The Travelogue series recounts a seventeen-day-long cross-country road trip I took at age 21 with two college friends. We started in Charlotte, NC, and ended up two weeks and 8,000 miles later in Los Angeles, CA. The following is taken verbatim from a handwritten journal I laboriously kept on the trip. Names have been changed, but the rest is absolute, 100%, unedited truth.
Writing from Salmon, Idaho. In a tent.
Today started out in Star Valley at 6:30. Daniel made another killer breakfast. Were ready to go at 7:00ish but Daniel told us Megan wanted to say bye and was getting up so we hung out for a while. Said a tender goodbye but didn’t get out til closer to 8.
I slept on the way up to Yellowstone.
Stopped at Big Thumb which was this epic boardwalk system around a bunch of pools bubbling and crazy colors and it back right up to Yellowstone Lake so just water backing up to mountains as far as you can see.
The colors, blues and yellows, and reds were literally out of this world. The ranger we talked to said the pools change color because the red is green during the winter because the red is a “sunscreen” the organisms make.
Then drove up the lake and stopped at one point and got our toes wet. Cold but not terrible. The sand was black and rocky.
Went to the Mud Volcano which was exactly what it sounds like, a pit of bubbling mud gushing out of a cave. But it smelled honestly worse that I can describe, thought I was going to vomit.
Then drove along the gorge, which again looked like another planet.
Hiked 3/8mi down to Lower Falls which was just ridiculous. So much water. Thick water, feet thick, over the rocks, down hundreds of feet and then off as far as you could see. There were patches of snow that had slid off and were just stuck along the gorge. And the walls were this rich tan rock. But the hike was honestly too steep for the view.
Drove to Old Faithful. It was about 2:45 by the time we made it to the lodge. Found out it only blows every 90min and the next projected time was 3:52. Knew we couldn’t come to Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful so stuck it out.
Went to the gift shop, got ice cream, walked around the lodge a bit. It’s so old and all made out of logs and just phenomenal and the ground wasn’t even in places and you just knew the place had so many quirks you were never going to find out about.
It was raining so we didn’t want to wait outside. Found a second story overlook with a middle-aged couple but none of the crazy tourists. Watched from there. The geyser was awesome. It steamed the whole time but when it got close it started bubbling and spitting, but when it finally got going it was huge. The steam kind of blocked a lot of the view of the water which was a bummer but it was still cool.
[Later edit: Forgot to mention the absurd amount of buffalo]
Then I drove us out of the park and on to Idaho. Had to pass through West Yellowstone, Montana, mailed our postcards. Took pics at the Idaho sign.
The drive through Idaho was incredible. The landscape is softer than Colorado and Wyoming, but still stunning and much more alien. Rock walls and flat brush and rounder mountains. Drove towards this epic rainstorm. It was unreal scenery. Mountains on both sides as far as the horizon stretched, but incredible nothingness in between, and the sky was dark all around but straight ahead, where the road stretched on into forever, was like a white out, like driving into heaven. The storm itself was scary but we were all alone on the highway so we stopped on the side and ran barefoot down the highway in the rain and lightning.
The drive was a little long but we got here around 9:30 after getting a little confused. They have us sleeping in a tent on cots which really isn’t that bad b/c someone Rachel is in their guesthouse. They’re all a little awk but I think this is just late for them.