In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Wednesday, July 14

10:15 Left Clubhouse Inn in Billings, MT. Headed west toward Yellowstone. Ahead are beautiful snow capped mountains.

11:45 Spotted white pelicans flying above us.

12:10 Stopped for gas in Livingston, MT. Nearby the beautiful foothills of the mountains are littered with “ranchettes.” The hills are blanketed with a profusion of wildflowers, especially purple lupine.

1:00 Stopped in Bozeman, MT. Walked around for a while and finally had a good lunch at the Cat’s Eye CafĂ©. Bozeman lived up to its reputation as a nice, lively town.

2:15 Stopped at a Safeway in Bozeman for groceries.

4:01 Entered Yellowstone National Park.

4:21 Leave Yellowstone National Park.

4:50 After hunting for a room for a while, checked into the Yellowstone Park Hotel.

5:30 Entered Yellowstone Park

5:43 Encountered traffic jam caused by baby elk. Glad we weren’t going the other way because the elk jam going that direction stretched out for at least a mile.

6:00 Encounter a buffalo jam when we see a bull buffalo casually strolling down the road, demonstrating that he was the boss here. Tons of tourists leaned from their cars to photograph him.

6:05 Take the Firehole Canyon Drive. See lots of people swimming in the river. It looks like a good thing to do.

6:15 Take a walk through the Lower Geyser Basin and see lots of thermal features. Our favorite was a mud pool that bubbled in a comical way.

6:45 Take a drive through the Firehole Canyon Drive and see more geysers. I was able to make one erupt by chanting, “Geyser, geyser, glowing white. Won’t you blow your top tonight?” Lark wondered if there are geysers, shouldn’t there also be girlsers?

7:45 Returned to West Yellowstone after enduring buffalo and elk jams. Had a very satisfactory dinner at Wild West Pizza. There was a bit of a wait to get in, but the pizza was good. So was the beer.

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