• Jessica Stough

Remembering Previous Trips - Wyoming Road Trip

We are officially one week into the Daylight Savings time change, and I am still not used to it. It is seven o’clock in the evening as I write this, and I feel like I should be going to bed right now. No matter, that’s clearly not what my writing topic is about today.


Before I get into the very first trip Zac and I ever took together, though, I want to throw a bit of a shout out to blog post number thirty. I had someone ask me the other day how many readers or subscribers I had. I told her that ultimately, I wasn’t sure the true number of readers I had. I can see how many people read each individual blog post, but cannot see who reads them.


I appreciate those that read my posts and so, so appreciate those that are subscribed, but I’m honestly just happy to be writing. The readers are a wonderful bonus, and if they can learn something or use some tips from my writing, even better.


Now, I want to take a step back in time to our first vacation. Back then, I used to make vacation picture books to remember our adventures.

Thank goodness, too, because there were a lot of things we did while on our first few vacations that I would have otherwise forgotten.

 

The year was 2013, and Thrift Shop was at the top of the billboards. Breaking Bad was at the top of everyone’s TV watch list, and the music video to What Does the Fox Say? was making its rounds on the internet. To take a deeper dive in the past, here is an article about a few other things we probably all forgot happened that year.


We were packed, done with work for the week, and ready for adventure. We hopped into our little 2010 Ford Fusion, and were on the road. Our first stop was just a few hours away - Omaha, Nebraska, so we could visit their zoo the next day.

We also stopped at their local Walmart, thanks to my then terrible packing skills. Apparently, I didn't want to forget that even when I wrote our vacation book.


After the zoo, we were on the road again, headed to our next stop. After six and a half hours on the road, we stopped to see some petrified wood and were then ready to explore Badlands National Park. We spent some time walking around, climbing on piles of rock, and taking in the views. To this day, I think one of my favorite parts of Badlands National Park was actually the prairie dogs.

My love of animals brought us to our next stop, Bear Country USA, a drive-through wildlife park. Next, we made our way toward the Black Hills to see Mt. Rushmore. I can’t remember where we ate when we were there - man, that would be impressive - but do remember that we tried buffalo pizza. I don’t believe I’ve had buffalo again since then, as it definitely was not my favorite meat, but at least now I can say that I’ve tried it.


After the Black Hills, we decided we wanted to head toward Devil’s Tower. Before doing that, though, we made a stop at Wonderland Cave, as we had seen signs for it everywhere and decided it must be cool. The cave didn’t disappoint. I remember that we were the only two there, so we actually got a private tour of the caves.


Next, we were off to our main destination - Wyoming! We took what was called the “most scenic route to Yellowstone” through Buffalo. The views along the drive were incredible. With beautiful views, though, come less options to stop for food or gas. I remember driving for what seemed like forever with barely any civilization to see (which really just means we had to stock up on snacks and gas before making the trip).


We got into Yellowstone bright and early on October 1st, 2013. I can’t remember a lot from that long ago, but remember the day exactly because it was when the government shut down. We set up our tent that morning after paying the camping fee, then stepped out to walk around for a short hike. Very shortly after, we were approached by a park ranger.


She told us that due to the shutdown, since we had already paid, we could stay in our tent and camp, but we would not be allowed to hike, fish, walk around, or really do anything except sit in our tent. With this, we made the difficult decision to stop at Old Faithful then make our way south toward the Grand Teton National Park.


There, we saw some buffalo grazing in the wild along with some gorgeous views of the mountains. We weren’t allowed to do much there besides “make our way through” the park because of the shutdown, but we did make frequent stops along the way to get the most of the trip. We even hiked a small mountain and found a little cave.


Finally, that evening, we made our way into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We found a beautiful KOA Campground. Interestingly enough, it appears it is no longer a KOA Campground. The only details I could find on the campground were here, and the link to the KOA website does not show any campgrounds in Jackson.


While in Jackson, we visited the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, which is now unfortunately a location that has since permanently closed. We then spent time walking around town and getting to know more about Jackson and what they had to offer. One store even had a dinosaur skull (for sale, by the way). We took our time shopping and soaking in the fun atmosphere in town.

Although we were disappointed in missing out on a lot of opportunities for exploration at Yellowstone, Jackson Hole ended up being an adventure in itself. There, we learned about Stio Outdoor Apparel for the first time, which is an absolute must for any outdoorsy type.


Once we said goodbye, we made our way toward Thermopolis, which is known for its hot springs. We visited Hot Springs State Park, which was my first time ever stepping foot on a long swinging bridge. Before leaving town, we also stopped at The Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

Hot Springs State Park


Thermopolis was one of our final stops before we started the trek back home. We had heard great things about a nearby attraction, Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site. We really wanted to check it out, but the petroglyph was about 30 miles northwest of Thermopolis. That was exactly the opposite direction from where we needed to go to start back toward home.

We wouldn’t have thought much of heading a few miles out of the way, but we had also heard that there was a terrible snowstorm coming our direction. We decided to make the safer call and start heading back toward home.


From there, we drove late, late into the evening. The snow hadn’t started coming down on us yet - because the temperature wasn’t quite cold enough - but it was pouring down rain the entire way. We decided to drive as far toward home as we could that night in a feeble attempt to beat the storm.


The next morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast before getting back on the road. The rain had stopped, and the snow hadn’t yet started where we were. A few cars coming from the same direction we had stopped for breakfast as well. We couldn’t help but notice that they had four to five inches of snow on the tops of their vehicles.


It was then that we decided we probably made the right call by skipping the petroglyphs and driving late into the night. We were also able to get one last “hoorah” in on our way back after narrowly avoiding the snow. We stopped at Guernsey State Park and checked out Brimmer Point and a beautiful natural bridge.

 

I remember how bummed I was for our first vacation to end, but also remember thinking that it was just the beginning of years of vacations. Besides, even though it was sad to be back home, it was fun to share details about the trip with everyone who asked.

I guess one could say that it was the trip that started it all - we got the taste for adventure and wanted more. After that trip, many other weeks have since been spent road tripping or flying to new locations. Many more weeks in our future will be spent on future road trips and flights too.


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