January 25, 2021

Yellowstone: timeline refresher

The Yellowstone saga continues. 

Timeline refresher:  We first visited Yellowstone in 2010. Curly was 2.5 years old. We've visited several other national parks, but Yellowstone was our favorite. 

Cue the HILLS ARE ALIVE music.

Reg in his coon-skin cap showing Mini the sights.

Mini - Curly - Tank

A few years ago, I made a reservations to go to Yellowstone with my dad. This plan took shape while I was in Scotland with Dad and my girls for Curly's first world championship for Irish dancing in 2018. I always thought we'd go back to Yellowstone, because some of the kids barely remember it. Dad has been several times, but he was anxious to go back. 

I learned the hard way that if you don't make a reservation the minute they open up in May a year BEFORE you want to go, then there is crap left. The reservation I got for July 2018 suckedWe would've been staying in what's called a ROUGH RIDER. A cabin with no bathroom or sink. Shared facilities down a path. 

Underwhelmed by the options, I still reserved the ROUGH RIDERS. As the dates approached, we decided to bale. The trip was too close to our trip to Orlando for Nationals for Irish dancing anyway. The thought of dealing with a shared bathroom down a path left me grouchy. 

May 1, 2018, I called and made reservations for July '19. They were decent reservations. Part of our stay was in our fav location of the park in frontier cabins with . . .  (drumroll) bathrooms. 

Then Coach and I realized Curly was dancing in Vancouver in July '19. It seemed crappy to take Mini for moral support and Curly to dance and leave everyone else home. We certainly couldn't do BOTH Vancouver AND Yellowstone. You might remember how I struggled with that decision. We once again cancelled our Yellowstone trip. 

So, on May 1, 2019 Dad and I manned the phone lines trying to get a top notch reservation for July '20. When we struggled to get a cabin at Tower Roosevelt, an employee admitted that the online reservations opened an hour before the phones. 


I was furious. I'd called in advance asking stuff like:  how many consecutive days can we reserve, how many cabins can I get - we have a big group, etc. No one ever said:  ONLINE OPENS FIRST.

On May 2, '19, I called up and shared my frustration. The lady took pity on me. I mentioned that the park ought to be giving Dad first dibs on a cabin since his trip in June of '16 ended badly. 

2016: Dad travelled to Yellowstone with my brother Pat and his four kids. He was bucked off of a horse when a chuck wagon drove into the corral too fast and spooked his horse. If Dad had just dismounted because the 1 hour ride that he agreed to take with my niece was over, he'd have been fine. But they make you wait until they help you dismount. He was sitting in the saddle. One foot out of the stirrup. The other in. When he was bucked, the side with the foot still in dislocated at the hip and the hip snapped. 

He suffered a brain bleed, 6 broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a broken hip. He required hip surgery. The doctors admitted to him that this was not the first time they'd seen major injuries from that horse rental barn. We learned the specific horse he rode had a history. Dad hired a lawyer (months later) and seriously considered suing, but ultimately he didn't. 

Coach and I breathed a sigh of relief that this happened on Dad's trip to Yellowstone with Pat -

NOT during the trip he took with our family to Glacier exactly two weeks earlier. Pat was framed as a hero. Coach just shakes his head at that mystery KNOWING that I'd have been blamed for anything that happened on my watch.

On our trip, Coach scolded Dad when he crossed a street to take photos of a bear in an open field:  "GET BACK OVER HERE. I HAVE ONE MISSION ON THIS TRIP AND THAT IS TO GET YOU HOME IN ONE PIECE."


When we went white water rafting in Glacier, I made the reservation in advance. Told Dad to bring his book. Found him a comfy chair. After we all put wetsuits on, I couldn't find Dad. He walks up wearing a wet suit. "Oh, I decided to join you. The lady at the desk says it's safe." 

I begged him not to. "MOM WILL KILL ME." The man has a mind of his own. He was 76. Coach made Dad sit on the raft directly in front of him. I was to dive in after any of our offspring, but Coach was on Dad watch.

We all survived.

When the taking-pity-on-me woman heard that I'd be traveling with my elderly dad who walks all fucked up thanks to a Yellowstone horse, she offered an ADA cabin in the desirable part of the park where I had once again reserved ROUGH RIDERS. 

So, 2020 was all set. Dad had a cabin WITH a bathroom. I assured my children that they could all enjoy the shared facilities, but I planned to borrow Dad's bathroom. It wasn't the greatest, but we'd make due. 



Nicole MacPherson said...

Awww, that's too bad (I'm assuming it was all 2020 cancelled like everything else!). Also that is CRAZY that your dad got bucked off a horse and broke his hip. I'm glad he's okay now (although it sounds like his walking is affected). Breaking a hip is no joke, yikes, the poor man! I also can't believe he wanted to go white water rafting. I'd be pretty nervous if my dad wanted to do that too.

Nicole MacPherson said...

Whoops, hit publish too soon. I've been on the Canadian side of Glacier! But not the American one. I think I'd like to go to Yellowstone, I really enjoy hiking and such. It looks very beautiful. One day we plan to visit the canyonlands in the US but that day is...far off? I really don't know what with Covid and all.

