Day 25: Yellowstone, Shoshone, Buffalo Bill & Central Wyoming

Driggs, Idaho is home to the best bagel shop in the world: Big Hole Bagels & Bistro. Come at me, NYCers. I will fight you on this.

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I meant to get the menu, too, but apparently I thought the chandelier was more important. I mean, it is pretty cool.

One thing I found a little odd (or at least noteworthy) is that the café is staffed by children. I swear on whatever you deem holy that not one person working there today could have been over the age of fifteen.

The boy who made my sandwich looked about twelve — and called me “ma’am” which was slightly horrifying — but gosh darn it could he make a sandwich!!!

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BLT with chive cream cheese on a parmesan bagel. The girl who took my order said the parmesan was her favorite, and I’d made an excellent choice.

Sidebar: This morning was the most pleasant experience and service I’ve had in a café in a long time. Those kids were polite, professional, and sweet. A+ all around.

The drive to Yellowstone was especially lovely, partially on the Teton Scenic Byway.

Apparently, I’m still obsessed with dilapidated barns.

And the sky today was just incredible.

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The Dough Boy did not answer when I knocked. Rude.

Let me first say that there were significantly more people in Yellowstone today. This was how I spent most of my time:

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As soon as I entered the park (and got past the accident that blocked the drive to Madison from the West Entrance), I headed straight to Old Faithful. Yesterday, when we were having our usual check-in call, my dad asked me if I’d seen it, and it was the only thing in Yellowstone he specifically asked about. And if my dad — Mr. Travel, who probably knew about seventeen other sites inside Yellowstone — asked about it, I knew Old Faithful would be what everyone asked about.

I refuse to disappoint every single person I tell about my Yellowstone trip, so we drove straight to Old Faithful. We arrived just after it had gone off. (Whomp whomp.) So we had an hour to bide at the site, which, luckily, has hotels, stores, gift shops, a post office, and several museums. It’s a huge complex.

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I scoped out a bench and Tako took a nap in his pack* while I wrote out some postcards. The predicted time is always listed as plus or minus 10 minutes, so I kept an eye on the steam to see if it was starting.

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It wasn’t. For about an hour and twenty minutes.

Old Faithful was late (okay, it went off within 1 minute of its 10min leeway…but still). Worth the wait, though, especially just to hear the commentary coming from the 9yo next to me.

Kid: Holy smokes!** It just turns into steam right away! MOM, are you FILMING THIS?

Mom: Everyone in the park is filming this.

Kid: Dad, are you filming this?

Dad: On it, buddy.

I, too, was filming, and you can see it on my IG.

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Ignore my hair. The wind was real today, man. I’m serious. I dared to open the window for a couple of minutes while we were stuck in traffic…

Mistake.

So the wind blew the geyser stream in every direction. I only got one shot of the water shooting straight up. Pure luck.

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You can see the wind is already carrying it off into the distance to the right, which was kind of awesome, actually. The wind was strong enough (or maybe we were close enough?) that you could feel the mist of it on your face.

After Old Faithful, we headed back north. I wanted to see the Virginia Cascades (if we could) because when we passed yesterday the line of cars was already out to the highway. But we kept getting stuck in traffic on the way there, so I decided to just pull off and do all the other drives along the way.

Yellowstone is full of tiny bypasses — usually a mile or two long — that take you past sites off the main Grand Loop. Virginia Cascades is one; Firehole Canyon is another we did today.

The Firehole Canyon drive was especially interesting because there’s an area where you can see the new growth. They have a sign up marking it as “Naturally Reseeded By Wildfire” with the date of the fire that burned down that grove. (I think it was 1988 for this area.)

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The smaller trees in the background are the new growth, and they grow super close together compared to the older growth in the area. I’d have to research why; the park didn’t have any info up about it.

I got lucky today with the Cascades, and we only had two other cars on the route with us.

And that, my friends, took us to 6 hours in the park. That’s how much traffic there was today. (Also, I spent an extra hour at Old Faithful. So there’s that.)

As a reminder, this is how far I got yesterday with 5 hours in the park:

Day 24 Yellowstone

And here’s how far I got today. I pulled out of the East Entrance around the 7.5 hour mark.

Yellowstone Map Day 2

Wow.

On our way out, we did get to see a bison, though.

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I’ve named him Ferdinand. He’s probably not as friendly as his bull namesake, but he did seem to like the wildflowers.

Right around the time I hit Fishing Bridge, a hail storm started. There’s some video on my IG but it turned out some beautiful photos, too.

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And this hail was no joke. I was behind a few motorcycles who stubbornly refused to pull off to find shelter, and I have no idea how they didn’t get concussed.

Okay, maybe I’m a little dramatic.

The hail storm ended right when we reached the eastern shoreline of Yellowstone Lake (and the very last bit of the lake you get to see on the drive). I went and dipped my feet. Tako refused to get out of the car because we could still hear thunder rumbling behind us. Scaredy pug for sure.

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And then we said goodbye to Yellowstone with one last view from the Sylvan Pass.

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The East Entrance takes you straight into Shoshone National Forest and Buffalo Bill State Park, both of which are glorious.

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Buffalo Bill

The bottom right photo from Buffalo Bill is really cool. Those trees are growing out of the water. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but I’d love to know what kind of tree that is!

And then we went into the most terrifying tunnel of all time. You know how, when you cut a tunnel into a mountain, you usually reinforce the tunnel walls with cement? Maybe magic spells?

Yeah, they didn’t do that to this one, so you’re staring at the raw rock face that they cut into for what feels like a thousand and one miles of blackness.

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Why would they do this to me???

Oh, yeah, and you get out of that tunnel, and you think “I survived! OMG IS THAT ANOTHER TUNNEL?”

Because, yes, you enter a second tunnel! And then a double tunnel after that! (Luckily the double-whammy is both reinforced and so short that you see the other side as soon as you enter. Otherwise, I might still be up on that pass attempting to build shelter because I lived there.)

Scaredy Kaitlin for sure.

High

We got a second day in Yellowstone! And the sky in Wyoming is a series of watercolor paintings.

 

Low

I got bitten by a fire ant at Old Faithful. But it didn’t hurt as much as I expected it to, so whatever.

 

Breakdown

Driven: 4456mi

Hiked: 45mi

Written: 4k

Listening to: “Love On Top” Beyoncé

 

*A few people stopped me at Yellowstone today to ask where I got his pack. It’s the K9 Sport Sack, and I got it from Amazon. (Then I saw it at PetCo, so it’s available elsewhere.) If I could go back and choose again, I’d definitely go for the Plus; it has a removable storage pouch.

**This kid actually said “Holy smokes!” It kind of made my week.


One thought on “Day 25: Yellowstone, Shoshone, Buffalo Bill & Central Wyoming

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