The long and the short of late, dear readers, is as follows—on Thursday I drove from Missoula to Gardiner, MT, the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The drive in Focus Blue was slow-going but otherwise uneventful, although I did cross the Continental Divide, which is of note as my bodily wastes will no longer mix promptly with that of readers back there in Seattle. So it goes.

Also, somewhere along the drive I turned another year older. So that happened. I can’t say that I feel much different than I did, and I hope no one is holding their breath for nuggets of increasingly-aged wisdom.

Before meeting a friend of my cousin’s in Gardiner I pulled up a stool at the Two Bit Saloon and watched the Red Wings get eliminated from the playoffs, the second bummer of my day, though the first—the death of Prince—will likely be a more memorable reminder every April 21st for the next several years. We traipsed north of Gardiner until we found some other folks and set up camp. I was surrounded by a group of mid-20’s seasonal workers who were already plastered, high, blaring Prince from a portable stereo and otherwise living the mid-20’s dream. It wasn’t the peaceful birthday camping experience I’d been dreaming of, but I still got to watch the full moon rise over the mountains and imagine what could have been.

The next morning I drove through the north section of the park, stopping at Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris on my way to West Yellowstone. The following day I drove back into the park and circled south around to Old Faithful. On the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words I’ll leave 12,000 pieces of narrative about those experiences to the pictures below, except to note that beyond the lunar landscape the most significant feature was the busloads of tourists with their cameras at arm. It was… stereotypical, and I was thankful to be in the park in mid-April instead of mid-July.

I stayed with a very kind friend of my cousin’s in West Yellowstone, which seems like a fine little town, even if it resides at the unfortunately high Biblical altitude of 6,666-feet above sea level. The purpose of this town is to access Yellowstone and the hiking/camping/fishing/biking/etc., in the area; beyond that there’s not much to engage. The prime activity for locals seems to be—you guessed it—copious drinking, which I suppose is fine if you like to drink, but expectations for the town proper should be kept in check when visiting.

It was a real swell trip and I was a touch sad to move along this morning. But more adventures await—I don’t want to tip my hand but they’re going to be good. Stay tuned.



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