Yellowstone – Day 1 – Travel to Red Lodge

I remember going to Yellowstone back when I was a teenager. I hadn’t been there in over 25 years but I loved the beauty of the mountains and the bit of mystery that surrounds the hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone. I had always known it was a place I wanted to take my kids some day but I wanted to go when A)they were old enough to keep themselves entertained and not be crying and B)old enough to where they could appreciate and understand the science behind what is taking place at Yellowstone. I wanted to do it in 2020 figuring Kaitlyn had just graduated and vacation time with her will be running short from that point on, but 2020 had a different plan what with COVID and all. So we decided on 2021. Kaitlyn is back for the summer from college, things are opening up once again. Kaitlyn had to get the time off from Starbucks which she managed to do and we planned our trip around Connor Dykema’s graduation open house in Bismarck the Sunday of Memorial weekend (May 30th).

We left Bismarck on the 31st and only planned on going as far as Red Lodge, MT. That way we could take our time. Make some stops. Make it so it didn’t feel like a long car ride. Driving straight through would have been a little over 6 hours. We left my parent’s house around 10:30AM.

Leaving my parent’s house

Quick Stop at the gas station
And we were loaded up and on our way to Red Lodge.

We made it as far as New Salem because…well of course we had to see Salem Sue!!! The girls had obviously never been there, we had time for quirkly little things like this and I knew the view was really good from up there so we stopped. The girls thought it was so cool to be doing stuff like this. Ella even exclaimed as she was getting out of the car, “I’m having the time of my life and we’re not even there yet!”

The walk up the hill to Salem Sue
I believe Heather at this point said, “Everyone grab a penis”.

A few days earlier there was a video shared of my great nephew describing the utters as penises so that’s why Heather said what she said.

The view from Salem Sue
Goofing around at Salem Sue
Heather under Sue!

So we get under way again and we cross into Mountain Time. We get to the pull off/Rest Area of Painted Canyon in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota and it’s time for lunch.

Painted Canyon
I think it gave Sophie some vertigo.

We decided early on that we would always eat sandwiches that we brought along for lunch. This cut back on the amount of money spent to eat and allowed us to stop anywhere and relax and take in wherever we were at. Today we were treated to lunch at the Painted Canyon.

Having lunch at the Painted Canyon rest stop

Going back to this photo, you can see we were loaded with a big box of chips, a ice cream bucket full of snacks……

Loaded with food and cooler full of drinks and sandwich meat

Heather snapped the following picture in the western part of Theodore Roosevelt Park where a fire got out of control this spring.

Scorched earth and trees after a fire that occurred this spring.
Crossing into Montana for the first time

We were starting to get a little bored as we got into Montana a bit. There were no places to pull off and see really so of course, the girls busted out into a musical. Ladies and Gentlemen, from “Hamilton”, The Schuyler Sisters. Work!!!

Schuyler Sisters

and a crack at King George’s “You’ll be Back”. I use the word crack cause for some reason my voice was a little crackely this day so it wasn’t my best, but whatever.

…remember that we made an arrangement…

I took note of the clouds as the lenticular shape of some them showed the mountains were not far off now
It’s grainy, but I always loved this view when you can just start making out the mountains but they are still over 100 miles away.

We filled up in Billings, MT and once again on our way back to the interstate, I played Holiday Road. I first played it when we left our house for Bismarck. I played it when we left my parents, left the gas station, left Salem Sue, left the Painted Canyon, left Billings, and apparently 3 other times because as you can see from the following video, by the time we left Billings I had played it 9 times already!

HOLIDAY ROAD!!! Don’t be fooled….they loved it!!

I’m hoping to put a clip video together of all the times I played it (and that Heather recorded it).

The view as we got closer to mountains.
And closer…Sophie had a hard time initially seeing the mountains. I think with the cloud cover and snow capped mountains, she wasn’t sure what she was seeing. By this time she was able to make it out.

We check into Choice Hotel in Red Lodge. Unloaded our stuff and of course, with WiFi now, the girls watched some Tiktok videos.

Our view from our hotel. The mountain you see is where the Red Lodge ski area is. If you look real close, you can see some of the runs.

I read a few quick restaurant reviews before we got to Red Lodge and Bogart’s seem to have plenty of good reviews. Interesting name when they seemed to be most known for their Mexican food. However they did have the usual burgers, pizza, etc. as well. We got there and there was a 30 minute wait so we put our names and they took our phone number and told us they would text us when a table was ready. So we ventured next door to the Candy Emporium.

Walking into the Candy Emporium in Red Lodge

I don’t recall what the price was, but you could grab a paper bag and fill it up for so much a pound. I think I walked out of there paying around $20

Suddenly I noticed I had a text so I chased everyone out to get our table while I paid. Before they left, Ella mentioned she couldn’t find any of the candy cigarettes. Well, as I was checking out, the girl in front of me had them so I asked about them and the person behind the counter quickly pointed to where they were at. So I found some for Ella. They were actually gum. I remember them as some chalky candy but now they were gum, but I guess still not any good. So here is Ella, playing with a CANDY cigarette.

Ella with a CANDY cigarette. Gum, actually.
Everyone having fun at Bogart’s.

The food was REALLY good. We all enjoyed what we ordered but agreed the Ella’s Chili Relleno was the best. But again, it was all good.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Coconut Shrimp Tacos

The waitress was really nice and suggested that we go up and do Beartooth Pass either really early in the morning, or towards sundown. I knew we weren’t getting up at 4am and I also didn’t want to drive up the Pass and then drive down when it was dark when I’ve never really been behind the drivers wheel driving through the mountains at that point. So instead, we drove up to look at the ski area.

Much of the snow is already gone for the ski lodge.
Goofing around….again….

Driving up there were no guard rails really so it was a little weird at this point driving up the side of the mountain for the first time. Thankfully the resort was closed so there was no traffic to deal with. Sophie was sitting on the outside on the way up so it was determined at that point, she wouldn’t be sitting on the outside going up Beartooth Pass.

Once we got back down, we took the road a little further down and stopped at Wild Bill Lake and picnic area. You pull off to the way side, and it’s just a 200 foot walk over a small hill and it brings you to this lake. Very cool as you wouldn’t see it unless you took this short walk.

Wild Bill Lake

Video of the walk back to the car…Sophie was swatting at mosquitos ….

The road back into town

So that was it. We went back to the hotel. Heather and I went into the hot tub while Ella and Sophie jumped into the pool. Heather and I did jump into the pool with them for a little and played a good ole game of “Marco Polo”. Then warmed back up in the hot tub. Kaitlyn stayed back in the room at this point. We showered, got our lunches ready for the next day and blew up the air mattress. There was just barely enough room for the mattress right in front of the entry and bathroom door, and it was a twin mattress. Suffice it to say, it was not a big room at all. Tomorrow was another big day! The drive up Beartooth and into Yellowstone National Park!

Continue on and Read DAY TWO!

One thought on “Yellowstone – Day 1 – Travel to Red Lodge

  1. Pingback: Yellowstone – Day 4 – The Falls and a Teepee | Vacationing Dad

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