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My Van Life: Day 9

Sunday, July 18

West Yellowstone, MT to Bozeman, MT

I’m happy to report that I woke up with my hair halfway decent looking after last night’s first experience washing and conditioning hair in the van. I know you were really concerned. Well, even if you weren’t, I personally was so QUITE concerned so check that off the list of things I have to worry about.

After our morning extensively sleeping in yesterday not to mention our day of doing a whole lotta nothing, we set early alarms this morning to get up and get moving. After a bit of research on Yellowstone last night, I discovered that getting into the park before 10am was highly recommended. 10am was when the big daddy tour buses started rolling in so whatever we had to do to get there before 10am, we were going to do it! I’m proud to say even though we barely made the bed nor brushed our teeth before turning the van on and leaving our beautiful camping spot in Henry’s Lake Idaho, we managed to get coffee (shoutout Go-Go Espresso) AND get into the park by 9:30am.

The line had definitely formed by 9:15am or so, likely even before, but the wait wasn’t anything unbearable. Nothing to be unexpected on a Sunday morning in summertime. I haven’t been to Yellowstone since I was like 13 and Adam’s never been, only driven through, so it was a particularly special outing for us. And Coco! We made our list of “must-see destinations” last night so we knew our mission and we were sticking to it. We went to the Grand Prismatic Spring (found parking right away in the main lot after waiting in the entrance line maybe 10 minutes), Old Faithful (waited a little over an hour for it to erupt), the Old Faithful Inn (spectacular! A must visit), and the Old Faithful General Store for some souvenirs.

I’m sad to report that we didn’t see any wildlife today. The last time I was in Yellowstone when I was 13, I saw probably 30+ bison, a black bear, a brown bear and two cubs, and countless other wildlife. Not today. They must have been afraid of Coco. LOL. If I were them though and I saw the AMOUNT of people out wandering through their home, I would probably stay hidden too. People are stupid. And annoying. (The animals speaking, not me). To be expected it was absolutely packed in Yellowstone. It’s really nice to see people out and about traveling again but going back to my earlier comment from our experience in Seattle, it also makes a little piece of me nervous to encounter THAT many people at some of these destinations we visit. Thankfully we were able to see everything we wanted to see and get out of the park at a reasonable time. We had a booked and busy Sunday people!

Yellowstone was top of the list but we also had to fill up the water tank, do our laundry, grocery shop and make it to our next campsite. That’s a lot to do in one day let alone in a place where you’re not familiar with your surroundings. Well we managed to fill up our water at the Grizzly RV Resort which apparently is the only place in West Yellowstone where you can. It was $10 but we were running on empty so it was a necessary purchase. Then we headed over to the Little Ducklings Laundromat where we promptly realized it was coin only and had to go to the gas station to get money out to then turn it into quarters to do our laundry. I will say it was a VERY nice laundromat and one I would certainly recommend. You know it was the only one in town but it helps that it was nice.

From there we hit the grocery store, Food Roundup, to stock up on food before trying to locate our sleeping destination for the evening. We drove about 30 minutes out of West Yellowstone looking for Beaver Creek Campground but unfortunately it was not the spot for us. The second we started driving back to said destination on a one lane road from the highway, I looked at the signal on both of our phones (or lack thereof) and said nope. We're finding another spot. We turned around, found a beautiful turn off point near Lake Hebgen and decided to sit down and make our dinner before driving about an hour and a half to Bozeman, Montana. We landed around 9:30pm and from what we’ve seen thus far, Bozeman is such a cute little college town. It seems pretty modern as well which is nice. We landed in a Walmart parking lot for the night since we know the service is guaranteed here at least and it buys us some time to find our next destination although I think we’ve got a good handle on it. I’m telling you, this part, finding free campsites with service that are safe, in a great location, not overly crowded, perhaps have a toilet, is no joke!

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