It’s been tough trying to find wi-fi and time to process photos and write posts, but here’s what we’ve been doing:
Yellowstone National Park was a big disappointment all around. Tuesday, as I described, we woke up in Shell Creek Campground in the awesome Bighorn National Forest. We then traveled to Yellowstone. I had spent a lot of time there with John, Ed and Joanne there in 1981, and back then it was so beautiful, with rivers, lakes, mountains, and all sorts of odd places like Sour Lake, which was full of sulphur from the massive volcano beneath the park.
Today about half of Yellowstone is dead trees. In 1988 they had the “Summer of Fire” which left dead trees everywhere around the park. To this day, the park has never fully recovered. Instead of the green wonderland we saw all those years ago, we found a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We’re going to film “Mad Max Does Yellowstone” but we’ll do it in winter and use snowmobiles instead of cars. Huge box office hit, we’ll be famous in Hollywood for sure.
Also, the park is about 3 times as crowded as I remember it. Every campground was full (but we had a reservation and a nice site). All the parking lots were filled with cars, even the little side parking lots for places along the road. One fox on the side of the road and 40 people with cameras trying to get a shot of him. I got a shot, but jeez. That’s not my definition of an unspoiled wilderness.
We spent one night there and decided to get out. We did see steam vents alongside the river on the way out.
So yesterday we went to Craters of the Moon National Monument, which was still unspoiled and very cool. We learned that the volcanic eruption that created the site happened only 2,500 years ago, which must have been a surprise for the Native Americans who lived in the vicinity.
Even in the 100 degree heat, some wildflowers manage to live in the volcanic soil.
Meanwhile, we decided to re-think the rest of the trip. We’re experienced campers and we were ready for the weather, but it rained hard on us 5 out of the first 8 nights, which gets a little old. Moreover, the boys didn’t want to do the southern leg of the trip home (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, bits of Mississippi and Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle) in late June/early July. Some of those places are 100 during the day, going down to 90 at night.
So we rented a hotel room in Salt Lake City last night. We’re going to spend the next two nights in a hotel, too. There simply are no feasible campsites in Bryce Canyon (none at all there) or Zion National Park. The Park Service says all the sites in Zion are taken by early morning on weekends, and we have no desire to spend the whole day there. Our next campsite will be Mesa Verde in Colorado. Of course, we’ll still see the Vermillion Cliffs on the way there.
Then we’re going to head south to Albuquerque and come home on I-40, which goes straight to Raleigh about 1,750 miles away. We’ll get home early, but the only person who minds that is me. The boys want to shorten the trip, and Sherie won’t be lonely at home with our two new kittehs.