Yet another case of being in the right place at the right time...
We arrived in Gardiner, Montana, too late to try to make it through Yellowstone and still get photos. It probably was too late to get a camping spot anywhere in about 100 miles, as well. Driving through the tiny hamlet, we saw a few hotel/motel signs proclaiming "vacancy." We both assumed the rooms were available because they were too expensive. However, the further from the park, the more chance of vacancies.
So we decided to give the furthest one out a shot...
And we got a room! With a quilt on the bed! Not a cheap, run of the mill comforter just like all the other hotels on the planet. A real quilt! And on the front door...
Our room was the only one sporting this little harbinger!
We settled into the room and then traversed into Mammoth Hot Springs for what we thought might be a little sunset gold reflecting on the falls, but overcast skies and a foreboding-looking storm to the east dashed any hope of radiant hot springs. The springs also were MUCH dryer than I remembered from my last visit, more than a decade ago.
Yellowstone rarely fails to accommodate hopeful photographers, though. What it lacked at Mammoth Hot Springs, it made up for in wildlife. Before returning to our hotel room well after dark, we'd caught a few glimpses of some favorite characters.
We also picked up a carton of TruMoo chocolate milk to share the next morning, since we planned to depart before the complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel the next morning.
Another night NOT in sleeping bags was a bonus for two road-weary travelers. Home was beginning to seem so far away, even though it was inching closer. We must be getting old!
The final leg of our journey took us through Yellowstone during daylight hours and whittled off so much on our memory cards, we can't wait to go back. The fountains and geysers were so overcrowded by the time we passed, we decided we HAVE to go back, when the national park is not as insanely crowded.
The Lizard had given Old Faithful just a quick drive-by back in the thesis days. I, on the other hand, had spent many vacations here with a pair of pint-sized, excitement-addicted, ritalyn candidates. Even though Yellowstone and Alaska make jokes about the mosquito being the state bird, both venues have a stranglehold on me I just can't fight. I don't want to. The Lizard knew this, but wasn't as excited about Yellowstone until this trip.
This trip changed everything.
We had bearly (yes, I meant to spell it that way) 24 hours between Gardiner and Jackson. No Bullwinkle this trip, yet this trip cast a whole new meaning on the phrase, "a day in the park."
We can't wait to go back. Both of us. Together. Perhaps even with bikes. We can't wait to go back!