Robby Poore

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 3)

Memphis, TN to Chapel Hill, NC

 

Gig posters and hungry kids at Big Bad Wolf near Nashville, TN

Cool tour bus for Hall of The Elders, from Atlanta, who are headed for the Van’s Warped Tour.

July 8, 2017

Our last day! Pretty much a big blast across Tennessee. We woke up and had a quick breakfast, then packed the car and were on our way. The trees got taller, the air more humid, and we passed through Nashville around lunch. We couldn’t agree on where to stop for lunch (Lynne and I voted for the downtown farmer’s market that our good friend Melissa suggested), so we we headed east of town and found a great bbq place called “Big Bad Wolf”  on Yelp. I didn’t actually vote for this place because of the BBQ, but more for the amazing gig posters they have on the walls that I saw in the Yelp photos. Turns out this BBQ was delicious and the staff was really friendly. Their sign was being fixed so it was a little hard to find, but it was worth it. Delicious brisket sandwich, and kids enjoyed their mac-n-cheese, and hamburgers. I took several photos of the screen printed posters, and talked to the employees… turns out they cater quite a bit to the Ryman Auditorium and several other venues in Nashville, so they get autographed posters all the time. The owner supposedly has amassed quite a collection at home.

We were back on the road and continued our long journey home, finally arriving at 1am. It was indeed a slog, but it was nice to be home. I really wanted to camp this night, but thinking about the setup/tear down times I think we made the better decision by coming home.

We stopped for our last tank of gas somewhere near Greensboro, and saw a schoolbus painted with Pikachu and with the words @halloftheelders on it, which I assumed was probably a band of some sort. Desmond loved the look of the van so he hopped out to take a look. I was indeed correct, Hall Of The Elders is a band, and are headed to New Jersey for the Van’s Warped Tour.

That’s about it! We’ll hopefully wrap up our favorite memories in the next week or two.

 

Amarillo, TX to Memphis, TN

Keychain the kids got me: “Daddy, you’re hashtag one Dad!”

Keychain the kids got me.

Chicken Vindaloo at Kountry Xpress in Mulberry, AR

Kountry Xpress in Mulberry, AR. Unassuming truck stop, but golly what great Indian cuisine.

Our meal at Kountry Xpress in Mulberry, AR. Lynne had the Paneer Korma and we split the onion naan.

July 7, 2017

We woke up in Amarillo a bit early, packed up, and went to the Big Texan Steak Ranch for breakfast. We’d been here several times before; the first time way back in the 90s with our Uncle Clyde and Aunt Sybil, and we’ve always found an excuse to come back every time we pass through Amarillo. It’s a maze of Western kitsch and we love every inch of it. Sadly we weren’t around in the evening, or we would have ordered steaks. We had a good time and took a bunch of photos, then headed out East to see how far we could get.

We had decided, as a group, that we’d vote on how we’d spend our last few days of the trip. Granted, we’ve been gone for 2-1/2 weeks, so the kids were grumbling and kinda fed up with all the driving. Lynne and I wanted to go camping for our last night on the road, in the Great Smokies. But reading the crowd and judging how we felt, we all decided to press on and get back to Chapel Hill. It was a wise decision in the end, but it was quite a haul.

Our trip took us from the high plains of the panhandle, with wind power and large cattle ranches, through the slow hills of Oklahoma where the trees started to get larger and the air more humid.

By the time we go to Fort Smith, Arkansas, we were getting pretty hungry. Lynne did a Yelp search for a good local place to eat, and found something called Kountry Xpress. Turns out, the place is an Indian restaurant, and the ratings on both Yelp and TripAdvisor were outstanding! So, we just had to give it a go. The truck stop itself is pretty uninspiring, just a gas station with the regular truck stop gear and things, but right when you walk in you get the amazing aroma of Indian spices. We were skeptical but ordered Chicken Vindaloo (me) and Paneer Korma (Lynne), and some fried chicken and macaroni and cheese for the kiddos. It took a while to get the food, which was OK with us since we were so tired of being in the car, and when it did come it was truly outstanding. Thank goodness we made the effort, this was the best food we’ve had in quite some time, and rivals any of the Indian restaurants back home.

