Vacation time, wahoo! Let’s go to Yellowstone National Park! Mitch got 3 days off from work last week and we were excited to take Harvy the RV on our first real camping adventure. I tried to think of everything, even contacting Dad’s VA doctor to get him set him up with a wheelchair so he wouldn’t miss any of the views. I hauled load after load into the RV until I got everything I thought we would need, and more. Prior to heading out, our dear friend Terri surprised us with a little bouquet of flowers and well wishes. A wonderful start to a memorable adventure!
It says, “Harvy RV and crew, have a fun ride!”
We started our 8 hour drive Tuesday evening the 25th of August around 6 pm after Mitch got home from work.
First potty stop for the dogs, State Line, Idaho near Walmart.
The silver lining of smokey skies, amazing sunsets
The plan was the drive the majority of the way Tuesday evening and arrive at the park around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning to get a campsite. There are 7 first come, first served campgrounds at Yellowstone and it’s posted that they can fill up by 9 a.m. during the busy season.
We all settled into our spots to begin the long drive, and made plans to stay over at a Walmart , or a truck-stop close to our destination.
Milo staked his claim on Mitch’s lap
Charlie had a harder time finding a place to lay at the start of our journey.
Once we laid his blanket on the bench, he jumped up, laid down and was content.
Even the flowers found a comfortable traveling spot
As it got closer to midnight we were feeling pretty tired, so we stayed at a rest stop about two hours from Yellowstone.
This is the route we took to Yellowstone.
As we went through the last town conveniently called West Yellowstone, Pops says, “Shawna, will you look at my inhaler, I think I’m out.” A sinking feeling instantly hits my stomach, the one thing I didn’t think I needed to check for him. Turns out I should have. I searched for the nearest pharmacy and just as we see the sign that says left to Yellowstone we turn right to find the Silvertip pharmacy.
After learning that we had to have his doctor call in the prescription, it wouldn’t be there until the next day and it would cost $300, I began searching for something we could use off the shelf until we got home. There was nothing on the shelves for people with asthma, emphysema or any other COPD! You’d think there would be something on the shelves since breathing is so important. Ugh! We opted to see if there was a VA nearby with a pharmacy…no luck. We called the VA nurse in Spokane, told her our situation and hoped she would have a better answer. After driving 8 hours in two days we couldn’t turn around at the entrance, so I asked if she thought Dad could make it couple days without his rescue inhaler. She said probably so, just don’t let him exert himself at all and keep him in the RV a lot to stay out of the smokey air. No longer had I hung up the phone when Pops says, “Shawna will you look at my other inhaler, I think its out too.” Yes, not only was his rescue inhaler empty, the Sybicort Inhaler that works throughout the day to relax his muscles and improve breathing was empty as well. I knew Pops had become more forgetful, not remembering to take his pills or forgetting what he had for dinner the night before, but I didn’t realize that the one thing he always remembered, he would forget. What a time to learn that he no longer could be responsible for keeping track of his breathing meds. I felt completely responsible for the situation and just prayed that that the nurse and Pops were right about him being able to make it a couple days without his “breathers”.
By now it’s a little after 9 in the morning, and we are all worse for the wear. As we go through the gate, we see the sign saying that a few of the campsites are still available. The Ranger lady says, “Old faithful is only about 30 minutes away just go south”. We weren’t sure how much time we would have, considering our predicament, so we headed straight for Old Faithful. But wait, there’s something steaming along the way. Lets stop there first!
Letting off some steam at the Fountain Paint Pot
Even hotter springs
White mud bubbles
These popping bubbles reminded me of the movie the Labyrinth with David Bowie
The one with the wheels got to hold the banana peels, but hold the excitement!
The water is so hot that it kills the trees and any other vegetation in it’s path
We loaded back up and were on our way to see the most popular geyser of Yellowstone; Old Faithful. Finding parking was a bit more challenging than we had anticipated, not that the Harvy the RV is too big, its just that the place is FULL of cars and people! We get the wheelchair back out, load Papa up and begin heading in the direction that we think Old Faithful is. Suddenly far above the buildings I see water shooting straight up into the sky, it was happening and we were missing it! Not knowing how often it erupts, I begin running, pushing Pops in his chair towards the action, we were still in the parking lot so we had to hurry! As we approach the sidewalk there is lowered area designed for what you would think would be wheelchairs, so I am still running and not until we’re almost on it do I realize there is still a lip on the sidewalk, WHOA, the front wheels slam into the cement and the momentum begins to pull Pops forward lifting him out of his seat. With all my strength I pull back on the handles, trying to prevent him from flying out of the wheelchair onto the cemented sidewalk. As quick as he was lifted out of the seat, he falls back down into the chair, WHEW! Crisis averted. That was close, my bad, yikes. With the relief of nothing bad happening, I began laughing uncontrollably. It was only funny because it didn’t happen, yet there would have been never ending tears if it had happened. Note, never assume because it looks like it’s a dip or lip for wheelchairs that it will be a smooth transition.
