The Lees and the Carlsens at Yellowstone’s Grant Campground

Our son, Nicholas, suggested we rendezvous at Yellowstone National Park.  He, his wife and children, and his in-laws, the Lees, flew from Virginia to Salt Lake City, rented a motorhome and drove to the park.  We drove our new Thor Synergy motorhome from Chelan to Yellowstone.  It would be a much-needed shakedown cruise for our new acquisition.

The weather in Virginia had been stifling so Yellowstone’s cool weather was a welcome relief for them.  Morning temperatures were in the thirties.  The first night, Friday, it rained but turned sunny thereafter – quite pleasant.

We rendezvoued at Old Faithful where the parking lot is big enough to handle a Seahawk’s football crowd and it was full.  Old Faithful dutifully spurted right on time so no surprises there.  Nick brought a nifty little camping saw that enabled us to collect a full measure of firewood just to the side of the parking lot (saved $8.00!)

We couldn’t get our RV’s furnace to work so our morning coffee was the only thing to warm us on Saturday morning.  Everything in the Synergy is computer controlled which takes some getting used to.  We later figured out what we were doing wrong.

Yellowstone is crowded this time of year so we had reservations for our first two nights at Grant Campground.  In order to get an unreserved site at another campground we were on the road by 6AM and then stood in line for an hour at Norris Campground.  All eight of us then piled into Nick’s rented RV and drove around the northern reaches of the park.  We saw a modest assortment of wildlife (a few black bears, elk, and bison).

A brown Black Bear stops traffic

Near Mammoth Hot Springs Nick stuck his hand in this clear mountain stream and discovered it to be as warm as bathtub water!  Red-hot magma is never far beneath your feet in Yellowstone.

Warm Mountain Stream

Sunday we visited the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Awesome waterfalls but the engineer in me could only imagine all the hydroelectric power going to waste:

Mary at the lower waterfall

We also visited the bubbling mud pools (or whatever they’re called).  Several bison were grazing within arm’s reach.  One of them had shed a patch of wool just out of reach.  When I spied a “grabber” at the next pool (used to retrieve wind-tossed hats from the pool) I raced back and plucked the patch of wool from the other side of the barrier.  “What a great souveneir of Yellowstone!”  I thought.  Mary could only recoil in horror when I suggested she feel how soft the wool is.  

“That thing probably has ticks and fleas in it” she shrieked.  She isolated it from more civilized surroundings once we returned to the RV by sealing it in a Zip-Loc bag.

Tuesday morning we moved to adjacent Grand Teton Park.  Nick and I hiked up into the Tetons until snow blocked the trail while the others strolled up to Jenny Lake:

Nick just below the snow in the Tetons

We drove into the town of Jackson that afternoon for a sub-par Mexican meal at the Merry Piglet restaurant.  On the way back to the campground at Colter Bay we were treated to a spectacular stampede of a bison herd.  About sixty of those thundering beasts were spooked by something and started running.  When a fenceline appeared to block their path they simply jumped over the fence!  I never would have guessed that animals weighing over 1000 lbs could jump a fence.  Nick captured the stampede on his video camera:  

As a shakedown cruise our trip disclosed several problems with our new RV so in that sense it was a spectacular success.   The RV’s door was hard to open and impossible to lock.  It actually came open twice as we were driving.  Our solution was to bungee it closed.  Ironically, the door works perfectly today, now that we are home.  Despite the  bugs, which we expect to work out soon, we really like the Synergy’s layout.  It drives like a sedan and gets spectacular fuel MPG for a motorhome (16-17 MPG for the entire trip.)

I’m guessing Mary’s favorite part of the trip was the chance to grandmother Anna (6) and Leif (4).  We don’t get to see them often being separated by an entire continent.  She was a big hit with them judging by their insistence on holding her hand everywhere we went..