Flashback Friday is where I post a little snipet of my life as a younger me. We went on a lot of vacations when I was a child. This is the first one that I remember. It was in 1991 when I was 7 years old. The Yellowstone fire I refer to is the one from 1988. You can read more about it here.
I was sitting by the door of our Colt Vista and my 5 year-old sister, Andrea, was sitting right next to me. This probably means that Kristen, my baby sister, was sitting next to the other door, though I have zero memory of her. Yellowstone had just had a huge fire and a lot of the trees that we drove by were dead or burned in patches and then totally normal in others. It looked rather desolate. I remembered learning about it in school because it was hard to put out. The wind would blow the fire someplace else and it was a long time before all the fires went out.
We drove up to our cabin and it was made of logs. There was a moose in the backyard of one of the cabins we drove by and it looked taller than the cabin. The moose didn’t look mean, but it was still a little scary to me because of how big it was and also a little exciting at the same time to see an animal I’d never seen before.
One day, we were taking a drive through Yellowstone and my dad saw some buffalo in a meadow on the side of the road. They were really close to the road and easy to see, so my dad stopped and excitedly told us to look out the window to see them. I looked out the right window and saw the buffalo a little ways off in the field and found it a little interesting. I didn’t know how I felt about the buffalo. The rangers had handed out pamphlets about respecting the wildlife and I’m the kind of person that reads pamphlets and manuals. The pamphlet talked about respecting the wildlife and staying safe. The bears would leave you alone as long as you didn’t run or feed them. The moose would charge you if they had a baby with them. Those animals seemed pretty harmless if you left them alone. But the warnings about the buffalo were downright terrifying. There were pictures of them knocking over cars and warnings about how strong they were and that they were sometimes unpredictable. I was liking the buffalo as long as they stayed in the field.
To my utter terror, I saw a buffalo start to walk into the road. It decided now was a good time to cross since out car wasn’t moving. Up close, the buffalo was definitely as big as our Colt Vista, if not bigger. It started to walk towards my side of the car, which was on the left, and I panicked. I screamed and screamed at this huge animal that was so big it looked like a monster. Andrea joined in the chorus when she saw it, too. Every instinct inside of me said to run as fast as you can, but I was buckled into the backseat of our car. Plus, I wasn’t driving. Surely, my dad would have the same instinct. When he didn’t, I was begging to leave, but he was only half listening because he was looking at a buffalo up close in what he saw as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Wow,” my dad said, “look at the buffalo! Look how close it is! That’s so neat! Don’t you think that’s neat, Jessica?”
An entire calm conversation takes place between my parents as I run out of words and just scream and scream with all the breath I have.
Finally, my mom says something like, “Kip. You’re scaring the kids.”
It felt like an eternity before my dad finally drove away.
We spent the rest of the trip seeing geysers. The first one was Old Faithful. It was pretty cool to see how high it went in the air. As we went to the other geysers, I started to notice something else about Yellowstone – it smelled bad. And not like “old socks” bad but like “putrid, never smelt anything this bad” kind of bad. After a while, Andrea and I did not like it. We would drive to a parking lot and my parents would ask if we wanted to come. At first we said yes excitedly and jumped out of the car. When we started to realize that all the geysers looked the same and some smelled worse than others, we didn’t want to get out of the car anymore. We begged to not have to go see another one and some of them my parents just plain dragged us to. When we got to the last geyser of the trip, it was called something like “Dragon Hole” or some other equally horrible name and we downright refused to get out. No way was I going to see another stinky geyser with some scary name. I could hear rumbling in the distance. The geyser got it’s scary name from the noise it made and it seemed like if there were more monsters on this vacation, they would definitely be at this horrid geyser. So my parents rolled down the windows and made it a fast peek without us.
When they got back, I asked, “Was it different than the other ones?” As much as I didn’t want to go, I still didn’t want to miss anything.
“Not really,” my dad said.
“Did it stink?” Andrea asked.
I couldn’t help being glad that that was the last geyser of the trip.
The first journal entry I wrote by myself in my journal was about this trip. I don’t remember some of the things I mention in my journal, but I do remember seeing the elk on the side of the road. Here’s what I wrote as a 7 year-old me with some amusing grammar and punctuation:
“I went to yellowstone. I saw a black bear! When we were on a piknik I saw a deer up close! We saw lot’s of buffalo’s. We saw a mose and a elk. We saw old faithful. It stinked ew! We saw water fall’s. We saw grand tetons. Yellowstone had a fire. We saw rivre’s. I got a hat and a shirt. We staed in a cadin for: 4 day’s and 3 nights. It was relly fun! (Drawing of mountains). We saw it go of like the picher. It was icsiding. (Postcard of Old Faithful). Buffalo (My drawing of a buffalo).”