After a truly devastating year of loss and isolation, I was dying to go on a vacation and get away from it all. However, with a new job and little PTO under my belt, I was stuck taking time off during the most dreadful holiday weekend of the summer: Fourth of July. I knew the Utah, Wyoming and California National Parks were going to be oozing with humanity, and fighting for parking spots and waiting in long hiking lines sounded like my worst kind of vacation.
A quick google search soon had me scoping out North Cascades National Park in Washington state — one of America’s least visited National Parks with “only” 120,000 visitors per year (for comparison, Yellowstone gets 650,000 annual visitors). Turquoise lakes, majestic mountains, lush forests AND no tourists? This made North Cascades an easy sell to my husband and two close friends. Within minutes, we had plane tickets booked for a summer adventure that was (crossing fingers) relatively empty.read more
3 Day Itinerary for a Yellowstone National Park Trip (with some tips and tricks)
Despite living in Utah for 22 years of my life, I had never once visited Yellowstone National Park. So when all of my bridesmaids (minus one) flew in from China and Japan to be in my Utah wedding, I wanted to treat them to something special post-ceremony: a three day trip to Yellowstone National Park.
I won’t lie. It was extremely stressful to plan both a wedding and a Yellowstone trip. A mere day after my wedding, I hauled three Chinese and Japanese girls into an SUV and drove five hours to Wyoming. It was a whirlwind, but I also knew that having all of my Asia friends in Utah was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. If we were going to do Yellowstone, it was now or never. (For more logistical tips and tricks, scroll to the bottom)
Our trip was an absolute success. Here are the hot spots we visited on our short, but wonderful journey:
Day 1: Mammoth Hot Springs & Lamar Valley
Going to Mammoth Hot Springs felt like stepping into an alien world. You can physically feel the heat of the bubbling hot springs, hear the roar of the waters and..
“Oh god,” Jean held her nose. “What’s that smell?”
“Euch,” Z gagged. “It smells like rotten eggs!”
“Oh my god!” I faced Tohko. “That sulphuric smell reminds me of an onsen (Japanese hot spring)! This makes me want to hop in!”
“You’re right!” Tohko jumped toward me and grabbed my hand. “This smell.. ahhh… it makes me want to dip in a hot spring and eat onsen-tamago” (eggs boiled in an onsen).
Z looked at us, horrified.
“You Japanese people–I’ll never get it.”
Afterwards we went to =&0=& approximately one hour away from Mammoth Hot Spring. The tourist office said that it was a great spot to see wildlife, but when we got there we just saw more Bison. If you camp out all day (like some photographers did) you might see some wolves… but yeah. We were happy photographing the bison and called it a day.
Day 2: Artist’s Point (Grand Canyon of Yellowstone) & Yellowstone Lake
“Look at this view!” Tohko pointed to the waterfall as we stood on the observation deck. “It’s so beautiful… it makes me want to do Acro yoga!”
“Do what?” I repeated, thinking I misheard.
“Acro yoga! Feel that fresh air, hear that water, look at the view–come on, we just gotta do it–it will make this even more unforgettable! Come over here Mary, I’ll lift you.”
“No way!” I jumped back. “I’m too fat, I’ll fall over on you.”
“I’ll do it!” Jean raised her hand. “I’ve never done it, and I’m scared shitless, but it will make a great photo!”
“Oh my god,” I put my face into my palms, embarrassed. “I can’t believe we’re doing acro yoga here…”
It was a bit weird and drew quite the crowd, but I must admit that Tohko was right: it made the moment even more unforgettable.
Later we did a hike nearby Yellowstone Lake, in bear country. When we realized we were the only ones on the trail (and we heard constant rustling around us), we were spooked. Nearby signs told us to make noise so the bears would stay away, so Tohko taught us a Japanese song about bears and we chanted it the whole hike. We laughed nervously while walking out of the park, singing the Japanese bear song, scared shitless that a bear would pop out at any moment.
So yeah, rent some bear spray. Don’t be stupid like us.
Day 3: Old Faithful, Lower Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Lodgeread more