Archive for the Wyoming Category

Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

We spent 2 days and nights in Yellowstone NP — the first one at the relaxed Mammoth Hot Springs campground (near the Montana border) and last night we stayed at the crazily crowded Grant Village campground (where we all had luxurious showers!)

After we somehow managed to explain to Quinn that this kind of “park” is not the kind that has playground equipment in it (and I still don’t know why this is — the park has nearly everything else), it took a little while for him to warm up to Yellowstone.

He thought that the terraces were ok, but he liked the mud pots and steam vents much better. Quinn especially liked the idea that there is a super volcano underneath the heart of the park. He honestly would’ve preferred to see actual lava, but he still got a huge kick out of the geysers. Waiting for Old Faithful (to spew its water and steam) tested his patience quite a bit, but it made such an impression on Quinn that later that evening he crafted a bedtime story that featured geysers.

This morning we took in the serenely beautiful setting of Yellowstone Lake — Quinn happily played along the shoreline for quite awhile. Then we headed south for the scenic drive through Grand Teton National Park. Even though it is not the first time that Witt and I have been through here, the amazing vistas of the Tetons never disappoint.

We made a brief stop in Jackson Hole, spending a couple of hours at a park with free public WiFi and a playground – the two ingredients we need to allow Witt and I to pay bills and catch up on email while keeping Quinn entertained at the same time. After stocking up on a few days’ worth of food and a tank of diesel, we went to the Snake River Brewery for dinner and beers.

After dinner we drove over Teton pass and found a campsite just on the other side in Idaho.

We’ve heard good things about the Craters of the Moon National Monument, so the plan is to head there tomorrow.







More pictures…

Lightening the Load

We had a fairly short yet incredibly beautiful drive down from our bush camp in Bighorn National Forest to the sleepy town of Worland, Wyoming, where we’d arranged to meet Witt’s parents (Henry and Kathy) for the great “unloading” of our bicycles and related gear.  The morning (at over ~8000 ft elevation) was crisp and cold.  By the time we arrived in Worland it was almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

We weren’t expecting to see Henry and Kathy until later in the afternoon as they had quite a distance to drive, so you can imagine our excitement when we learned that Worland has a brand-new, state-of-the-art aquatics center!  For a sum of $12 the three of us got the privilege of playing and cooling off in one of the best pool areas that we’ve ever seen!  It had a huge slide, excellent kids pool, a lap pool, diving area, hot tub and even an outdoor splash park.  It was wonderful and we were in heaven!

We met up with Henry and Kathy at the Comfort Inn and soon after our happy greetings were exchanged we headed our for dinner on the town.  There weren’t exactly an abundance of dining options but the receptionist at the hotel had recommended a place called Rumors, so that’s where we went.  The decor was a little dated, but they had a respectable selection of microbrews on tap and that tied us over nicely until our dinner arrived.

After dinner we transferred our bikes, racks, helmets, shoes, tools, plus a bunch of other odds and ends from the Sparksmobile to Henry & Kathy’s Jeep Cherokee while Quinn rode his bike around the hotel parking lot. We topped off the evening by doing a load of laundry and then we all snuggled into our beds in the hotel room that Witt’s folks graciously shared with us.

In the morning we shared breakfast together at the hotel, and then parted ways — Henry and Kathy were on the hunt for a coffee shop and we were headed to Yellowstone!

As we headed out of town, we could already tell the difference the lighter load made in the van’s performance.  There was much less roll back and forth on curves and turns and the suspension handled the bumps in the road much better than before.  We immediately felt assured that unloading the bikes was the right decision.  Thank you Henry and Kathy!!

We drove north to Cody and then decided to head for the northeastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park in an effort to avoid the weekend crowds.  The scenery along the way was positively breathtaking and well worth the detour.

Since the campsites were full by the time we arrived we opted to camp in a National Forest campground just outside the park (and on the edge of Montana).  Bear warnings were everywhere but fortunately we didn’t see any while camping.  We even tempted fate a bit by cooking our salmon dinner over our campfire.  It was a beautiful and quiet campsite!

Today we drove back into the park and saw lots of bison, elk, pronghorn and osprey along the way.  We even arrived early enough at Mammoth Hot Springs to secure a campsite for the night.  We took a short hike to a waterfall together and then spent the afternoon lazing by a stream while Quinn playing in the water.


Mmmm. Lunch!





Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

What a difference a few days make! We are on the way to getting some fixes together for each of the various issues that have risen with our camping set-up.

Yesterday the fantastically friendly and capable folks at the McKie Ford dealership in Rapid City, SD, replaced the motor in our passenger window and one hour later we were on our way!


Devil’s tower national monument

We have not been able to get our expensive diesel stove to work correctly. Since we’ve been told that the only people that could fix it properly are either in Germany or in Northern California, we made decision to just buy a propane camping stove to tide us over until later this year when we plan to drive through Northern California on our way to Mexico.

It’s true that the manufacturers don’t recommend using propane inside of a camper, but since just about every RV has a propane stove in it, we believe that it comes down to having proper venting. Our precautions are to open lots of windows, turn on our Fantastic Fan ventilation system, and make sure that our carbon monoxide detector is working.


The $100 solution

Tomorrow we are meeting up with Witt’s parents to offload our bikes and related gear. We figure that will reduce our load by about 100 lbs (most of which is stored higher the center of gravity of our van) so we expect that’ll get us closer to the max gross vehicle weight (GVW) and maybe we’ll see an improvement in gas mileage too!

We will be sad to lose the use of our bikes, but when we take all factors into consideration (including what a pain it is to open the back of the van when we have our bikes on the rack) we know that it’s the right decision.

So we now have a fix (or workaround) for all of our current van issues. We also have a plan for bug screens for our side and back doors. We have some of the materials already and Witt’s parents are bringing up some more for us (via stops at Hobby Lobby and the Bass Pro Shop).

Our next stop: Yellowstone National Park!


The first bush camp of our trip


Our campsite was filled with these wild lupines









I love bush camping!!