Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yellowstone camping recipe

Gail writes:
Yellowstone is a big place. You don’t quite realize that until you’ve driven around for about 7 hours and covered a fraction of the territory (as a point of reference, that’s almost as long as it takes to drive from Ithaca to NYC and back). That pretty much sums up today. We left camp at around 9:30 and drove around to various hot springs and viewpoints. We lunched at Mammoth Hot Springs (where we got to say hello to a pretty grey housecat whose family was moving from Wisconsin to Nevada) and then walked a bit until thunder and lightning sent us scurrying back to the Visitor Center. After things cleared we went to Boiling River, where Armin & the boys soaked in the hot/cold waters.

Then we headed back to camp, and from here on in I offer up a recipe for camping adventure & dinner:

1. Arrive at camp to find winds gusting to 40 mph and thunder rumbling in the distance. Re-stake the tent as it tries to get airborne. Order everyone into the tent to hold it down. Read while it rains and rumbles.

2. Once the wind dies down and the rain is manageable, drag your cooler, stove, and kitchen boxes out of the car to start dinner. Open that bottle of wine you bought in the Grand Tetons and pour it into the fine plastic cups you brought with you.

3. Use 1 burner of your stove to make mac-n-cheese for the boys. On the other burner, start sautéing sweet potato and corn with some salsa. Add rice and water. Simmer. Drink more wine. Open the tortilla chip bag that is puffy because of the altitude. Munch on them and wait a while.

4. Add a can of drained black beans to the sweet potato mixture. Simmer some more until everything’s done. Serve up the boys’ mac-n-cheese, drink some more wine, and rummage in the cooler for the artisanal multigrain tortillas. Juggle things on the burners so you can heat them up. Watch your boys have a pinecone war with some kids from New Jersey. Pull up your raincoat hood against the next round of rain and enjoy a delicious burrito. Stamp your feet at the ground squirrels that want to eat your food. Finish the bottle of wine. Let the guys do the dishes while you blog.

5. Watch the sun come out over the mountains and put away the cooler, stove, and kitchen boxes so the ground squirrels and bears won’t get into them. Take a deep breath of cool mountain air and realize how lucky you are to be on this adventure with the people you love most in the world.

Armin writes:

The drive to Mammoth made it abundantly clear that heading north on the bike out of the Madison campground would have been a terrible idea. In addition to the endless stream of campers and RVs suddenly pulling off to view wildlife or make a sudden decision to visit a thermal area or waterfall, the road is under construction right now. Chip seal road work is very annoying, especially when there is loose gravel for about 30 miles, so I headed west on the flat-ish road to West Yellowstone. 

I was overjoyed to see the "Welcome to Montana" road sign, since Montana is my favorite state. West Yellowstone is a tiny park border town, and the ample signage advertising lodging and food had me imagining a focus group that was asked to identify the most appealing words for weary campers. My incomplete list includes:
      Hot Tub
      Gift Shop
Sunday afternoon update:

The list was much longer yesterday, but now I'm just exhausted and happy to be safely in a Missoula motel. We stopped for a nice lunch in Butte, Mt., and while waiting at a stop sign behind the sheriff of Butte, he decided that he was too far into the intersection and backed right into our van, in spite of the fact that I was laying on the horn. How could he not have seen or heard us? Perhaps he had is Lady Gaga CD turned up too loud. I didn't have enough time to throw the van into reverse, and was extremely bummed out about the bumper and body work damage. Fortunately the damage was cosmetic, and we were able to continue our journey to Missoula. You can bet, though, that if I lived in Butte, I certainly would not be voting for Sheriff John Walsh in his re-election bid.


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