We decided to leave Yellowstone one night early for two reasons. One, we had a huge drive to the next town looming before us and two, frankly because it was not fun waking up in a tent when it was 40 degrees. Dad went to go take a 12 minute shower (the best $4 spent on the trip) and get a cup of coffee from the store. Mom was up at camp when he got back, so we decided to sit in the car with the heater on to discuss our options. Did we mention that it was COLD? A quick call to Hotels.com got us a hotel reservation in Powell, Wyoming, or so we thought. We chose Powell because at first glance, Cody, Wyoming looked too expensive. We have learned on this trip that a lot of people stay in the towns closest to the entrances of Yellowstone National Park and travel in for the day. Because of this, hotels in these towns typically charge much more for rooms of the same or lesser quality.
We spent our last day in Yellowstone driving through the park to experience some of the spots that we had not yet seen. Yellowstone is very large, and each section of the park is radically different from the others (geysers, canyons, forests, lakes, valleys). We really loved the Canyon area and its two amazing waterfalls.
We can only imagine what the first explorers who found this place thought when they came upon the 300+ foot waterfall at the Lower Falls. One last drive through herds of bison in Hayden Valley and past gorgeous Yellowstone Lake, and we were on our way out of the park. Every day is an Adventure.
Heading East through Wyoming towards Cody was an awesome drive with incredible scenery.
We hit Cody, and turned off for the 30-minute drive to Powell where we understood that we had a reservation at the one chain hotel in town. Every day is an Adventure.
We pulled up to our hotel after 9:00 with a very tired family. As Dad walked up to the hotel and saw the No Vacancy sign, he felt very glad that he made his reservation early that morning through Hotels.com. Those warm, fuzzy feelings quickly disappeared when he found that the hotel had no reservation for our family. A quick call to our friends at Hotels.com informed us that there was a “system error” processing our reservation, but thankfully “there would not be a charge to our credit card”. Thanks Hotels.com – now we feel better.
We surveyed our other options in Powell (very scary), and came to the conclusion that our only hope was to head back to Cody. We decided to call our friends at Hotels.com to see available options in Cody before we backtracked 30 minutes. Each time that Dad tried to call with our failed reservation number, the call was mysteriously dropped after we explained the situation. Thanks Hotels.com. Every day is an adventure.
We found a place in Cody on our own, and everything was great. Thanks AmericInn. This hotel had the added bonus of having a lobby full of mounted animals, which the kids loved. Did we mention we were in Wyoming?
The next morning, we did our usual check-out (15 minutes after check-out time), and hit the road again for a long drive across Wyoming to Devil’s Tower.
Devil’s Tower is famous because it is the unique rock formation that was used in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. We had reservations to stay at the KOA next to Devil’s Tower in their “Park Model” Cabin. It is the Penthouse of the KOA lodging options: a cabin with two rooms, A/C, and its own bathroom. When planning the Year Long Adventure, we had grand hopes of utilizing KOA for about 30% of the stays on the first leg of this adventure to help with costs. We had already canceled all but two of our KOA reservations, but had kept this one due to the fact that it was the top of the line (and it was too late to cancel). How bad could it be? Every day is an adventure.
We checked into the KOA and drove across the property to the lone Park Model. At first glance it was not too bad, but we did come up with a helpful (although obvious) hint for anyone providing lodging for travelers. On 100 degree days, it might not be a bad idea to go out in the afternoon and turn on the air conditioner in the units reserved for that evening. We turned on the A/C in the sweltering cabin (even while noting that due to a bad floor plan, cool air would never reach the master bedroom) and headed into the small town outside Devil’s Tower for dinner. Mom and Dad decided while this lodging might not be our ideal choice, it was ours for the evening and it would be okay. Every day is an Adventure.
We returned to the KOA, started three loads of laundry, and began the nightly chore of trying to get all three kids ready for bed. The kids were finally in bed with the lights out when Dad left to move the laundry to the dryer. Upon his return, he did not find the happy home that he had left. Mom had fear in her eyes as she informed him that we had a “small” problem. An inspection of the mattress in the master bedroom led to the discovery of BUGS in the bed. Not sure what kind of bugs they were, but they were the kind that meant a drive to a hotel was in order. Dad drove up to the office to inform them of the situation, got a refund, and headed back to the Park Model for the arduous trip of repacking everything in the van – in the dark – with three tired kids – and a Mom freaked out by bugs in her bed. Every day is an adventure.
The one saving grace was the goat Dad found sitting on the porch of the Park Model when he returned from the office. Yes, a goat. While Mom and Dad loaded the van, the kids had a ball playing outside with the goat.
We decided not to freak the kids out with the bugs, so we told them we were leaving because it was too hot to sleep in the cabin. All they cared about was the goat. We got the van loaded, said goodbye to the goat, retrieved our still slightly damp laundry, and headed to our next destination after 10:00 at night. The goat will probably be one of the lasting memories of the trip for the kids. There was even a discussion in the car about having a pet goat at home. Two nights in a row of driving to a different city where we have no hotel because our previous lodging did not work out as planned. Every day is an adventure.
We pulled into Rapid City, South Dakota, where we had planned to be the following two nights. We found the Best Western where our reservations were, and let them know that because we were so excited, we were a day early. They had one room left due to a no-show, so thankfully, they let us have that room. Everything worked out in the end, and we were all finally in bed by 12:30 A.M. We are in the same hotel for the next three nights, and this hotel has two BIG waterslides. Did we mention that every day is an adventure?
P.S. Thanks Hotels.com for the $150 voucher and for FINALLY doing the right thing.
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