APRIL 12, 2012–DAY THREE
5:00 a.m. in the morning. The alarm went off.
6:05 Car was re-packed, kids had breakfast to go, and we were pulling out of the parking lot.
We had driven this road before (6 years earlier) and had been struck with the beauty of the scenery. We wanted to watch to sun rise on the mountains, and we were just in time.
Everything was bathed in a golden light, and every turn in the road cause us to catch our breath with its splendor.
We continued to climb up the mountain, pulling off here and there for a photo or to collect some rocks. The different geological layers are labeled by the state of Wyoming and I wanted some for my garden and for our science classroom (the living room.)
Here you can see the different layers and how they bend.
6:58 We reached the top of the pass. There was a lodge opened, so we stopped in to ask if ALT 40 was pass-able. The road said, “CLOSED”, but we hoped that an early spring had thawed the snow. “Nope,” was the answer, there was 8 – 12 feet of snow still on the road, so we continued on WY SR 40. Everything was frozen up here.
We were in the Big Horn National Forest.
The other side of the mountain was just as majestic, and since we were going about as fast as the sun was rising, we saw the sun peek over this mountain. (Granite Pass.)
6:22 We come to a scenic overlook–which is closed. Not deterred, we hopped the fence and hiked the trails. Eloise was still in her jammies and carrying her “car sickness bowl.” We keep one in front of her every morning until about 10:00 when her stomach finally decides to stop jumping around.
Little Man was also in his jammies.
Despite the temperature, LBG (Little Big Guy) was in shorts.
And despite all the natural beauty surrounding him, an imaginary war game immediately started.
We hiked down the incline, rounded the bend, descended the stair, walked a short ways, and . . . .
. . .this is what rewarded our little effort. We were too cold to stay long, so back up the stairs we raced. I lost, even with The Hunni carrying Little Man on his sholders. I blamed it on the flip-flops I was wearing.
7:13 We are back in the car and headed down the mountain.
The scenery continues to awe, but the kiddos plug in. . .
Or conk out. . .
7:46 We arrive at Greybull, where the traffic picks up–we see about 8 cars in 2 miles.
7:50 It is not yet, 8:00, but we stop at the Coffee House hoping it is opened. The owner had just arrived, and pulled us a triple latte.
The coffee house is beside a historic Bed & Breakfast. Although the coffee shop was not really open, the owner was friendly and the coffee was a needed cup of deliciousness.
8:02 Once again, we are back in the car, and headed for Cody, then the southeast entrance of Yellowstone. That is the plan for the day, waking up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning allowed us to see a beautiful sunrise and make up the two hours we were behind schedule. We had to stay on schedule or we would miss the funeral. We had planned to stay the night in Cody, WY and arrive at Old Faithful at 11:30 a.m.. Then tour the park until 7:00 that evening. We would get supper as we left the park. Put the kiddos in jammies. And then drive until 11:00 at night. We would be tired, but the kiddos would get to see Yellowstone in springtime. I imagined flowers blooming all over the Lamar valley. It would be spectacular. We would witness it–all before the crowds of summer. That was The Plan. And we were on schedule for The Plan. Cody to Old Faithful was 3 1/4 hours. We were about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. “Well done, Mama.” I thought.
11:00 We see a sign that says, “20 miles to Yellowstone entrance.” At the same moment we saw a herd of Big Horn Sheep grazing.
11:07 WHAT!!!!!! NO WAY!!!! IMPOSSIBLE!!!! We see a sign that says “ROAD CLOSED.” “But it can’t be!” I wailed. “There is no other entrance into the park!” “The only way is a three hour drive back into Cody!” “Go around the sign.” “Just drive ahead!” We have NOT just taken a 6+ hour detour!!!!!”
So, The Hunni drives around the sign. Pretty soon, we see some guys working beside the road. We stop to ask some questions HOPING that we can continue driving! A chat with the men, and we are informed that spring has not arrived to Yellowstone. It is in fact still winter and the pass has 12 feet of snow on it. We can drive up to the entrance, but even if we drove into the park, we wouldn’t be able to cross the pass. Didn’t we see the sign back in Cody that said the road was closed???
A six hour mistake is never fun, but with kiddos, it could kill the trip. We drove up to the entrance just because we had come so far, and we at least wanted to gaze on it longingly.
Have you ever seen Norman Rockwell’s painting of going on a holiday and returning from the holiday?
See how excited everyone is on the top painting “Going” and see how tired everyone is in the “Returning” painting. Everyone except for the boy–he has energy both ways.
