Day 5 was mostly a travel day, but there are a few things worth noting. On our way to Yellowstone, we detoured an hour or so our of our way to stop at Devil’s Tower National Monument. Our annual Park pass got us in this time. Yay! I found the Tower to be more impressive in person than I thought it would be. For some reason, I didn’t realize that people climb it. You need to register to climb or go beyond the “boulder field.” There are a few trails you can hike. We only went a little ways down one because we needed to get back on the road, but it would have been a nice hike if we’d had the time.
There is no food at Devil’s Tower and none for several miles. At the base of the mountain, just outside the park, there are two small restaurants that are part of souvenir shops. We had hot dogs and nachos at one of them because we knew that it was many miles to other food. We had been advised to keep our gas tank full on this trip because there were areas where you wouldn’t find gas for many miles and you wouldn’t want to find yourself in a pinch. We filled up and headed west toward Yellowstone.
The drive to Yellowstone from Devil’s Tower was just over 6 hours. We drove through probably the most awe-inspiring landscape I have ever seen. A good chunk of the drive was in the Bighorn National Forest. Wow. We wound through canyons and up and around and through evergreen forests. You have never seen so many trees in your life and colors of the canyons were breathtaking. If we drove this way again, I might plan our timing to bring a picnic and stop at one of the Recreational Areas or picnic tables that seem to pop up out of nowhere. At one point, we were at 8000 feet above sea level, briefly. The air was cool. And, did I mention that there was snow?! There were patches here and there of (very dirty) snow. Amazing that it could last through the middle of July.
As we neared Yellowstone, we stopped for dinner 2 hours shy of the Park, in Grey Bull. Using the navigation system (how did we ever manage before navigation systems?), we decided on a local A&W for dinner (competition research, you know). I can’t decide whether the name of the town sounds more like a beer or an energy drink for aging athletes. We settled in late at our lodging for two nights: Pahaska Teepee Lodge, just 2 miles outside Yellowstone.
A final vignette for your amusement . . . I hope it comes through in writing as amusingly as it did in person. Overheard at the A&W:
Middle-aged man, ordering at the window: I’ll have a burger with ketchup, mustard and lots of pickles.
Woman taking order: Ok.
Man: LOTS of pickles.
Man: It’s for Brenna.