West Yellowstone, MT

West Yellowstone. I don’t really have that much to say about West Yellowstone. With a population of a little over 1300 its sole existence is to provide housing, food, and a variety of moose embroidered souvenirs to the thousands of tourists that enter Yellowstone National Park through its West Entrance. We were two of those thousands of tourists and for two weeks Boat resided in a small RV park in the parking lot of the IMAX, walking distance to everything—because everything is in walking distance. Thanks to the small grocery store with a surprisingly bountiful array of soup bones and short ribs, food was a steady diet of home-brewed soups (though their BBQ, Mexican, and pizza were pretty memorable). And we skipped the souvenirs; we live in a trailer.

What we didn’t buy in novelty T-shirts, we made up for with three minor life events:

  1. We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Happy two, babe!

  2. We started running. It took a town so boring to finally get the two of us out the door (separately, and for a jog of 1 mile). And since I’m writing this a few months later I can say that running has been the best addition to Boat life. Oh, and our distance has increased to a respectable length, thankfully.

  3. We had our first “gotcha”. When we decided on trailer life, I researched what surprise “gotchas” might be in store for us. There were some obvious - frustrations in learning how to handle the rig, adjusting to a smaller space, compromising personal privacy - but the most insightful was to prepare for the most mundane habit of your partner to annoy you in a way not yet imaginable. Almost 6 months in and we hadn’t yet found that thing. And then, one day, I heard it. For lunch, Pete went ahead and reheated some leftover rice and mapo tofu - a frequent leftover in this house, nothing out of the ordinary. I politely decline a bite and he sits down to enjoy his meal. I watch him - No, mouth isn’t open, no clanging of utensils, how can I hear him swallowing?! Why is it so loud?! It was the most excruciating ten minutes listening to him munch on wet, soft, rice/pork/tofu mixture. And immediately after I say “So, you know that thing that will annoy us in the trailer one day? I found it.”  Pete replies “It’s the chewing, right? Yeah, I’ve hated your mini-wheat chomping breakfast since day one.” Alright, then. Carry on.

Yellowstone. There’s lots to say about Yellowstone! So much nature, so much science! We had five full days in the park which led to plenty of exploration, plenty of learnings, and plenty of lazy afternoons as we only have so many learning hours in our day.

  • Grand Prismatic Spring - Our normal 7am adventure time is no good in a park where you need to wait until early afternoon for the steam to dissipate from its hot springs. Still memorable, though we never did make it back for the better view and bigger crowds.

  • Boiling River - It’s boilin’!

  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - Picturesque, for sure. Why you compare yourself to THE Grand Canyon, unsure.

  • Hayden Valley - Seven miles hiking Mary Mountain Trail guessing rock or bison. Rock, 15. Bison, 2. We spent a few minutes listening to the wolves howling in the forest —otherworldly and beyond eerie. Absolutely made our skin crawl.

  • Lamar Valley - All the bison! Seriously, all of them. And, fun fact, there are no “true” buffalo in North America. Just bison. Frauds.

  • Old Faithful - Ol’ Faithful was a little late to the party. Great people watching.

  • Mammoth Hot Springs - Geo-thermal-bacterial-science-activity-travertine-terraces-of-crystallized-calcium-carbonate…

  • Morning Glory Pool - A vibrant reminder of how human interference can cause permanent damage.


Things we miss:

Sam misses huckleberry jam shortbread cookies.

Pete misses farmer’s market squash blossoms.

Dog misses rich, succulent, western Montana grass.

Things we love:

Sam loves homemade Japanese beef bowls.

Pete loves homemade short-rib pho.

Dog loves long-leash park time.

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