When most people retire they would probably move to Florida and spend the rest of their years on the beaches working on their suntan. However, that is probably not the life that my parents envision when they are old and can’t move around much anymore.

That’s probably why I haven’t spent all that much time on beaches and more time in the mountains growing up. 

This year was no different. 

Last week, my family and I took a trip to see Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore. 

However, there are things that I learned on this vacation that are more valuable than buffalo, bears and geysers. Those things we will get to later. 

Don’t use cruise control on a two-lane roads, my dad hates that. Due to the massive flooding in the Midwest, we were forced to detour about three hours through every backroad in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas, many of them two-lane highways. Apparently my mom learned the hard way that we don’t use cruise on roads like that, my dad says that’s dangerous. Who knew?

Maps should be left in the past. I had just one question for my parents throughout the roller coaster of a trip and the three hours worth of delays getting to Yellowstone. How did they ever get anywhere? Maps are things that cavemen must have used to travel from place to place. GPS systems are the way to go now. There is no way that we would have made it if not for our Garmin.

First, thing we did on our trip was go to Mount Rushmore because as my dad put it 

“If you’re in the area, you have to go see it.”

But the main attraction was yet to come in Yellowstone. 

The first trip we made, yes because we made the trek twice, was to the south entrance. There wasn’t much to this trip unless you like the view of Yellowstone Lake the entire time. I think we saw every inch of that lake, but I digress. 

One thing that caught my attention was the amount of snow, or as I quickly found out after the obligatory snow ball fight, and ice that was left in the mountains this time of the year.

It is June right?

The first day also included a trip to see Old Faithful. My dad uses the same logic for that geyser he used for Mount Rushmore. I had seen this particular geyser once before and wasn’t too impressed. However, this time around something changed. Old Faithful seemed bigger and had more steam. It was truly a sight to see. 

The second day was a much better time if one wishes to fully experience Yellowstone Park as we saw much more wildlife entering through the northeast entrance in Montana.

The Lamar Valley was full of buffalo. My dad said we saw at least a couple thousand, including one on the road, but I’m not too sure about that elevated number. It might be a bit of hyperbole, but it was a lot nonetheless.

The one thing we wanted to see and was on our to-do-list was to see a bear.

Now there are many tourists that come on vacations like these with their big spotting scopes and several said that there were several bear way off in the distance. 

Let me just say that those brown and black “specks” aren’t considered bears.

I don’t go on vacation to see specks.

One thing that we learned early on in these national parks is that if cars are pulled over there is probably something along the road, and the last time we encountered this on our trip we found the holy grail.

A small black bear was along the road and our trip was complete. Of course where the baby bear is, the mother is sure to follow, so we kept our eyes peeled for her, but she was not around, thankfully.

Those are the reasons my parents will probably retire in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, but we will have to find a way to get rid of that sulfur smell. 


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