Casper, WY — The family has internet access again after a couple of days of drought. If you know our family, you know this is a heavy burden to bear.
“Whatever,” Michelle retorted when this reporter read her the opening paragraph. “I don’t know why you have to print crap like that.”
Day Eight was flanked on both sides by rain and nobody in the family save Ethan was really dressed properly for the chill weather. No matter, our indefatigable family continued their tour of Yellowstone.
“Indefatigable? That’s a big laugh,” remarked Greg. “I think one or more of us were exhausted at this point. Crappy, overpriced meals in West Yellowstone were not helping the situation.”
The family toured the south loop this day, including Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pots, and Yellowstone Lake. Laurel and Greg attended a ranger program while Michelle entertained Ethan at a park marina.
“I GOT TO FISH AND GOT MY JUNIOR RANGER BADGE!!!!” Laurel exclaimed while she twirled and fidgeted.
“God, will you SIT STILL ALREADY?!” cried Michelle.
“See what I mean about ‘indefatigable?’ Greg smirked.
Ethan entered the fray. “DONUT!” he yelled. “DONUT DONUT!”
The family spent the entire day touring the southern loop at Yellowstone and allowing Laurel to fish. The highlight was when Greg fell into the lagoon while trying to use a tree trunk to cross to the sandbar.
“That was so awesome,” remarked Michelle. “I didn’t have the camera ready, though. We’re all very disappointed.”
“I didn’t FALL into the lagoon,” Greg whined. “I STEPPED into the lagoon. And I was carrying a cooler in one hand and Ethan in the other, dammit.”
“Whatever,” Michelle responded. “Nobody told you to do that. You still fell into the lagoon.”
Laurel did not catch any fish but learned a lot about the fishing regulations at Yellowstone.
“You have to pinch down all the barbs on your hooks,” she instructed everyone. Everyone. “And you can’t use lead sinkers. And anything with even the faintest red slash on the throat is considered a cutthroat trout and you had better NOT be caught with one of those, you have to release it.”
After a full day in the park, the family returned to West Yellowstone and had their first decent meal – barbecue.
The next morning, Day Eight, the family rose and shone and headed south to Grand Teton National Park. Greg in particular was offended by the fact that after paying $54.00 for an RV site, the family would have to pay for showers.
“F-it, Greg, who cares?” Michelle said. “I’ll just be dirty. I don’t care. I totally agree, I’m not paying $3.75 for a shower.”
Our family enjoyed a GREAT pizza dinner at Leek’s Marina – they ate on the deck with a gorgeous view of the Tetons. After dinner, they took a drive through the park, then returned to camp, stopping first at the gift shop, where Laurel held court with the man in charge of fly fishing.
“What grade is she in?” He asked.
“Um, fifth,” Michelle said.
“Wow. That’s good. She’s a smart cookie, she really knows her stuff.”
“Good deal,” Michelle said. “I think fishing is a special kind of hell. Her job is to catch ‘em, I’ll clean ‘em and cook ‘em.”
Laurel would like to add, “The caddis fly is the most popular for trout, that’s what I bought.”
The family finished the evening with a stop at the ice cream stand.
“We only had one day there,” Michelle explained. “We had to move on to Casper in the morning, but I think we made the most of it.”
Day Nine dawned sunny again. The family enjoyed a hearty breakfast buffet at the camp restaurant.
“I do not know how or where Laurel packs it away,” Greg observed. “She had one full plate of heavy breakfast food, followed by a big bowl of organic, sustainable oatmeal and another big bowl of fruit, including an entire banana.”
Michelle added, “I told her I wanted her to eat EVERY SINGLE BITE.”
Ethan, too, was starving, enjoying a very large cinnamon roll and fruit. Several hours and a long trip to the bathroom later, Greg observed that Ethan’s pants fit much better.
“Well, no wonder,” Michelle responded. “He had to get rid of that huge breakfast.”
The family headed east through Wyoming toward Casper, stopping at a couple of historic sites along the way.
“Michelle’s the navigator, and she wanted to stop at Sacajawea’s grave site,” said Greg. “The trouble is, the site is not particularly well marked and we were driving down a reservation road without any really good idea about where we were going.”
The family found the site, though. Ethan threw a fit so Greg took him back to the truck, but Michelle marveled at the cemetery.
“It was very pretty, with the flowers and tokens for the dead. It was very different from the cemeteries I know. There were a lot of wooden crosses used for headstones, but someone MADE those crosses, put their love into them – not like the granite headstones we so often see.”
Moving on, the family viewed two Oregon Trail landmarks; Split Rock and Independence Rock.
“We actually stopped for some time at Independence Rock, because that was such an important site for the travelers on the Oregon Trail,” Michelle observed. “Laurel is a good historian because she’s played the computer game so much that I can say, ‘Hey Laurel, you recognize Split Rock?’ and she’ll tell us about it.”
Tired and road-weary, the family finally pulled into Casper, WY, and set up camp.
“We’re at another RV park tonight,” Greg said, “but this one isn’t a gravel parking lot like the one in West Yellowstone, and it has a pool here.”
The family spent the evening at a local restaurant with passable food, followed by a dip in the pool before retiring to the camper for the evening.
Tomorrow they move along to Colorado with a couple more Oregon Trail stops.
“I’ve told Greg several times that I think this is the right vacation for us,” Michelle said. “I’m not yet pining for home, and we’ve been known to cut vacations short in the past.”