Boy was this the part full of adventure. We were so determined to get to WA that we didn't really veer off our set path. However, leaving WA we were so excited to have made it, and we didn't want our adventures to end. When we left Coeur d'Alene, we decided to drive 6 hours to Yellowstone National Park - this is one of my most favorite parks because the wildlife never ceases to awe me! We drove a back road (US 287) to West Yellowstone. It was a peaceful drive, we literally pulled off the road on a dirt side and ate lunch out of the back of the car.
We travel with lunch meat, cheeses, tortillas, bread, bagels, cereal, yogurt, etc., because we never know where we will be when we get hungry, and gluten free food is not always easily accessible. Sometimes, we get eggs and bacon from a fast food restaurant or a restaurant that doesn't have gluten free bread, then we will put it on our own and make breakfast sandwiches. I've learned so much about traveling gluten free since Alex was little, and life is much easier now because of places like Chik-fil-A who offer gf options for breakfast now. I will do a post on GF travel, so stay tuned. Anyway, I digress, but I love helping others, so combining GF education and traveling are 2 of my favorite things!
We enter through West Yellowstone and drive around Yellowstone Lake - which if you haven't seen it, you should. This is just a beautiful drive, and a massive, beautiful lake. Yellowstone National Park has so much beauty to offer - from wildlife (birds, elk, deer, buffalo, bears...etc), to lakes, geysers, hot springs, and beautiful flora and fauna. Even though we weren't staying in the park (no accommodations of any kind available), being so near we could not help but appreciate the chance to drive through. As always, we were not disappointed, and because of COVID-19 there were not quite as many people on the roads. As we neared the east side of the park, we saw a bunch of cars (this is always a sign to not questions, just pull over) so pulled over. There was a mama bear and her cub playing down the hill. What a cool thing to see with the "bare" eye. As they went beyond our sight, we drove around the bend, parked again, and continued watching them play. Just such a neat opportunity, left me feeling blessed and grateful for taking the detour, leaving room for adventure, and for always embracing the fact that the journey is always an adventure - not a means to an end.
We headed out of the park feeling fantastic, it's always such a high to witness nature in the wild! Outside of the park, we found a little side rest stop beside a river, so we stopped to make dinner - canned chicken breast, mixed with Sweet Baby Ray's, on bread, oh, and with cheese slices (because we LOVE cheese!).
It was such a peaceful spot. Of course, Alex went down to the water - it's his thing to put his hands in any water he can. We talked, walked around, ate our sandwiches, and I figured out that we'd drive in to Cody, WY to find a place to sleep. This is about a 52 mile drive. The sun sets late out west, so I'm guessing we finished eating and started driving around 7:00 pm. 20 miles before Cody a deer jumped out and hit the side of our car. Alex's side. I pulled over (we were the only vehicle on the road. The deer took out the side mirror, smashed up the back rear door, and scared the hell out of both of us. The deer got up, shook itself, and began eating grass. This was a 1st for me. Alex had been playing a game and definitely didn't see that coming. I was not speeding. In fact, I was driving very cautiously because I have NEVER seen so many deer as I did on this trip. It was dusk, so I knew there would be wildlife. As I reversed on the side of the road, she ran up the hill. I went and picked up pieces out of the road, shaking like a leaf, trying to compose myself because: a. rental; b. only adult; c. what now? Here comes a pickup truck, pulls over as I'm putting the pieces in the backseat, and one of the 2 cowboys steps out, but stays behind the passenger door, and kindly asks if I need help, what happened, and if I'm okay. I tell them what happened, I'm okay, and thank them. As they drive away, I get in and cry, Alex hugs me, I shake it off and drive into Cody while calling Meghan and Wolf and asking him what to do (he's in insurance). We find the Big Bear Motel, I go check in, and share my story with the owner and a cowboy sitting in there. While telling me about the soda vending machine, I laugh and ask if there's a Jack Daniels vending machine, and the guy tells me there is a liquor store with a drive through that has "to go frozen drinks". If Alex is okay with it, I said I'd go. They tell me across the street is a Wendy's. DONE. Alex gets a frosty, mom gets a frozen drink, and back to the motel we go. The next morning pictures are taken, I put on my big girl panties and call the car company, find out there is nothing we can do until we get to a bigger city (Sioux Falls, SD) to trade the vehicle. It's a Saturday, I'm informed that I'm in the middle of nowhere (really?? didn't notice), but the car is driveable.
Two options are available to me: 1. Suck it up, enjoy the rest of my trip; 2. Cry and trip is ruined. If you know me, you know Option 1. Always, Option 1. So off we go to the next step in our journey. A little battered, a little road shy, but ready for anything! This t-shirt I bought at Mt. Rainier says it all, so I wore it to remind myself all day that I was going to be present and not dwell on the negative!
My next post will be on the rest of the journey - SD is amazing and we started at Mt. Rushmore. Thank you for being here, join me on the rest of our adventure.