A Drive Through Dinosaur NM

An Epic Journey To Yellowstone

A Drive Through Dinosaur National Monument

Recently I was contacted by a couple of my “old” friends checking in to see what I am up to. The main reason was a long pause in my blogging activity. I was pleasantly surprised by the motivation – people read my blog and there is a level of appreciation since a two-month pause was noticed.

What have I been up to and why the pause?

This week, I came back from an Epic Journey, I traveled with my father from Raleigh, NC to Yellowstone National Park and back via the American roads, pulling an 18-foot travel trailer. I left Raleigh on June 1st and came back on July 18th. If you are a Facebook or an Instagram person, there are pictures that I posted tracking the adventure

The Grand Prismatic

Here are some statistics from the trip:
We drove 8800 miles this translates to about 232 hours behind the wheel and about $3000 in gasoline costs.
Our path went through eighteen states:  NC – TN – AK – OK – CO – UT – WY – ID – MT – SD – NE – IA – KS – MO – IL – IN – KY – VA – NC. (I had to look-up some of the state two-letter abbreviations for this exercise).

We visited seven National Parks:

Great Sand Dunes NP, CO
Mesa Verde NP, CO
Black Canyon of Gunnison NP, CO
Grand Teton NP, WY
Yellowstone NP, WY/MT/ID – est. March 1, 1872 (150 years ago)
Wind Cave NP, SD
BadLands NP, SD

We walked around four National Monuments:

Dinosaur NM, UT
Devil’s Tower NM, WY
Little Bighorn Battlefield NM, MT (aka Custer’s Last Stand)
Jewel Cave NM, SD

We stopped by one National Memorial:
Mount Rushmore NM, SD

And … a few other cool places worth mentioning:
Black Mesa, OK
Fantasy Canyon, UT (my favorite little known place)
Flaming Gorge Dam, UT

Old-Trail Town, Cody, WY (contains the original old Wild-West buildings and a small gravesite)

Crazy Horse Memorial, SD (The Ziolkowski family made a promise to the Indians to never involve the U.S. government in any dealings related to this particular memorial and they are keeping their word by refusing significant financial grants offered by the federal government to facilitate the completion of the memorial, est. 30-more years to complete).
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, SD (I was looking for nuclear “wessels”)

During the trip I was not blogging but I kept a daily journal which is about 150 pages of notes. I am hoping to transfer these notes, my experiences, and observations into a book with the following concept:

Yellowstone an Epic Adventure (preamble)

Bill Bryson wrote a book titled A Walk in the Woods, it is a story of his adventure on the Appalachian Trail written with the type of jovial non-sarcastic humor that I very much appreciate. As I am preparing for my epic adventure with my eighty-four-year-old father to Yellowstone, I decided to document the trip. I very much expect to experience an adventure which will include fun events, spectacular sights, mild annoyances, joys as well as errors and hardships while traveling half way across the country pulling an 18-foot travel trailer and spending nights at National and State Parks and a few private campsites.

My second inspiration is a series that I watched on Netflix, “Jack WhiteHall Travels with My Father,” premise of the show as the description states is “Jovial comic Jack Whitehall and his stuffy father, Michael, take unusual and amusing trips to foreign lands in an attempt to straighten their bond.” There are a few parallels in our stories: both trips include a father and child, both teams are non-American (Jack and Michael are British, my father and I are Polish), in both instances the groups will experience new scenery and unknown characters. But there are also major differences: I am not a comedian and my father is not stuffy, we do not have a supporting staff to assist with plans, research, and setup amusing appointments for us (we are on our own and every event will be non-staged impromptu happening), I will not go out of my way to make my father feel uncomfortable in life just to generate an amusement for anticipating audience. But I am hoping for comradery, I am anticipating that we will have obstacles in travel that we will need to overcome as a team and I am even expecting minor annoyances with each other. Living in an 18-foot traveling trailer together for six weeks cannot come without its fair share of mutual annoyances. When in Yellowstone, a two week stay in three different camp sites, we will be visited by my older brother, who will definitely serve as another character in this epic adventure story.

To make this an epic journey, I will leave North Carolina and I vow to return in about six weeks. My epic journey will include spectacular scenery of American lands, monuments, people, and wildlife. I will compose and narrate an epic tale with two brave heroes, my father and I. The two brave heroes will travel far, overcome obstacles, meet interesting people both friends and foes and at the end safely return home with stories to tell and experiences to remember forever.

Yellowstone an Epic Adventure (postscript)

Everything that I anticipated prior to the trip did happen during the trip. We had three mechanical issues; one major when the steel rim of the trailer mystically cracked and air was swiftly leaking out of the tire. Two minor issues: the electric jack on the trailer broke but we could use a manual handle to operate the jack, and a punctured car tire that was slowly leaking but luckily was simple to patch up.

My brother indeed visited us in Yellowstone after initially cancelling his trip because Yellowstone got flooded and was closed for a while delaying our entry by about three days. We were also visited by my friend Bettina who traveled with us from the Great Sand Dunes to Vernal, UT and left us after visiting Dinosaur NM and Fantasy Canyon.

We soaked in Pagosa Hot Springs, went up ski lifts in Jackson Hole and drunk margaritas at the top, rafter on the Gallatin River, rode horses in Yellowstone, watched “Singing in the Rain” in West Yellowstone, took boat tours on lakes in Grand Teton and Yellowstone, hiked more trails than I can count, ate Indian tacos in Hardin and the list of activities goes on and on.
My dad was very patient with me and to reciprocate I was very inpatient. Luckily, my moodiness did not faze my dad at all and since we both consider the trip to be an epic success, we are already thinking of A Grand Journey 2023. As for now I am excited about having material for a book but at the moment the task seems extremely intimidating so I am thinking about how to break the project into smaller tasks that I can attack one by one.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (taste the rainbow, or look for the riches at its end)
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2 thoughts on “An Epic Journey To Yellowstone

  1. Jin Fu

    I love it! “I will compose and narrate an epic tale with two brave heroes, my father and I. The two brave heroes will travel far, overcome obstacles, meet interesting people both friends and foes and at the end safely return home with stories to tell and experiences to remember forever.” Looking forward to the book!

    1. Irena Post author

      Thank you Jin, I will need to keep the momentum going with the writing and that is scary like changing jobs or picking up a new customer and new projects.


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