Last fall my family decided that it was time to pack up the old suitcases and fly to a place where nature reigns and civilization takes a bumpy backseat to its call. Yellowstone National Park provided the perfect fall break retreat.
The first step in our planning was to book a flight and rent a cabin. I was being very uncooperative about the entire idea. I informed them that I was going to plant my backside on a sunny beach in paradise. My family disagreed. I packed my suitcases and gave one last longing glance to the mild climate of Georgia.
We arrived in Bozeman, Montana via a Delta Airline Connector plane around 9pm. We proceeded from the airport to rent a minivan and drive the 80 miles out to our cozy little cabin on the Yellowstone River. It was a nice little three-bedroom place with a hot tub on the back deck. After staking my claim on the second biggest bedroom, I fell asleep listening to the sound of a coyote’s howl.
When morning came on the first day of our visit the sun was shining its glistening rays through my blinds. Since it had been dark the previous night, I was anxious to see the scenery. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. The view took my breath away. There were hills, valleys, and rivers that stretched for miles in all directions.
The first three days we spent simply touring the park. We first visited the Visitor Information Center in Mammoth Springs. They provided us with all the information we needed to recognize animals and find our way around the park. We saw animals of all kinds: mule deer, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, coyotes, wolves, and even a grizzly bear. It seemed as if all of the animals featured in storybooks had landed at Yellowstone.
The last five days of our visit turned out a bit unexpectedly, but you know what they say: “expect the unexpected”. The only problem was… we didn’t. On the fourth day the weather took an unexpected turn to the cold side. We were scheduled to visit Old Faithful, an ancient geyser that explodes every hour on the hour. We went out, against my good sense, and that day the whether did hold out. For the next couple of days we visited different areas around the park and were even able to see the Grand Tetons, a beautiful range of snowcapped mountains and a lake.
When I awoke the morning prior to our departure date, however, snow had blanketed the earth. We went out, anyway, to finish our tour of the gorgeous landscape. This is when we took on our most dangerous adventure yet. We decided to travel Bear Tooth Gap a highway about 10,000 feet above sea level. As we started our long way down the snow littered highway a terrible smell filled the van. Every one turned around and glared at my little sister who was smiling like an idiot. “What?” She asked innocently. “I got nervous.” This resulted in a torrent of uncontrollable laughter and is now an ongoing joke inside the family.
The next morning after surviving the treacherous landscape and closed interstates, we arrived a bit cold, but altogether in good shape, at the airport. My trip to Yellowstone National Park made me realize exactly how beautiful nature is. I experienced every season with in a week and saw animals other people only dream of. It is a beautiful, however often very cold, vacation destination. My only advice: expect the unexpected.
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