So we did a U-turn and headed back.
The above is my version of “Going and Coming”
We saw the same herd of Big Horn Sheep.
We saw the same majestic views, but somehow, everything had lost its lustre. Everything seemed “done already.” Everyone just wanted to get back to Cody and start over. We tried to pull off the road for a picnic, but is was 34 degrees out and blowing cold.
2:10 We arrived back in Cody, and headed to the Vistor’s Center to find out the details of when and how and where Yellowstone is viewable. We also wanted to find the fastest way back to I90 back over the mountains. We wanted to KNOW that all the roads were open.
The temperature was much warmer in Cody, so the kiddos “walked the rocks” at the Visitor’s Center. The Hunni was given a map of opened roads over the mountains.
We drove through downtown Cody and spotted an ice cream store that was opened. It was cold for ice cream, but The Hunni was trying to lift everyone’s spirits. Above the ice cream store was an antique store filled with old western finds–not the best place for a one year old, so I headed across the street to a gift shop. I bought all the kiddos something new to do in the car, and dropped off a catalog of our Ypsi Doll T-shirts and clothing.
2:53 We have a long drive ahead of us, but everyone is feeling a bit better. We have a new plan. Yellowstone keeps all the roads “snowmobile accessible” until “the thaw”. “The thaw” varies depending on the year. Then Yellowstone closes ALL of its road and clears them for cars. This takes about two weeks. Currently, they were clearing the roads as “the thaw” came early this year. The scheduled OPEN TO WHEELED VEHICLES was scheduled for April 20. It looked like we could see Yellowstone on the first day it opened on the way back home. (Note: The north entrance is always opened from Gardiner to Cooke City as a school bus travels this road. However, from Cooke City on it is closed.)
From Cody, we headed up WY SR 120. Up over the mountains we went again.
The scenery was gorgeous, and I had calmed down enough to enjoy it once again. A little ice cream always soothes the soul–even when it it 45 degrees outside.
3:03 We decided to turn off MT SR72 onto 308–a little paved road over another mountain. Along the way we drove past this sign in Bearcreek, MT–a little one horse town.
Now I realize that it hadn’t even been an hour since ice cream, but we decided to stop for the bathroom. The Hunni said, “Buy a coffee.” I did, but the coffee had been dripped a long time ago, so instead I bought a piece of pie.
Then all the kiddos came in and ordered their own pieces of pie. And ate them up.
It was a cute little gift shop tucked away in the hills. Plus the restroom was VERY clean!
The banana cream pie was good. A fun little stop in a beautiful place. I recommend it.
On the way out of town we passed an old mine where “the worst mining accident in Montana history happened.” I couldn’t help but think about the miners that had been trapped so far below the surface. I didn’t include a picture because it made me feel so sad, however, the above photo makes me want to drive down the road and explore.
3:23 We arrive in Red Lodge, Montana. Before heading north on 212, we stopped to photograph these sculptures.
You can visit the website here. I wish we had had more time, as I would have loved to look around inside. His canopy beds are right out of a fairy tale in a dark forest–both restful and exciting.
5:08 We are back on I90. We decided instead of staying in Bozeman, MT as we had planned, that we would push to Butte, and make the next day just that much shorter.
5:23 Clement declared from the back seat that he had lost a tooth. No one commented, so he decided to spit the pretzel he was eating and his tooth out in his hand. We failed to “ohh and ahh” and he got his feelings hurt, so instead I took a picture of his missing tooth. (Aren’t you relieved?)
8:08 We pull into our hotel. The kiddos start jumping on the beds.
The Hunni offers to take the kiddos swimming, and I offer to lay down and take a nap.
9:10 I wake up to wet kiddos coming into the room–happy. The Mommi feels much better, also, but not better enough to sit in a restaurant for an hour making the kiddos mind. The Hunni decided just to go out and buy two boxes of cereal and milk and eat in. The Mommi thinks it is a wonderful idea. While the kiddos bathe and the Mommi reorganizes suitcases, The Daddi got supper.
10:30 Clean kiddos are all asleep. “What time do we have to set the alarm?” asks The Hunni. “Well, we have about a 10 hour drive with stops. But we lose an hour. If we want to get to your parents for the family dinner around 5:00, well, we need to leave at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. The Hunni sets the alarm for 5:00 a.m. in the morning. I wonder if I will be able to fallll asleeeep after my nappppp, I don’t h a v e to w on der too oooo oo . . . . . .