Night 6: Along the Yellowstone River

Trip Start Jun 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 18, 2012

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Where I stayed
Paradise Valley KOA

Flag of United States  , Montana
Monday, June 25, 2012

We drove 436 miles. Weather was very hot with temps reaching 104 in most places. It was sunny in Montana and overcast in North Dakota. Night was cool and clear.

Today was a driving day. I was reminded that Montana is a huge state.

After we took our time breaking our two nifht camp, and before we set out, I visited the usual wildlife spots in TRNP. In the "Dependable Elk" field Jess spotted a stalking coyote trouncing here and there in a prairie dog town. Up the road to the ranch we saw a wild horse. Satisfied, we hit I-94 and settled in for a long haul.

To entertain Andrew, we pulled out the big guns: our faux iPad, the mini-DVD player, etc. It mostly worked and Andrew had a pleasant day in the land of make believe. We trucked it past the dinosaur-laden badlands of Glendive, Montana. We followed the irrigated fields along  
the Yellowstone River up to its heights.

In Miles City, we satisfied our hunger for lunch, wifi, and booked a spot at the Livingstone KOA, four hours from Miles City. I also found the "second biggest" Ace in America, per the proprietor and was attended to in Ace style to find a material that would solve my tent roof problem from yesterday. I settled on 6.5 feet of thick copper wire and with a few adjustments, the Jerry-rigging I made is holding up. We also bought supplies at Walmart, tax free. This all calmed me  
down and I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I often over-worry about lodging when it is usually available somewhere. We have only had to sleep at a rest stop once in our many adventures.

The remaining ride cut through hot dry forests of ponderosa, fields for grazing beef, and tiny ranches and farms. We did notably pass the skyline of Billings.

A few episodes of This American Life later and we were there, at the Livingstone exit. I was overjoyed as we raced down the road along the fast-moving Yellowstone toward its namesake national park. After one wrong turn, things looked familiar as we arrived in the town of Pine  
Creek, our ending point for the night.

The KOA here is the best in America and we rebelled in the pool, did laundry, took a shower, washed dishes in a sink. I got a spot right across from the playground and the arcade, do Andrew was able to learn to play pinball.

Unlike other KOA's this one feels, as the woman at the desk said, like you are at a "real campground" and nit the KOA. The places we visited with the KOA logo vary greatly. It is easy going camping, it is the McDonald's of camping in its ubiquity, but is much healthier.

As night fell, Andrew decided to have a few temper tantrums. We ate burgers again for dinner and here we are in bed.... In bear country... right in the middle of Gallatin National Forest, which is famous for its bear attacks. I hope I turn off my imagination and just go to sleep.

Tomorrow's plan will put me in an incommunicado state for a while. We are going to Yellowstone National Park. We will try with all the luck and careful timing to secure a spot at the Mammoth Campground. If that doesn't work, we will be at the West Yelliwstone KOA. 
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