Vacation Reconfiguration

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.

dead_trees

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.

fox

We spent one night there and decid­ed to get out. We did see steam vents along­side the riv­er on the way out.

yellowstone_river

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.

cotm02

cotm01

Even in the 100 degree heat, some wild­flow­ers man­age to live in the vol­canic soil.

cotm03

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.