2021.06.10 Montana and Mallory

The light starts coming through the window, around the closed curtains, before 5am.  Good morning, Rawlins, Wyoming.  Marissa and I enjoy the complimentary hotel breakfast in the dining area, and before it is even 8:00, a hotel guest is walking through holding his Bud Light tall boy.  Good morning, Rawlins, Wyoming!

Wyoming is a fantastic state, but no state is perfect, right?  Rawlins is the blemish on this state.  Let’s get out of here.  We were on the road by 8:15.  (Wyoming Fast Fact: Wyoming has the best state flag)

A bit further west of Rawlins is Rock Springs.  Here we turn north and head towards the final stretch to our featured attractions of this trip: Mallory, Yellowstone, Mallory, and the Tetons.

Featured Attractions

The stretch from Rock Springs to Jackson is full of wide open spaces.  You are bound by mountain ranges to the west and north and we meandered our way to roughly where they meet, which is where they keep Jackson.  Lots of pronghorn roaming free through these high plains.  Wyoming keeps very tall fences along both side of the highway to discourage the pronghorn from running onto the road.  And every so often there would be a ramp for the pronghorn to walk up and get through the fence on the other side (in case they don’t follow directions and jump the fence anyway).  Pretty ingenious idea, and I’m sure the pronghorn appreciate it.

Pronghorn ramp

As we approach Jackson, the Hoback River followed alongside the road.  A beautiful Wyoming river.  We stopped at a picnic area about 20 miles south of Jackson.  We could not believe the luck that these tables were situated right next to the river.  As I looked back at our blog from our trip to this region in 2012, I believe we must have stopped at this exact same spot when I saw the pictures.  I am renaming this as the Traveling Kings Picnic Area.

Picnic at the Hoback River
Marissa in a panoramic pic of our lunch spot
Steve had to dip his foot in the icy cold waters of the Hoback

We did not make it all the way into Jackson, because we skirted west over the mountain pass and into Idaho, where we are driving north towards West Yellowstone, Montana – our destination for the next week.

Serious grade. We put the car in low gear when going downhill.

The first couple of towns we pass through, Victor and Driggs, appear to be pretty lively, and you might even say booming.  Can’t afford to live in Jackson?  Just get a place across the border in Idaho. 

Driving north through Idaho, the valley gets wider, and we eventually got into primarily farmland.  We couldn’t really tell what they were farming, but we ultimately decided to assume everyone was growing potatoes until proven otherwise.

We saw a number of what I would call partially underground storage sheds, that had soil and grass on the roof.  One had a tractor-trailer parked in it, to give you a sense of scale.  Upon further review, I think these were built as potato storage sheds back in the day, but I am doubtful they are still used for this purpose (e.g. tractor trailer storage).

Potato Storage Shed?

Past the farmland, we drove through primarily forests.  We appreciated the informative signs posted every so often that indicated a grove was planted in a certain year.  Thanks Idaho!

What’s Up, Montana?

We pulled into West Yellowstone shortly after 4:00.  We found our motel without any issues.  It’s older (like most of the mom & pop motels in town) but nice and functional.  It’s going to make a fine home base for the next 4 nights.

Marissa saw the picture on the wall, threw our bag on the bed, and said “The Land of Geezers” (the torch is being passed!)

Our evening plans while in the area will revolve around seeing Mallory and her summer bestie, Chattie. Mallory and Chattie are sorority sisters and share the same major at OSU.  It’s a great thing they are two peas in a pod since they’re roommates for the summer.  They got off work at 4:00 and got to our hotel around 5:30.  Reunited!  We had not seen Mallory in nearly 5 weeks, right before the two departed for Montana.

During the period we were waiting for them to arrive, it decided to snow/sleet.  It would alternate between sunny skies and snow.  This happened several times.  Sometimes the weather would change it up with high winds.  Montana is for the brave.

Mallory recommended the Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon for dinner.  Everything is so close, we just walked the few blocks.  The wait time at the restaurant was 90 minutes.  We were warned that the tourists arrived on June 1.  Bam.  Long waits are now expected.  No worries.  We walked over to a few touristy stores and shopped (but mostly visited).

On our walk to the Wild West, Mallory & Chattie ran into a group of friends that work at the same place they do.  Mallory literally cannot go anywhere without seeing somebody she knows.  And if she doesn’t know someone, she’ll make a new friend.  (It’s a special talent, not shared by everybody, most especially me.)

Friends on the streets of West Yellowstone

Our fist stop was a Rock Shop. Our family has a running joke that we love rocks, but typically it is about the rocks found in large natural formations that you hike on.  However, this store had rocks galore, and it was a very neat store.  We spent a lot of time and several of our group made purchases.

The cashier, an older-than-us gentleman wearing an authentic cowboy hat saw Mallory’s shirt (it says OSU on it with a picture of the state) and told her “I like Oklahoma State.  Mostly because they’re not Oklahoma.”  We immediately made a friend, and he told us how back in the 1970s, his Utah State football team got run off the field by Oklahoma.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Mallory & Stephanie visit with the friendly cashier at the Rock Shop

After what we felt was plenty of time shopping, we made our way back to the Wild West and sampled their Montana beverages while we waited in the lobby.  The prediction of a 90 minute wait was pretty spot on, and we were given a nice corner booth where we devoured a couple of pizzas and continued catching up on their lives.

Cheers Montana, from Chattie & Steve!
Mallory, Marissa, Stephanie and Chattie at the Wild West Pizzeria. (Not in picture: the ginormous stuffed Bison head above our table)

We continued our conversation back in our motel room.  Thank goodness it is quite spacious and we were able to spread out.  We were all amused by the floodlight (not a joke) that is on the wall of the room.  This is the light that comes on when you flip on the light switch at the door.  Montana maybe has not heard about putting the lights on the ceiling yet?

Our room featuring the floodlight. Mallory was able to make shadow puppets on the opposite wall.

We let them go about 10pm because those poor two saps have to go to work in the morning.  We look forward to many more days of Mallory, Chattie, and the greater Yellowstone area!

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