A Romantic Trip of Firsts: Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, Dinosaurs, Sitting Back

Last week my husband took me on a special (and surprise!) romantic trip. I knew it was happening as far as, “We’re going somewhere, so pack,” but beyond that I knew nothing. And that’s the way I wanted it! It struck me after, when thinking about what a wonderful and monumental trip it was in terms of firsts, that this is the first overnight trip my husband has surprised me with. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t planned a lot of romantic overnight trips, it’s just that I was “in the know” about where we were going and what we doing. And he has done surprise trips too, but they’ve been day trips, so this was incredibly special to me. I love being surprised and may not be the easiest to surprise.

Final Destination!

My husband just showed me the weather while blocking out the place, and I knew we were driving and not flying. I figured this meant wherever we were going would be no more than nine hours away. And based on the weather it was going to be COLD. Automatically my mind went north, so Wyoming. I figured it would just be a mountain excursion (they have mountains in Wyoming, right?) like our trips to Estes Park. I wasn’t really thinking what could possibly be in Wyoming because A) that defeats the purpose, I wanted to be surprised, and B) I didn’t know if we were going to Wyoming. When we surprise each other we are allowed to mislead one another, so he could have been totally trying to throw me off our actual plans.

On Friday when it was time to leave, we loaded the car and off we went. I actually love road trips, particularly after buying our new Highlander. I love just being with my husband in the car, chatting, laughing – even singing. Yes, sometimes he sings in the car. And when he needs to concentrate on the road or we take a break from talking, I read, catching up on People magazines (I am five months behind! Seriously.) or light reading (this time it was Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins). I’m not sure if my husband enjoys road tripping as much as I do since he has to drive, but he seems to. 🙂

When we got to Wyoming I figured, this is where we’ll be, but I still didn’t know what city we’d end up in or what there would be to do. We made a few stops for coffee and gas and by the evening I had no idea where we were going because it had been long enough where I imagined we’d be at our destination. It was dark and my husband asked me to look for a sign for directions, “You’ll know it when you see it,” he said. And I did: Welcome to Montana.

Now, I have never been in Wyoming or Montana before this trip, not even just driving through, so this was special to me. I love firsts! He ended up booking this romantic, secluded cabin with a view. It was perfect. Full kitchen but studio style, and set the perfect rustic mood. I love cozy getaways – even when we were on our minimoon, we were upgraded to this deluxe suite but asked to keep our original and much smaller accommodations because it was more secluded and we just want to be alone – together.

My husband told me that we were going to go to Yellowstone and I was psyched. I’ve always wanted to go and have never been. There was a freak snowstorm (yes, even for Montana) the night before so while we were at the North Entrance to the park, we had to travel a few hours to go to the East Entrance, but it did not dampen anything. The drives were absolutely gorgeous and so different from what we see in Colorado, and that was just going to the park!

Yellowstone Park NW Entrance

We did a lot of exploring in Red Lodge, Montana and Cody and Casper, Wyoming. Naturally, I found amazing coffee places in each city, because I have needs. 😛 It was nice not having plans, but having them. We weren’t on a schedule or trying to cram things in, but we had things to keep us occupied. I’m not sure what my favorite part of the trip was, because there were so many!

Obviously, Yellowstone itself makes the list. We went on two different days. The first day we saw all kinds of wildlife including a herd of bison acting as our oncoming traffic. It was so cool! And my husband got to see a bear in the wild, which was what he was most excited to see (though not a Grizzly, sadly). Obviously the park is breathtaking but it was the wildlife that made the first day in the park special.

On the second day there, it was all about natural wonders. We still saw plenty of bison (sadly for my husband, no other bears) but we went to see Old Faithful. We arrived at the perfect time without knowing or planning on it. Five minutes after we got there, “There she blows!” It was magnificent. After going through the learning center there, we had a nice dinner and then took our time driving through all of the geyser basins in the park and arrived just in time to see another blow! The hot springs were amazing and in some we could see the bottoms, beautiful combinations of color. I’m really not a person who likes the cold (and it was COLD), but I think it added to the visibility and beauty of all of the hot springs. So it was worth it!

We also went to an animal sanctuary; it was small but so worth it. They had elusive animals that can be really hard to get glimpses of in other sanctuaries, zoos or parks like wolves and bobcats. (They also have a lynx, but it was off display due to its habitat being damaged in that freak snowstorm I mentioned.) All of their animals were rescued from abusive situations or injured and cannot be released into the wild because they won’t survive so there is also no moral gray area for animal lovers who avoid zoos for these reasons. I swear seeing their wolf, Apache, took my breath away. That right there made the whole thing worth it for me.

Every night on our trip, we played games when we got back to the cabin. Not on our phones, with each other. Uno and Family Feud mostly, and it was so much fun! We’re both mock competitive. Like we keep score but we laugh and make jokes about it and relish giving each other the smackdown in Uno, while giving hints and each other answers in Family Feud. My husband even came up with two additional rules/ways to play Uno that made the game a lot more fun! I would have never thought them up since I usually follow game rules to the letter, but it just made it better and now I’m not going to want to play any other way! 😉 Like the park, these game nights were a highlight for me. We need to do it at home!

When our trip ended on day five, we headed back, but the fun wasn’t over. We stopped in Thermopolis, Wyoming and went to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. It is deceptively small, but all kinds of awesome! Seriously, they have information, fossils and displays this rabid dino-fan has never seen before. And I learned a lot too, he who keeps up with dinosaur books and the latest discoveries. They had a fully-mounted Supersaurus and the most complete specimen (yes, the actual fossil) of Archaeopteryx. Dinosaur enthusiasts will totally understand the significance of this. My husband was such a trooper too, he thought we’d be out in no more than two hours, and it took me three because I take my darn time, and get so caught up. If you or someone you know is into dinosaurs, I highly recommend this place. It is rated the sixth best in the entire world, and is the best I have been to in my lifetime. Also if you’re planning to visit, they take people on digs (and even do dig-for-a-day). We didn’t do it this time, but everyone raves about it and it seems like a must for anyone with interest.

Archaeopteryx: The Thermopolis Specimen – The “Missing Link” between birds and dinosaurs

Now that we’re back we both may need a few days to recover from our vacation, but I had the absolute best time. It was sweet, thoughtful, romantic – full of firsts and surprises, connecting with nature, seeing wildlife and ending with dinosaurs. Seriously, what’s not to love.

I have the best husband in the world for planning this for me (and putting up with me!). Don’t think I don’t know. 😉

-DMW

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1 Response to A Romantic Trip of Firsts: Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, Dinosaurs, Sitting Back

  1. Pingback: Another Year of Pumpkin Patches, Omaha Visits and Halloween | Just A Little Red

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