Day 369 – Jenny Carr Surprise

Jenn and I went biking around the campground today to get our bearings.  Colter Bay is a very large area with over 400 campsites, a marina, an amphitheater, general store, restaurant, laundromat and cabins.  

We bought a map of the place so we wouldn’t get lost.  As we drove around the campground we found Jackson Lake and a great swimming area to bring the kids later.

We went back to our rig after the ride, made lunch for everyone and got everyone into their swim suits.  The lake was freezing and I personally only put my feet in.  The kids got wet but only Jenn took the plunge into the ice cold lake. 

She immediately got herself out of the freezing water and we all laughed that she was the only adult in the lake.  I usually follow Jenn’s lead but, even I have a line and she crossed it today.  That lake was cold!!!

We dried off, hopped in the Jeep and headed back to our campsite for warm clothes. 

As we were unpacking the towels and waterbottles from the car we were surpised by Jenn’s friend Jenny Carr from Jackson Hole.  She was very close by rafting in Grand Teton and though it would be fun to surpise us. 

They drove through 400 sites looking for our rig and miraculously found us. Wow!

I started up a campfire, we showed them our rig and had a good conversation around the fire to finish up the evening.

That was a great surprise afternoon.

Day 368 – Camping at Colter Bay

We woke up to a beautiful campsite in the woods today.  We don’t have any hookups for power, water or septic but, we’ll survive for a few days on the water in our tanks, the solar panels and our generator when needed.  

The solar panels I installed in Florida work incredibly well and get us through when we drycamp like this.  When you leave for the day to explore, they keep your refrigerator cold and your batteries charged for the next time you need to start the generator or the engine.

We got up and out today after a few business calls and a pancake breakfast.  Luke loved Yellowstone and said he wanted to see more.  The girls were a bit tired from the last 2 days of chaos but, they were ready for anothet day of exploring.  

We started out back at Old Faithful again.  We only got to walk around that large area for about an hour yesterday and we wanted to see a little more.  There are boardwalks that go in every direction and there are lots of different gisers and thermal ponds everywhere to see.

As we walked we came upon a Bison eating grass about 60 feet off the boardwalk and we took a few pictures, and joked a bit, about how large it was.  They are absolutely huge.
Time passes quickly as you walk around.  We grabbed a very late lunch and then found a place with rootbeer floats.  Yummy.

After we all ate we jumped back in the jeep to visit Black Sands Basin.  This area had one very large geiser that seemed to go off every 4 minutes or so and lots of little geisers that just bubbled on the surface. 

The signs said they were boiling hot, close to 200 degrees and not to touch them or try to walk off the boardwalk.  I’m still surprised they have to write things like this on signs but, they apparently do.  We didn’t see any rebels but they must be amongst us.

In the Badlands we saw a sign that said “NO HUNTING” in the national park!  We still laugh about that on occasion.  I’m just not sure who would pull out their hunting rifle in a national park but, apparently the sign was needed.

As we travelled home from our day in Yellowstone we had one more highlight. We spotted a bear running in an open meadow.  Bears are very active in Yellowstone and yet many people who visit the park never get to see one.  We were all excited to see our second bear in just 2 days.

We stopped off at Grant Village to pick up a few items on our way home.  They have a well stocked general store there that helped us through our ride home and we were able to find a few things that we needed for home.

The drive back from Black Sands Basin was almost a 2 hour drive to Grand Teton’s Colter Bay campground and Grant Village was just about the mid-point. Everyone needed to streach their legs.

We made the final hour journey home and had one more exciting moment when a large elk decided he wanted to stand in the middle on the road. You can’t take you eyes off the road for a second in Yellowstone.

Tomorrow will be another great day.

Day 367 – Finding a campsite in Yellowstone NP

At 5am we fired up the rig and left the town of West Yellowstone. We headed back to Yellowstone National Park to be the first in line for the “first come, first serve” campsites available today.

We had two campgrounds in mind for a campsite. The first place was Grant Village which was a 1 1/2 hour drive from Montana.  We entered Yellowstone park at 5:45am and it was so early there wasn’t even a ranger at the gate to ask for our parks pass.  

Without any traffic in the park we were able to make good time and arrived at Grant Village at 6:55am. We actually had to wait in line with two other campers because the check in window didn’t open until 7am. When we got to the window they said they only had tent sites available and shared that 6 campsites in Yellowstone were closed this summer due to COVID-19 and there was no place we could go in the park for RV sites.  Ouch!

