I slept amazingly well considering I was on bear alert and a little on edge. I waited for daylight so I could go across to the restrooms to get cleaned up and ready for the day. I was hyper-vigilant walking on the path through the bushes and carried my pepper/mace spray in the ready position. With my quick reflexes and physical acuity I’m sure if I ever had to press the nozzle of the mace it would be pointed in the wrong direction and I’d get it in the face instead of the bear. At least I wouldn’t be able to see him eating me.
I was reluctant to leave the grandeur of the bay but will savor the beauty and plan to return to Grand Teton National Park as a destination with my sister, hopefully, next year.
Yellowstone National Park is only 18 miles up the road from Coulter Bay Campground. That was a pleasant surprise and, again, I saved the $30 entrance fee thanks to my Senior Pass. My plan was to visit Yellowstone then head north to Glacier National Park but cell reception in the Tetons had been patchy to non-existent. I even had trouble with my GPS so I’m a little anxious about driving to Glacier on secondary roads without any type of cell service in case of emergencies. A girl’s got to be careful and aware when traveling alone, especially if she can’t call Geico or dial 911 if she’s in trouble. I decided to not think about it until I finished at Yellowstone, having already established a beautiful alternate route to Seattle if needed.
On the way to Yellowstone I passed the Continental Divide for the first time this trip. An elevation of 7,988 feet may not seem like much to most people, but I’m from Florida where the elevation of my home is 6 feet. I checked Wikipedia for a refresher on the “Continantal Divide” since it’s been about 100 years since my last geography class. If you’re interested, America’s Continental Divide:
“is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. The Continental Divide extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including those that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) and, along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean.
Of course my first stop in Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful. I only had to wait about 10 minutes for its eruption and it looked exactly like the old newsreels and pictures you’ve seen. What made it especially exciting were the hundreds of people from all over the world waiting with me and the “oohs” and “aahs” as the geyser took off. I stopped in the Travel Center to get my National Parks Passbook stamped, wrote some postcards to the grandkids and continued my exploration.
So I moseyed and meandered through Yellowstone for a couple of hours observing waterfalls, geysers and hot springs. So beautiful. It’s funny … I packed my clothes and equipment for kayaking and hiking adventures but my heart led me to continue driving and exploring, observing the beauty around me. I entered Yellowstone from Wyoming and exited the park to West Yellowstone, Montana. I had a late lunch at the Bullwinkle Saloon. An adorable restaurant but $18 for a cheeseburger? Oh wait, that included a Blue Moon and the tip. I finally had a wi-fi connection so I called home to let everyone know I was OK, caught up with emails and messages. Wait, maybe I had two Blue Moons. OK, $18 isn’t so bad. I checked my Allstays app (don’t leave home without it) and my atlas and decided it would be foolhardy to attempt Glacier National Park this trip. I did not feel prepared or comfortable continuing without cell service or warmer clothes that were stored in my rooftop carrier and I’d rather be beaten than try to get the duffel down from there after the fiasco with my kayak. So, on to Plan B – just keep driving west.
I passed through Billings and Bozeman looking for a place to stay and finally gave up and decided to boondock at a WalMart in Butte, Montana. I had a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant and spent a comfortable night tucked away between two giant RV units. Unfortunately, I parked under a security light and gave up a little bit of comfort for the safety of the big boys parked on either side of me. It was a long day filled with wonders.