I spent most of my birthday traveling to and from the little town of West Yellowstone, Montana. It’s a scenic two-hour drive, each way, from the dorm. West Yellowstone is the absolute epitome of a tourist town and I love it. It’s only several streets long and wide, each store sells Yellowstone paraphernalia (Deb calls them rubber tomahawk shops), the outskirts are camp sites, there’s a huge IMAX movie theater showing the Yellowstone movie (presumably to get people pumped to go into the Park), there’s a museum, a nice visitor center, and there’s also a small discovery center which houses all of the wild animals from Yellowstone that were too naughty to live in the Park, such as wolves and grizzlies. It’s a cute little town. I found a bakery with delicious food, ate till my heart’s content, and then wandered around the shops for a little while. There’s one store that had amazing wildlife art. There were raptor feathers fashioned into an enormous fans and turtle shells made into purses and rattles. It was really neat stuff. Of course, I manhandled all of the art on display and only afterwards saw the very obvious sign telling patrons to not touch it. I felt compelled to compliment the owner on the curation of his store and apologize for not following his signage. He loved that I appreciated that art so much that he encouraged me to continue manhandling it. Then I finally found the library. Free internet! Yay! By the time I set up my computer and got the password, I only had a half hour to check my email before it closed. I certainly had hoped for a lot more time but I had no one to blame but myself. I had gotten way to side tracked by food and stores. So I headed back to the dorm feeling a little downtrodden but that was short-lived because the drive back was beautiful. A coyote even trotted in front of my car. So although my day didn’t go exactly according to plan, it was still very nice. No complaints here.
Then me, Alex and the Wisconsinites headed out to the pub, on foot, packing our bear spray. First we had to wait a half hour at the front desk of the Lake Lodge for the Wisconsinites to get their pub pass–which was a complete bust. Alex and I tried to get them into the employee pub sans passes but the stubborn doorman, who took his job waaay too seriously, wasn’t having it so we ended up back at the Lake Lodge’s bar. We lounged on their oversized chairs and couches in front of a fire and made each other laugh until about midnight. Then we weaved our way through the cabins behind the Lodge until we found the wooded path we hiked in on. Right behind one of the cabins we spotted two little glowing eyes and it turned out to be a martin. They are similar to a ferret but bigger. They are pretty rare in these parts so we were completely in awe. We watched the mischievous little bugger play around in the trees nearby. It was adorable and didn‘t seem to mind us one bit. The rest of the walk was fun and really beautiful. The moon and the stars were out, lighting our way home. It felt like we had the entire park to ourselves. We watched Alex and Brooke spin around a field for 30 seconds and then they had to look into a flashlight for another 30 seconds, which was supposed to make them instantaneously fall to the ground. Well, since we had been drinking a bit and they choose to spin on a slope, they didn’t even make it through the 30 second spin. Hah! We arrived back at the dorm safe and sound, without having to use the bear spray or without any accidental deployments. What more could a birthday girl ask for? Nothing, of course.