Monday, July 27, 2015

Campfire Stories Part 3

Mary Zinn is a long-time consultant for FIRE Light Group and Wisconsin Meetings and Events. She is traveling with her family this summer in an RV named Loretta and will be blogging for us from the road. She and her family will share their photos, stories, and travel tips as they adventure their way from Wisconsin to San Francisco and back on a 10 week journey.

Campfire Stories Part 3

After an expensive brake job, we managed to get back on schedule at Yellowstone where we took in what we could on our short stay. We got lucky with a fantastic first come, first served campsite at Lewis Lake Campground they referred to as as the “honeymoon suite.” It was a very large campsite with complete privacy and its own path down to a virtually private beach at Lewis Lake. We seemed to have remembered everything we needed from the camp store and set ourselves up comfortable…or so we thought. The tent was great, but the sleeping bags that were rated to 30 degrees were not adequate and both nights were COLD!

The next afternoon, we saw Old Faithful erupt just as we arrived. Then after hiking around it, we managed to get a front row seat for another close up.

While Old Faithful is very crowded and touristy, it’s still a very cool place to visit (but in my opinion just once!). There are other larger and more regular geysers in the park, but Old Faithful is the largest, most regular geyser of them all erupting every 90 minutes give or take a few. When we checked, she was predicted to erupt at 3:01pm and it happened at 3:04. Pretty accurate!
The next day was our final chance to see Yellowstone; we visited both the upper and lower falls. Again, it was very crowded with people taking selfies all around, but Artist Point in particular was amazing (photo below). It felt a little like we were checking things off the list, but we did enjoy them—it’s hard to slow down and soak it all in when you’re surrounded by dozens or even hundreds of other tourists.

Rather than staying a third night at our “honeymoon” campsite, we decided to head back to Jackson, WY so we could get going the next morning and make it to Glacier National Park in one long drive. It took us 10 hours to get to Glacier, but we quickly settled back in Loretta and took it easy the first day. From our campsite at Fishcreek Campground, we had a short walk to a fantastic glacial lake (Lake McDonald) and of course had to show how brave we were by going in for a swim! The lake is shallow to about 15 yards then it suddenly drops off and at its deepest, it’s almost 500 feet deep.
While at Glacier we did a tour on an old boat around the lake (photo below) and a full day of white water rafting on the Flathead River. The rafting in particular was memorable. We all had to paddle (which was a first for our 7 year old) and the trip was over 6 hours. We stopped for an incredible lunch prepared by the tour company and all of my boys (including dad) had to swim even though the water was 56 degrees! The second half was a bit more exciting with class 2 and 3 rapids which were thrilling. All in all, it was a huge deal because before we left home, our 7 year old was refusing to do such a thing!

(photo of McDonald Lake)

Today we are headed to Sex Peak Lookout Tower in Kootenai National Forest (if you want to know more about how it got its name you can read it here) and from there another lookout tower in the Lolo National Forest called the Up Up Tower.

Latest Tips:
• Don’t trust the warmth rating of sleeping bag; be conservative because you can’t sleep when you’re freezing!
• WalMarts aren’t too bad when you need something—and we have needed lots along the way!
• Prepare for crowds at the major National Parks and keep realistic expectations. Unless you’re really adventurous, you’ll be surrounded by lots of other people.

Next Up: Our lookout tower visits and how we get from there to California!

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