Big Kid Miracles Jun28

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Big Kid Miracles

We felt like two pony-tailed Dorothy’s. Our house on wheels couldn’t have been much bigger than hers, right? We hadn’t had any run in with a mean lady on a bike with a dog in a basket that morning, but the sky looked no less movie-quality stormy. We kept driving right toward the darkness, all the while sorta looking out the corners of our eyes for the flying monkeys.

It didn’t start out that way. Our Grand Teton storm front had moved on, so we left the Teton Valley that morning under a robin’s egg blue sky, falling more and more in love with the southeastern corner of Idaho. Hwy 33 was our way out of Victor and then Hwy 32 passed us through towns called Felt and Lamont and some of the most beautiful farm land I’ve ever seen in my life. The brightest green rolled along for miles up and down soft hills, like a huge billowing flag had been laid out on the ground so it could bounce the sun up and down in its ripples. And the rivers! I’m simply out of adjectives. I’ll work on that before we get to the Yellowstone part.

However, by the time we reached Ashton and started north on Hwy 20 we found ourselves headed right into a new storm front. Enter the two Dorothy’s. Ali was driving that leg and I was over in the passenger seat actually smiling and joking about the sky at that point. I’d simply never seen anything like it, so it begged a moment of brave disbelief. We’d been through some weather by this point in our travels. We’d been blown around by big wind, pelted by rain, and snowed on, but this? The land was so flat right then that the sky was as big as it could possibly be. Imagine a 180 degree horizon chock-full of menacing clouds puffing their chests out, gathering themselves in an almost a cartoonish blackness. It couldn’t be a tornado, could it?

Ali and I joked about it a little more, the rising anxiety making minor hairline cracks in our bravado, right up until that first thunderous sheet of rain hit our windshield. Holy hell that was rain. Super Rain. Rain on a mission. Rain that pushed the elemental boundaries of water. It was like trying to drive under Niagara Falls and believe me when I say that. We actually could have benefited from those yellow rain suits since rain started leaking through the door seals and dripping all over us. If I hadn’t been so fidgety and obsessed with trying to be heavy so that we wouldn’t hydroplane, I might have spent a second feeling sorry for the windshield wipers. There was just no speed they could hit that would have beat that rain. Intrepid Ali was only holding her lane by following the faint pink spots of light from the taillights of the car in front of us.

But like our other driving-through-storm experiences, we came out the other side in relatively quick order into a drippy, wet, grey-green countryside. It wasn’t long after, that we traded out our rolling farmland for dense forest and a few shy bits of sunshine. The highway finally turned east and after we spent about 20 minutes in Montana, we hit the West Entrance and landed ourselves at the Madison campground in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

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This was going to be another dry camping experience, no power, no water, and no sewer, but we’d learned from our practice run in Dinosaur and stocked up appropriately. We were fully prepared for our 4 night stay in Yellowstone, full fridge, full tank of fresh water, 2 big jugs of bottled water, full propane tank, mostly full gas tank (to run the generator) and empty black and grey water tanks. What we weren’t quite ready for was how un-level our site was.

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We carry around 14 of these bright orange, 6 X 6 plastic squares (“blocks” in rig lingo) that fit together like Legos in stacks or pyramids if you need to drive up onto them. Most often we’ve used between 3-6 of them under various tires to address minor tilts. Campgrounds do try to create basically level pads, so up until then our 14 blocks had been plenty to have on hand, but this was a serious slope. The bubble was “completely out of the box”. That’s level speak for we’re gonna need a lot of the orange things. It took about 20 minutes, every block we had and 5 different attempted strategies for stacking the pyramid to get maximum height, which meant 5 drive ups and 4 back downs to finally get mostly level. It’s common for people to walk around the campground and look at other RVs and toys, so we’re used to being looked at. But I SWEAR to you, everyone who passed by that week was gawking at the ginormous, precarious, orange pyramid under our right front tire.

We rallied right away after the block workout and there was plenty of day light left, so we put on all our gear to take the scooter into the park for the afternoon. We bundled up for potential rain since there were still clouds off in the distance. If there’s anything we’ve learned on this trip, it’s that rain shouldn’t ever be a deal breaker on your fun. When you love the outdoors, you have to deal its weather! I used my new, totally cool method to climb on the back of the scooter (learned by watching a chap-wearing chick get up behind her Harley dude at a gas station), wrapped my arms around Ali and we headed south towards Old Faithful.

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On the way in from the entrance to the campground in the RV we’d seen gorgeous fields dotted with bison followed big beautiful rivers, so we were plenty impressed with Yellowstone so far, but we hadn’t seen any of the hydro-thermal features of the park yet. So when we passed the billowing steam of our first impossibly blue hot spring right before the turn out area for Lower Geyser Basin, I squealed like a kid.

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We wandered along the boardwalks through the geysers and mud pots in a state of wow, passing through clouds of magical steam. It started raining, but we didn’t really notice, we were too busy chattering back and forth about all the colors and smells and bubbling soupy stuff.

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After Lower Geyser Basin we stopped at Biscuit Basin and then headed on just a little bit more south to Old Faithful. We timed our visit perfectly, just enough time to make a loop on the trail around the big geyser and then join the gathering crowd on the benches to wait for it to blow.

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All of us lived the beginning of our lives being wowed by newness. As babies we could spend hours touching our mom’s face, watching a dog breathe, or banging a spatula on a table, everything was an absolute miracle. Gradually we see it all, spatulas are just spatulas and our lives slip into a groove that makes new things a rarity. Or at least we have to work much harder to perceive things as new. Ali and I have certainly pried ourselves out of the groove and we’re throwing ourselves in the way of newness as often as we can, but I didn’t quite expect miracles again.

Psst! Yellowstone has miracles for big kids!