I knew that there was a campgound in Grand Teton NP that could try so, we took off in hurry to travel South into Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP butt up against each other with Grand Teton to the South.  So, we drove about 1 hour South towards Colter Bay Campgound.  On the way South we saw a grizzly bear cross the road in front of us. That was really cool because you don’t see many bears.  We arrived at the campground and got on the “first come, first serve” line.  

It was about 8am and we were 5th in line for a site, which was great!  Although we were still nervous, we were welcomed by someone, walking down the row of waiting vehicles, who told us they had room for us. YES!  We were in!

They gave us a campsite to stay in for the next 3 nights until we leave for Jackson Hole and we were beyond excited.  Finding a campsite in Yellowstone National Park for the 4th of July (without a reservation) was incredible. 

Additionally, we were headed to Jackson Hole in 4 days and we were now only about an hour away.  This RV park (Coulter Bay) was very nice and full of trees.  Each campsite had a picnic table, fire ring and a bear box.

I’d never seen a bear box before. Living on Long Island I never had to deal with bears. A Bear Box is basically a large locker to store your food in when you camp.  If you are in a tent this is very important but, the ranger at the front gate said that a large RV is a bear box of its own so, we didn’t need you use our bear box.

We checked in and setup our RV on the site they gave us. Jenn jumped on a few business calls for the day while I made breakfast for everyone and then we left to explore the park.

Jenn and I were exhausted from lack of sleep last night and having to get up at 5am to drive hours across Yellowstone but, we kept going.  Yellowstone is such a huge and incredible park and we didn’t want to loss a minute thinking about all the sleep we didn’t get last night.  Sleeping is for everyone else. Right?

We drove everywhere in Yellowstone and saw lots of deer, elk and even bison.  There are tons of geisers, steaming ponds of water, mountain lakes and views that leave you pondering how incredible this country is.

We had an incredible day and my bed was calling when we finally made it back to the campsite around 8pm. I couldn’t wait to get a good nights sleep in a quiet campground.

Day 366 – One Year on the road

We survived one year in a motorhome and had a lot of fun doing it.  One thing we learned through our travels was not to stay any place too long, if we weren’t enjoying ourselves there.

Today, we are living up to that personal promise.  We didn’t enjoy being in Cody or the area East of Yellowstone National Park so, we decided to leave.  No refunds or second thoughts….we are outa here!

We drove 2 1/2 hours west into the heart of Yellowstone National Park in seach of a campground (with no reservation possible).  Every reservable campsite was booked solid months ago. 

The fourth of July week in Yellowstone is their busiest week of the year and they start booking campsites a full year in advance.  We had reservations to be here 2 months ago and had to cancel them because of COVID-19.  Now there’s nothing available.

We drove to every campground on the East side and then started checking the central campgrounds.  Eventually we found ourselves on the West side of the park, still looking for a place to call home for the night.  We took in the incredible sights of Yellowstone as we drove the parks roads and primarily the “Grand Loop” for hours.

We are always successful when we put ourselves “out there” like we did today but, as night fell on Yellowstone we did not have a campsite. So sad……

It is not legal to boondock in Yellowstone.  You need to have a campsite or you need to leave the park to camp.  You can’t use the turn outs and you can’t sleep at any of the points of interest.  If a ranger finds you camping you will be fined and promptly booted from your spot.  We didn’t want any issues at 2 or 3 AM so we didn’t even consider this option.

We weren’t going to travel 3 hours back to Cody WY so we decided to drive 20 miles North West to a small town called West Yellowstone in Montana.  

As a bit of a backstory, I need to share that Yellowstone NP has almost no cell signal or cellular data.  We have Verizon cell phones and an AT&T hot spot with no signal on anything.  We couldn’t even make phone calls in most of the park.

When we stopped at the Old Faithful Geiser, they had a little internet access and when I say “a little”, I mean very little.  Each webpage I needed to open took about 2 minutes.  Painfully agonizing!

I was able to get open a few RV sites to grab phone numbers and then I proceeded to call about 5 RV parks in Montana.  However, I was not able to find a campsite that was available anywhere.

We drove to Montana anyway, mostly because we all were pumped up to see Montana. LoL.

