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A Trip to Yellowstone

with: Jamie Spencer

The wife and I recently got back from a much needed getaway. I just turned the big fore-0 and instead throwing a bash, my lovely bride surprised me with a trip to the old homestead. We decided to go solo — leaving our 8-year-old boy behind. This was our first adventure without him in a very long time. We were heading to Yellowstone. Now, I spent my childhood in Billings, Montana but haven't been back in a good ten years. This would be the first time Michelle ever ventured west. 
We flew into the Magic City, grabbed a rental car and made a few visits. I wanted to see my old ball fields, schools, and stomping grounds first. I went to the house my father built in the early 80s and was pleasantly surprised to find a car in the driveway. I knocked and after a 30-minute conversation, I made some new friends. Billings is great city that's growing and the western skies are simply magnificent. Words don't do justice and I am not even going to try to explain. 
Michelle and I decided to take a detour to Mammoth — our northern post in the park for the next three nights. But, instead of traveling through Livingston — we took the road less travelled by. #Frost. Not all who wander are lost. #Tolkein. But we were. #Spencer. 
The Beartooth Highway is a magnificent 68-mile stretch of US 212 that connects Red Lodge, Montana and the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. At a shade under 11,000 feet at its apex, the Beartooth Highway passes through some of the most extreme landscapes in the continental U.S. The switchback is surrounded by several snow-covered peaks that tower well above 12,000 feet. Severe changes in weather occur quite often. The afternoons could be just ideal then dramatically flip to a freezing rain in a heartbeat. The road is usually cleared of snow by Memorial Day weekend, but it is not uncommon to experience blizzard type conditions on the highway — even in August. We didn't witness a summer squall, but did manage to take a few snow angel candids. Incredible. 
Cooke City, Montana is the last stop before the Northeast entrance. This is the best small town in America. After a quick bite at the world famous Beartooth Café, Michelle and I were off to Yellowstone. 
The Lamar Valley is one of my personal favorites and is where I spent most of my time as a kid. This expansive meadow in the northeast section of the park is home to thousands of bison, elk, and pronghorn antelope. Some lucky tourists sometimes see wolves or a possible grizzly. We didn't see any carnivores that afternoon, but had a few bison cross the road. I have a great video that has gone viral. 
No visit to Yellowstone is complete without swinging by Old Faithful or seeing Yellowstone's Canyon. Old Faithful shoots 8k gallons of hot water some 150 feet into the air every 45 minutes. Now the Canyon may not be as big as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but it is just as spectacular. The Lower Falls of the Canyon is one of the most famous and photographed spots in all of Yellowstone. We took the 1/4-mile hike down to the edge of the falls where it plunges 500 feet for a few Instagrams. The experience at the lip of the falls was simply awesome and it was worth fighting the thousand or so tourists for a peek. Is Wegmans closed? 
What a fun vacation. The Spencers highly recommend a trip to Yellowstone if you haven't already been. The familiar sights and sounds never disappoint. There are tons of abundant fishing opportunities so of course Michelle and I pulled over for a few casts. She even landed her very first Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. We are already making plans for a return here soon. Cheers.