Onward through the night, we made it to Little Rock and pressed on, finally getting to West Memphis by around 11:30 at night. We pretty much just went right to bed, exhausted.

La Junta, Colorado to Amarillo, Texas

Wind power in Colorado

The Jr. Rangers rest under a tree at Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

The encroaching storm on the plains of Colorado

Wind power in Oklahoma

Gretchen points to where we are in Oklahoma, Lynne is looking for the Santa Fe Trail

Kids at hotel in La Junta, Colorado

Desmond at Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

Outside Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

Antique game of checkers at Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado

The lightning storm outside Amarillo TX

July 4, 2017
La Junta is a small Colorado town with a lot of railroads, and some farms. It’s very flat, with the smells of feedlots and cattle drifting through  town. After the hotel breakfast we stopped at our usual, Sonic, for cherry limeades. We took the north route through town, crossed the Arkansas River, and took a right to Bent’s Old Fort. This was a trading fort on the northern leg of the Santa Fe Trail, about 100 miles north of the Cimarron branch, and was operational from the 1830s through the 1880s. It’s at an interesting place between the high plains and the mountains, and between Native, Mexican, and American territories. We got there probably around 11 o’clock in the morning, put our sunscreen on and went for a short walk to the fort. I had been there before, in 1976 when I was 10, right after the fort was renovated. It still looks pretty much the same as I remembered; a stucco exterior, two-story, and a large courtyard. There were all kinds of items relevant to the period–buckskins, knives, wagon wheels– and people in period garb explaining the functions and activities of an early 19th century trading post. There is a functional blacksmith workshop, a carpentry room, as well as a kitchen and livery with horses and chickens. It’s fascinating to see this place in almost working order. When I was a youngster this place sparked my imagination, I remember writing stories about the Santa Fe trail and the frontier and Bent’s Old Fort. The kids did Jr. Ranger packets, and there were a lot of 4th of July activities; a parade of sorts, the firing of the fort canon, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence in its entirety by one of the people in period garb. We had a good time exploring all the rooms on both levels of the fort. We talked to a nice family from Ulysses, Kansas, who also take their kids to national parks and monuments to engage them in their nation’s history.

It got hot, well into the 90s, and we realized it was almost 3! Time to go, unfortunately.
We headed east to Lemar, took a right and after a quick subway sandwich, headed south through the panhandle of Oklahoma and into Texas. It was really really flat. We did see traces of the Santa Fe Trail cut into the grassy landscape. As we descended south into Texas, large gray clouds were gathering on the horizon. We saw lightning scattering inside the clouds, the winds picked up, and by the time we were just north of Amarillo we saw the most incredible lightning storm we’d ever seen, with flashes almost every second. In the midst of all of this, several towns had fireworks bursting above, which was an odd but amazing sight to see. The rains started in earnest on the outskirts of Amarillo, which made driving difficult. It wasn’t as bad as some Southern storms, however.
We checked into our hotel around 11:30 and went to bed, exhausted.

Eagle to La Junta, Colorado

    14,000 ft.peaks on the way to the Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mariah and Desmond take Fifi for a walk at the Great Sand Dunes

Charlotte at the Great Sand Dunes

Spanish Peaks, CO

 