The town of West Yellowstone reminded me, a little, of Moab, UT. A small town with lots of restaurants, small motels, boot shops and small RV parks for the Yellowstone overflow crowd.

This town also has cellular towers and we had 4G LTE internet again!  The kids were so excited about the excellent internet access and it made Jenn and I laugh.  All the kids want is internet access and they are reconnected with all their friends.

We searched the town high and low for a place to park our RV and came up empty.  There are “no camping” signs on every street throughout town and every RV park was booked. We were forced to drive out of town in search of a suitable place to spend the evening.

We found a dirt road that looked like a off-roading entrance way to the forest which seemed like a quiet place to camp for the night but, they had a “Day Use Only” sign at the entrance so we circled around and headed back out.  

We continued North about 1 mile outside of town and found a rest area for truckers. We reluctantly decided to make this our campsite for the evening.

We got ourselves all setup for the night and went to bed.  Then about 1 hour into our sleep the truck next to us started his generator and woke us all up.  Ugh!  

It turned out that the truck we parked next to had a refrigerated trailer and the refrigeration unit turned on and off all evening to keep the trailer cold.  So, with that going on, combined with the trucks blowing by on the highway all night, it was hard to sleep.  We woke up about every hour and seriously contemplated life.  

What a night!

Day 365 – Guest blogger Luke

Ok so today I’m am writing, yes Luke is writing! Today is a special day, not too many people get to have this experience but it’s 1 full year on the road.

Last year on June 30th we left New York and got on our adventure, and I’ve gotta tell you there has been so many ups and downs. Like some of you know this about me but I really like to stay home and just play board games and get creative and this trip isn’t really like that.

Now some of the sights we all see and the memories we have had are awesome but there are some times where I just don’t want to leave my house or whatever you call it.

I’m gonna summarize yesterday as best I can but I’m gonna be honest it was really nothing much except for an extremely close golo match, golo is just like a dice golf game it’s really fun and it was intense. I ended up winning though so I can’t complain.

It was rainy and freezing yesterday and I think it snowed in Yellowstone which is 30 minutes from us. Overall so far I can’t stand Wyoming. It’s always rainy, windy, cold and it’s the beginning of July. I want warmer weather. Also it’s mostly farmland except for a couple small towns.

There was a town a couple days ago in Wyoming that had a population of 4. Like never in my life! My mom asked if one of the 4 people passed away do they change the sign to 3.

We all got a laugh out of that.

Fun fact! There are more cows than people in Wyoming.

Just thinking back I just don’t quite understand how it has been an entire year. Like from day 1. And I also am thinking to myself how did I survive in this, my room is the upper half of a closet, that’s where I sleep and where all of my stuff stays.

And recently my sisters made our kitchen table into there bed because they didn’t like theirs. What kind of table doesn’t turn into a bed?? So I’m eating with my leg as a table – it doesn’t quite work but we live with it.

This trip has been full of excitement and disappointment. Like when COVID 19 hit we didn’t go anywhere for 3 months and even now every store we go into we wear a mask which gets extremely annoying after about 45 seconds.

We still have about 3 weeks left in the trip until we move into our new house.
My school was supposed to start August 5 but it’s been postponed until at least the 17th which I am so happy about because now I have more time in the new house!

This week we are going to Yellowstone to see some amazing, mountains, animals and geysers. So in the next couple days expect more adventures.

And 1 more fun fact Yellowstone National Park is 2.5 times bigger than Long Island, NY where we used to live.

I just think of it that way – it has a 7 hour loop to drive so it’s going to get exciting, assuming the weather gets nicer.

That’s it for my 1 year blog!

Day 365 + 1 year later Jenn’s thoughts…

Yeaterday was June 30, 2020 and it was DAY 365 on the road!!(Well 366 if you count the leap year we had but who’s counting!)

Exactly 1 year ago today we closed our doors in New York and moved into our 40 foot RV – (Leap of) Faith.

I’ve been looking for words all day to capture my feelings.

I can’t find them.

There isn’t one.

There are SO many.

What I will say about our 1 year “free falling” into the next best version of ourselves is that I’ve learned a lot about life that I couldn’t learn in school or if we decided to stay put in NY!