Old faithful erupts on average every hour and half.
Another way to tell when it’s about to erupt is when the seats fill up!
The longer it erupts, the longer it takes for the next eruption
up, up and up it goes
Shooting high into the sky
Giving all the people the show they came for
The coolest geezer by the geyser sign
Great stuff, we got to see a couple sights already, and Pops is still doing well, so onto getting a campsite for the night.
Our first Elk sighting on our way to find a campground
We didn’t really want to back track, so I suggested we do a loop and make it to Tower Fall campground. I’d read it was a good site, not many people and in a good location.
It took sooooo long to get there, probably 4 hours, seriously.
This park is no joke when it comes to how big it is and how much driving there is involved.
Click on map to see the route we took
We made it to Tower Fall
Close up view of the top of the waterfall
The whole view of the waterfall at Tower Fall
The campground was on the other side of the road and by the time we got there it was 4 pm, the sign said the campground was full. According to the map, there were 2 other campgrounds within the vicinity. We decided we’d try and hope for the best.
Click on the map for more details about where we stayed and where’s best to see wildlife
There was no vacancy’s and there’s no sleeping on the side of the road in your RV. There was no cell service to even see if the other first come first served campgrounds were full, and to drive another two hours just to find out that there’s no spaces available would be awful. Needless to say, thats what we did and the other two were full as well. With our tail between our legs we reluctantly exit Yellowstone at the Northeast Entrance and stop in the town of Cooke City. Dad was getting hungry and suggested getting something to eat. We stopped into a Bistro, sat down, looked at the menu, and the prices and thus opted to just make sandwiches in the RV. Yes, after she had brought us waters, we just stood up and walked out. Glad we did too, especially after reading other peoples reviews!
Whatever, at least you guys get a variety of food!
We now had to figure out where we were going to be able to stay for the night, or should we just go home? We even talked about just driving up to Glacier National Park. We’d been driving so much, and had no where to stay the night. Our bad, for wanting to see sights before snagging a campsite! Arg, lesson learned. We decide to just head East, sooner or later maybe we’d find a place to park for the night. Not any sooner had we went up a hill out of the town of Cooke, there was a beautiful brown sign saying Gallatin National Forest campground and it wasn’t full! We all sighed with relief, thanked the good Lord and put er in park for the night. The campgrounds come available again at 7 in the morning at Yellowstone and we weren’t going to miss this opportunity a second time. We were all ready to go at 5:30 in the morning, Pops was still feeling pretty good so off we went to get a campsite for the night in the park.
The Soda Butte near the Northeast Entrance
Along our way towards Tower Fall campground again to check for vacancy, we see Pebble Creek campground is still full, as is Slough (pronounced slow)Creek campground. Yikes, well, worst case scenario we drive back in the evening and stay in the same place from the night before. We were passing the part of Yellowstone called Lamar Valley, well known for the best area to see wildlife, and we thought that all the people who were out of their cars with the super fancy massive lenses, were taking pictures of bison. I even said, “Wow, what is it about the bison that would make them all stop at the same spot to take pictures?”
Doing the wild thing in the wild
We later learned there are wolves and bears that frequent the area as well, and that’s what they were probably photographing.
If there are masses of people, know it’s something more than bison
Just might be a bear in this picture, if only we knew what to be looking for!
We were so involved with how big they were and the cuteness of the babies, we didn’t think to ask the people in crowds what they were looking at.
After the bison took their time crossing the road, and giving us ample time to take some pictures, we were ready to find our campsite. Not more than 2 miles down the road Pops says, “Antelope!”. What? Really? We pull over and turn around to see them standing on the side of the road, in the wild, in real life, ANTELOPE! That was a first for all of us.
