VEGAS TO VEGA: Caught In A Snowstorm
Turns out, sleeping in the shed wasn't too bad. Waking up was worse. "We'll be out the door at 7am" we said...and at 7:20am we were still hitting the snooze button.
When we finally packed the car back up and headed back into the park, we got stuck in a traffic jam! Right?! Who gets stuck in a traffic jam in a park?! We were stuck for an hour. Turns out the bison wanted to cross the road again, this time during peak time. Fantastic.
We eventually got past the bison and went on our way. As we had done most of the stuff we wanted to see in the northern part of the park yesterday, we chose to go south today and see Old Faithful on our way out of the park.
Along the way we stopped at loads of cool little geysers and overlooks etc. Yellowstone really is a stunning place. One place we stopped at was called Black Sand Basin and it had lots of colourful hot springs and a big geyser that kept us entertained for a bit.
As we were about to leave, a nice man (we don't know his name so we shall call him Dave) came over and started talking to us.
Dave told us that if we followed the wooden path to the end and looked out over the stream into the field behind, we would see a bear!
At first we thought he was kidding but he wasn't so we raced to the end and there they were! A mama grizzly bear with her 2 cubs!
They were just hanging out, searching for food and completely oblivious that we were there. Obviously, this was the only time I didn't take me phone out of the car! Doh! We got a couple of good pictures on our cameras though, but I definitely could have done with a longer lens.
The bears were so cute, we could have spent all day watching them - or at least I know I could have. Unfortunately, we did have a schedule to keep which we were already an hour behind on (thanks bison!) so we had to tear ourselves away and go to Old Faithful.
Seeing the bears up close in the wild like that though has definitely been a highlight of the trip. I don't think anything will beat that feeling!
One big thing we had been planning for this trip was to see Old Faithful erupt so we made it our last stop in Yellowstone.
Old Faithful may be super regular, but she definitely likes to go on her own time. In our eagerness to get a good spot and not miss it, we forgot to get our jackets out of the car. It was FREEZING! As we shivered on a stone bench watching a steaming hole in the ground, we mentally yelled at ourselves for being so dumb. Yet we weren't prepared to run back and get them, just in case we missed the eruption! We had no idea how long ago she had last blown so we didn't know how long we had to wait for the next one. So we sucked it up and shivered.
An hour. We had to wait an hour in the cold while Old Faithful did her thing. She kept teasing us too, shooting little spurts of water into the air to make us this she was going to blow and then going right back to sleep. It's true what they say, a watched geyser never boils!
At last, once we had lost all feeling in our hands and feet, Old Faithful launched a stream of scalding water into the air! Just in time for the wind to change direction and blow the steam towards us so we couldn't see much...thanks Mother Nature.
Nevertheless, it was a really cool thing to witness and another thing to cross off our bucket lists. After a quick bathroom break, and a not so quick trip to the gift shop, we headed back to the car to start our longest drive of the trip so far - Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Ok fine, we also stopped at one of the giant snow piles in the car park to take some pictures before we left. But how often do you get to see snow in summer??
The drive was estimated at around 9 hours and it was already like 1pm so we agreed to make no more stops until we got out of the park and needed to get petrol.
Well, that kind of didn't happen once we came across a part of the park that looked like Narnia...
Seriously, it was so snowy. We rounded a bend and came across a totally frozen lake with a huge snow bank and just had to stop and get out to play for a bit. BFF hasn't had winter since 2007 and neither of us ever see snow so it would be rude not to, right?!
The second we stepped out of the car, the sky opened and it started snowing! Actually snowing, giant fluffy white snowflakes. In May. WHAT?!?!
We were definitely not dressed appropriately for the weather but it didn't matter as we indulged our inner child for 20 minutes or so. Snowball fight and everything. BFF even did a handstand in the snow, and then had to do another one so the lovely Asian couple who had also stopped could take a photo of her doing it because they thought it was fun!
When the snow stopped, we hit the road again, only to be caught in a mini-blizzard. The weather in Wyoming is so weird. One minute it was blue skies and sunny (albeit a little chilly) and the next it was heavy snow.
By the time we made it to our campsite in South Dakota we had driven through virtually every weather system imaginable!
After a classy dinner in McDonalds, we finally made it to our campsite at 11pm, ready for a good night's sleep.
Once we got into the cabin however, it was clear we had been spoiled by the campsite in Yellowstone. Yellowstone had been large, spacious and even had a little space heater! South Dakota was small and cramped, smelt kind of funky and the front door didn't even fill the door frame properly, let alone having a space heater! This was going to be a long, cold night.
We trekked to the shower block, that left a lot to be desired, to rinse the travel yuckiness away and then layered up in an attempt to get cosy. It didn't work. While our Walmart sleeping bags and blankets are great, they weren't quite a match for a night in the Black Hills. I'm just glad we didn't decide to camp in a tent!!
Ready for the next installment? Read all about it here!