Here’s what I learned in no particular order:

  1. The net appears when you have faith.
  2. Life is very short
  3. This is a beautiful country I live in
  4. People are inheritantly good + kind
  5. South Dakota supports Trump
  6. I’ve had more success than I could EVER have imagined and not talking about all the money I have in the bank. That’s replaceable. Success is what I’m doing with my life every way.
  7. Bravery and courage come from DOING.
  8. I was actually rich in NY. I just didn’t know it.
  9. Living in 40 ft of space with 5 people will teach you more about yourself than 30 years in therapy
  10. You can do ANYTHING if you set your mind to it you just have to BELIEVE
  11. Joe Edden is a modern day super man/ MacGyver. That man can leap tall buildings with a wrench in one hand and some dice in the left hand so he can play GOLO with the kids while fixing something else that just broke!!!
  12. Magic IS everywhere. You just have to be open to seeing it.
  13. Miracles exist.
  14. Taking cold showers for 12 days won’t kill you. It’s a great rejuvenator
  15. You can spend just as much money living in an RV as you do in a house if you’re not watching
  16. Organic Food can be found is pretty much every state and in every store! Unless you’re in South Dakota then good luck
  17. I buy more than enough food for our rig to last us at least 2 weeks but I always think we’re running low. #italianissues
  18. I miss my family,
    friends, cousins and aunts and uncles on the east coast but other than that I’m glad we left
  19. We haven’t grilled outdoors once in a year. Heck we don’t even have a grill. It was never about the time. I don’t like doing it
  20. I’m a full blown home body and so are my kids. We go out but sometimes we could stay home and not even leave the rig and be ok with it! Joe not so much.
  21. You can do anything you want in life with support. Anything. The only limitations we have are those we have in our minds. I’ve exploded my biz with the help of some amazing women and started a Sugar Freedom Method Movement while travelling, under tremendous stress, moving constantly with no real exercise or schedule and don’t get me started on the limited internet!! I just wanted it badly enough and I had the focus and support!
  22. Life is happening now. Like now now.
    When it rains and we’re stuck inside life is happening. When we didn’t find our next home yet and I was stuck in Flagstaff because of Covid that was still my life. And when we started moving again to see more of the country before school starts that’s still my life.

Our life is happening now and I no longer take anything I have for granted.

It’s honestly all a gift.

Day 361 – Camping in Cody or is it Day 365? Whoops

Either way we are still in Cody. Our campsite is about 30 minutes from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park and we are excited to get there.

However, we woke up today to torrential rain which started at about 11pm and continued all night. It’s also 45 degrees outside and even colder in Yellowstone.

The clouds outside looked very dark and ominous. Jenn said that the sky looked scary, if you could describe it that way. It’s not a day for Yellowstone Park and tomorrow doesn’t look much better. It’s supposed to snow in the park today and possible tomorrow as well. Can you believe that?

We waited all day for the rain to stop but, it kept raining and raining.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

With that said, I realized that we are off a few days with our blog. We must have missed a day or 5 somewhere in the last year because according to my calendar today is actually “Day 365” of a leap year. Tomorrow is June 30th, one year from the day that we left NY. It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed but, here we are.

Tomorrow Luke will be writting the blog. He likes to write a blog every 50 days or so and he promised he would post the year end blog. So, get ready for the excitement tomorrow.

Day 359 – Devils Tower

Got out to Devils Tower today but, the park was slammed early in the day and we ended up taking a dirt road off to a trailhead for a hike in the park instead.  

The parking area at the visitors center was under construction and there was a 1/2 mile of cars waiting to get in.  We decided that we would just come back later in the day for the close up view of the tower and we headed off to hike. 

There was a very cool trail that went through the ponderosa pines and gave us incredible views of the tower from across a meadow.  We hiked up about 1000 ft. of trail to the top of a large hill and took in the experience from there.
The kids get blown out quickly so we try our best not to overdue it.

After the hike we headed back towards the entrance and came across a field full of prairie dogs.  We all hopped out of the Jeep and the prairie dogs come right to you.  They didn’t get any closer then 3 ft away but, we were all happy with that.

We stayed at the Devils Tower KOA which happens to be right at the entrance to the park.  This campground had an awesome playgound and the kids had a blast on the jungle gym and spinning platform that they had me spin for them.  Luke called it the “nauseator” because it makes you feel sick if you stay on that thing to long. Lol.

