Getting the boot...
When we arrived, we had no idea how long we would stay, hence the "doctoring" of the dates and number of nights."
The “knock” came this morning at 9:30am. “Hello, hello,” she said gently. 1der was up, so he called back: “Yes, good morning!”
“Good morning, this is the park ranger. Yellowstone National Park is closing today, and you have to be out of the campground by 4:00 this afternoon.”
“Oh, okay,” 1der replied.
We knew our days were numbered, so we weren’t surprised by this. After all, everywhere we’ve recreated on this trip, the place closes while we’re there or just after we leave. Who knew we were so unpopular?
Luckily our home at this moment is always completely contained, ready to move within a few minutes of getting the “knock.” Since we had plenty of time to pack up, we took our time. Besides, it was cold (surprise!!!), windy and lightly snowing, and I was still in my sleeping bag.
First thing I needed to do (after we filled Beastie up with water - always a top priority while on the road) was to write a “love letter” to the NPS staff. We are so appreciative of everything they’ve done to allow us and others to experience such splendor and beauty.
The people in the site across the way must have left early for a day excursion, because clearly they didn't get "the memo." Imagine their surprise when they come back to camp only to find this nice little present:
Next stop was to drop off the Bear Spray and letter at the clinic and hopefully see John again before we left. Unfortunately, he was not working today; he’s actually not in Yellowstone at all, but at his home in Missoula.
I told John's super nice colleague (Ginger) that I hope a lot of people read my letter, and she said she would make a copy and circulate it throughout the team, including giving it to her husband who works with Kevin (the head back-country ranger). I was thrilled to hear this, as we really wanted to thank Kevin but didn’t get his contact info when we met him the other day.
It was so sad to leave this amazing, magical place. So many amazing things have happened, and we will never forget the incredible gift we’ve been given to be here during these uncertain, downright scary times.
So what to do now? Head to our next amazing destination: the laundry mat in Gardiner.
We left the park (wheaaah) and went to Gardiner. The town was again, completely dead; not a soul on the streets except for the construction crew working on the bridge. It was Ground Hog day again. So weird and eerie.
John texted earlier to let us know we were welcome in Missoula. What did this mean? Could Missoula be where we were heading next? We talked with him about how we’ve been unusually socially isolated since February 3rd and also expressed our concerns about social responsibility, staying away from small towns, etc. As a medical practitioner, what were his thoughts about us traveling to his town?
Considering the circumstances, he didn’t think it was a problem. Imagine our surprise when he offered to have us stay at their house (driveway) and use the shower — what an amazing invitation from someone we hardly know. We were blown away by his continual generosity and graciousness. I shared our motto in our lives and marriage: Life’s Magic Dance and told him he was part of this magic. Missoula here we come; we’ll see John and his wife tomorrow late morning!
Just as we were driving into Bozeman, we regrettably received a text from John stating some logistical challenges came up, and the timing is not good after all. The invitation, however, still stands for another time, and we hope to see them in Missoula or San Francisco and be their host.
The penultimate stop of the day was Costco for re-provisioning. Talk about a reality check. The couple parked nearest to us were wearing masks. A guy in the store was wearing an N95 mask and dressed in full camo gear. I found him to be particularly unnerving. The place was empty, and we were on high alert for social distancing. I thanked so many Costco workers for being there as I would be terrified if I had to deal with the public.
As of two days ago, there were 34 COVID-19 cases total in Montana, 10 of which are in Gallatin County, which includes Big Sky and Bozeman. The US has 35,206 cases total.
This is the first time we are in a COVID-19 infected area, and thus anything that comes into Beastie needs to be cleaned. We are extremely diligent and cautious about everything. Our bubble has been completely busted, and we now know what our family, friends and neighbors are going through. Yikes. Everyone we’ve spoken to back home has said don’t come back. It’s better to stay away, they said, as we are much safer. Boy, y’all aren’t kidding…
It is now nearly midnight, and we’re getting ready for bed. We’re parked at our home here in Bozeman, also known as the Walmart Super Center Parking lot 🤣, and there are a lot of other “boondockers,” some of them with giant trailers or motorhomes with multiple push-outs. At least two are towing cars, which tells me these people probably left their locked-down locales and have escaped. Hope they’re not spreading anything; I'm sure they're thinking the same about us.
Who knows where we’ll be tomorrow. Stay tuned!
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