Another gorgeous drive took us even further North near Henry’s Lake, a spot about 15 miles outside of the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Tanks were filled and we were thoroughly scrubbed and showered and ready to go off grid and boondock again. Eric navigated us to some BLM land and we landed a jackpot site. The spot was definitely the most beautiful we’d stayed at to date. We couldn’t see or hear any neighbors and we had plenty of space to explore, scrounge up firewood and hang our hammocks. The temperature was a lightly breezy 70 degrees, partly shaded and very few mosquitoes. Ethan decided to chop a fallen aspen tree into small bits with the hatchet for wood to whittle and Joe quickly made his way into Eric’s hammock, claiming it as his spot.
Jillian, Gabe, me and for one round, eve Ethan, played gin rummy around the little outdoor table and relished in the beauty of our new location. Gabe was the big winner this time.
In addition to the hammock Joe decided was his, we have a two-person hammock, so the rest of us get to use that one.
After the kids all tucked in their bunks, Eric and I gazed at the stars, softly talking about how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of life. It really is incredible how many stars there are when a person is able to escape from most light pollution.
The next day we decided to be tourons. We drove through Yellowstone, enjoying the beautiful scenery, Eric happily sticking his head out the window like a dog.
We chose to see the geyser, Old Faithful, erupt. The kids are learning one of the values I want to instill. I always say, “let’s leave a place better than we found it” when it comes to trash. Without even being prompted or asked, sweet Jillian picked up a piece of trash and thew it away. The bear-proof box stumped her for a bit, but she got it. I was so proud. We stood around wagering when the next eruption would come. None of us had cell service there, so we were just guessing based off of hunch. Eric was won the wager. Most of us thought it was an amazing sight, Ethan said it was “meh”. Stinker.
On the way out, a Yellowstone employee was taking down the flag and Eric’s good American side had to go help. It was sweet and the employee appreciated it.
The drive through the park back to our campsite we saw a huge herd of buffalo grazing by the river. It was absolutely idyllic.
The next day, after I did a bit of work, we went on a hike. It was Jillian’s first hike and all of the kids ROCKED it. The trail started at some of the colorful thermal pools and led back into the heavily-mosquito-ed woods. It had said it was easy/moderate, but there were definitely a few parts that were intimidating for beginners. I was so proud of how well everyone did. When we got to the falls, we were happily rewarded. I felt like I was in a movie. Ethan, Joe and I went to the base of the falls where a hot spring met the falls and created hot tub pools. We soaked our feet for a few minutes and looked around at the splendor around us. I felt like I was in a fantasy movie scene. We went back to Eric, Gabe and Jill and ate our packed lunches.
Gabe was thrilled about the whole wheat bread on his sandwich so he left it on the ground. Squirrels quickly grabbed it and started chowing down. Joe was able to grab the bag back, but those little thieves got a nice little snack of pb&j!
On our way back to the parking lot, a pair of squirrels chased each other RIGHT next to my ear and I of course squeaked so everyone got to make fun of me the rest of the hike. I also found a sloth in a tree stump, do you see it?
Everyone was nice and tired from the hike and Gabe even took an uncomfortable looking little kid style nap in the car.
The next day Joe and Eric went fishing. The fishing licenses, along with almost everything in the Yellowstone are much more expensive. We were determined to fish our two paid for days. Although we did not catch any of the infamous HUGE trout, we did get to see a pretty spectacular sunset.