12. We drove from Wall to Billings, MT. That’s it. Oh, and our hotel had a very fun pool and we ate at a new Pizza Ranch.

Monday, August 13. We drove through the mountains and I almost died of a heart attack because of it. We went from Billings to Red Lodge, MT, where we stopped for lunch at the Red Lodge Pizza Company. Pizza two non-breakfast meals in a row? Yes. Don’t judge me. It was delicious. After a stop at the Candy Emporium, we were ready to head to Yellowstone. The way I remember going. Only it wasn’t. We must have taken some kind of detour before, because I would have remembered hanging off the side of the Beartooth Mountains. I was the driver (“Captain America’s never been in mountains like this, so I’ll drive!”), and I was in charge of keeping the van on the road despite the sometimes lack of guard rails. But it was probably better than being in the passenger seat, where I likely would have been puking out the window or crawling over to the driver’s side. My knuckles still ache from the deathgrip on the wheel. After many lifetimes, we made it into Yellowstone, and saw herds of buffalo/bison/tatanka (our family’s a little torn on what to call them) everywhere. We stopped at the Canyon Visitor’s Center to get the girls signed up for the Junior Ranger program. Then we met my sister & family for dinner. We made it! We’re still alive!

Do you see this? Do you see how we’re ABOVE the snow?

Tuesday, August 14. {I feel like this is going to take two postings. You poor, sweet people.} All Yellowstone, all the time! We met up with the fam again, and followed them around the southern loop of Yellowstone. Norris Geyser Basin (where Ella got a nosebleed, and the kids listened to a ranger speak about wildlife safety). Old Faithful. LeHardy Rapids. Mud Volcanoes (P.U., and I mean stinky). There were bison/buffalo/tatanka by the side of the road. We saw a moose. We saw an elk. And I think we saw several potential goring victims (please do not traipse into the woods with your children and a bag of Cheetos to “get a closer look” at a buffalo/bison/tatanka). We had a picnic lunch. We ate ice cream by Old Faithful. Natalie finished her work for Junior Ranger, and was awarded her badge. It was a delightful day.

That is Captain America, hanging my baby over the ledge like he’s Michael Jackson. Ok, not really. She is very safe. But I still found it hard to breathe. I have issues with heights.

Alright. You win. More tomorrow.


One response »

  1. Oh, this post just made me SO sentimental! Mama and Daddy and I took this trip so many times when I was little! We’d drive from Texas up through SD to see Mama’s family in Aberdeen, visit family in Miles City, Montana, and do the whole Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons thing. And Wall Drug! I must have a dozen pictures of us standing in front of it! And I love that you spotted Alaska!

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