Originally when I had purchased tickets and submitted my PTO request to venture to Wyoming for a dear ship friend’s wedding I had no intention of writing a post about it. I was going to take this short vacation ‘off’ from my constant recording, shooting, editing, sharing hobby and just enjoy experiencing everything in the moment with no ulterior motive…
But you know what?! I just can’t help it. This travel blogging habit I created years ago as an escape from the daily ship grind, is now ingrained in me and here I am on a Saturday morning sat on my living room floor going over photos and writing this awkward introduction. I don’t want to go to brunch, I don’t want to watch TV, I just want to write, so I hope someone out there is enjoying it!
Jessika and I met on ships as cabin neighbors way back in 2009 and I was so excited to be invited to her wedding in Wapiti, Wyoming (just outside of Cody) – a place I had never even considered putting within my travel radar. As I researched how to get there and what to do with this getaway it became abundantly clear that it had to be a road trip (thank you Roadtrippers.com for helping me plan this amazing adventure). It had to start in Montana (another place I had not been to yet). And it absolutely HAD to incorporate my first visit to Yellowstone National Park.
Gratefully, I had plenty of Alaska Airmiles to fund both of our return flights and I found an amazing car rental deal from the Missoula airport for 6 days and on top of that our Airbnb for the first 2 nights was excellent and affordable. Overall this trip didn’t stretch the bank too much. Just tack on some money for gas, campground fees, food, and of course a river rafting trip, and that about covers our expenses – not too bad.
I had heard wonderful things about Missoula before our arrival so naturally my expectations rose with each person’s praise. After just one full day there I can see where it could be wonderful but personally didn’t experience all the wonder first hand. We luckily managed to hit Downtown ToNight at the park with live music and food trucks, but for lunch we had really crappy Thai food at a popular bistro…lesson learned – do not order asian food at a non-asian restaurant. It will not bode well. As an incredibly food-motivated person that practically ruined my day…however…we found an incredible paradise of a grocery store that made up for it.
The Good Food Store is an absolute haven for healthy eco-conscious individuals in search of delicious food, grocery, and bulk items. I can’t praise it enough. Better than Whole Foods. Better than Trader Joes. I know-GASP…seems impossible but for real this place is amazing. I whole-heartedly want them to be everywhere. They even had stations to fill up soap and detergent in bulk. Sadly the recycling situation in Missoula is sub-par but this store takes in old containers and jars, sanitizes them and tares them for new shoppers to fill with bulk items. Talk about reduce, reuse! Oh and of course they had PLENTY of vegan options!
We spent nearly the entire day before the wedding driving through Montana down to Cody, Wyoming, which due to its overall lack of evergreens never seemed to be on my must-visit list, but it ended up completely surpassing my expectations! Super friendly, super quaint, surrounded by mountains, and has more elk than people! I had no idea Wyoming is the state with the smallest population, but it’s also the first that legalized women’s vote. Go WY! We didn’t pause much along the way but did manage to stop a couple times to get the drone in the air, once to check out the Berkeley Pit in Butte, and a couple times in Cody before heading to Wapiti.
Everything about this trip was great, we even managed to eat out a couple times and find vegan food in these non-traditionally plant-based places but one of my favorite things was Trail Town. I just love old-timey things and the history of the wild west. It’s so fascinating to catch a glimpse into how life was only just a century ago. I loved it!
Our time with friends was wonderful and the wedding, super sweet and intimate. We were so sad to say goodbye to everyone and the amazing place that is the small area of Wapiti but it was time for Yellowstone! Check out the house we had to say goodbye to and its amazing views!
The drive from Wapiti into Yellowstone through the East Gate is completely breathtaking – so beautiful that we were actually confused as to why it’s not also part of the park…if anyone knows the reason, do share! As much as I loved the drive I will say that it took longer than we expected due to winding roads and RVs. But so worth every minute. Here’s a little snapshot of our 2-day Yellowstone adventure.
The first night we stayed at waypoint 5: Madison Junction Campground – great but super cold so we had to switch at 3am to the car; and night 2 we stayed just outside the park in Gardiner, Montana at waypoint 11: Yellowstone RV Park – also really great – even had wifi, laundry facilities, and free hot showers (and less chance of bears!).
TWO QUICK TIPS:
- Make sure your name is on the reservation. If it’s under someone else’s name they won’t let you in unless you spend 30 minutes near tears trying to convince the campground manager that your reservation was legit
- Check the map. Otherwise you might need to drive an extra 30 miles in the wrong direction to see Yellowstone’s largest landmark because you drove right on by it the day before.
Aside from those two small hiccups and being too cold (and a little overly afraid of bears) to sleep in our tent everything went beyond smoothly! My road trip playlist was on point and our surprise mini van from the rental agency ended up a dream. So grateful to have seen this incredible place. If you intend on visiting, please read and abide by the signs unlike some of the morons we spotted along the way. WARNING: YELLOWSTONE PHOTO-DUMP AHEAD…except the photo of the bear – it was too fast for me to capture. Check out all the vibrant natural colors!