Our 2021 Road Trip #24: Old Faithful!

Old Faithful geyser!

Geysers gonna gize.

It all leads up to this: our opportunity to witness the world’s most famous geyser do its thing. Old Faithful is the main event for any newcomer to Yellowstone National Park, the one feature everyone’s heard of since youth. It’s the center of the public’s average mental image of Yellowstone as just a giant, grassy plain with the one big natural water fountain in the middle. Its popularity and its predictably sporadic yet potentially time-killing nature (depending on how soon we’d arrive before the next show) made it the highest priority to check off our to-do list above all else.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #23: Follow the Yellowstone Road

Yellowstone National Park sign!

One of the park’s less natural formations.

Day Five. 8:45 a.m. MDT. Primary objective reached. FINALLY.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #22: Prelude to Yellowstone

Yellowstone traffic!

National parks: the hot spot of 2021!

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.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #21: Camp Cliffs Notes

Wyoming stone pictographs!

Pictographs carved by earlier cultures, ideas and stories scrawled across every surface until they were all canceled and replaced by Snuffy Smith.

Our planned route deep into the heart of Wyoming required us to divert in the wrong direction away from Yellowstone and had nearly zero good options for pit stops along the way, save one (1) lone gas station outside Hyattsville with a tiny parking lot and too many cars already muscled into it. We swung off the highway and pressed northeast toward promises of archaeological revelations, embellished outcroppings, and closeness to nature. By the time we arrived at our next stop, we were happy just to have bathrooms again.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #20: The Wyoming Way

Wyoming landscape.

Mountains! Forests! Mountains with forests on them! We were definitely not in Indiana anymore.

From the ancient buffalo graveyard it was a four-hour haul to our next attraction deep in the heart of the Cowboy State. It wasn’t long before we zoomed past the exit to Devil’s Tower, passed the longitudinal coordinates for Woodland Park, CO, and would officially drive The Farthest West We’ve Ever Gone in Our Lives.

(Anyone who’s ever seen the Pacific Ocean or had use for a frequent-flyer program is free to be unimpressed. We humble bumpkins claim our little personal victories wherever we can.)

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Our 2021 Road Trip #19: Oh, Give Me a Dump Where the Buffalo Jump

rafter buffalo!

Officially the highest buffalo statue we saw on this trip. Eventually we’d see a real one at a higher elevation, but for now this would have to do.

Our next stop promised a giant pit filled with centuries of accumulated fossils jammed into one cramped space. In my mind we were about see a Sarlacc but with thousands of jutting bones instead of spiky teeth. My preconceptions may have been unfairly fanciful.

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 16: Bedevilment at Devils Tower

Devils Tower!

Many onlookers only know Devils Tower from that one time it worked with a young Steven Spielberg.

As of this writing I’ve visited 32 of our 50 United States. Anne has seen a few more thanks to her grandma, who drove her to Maine one time back in the ’80s. We’ve had the chance to luxuriate and wander several of those at length. Some of them were one-stop wonders, states adjacent to others that weren’t a main focus in a given trip, but were easy enough to cross off our lifetime to-do list if we could think of a reason to get out of the car and say hi. Perfect example: on our 2013 drive to Boston, we visited a Connecticut museum in our path (and weren’t enamored enough of that sketchy neighborhood to explore any further), but we couldn’t find an easy way to work Rhode Island into that year’s itinerary.

Since we were at the westernmost end of South Dakota anyway, we had wondered if we could find an excuse to hop over into its neighbor Wyoming. About two minutes of research brought us to an obvious option of inescapable prominence, by which I mean that gargantuan protuberance up there.

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