I would first like to apologize to all of the campers of Bridge Bay, Loop 3. I did not mean to do that.
When you’re traveling in a school bus, not only does your awkward size attract strange looks (and a couple of cheers), it also limits your ability to travel and find parking. We asked a number of campers, including Kevin the critter-photographer, where we should visit during our single full-day in Yellowstone. As soon as we mentioned the school bus, they usually responded with that wincing inhaled-hiss that lets you know, “Oooo, that’s not gonna happen.” Justin and I welcomed that news, and spent the day lounging around the campground, catching up sleep that we weren’t actually missing. We made a pact that we were allowed to be lazy for the day, if we agreed to get up early and be productive the next.
Justin set his alarm for 6AM, and by half after, he had managed to pry me off the bed (and then the couch) and we were ready to go. Starting up a diesel engine before 7AM made me a bit apprehensive, but quiet hours were technically over, and we had to get on the road.
Now, the bus has been surprisingly reliable despite it’s age. It started effortlessly at the beginning of the summer after sitting completely unused for four long, mostly-winter months. The only time it’s ever been difficult to start was in the dead of winter, when the engine was too cold. Being that it’s the middle of summer, this was not a concern of mine. What I was neglecting to consider, of course, was that we were camping above 8,000ft, and the temperature drops precipitously when the sun isn’t out. When I went to start the bus this morning, temperatures were hovering just above freezing.
This went on for at least three painfully loud minutes. People were beginning to climb out of their tents to stare at the unreasonably loud idiots who insisted on cranking an engine that refused to start.
As if that wasn’t enough, Justin brought my attention to the rear of the bus, where a plume of oily smoke was literally blocking my view of anything behind the bus.
As soon as the engine caught, we scurried out of the campground, tail between our legs, the oily cloud of shame still hanging in the air. Again, to the campers of Bridge Bay Loop 3, my sincerest apologies. I did not mean to do that.
Finally on our way, we were determined to see the best of Yellowstone in the handful we had allotted. First on the list was to see Old Faithful.
After an hour’s wait with a few-hundred other tourists, the geyser spit up a bit of hot water, which was entirely invisible behind the shroud of steam. We were underwhelmed, and I could tell from the tired and frustrated look in his eye that Justin was considering walking out to the geyser with his mug so he could make some hot coffee and call it a wash.
We both agreed that it had been necessary to visit, and we could now check it off our bucket list.
Disappointed by Old Faithful : Check.
This was somewhat thematic for the rest of the day. The designated hot-spots were a bit underwhelming. For us, the best bits of the park were to be found away from the parking lots, on the open road.