I am very excited that Emily is helping with the blog this week. So Em, pick your color…
EMILY: Blue, because it is the Boeing color!
AMY: We enjoyed our time in West Yellowstone camped right next to Shawna and Matthew.
EMILY: Gus, their cat, and Bella, their dog, were really cute and fun to play with. Natalie had a lot of fun with Bella. Though I am a cat person, so I paid more attention to Gus.
AMY: Monday evening, we packed a picnic and headed off to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, about an hour drive from West Yellowstone. We were less than half way there when traffic came to a crawl due to two small traffic accidents, and an unknown third traffic jam up the road.
EMILY: It was so miserable. We were in traffic for half an hour and had only gone 4 miles. We drove for a while and it felt like the traffic never ended. Good thing we didn’t bring the RV down there because we couldn’t turn around in the narrow roads.
AMY: So, we grew impatient and hungry. We turned around looking for an easier place to have our picnic dinner.
AMY: Matthew led us to the Madison area for our picnic. Sitting in traffic can really make you hungry!
AMY: These beautiful lodgepole pines were plentiful in Yellowstone. What happened to the bark?!
EMILY: Those crazy buffalo love to rub their horns on the bark. :)
EMILY: Then, we went to the stream where really hot water collided with a cold river. The hot stream felt like a hot tub. I wish I saw a fish, but I didn’t.
AMY: This was a really “cool” place to visit! Rocks had been placed around the hot springs, like little natural hot tubs.
AMY: On Tuesday, we found a local place for you girls to get haircuts.
EMILY: I just loved my hair! Natalie didn’t like the way her hair stuck out at the bottom.
AMY: On Wednesday, Shawna and Matthew gave us an early anniversary gift, a date night!
EMILY: So while Mom and Dad went on their little date, Carrie, Natalie and I hung out at Shawna and Matthew’s. We watched a few episodes of Project Runway, baked cookies, and messed with Gus and Bella. Mmmmmmmmmmm, cookies.
AMY: And we packed a romantic picnic dinner and headed for a beautiful peninsula on the Hebgen Lake. We arrived just as a storm blew in, so we ate in the car.
AMY: The storm quickly passed, so we decided to stick around and luckily caught site of this amazing double rainbow. It faded fast, so I am glad we saw it at its fullest.
A beautiful sunset:
And these post-storm, sunset colored clouds:
AMY: On Thursday it was time for us to say our sad good-byes to Shawna and Matthew and head east. We drove back through Yellowstone to see a few more sites, like these elk.
EMILY: There were traffic lines just for elk and bison. I know they are really cool, but why so much traffic for just two animals?
AMY: Roaring Mountain’s hissing steam vents:
AMY: We had a full day of driving to get to Devils Tower in eastern Wyoming. We budget about a tank of gas a week and, knowing where the truckstops are with our handy-dandy exit guide, we ran the tank down to the lowest we have had it yet.
EMILY: I was so scared! I don’t like running low on gas.
AMY: But now we finally know how big our gas tank is! This is what a full tank costs at one of the best prices we have paid so far on this trip:
AMY: We got to Devils Tower National Monument late that day and camped at their quiet, no-hookup campground, so we would be ready to explore the park the next morning.
EMILY: It was a really nice campground. The sunset was cool.
AMY: An early (for my family) hike took us from the campground to the Visitor’s Center and around the base of this interesting geological formation. Millions of years ago this was created by an underground lava flow, then the ground surrounding was eroded away to expose this formation.
EMILY: The Indians called it “Bear Lodge” because it looks like a giant bear scratched the rock while he was climbing it. We also watched the movie “Close Encounters Of the Third Kind.” It has Devils Tower in it.
AMY: Then on Friday, we drove about an hour to get to Spearfish, SD because I was signed up for a half-marathon. Here I am, eating dinner all by myself because everyone else thought it was too hot outside. It was much warmer here than at Yellowstone, but I need to get out of the RV, so I don’t mind.
EMILY: I don’t like eating outside on hot days. The flies are really bad here. We constantly have to kill them. Most of the time, we miss.
AMY: I had been wanting to run another race since the last one in Boulder, CO and had scoped a few out along the route. When I discovered this race finished in the City park, right next to the Spearfish City Campground, I knew I had found the perfect match.
EMILY: Heh heh, there I am building a fairy house. It is a nice campground! I really like riding my bike around. There is a creek that is nice and cool that I like to wade in on these hot days.
AMY: I love all the shade trees, room to play and the bike path that runs through the park and then around the city.
AMY: The race down Spearfish Canyon was on Saturday morning. I was able to walk to the shuttle that took us to the start line and then ran back to the park for the finish. There were only about 300 runners, so I felt like I was running by myself with just a few people along the way for encouragement. I loved it! It was nice to not have to shout out to avoid the bears too; that kind of ruins my peaceful runs.
EMILY: Dad and I thought this would be a big race with huge crowds and roads blocked off, but we were way off, it was a super small race. Dad was thinking “Uh-oh, I don’t see the crowds and the roads blocked off, this must be a long walk!” But, it was just around the corner from the RV, it was great. Good planning, Mom!
AMY: The creek was a perfect place for cooling my heels.
EMILY: Good thing it isn’t like the melted snow at the Grand Tetons! That was much colder.
AMY: Later that day, the girls and I went to a local service station to pick up some tire tubes for floating down that same cool creek.
EMILY: I couldn’t see anything and I was squished.
AMY: While on this trip, we have seen many great rivers and streams with happy people floating along. It always looked like so much fun, so we were excited to finally try it ourselves. The excitement faded when we realized how difficult it was going to be to keep us all together down this unfamiliar creek. An overturned Natalie was cold and panicked, Emily had scraped legs from the rocks and I was yelling out “helpful” instructions, while Carrie was floating along cool as a cucumber.
EMILY: My leg still hurts from tubing.
AMY: Em and Nat were out after just one round. When Carrie and I made a second pass at the creek, I discovered that my iPhone had gotten wet and wasn’t coming on. Not good! So, the tubes then doubled as a fun place for backbends…
EMILY: It is more fun than floating in the river.
AMY: For our Sunday morning hike, I was eager to show everyone the peaceful canyon I had run the day before. I found mysterious instructions (“look for the deepest curve in the creek and head toward the thin draw between the two hillsides…”) that led us to this local-favorite hike. Once we found the secluded trail, it was a good climb to get to this point with the caves.
EMILY: The cold waterfall felt so good on my hot head.
AMY: We climbed a little further to get to the top of the falls and found some interesting rocks along the way:
AMY: We ended our morning with a short walk to the Roughlock Falls. I love Jon’s picture!
EMILY: It felt like Washington (my favorite state) because of all the moss, trees, and waterfalls.
AMY: Spearfish is a great little town and I am looking forward to hanging out here this week. I hope to see some nearby sites we missed on our way West last year.
EMILY: I am looking forward to going to Oshkosh, WI. There is a big airshow with lots of activities like flight simulators, and other plane stuff. I am super duper duper duper duper excited to see everyone when we get back!