University of Nevada, Reno




An adventure in Yellowstone

By Mary


MaryOne place I took the children while I was divorced was Yellowstone. I bought a little car, a gold Pontiac. I bought it particularly because I had climbed under it before I bought it to see if I could change the oil. ...

We packed the car with everything, but the kitchen sink. I made sure that we had all the things we needed for the food box, like utensils, paper plates, spatula, fry pan and sauce pan, salt, pepper, ketchup, etc. I forgot the mustard and the can opener. The kids split up and got the night stuff like sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, pajamas, tooth brushes, hair brushes and the like. The only thing forgotten was the toothpaste. The first night we used salt and the kids thought that was an unthinkable punishment. I told them to be grateful. We used salt and soda when I was a little girl all the time and it tasted nasty. Everyone was responsible for getting their own cloths and I checked to see that they had their underwear, but I forgot mine and had to wash them every night. I dried them in the car next to my head. The vacation was underway.

We cooked our warm meals on the engine and made the breakfast (mostly cold cereal) from the grocery stores along the way with rolls or a goody part way through the morning. We made baloney sandwiches and chips with soda pop for a drink. Usually we got those at a gas station on the way.

Becky and I slept in the car, as the back seat went down and we could put our feet into the trunk. David and Rick would sleep out on the grass somewhere in a small tent. Sometimes we slept in sleeping bags and we all had our own pillow just in the open at a camping site. When we needed to bathe, there was always a shower in the campsites. Sometimes we would stay there for the day and hike or just rest (I did the resting). I would sit in a chair and knit or read. ...

The scenery was really beautiful with mountains, pines, red canyons, dry fields, antelope and elk. We counted cows and sang songs. We had a lot of “are we there yet,” but the kids were really good and we stopped often. One time we had peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and warm Kool-Aid for lunch and shared with another family that we met. We all laughed and had a good time. The mother and I laughed and shared notes on life. The kids played and got tired. They made friends and really enjoyed the funny picnic.

We were again on our way and made it to a campsite in Cody, Wyoming, a couple of days later. I lived in Cody when I was about 20. I hadn’t been there since then. Jack and Mary were my boyfriend’s/missionary’s parents and they were happy to see me this time. Jack let the children ride with him on the horse “Star.” Star is the horse I took care of when I was in Cody. He was a beautiful black/brown horse with a white star spot in the middle of his forehead. I loved him so much and hated to leave him. The day I left, though, while I was crying and telling him goodbye, he stepped on my foot. I thought I would never walk again. Oh, it was so fun to see Jack with my kids riding the horse. ...

When President Nielsen came to Cody not too long after he married, broke and needing to make a life for himself and his new wife, he promised the Lord that if He would make a way clear for him to purchase the old Husky Oil Refinery that he would build a Church house for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there in Cody. Of course, the Lord answered his prayer. He purchased the old refinery and brought it to life. He was prosperous and helped Cody to grow. It gave jobs to the people and his promise was kept as he built the Chapel for the Church. In that Chapel he had the mural painted for the enjoyment of anyone who wants to see it. We visited this beautiful mural in the dome of the Chapel entry way depicting the History of the Church showing Joseph Smith and the sacred grove, the Kirkland and Nauvoo Temples as well as the pioneer trek to the west to the Salt Lake Valley. I learned to love this rotundra mural and visited it when I lived their many, many times and saw it each Sunday as I went to church. We were there a long time.

I visited some of the old places where I lived. I was sad to find out that I couldn’t remember all of the places I lived nor could I find my favorite restaurant where I used to eat the most delicious Reuben Sandwiches. I especially liked seeing my old one bedroom apartment above the garage. I bought an old ringer washer and had so much fun washing clothes in it. I hung my clothes up on a rope pulled tight between the kitchen and the bedroom and let them dry while I went shopping, to work, or just for a ride. I would buy meat and chicken and divide it into four servings or so; freeze the portions and cook only one portion at a time. I loved being on my own. There are more stories about Cody, but not from this trip.

We went from Cody up the canyon to the east gate of Yellowstone. ... The Park was as beautiful as I remembered it. The trees were green, water sparkling and blue, running streams, pretty wild flowers and peaceful lakes. There weren’t any bears left down near the people. There was an accident where a tourist was mauled by a bear so the rangers took all the bears to the back country where the tourists don’t go. People got too casual in feeding the bears. We didn’t see any bears on this trip. We did get to see a moose out in a marshy meadow with her baby moose. They were eating little yellow flowers that were everywhere. We watched them for a long time. It seemed that the quiet children wanted to let the moose make the first sound. Neither the moose nor the children moved or made a sound for a very long time. I was glad that the kids got to see some wildlife.

We visited Old Faithful and had to wait a long time to see it erupt. The kids wanted to stay to watch it again, so we stayed and wandered around the souvenir shop. I’m sure that each of the kids got their souvenir, but I don’t remember any of them except the little drum that Rick chose and drove us all crazy for the rest of the trip.


We visited the mud pots of various colors and sizes. The kids really liked looking of them going “blip, blop, blip blop bubble, bubble, slurp.” We saw a geyser waterfall that was white and pink, yellow and green. It was in pastels and was absolutely beautiful. The water was warm instead of hot and the children were able to wade in the stream that went down the hill. That was probably the first time for a while they had had clean feet.

I noticed that I didn’t have my wallet as we were about to go out the south gate of the Park. That meant that I didn’t have any money or credit cards for gas or food or anything else. I tried to not alarm the kids and said that we’d stop somewhere fun and I’d look through the car. It had to be there somewhere.


I don’t know where exactly we stopped, but it was by a small lake where the kids could splash and wade safely while I frantically searched the car. I took everything out of the car first, all garbage, pillows, sweaters, papers, books, crayons, games, boxes, sand, dirt, twigs and dead flowers. After putting all of that back into the car, but the garbage or anything else that was unnecessary, I concentrated on the trunk. Out came the sleeping bags, blankets, camp tent, cooking box, tools, extra tire, tire iron and anything else that was in there. There was nothing left but dust. The wallet was nowhere to be found.


I threw everything back into the trunk, yelled at the kids to come. This time they minded me. Good thing, too! I was frantic and in no mood to try to give the calm discipline I usually used while frantically fixing a bad situation.

We stopped at all the places we had previously visited and looked all around. I didn’t enjoy the mud pots or any of the spots. We got clear to Old Faithful just in time to check the souvenir shop before it closed. The cashier checked with the manager and he opened the safe to see if the wallet had been turned in. It had. Was I ever relieved. The only problem was that the little bit of cash I had left and all the stamps were taken. The driver’s license and other credit cards were left.


There was just one problem now. It was Saturday late and I had to get home before Monday morning so I could go to work. I didn’t have any cash and the gas stations between Cody and Salt Lake would only take cash on Sunday for some reason. I can’t remember where I got my information, or how I knew that fact. Anyway, the only thing I could see to do is to go back to Cody and borrow some money from my friends.

Away we went as fast as a bunny. We got to Cody before dark and Jack and Mary put us up for the night. I don’t remember why we didn’t get out of Cody until late afternoon, but I tried to drive straight through to Salt Lake. I drove and drove until I was just too tired to see the road. Then we would stop and the kids would play and I would take a nap for a while.


We didn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. Do you know how hard it is to work after not sleeping very well for a week or so? I managed to live through it and made many wonderful memories with my kids.


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