Roads in Transition

The sun dawned in the steely sky and peeked through trees veiled by the falling snow. It had begun the night before and lingered, fine and heavy, through the day. “It’s slick,” my son told me when he returned from his mid-day Calc class. I must have looked concerned because he amended his statement. “The roads were fine. It’s the parking lot that was bad.” Of course, the roads were in better shape than the parking lot—the DOT turns the crews loose before the first flake hits the ground. They work to keep the roads neat and tidy, safe surfaces {Continue Reading}

What’s a Little Rain?

Dad and I went to Yellowstone about a year ago—just the two of us, to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, for a nature writing class—and we did some hiking and camping along the way. Most of the time, the end-of-August days delighted us with warm sun and cool air, but the forecast and cotton candy clouds foreboded rain. The clouds delivered a couple of afternoon spurts worth dragging out our yellow ponchos for. And once, while we walked the boardwalk to Echinus geyser, they brought hail. And every night for three nights, while we cooked our dinner, the sky sprinkled. Every {Continue Reading}

On Trials Shared

Gary Smalley, founder of the Smalley Relationship Center, says that the secret to a “close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.” He mentions camping as one source for shared trials and a potential relationship-building activity. Makes sense. Camping is fraught with potential for trial. There’s the weather. The bugs. The work. The hard ground. He grants that you don’t have to camp to invite such trials. I agree. A picnic will do nicely. The year of the October heatwave that turned to snow, we adapted to the rain with less time on the trail and more time on the road. Lunchtime {Continue Reading}

Yeah, Little Girl, It Is

This is a revised version of one of my first and favorite posts. I’m revisiting it today because when it originally posted, Along This Road had all of five subscribers. (Thank you, by the way.) It’s different from the original because I’ve learned that no matter what the blogging experts say, bullet points are not my style. When my oldest daughter was four, we loaded our life and our stuff into a semi and moved across the state. One morning, while I unpacked, my dad took her out to explore the neighborhood. As they investigated the curved and convoluted sidewalk system {Continue Reading}

After the Rain

It was hot when we arrived in Montana. Ninety degrees hot. In October. After sweltering for a couple of days, we drove toward Yellowstone over the Beartooth Highway, where the balmy morning temperatures plummeted into winter, one degree at a time. By the time we made it to Mammoth, the front had chased away the heat. Second-summer had been usurped by cold and a grey, sunless sky. With our eyes fixed more on our plans than on the forecast, we began our journey to the summit of Mount Washburn. Questionable clouds morphed ominously and delivered a biting wind that blew {Continue Reading}

Lifelong Learning: Compelled

When we drove away from Yellowstone earlier this month, we went only as far as we could get in an hour and stopped for a couple of days at a resort famous for its thermally fed, all-season, outdoor pool. We expected to relax with our bodies submerged in the therapeutic ninety-eight degree water as our faces braved the mix of cold air and steam which hovered over the pool and permeated the courtyard. We had not planned on the arrival of the eight ladies on a girls’ weekend. They took over the pool’s northwest corner and the fifty of us {Continue Reading}

An Uncomfortable Question

We dragged ourselves into Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel according to plan, just after midnight Sunday morning. We’d driven twenty hours and that last one was hard. We were all road-weary and my husband, who had driven most of the way, was done. I took the wheel as the temperature plummeted, the wind whipped up and the clouds descended, alternately perching atop our vehicle and on the road in front of us. As I drove, the temperature climbed from fourteen below zero back to thirteen above, the clouds lifted, and snow began to blow across the road, shrouding it more {Continue Reading}

Every morning

The Canyon Area is an outpost of civilization near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone boasting two stores, a post office, Visitor Education Center, hotel, gas station and campground. A slow drive down a wooded lane leads campers away from commotion and commerce into an enveloping lodgepole forest. Among the pines, loop upon loop of campsites string together like so many cul-de-sacs,  an exclusive neighborhood in the woods. Our name was on the board. We had a place to pitch our tent. The pessimists breathed their sighs of relief and we drove on, headlights peeling back a sliver of the {Continue Reading}

For This August: Remembering To Be Thankful

A trail’s name hints at what lies beyond. Usually it’s the destination: Mallard Lake. Sometimes it’s that the trail won’t be level: Mount Washburn.  Occasionally it’s a warning: Seven Mile Hole. Hikers need more than a hint. We need to understand the trail. We need to know how many miles we’ll be hiking, how long it will take, and how hard it will be. Trail guide books are the best place to get that information. I’d like to say that I want to hike Seven Mile Hole, but I would be lying. I don’t. What I want is to be {Continue Reading}