July 3, 2017
It’s our time to say goodbye to Lynne’s parents and hit the road, so we woke up early and packed the car, and had a quick breakfast at the hotel. Papa (Lynne’s father) helped “grade” the twins’ last Jr. Ranger packets, these were the Night Sky badges that the ranger at Dinosaur National Monument gave to us, and made us promise to check their packets once the kids were finished. They passed with flying colors, according to Papa!
Charlotte and Mariah planned to come to the Great Sand Dunes with us, so we drove in a caravan down I 70, and took a right on route 24, and drove down the twisty roads through Minturn and Burma Vista, passed beautiful 14,000 foot peaks and abandoned mining towns, and passed several busses carrying river rafts and thrill-seekers. Lynne and Charlotte ride in one car, and I took Mariah and the twins in the Family Sport Wagon. I chose some tunes for Mariah to listen to, she’s been asking quite a bit about new music. At one point the subject changed to favorite albums, and of course I had to play the new remix of the Beatle’s Sgt. Peppers, and what a better time than driving several hours through such expansive and beautiful scenery. (The remix is absolutely phenomenal, by the way). Plus, I had the kids’ attention and they couldn’t escape, so their ears were mine for a short while.
I had a good time catching up with my niece Mariah, she’s a young artist and is interested in so many similar things; music, art, comics, and travel.
An interesting (?) note about our music; we have listened to quite a bit of music on this trip, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Lynne and I like to listen to location-specific music that goes with the terrain we drive through. For instance, In South Dakota and Iowa Lynne and I listened to a bunch of George Jones, and truck driving and CB music of the 1970s (which I have been collecting for years). In Wyoming, we listened to a bunch of western swing music, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and the like. In southern Wyoming, when we got out of the Tetons and Jackson hole, we listen to all of Rank and File’s “Sundown” record. I hadn’t listen to that album in maybe 20 years or so, and it still stands up, it’s great. I’d argue that it pre-dated alt-country by 10 years or more. After that, on a lark, Lynne and I listened to a bunch of Elton John from the early 1970s, most especially Tumbleweed Junction, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. On the drive to the Great Sand Dunes I played a selection of tunes I thought Mariah would like, including Band of Horses, Telekinesis, and Depeche Mode. For some reason, the twins really enjoyed the song “Shake the Disease” and even sing along with it for a bit! That was quite a surprise.
We all met up at the great Sand Dunes, a collection of sand at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where there’s a visitor center and a little creek that runs off to the side. The kids got Jr Ranger packets and got to work while I snapped some photos and smelled the fresh mountain air.
We took a quick stop at the creek, then struggled through the sand while the kids built dams in the sandy creek bed. After an hour or so we went back to the visitor center, kids got the Ranger badges just in time for the visitor center close. We had a quick snack outside, and said goodbye to Charlotte and Mariah. We headed south and turned left to Walsenburg, while Charlotte turned right and went to Alamosa.
We drove around a gigantic mountain, through the beautiful plains, then through a canyon that took us past the Spanish peaks. We went through the little town of Walsenburg, which seemed a little rundown and worse for the wear. I had been through Walsenburg years before on a crazy bike trip I took with my father and brother back in 1981. We rode from Trinidad to Pueblo, Colorado, the next day to La Junta, and the final day back to Trinidad. We passed through Walsenburg for a quick lunch on the way north to Pueblo. This was in the time long before lycra shorts and fancy helmets, and even before panniers and multiple water bottles. Most of the riding we did was on freeways–roads are few and far between in these parts.
We arrived at La Junta around 9, and since it was Monday almost all the restaurants are closed except for Sonic. That was OK, we got some burgers and tater tot’s, and of course some cherry limeade’s to drink, and took them to the motel where we stayed up late watching American Pickers.

Eagle, Colorado

Sampson family at Sylvan Lake CO

Cousins at Sylvan Lake, CO

Sylvan Lake, CO

Sampson sisters, Sylvan Lake CO

Cousins screenin’ at Grand Avenue Grill, Eagle CO

Cousins goofin’ at Grand Avenue Grill, Eagle CO

Gretchen and Grammy at Grand Avenue Grill, Eagle CO

Yeah! Family time!

