Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yellowstone, Again

When I was a little girl we went to Yellowstone National Park every other year. We were a typical middle middle class family...no fancy camps or vacations to exotic tropical isles for us, no trips to Europe. Vacations meant camping, almost always always tent camping. Heavy canvas tents that smelled like...well, like canvas and a bit of mold and dust.

Dad got off work every day at 5 pm and was home by 5:25. We sat down to eat at 5:30 on the dot. 50 weeks a year, year in and year out. But one Friday night a year my Dad would get home at 5:25 pm, change his clothes and we'd get in the already packed car and off we'd go on vacation. Mom had sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper and a thermos filled with coffee. The children had already been fed. For the next day and a half our car only stopped for two things....gasoline and coffee. Mom drove when Dad was too tired and it seemed forever and yet just a couple of hours and we'd arrive at Fishing Bridge Campground at Yellowstone National Park. Mom had packed boxes with canned chili and pork & beans, Bisquick, powdered milk (yuck!), those tiny cereal boxes, packages of pudding mix, peanut butter & bread.

After the tent was set up Dad's first order of business was to get the fishing gear out and high tail it down to the lake with at least a couple of the kids so he could catch his limit (and ours!) of rainbow trout before dinner. My mom had stayed back at camp and set up the cooking and cleaning stations. I also remember my mom always on that first day painted her beautiful long fingernails with bright red polish. Years later she told me it was so she couldn't see the dirt under her nails!

We usually went with another family or two. The Meyers, the McNally cousins, the Blisses, the Kirkpatricks are some I remember. The women would play cards all day, wearing brightly colored scarves around their pin curled hair during the days. The men would fish and we children pretty much ran free. It was a much safer and innocent time. We at trout for dinner. We ate trout for lunch. And in the morning we ate left-over trout flaked & mixed with mashed potatoes, formed into patties. Mom made pudding for dessert (it was a healthy dessert!). Two or three times we'd venture to the grocery store for supplies and the children could pick out a Popsicle.

About mid-way into our two week vacation it was time to hit the showers. We all swam in the lake every day and didn't understand why we needed a shower, but our moms would insist. I remember having to wash our hair, get our ears and feet inspected to make sure we did a good job. We'd then walk out into the dusty dirt in our flip flops....instantly brown feet! In later years I can also remember wanting to take a shower every night but since the showers cost $1 I had to wait.

Every year we went we had our family picture taken in front of the Old Faithful Geyser sign. You can see my brothers and I grow up according to the signs. L-R brother Pat, Mom, Denny, Dad and me. I think I'm 8 years old so this would be summer of 1960.

In 1986 Mom & Dad, my brothers, their wives & children and Mr. Scottie Dog and our girls made the trek again to Yellowstone for the 1st McNally Yellowstone Reunion. The 2nd McNally Yellowstone Reunion will take place this summer. My dad was really looking forward to sitting around the campfire and telling and retelling all the family stories. We're going to do it again.....and I think Dad will be there too. Oh, and we'll be sure to take more pictures in front of the Old Faithful sign.


Liz Scott Adams said...

Oh, I just can't wait for this summer! I am so excited!

jen duncan said...

Gosh I enjoyed this post. You're six years ahead of me but still, it was my experience almost verbatim. And it ended on a tear for me, thinking your dad won't be there to share the stories. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Arent' we so very lucky to have our childhoods?

Carol E. said...

Oh, sweet. We went to Yellowstone around that same time, + or - a year or so. But we didn't stay and camp. What if you and I were at Old Faithful at the very same time?? LOL. Enjoy the reunion; it'll be bittersweet w/out your dad, but as you say, he'll be there, too.

Corrie and Laura Sutter said...

Emily and Tim have planned their honeymoon in Yellowstone in July, but they will be in a cabin, not camping.

Stephanie said...

Oh, what a wonderful photo and story. What great memories of old and new ones to come. Will be thinking of you, friend.

Beka and Jason Haché said...

I love my memories of that trip to Yellowstone, so excited to finally return 15 years later!!! I remember wearing a see-through yellow visor at yellowstone, can't remember if we bought it there or it just happened to be my "cool" accessory that summer!