Good Morning America!
Let’s go back to the east coast for a moment before we leap into Yellowstone.
In Maryland, after Eli’s Big Day, we helped him pack some of his things into our already crammed RV and into his black Honda with Maryland plates. Eli is leaving Maryland and he will be going to his new job in The Netherlands at the end of October, where his girlfriend Lisa is already enrolled in school! Hooray for Lisa and Eli!! Getting the overloaded RV and Eli’s car back to Oregon is the goal so the four of us (Jolynn, Ken, Eli and I) headed west on I-90. Ken, Eli and I shared the driving of the Honda and Jolynn, of course, drove the RV.
It was a grueling ride on I-90, pushing the limit with exhaustion and patience. Jolynn topped the charts with a 13 hour day of driving that bordered on insanity but we were behind schedule and we had to make up lost time in order to meet Christy at the airport on Tuesday in Wyoming. In Chicago we had a little incident that forever will be referred to as “remember Chicago”. I was driving the Honda and I was trying to closely follow Jolynn, Ken & Eli in the RV on the 10 lane freeway through the city. Suddenly, the RV took an exit from the fast lane and I tried to follow, crossing lanes of traffic, going 65 miles/hour. We ended up in Chinatown doing U-turns and then we were back on the freeway going back east; we crossed over the same toll bridge 3 times (at $3.50/vehicle) and at some point as we went through the tollbooth, I lost the Empire State building on wheels. Separately, we both got off at seedy exits that sent a vein of fear through our already rapidly beating hearts. Ken, sitting in the passenger seat of the RV, could hear my screaming voice in Jolynn’s cell phone without the speaker on…I was terrified and I was lost! Twenty long minutes later, we met up at a service plaza just north of Chicago, re-grouped, had lunch and calmed down. We hadn’t had that much excitement since Jolynn was flailing her arms around on Manchester Blvd in San Elijo.
Eli & Ken zipped ahead of us in an effort to get to the airport in Cody while Jolynn and I tried to keep up. The wind was the top weather story and Jolynn had to really work hard to keep the big rig in her lane. After being blown nearly off the highway, we pulled into a KOA campground somewhere in South Dakota. Jolynn saw the “closed for the season” sign but she didn’t tell me about it and we proceeded to camp there. Luckily, the electric and water were still working and we left a check in the mailbox.
South Dakota now tops my “Never Go Back” list. In the deserted campground while Jolynn was unplugging the coach, I took the three sweet dogs for their morning walk in what seemed like a perfectly beautiful, leaf-covered place to walk. In a hurry to get on the road, I quickly loaded up the dogs and we got back on the road. A few hours later when we stopped for gas, the dogs were reluctant to get out of the RV but I insisted because I only had a few minutes to walk them while Jolynn was pumping diesel. When all 3 dogs refused to walk, I looked closely at their paws and saw that their paws, their bellies, their chests and their tails were covered in thorns! They must have picked up the stickers at the morning’s reststop but none of them even whimpered. These particular stickers were not your normal annoying burrs. These little suckers were stickers from hell! They were round with the sharpest, the very sharpest, needle thorns that we’ve ever experienced. It took both of us and a pair of scissors to get them all out. The dogs were yelping, we were yelping….the thorns were painful! Meanwhile, the screen door on the RV was left innocently open while we de-thorned each dog at the gas station. When we pulled out the last evil little thorn, we noticed that there was a pack of biting flies inside the RV. Ugh. I get shivers just remembering the experience. Not only were there way too many flies in our home on wheels, but the there was a swarm of flies on the windshield trying to get in to bite us. It was like being in a black and white segment of The Twilight Zone. I started batting the flies, using a few cuss words, and that scared Bear – he’s a fragile little guy. He climbed under Jolynn’s legs next to the brake and gas pedals while she was barreling down the highway and he curled up directly on the button that makes the big truck horn sound off. I’m trying to swat killer flies, the extremely loud horn is deafening our ears and we are zooming down South Dakota highway. I tried to coax the little guy out from under the steering wheel but he wouldn’t budge. Jolynn had to pull over and we took a few minutes on the side of the road to cuddle our dogs and ourselves . It’s been a long 5 weeks………..
Wyoming was desolate and barren and windy. Somewhere in the vast nothingness of Wyoming, a wind gust blew the fridge roof cover off, pulled the screws right out of the roof. Great. Now if it rains, water will destroy the fridge. While we worried about that possibility, I used my phone to research the upcoming mountain passes that go into Cody, Wyoming. The pass we were headed for was written about on an RV site as being treacherous and the author said something like “if you take this pass, expect to do a swan dive over the edge into the canyon below”. We changed courses. Like pioneers, we found a bypass through the mountains that ended up at the northeast entrance to Yellowstone.
At the gate to the northeast entrance, a friendly female ranger greeted us with “Are you Jolynn?”. Ken and Eli had made it to Cody to pick up Christy and he left us a note at the gate. Cell phone reception was not happening. Yellowstone was an oasis of beauty and peace. The rest of the day was spent driving around the park, pulling off when we wanted to and basking in the magnificence of it all. The many pictures that I will send you immediately after posting this blog will share only a glimpse of our travel in this astounding park.
Just as we arrived and started to hook up at the RV park in Gardner, Montana (right outside the North entrance), Ken, Christy and Eli knocked on our door. We shared our sightseeing stories over a bottle of Oregon Pinot and they told us about seeing a dead bear in the back of a ranger’s truck. In the morning (Thursday) we all headed out for our big day of sightseeing together in the incredible Yellowstone country. Jolynn dodged bison on the road, driving the big rig around all the curves, rivers, waterfalls and geysers. Christy drove the Honda and we took turns jumping in and out of the RV and the Honda. At the Old Faithful geyser and lodge, we fired up the propane stove in the RV and had lunch in the parking lot. We had a fabulous day in the park together and we landed in West Yellowstone at the Grizzley RV Park on our last night, telling stories and laughing about our fear of bears. We were laughing about our fear of bears but actually, we were a little scared, especially when we went to the restroom in the camp and read about “recent” bear activity in the campground. In the morning, we learned that a bear does, indeed, hang out at this very site and still chuckling about it, we promptly packed up and left Yellowstone.
Idaho is almost home. Somewhere east of Pocatello Jolynn pulled into an RV dealership and bought a new cover for the fridge. While we camped out in the parking lot of the dealership for several hours, making lunch and enjoying the sunshine, Ken and Jolynn climbed up on the roof and installed the new cover over the fridge. This might actually be the very last repair on this trip.
Will we make it home without any more RV issues? How soon will we make another cross country trip in a 36’ RV? Will the three dogs ever trust us again?
I can’t say I’ll keep you posted because this is my last blog.
We will not miss the ants, the flies, the stickers, the flood, the smoke coming from the dashboard, the wind whipping parcels off the roof, the weirdos in reststops and the hours and hours at the steering wheel.
We already MISS all of the wonderful, wonderful people we visited on our mega-trip! We will miss the beautiful, unusual landscapes. We will miss Ken’s oatmeal breakfasts. We will miss Christy’s dinners. We will miss Eli’s playfulness with the dogs on the sofa of the RV. We will miss the adventure of it all. I will miss posting this blog.
Thank you for all of your great, funny, caring feedback and thank you for sharing this amazingly wonderful, sometimes frustrating, thoroughly enlightening trip with us!!Toto, there really is no place home! OREEGone (as my Erie friends say), here we come!