Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Wyoming

Four years ago DB saw a 4-part BBC documentary about Yellowstone National Park and decided that she had to go there so when planning this trip last year. Yellowstone was decided as a “must-visit with no excuses” park. Currently in the US it is the height of summer and families are making the most of school holidays so all the national parks are chocka-block full of SUVs, RVs and Harleys with all sensible accommodation booked out months ago. It didn’t matter because since Yellowstone is one of those amazing places we decided early on that we would camp there – despite our camping history. The weather was predicted to be perfect, we were pretty well rested and had good camping gear so ambitiously booked a tent site for three nights – but more on the Team Berg camping adventures in Yellowstone later.

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We crossed the State border into Montana with a heavy heart. Our time in the US is nearly over, Montana is the last state before we cross the border into Canada and fly back home. Don’t get us wrong, we can’t wait to go back home, sleep on our bed and even get back into work…but leaving the US is hard. We have become so used to living day to day with an open mind, a sense of adventure, not sure what may come and who we will meet. As mentioned before one of the best parts of this trip is all the lovely people we meet. We both love having a chat to who ever comes up to us young or old, at a petrol station or a cafe – Americans just warm our hearts and inspire us each and every day as does the amazing landscape we travel through.

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While we were heading towards Yellowstone and started looking closer into the details of the park (http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm), we realised that the park is actually in Wyoming (not Montana) and there is also Grand Teton right next door (http://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm) and couldn’t be missed. Our first stop was Grand Teton. Sadly due to heavy haze the Rocky Mountains that frame this national park were obscured, a couple of days later we learnt that the haze is caused by heavy industry in the state of Montana and according to the EPA would take hundreds of years to clear. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/regulators-sign-rule-to-cut-haze-in-big-sky-country-montana-plant-faces-83m-in-capital-costs/2012/08/16/4e009d98-e7d3-11e1-9739-eef99c5fb285_story.html. CB was suffering a cold and didn’t have the energy to do much walking so we decided to hire a motorboat and explore the main lake of the park since there were reports of bears, otters and other wildlife. So off we went in our wee boat exploring the lake – sadly we only saw two deer and loads of humans kayaking. Nevertheless it provided us a closer look at the mountains through the haze.

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Next we packed up and headed into Yellowstone for three nights of camping. We managed to get a site close to the showers and thought we were really lucky until we rode up to our site…the site was located on the side of a hill. Well, it could be worse – at least there was no rain predicted – so we pitched our tent and went looking for some food. We returned to our camp to find the neighbour to our left had started a smoky fire and the neighbour to our right had cranked up his diesel generator to charge his mobile phone and laptop! CB was fast developing a headache…After commenting on the noise, the neighbour quickly quoted the camp rules that allow generators until 8pm… (and we thought camping is is all about the serenity and all). On top of that, as the sun set more and more campers started their fires giving DB a headache. By 10pm the temperature dropped dramatically so we snuggled into our sleeping bags and then the nightmare started. Since we were sleeping on the slope of a hill DB kept sliding down and off her Thermarest the whole night. She kept wiggling up the hill cocooned in her sleeping bag only to slide down a few minutes later. Next morning we woke up to more smokey fires and people frying up breakfast. Needless to say DB was a very cranky camper.

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We rode to the famous cone geyser Old Faithful considered the most predictable geological feature in the world erupting every 90 minutes (+/- 10) ejecting thousands of litres of water and lasting about 5 minutes. We didn’t expect Old Faithful to be as spectacular as it was and ended up waiting to see a second eruption. We then continued around the geothermal fields in the area which was much bigger and more dramatic than we expected. (We also learned that about half of the worlds active geysers are here in Yellowstone). Unenthusiastically we returned to our campsite that evening but to our pleasant surprise we had new neighbours – a father and his three gorgeous kids on a road trip. After sharing the American staple campsite snack of s’mores (toasted marshmallows with chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers) with our new neighbours and trading life stories we went to bed hoping that the new strategy of putting a towel under our sleeping blankets will reduce sliding down the hill. It worked! But the night got colder this time dropping to about 0 degrees Celsius. Around 5am CB had enough:

 

CB “Dilu…Dilu…are you awake?”
DB “hmmm…mmmm…mama”
CB “I am so cold…are you cold?”
DB – no answer. CB grabs his motorbike jacket and raincoat to cover up more, “I think I am over camping…”
DB “what, say that again?”
CB “This sucks, I’m over it, let’s go…check into a hotel…i need to sleep in a bed…watch some TV…be warm…sniff, sniff…my hips hurt”

 

And there you have it – after sharing breakfast with our kind new neighbours we packed up our tent and within the hour left vowing never to camp again. By 6pm that evening Team Berg checked into the Wingate Hotel in Helena, MT enjoying a soft fluffy towels, a comfy king bed, WIFI and cable TV…

 

On the next Team Berg adventure we head over to our last stop in the USA, Glacier National Park (and no more camping… for a while at least).

 

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