The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown
My husband and I found a rare intersection of opportunity and availability and were able to take a quickly scheduled vacation to Big Sky, Montana.
As Southerners, we had a little trepidation about the weather so late in the year, but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. For the most part, a jacket and long sleeves or sweatshirt were perfect. We noticed some differences from home over the few days we were there outside the obvious swamp vs. mountain landscape. Many of the towns are very small and you drive a long time to get from place to place. There aren’t many restaurants in the area, nor are there many places to purchase the foods I usually eat (allergies to corn, eggs and gluten.) Though we did find some wonderful caramel made with tapioca syrup that was safe for me to eat – and I certainly enjoyed it! I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see a big horn sheep despite many warning signs along the road that we were in a crossing area. Oh, and cell phone coverage – forget it. This was especially frustrating since we usually rely on the GPS app on my phone. On the positive note, no one could call and bother us for most of the time we were there.
We arrived last Saturday with the idea that we would relax a day or two and then drive over to Yellowstone National Park. That plan got nixed quickly as we heard on the radio that Yellowstone would be closing for the season on Monday. We were up bright and early Sunday to spend the day at the park. Imagine our surprise when we spotted a red fox just outside our condo. I can’t describe Yellowstone, though I will share a few photos – I only took about 400. We saw bison, elk, and trumpeter swans. Steam pits, paint pots, mud volcanoes, Old Faithful and the most stunning scenery you could imagine. What you don’t see are the sounds and smells, though I wish you could. To hear the water boiling just under the ground and hot steam rising all around us was surreal. I only wish our grandchildren had been there – they would have loved it all.
We ended up cutting our trip short as the weather we had worried over was slated to arrive on our last couple of days there. They were expecting 2-3 feet of snow between Thursday and Saturday with highs in the low teens. The innkeeper warned that the mountain road would be closed to all traffic, so we decided to leave just before the storm hit. There was light snow as we drove down the mountain Thursday morning and about 12” on the ground by the time we boarded our 10 am flight. The plane had to be de-iced a couple of times, but we made it home safe and sound late Thursday afternoon.
Nature is really “in your face” there and I have great admiration for the people who live in that part of America. I’m too Southern-fried to manage the winter weather. Visiting Yellowstone was an unforgettable experience and being unplugged is something everyone should do more often – not just when we can’t get cell phone coverage.