If the saying goes; does a bear poo in the woods? then we got a new saying ; does an antelope squat to pee?
So happy to have seen wildlife, we load back up and head for our campground, at Tower Fall. Finally we arrived at the campground, grateful to see there’s not a sign saying FULL, we drive up the road to check out which site we would like. It was small, sites were really close together and we felt cramped just driving through the campground. It was not what we’d hoped it to be, so after seeing the sights around the area we decided to try and stay somewhere between things we still wanted to see.
Driving west through Mammoth Hot Springs
Our next stop would be Indian Creek Campground!
It’s a larger campground and it’s awesome! Come to find out, they weren’t full the night before! Had we only known!
Beautiful and peaceful, besides hearing one very heated verbal altercation later in the day, from a neighboring camper. It’s not to uncommon to hear in campgrounds, unfortunately.
We stayed at site #4
Finally, a place to call ours for a day! What to do now? Go see the stuff of course! Off we went to check out Mammoth Hot Springs! Pops opted to hang out at the campsite, relax in his chair and keep the bears away.
First we had to stop and check out the white rocks along the way
See Harvy from Mitch’s view
See Mitch from Harvy’s view. Hello Yellow….stone!!!!
After driving another few minutes a beautiful waterfall caught our attention.
If I knew the name of it, I’d tell you. Lets just call it pretty and is on the side of the main road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Indian Creek Campground
Onto check out what all the steam was about at Mammoth Hot Springs.
The steam, the sulfur smell, and the surrounds are surreal
A good amount of the hot springs are all coming from this one area
A tree branch after years of being exposed to the elements of the hot springs
Look, something is starting to grow again at the bottom of the dead tree
Be prepared, because depending on where you start, there is A LOT of walking involved, and A LOT of stairs. When it was all said and done, we walked up and down half a mountain. Walking up, I was so focused on just making it to the top I didn’t realize how steep it was. On our way back down, we were passing people going up and we could see the determination in their faces, the wondering of how much further and hear their labored rhythmic breathing as they worked their way up the stairs. We headed back to camp after all that adventure for much needed relax time.
Making it back to camp we put out our flowers to enjoy the summer rain. The sign talks about food and the bears.
There are bear proof food storage bins at every campsite
After having a couple hours of down time we took the bikes out for a ride around our campground.
Views along our bike ride
The creek close up
Dinner time and we were going to make hamburgers on the new charcoal grill Mitch got. Wait, we have to assemble it? Oh no! I opted instead for ramen noodles, I was too hungry to wait.
Get your grill on baby!
Finally, camping! We started a fire, roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed the night.
Things were working out well.
Pops was still feeling pretty good!
We made plans for the next day to get up early once again in hopes to see more wildlife, check out a couple more sights and then head back home in the afternoon. Getting to bed early, we were all ready for a good nights sleep, and turning the heater on since it had gotten in the 40’s at night already. We wake around 4 in the morning to Charlie whining, his nails clicking on the flooring as he paced, there was another noise we weren’t familiar with, a rhythmic fast paced sound. We get up to see pops sitting on the steps of the RV with the door open, trying to catch his breath so he could go outside and have a cigarette. Yes, even though he couldn’t breathe, all he could think about what having a smoke. Thankfully he didn’t fight me when I took it from his hands and helped him back into the RV. No time to waste, we gotta get pops home. Dad slowed his breathing, relaxed and fell back to sleep while we were driving home. Frantic in my head, think and knowing that there are millions of people with COPD, there has to be someone willing to give him a shot of their inhaler! While I am going through any and all options if he has an asthma attack, I just keep praying that the Lord helps us through this time. We stop at a gas station along the way and I get a cup of ice and begin making small talk with a lady getting coffee also. I decided to ask her if she knew of any all natural ways to help relief symptoms of COPD and tell her our story. She wasn’t familiar with any all natural ways but she did have a nebulizer in her car!!! She’d gotten it when she had pneumonia last year and kept it with her just in case. Yes, a complete stranger, sharing much needed medicine to help us out!
Betsy our Montana angel!
Finally, the struggle to breathe is over!
Thank you Besty! You saved the day, bless your kind heart for helping us, we were in dire need.
Pops slept almost the rest of the way home
As did Charlie
and milo…. and myself
Thankfully, being the reliable wonderful man Mitch is, he drove the whole way home after a long three day vacation while everyone was out like a light.