Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 20 , 21: Southwest Montana, Introducing Yellowstone

I woke up the next morning, showered, packed up and out quick to avoid the weird man (although he did find me in the morning) and make up for the lost time I had staying in Hardin v. Billings (although I did save about $10 in site fees). Any feelings I had the previous day of not waiting to be on the road had 100% faded away. I felt at one with the road and immensely enjoyed the beauty of Montana.
Roadside gorgeous typography, about an hour west of Hardin

Today's goal was Lewis and Clark Caverns (State Park) about four hours away from Hardin. It was suggested by the popbottle glasses guy in Miles City. I loved it and the whole scenic drive there! After a steep and hot 3/4 mile hike up to the caves, we spent two hours inside looking and learning, then I was back out. Despite the gift shop guy suggesting Bozeman when I bought my pin and told my story, I (forgot or something) and went with my original plan of Butte. I questioned it on the way there and while there and once passed it and on my way to Idaho Falls (3 hours out of the way), I decided to head back to Bozeman because it had more oil change choices. I drove 90 miles back to Bozeman and, again, woke up early to make up lost time.

the flash is blinding in the dark, can you tell? ha.

imo, pitching a tent should be free... but  tellerTaylor
an attractive good sport

While my oil was being changed, I had breakfast down the street so that 1. I could eat and 2. I could charge my electronics. It was my first proper meal in weeks. (I really should have taken of advantage of more than just that pie last night.) In that short amount of time, I decided that I liked the vibe of Bozeman so much, I decided to pudder around main street. I went to Wells Fargo to get out multiple denominations for campsite trust boxes in anticipation for Yellowstone. The people there were so damn nice. As were the folks over at the thrift store across the street. (I got some Keen's for $4.50!) For a while I sat in the Safeway/Starbucks parking lot browsing Tinder to get a feel for the scene. At around 4pm, I was finally off to Yellowstone

that was a medicinal popsicle: my throat hurt.
I arrived at the West gate a little after 6pm. Free entry in the evening, where I entered Wyoming briefly, took some photos of the beautiful rose colored sunset (top) and then back over the
Montana border to find a campsite since, unfortunately, all the Yellowstone proper ones ($15/night) were already full or closed for the season. The first site in West Yellowstone, just outside the park, was $63. Nope! I went to another just a little further out: $40. I figured it was either drive out in the dark and hope for something cheaper or suck it up and figured I'll save the gas and hassle. (These campsite costs are killing my budget!)

As I paid, I went through a now very routine round of questions: How many people? Just one. Just you? Yes. You're alone? Yes. Do you have a dog? No. So just you? YES! Aside from the normal line of questioning, he made me nervous on account of asking if I was sleeping in my car or tent, but maybe it was just the freeze warning in West Yellowstone. I'm locking my tent extra tight tonight and staying up late and sleeping with my stun gun ready to go. After making a vat of spaghetti to last a week, I'm bundled up warm for a low of 32, putting on some Golden Girls and nodding off the bed. Tomorrow I really see the park.

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