I just returned from a long driving vacation with family. My daughter, her husband, their two daughters, one daughter’s fiancé and me. All in a rented van, we survived nearly 4,000 miles to see the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Nat’l Park, Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands, The Big Horn Mountains and Deadwood. It was a fantastic vacation.
The endless drive across the Nebraska prairie by car made me appreciate the sturdy pioneers who trekked across our great land to settle the west. Then they were confronted with the mountains. Though the mountains are beautiful and greater than anything they had ever seen, they must has thought, “We came this far, how are we to cross these craggy peaks?" But cross them they did, settling along the trails or traveling on toward the great Pacific Ocean.
I would have loved to hear the conversation of the Mountain Men who wandered into the Yellowstone valley of geysers and hot springs. I wish I knew how they made use of the heat. The wild animals there are fabulous even now. Think how abundant they would have been in that far away time.
Herds of antelope along the way made us anticipate what lay before us all the more. The Grand Tetons are truly grand. Snow on the high peaks and cool breezes when we stopped delighted us.
We stayed in a storybook cabin just outside Yellowstone Park. The trek into the park each day was an adventure. Will we see a bear? Will we see a mountain goat? Will we see a buffalo or is it a bison? We saw a species of every animal mentioned in the guide except a mountain goat, a wolf and a black bear. Yes, we saw a grizzly bear and he was close enough you could see him with your naked eye. The bison grazed along the road, Great herds of elk dotted the fields. A nesting eagle along the road attracted motorists who stopped to take pictures in spite of the warning signs not to stop in the road.
Old Faithful is still being faithful and spewing hundreds of feet in the air to the delight of thousands of visitors. Other geysers, waterfalls, the clear rushing rivers and the bubbling mud pots all attracted our cameras eye.
The craggy beauty of the Big Horn Mountains was a wonderful side trip. A quick trip through Deadwood made us wish we could stay and visit Boot Hill, but time was short and there were other things to see. We saw Mt. Rushmore late in the evening, while a group of High School students was getting ready to put on a concert.
It was a beautiful vacation. Stay tuned for Vacation II blog about what I learned on this vacation and if this writer found a story while vacationing.