Kari said...

I've never been out there but I have always wanted to go! So beautiful. I am assuming because of COVID, it was all canceled.
I am hoping vacations over summer this year may resume? We were hoping to go to Colorado...fingers crossed.

Kara said...

We've done Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert (they're the same place, basically), and Saguaro National Park. We've driven through Joshua Tree- it's AMAZING. We've been to Sequoia and Redwood, Golden Gate and San Francisco Maritime. I grew up taking field trips to the Boston Harbor Islands. We did a whole day at Hawaii Volcanoes in 2018.

This summer, we're doing Great Basin and Capitol Reef, and have made our camping reservations already. We have been camping our way through the State Parks of Arizona (yes, shared bathrooms, but they are generally very clean and have hot water showers!), even in the winters. We bought a small, hard sided camper a few years ago. It would not work with six kids. Heck, it doesn't even fit all three of my kids. But kids can sleep in tents, I need a bed.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes, 2020 was cancelled - but there is yet another chapter beyond that cancellation . . . coming on Wednesday. My dad could've died in that incident. It was very frightening. When we missed our connection to Scotland a year and a half later, my dad could NOT run or walk very quickly. The airport peeps were urging us to hurry and I was like - not gonna happen. Even if he was an Olympic runner, Orbitz booked our connection too close to our other flight and we couldn't make it happen. It was the first time that I realized just how much the accident impacted him. I was used to seeing him at church or at his house. Walking anywhere was SLOW going. Anyway, the doctors were mystified by his strength and his will to recover. He was able to fly home much sooner than they anticipated.

We did Waterton and Glacier on the same trip. We really loved Waterton. So beautiful. We stayed at the big, historic hotel. Name escapes me. We did really like Glacier. The forests were so dense it was tough to spot wildlife, but then we found much success on one road and we saw so much driving up and down that road - at the same time every day, that we found it hysterical. Yellowstone is amazing. I just found my favorite video clip of Curly reacting to just seeing a bear. It's hilarious and I'm adding it to my post for Wednesday.

Ernie said...

Kari - Yes the 2020 trip was cancelled, of course. But, because life is never dull - there is more to the story. I'll share on Wednesday along with some of my favorite video clips of my young passengers.

Love Colorado. We went to Estes Park a handful of times as a kid. We went there with the kids two years after Yellowstone. Aweseome.

Ernie said...

Kara - You are more adventurous than I realized. We did Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde the same time that we went to Colorado. Love the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. So cool. We have not done many of the places you mention. We used to camp, but I am with you on the 'need a bed' thing nowadays. Camping is such a great, economical way to travel. There were moments that made me almost lose my mind though.

Suz said...

First of all, the pics of your kids at the park are so stinking cute.
I can't believe that happened to your dad and HE LIVED! He's got a deathwish though....maybe trying to get out of life for some reason? I'm just sayin....
Yellowstone IS lovely!
We went there in 2009 and it's funny that some pics popped up in my memories today and we (as a family) were reminiscing how It was such a great trip and also we ALMOST DIED as a family. *sigh*

I can only guess the 2020 plans were cancelled because of one of your siblings trying to plan something different with your dad.

Ernie said...

Suz - If you like these photos, wait till you see the videos. OMG. I'm planning to upload one of the cutest video clips of Curly in my next installment of the Yellowstone saga. If I could just get my google photos to cooperate. It's ticking me off today.

Yes, my dad and his adventurous side . . . although that little one hour horse ride should've been no big deal. Pat is very allergic, so my dad agreed to go with my niece. He was in really bad shape. When he came back from weeks in the hospital and rehab, a few of my kids stood in his front yard and cheered for him when my mom drove him home with balloons AND, A GIANT AMERICAN GIRL DOLL HORSE ON TOP OF HIS MAILBOX. Hee hee.

Yes, covid and my sibling cancelled the 2020 trip - you remember . . . but there is ANOTHER chapter here that is currently killing me.

We almost bumped into you at Yellowstone. Missed you by one year. I've been watching the videos to find the fav clip and OMG there was a treacherous drive in the fog over the icy mountain that I thought for sure was going to be the end of all of us.

Ally Bean said...

I've been to Joshua Tree National Park. It was very dry, not a whitewater rapid to be seen. The desert beauty was amazing, so even if it's the only national park I've been to it's my favorite. So far.

Ernie said...

Ali - I had the Joshua Tree U2 album back in the day, but I've never been to that park. It's hard to go to another new park when we had such a great Yellowstone experience.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Love, love, love Acadia (in Maine) - very kid-friendly, with just-challenging-enough hikes with amazing views. Also, great ice cream! Hoping to get to see Arches and Canyonlands this year...

Ernie said...

Karen - Oh, I remember you posting about Acadia. Maine is a hike, or maybe it's just not the direction we are accustomed to traveling in. Great ice cream is a must. Hope your trip happens this summer. Our 2021 trip is in jeopardy and it ISN'T being threatened by the pandemic specifically. The next chapter on Wednesday.