Desmond braiding Lynne’s hair at the Rusty Boot, Eagle CO

Sketching at Bonfire Brewery, Eagle, CO

Lynne and Laura Sampson at Sampson Cycles, Glenwood Springs CO

Delicious tacos at Slope and Hatch, Glenwood Springs CO

Daddy and Desi at Glenwood Springs CO

Kids after the big green tube, Glenwood Springs CO

 

June 30-July 2, 2017
We were in Eagle, Colorado for three days, a nice break from the stop-and-go travel, and a good place to have a family reunion. Lynne’s parents Tom and Arlene came up from Phoenix, Lynne’s sister Charlotte and her daughter Mariah drove from Santa Fe, and Laura and Joe from next door in Gypsum. Desmond and Gretchen were happy to rest a few days and hang out with their cousin Mariah and her little dog Fifi, and see their grandparents and aunts. I took some time to sketch some journal illustrations, and update this blog, and Lynne loved seeing and catching up with her family.
FRIDAY. After our hotel breakfast and dog walking we went up in the mountains for a picnic at Sylvan Lake. It’s a gorgeous camping and picnic spot perched at 9000 ft. above sea level and surrounded by dark green pines and breezy aspen groves. We were there a few hours, Gretchen and I, along with Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Laura, walked around the lake. Gretchen took off her shoes and walked through streams and over mountain rocks, telling me that she “takes the road less travelled”. It was a lovely afternoon, I really miss western mountains. That night we ate at the Grand Avenue Grill and hung out, enjoying the clean mountain air.
SATURDAY. We took it easy this morning, I took Desmond and Gretchen to the hotel steam room, which they thought was crazy, and then for a swim. We walked to the Eagle Diner for a snack. Joe joined us at the diner, and spent the rest of the day with us. Back at the hotel the cousins bopped around and played video games, and then we all went to a city park to relax in the view of the mountains. Later that night we went to the Rusty Boot, a cyclist-themed bar and restaurant with excellent salads and deserts. After that we went back to the hotel. I decided to wander to the local Bonfire Brewery, where I did some sketching on the back porch next to an actual propane bonfire, drank a couple of beers, then took a slow stroll back to the hotel under the starry sky.
SUNDAY. Charlotte and Mariah went to the Denver ComicCon, Tom and Arlene opted to relax in Eagle, the rest of us and Laura went to Glenwood Springs. Another amazing drive through Glenwood Canyon, and we parked in downtown Glenwood Springs. By chance we parked in front of the Sampson bicycle shop (http://www.sampsonsports.com/), so we went inside to check it out. Eric Sampson happened to be there, so we talked to him and took a few photos of these titanium racing cycles, then he sent us to a great home-in-the-Wall taco joint called Slope and Hatch where we had some amazingly tasty fresh tacos. After that we milled around Glenwood Springs, Aunt Laura bought a few books for the kids, then we all went to the huge hot springs and soaked a while. The pools are enormous, the hottest one is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, and the other cooler pool is twice that size. The kids went down the fun yet terrifying green slide that’s in yet another pool. We swam some more, then showered up and left. Back to Eagle, then a quick dinner at The Eagle Diner with the family. We chatted some more with Laura and then bid her adieu, and went to bed very tired.

Vernal, Utah to Eagle, Colorado

Tents drying in the Utah sun

Our favorite pink dinosaur

Cowboy dinosaur… Cowboyasaurus? Vernal, Utah

Desmond is comparing femurs

Desmond got both the Dinosaur badge and the paleontology one! Dinosaur National Monument

Gretchen got both the paleontology and the Jr. Ranger badges! Dinosaur National Monument

