We woke up in the morning to the sounds of.....COWS! Even though the little paperwork about the cabin said that all the gates and fences were to keep the cows out, upon waking, there were about 8 black cows milling around the property. Oops! Pretty sure they were there before we got there; whether they were supposed to be or not.
As we got ready in the morning we hit a few snags. One, Wyatt's entire body was on fire with a fever and the bad air was making it hard for him to breathe. Two, Wyatt threw up and three, there were more dead mice; well half dead mice. The bathroom the boys were using seemed perhaps to be an entry point for the little rodents and Ross had to dispose of another little critter before the boys could shower in the morning. Ick!
After all that however, we were ready to hit the road. But, of course there was one minor glitch. Ross realized halfway down the dirt road that he'd left his wallet at the cabin. We debated about turning around to get it, but decided not to. Bad decision. All I had was $33 dollars and an American Express card. The week before, my debit card had been hacked and I didn't have my new one before leaving on our trip. I was nervous about it (rightly so) the whole day.
Our first stop was in West Yellowstone at the Grizzly discovery center. Knowing that the chances of seeing actual bears and wolves in the park was slim, we figured this would be a good stop for the boys.
We saw 5 bears and 4 wolves and some beautiful but injured birds of prey. Wyatt was out of it and road in the wagon. He was pretty clueless actually as to where we even were, but he tried. After we watched Sam the giant Grizzly look for food and swat at ravens for a while, we decided it was time to head into the park. The only internet/data we had on the whole trip was in West Yellowstone so before we left we made sure that inside the park, they accepted American Express.
As we entered the park, we were on immediate animal watch. Our Magic 8 ball toy at home told us that we would see: bears, wolves, moose, elk, bison, and eagles. Our first animal sighting was a bison walking down the center of the opposite lane of traffic with a line of about 20 cars behind it. Wyatt was asleep, but Quinn and Elliott thought it was amazing.
We really didn't make too much progress on day one. We stopped at the Artist Paint Pots and drug Wyatt on the dirt path for a mile to see the steaming and stinky mud pots. Quinn thought they smelled like bacon and Ross almost dumped Wyatt out of the wagon when it was his turn to pull - sending the sickly little boy into a tailspin of screaming and crying. Quinn lost his rein as the wagon king this day, and actually handled it pretty well doing a lot of walking - and a lot of piggy back riding. Wyatt spent most of the day asleep in the car and Elliott? I have no idea what he did. He was buried in his cave in the back of the car. I think he mostly just sneaked snacks all day long.
We decided to head up to Mammoth because it was a good place to eat lunch, we thought we'd have phone service, and Ross didn't seem to remember that the whole place was dried up, so he thought it would be cool to see. The road from Norris to Mammoth is completely torn up and we ended up sitting in a couple construction zones for about 30 minutes. Ross fell asleep waiting. Something about that summer sun beating through the windows that knocks you out.
When we got to Mammoth is was pretty deserted. Not a lot of people, pretty overcast and no elk. We were starving and got food and delicious Montana ice cream. At that point, we realized that our phones weren't working and we hadn't given my parents directions to the cabin for their evening arrival. Our only options for phone service was a nice one legged man from Montana who offered to let us use his working verizon phone, or the pay phone. My children had NO IDEA what a pay phone was and once I got through to my mom, my time ran out pretty quickly. But, luckily my mom is a smart lady and she called the payphone back and Ross was able to give her exact directions to the cabin.
After our pit stop at Mammoth, we headed towards Tower Roosevelt, and then had plans to leave the park to get dinner. On our way to Tower, we saw a large gathering of people and they were gathered for, you guessed it, MOOSE! A mama and baby moose were grazing near the road. A ranger was there to protect them and answer questions. He said that there are only about 100 known moose in the park so we were pretty lucky. I could have watched them all day, but we had to get going. Quinn was asleep so we took turns getting out of the car to look at the beautiful creatures and then we were back on the road.
On our way out of the park we saw more bison and a pretty big elk herd. We decided to eat pizza in West Yellowstone for dinner. After we had ordered and eaten our salads, I told Ross that we better make sure that the place takes American Express. He said we'd be fine and I pouted for the rest of dinner. Hen it was time to pay, the pizza place DID NOT accept American Express. I went to the ATM outside to try and get a cash advance multiple times but it wouldn't let me. I was so mad and so embarrassed that we couldn't pay for our dinner. Ross talked to our server, explained the situation, and we left with a promise to be back in the morning to pay for our dinner.
At least the sunset heading out of town was pretty.
I was already a little on edge because of the money problem when we got back to the cabin well after dark. We walked in and set our stuff down in the kitchen. What happened next was right out of a movie. Ross came in last and right as he turned into the kitchen he yelled "BAT!" The boys and I turned to look just as a brown bat came flying towards us. It was just like in the movie "The Great Outdoors!" Panic and screaming ensued. Elliott and Wyatt were with me, trapped in the kitchen and Quinn was with his dad by the back door. Every time anyone moved, the bat came towards us. It was out of control! Ross opened the back door to try and shew the thing out, alive, but it was too stupid and I'm sure frightened. Next thing I know, Ross has found an oar and grabbed it, swinging at the bat. Quinn was outside on the deck screaming hysterically trying to get to me. Ross took a couple swings at the bat and got lucky - it smacked right into the oar and fell to the ground stunned. Then, the bat was murdered. By my husband. He saved us!
My mom and dad arrived about an hour later and the first thing the boys told them was about the bat. We sat up with the parentals and hung out for a while while Wyatt did his breathing machine and then it was time for bed. Quinn and I were laying down and I was singing him songs - he was a little on edge. Ross crossed the hall and as he was walking towards us, another bat (yes, another bat!) flew right in front of his face. And then behind him. And then in front of him again. It was awful. Quinn and I were scared. This time, without an oar, Ross went out to kill another bat with a fly swatter, a towel and a belt. He was roaming the house for a good 15 minutes and he couldn't find it anywhere and declared that it must have gone out the way it came in. Ha! Fat chance on that one.
Guess how well I slept that night. ;)