Yes, I realize we took a lot of chapters to reach our feature presentation. If you thought waiting on the photos was taxing, try driving there. Stopping for fun along the way is how we roll.
Fair warning, though: still no Yellowstone in this chapter. Soon, though. We’re so close! That’s next, in fact! But first, a quick warm-up.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. We were each raised in a household that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state family vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. Eventually we tired of some of our self-imposed limitations and figured out how to leave the comforts of home for the chance to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
Technically not even 2020 stopped us. We played by the new rules of the interim normal and wandered Indiana in multiple directions as safely as we could. This year the long-awaited vaccines arrived. For 2021 we agreed we had to go big. Our new primary objective was Yellowstone National Park, 1500 miles from Indy…
DAY FIVE: Tuesday, June 29th.
We’d paid attention to summer 2021 headlines about America’s national parks straining under the massive influx of tourists flooding into their gates all at the same time to compensate for everyone’s crappy 2020. Parks everywhere weren’t just crowded; attendance skyrocketed so high that some places (e.g., Arches out in Utah) were capping their lines and actually turning people away. We didn’t drive over 1500 miles just to fall on the disappointed side of that statistic. Success meant holding ourselves to a strict 6 a.m. wake-up, speedy breakfasts from a fast-food drive-thru and a gas station, and a return to the highway as fast as we could manage.
(TOTAL ROAD TRIP MILEAGE AS OF GAS STOP #7: 1,575.4)
The mathematicians out there may note that was 409 miles after our last fill-up in Rapid City, SD. I doubt our original rental car could’ve performed that feat, but as middle-class car owners who can’t afford hybrids or luxury models, the Altima was a miracle machine. That savings on gas mileage definitely helped offset this year’s absolutely outrageous car rental fees.
We were out of Cody by 7-ish and on our way to Yellowstone National Park. Cody had its own attractions, but we allowed time for none of them. Past the city limits and well before the park gates, Wyoming horizons remained pretty all around us. A free sampler as we headed toward and through the Absaroka Range:
…and then we were there. To be continued!
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[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]