Monday, July 15, 2013

Yellowstone Trip! Days 1 & 2: On The Road

Early last Saturday morning, I woke up really early to do some last minute packing and to get ready for the road trip that day. I packed the essentials I didn't pack the night before, because I needed them. I got dressed in comfy clothes, made sure I had everything. The day before, my mom bought me a huge, pink, duffle-bag suitcase, and I was really excited to use it! I packed a ton of clothes, and I left my dresser overflowing with clothes still. I have a tendency to over pack. I organized my snacks, and put my road bag together. My mom ended up having to go to the store that morning, and buy my sister and I USB cords for our phones so that they could charge. Our chargers were getting to be frayed and somewhat dangerous to use, so we had to grab new ones. Once my mom came back, we were basically ready to go. We packed up all the stuff in the car, hugged my parents good bye, and we were on our way. 
My grandma, my grandpa, my sister and I were on our way to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We went by way of the Columbia River Highway, and for miles and miles, beautiful, sparkling Columbia river was seen. We stopped by Biggs Junction in Oregon to grab some gas and use the facilities. I have never actually been to Biggs Junction, but have only seen the sign for it on the way home from Sunriver. This time, we actually had the chance to stop by! It's cool having a town that's your last name, Biggs. 
We drove into Washington, and were headed to Kennewick, Washington so we could grab a bite to eat. While we were passing over the Columbia River in Washington, we had to go on a periwinkle bridge. It was very pretty, and I tried to capture the periwinkle color, I did my best. 
We stopped by Panda Express and ate, then we kept driving to Idaho. I didn't bother to get a picture of the  "Welcome to Idaho" sign, since I got it last year. Coeur d'Alene is a small, tourist town. We arrived at our hotel, the AmeriTel inn, which was pretty nice, we checked in, cleaned up after the car ride, and headed out to scope the town and grab some dinner. Most everything there closes at 6 o'clock PM. It was around 7 o'clock that we went out to discover what this town was about... apparently nothing. We went to eat at Shari's, which was open 24 hours, and right next door to our hotel. After we ate, we walked around the neighborhoods, and went back to the hotel. Brittney and I went back to the room while my grandparents looked around the hotel some more. I was tired, and we wanted to start getting ready for bed. When my grandparents came back, we watched Bones while trying to fall asleep. 

It was hard to go to sleep in a new place. I always have the hardest time trying to fall asleep. I finally did, and kept waking up every two hours. It felt like I had hardly gotten any sleep at all! 

When morning finally arrived, it was a relief. It wasn't a completely miserable night, but it was enough to make me anxious for morning. We got ready to go to breakfast, and it was worth the barely tolerable night. AmeriTel's complimentary breakfast was amazing! Bacon, potatoes, a plethora of muffins, bagels, toast, cream cheese, cereal, milk, fruit, oatmeal, waffles, coffee, fruit juice. It was a breakfast paradise! Although, the chocolate muffins tasted somewhat like bananas... I'm thinking they were placed near a banana nut muffin. Still, it was fabulous. For a hotel breakfast, it was pretty darn good. 

