This post is the third in a series about a girls’ trip I took for seven days driving from Denver, Colorado to Yellowstone National Park, to Grand Teton National Park.
If you’d like, head over and read the first post about Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail in Arapaho National Forest and the second, Take the Highest Road in the U.S. to the Top of Mt. Evans.
We had a blast in Denver, but the climax of our trip was always supposed to be Yellowstone. So we packed up our stuff and headed out of the city.
Scratch that–we had one more place we needed to visit: Voodoo Donuts.
I’d already been to the original location in Portland, Oregon. But Tina needed to know what was up. I thought it was pretty hilarious that the only Voodoo outside of Oregon in the U.S. shared walls with a dispensary. A stoners paradise, lol.
It was a perfect day for driving. The skies were bright blue and full of cumulus clouds, the grass was golden, the mountains grand. We passed the time singing along when we had radio stations, reading Bossypants aloud (neither of us had read it before), laughing, stopping for photos at various locations, and exchanging, “Hey, remember when…”s that we’ve shared over the last thirteen years.
Mid-day, we decided it was time for lunch. Tina pulled off the main highway, into Douglas, Wyoming to see where we could find a place to eat. A little (ok, a lot) confused with our surroundings (and, honestly, confused about why we hadn’t seen a single restaurant on the main road), she stopped paying attention to the surroundings (other than seeking out a restaurant) and missed the signs that said “reduce speed ahead” “construction zone” and “speed limit 35.” We got pulled over for speeding!
Tina was visibly flustered, just as I would be. The officer, a young woman with blonde hair and freckles, asked what where we were going as she took Tina’s license. She told her we were headed to Yellowstone, and knowing that we were on the wrong road to be on the way to do that, I chimed in, “But we pulled off looking for something to eat.”
“Oh, really?” the officer said, What kind of food are you looking for?”
She laughed a bit, went to her squad car, presumably to write the ticket. When she came back, she said, “You know, I think it’d just be easier if you follow me…to this restaurant on the other side of town. It’s my favorite.”
And, that’s the story of how we got a police escort to our lunch.
We settled in at The Depot. The Depot was once an old train station, and served great food. They had a burger that had a portabella mushroom instead of meat that was divine. Tina was freaked out the whole meal, still in awe. Not just because of the almost-ticket, but the astounding kindness of the officer.
I took my turn driving, which meant more stopping and taking pictures on the side of the road. Hah!
We had all of the intentions in the world of stopping for gas in Douglas, but our disbelief of what happened prior to our meal, and our full bellies afterward, clouded our judgement. It was just too long before we noticed we were on E. As soon as our phones were back in service, we checked for nearby gas stations. We decided we could barely make it, and we did!
To Bright Spot, which was some sort of taxidermy place/stop and shop/bar/lounge with a gas pump right outside that was from a different era. The bathroom had a sign that essentially said, “Clean up after yourself, there’s bleach and a brush to the right of the toilet” and when it was Tina’s turn to use it, two truckers in the bar chatted me up about Yellowstone and Texas. What a hoot.
Thankfully, the manager of the place pumped the gas, because I was going to need to read the instructions.
We made a quick turnaround back to Hell’s Half Acre, it was a stop that I had planned.
It was nearly twilight as we were leaving Cody, Wyoming. It’s the last town before you’re in park area.
Hah! The whole thing didn’t really look like that. It was a big town with tons of lights and action.
Just before twilight is also when you can see the most animals in and around Yellowstone. As it got darker, we had to drive very slow. In the road we saw a doe and her two fawns and an owl. The roads were unfamiliar, winding around mountains (and in caverns IN them) and there were no lights other than our headlights and those of other cars on the other side of the road. It was scary, but just before midnight, we were safely nestled in our rooms. That eight hour seventeen minute drive turned into thirteen hours.
It was worth it.