June 29, 2017
Nothing will dry out a soggy Yellowstone tent quicker than the Utah sun in the morning time. Lynne and I unpacked the garbage bags full of wet rain fly, tent, ground cloth, towels, etc. and spread them out on the hedges out back near the parking lot. We had breakfast, and then packed up to go. Thankfully things dried really fast. We hit the road around 10, taking the main drag through Vernal after a quick stop at Sonic for some tater tots and cherry limeaides. Vernal is about 15 minutes from Dinosaur National Monument, so it’s been the tradition for local businesses to have awesome Dinosaur effigies in front of their establishments. Some are truly impressive; pink-painted plaster and concrete, metal, wood… while others are paintings on glass, or wooden signs propped up on old gas station pumps. We lost count after the first dozen or so.
Dinosaur National Park was fun, and has a fascinating array of fossils. Apparently the dinosaurs died in a riverbed, were fossilized over several million years, and were unearthed around 100 years ago in this spot. The kids worked on Jr. Ranger packets and we looked around the visitor center before taking the quick shuttle to the enclosed dig site. Along one wall is an array of hundreds of dinosaur bones, inside a fancy modern glass enclosure. We poked around the exhibits for a bit, the kids got sworn in as Junior Rangers in front of the recently discovered Aptosaurus.
We had a nice lunch under a shelter, then headed south to Colorado. We took small roads and twisted through several small river valleys, and got more snacks at Rifle, Colorado, then took a left and headed through the gorgeous Glenwood Canyon. If you ever get the chance, drive this stretch of I-70, it’s an engineering marvel, and the views are spectacular.
We made it to Eagle, said hello to Lynne’s parents, sisters Charlotte and Laura, and Charlotte’s daughter Mariah, then settled in for the night, talking and catching up on things.

Yellowstone to Vernal, Utah

Goodbye Tetons, we’re southbound!

Ranger Ann and the newest crop of Jr. Rangers at Grant Village, Yellowstone

Desmond and Gretchen said their daddy is a big ol’ bear, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Bunnery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The twins at the Bunnery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Southern Wyoming forever

June 28, 2017
The storm raged on through the night, and stopped around 3am. When we got up it was clear, bright, and warm… but also dripping wet. Gretchen and I tidied up the car and hung a few items out to dry in the thin slivers of sun that made it through the trees while Lynne and Desmond slept in.

It was so wet we decided to skip campsite breakfast. Instead we Let the tent dry for a bit while we all went out to eat breakfast near the lake. As we ate we saw more clouds rolling in, so we decided to get some trash bags and wrap up the whole wet mess and take it to Utah to dry out.

The drive south of Yellowstone wanders through alpine forests and luscious grassy valleys. We saw elk and bison, and several folks in rain garb bicycling up the steady grade to Yellowstone, loaded down with panniers filled with camping gear. The road twisted past clear lakes and we arrived at the Tetons after an hour or so. One remarkable thing I pointed out to the kids: this is one of the few places where you can look out over a landscape or lake and not see any human development or building anywhere. It’s as pristine a view as you’ll get in the lower 48, and it’s all thanks to the visionaries who preserved this place over 100 years ago. These views make me really thankful for the National Park Service.

We stopped in Jackson Hole, for a late lunch. The town reminds us of Santa Fe. There is a central plaza (about the same size) ringed with pricey shops: Pendleton blankets, silver jewelry, western art. JH leans more Wild West/cowboy/skier less Native American/Southwest than SF but very similar in feel. Substitute deer antlers for cow skulls. We ate at “The Bunnery”, an excellent bakery/diner just off the plaza. The food was amazing and we were glad to finally have access to wifi for the first time in days. We had just enough time to post to the blog and clean up our inboxes before we hit the road again.

More rain as we headed south over mountain passes and through thick forests, slowly winding our way to more arid land, and just as we hit the flat dry land of southern Wyoming the skies cleared. On one lonely 20 mile stretch we saw a minivan on the side of the road, with a family watching the dad fix a tire. I stopped to offer to help, and found out they were from Knoxville, Tennessee. A boy, about 8 said “I just lost a tooth!” And I told him I hoped the Tooth Fairy brings him a new tire tonight. They were just about finished anyway, so we left them on the windy 2-lane highway and headed to Vernal, Utah. We followed several rivers and crept down dry, twisty canyons until we crossed into Utah and Flaming Gorge.
Tired and twitchy from the road, we let the kiddos hop into the pool just before it closed at 11pm. While kids swam we took over the guest laundry at the hotel and washed all the wet, smokey, camp clothing we had accumulated. We cleaned up, had some bowls of cereal and then went to bed, exhausted.