Anyway, they played on that thing until they couldn’t any more and then we played a little cornhole.

We went back to the park at 8pm and only a few people were there and it was so nice!

We planned that well and took the tower trail around the base of Devils Tower. 

We saw a few deer and heard a rattlesnake in the distance as we were finishing up the loop. The sun set on the tower and we headed back to our campsite.

Day 360 – Traveling from Devils Tower to Yellowstone

Ok.  We are actually only going as far as Cody, WY today which is 30 minutes east of Yellowstone but, we are getting closer.

We started out the day with an early morning 7am trip to Devils Tower.
We wanted to get some early morning pictures and get the kids moving early.  It was a great experience and the kids loved it.

We also stopped on the way out of the park and checked out a field of prairie dogs.  The prairie dogs come right up to you and I get the feeling that someone is feeding them.

They put massive signs all over the place that say “Don’t feed the prairie dogs” but, they appear to be overly friendly so, some people obviously don’t follow the rules.

We also stopped by the Devils Tower Trading Post were a bison happened to be passing through.  The bison was actually on the other side of a nice sturdy fence which was great!

We packed up the rig and headed out around 10am for a 6 hour journey across Wyoming.  We rolled through some very small towns, saw some small homes and a lot of cows along our voyage.

We didn’t arrive in Cody Wyoming until about 6pm in the evening and from there we drove through the Buffalo Bill State Park. There is a large dam in the State Park that creates a powerful river below that rages down the mountain canyon and through Cody.

As you approach the dam, at the top of the mountain, the road disappears into a tunnel that is “cave like” and takes you about 1500 ft through a mountain that empties out above the dam. Buffalo Bill Reservoir is all you can see when come out of the tunnel and it’s a huge lake that covers 8000 acres.

The entire area is beautiful and our campground for the week was only about 5 miles up the road.

We checked in and had our RV all setup for the evening by 6pm.  What a long travel day.

We don’t usually travel 6+ hours in one day but, there was no place of any interest between Devils Tower and here to stop so we decided to make the long voyage.

Now it’s time to sleep!

Day 358 – Driving to Devils Tower – Friday

We hit the the road again on Friday and headed back towards Wyoming.  The trip ahead takes us clear across the state of Wyoming to Yellowstone but, today we are only going as far as Devils Tower, WY.  

I originally though Devils Tower was the name of the national monument but, it turns out the entire town is called Devils Tower.  Its a very small town that is home to only 152 people and there isn’t much there except for the massive rock tower that stands at 867 ft.

On our way to Devils Tower we made two stops.

Crazy Horse Mountain is a mountain that is slowly being transformed into a huge statue of an indian leader, called Crazy Horse, that is riding his horse with his arm outstretched pushing his attack forward.

He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people.
They say that the US promised the indians many things and never lived up to any of them.  In the end, all the US did was take their land.

Crazy Horse was killed while in captivity, after surrendering.  They say that he was shot while resisting to stay in a Nebraska camp for Native Americans.  Many of the natives called his death “murder” and his many battles and win at the battle of “little bighorn” made him a respected and honered leader. 

This is what the mountain will look like when it completed.

He will be forever immortalized in this mountain.

They are keeping the native american heritage alive at Crazy Horse and we were able to see a traditional healing dance and talk with several people from the Lakota tribe.

We headed out down the road again after a great morning at Crazy Horse and a nice lunch.  

Next, we headed down the road about one hour to Jewel Cave. 

This is the second largest cave in the world and the park rangers at the park seem to feel that it is probably the largest cave but, because all the chambers are still not discovered they can’t make that claim.  

It is currently listed as being 208 miles long so, a full tour is out of the question unless you want to spend a couple of months underground.

Unfortunately for us, all we got to see was pictures because the cave itself was closed due to the coronavirus.  Ugh!

We did have a long conversation with three park rangers who were onsite to welcome us, despite the park being closed. 

They also showed us a test hole that we would need to fit through if we wanted to see the larger cambers of the cave. 

The hole was 8 inches x 24 inches and we all managed to squeeze through it.  Even me, can you believe it?  I’ve lost about 15 lbs since I left Long Island and I wouldn’t have fit otherwize.

Back into Wyoming

We crossed the boarder back into Wyoming and arrived at Devils Tower around 7pm

It was a long day and everyone enjoyed the experience.