On Tuesday, we were up and on the road by 7:10am. We stopped to get gas and headed to Yellowstone. I originally wanted to take the road west out of Canyon Village and then go north, but Emily noticed a sign at the east entrance that said there was construction along that route so we took the road north and then west. The Northern road was supposed to be the “Serengeti” of Yellowstone, but we didn’t see much at all. I drove that morning and some of the roads were pretty scary. One wrong move and it was a long plummet down! We avoided the construction on the other route (which was super long, we ended up discovering on the way back), but this route did have some construction also. At one point, we were waiting our turn on the one-lane road and I said, “We’re really high right now, can you feel it?” Obviously, I meant the elevation, but everyone else had a good laugh about it and teased me for the rest of the day.
We made it to Gardiner by 11:00am sharp which was perfect because it gave us plenty of time to have lunch at Subway. We made it to the Flying Pig at 11:50am (we needed to be there by noon) and headed to Hells A Roarin’ Ranch for our horseback riding. It was supposed to be a one hour ride but I think it was more like an hour and a half. Jonny was scared at first and was just about to tell me he didn’t want to do it, but just then they called his name and he hopped right on. I was so proud of him!
I think we had pretty good luck with our horses overall. The guides were David, Cole, Bernadette, and Georgia. David held onto Jonny’s horse and they were at the front the whole time. Bernadette was the one who took pictures for me. I was kind of stuck in the middle of all the kids and we were pretty spread out. Dad was in the back and Michael was in the front so it worked out. Andrew and Nathaniel both had their horses freak out a little bit when Cole’s horse (he was a little wild and it was his first trail ride--the horse, not the guide, lol) cut in front of them but they were alright.
The scenery on our ride was so beautiful and the weather was great—about 85 degrees.
We rode through Gallatin National Forest
That's Electric Peak in the background
Nathaniel on Pat
Me on Pinto Pete and Daniel on Oxbow
Andrew on Sandy and Papa on Fiddler
Michael on Sasquatch
Jonny on Little Britches (how cute is that?? I think that should be Jonny's new nickname) with our guide David
Emily on Hickory
More beautiful scenery
My view for most of the ride
Michael had a bad experience horseback riding as a kid, but he loved it this time! So did Jonny! We ALL did!
I was pretty sore and ready for it to be done by the time we made it back. Jonny says the horseback riding was his favorite part of our vacation. I drove us back to the Flying Pig (the guys were worried but I think I handled the driving pretty well) and we didn’t get there until about 2:45. We had to hurry and get dressed in our bathing suits and find wetsuits that fit us. The water was 45-55 degrees they said. Our guide’s name was Rob Thomas. The walk down to the raft was pretty scary but we all made it. Everyone paddled except for Jonny. Daniel “rode the bull,” which means he sat on the front of the boat and held on through some big waves. Emily and then Nathaniel took a turn, too, but he fell off! It freaked me out a little bit (and Andrew a lot—he screamed!), but they got him back in the raft and he said he was fine. All of the kids took a turn riding in the front of the raft (on the inside). Rob later said that we were approaching some Hippopotamus waves and that the kids could “ride the bison,” which meant they would stand on the front of the raft while we spun it around (called the washing machine). Nathaniel tried it and fell in the raft, then did it again and jumped in the water. Daniel jumped in too, but I didn’t want him to stand on the front of the boat! We all felt like the ride ended too soon. Our guide said he was from Wisconsin, but he was actually pretty knowledgeable about the Mammoth Hot Springs barracks. We rode a pink bus back to their office and ended up buying the pictures they took of us. I had decided not to bring my camera on the boat. I didn't really have a chance to use it, anyway. Here are some of the ones they got of us at the beginning of the ride.
Emily and Nathaniel both said that the rafting was their favorite part of the whole vacation. We were going to eat dinner at the Iron Horse restaurant but it was really expensive and we wanted to see the Mammoth Hot Springs before we went back so we went there and had snacks to tide us over and walked around the hot springs.
These guys were just hanging out in the yard next to a private residence, right near the bathrooms where we stopped in the Mammoth Springs area.
Remember how I mentioned the construction on the way back? We had to wait a good 20 minutes for our turn because it was down to only one lane. Once we barely got past the construction, we saw this bison in the road. Everyone was stopped. I took out my camera to start filming and the bison gave me the spookiest look. He was looking directly at me as if I were his dinner! It was freaky! Look at the way he stares! I thought he was going to charge at us or something. Even as he walked by, it was like he was saying, "You're lucky I just ate, lady!"
Some more cool sightings on our way back
Michael drove us back to Cody. We didn’t arrive until about 10:30pm and we had dinner at McDonalds and then went to bed. The kids were pretty impressed with the "fancy" McDonald's water feature.
Time for some rest!