The alarm went off at 5:30 as we had big plans to get out of Yellowstone at a decent time. Trying to get the five of us to load the van, take down tents, and do it while not disturbing our sleeping neighbors is a tall order. I’m not sure how well we accomplished that last part.
Miles has continued to sporadically channel his alias of “Randy Shackleford”. Randy made his first appearance earlier in the trip when he was our trail guide in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. One thing we have learned about Randy is that he “sells propane and propane accessories”. Miles likes to announce this every so often.
During our loading of the van, he was told to hold a bag of charcoal. This did not go well with “Randy”. He hid the bag behind his back and said, “I can’t be seen holding an inferior fuel like charcoal. I prefer to use clean burning, energy efficient propane.”
We did hit the road by 8:00 after a stop for coffee. The sky was still overcast from the rain last night and there were plenty of low hanging clouds. We got our best views of Yellowstone Lake of the entire trip as we drove past it on our way to the East exit.
The drive through the eastern section of Yellowstone is beautiful, just like the rest of the park. As soon as we exited the park, the river was muddy and not clear like we had been accustomed to.
Our first stop of the day was in Cody, Wyoming. This family needed a Walmart fix to stock up on groceries and various other camping necessities.
We spent a full hour wandering around Walmart and figuring out how to pack all of our new purchases into the van. We received some humorous looks from other shoppers. It’s like they had never seen a family unload the back end of their van in the Walmart parking lot before.
As we attempted our departure, an unfortunate thing happened – our power sliding door would not shut. It had been making some strange noises the past few days but we didn’t think it was anything serious. Well, it was serious.
We looked at the problem from all angles and we convinced ourselves that if we would just cut out the cable that the van uses during the automatic opening & closing, that the door would shut. So, we got out the leatherman tool and used the wire cutters to remove the cable. The door closed!
After that 30 minute delay, we were now ready to chew up some highway. I enjoy the views of the mountains and the plains through northern Wyoming. There are very few towns, and most of the ones that exist are very small – a few hundred people.
Driving through Greybull, Wyoming, we saw a military plane graveyard on the west side of town. Unfortunately, there were no signs at all to tell us what the place was. An older plane from the Canadian Air Force was situated prominently near the road.
Near Burgess Junction, Wyoming, there were herds of open range cattle. We had to slow down to allow a calf to cross the road.
As we approached Sheridan, Wyoming, we drove down out of a mountain range. At one of the pullouts were several hang gliders. Folks were busy getting them prepared to take off.
We pulled off the road in Sheridan to take a look around. A few months ago, I won a trip to Sheridan from the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce, but I ultimately had to decline it because we could not fit the trip into our schedule. But this was a great chance to see what we missed.
This town had a great Main Street. We pulled over and I took a few pictures. There was some remorse that we were not able to spend a few days here, courtesy of Sheridan.
Making our way to Devils Tower in the eastern part of the state, we drove through Gillette, Wyoming. Gillette has a HUGE coal mine next to the interstate. It is not underground, but an exposed mine. We could see the coal sitting in the ground. There was a conveyer that went underneath the interstate to a power plant on the other side. Lined up next to the power plant was a lengthy train with nothing but coal cars.
During this stretch, the temperature on our van hit 100 degrees. YES!!! We are ready for hot temperatures after being cold and wet.
In the late afternoon, we arrived at Devils Tower, America’s first National Monument. Given our late arrival, we chose to go straight to the monument instead of checking in at our campground first.
We stopped by the Visitors Center and it was the same small, cramped building they had on our last visit six years ago. We thought that there were plans to build a new one, but the economy may have put the brakes on that.
We walked the 1.3 mile trail that goes around the base of the tower. We stopped here and there for Marissa to fill out her Junior Ranger workbook.
Our campground is located right outside the gate of the park, at the KOA. The most important attribute this campsite was bringing us was their outdoor showing of Close Encounters at 9:00pm. But when I asked about it at check-in, I was told their equipment was broke and it would only be shown inside. Major bummer.
We selected our campsite and ate some dinner before doing anything else. Dinner tonight was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And let me tell you they were the best that were ever made.
We put the tent up and set everything else we owned out to dry. It has been so wet and we welcomed the heat and the lack of rain. It definitely looked like the Clampetts from the Beverly Hillbillies had just rolled into town. Today is the first day of our trip where we did not receive any rain!
The kids played and messed around for a few minutes. The area is really pretty, with the Belle Fourche river running right through the campground. The hill to our north is the most brilliant red color. At Devils Tower we learned that this particular mineral is only find in parts of Wyoming, Montana and Africa.
I took the kids to the pool at 9:00 and Stephanie started some laundry. The pool was supposed to close at 9:30 but I let the kids play until 10:00. They needed some time to unwind.
Afterward, the girls found the playground and they spent some time on the merry-go-round. Miles followed me to the deck of the office where we could get a strong wifi signal and we hung out there for a while.
Tomorrow we leave Wyoming. Ever since our last visit up this direction, South Dakota has probably been my favorite state, but after this year’s trip I am now leaning to Wyoming. What a great place. I cannot wait to come back!