2017 Epic Road Trip Westish Northish: Part 2 Wyoming

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part 1
We set a very early alarm in the crummy cheep hotel, tossed kids and gear back in the van and took off before the sun was up. The kids woke and dozed and snacked on donuts while we excitedly watched the sun rise.

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We had a few hours to the Grand Tetons and were a little nervous about finding a campsite. We had no reservations just a list of sites to drive to prioritized by where I wanted to be. We lucked out and found a great spot near the lake on a fairly private corner that backed up to woods.

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(picture taken much later)

It was in the Lizard Creek campground on the north end of the park and my first choice. We paid for the site and tossed a bunch of extra gear in the bear box and set up just enough so no one would think the site was vacant. Then we drove right out of the Grand Tetons and into Yellowstone. Yellowstone is just North of Grand Teton and the roads there make a big figure 8. We took off to the west part of the park.

We had kind of planned to avoid Old Faithful or get in and out quick but we stopped there first to hit a Jr. Ranger program and pick up the books. The kids and Heath went right to the program

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and I ran over to the ranger station to get the books. I discovered they had a Jr. Scientist program also while I was over there that came with a big backpack of science tools and at the end the kids could get an additional patch. They were all about it. After the program we grabbed a picnic table and had breakfast while getting started on the programs.

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After breakfast the timing was pretty close to see old faithful blow so we headed over near it. We found a shady log to hang out on.

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Besides the shade being nice, it put us out of the crowd and with a good view.

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Old faithful’s eruption can very a lot so once we got bored waiting for it we got to hiking to the next stuff. We hiked a big loop around it and got further away from it when it finally went off.

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It just so happened that our walk and early departure put us in the perfect spot to watch another geyser that went off shortly later.

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The Beehive Geyser does not go off nearly as frequently as old faithful and made and awesome buzzing sound. Also we were close enough to get sprayed with a mist of sulfur smelling mist. We continued on the hike stopping at lots of geothermal features and doing science stuff like measuring temperature in various areas with a heat gun.

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We did quite a bit of hiking and then got back to the lodge for some cool down ice cream.

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and then to the proch for some cool down beers.

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We also stopped by the ranger station to turn in the science backpack and get our science badges.

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We left the the geyser area and saw our first bison on the way out.

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We were getting a bit hot and tired but there were a few more springs we wanted to see before heading back to camp.

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It was a long day but we could not help checking out more and more of these while we were there.

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Then finally we drove back to camp. It was a bit of a drive and Bean got a nap in. Once we arrived we still had to get set up.

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And once we were set up we had a great chili dinner in our new home for the next 4 nights.

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The rest of the evening we did some bike repair,

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relaxing

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getting our spots ready for bed,

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and playing a horseshoe type game with a poped bike tube and other gear we had on hand.

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We watched the sun set on the lake

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and made smores.

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Then we went to bed and actually got a big full night of sleep. We even let the kids sleep in and recover late into the morning.

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Bean, Heath and I slept in the big tent, Pumpkin in the hammock and Peanut in the little blue tent. Of course Bean was the first one up and off ridding her bike as I cooked up breakfast.

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Day 2 here was a Grand Tetons day and we started out at the big Coulter Bay area. After getting new Jr.Ranger books for this park we did a bit of hiking and looking around.

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We got hungry after some hikes and found a nice beach for lunch.

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Some folks were out swimming but we just got our legs in a bit.

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We had a really nice lunch there and took our time enjoying the spot.

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Once we got done and packed up we drove out a ways to a nice trail and unhooked all the bikes and went for a ride.

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We rode to a visitor center and poked around some and enjoyed the shade and AC. Then we rode back, Pumpkin started out not really enjoying the ride or views

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but by the time we got back to the van she wanted to ride on farther and so did Pumpkin so Heath and those two kept going.

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Bean and I drove to the end of the park and left the van by the Moose visitor center there. We went to the bathroom got a drink and then started ridding back towards the others.

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We got to a giant hill we could not climb and then saw them at the top headed down. We all checked out the visitor center for a bit then headed back to camp.

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It must have been an uneventful night because I don’t have any pictures. I’d guess we cooked up a good dinner and I know we got to bed early and I think this was the night is stormed really hard and we worried about Pumpkin in the hammock but she didn’t even know it had rained.

