I meant to get this posed ages ago, but I've been fighting for computer time!
Santa was good to me this year. He brought me the most awesome adventure! Steve (my brother-in-law) and I each had an envelope. Apparently Dad'd had to tell Lois about it, so she didn't get to open the present. Inside the envelopes were 2 pieces of paper that had been cut up into puzzles, then mixed together. So Steve and I spent 5 or so minutes figuring out what the photo in the puzzle was. It was someone snowmobiling in front of Old Faithful. So I guessed, 'We're going snowmobiling through Yellowstone?' And my folks said, 'Yes!' Oooooh boy! I was excited!! My folks live about 2 hours from the Montana side of Yellowstone. Unfortunately, the snowmobiling only leaves from West Yellowstone, which is the other side. A 5 hour drvie away. So as soon as we could get cleaned up and ready, we jumped in Jeeves (the Jeep) and headed out.
The drive over was kind of fun. We saw hundreds of dear and antelope grazing on the field stubble. We saw a few buffalo, too. And loads of hawks, and even one bald eagle. But when it got dark, we realised we were driving into a storm. It took us quite a bit longer to drive what ought to have been the last hour. It was snowing pretty hard. But that was ok, because it meant we'd have fresh snow for the morning's adventure. And they definitely had plenty of snow in West Yellowstone when we arrived. (Our 'parking space' at the hotel. When I jumped out of Jeeves, I was thigh deep in snow.)
Turns out, they'd not had any snow, all winter, then all the sudden last week, wham -- 26 inches in one night. But it'd been so cold (20 F was the high when we were there, and it hit 0 F just as we were leaving to go back to Billings, with a low of -13 F. That's -7 C to -13 C and the low was -25 C. Cold.) that the snow was too dry to compact. So when the park services would come through with the grooming machines on the trails, the snow wouldn't compact down. That meant that when the big 'Snowcoaches' (vans with snowmobile treads for wheels) came through, they tore up the trails, leaving big gullies and hashed snow behind. Made for hard work keeping things on the straight and narrow. But it was seriously good fun. We started out around 9.00 am (we arrived to the shop at 8.00, but it takes a while to get suited up) and got back just a bit before 5.00 pm. So, it's quite a long day. You go out to Old Faithful (30 miles from West Yellowstone), watch the eruption, have lunch, and come back to West Yellowstone. I know that doesn't sound like much, but along the way you stop and see hot springs, geysers, mud pots and hopefully a few animals. We didn't see as many animals as we'd hoped to, but it was still fun! And exhausting. By the time we got back to West Yellowstone, we were shattered. The cold is so draining. Poor Lois said she'd never really been warm enough the whole day. The rest of us had been fine, up until the last hour, or so. Dad was warm the whole time. Lois was really suffering on the last hour. We popped her in the front seat of Jeeves and turned on the seat heater and the regular heat full blast. Even still, it wasn't 'til we were most of the way home that she (well, all of us, really) finally actually warmed up. But it was worth the cold. At one point as we were zooming along the snow I remember thinking, 'Thank Goodness Mom and Dad moved away from Mississippi.' It isn't that there's nothing to do in Mississippi, because there's loads. But the problem is, it's either too hot, or not warm enough to enjoy most of it! And, of course, I like snow. I know. The rest of the world thinks I'm absolutely insane. But I do. I like shoveling it. I like driving in it. I like playing in it. I like looking at it. I like snow. And I'd really missed it since moving to England and my folks moving to Mississippi. But now that they're back North, I'll get to play in it again! Yeay!!
We got home around 10.00 pm, which was really pretty quick. We'd had to go kind of carefully the first half, because all that snow had turned to ice on the roads. But we still made it in a little under 5 hours. We were really glad to get home and out of the Jeep, though! And especially glad to get into bed. It was a really long, tiring day. But so much fun. This is one of the highlights of my life!