Day Seven: Bozeman

Our original plans called for us to leave today, but the 1-2 feet of snow that arrived in Denver this week has closed several roads. Currently, parts of I-25 in Wyoming are still closed (roads in red are closed). Tomorrow is Halloween, so we will need to stay here for the holiday or risk getting stranded in Wyoming.

This is definitely a good place to be trapped. We spent the day in Bozeman again, finding another great restaurant, Mackenzie River Pizza Company. Then the kids did the downtown trick or treating. Melina dressed up as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, and Maile as a geisha. We went to the movie This Is It before heading back to Big Sky for the night.
There sure are a lot of men here, living the rugged outdoor life of Montana. I caught a few signs of Brokeback in downtown Bozeman.
  

Day Five: Bozeman

In the morning, we toured Ophir School, and the kids were even able to sit in on class for an hour. And they played with the kids at recess, without any of the snowfort fights that can break out. I like that they play outside as long as the temperature is above 0 degrees, just like my school days. Hatton has quite a studio for movie production, teaching the middle and high school kids.

After school, we drove the one hour to get back to Bozeman to see more. Lunch was at the Naked Noodle again, and we spent the afternoon at Wild Joe’s Coffee and a great local bookstore, the Country Bookshelf.

That night, I went to yoga with Hatton and her friends, then met for dinner. I never expected this Big Sky yoga class to be my first with more men than women, but it was. One guy was just hunting yesterday, and now practicing his breathing one day after an antelope kill. Another wore Hawaiian board shorts. This is definitely yoga that welcomes common folk, without pretenses and unwritten fashion requirements. This must be the way to attract a wider group to yoga. And the Vinyasa style was just like what I’m used to in Denver, so the practice did not sacrifice anything to get there.

At dinner, I learned about the Yellowstone Club, a private ski club in the area. For entry to the club, you must buy property on site, which starts at $1.5 million for a condo. Then, the entrance fee is $200,000, plus $50,000 in annual costs. All this to get access to private skiing, where even the employees are only allowed to ski six times per year. The super wealthy live quite a different life.

Day Four: Yellowstone Again

This is likely the last day of above 40 degrees weather, so we attempted to make the entire loop through the park today, including Yellowstone Lake and the other areas. But we were stymied with 5 inches of overnight snow that closed the only road through the loop. Rather than wait for it to open, we looked for (and found) more wildlife, and ran through the bridges over the waterfalls. We found a buffalo ambling along the road, and quickly stopped for a photo.

The steam produced this incredible shot of Maile running across the bridge.

Day Three: Yellowstone

Its a one hour drive to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, and we spend the day there, driving through the park and hiking. The Old Faithful geyser erupts approximately every 90 minutes and arrived just in time for the 11:51 am show. 


 


We drove past coyotes and bison, but never saw a bear or moose. We were looking on our five mile hike to Lone Star Geyser too, but enjoyed a nice flat walk there. Lone Star erupts every three hours, and again we timed it perfectly and saw that one erupt, too. We remembered our bear spray but didn’t need it. Reading the local Bozeman Daily Chronicle, we learned about the importance of leaving “gut piles” away from the trail, to prevent bear attacks like this one.


It took all afternoon to finish the hike, so went back to Big Sky for the night, just seeing the west side of the park. It was the last week the park was open, so the city of West Yellowstone was a ghost town, many shops closed. On November 1, the roads close to let the snow accumulate for the winter snowmobiling.


It was a good amount of driving, but with some wildlife sightings and exercise on the trail.


 

Before leaving, the girls completed their homework and watched the park video to earn their Junior Ranger badges.


junior ranger patches


Day Two: Arriving in Big Sky

After swimming in the historic pool, we left Sheridan in much better weather. Having never been to Montana before, we were pleasantly surprised as the drive took us through downtown Bozeman. We expected the incredible outdoors, but not cool cities like this. Yelp directed us to Naked Noodle for dinner, and a walk around downtown.

After coffee across the street at the Leaf and Bean, we drove the last hour through the valley to Big Sky. Already, we’ve found a place to return to, a little Boulder hidden in Montana.

Montana for Fall Break

We stayed an extra day in Denver for Melina’s soccer game, a 1-1 tie in which they scored their first goal! That makes 3 losses and 2 ties so far in their first season of competitive play.

The car was packed and we left for Sheridan, Wyoming, where we would stay our first night. I drove the U Haul with Hatton’s furniture we were delivered, which got a whopping 4.3 miles per gallon through very windy Wyoming. Later, it peaked to 11 miles per gallon.

I had the perfect audio book for the trip, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. As we drove through Cheyenne, he wrote of his adventures heading west from New York, with details of Denver, Cheyenne, and western Nebraska.

We stayed in the Trail’s End Motel in Sheridan, which claims to have the oldest indoor pool in Wyoming. A little history so early in our trip.