 

The Grand Tetons!

Our tent after the hail

Going to the Tetons by boat reminded us of the Jurassic Park movie

Happy family, Hidden Falls

Hike in the Tetons

Desmond and Dad in Dad’s favorite environment, the mountains!

Our poncho’d hobbits

The banana family!

Leaving the Tetons in the rain

Campfire and marshmallows before the rain

June 27, 2017

Our day in the Tetons started off well; a young well-groomed couple were jogging through the campsite holding a selfie stick in front of them to capture every step. Gretchen said “what extravagant, wild creatures here in Yellowstone! I thought they were native to Facebook!”

We stopped again in the Grant Village supply store–sometimes I’m beginning to wonder if we are in a “Gift Shops if the National Parks Tour”! When we were there, a huge storm rolled in and dumped an inch of hail! It looked like it had actually snowed. We felt the need to drive half a mike back to the campsite and check on the tent but the REI Kingdom 6 was standing tall. Whew!

The drive south to the Tetons is beautiful, with lakes and forests, and some amazing wildlife. The jagged peaks of the Tetons rise straight up out of the valley in spectacular fashion. (Candy reference: see a Toblerone wrapper).

We had a picnic lunch at the Jenny Lake visitor center, then took a ferry across the lake to Cascade Canyon to go see Hidden Falls–recommended to us by our good friends Mike and Rita. I felt like we were taking the boat to Jurassic Park; huge jagged peaks wrapped in misty clouds with lush wet trees, and a small dock with “be bear aware!” signs all around.
We took the hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. We saw a marmot and a pica along the way, Gretchen was delighted to check these off her “animals I’ve seen in Yellowstone” list. Desmond found that jumping over puddles was pretty entertaining, and really enjoyed scrambling over the rocks and searching for new “wands”. It was crowded until the rains came. We got a little wet, then donned our outrageously yellow Grand Teton National Park ponchos and headed for the boat when the rains got heavier. Several younger, more fashionably dressed millennials laughed when Gretchen said “we’re the banana family!”
Desmond thought he and Gretchen looked like hobbits.

We dried off and headed back to our campsite pretty late. Along the way we got into another animal-influenced traffic jam, but this time it was a mama grizzly bear with two little cubs! She was way out on a field by the road and several rangers were managing the onlookers. We watched with binoculars until the bear turned to saunter our way, at which time the ranger demanded we get back to our cars. They felt she intended to come cross the road. Desmond even got a picture of her which was not bad if you zoom in.

It had rained all day at our camp but we managed to get a fire started and dinner cooked. Quesadillas are a great campfire food, by the way, it was a big hit.

Just as we were getting ready to go to sleep, the skies opened up, and rain continued most of the night. Good to listen to, but I was dreading packing up the next morning.

Yellowstone!

It might look complicated, but it was a simple breakfast

And here we are!

Old Faithful.

The Prismatic Geysers

Two sets of Junior Ranger twins!

Desmond and Gretchen talk to Ranger Jeff at Black Sand Geysers

June 26, 2017

Our big day to see Yellowstone! We started with a quick breakfast and coffee, Desmond carved several Harry Potter wands for some spells he hopes to use on our journey, he loves to whittle. Then we got in the car and drove up to Old Faithful. We saw a few bison and one or two elk. The day was beautiful, sunny and warm. The Old Faithful geyser erupts every 90 minutes or so, and there’s a calculation sheet in the kids’ Jr. Ranger packets, which Gretchen naturally filled out, and got me to help time the duration of the geyser. There were several hundred people there, in varying degrees of loudness, sitting on convenient benches placed in a semi-circular display area. The geyser was still pretty great, and its really remarkable how predictable this thing is.
We had a nice picnic near the visitor’s center, then packed up and went to the Black Sand Geysers, where we went on a fascinating ranger-led talk with Ranger Jeff. Gretchen, of course, asked a ton of questions, and we learned a whole lot. Ranger Jeff reminded us all to make sure to put down our cameras and cell phones from time to time, and appreciate this landscape without all the distractions.

