Moose Drool (2006-05-24 - 9:37 p.m.)
So I go on a roadtrip. I get back a day early, and debate going in to work even though I've got one more day booked off. Sleeping in and having a slack day seems like a nice idea, but I figure maybe it wouldn't hurt to go in to the office and catch up a little.
I walk in to be greeted with, "Thank God you're here! I've got a project for you..."
Yep, that's right, I'm the proud owner of a giant yet undefined project that no one can explain how to do, but which is due in less than a week (or else). Remind me again why I agitated for more responsibility?
Anyway. Let us leave such annoying things as work behind us and go back to Yellowstone...
With Amy's car oiled up and ready to go, we made the short trip from Bozeman to Gardiner, Montana. We were duly impressed with the giant and bizarre Yellowstone park gate and amused by the "Do Not Molest the Animals" sign. We stopped in to have a chat with the rangers, who immediately all flocked around and told us about every relative and friend-of-a-friend who had ever been to Canada (either end) or New Zealand. They also warned Michael that bears like Kiwis, and insisted that he would be ideal fodder.
They did, however, give us a list of the cheapest places to stay in the park. One of these was the cute little cabins adjoining the Mammoth Hotel, and this is where we stayed. They were pretty great - I do love cabins. At this point Amy went to climb a hill and Michael and I wandered off to see the hotsprings (passing the Mammoth Restrooms on the way).
The hotsprings were pretty interesting (was going to say cool, but in fact they weren't, oddly enough) and of course I had to read every little sign and pamphlet on them. Apparently a volcano once erupted there, and now it is a source of crazy amounts of thermal activity. (Also apparently, none of it compares to Rotarua in NZ. Bah.) The orange, yellow, brown and green colours are caused by thermophilic bacteria.
This was the point at which our man Shawnie showed up, having managed to follow my somewhat garbled voicemails. So we Kai Bai Bo'd sleeping arrangements (Korean rock paper scissors - thanks to Amy for the quick'n'easy decision-making tool!) and revisited the hotsprings the next morning for the benefit of Amy and Shawn.
We had elaborate plans to go rafting or horseback riding the next morning, but it turned out that Shawnie couldn't swim and had never been on a horse. Deciding that we were less likely to kill him by way of horse-induced concussion than to drown him, we opted for the ride.
We drove way up into the hills for the ride that afternoon, led by a wee cowboy who bore a strong resemblance to Josh Hartnett. It was a great time, riding through gorgeous countryside on horseback (though mine showed a strong tendency to stop for a snack every two seconds - not as greedy as Michael's, though, who regarded the whole ride as a chance to grab dinner).
We watched the Oilers that night in a little casino lounge thing. The bartender was a Red Wings fan but was willing to put on the game for us. The three of us tried to cheer loud enough to drown out the sad women whispering by the VLTs, and were partially successful.
The next day was sadly our final one. We got up early and took off in a mad rush to see what we could of Yellowstone before we left. We managed to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and just miss Old Faithful erupting before we had to part ways.
Shawnie had his heart set on seeing the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana, which I agreed sounded pretty cool. We had checked the map and the times and figured we could make it for the final tour at 4.30. At 4.10, we were not even to the park. I called the tour office and begged the cold American lady who answered for them to hold off for just a few minutes so we wouldn't miss it. She told me we were probably still half an hour away and they wouldn't hold the tour. Shawn and I looked at each other and then drove like the wind (well, I navigated like the wind) and screeched into the parking lot at 4.29.
The tour was 100% worth it, though. Seriously, it was right up there with Skara Brae in Orkney as the coolest thing I've ever seen. I had forgotten to eat and was shaky and dizzy the whole time (though big thanks to Shawn for running back to the car to find me some food and staving the low blood sugar off somewhat) but even so, I was blown away. I can't even describe how incredible it was: I will only say go here if there's any way you can.
So that was the clear high point of the trip, after which we crashed at the dodgiest motel in the universe in Great Falls, Montana, and drove for eight hours to get home. The end!
But ps. - the things I remember most about the trip are the little things - Amy calling her chai tea "T'ai Chi" and giving me my weekly quota of girl talk, Shawnie constantly consulting his little KPH to MPH chart to see how much he was speeding, Michael and I buying Moose Drool beer and then being surprised when it was pretty icky. And man... we all looked pretty darn hot in our cowboy hats!
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