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Seven Weeks In…

Where are we now in our nomad life?

Stephanie, blogging in Montana

We are seven weeks into our adventure. I write this sitting by the Yellowstone River in Montana. After about two weeks of wandering through Buffalo Bill State Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, we are taking a break, spending an afternoon to relax before we head off to our next destination. This is one of the things that we have learned during this trip: it’s important to not try to do everything and see everything. Patrick and I are not in our prime and we need some down time to rest and recharge. This is one of those afternoons.

Days on the road are busy and tiring days. We spend a lot of time exploring the sights to see around us and also just organizing our lives. Where we used to go to Costco once a week when we were in Cantley, we now do grocery trips every three days. We wash our laundry every four days. Where we once were able to quickly reheat leftovers for lunch at home, we now have to plan and make every meal for every day. Coming up with new and interesting lunch and dinner menus is challenging because we have to consider where we will be and what cooking methods we will have access to. Are we making a meal in a rest area where we have no heat or are we making a meal using our propane bbq or charcoal and fire? But those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear that I have found a way to make muffins and cookies in our tiny RV oven. I even once baked cupcakes in our oven when it was a blistering 30 degrees outside. Not my “coolest” idea but the cupcakes were appreciated. I am ready for when they do a reality cooking show about cooking in an RV! Guy Fieri, are you interested?

Our time in Buffalo State Park was beautiful. We saw mountain ranges from our window and the kids loved it when we drove through tunnels that were carved right in the mountains themselves. Our stay got overtaken by road life issues when we woke up one morning and found : (1) one of us had a skin rash that was acting up and (2) one of our tires had deflated which pointed to a slow leak. Whereas we had originally planned to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum, we decided to redirect our plans and focus on solving our two problems. Luckily, we were near the town of Cody and had access to a bunch of services. Cody was convenient, but it was a town which made us a little anxious. It prides itself on its history of cowboys and the wild west. Right outside our camping was an immense road sign which read something to the effect of: “In Cody, we hunt meat and wear fur – enjoy it. Signed, the Firearms Association”. The center of town had a fire range which invited folks to go in and shoot real guns and firearms. In the grocery store, the rack of cooking magazines faced an entire rack of magazines dedicated to firearms from hunting rifles to handguns. It shook us a little bit.

Making dinner, in Buffalo State Park

We were able to solve both issues in Cody. The rash is gone and the tire is fixed. The folks there were not as friendly as what we had experienced to now. Perhaps it is a remnant of the old wild west attitude, but not everyone was willing to lend a helping hand. Nevertheless, the scenery was beautiful.

We made our way to Yellowstone National Park where we spent five days. Would you believe that there are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features in Yellowstone?The four types of thermal features are geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Three quarters of the world’s geysers are found in Yellowstone.

Everywhere we looked, there were holes in the ground with steam coming up from them. We witnessed Old Faithful, which is called this way because scientists are able predict when it will erupt (approximately every 90 minutes). The water which comes out of the earth is filled with minerals which colours the ground and the rocks around it so that when you look at horizons, you see floors and plains of red, orange and yellow.We had never seen geysers and mudholes before and we were in awe. Funny thing: mudholes and fumaroles stink of farts!

Patrick looking at a hot spring

Yellowstone is the first national park which was established in the US back in 1872. It was quite visionary for President Ulysses S. Grant to recognize the importance of this natural space and to aim to preserve its animal and plant life. During its first decade, the park was under serious threat from those who exploited its resources. Poachers killed animals. Souvenir hunters broke large pieces of the geysers and hot springs. Developers set up camps for tourists near hot springs, along with bath and laundry facilities right in the hot springs. Not knowing how to handle the situation, park authorities turned to the US army for help. In 1886, the army set up camp in the park. They began what would be 32 years of military presence in Yellowstone. The army strengthened, posted, and enforced regulations in the park. They arrested poachers, evicted squatters and guarded the major attractions. They even built the infrastructure to allow visitors to enjoy

the park. We visited Fort Yellowstone which was the army base built to house the soldiers. Today, it houses the Forest Rangers and other professionals who work within the Park. It feels like someone plopped an old town square in the middle of the mountains. The main street is squeaky clean, the lawns are all freshly cut and there are American flag on each doorstep. If you have every seen the series Wayward Pines with Matt Dillon, this is what the town looked and felt like (minus the mutated monsters milling around the outer edge of the town!).

The sun rising over Yellowstone

The boys now have completed five Junior Ranger programs and they have five wooden badges to show for their efforts. They take it quite seriously. This is exactly the kind of educational experience we were hoping that they would live during our trip. It makes us quite proud when they hand in their completed booklets and swear their Junior Ranger oath.Perhaps one of them will become a Forst Ranger when they grow up and we will be able to visit them in Fort Yellowstone!

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