We then went to prismatic springs, this huge and remarkably beautiful cauldron of colors and steam. It was crowded, but we managed ok. We bumped into Ranger Jeff again, who talked to us about the animals of Yellowstone, the plants and geology, and really inspired Gretchen with science and nature. Gretchen asked Ranger Jeff about the bison scat and wolf tracks around the edge of the geyser, and wondered if the animals ever get hurt in the hot waters. The ranger told us that they rarely ever get hurt here–the bison and wolves have lived around these features for millennia and have adapted to the strangeness.

We wandered our way up to the Fountain Paint Pots, burbling sulfuric mud pits and colorful blue pools of hot water… it was an odd sight to see amidst the green forests and mountains. On our way north to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone we got stuck in a “bison jam”, one of the all-too-common traffic delays caused by bison crossing the road.
We took a side trip on the Firehole Lake Drive, and got to see the White Dome Geyser erupt, which apparently is a very rare thing.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a weird sight; yellow rock and steep cliffs, constantly eroding, with an impressive waterfall that spills into an active geyser– creating a huge plume of steam and mist. Gretchen longed to hike to the bottom, but we were too tired.

We were pretty hungry so we stopped in a restaurant to eat, bought more bits and baubles, then headed back to our camp at Grant Village.
We were too late to make it back for the ranger talk, unfortunately, and too late even for a campfire. We decided it’d be a good time to teach the kids how to play solitaire, which they both really enjoyed playing together, ironically enough. We played cards for a while and then went to sleep.

Cody to Yellowstone

Yay hiking!

Hike along the lake in Yellowstone, Grant Village

West Thumb Geysers at sunset

Yikes! Geysers!

Geysers, you say?

June 25, 2017
We woke up lateish while Lynne went to the store to get supplies for the next 3 nights in Yellowstone. The kids and I sauntered to the hotel breakfast, then swam in the nice outdoor pool for a bit. I’d forgotten how cold you get when getting out of a pool in the west, even on a hot day.
We packed up and headed out of town, on the way treating the kiddos to some fine Dairy Queen hamburgers and shakes. A beautiful drive over a pass on highway 14, with alpine lakes and snow still on the north faces of the mountains. There were several areas where forest fires had torn through, maybe 5 to 10 years ago, with new trees popping up between the fallen bleached trees. We made it to Yellowstone lake around 2, and Gretchen was thrilled to use her 4th grader card to get into the park. We stopped in the Fishing Bridge visitor’s center to get Jr Ranger packets and had an interesting talk with the ranger about forest fires. The really big one was in 1988, in which 35% of the park was burned. Lynne and I came through in 1992 and saw the devastation, and thankfully the park is doing better now. Apparently smaller (and less hot) forest fires are normal and healthy for these forests, some of the trees have adapted to these fires– their cones pop open at 150°f!
We set up our campsite in Grant Village, H269. There are over 400 campsites in this place, and it’s booked solid all summer. The kids were itchy to go explore, so I took them for a short hike to the lake and over to the visitor’s center. Along the way we had to take off our shoes and walk through the water (the water levels are really high this year and the bridge washed out), it was really cold, so cold that Desmond said he could feel his bones shaking inside his skin.
We met Lynne and ate dinner at a great little restaurant near the center, right on the water.
At sunset we went to the West Thumb Geysers, it was really interesting, bubbling pools of hot water, steam, and rings of bacteria around the pools. Gretchen correctly identified elk tracks and scat. We had the place to ourselves, and it was really peaceful.

All of us were super tired, and it was late (sunset after 9pm up here) so we just crawled in the tent and went to bed.

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