It’s time for an adventure! Let’s make sure Matthew doesn’t forget anything that he needs to do. Shower, figure out driving directions, check out of the KOA. Oh, and don’t forget gas! Food too – don’t let Matthew starve in Yellowstone. Hey, Matthew! I said don’t forget to buy gas and food!
Sadly, there was no voice reminding me of these things. I took care of most of the important things… except the most important ones. I ended up driving half an hour into the park before I realized that my car and my body were going to need fuel in the very near future. Later in the day, I learned that I could have taken care of these needs inside the park, but at the time I didn’t know that. I drove back to the city of West Yellowstone.
I found a cute little store in town and stocked up on meat, cheese, bagels, and carrots. While I was waiting at the deli case, I struck up a conversation with a middle-aged couple who were driving through on their way home from Oregon, where they had dropped their child off at college. They wished me luck on my tour of the country.
As I drove back into Yellowstone, I was grateful again that my parents had let me use their national parks pass. They got the pass when they visited Yellowstone back in May, and sent it along with me so that I could save some money on my trip. It has been great! I got into the Olympic National Park in Washington twice, and now I’ve gotten into Yellowstone twice.
While driving, I finished listening to another audiobook. This one is Michael O’Halloran, by Gene Stratton-Porter. It is the fictional story of a young boy (Michael) growing up New York. Michael’s mother died, leaving him alone in the huge city. Before she died though, she instilled principles of good character and hard work in him. The story follows his life and shows how these principles carry him through all his adventures, from selling newspapers to taking care of a crippled girl so that she does not have to go to the orphan’s home. He even helps to bring joy and eventual healing to several unhappy and contentious families. I’ve read several books by this author now and enjoyed them all. They are refreshingly full of virtue. I have found that the stories do seem too good to be true – as in this case, where one boy does so much with only a willing mind and cheerful face – but I think that this over-exaggeration of the power of goodness helps counterbalance the over-exaggeration of hopelessness that we are flooded with in daily life.
Yellowstone was gorgeous. The smoke had stuck with me all the way through Idaho and now into Wyoming, but it stayed in the background while I was touring the park.
I did most of my exploring by driving around. There are paths and hikes in some spots, but nothing really caught my interest. I did stop at Firehole Fall (along with lots of other tourists) to take pictures.
For lunch, I pulled out some of the food that I had at first forgotten to bring with me. I made a bagelwich out of ham, Havarti cheese, and a blueberry bagel. This is my new favorite meal – it tops the tuna bagelwich by just a little margin.
While eating my sandwich, I sat at the Old Faithful General Store. A couple who looked to be in their sixties sat down next to me and we talked for awhile. They live an hour south of Yellowstone and have visited many times over the thirty years they’ve been there. The man talked about a horrible fire that burned through over a third of Yellowstone Park in 1988. He, like my friends in Oregon, talked about the problems that occur when forest care does not include clear-cutting and occasional controlled fires to clear out the fallen leaves and undergrowth.
Next, I went into the Old Faithful Inn. My parents enjoyed this a lot when they visited, and I found it quite beautiful also. I sat on the second level of the giant wooden hotel and listened to a live violinist perform for about twenty minutes.
Finally, I drove to Old Faithful itself. I arrived at a good time and only had to wait twenty minutes for the geyser to do its thing. During the wait time, one of my fellow spectators decided to bring a little humor to the afternoon. He spent five minutes cajoling the crowd to do the wave, as people do at sporting events.
After watching the geyser go off, I finished up my drive for the day. There is a road that leads in a big circle through Yellowstone Park and another circle above that. I only drove along the southwest quarter of the bottom circle, but I was happy with what I got to see. From the circle, I continued south and entered Teton National Park. I drove a little further and got to Bridger Teton National Park, and arrived at the campsite I had found online. This time it was not dark, the campsite was really there – right where it was supposed to be, and I settled in for a peaceful night of sleep. And that’s the end of today!