Friday, July 14, 2017

(49) Yellowstone, Home Again

Wednesday July 12, Thursday July13
Gardiner Montana to Boise, Idaho

Old Faithful, as viewed through the
window of the Old Faithful Lodge
We awoke on Wednesday, July 12 at our campground along the Yellowstone River. We were just north of Gardiner Montana, along Highway 89. After a light breakfast and a cup of coffee we headed south towards Gardiner and Yellowstone National Park.

 As we drove south along the river we were once again taken by the incomparable beauty of this area. The river seems to be running a little high and a little muddy for this time of the year. Nonetheless, it was beautiful.

We could see what we believed to be the old Yellowstone Trail carved into the hillside. It looked pretty rugged and it appeared that visiting Yellowstone National Park was not for the faint hearted one hundred years ago. Initially the formal name of the Yellowstone Trail was the "Twin Cities - Aberdeen- Yellowstone Park Trail". It was later shortened to simply "Yellowstone Trail".

Driving through the Yellowstone Arch
We picked up enough groceries in Gardiner for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. Our plan was to do a quick tour of some of the highlights of the park this afternoon and then drive home.

Such a short visit certainly does not do Yellowstone National Park justice. However, we been on the road a long time and is much as we've enjoyed this trip we're ready to be home.

My first visit to Yellowstone National Park was in 1957 and I'm afraid to admit that I really can't recall it.  But I've been back to Yellowstone many times since and had the opportunity to explore it with Linda and then with the family.
Clock and Fireplace inside 
Old Faithful Inn

Every time we been to Yellowstone we have camped. It seems like this is the best way to see it, however, one of these days I'd like to spend a couple of nights at the Old Faithful Inn or at one of the other beautiful hotels at the Park.

Old Faithful Inn, built by the Northern Pacific Railroad
Yellowstone National Park is America's and the world's first national park. It is said to be one of the best ideas that America has ever given to the world. That is really saying something, considering the many good ideas that originated in America.

Exterior detail of Old Faithful Inn
America's national parks were the product of the conservation movement in America, but they were also the product of the railroads.

Interior of Old Faithful Inn

Of these two sources, it was the railroads that really did the heavy lifting to bring about the national parks. Had it not been for lobbying by the Northern Pacific Railroad, Yellowstone National Park would not have come into being when it did. The Northern Pacific Railroad lobbied Congress for the creation of Yellowstone National Park. It undoubtedly also assisted in drafting the legislation which created the Park.

Articles informing Americans of the great beauty of Yellowstone and of its natural wonders were written and distributed by writers hired by the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Yellowstone Bison
None of this diminishes the National Parks' position in America's history or Yellowstone's place as the crown jewel in America's National Park system. It seems that the Northern Pacific Railroad needed a destination for its eastern passengers to visit. The Northern Pacific carried well-to-do easterners to the park, which it advertised heavily in the eastern papers and magazines. It billed Yellowstone and Mount Rainier National Park as "Wonderland".

In my pony, ready to drive
into Yellowstone
The automobile is a relative latecomer to Yellowstone National Park. Private automobiles were not admitted to the park until 1915. The Yellowstone Trail and other automobile organizations lobbied for cars to be let into the park in much the way that the Northern Pacific Railroad had lobbied Congress for the creation of the park. Prior to 1915, tourists in automobiles could only travel as far as Gardiner before they had to leave their automobiles and climb into horse-drawn wagons to be taken to one of the camping areas or to a hotel in the park. The Yellowstone Trail, and other automobile organizations, had a campaign that demanded "Let Us In". Finally, the government assented. Whatever one might think of Park overcrowding, letting automobiles into the park truly made the park a place "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People."

Inscription above Yellowstone Arch
The car, it seems, was a great democratizing factor in the Park's creation. One had to be fairly well-to-do in order to afford a railroad ticket west, to be driven around the park by horse-drawn wagon, staying at magnificent hotels. Even camping, in the early days, involved renting a tent, set atop a wooden platform in the Park.

During our short stay at Yellowstone we were struck by the large numbers of foreign tourists. Visitors from Europe and Asia have embraced Yellowstone. Last year 4.5 million visitors saw the sights. It seemed to us that approximately 40% of the visitors we saw were foreign. It also seemed that a significant portion of those tourists wanted to experience Yellowstone the way they understand Americans to experience the park. There were a great many rented RVs touring the park. Linda and I watched with amusement as a park ranger, through an interpreter, explained to two Asian men that the Park Police had received a large number of complaints about their erratic driving. He told them that he would let them go with a warning, but that he didn't want to hear any more complaints. They needed to slow down and obey the traffic laws. Having been in foreign lands, I felt for them.

Thursday, July 13 brought this vacation adventure to a close.

The view with our coffee.

We started the day as we had started so many others with coffee percolating on our one burner Coleman stove and a cup of coffee at the campsite. It was then time to break camp and head for home.

It has been a wonderful vacation. We were gone for 44 days and traveled 7,783.5 miles, using 307 gallons of gas. We changed the oil and the beginning of the trip, and twice on the road.

I would not trade the experiences that we've had for anything in the world. This is a big beautiful country. The people that we've met have been, almost without exception, extremely kind, thoughtful and polite. Folks went out of their way to tell us about the beauty of their town or their state. They asked if there was anything they could do to help us enjoy and wished us "HAPPY TRAILS". It was fun to add some of them to our blog. We've had 10,219 views of the blog from all over the world. Thanks to all the readers for letting us share our trip.

It's nice to be home with indoor plumbing, a handy shower, and to greet our dog Chester, but I also find myself thinking about the next road trip....

Home sweet home.

Monday morning I fly to California to pick up the Ranchero and drive it home.


  1. Welcome back to Idaho and thanks for sharing your trip

  2. We've so enjoyed following along on your travels via the blog! This is a trip we'd love to make in the future. There's so much to see, and I don't think you really realize how large America is or how varied until you drive it coast to coast. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  3. Don't you look good parked in front of your house?! I know home and your own bed will be most welcome... but what a wonderful adventure and great memories! Thanks so much for sharing! I remember the arch and that street in Gardner from our trip. Brings back happy memories for us, too!

  4. Glad you are home safe. I did a cut and paste of several things from your blog and sent on to family members. It's been fun traveling with you! Hope to see you soon.

  5. Welcome home. An epic trip nicely reported.