The time has come to move out of Yellowstone. At $20 per night (for dry camping), we are sick of shelling out moolah every morning and we have seen what we came to see. There is a free boondock site just south of Yellowstone, right above Grand Teton NP, and free fits very nicely into our budget.
We dump our tanks and fill up on water for free at the Madison campground and as we are taking care of business a very large 5th wheel camper pulls up to dump as well. The owner must be in his mid-eighties and is a solo full-timer from Texas. His wife passed away four years ago and this is what he does now.
I often think of solo full-timers and admire their guts to go it alone. Not a day goes by when I am not glad to have a partner with me. A second set of eyes to help with backing up or a second set of hands to help with hitching, unhitching, dumping, and all of the other chores that go with RVing --not to mention the camaraderie a second person affords-- is invaluable to me.
Our drive is less than two hours and we arrive at our new home in the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. This no-man's-land, smooshed between Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP, is about eight miles long and has one road turning off of it. Grassy Lake Road bears right, becomes pitted with potholes, and eventually turns into smooth gravel. There are a few camp sites scattered down this road, but the first is our destination.
This spot wins the award for most scenic boondock thus far. There are four camp sites in this first area, each with its own bear box, fire ring, and picnic table. There is a clean shared vault toilet and a bear-proof trash receptacle. The only downsides are the mosquitos, which could carry a full-grown horse away, and the constant threat of grizzly bears.
But the views! A burbling river runs past our site with snow-capped mountains rising in the distance. Wildflowers bloom everywhere and birds chortle and chirp from their pine tree homes.
There is still one last place I would like to return to in Yellowstone, and since we are two miles from the park entrance, the drive to West Thumb Geyser Basin is only half an hour.
Evening casts a very different atmosphere over the thermal pools.
Gone are the chattering, tromping tourists and only the sounds of water and steam can be heard. The pools no longer reveal their splendid colors and infinite depths. They now appear as black smoking mirrors reflecting what little light is left in the sky.
Western Grebes dive and resurface on Yellowstone lake.
It is nearly dark and time to go home.