Phenomena

***Holy crap! This entry never published?! I knew I had blogged about Yellowstone!***

You have to say the blog title like Sesame Street’s Mah Na Mah Na, because that’s how I’ve been saying it.

Since last I posted, we drove through South Dakota, Wyoming, and most of Montana. I’ve fallen in love with older couples RVing their retirements away, stalked Airstreams, and camped in the snow. In a tent. Because I have neither an RV nor an Airstream.

So we first started noticing the old couples at Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore looks like this:

I’ve been here before. Once. It’s still something to marvel at. So I see this old couple in an RV and I’m like, that’s what I want to be right now. A retired lady, cruisin’ around the country with the hubs. Just the two of us and the open road. Only a couple of major glitches with that plan. I don’t have a hubs. And I don’t have a retirement fund.

So then we’re driving around to the backside of the monument, which is actually a memorial, when I see a view I’ve never seen before.

I looked up and saw George Washington. Just hanging out on the side of the mountain. I know it’s random, but I love it.

While on that side of the mountain we saw a hippie couple with their little girl, and I decided if I couldn’t yet be the retired couple, I wanted to be this couple. Taking the kid on the road. Now all I need is a road-trip-lovin’ man and a kid. Goals.

I’m not sure if we took a different route, or if I was unable to notice George because I was the driver last time, but this was definitely a highlight for me.

Also of note, while driving through the American Great West, country music – and the occasional classic rock anthem – are the most appropriate tunes to get you through.

Jason Aldean has a song about Flyover States. That may be the title. And there is a line in that song about taking a ride across the Badlands and feeling that freedom on your face. Been there. Done that.

As we passed through various towns, few did we love more than Cody, Wyoming. And then we got to the good parts. (Seriously tho, I’d go back to Cody any day.)

Buffalo Bill Dam, Cody

As has been the case several times on this trip, pictures do not do the lake formed by the Buffalo Bill dam justice. Simply gorgeous. And there are random houses spotting the hills with what can only be amazing views. This is also where we got out of the car and noticed the wind had picked up and the weather was changing.

Just in time for our next stop:

I’ve never been, so I was super excited. Albeit slightly trepidatious. Our plan was to tent camp. Snow was in the forecast. Bears were in the woods. Bears. Snow. Tent. Quite the trifecta of things that could greatly alter this adventure. But it IS an adventure. And camping in the snow where bears could eat me if they wanted to is a new experience. As you know, I’m all about those. So in we went.

Isn’t Yellowstone beautiful?

We learned today that fires are actually an important part of the ecosystem at Yellowstone. They bust open pinecones, allowing hundreds of seeds to spread and new trees to grow. Nature’s doin’ it for itself, y’all.

All it took was one bison at Yellowstone Lake for me to launch into full safari mode. Eyes peeled. I was on the hunt for the big 5. Albeit a different big 5: bison, bears, fox, moose, and elk. Yeah that’s right. I had been petrified of bears, but now I wanted to see one. Bad. You know, from a safe distance. Maybe with some cubs. Or catching a fish. (I don’t ask for much!) I was also super interested in seeing moose.

Spoiler alert: all we saw were a bunch of buffalo – buffali? And some elk. Buzzkill.

Blue sky!

Yellowstone was very tempermental, weather-wise. One minute it would be clear and calm and the next minute I’d be driving through this:

And unlike all the years I was growing up, the snow seemed to stick to the roads before the grass. That is, until we reached our campsite.

I had no gloves, no hat, no scarf, no liner for my Hunters (but luckily I HAD my Hunters)…all explanations for our hastily-assembled tent.

The important part is it lasted through the night, and so did we. It actually wasn’t so bad. We didn’t attempt to start a fire, because we didn’t have chairs anyway and nobody around us had fires.

Then today we set out for some sightseeing in the park. The geological phenomena is unparalleled. I really do look forward to coming back and spending more time, and hiking, maybe fishing. I hope to prepare better, and maybe aim for a time of year that doesn’t involve snow, sleet and rain in the face.

And now, some pictures:

How awesome is that?!

Old Faithful

I’d love to see the prism pools in the sunlight.

Mammoth Hot Springs

We actually saw a great deal of the park, having made the drive around the main loop. We went in the East entrance, camped near the West entrance, and exited out the North entrance.

Yay for Montana!

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Three Forks. And when we walked in, you could almost hear the record scratch as everyone turned to look at us. And then there was a moment where they were still looking at us and we were looking at them. Them being a table of gossiping old men and a waitress sitting in a booth having a chat with someone else.

There was some cool street art across the street.

This is only my second time in Montana, but I remember last time feeling like “Big Sky” was an adequate way to describe it. I can’t explain why here – more than anywhere else – it’s the sky you notice more than the landscape. And it seems to go on forever. And it seems to be so close. And so, well, big.

Sometimes clouds open up.

In other news, the timing of this road trip coincided with the deadline I had for a spec script which I finally completed and sent in for review both for a workshop and to an actor who occasionally guest stars on the show for which I wrote the episode. I get that it’s just one script, but for me it’s one that I’ve finally finished, after talking about it and working on it and thinking about it for way too long. And if nothing else, it’s been a catalyst to get me to return to other projects I’ve been ignoring.

As most of them have in the past, this drive continues to show me that I love freedom. I love wide open spaces. I love movement. But I also want a family some day, and need a paycheck sooner than later. There has to be a way in which all those things are possible. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this current adventure, as I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

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