A few years ago, Sean and I were brainstorming on places that we wanted to make sure to visit before the boys were grown up and no longer interested (or forced) in vacationing with us. Yellowstone was put way up there on the list.
We thought of doing it last year, but that didn’t happen. Other years had other big vacations, so Yellowstone wasn’t feasible then, either. Around Christmas of 2012, I decided that if I didn’t just start planning it, it wasn’t going to happen. So when we had a couple hundred “extra” dollars in the bank, I made our first reservations for a few nights in budget cabins, and we were set.
Other preparations had to be made too. If it was going to take two days to get there, and two days back, we were going to make this a two week vacation, so Sean needed the time off work. After many conversations, and quite a bit of pouting from me, that was done. August 10th through the 25th—that time was ours.
Sleeping accommodations were going to be an issue. We wanted a two week vacation, but two weeks in hotels was not even a consideration. Renting a motorhome? I looked at it for a millisecond; about the same cost as the hotels, not including gas. Buying a pop-up trailer? Possible, maybe, but it would require a loan (which could be paid off if we re-sold the trailer), and I just didn’t want to be bothered. Sean would have loved it…ahhh, camping and a real mattress, what could be better? Well, maybe not better, but how about a one minute set-up tent with two double-height queen mattresses? No sleeping on the ground, we have all the rest of the camping gear… I decided. That’s what we did—a few nights camping, one night cabin, repeat two times. Saves on money, and also gets you to the showers in a timely fashion.
We (mainly me) were sure that we wanted to do hiking while in Yellowstone. No backpacking, just a few five or so milers. Hiking in Yellowstone means potential wildlife encounters without the security of a vehicle. While some wildlife encounters might be welcome, the type with a mama grizzly and two cubs…not so much. So we bought bear spray—two cans. If we only had one can, wouldn’t that be a b*tch if that was the person the bear went after? Two cans sounded good to me.
And we needed binoculars. And we needed rain jackets. And we all needed new/better-fitting hiking boots. Stocking up for Yellowstone was spendy, but doing it over the course of the year, and with most of those items being things we’d use post-Yellowstone, anyway (except the bear spray, let’s hope), it wasn’t so bad.