ROAD TRIPS..... I am not fond of them. They have never been on my wishlist because of multiple reasons - the main being I don't like to drive and I don't have the patience to sit in the car for hours. Viren on the other hand does not like to drive but has always wanted to go on a road trip. So, in the most exciting Summer 2014, I finally gave in. Why? Because the destination was Yellowstone National Park (YNP). "So what?" you ask. Well..... YNP has been on Viren's bucket list FOREVER! I have also heard from friends that it is beautiful - not just the park, but the drive there also. So I thought this would be the perfect time to do it because I am between jobs right now so I don't have to worry about PTO and a couple of our friends are joining from CA.
The preparations for the road trip began! As I started googling checklists and other travel tips, the excitement gradually started seeping in. Scoring a reservation in the YNP was a challenge! Everyone who said to book two years in advance was so right. There were no rooms available for the days we wanted not only in YNP, but also in Gardiner, which is at the north entrance of the park and in Cody! But, there is always hope because of last minute cancellations. I spent a good six hours making reservations for lodging only in YNP, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Cody. Calling Xanterra (the company that handles YNP reservations for lodging and other activities) twice a day had become a part of my daily routine. Finally, after a week’s calls, I was able to secure a room for two days in the epic Old Faithful Inn and a cabin for one day in Yellowstone Lake Hotel and Cabins!!! I was ecstatic because I had heard so much about the Old Faithful Inn. I was told that staying there was an experience in itself! I have read in blogland that whenever you are visiting a national park, it is always best to stay in the park for the best experience. We will see.
Well, the preparations began with the boys cleaning the van inside out. They washed and vacuumed and waxed and did everything possible to shine up the Mr. Roadie Roadster (our Honda Odyssey)! For one week I lived and breathed YNP Road Trip, and I cooked and cooked and cooked because I was warned that there are not many vegetarian options in the meat and potato laden states. We loaded Mr. Roadster at night and called it a day early, but couldn’t sleep until midnight because of the excitement.
Next morning we were all up by 4:00 am. We had to drop off my MIL at the airport because she was leaving for California. The road trip began on a rainy Saturday morning with a small hiccuup! We left home at 6:04 am hoping to reach the airport to catch her 8:30 am flight. Boy were we off! As soon as we got on to I 55 N, Viren and I smelled propane in the car. Now since we had propane cylinders in the car for his morning tea, we decided to pull over and check if there was a leak. Thank fully there wasn't! When we reached the airport it was chaotic! There were loads and loads of people everywhere! There were some sports teams leaving for tournaments so the airport was packed. We were sure we would not make it. Viren waited in the line with my MIL and kids and of course the luggage while I tried to see how they could cut the line officially. I requested and pleaded with the Southwest folks, but they were unhelpful and mean! Filled with anger and frustration, I watched the passengers on wheel chairs cutting the line and being taken straight to the kiosk. I told the Southwest employee that we had requested a wheel chair for my MIL also! Bingo… she let us cut the line and we checked in in less than five minutes! In spite of all this, she missed the flight to San Jose. Viren who had escorted her to the gate finally managed to get her to board the flight to Oakland.
So now our road trip officially began at 8:45 am..... just two hours behind schedule!
Our itinerary looked like this:
07/26/14 - Chicago to Rapid City, SD
07/27/14 - Rapid City to Yellowstone National Park
07/28/14 - 07/29/14 - Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole
07/30/14 - Cody
07/31/14 - Cody to Rapid City
08/01/14 - Rapid City to Sioux Falls
08/02/14 - Sioux Falls to Chicago