After breakfast, we checked out, and loaded up the car. We were ready to drive into Montana! We had a longer driving day on Sunday, instead of 300 some miles, we had to go 500 some miles to Gardiner, Montana. We still had a long ways to go to get out of Idaho. Idaho is a beautiful state, we drove across the pan handle of Idaho, and mountainous hills against the blue sky was absolutely beautiful. And then we entered Montana, the Big Sky state. 
Montana is such a beautiful state, a big sky it is. Miles and miles of evergreen trees, miles and miles of mountainous hills, more majestic than the ones in Idaho. Beautiful, majestic clouds that float in the sky, white and fluffy. I was very impressed. The highways were gorgeous! It left the sky wide open for all to see. What I loved about Montana, or at least the area we drove through, I didn't see any sky scrapers. Tall buildings like that cover up the far away sky, preventing you to see all that's there. That's why I love the highway area, and the highway towns. The highway lets you see everything, well, at least in Montana. 
For dinner, we stopped in a town called Bozeman, Montana. We found a place called Famous Dave's BBQ, apparently, Oregon has a Famous Dave's. He's obviously not that famous if I've never heard of this restaurant. It was a fun find. Famous Dave's had great food and fun, little quirks about the restaurant. They had paper towels at each table, and the paper towel holder was a sink pipe! The chandeliers were made out of antlers, and there elk heads, and old fashioned tins on shelves, lots of neat things to look at in there. I think I am gonna have to make myself on of those paper towel holders for myself, so rustic. 
I'm surprised they didn't hand us mason jars to drink out of. They had just regular water cups, but still, that would have totally added to the experience. 
After we ate, we went next door to WalMart to grab some breakfast items for the week. I got some bagels and cream cheese, with some apples. Simple breakfast. I also got some orange juice, but I never ended up drinking it the whole trip. After WalMart, we continued driving. Next stop, Gardiner, MT. It was a really long drive from Bozeman to Gardiner, but we made it! We could tell we were near Yellowstone National Park because almost every business on this small, country road had Yellowstone in front of their name, Yellowstone's Edge RV Park, Yellowstone Ranch, Yellowstone Tires. We then entered Gardiner, and it was a small, little town. One street's size. No kidding. We drove up this gravel road, and saw this shack. My sister and I were a little frightened, hoping that wasn't the place we were going to stay in. We turned up another road, and saw another shack. We were doomed for sure... Then we pulled into a driveway, and saw some nicer looking motel building, it was painted red and green. Still, Brittney and I were a little concerned. We then proceeded to our room, and oh my goodness, it was beautiful! We were so glad it wasn't going to be that shack. I kind of knew that shack wasn't going to be the place we stayed in, but you never know in a little podunk town like Gardiner. The inside of the Yellowstone Gateway Inn made the outside look a whole lot better. It was like a little apartment! We had our own kitchen, basically two bedrooms, a modern bathroom, modern kitchen appliances, huge TV, WIFI. It was so cute!
We settled in a little bit, and then we went out to take a look at the town. Gardiner is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and clouds. On Sunday evening, when we arrived in Gardiner, it was on and off raining. While we were out, it was sprinkling and we brought umbrellas and rain coats. We passed some cute restaurants, and some cute shops. I found a restaurant that had a cute, sleeping bear resting on the gate. I had to have my picture taken with it. It was adorable. 
The Yellowstone River runs through Gardiner, MT. We walked over a huge, metal bridge that went over the Yellowstone river. Farther up the Yellowstone River, in Yellowstone National Park, people go white water rafting. There were tons of white water rafting companies in Gardiner, at least four just in the little town.
Luckily, after we crossed the bridge, thunder and lightning occurred. That would have been bad to be struck on the metal bridge. You wouldn't even know what hit you. We found this cute gift shop, it was a good sized one that carried Yellowstone souvenirs and clothing, ice cream, candy, snacks and such. It was two levels and it carried everything from blankets to mugs. It had bear spray, Montana Huckleberry stuff, huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry this, huckleberry that, bear figurines, chocolates, you get the picture. I didn't want to spend my money the first night, but I took pictures of things I thought were cool, and might want to buy later. There was one point where the thunder was so strong, that it shook the whole building. It was a little freaky, but the locals acted all normal, like it was something that happened every day to them and it was really nothing exciting. We knew we were in for a thunder and lightning storm, but we didn't know we were in for a THUNDER AND LIGHTNING STORM. It was crazy! We were done looking around the store, and we exited the building, turned around, and it was RAINING! Yes, in Oregon, we are used to rain, but not RAIN! This was heavy, pounding rain. It was crazy! My grandpa, grandma and sister waited under a covered area next door to the gift shop, while I walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the store. I love walking around in the rain, and this guy with long hair said that this kind of rain is great your hair. I was sold! There has never been a time where my hair has been that drenched from the rain. I could ring out my hair and have it make a puddle. It was crazy, and a lot of fun. The thunder and lightning kept getting stronger and stronger. We hid in a car wash for a little while, and waited for it to die down. Brittney counted the seconds after each strike of lightning, waiting for thunder, and it seemed to be farther apart each time. It was kind of fun, hiding in a self-serve car wash from lightning.

Our night was coming to an end. We stopped by the little market at first, and I bought a cucumber. Back at the inn, I had myself some detox water with cucumber slices, and waited to take my shower while organizing my pictures. 

It was a fun, couple of days, but the next day is when the real fun started. The next morning, we would be in Yellowstone National Park! 

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