Waking up to a sunrise in the treehouse was a sparkly way to begin our Sunday. Even sparklier was the prospect of Pancake Sunday. Allison had brought her pancake socks, and on a recommendation from her friend, we drove to Running Bear pancake house, conveniently located just outside the gate to West Yellowstone.
There was a wait, but unlike Jam!, it was so worth it: buckwheat pancakes, sides of eggs, lots of coffee. The atmosphere was rustic and cozy, and the day ahead bloomed with possibilities of wildlife sightings in the park, although our focus today was the geyser side.
We drove dutifully past the geysers, stopping at the Grand Prismatic Spring and the boardwalks through the mud pots. I’ve only been here twice, but each time, in the bubbly vents in the earth, I spy a number of hats.
PSA: Don’t wear your hat around the geysers. Or, secure it somehow. I wonder how long it takes a hat to boil?
We ended the day at the Old Faithful Lodge, where we snagged some beers and hummus. Allison and Kacey watched Old Faithful erupt while I guarded the beers. We would’ve stayed longer, but we had specific instructions from our next AirBnB to check in before dark.
“You’re staying in grizzly country,” our host had messaged me.
This comment shocked me, only because our treehouse AirBnB also was home to bears, but when I asked our host about it – “Black? Grizzly?” – she’d stared at me like I wasn’t quite right in the head and said, “Grizzly? Of course we don’t have grizzlies out here. No one would stay here. It would be too dangerous.”
With that in mind, we made every effort to get to our next location well before dark.
The Stockman Tiny House was built on the back of a turquoise Chevy and located down an old mining road, where we parked behind an old stone schoolhouse and hiked down some Sound of Music fields, past mooing cows, to find our little tiny house waiting for us.
The view from the little porch was unrivaled: grass for days, snow-capped mountains for miles, and a sad limitation on how much time we could spend here.
One interesting perk was the outhouse, located a short walk from our front door. In the fading afternoon sun, the walk was quaint, with dewy grass and very loudly mooing cows. The outhouse had a composting toilet like the other one, which you shoveled mulch into after you used it. The shower had hot water, and the outhouse was big enough for more than one person to hang out in case you all had to go in the night.
Which we did.
At night, the walk to the outhouse was 40 miles, and grizzlies slunk about in the grass waiting to maul us all.
When we made the journey – all three of us -, we armed ourselves with headlamps, bear spray, some kitchen knives, and a quick step.
We didn’t need to be so prepared, really. We didn’t encounter any grizzlies or any other bears for that matter.
In the morning, we set out for Gardner and had a sunny breakfast at the Tumbleweed Cafe and Bookstore. Not only was it tasty, but the food was filling and affordable.
Our intention was to hike in Yellowstone, but we ended up driving most of it instead. The bison and elk along the way made up for the lack of hikes, though driving all day makes one feel rather dozy. We ended the day at the Iron Door, with some beers and nosh overlooking a rushing river.
The highlight of the meal was overhearing a little girl scold her mother for ordering an elk burger: “How dare you eat elk? We saw them today!”
Despite the lack of visible bears, we loved our little tiny house. Ending the day on the chilly front porch, journaling as the sun went down behind the mountains while the cattle mooed, I felt pretty at peace.
Categories: United States (USA)