Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part III
We were up at 6am and on the road at 7am. We continued on US Highways through the skinny panhandle of Oklahoma and up into Kansas. We took a Kansas state highway for a little while to jog us more westerly. Our goal for the second day was to make it as near to Yellowstone as possible and still be able to find a motel room.
Another US Hwy continued us through Kansas, into Colorado, inside the very edge of Nebraska, and finally into Wyoming. I learned on this trip that most towns along US and State Highways have no motels and maybe one gas station if you're lucky. And the 'cities' on the map in Wyoming are really just small towns with few hotel rooms available. At dark, after about 15 hours of driving, listening to Harry Potter 6 along the way, we arrived at Thermopolis, Wyoming, where fortune smiled on us and we found a room at a mom and pop placed called the Rainbow Motel.
Day 3, July 1st (Saturday)
I began realizing that the sun was coming up earlier and setting later as we traveled north. Obvious, I know, but I hadn't thought about it much until then. The sun was up in Thermopolis before 6am. We were on the road and at Yellowstone's east entrance by 9am. I decided to get the one-year national park pass for $50 instead of paying the $25 for Yellowstone plus paying again at Glacier.
Driving around Yellowstone takes hours, literally hours and hours. This is Yellowstone Lodge, which is right next to Old Faithful.
We stopped at Old Faithful, and I took many great pictures of the various hot pools as well as the eruption of Old Faithful. This is a boiling hot spring. The stench of sulphur is very strong in the air in this area. Not at all pleasant.
We eventually made our way to the north entrance at Mammoth, where I was tickled at a sign that read "Mammoth Restroom" as though it were a very large bathroom. I bought a t-shirt and cup for my nephew.
After this we hurried to Helena, eager to find a hotel room before dark. Helena, Montana was all booked up--for a baseball game was in town. Um...ok. When we asked the lady at the Holiday Inn Express if she knew how long it took to drive to Great Falls, she answered, "I don't know where that is." Hmmm, you have just a handful of towns in the state that are actually in bold on the map, and you don't know where they are? Good grief. So we got back in the car and drove toward Great Falls, keeping our fingers crossed that there would be a hotel room somewhere.
I pulled into the first hotel we saw -- another Holiday Inn, and they had one room left. It was right next to their 'convention' area where a wedding party was going on rather loudly. I didn't care about the noise, and we got a really good rate plus my AAA discount. I had just spent another long day driving, and I knew I'd be able to get to sleep just fine.