(I’ve been off the grid for 5 days and have been the driver of our vacation, so I have been unable to post until now. Five posts to come in the next day.)

This morning we finally made our way into Yellowstone via the east entrance. WOW! This day has finally come, and after so many long months of planning and preparing it didn’t seem real. Once through the gate the realization that we had finally made it, to a place that my father had once said to me “I would love to witness Yellowstone”, hit me emotionally very hard. And I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. My father’s love for Western movies has been passed down to me and I hold that very close to my heart and not many know about that bond we had. And to see the landscape here brings back those days as a child, lounging with my father watching John Wayne movies. 

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We climbed up over Sylvan Pass (to 8,530 feet) and on the descent we had to stop to take a few shots of a single bison grazing on the road side (just a few feet from the car!). At the next overlook we stopped for the perfect photo of Yellowstone Lake. The view was absolutely stunning.

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Down into the valley we proceeded to our final destination for the next 3 days, Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Very classy! We checked in but our cabins weren’t ready so we decided to venture out on our first hike, on Elephant Back Trail. This hike was a 3 mile hike which took us through thick forest with an elevation change of about 800ft. Now 800ft doesn’t sound a lot, but believe me, it’s a bitch! The trail was very narrow with switchbacks and for some of us, this was a little unnerving. Our fearless MTP fought hard and valiantly as our BEAR SCOUT, her head was always scanning, left to right and back again. However this forest was so dense that a bear could’ve been 5 feet off the trail and we would have never seen it. And what would a hike be without several pee breaks. Daddy here had to find the perfect log and teach my girls how to pee in the woods. Kinda weird right? But this daddy will do anything for his little girls. 

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On the way up I had to pause and listen to the wind blowing through the trees. This place felt very magical to me. If was as if I could hear my father’s voice. And I knew that he was with me as I took this first hike. All the grief, anger, and sadness that I’ve been holding on since his passing suddenly felt gone. 

It took us approximately 1.5 hours to reach the summit, and the views were once again amazing. We sat and just took it all in. We could see Lake Yellowstone Hotel below and all of Lake Yellowstone. The colors of the lake, the snow on the mountain tops. I was in awe. We were very fortunate to meet a great couple at the top that agreed to take a group photo of us, which turned out perfect!

As we departed the summit to hike back down I once again had a private emotional moment. I was taking everything in and letting it all go. Some say you can become one with nature, today that happened to me.

Once back down we hustled back to our hotel to see if our cabins were ready, and they were! They are perfect for us. We are in a duplex type cabin so my family in one and the Potts in the next cabin. We had to have celebratory drink and toast with Teton Huckleberry Vodka with Huckleberry lemonade. Wow, that is some delicious stuff!

We topped the evening off with dinner at the Lake Lodge and a walk down to the water’s edge of Lake Yellowstone. The walk was a little tense when you have a 1200lb bison munching on some grass within 70 yards of you, on both sides! Just a little tense. And then heading back over to Lake Yellowstone Hotel for some bourbon and to listen to some fine piano tunes in the lobby.

Tomorrow Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Falls!