We got up when it was still dark, tossed the kids in the van and headed north back into Yellowstone. We took the east route towards the north end of the park. Our early departure was great to miss the crowds and see the animals.

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There were tons of bison, elk and deer out, some of them really close to the road.

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We had literately just scooped up the kids and put them in the car. When we stopped to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone they were still in pajamas.

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We made it to mammoth, the far north end of the park just as it started to rain. We were tired and hungry and far from camp and not sure what to do. We got all changed and went into a visitor center up there to look around a bit and the rain let off enough that we got out for some exploring.

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We could have easily not driven so far but I remembered seeing this part of the park before and thinking it was the coolest so I drug everyone up there.

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The rain passed and it got warmer and warmer and I slowly ended up with a big wad of jackets and sweatshirts in my arms as we looked around.

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Then we ran into a ranger program and without a word joined right in.The kids totally took over the tour positioning themselves right by the ranger and asking lots of questions and answering when they knew something she asked.

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She gave us lots of cool history, science and other information about the area and after the program we walked back to the van.

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We were all starving by the end and went right to some picnic tables to cook a big batch of shells and cheese for brunch.

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The kids made friends with some other picnickers and played hide and seek in the tall bushes. We did some more wondering around the area and during another little rainstorm escaped into a little store and ended up with T-shirts, ice cream and beers.  It was late morning when we got out and we had the whole park to cross with the crowds out and intermittent rain.

We did finish the regular ranger books and stopped in to get more badges.

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We also did a little falls hike IMG_0258

This little guy saw us

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and we saw the falls

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Poor little Bean had been getting eaten up by the bugs and the bites on her face were causing some swelling.

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We started to worry it was going to be a real problem so Heath drew lines so we would know if her face was still swelling and it looked way worse.

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She was not itching and didn’t seem to mind and it went away fairly soon. That night it was boys turn to cook.

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It was a bit rainy but we got a fire going anyway.

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and watched the clouds pass the mountains across the lake from us.

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It was another early night and early morning. This time we went south into the Tetons looking for moose. A ranger had told us some good places to look at in paid off right away.

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Yeah we were still in pajamas.

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It’s tough to see but there was a lighter brown baby moose with the mom.

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We drove along a bit farther and saw another mom and baby a lot closer to the road.

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We ended up seeing a male one too so 5 in all plus this little fox.

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We were hungry and tired of the car so parked at a nature center and trail head and had some coffee and chicken rice stuff.

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The nature center had it’s own badge program so the kids got to work as we set out on a hike.

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We saw waterfalls

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and climbed rocks

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and tried to find something from every letter of the alphabet.

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Near the end of the hike the sun went away and dark clouds were rolling in. Also 2 groups of hikers on the way back told us there was a bear at the lake. We were pretty torn by really wanting to see a bear from afar and really really not wanting to see a bear up close.

So we forged ahead and made it to the lake but saw no bears.

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We didn’t stay long before heading back at a much quicker pace. Then we heard thunder and it started to sprinkle off and on. We actually ran when the trail allowed us to and made it to the nature center right as it started to pour. The kids did a few more activities in their books then got their badges. 20170628_121941

We were not real motivated to go back into the rain so when we got a break in the rain we rushed to the van then out of the park to a Brewery for some lunch.

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The girls and I were exhausted and Heath had some work work to do. We went back to camp and Heath and Peanut dropped us off and we laid down and fell right asleep. They drove to find wifi and ended up seeing a couple bears in the distance.

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The whole afternoon/evening clouds blew in and out and the rain with them. After our nap the girls and I went exploring along the shore.

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I thought it would be a quick hike but we kept going a little farther and a little farther until they had talked me into a really long hike.  We got back a few minutes before Heath and Peanut and everyone was starving. We ended up making burritos on the flat grill that were amazing good.

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After dinner we hung out around a campfire discussed the great adventures we had at Yellowstone and the Tetons.

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The stories must have been good as the deer came through to hear.

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We did our best jobs sleeping in the next morning then cleared out the cooler with an epic breakfast.

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We packed up camp and the van and had something like a 5hr drive to the next page of the adventure.

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