And we are in the home stretch....meaning we have a looonnnnggg stretch of driving before we can see home again! I can't believe how far we have gone and how many campgrounds we have stayed at!
Our last stop was in Livingston, Montana. I just LOVE Montana. It was so funny but when we crossed the border, it really did seem like the skies just got bigger.
I just loved this peaceful looking little log cabin with a view...
Our next campground was located in LIvingston, MT. A little town north of Yellowstone National Park. Our plan was to camp for 4 days and spend two days touring Yellowstone. I knew that was a not even CLOSE to enough time in the park, since the park is 2.2 MILLION acres, but we are all starting to get the itch to get home and if we took our time around the park, we would be extending our trip more than we wanted.
Our campground in Livingston was 30 miles from the north entrance of Yellowstone. It was a really nice campground right alone the Yellowstone River. We had a few little hiccups such as arriving with 40 mph wind gusts which made us feel like we were going to flip right over. Luckily the winds died down in a couple hours and we were in awe of the sunset view from our site!
And since we made last minute reservations, we didn't have the best sites of the park and we weren't able to get a river view. But the staff was so nice and the kiddos were VERY excited to hear that they have ice cream socials on Sunday nights....that means ALL YOU CAN EAT ICE CREAM!
On day one we got up bright and early for a Saturday in Yellowstone. Which is not an easy feat with all 8 of us, including one Caroline and one puppy who was staying back and needed some quick morning exercise.
We headed in and first saw Mammoth Hot Springs. It definitely was "mammoth". And my kids are definitely "difficult".
Kallie, of course, had to get in a little gymnastics...
We then made our way around the upper loop. The vistas and scenery are so beautiful!!!
Our next big stop was the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. That was so beautiful and definitely worth the hike down by the lower falls.
We then stopped at Inspiration Point (not not circa 1956 Happy Days..) but just a beautiful overlook where we happened upon a group of students from Gannon University! My alma mater!! The instructor was a biology teacher and he was very eager to give us lots of suggestions on where in the park to see specific wildlife, including wolves and bears. But he also suggested a 6 a.m. arrival which was pretty much not an option with our group. But it was nice chatting and definitely makes you realize what a small world this is!
The other interesting thing we found that day was the evidence of the forest fires. Wow. We have seen this in many locations throughout our trip and it is always amazing.
And there was even still snow on the ground!
The next day was a day to stay put and relax and take care of business - like laundry and sitting riverside. And letting the puppy get just a tad dirty.
It was a much needed day but it wasn't nearly enough. At this point I really am starting to feel exhausted. I do love everything we did and everything we saw, but wonder if a shorter trip with a few less stops may have been a little easier.
But we were up early again, dropped off Dixie at a local kennel so she wouldn't be home alone all day again, and we were back for the lower loop in Yellowstone. Unfortunately, since we stayed north of Yellowstone, we had to go back over areas we already saw in order to reach the lower loop. I knew that was the case, but definitely envied those who camp in a more central location so they had less driving and more time to enjoy the sights.
The western side of Yellowstone is where all the geysers and hot springs are. They are SO beautiful. I could not take enough pictures trying to capture the amazing colors. Caroline, wasn't exactly excited by any of it.
And then it was time for Old Faithful. We arrived about an hour before the next "scheduled" eruption. Just in time to have a little lunch and relax before getting a seat for the "show".
An interesting note...we were listening to a park ranger give a talk about Old Faithful when an oriental woman started walking off the walkway and onto Old Faithful for a picture. The ranger said "excuse me" and then turned and started talking Chinese (I think) to the lady to tell her to get back on the walk. I never would realize that rangers would be multilingual but I guess it makes sense consider the huge variety of of visitors to these parks!
Old Faithful was as amazing as we expected. The kiddos had a front row seat. And I was amazed at the HUGE mass of people who are present for the eruptions!
We then made our way through the rest of the park where we saw a bagillion bison - and even saw a bunch RUN down a hill and jump in a stream and swim across.
There were also a ton of elk - many many with babies. And we even saw (from our car) a mama bear and her cubs! The bears held up traffic a bit, but it was worth it.
Yellowstone was way more amazing that I actually expected. It is HUGE. There is such a variety of things to see. And you truly do need at least a week to see it all. I so wish we had time to just SIT and relax and take in all the sights versus the go-go-go-go schedule we ended up with. But hopefully we will be back! Soon! (???).
Dixie-do did VERY well at the kennel. Although I have to add, RV parks are dog lover havens. I swear 99.9% of the RV'ers have dogs with them. Which is great! But it also made us realize that our pup may need a little work in the training department. She is a sweet puppy but she definitely needs to be enrolled in a remedial dog training class when we return....
We are now heading east and slowly making our way back to home. It is a bit overwhelming to think of all the miles we have ahead of us. I really REALLY really am going to miss these views...
One thing I REALLY don't like about this entire trip is the fact that when google maps says it will take about 3 hours to arrive in our destination, in actuality, our motorhome/trailer convoy will probably arrive in about 5-6 hours.
We are slow going, but we are STILL going!