During a particularly long hike I got extremely hot so me being me I thought nothing of stripping down–don’t freak out, I had a bikini top on, short-shorts, and I was barefoot: a pretty normal outfit for me. After a couple minutes I noticed the crowd I was in; 20-30 Asian tourists completely covered head to foot and face with clothing shielding them from the sun, even the men were totally covered up in baggy modest clothing. Then to my right I noticed the 15 Middle Eastern tourists all in burkas, long sleeves, and long pants. I got that paranoid feeling we Americans get when we think people around us are all obviously talking smack in their foreign languages –like Hispanic girls in the bathroom in high school. I had to laugh –I mean picture it, my goodness all those people must think I am the biggest whore on the planet. Hopping into my rainbow car probably added some confusion to their perception as well.

I really enjoyed the scenic drives I did to Fire hole Lake and Fire Hole Canyon –not only was the morning mist coming off the Geyser amazing it lead my eye to see Buffalo graving in the tall grass near the forest. I made really good friends with an elderly Australian couple, the husband of which was a professional nature photographer intensely in favor of my traveling. He informed that he had been travelling ever since he was a small army brat and the courageous, up-for-anything attitudes you cultivate when travelling lead him to incredible success. And the travel-savvy street smarts he learned while visiting other countries later helped him get to incredible places for pictures and shaped his people loving, grounded personality. Needless to say, this old guy became my hero and he was all about me and my goals. More road magic!

After swimming in bath warm water surrounded by giant yellow cliffs I drove to bubbling mud pots and crazy colored pools for more hiking. Normally on non-transit days I try and hike ten miles –but in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone I had been doing at least fifteen miles a day. I’m not sure if this increase in motion caused it, but I began having intense pain in my left foot. I mean, horrible shooting, debilitating pain up my leg and through my toes. I was limping down trails for a couple days. Finally I broke down and sought out help at the Yellowstone Clinic, unfortunately an entire heard of Elk were blocking the entrance –a problem you probably only run into at Yellowstone.

So I decided to go to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone –I had been before with my mom and brother when I was around ten years old so it was really cool to go back and see it all again. The canyon was so picturesque; yellow cliffs with two giant waterfalls, a winding river, boulders, and some trees going out the side of the rocks! Then to the giant Mammoth Hot Springs which is definitely another planet –huge grey sulfur castles with deep holes like craters at sunset. I did the long board walk hike around the springs and went back to the clinic. Not to start social banter but it really sucked being turned away yet again –this time not because of Elk but because I didn’t have enough money for someone to look at my foot. I was so incredibly hurt the nurse wouldn’t even feel to see if it was swollen or advise me to ice it without getting a credit card first!

I left Yellowstone taking the long scenic drives to the east exit so I could see the massive Yellowstone Lake and drive through the pretty forest. The trip was amazing but it was incredibly lonely –minus the great girl time with my hosts. I began counting down the days until Fred and I would meet back up and realized that while it is nice to not have to compromise, convince, and basically do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it’s not nearly as fun to experience natures slender alone. Happiness is real when shared.

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