I'm happy to report that the kids and I made it home safely last night after a heckuva Road Trip. We were gone for a total of 8 days and we drove for 4 of those. Here's some stats from Snow White:
- 43 Hours
- 2248.3 Miles
- 150.9 Gallons of Gas
- 14.9 AVG MPG
- 52 AVG MPH
Of course, these stats include day-to-day driving while in Montana.
Driving to Montana
We left early on Saturday morning, waking up at 4:30 and were on the road around 5. This was brutal considering I went to bed 4 hours earlier the night before. My Dad and I took turns driving and tried to listen to an audiobook (Spook Country) along the way. However, whenever one person wasn't driving, they fell asleep so the whole idea somewhat failed.
We arrived in Yellowstone around 5PM and checked into our campground. The ranger told me there were 5 grizzlies in the campsite and that we should pack up our food and put small pets in cars for the night. Of course, I couldn't wait to tell this to Abbie, who is always scared that bears will attack us when camping. I finally calmed her fears by telling her I wrestled a bear once when I was a kid and won pretty easily. After setting up camp, Abbie took a swim in the "freezing cold" Yellowstone Lake and we ate dinner and climbed into our tent shortly after.
On Sunday, we woke up and made it out of our campsite by 7:30. We drove to Old Faithful, enjoyed an eruption and proceeded to have a nice breakfast at The Old Faithful Inn. After checking out some more geysers, we made it out of the park around 11. We stopped briefly in Bozeman to see an old friend, hit Clearwater Junction and Lucky's (for huckleberry milkshakes) around 6, and made it to The Cabin just before dark.
At The Cabin
The few days we spent at The Cabin and in the Swan Valley were a lot of fun. I got to drive the family Excavator with both kids on my lap. Jack was operating the bucket while Abbie was operating the swivel of the cab. I took my mountain bike, so I got to ride some old trails I used to ride all the time as a kid. Not only were there beautiful views on the trails, but I also got to experience quite a wreck that sent me head-first into some rocks and bushes. It was the first time I've wrecked in a while where I thought to myself "that was fast and hard enough to break some bones". Luckily, all I received were a number of scratches and bruises.
On Thursday, we took my sister to the train station in Whitefish. We left early enough for my dad and I to get in some golfing at Meadow Lake Golf Course and the kids to hit Big Sky Waterslides. Apparently, they didn't have a height requirement because they were able to go on all the slides.
On the 4th, we finished Abbie's Princess float in the early morning, took a quick sauna and headed down to the Swan Valley Parade. We'd been talking about the parade and Abbie's float for several weeks, so I was kinda nervous that I might mess it up. Not only did everything go great, but there were several hundred folks that clapped when we drove by and commented on what a beautiful princess Abbie was.
After the parade and drinking some good ol' Busch Light from the "Beer Garden", we headed to Holland Lake for a swim and canoeing. We drove back home in time to play a game of horseshoes and get the fireworks setup for the evening. We had a good fireworks show (with yours truly in charge) and enjoyed lots of laughs with old friends.
The Drive Home
As usual, the drive home was the longest portion of the trip. The first day, we left the cabin around 11 and pulled into Billings around 5. The kids (and dog) did pretty good as we only needed to stop once. The shorter first day turned out to be a good idea since the kids like hotels so much. Yesterday, we left Billings around 9:30 and cruised along mightily until we hit the Colorado border. There, traffic came to a standstill and we suffered through stop-and-go the rest of the way home. After 9 hours, we pulled into my driveway, exhausted.
I don't believe we'll be driving next year. The Road Trip to The Cabin is something that should only be done every couple years. Snow White continues to be an awesome car. We towed a sawmill (on a trailer) to The Cabin and didn't even feel the load. With DVD screens in the back of both front-seats, it was an excellent road-trip vehicle for the kids. Also, it's smooth suspension made for an enjoyable experience for everyone (we drove Julie's Honda Odyssey one year and Abbie kept getting sick from the DVD screen bouncing). The more I drive it (esp. skiing, camping and on road trips), the happier I am with the purchase.
For more photos from the trip, please see Raible Road Trip #12 on Flickr.