Aug 222011

I have long maintained that mastering the standing diaper change is a critical skill for traveling with a baby or toddler.  In Yellowstone, I did my first standing poopy diaper change on the summit of an 8500-foot mountain, without wipes.  My advice?  Pull the diaper down quickly once, grabbing as much as you can, and wrap tightly.  Yes, you do have to pack it down with you (think of all future generations who want to enjoy the mountain, not only the one who just pooped).  A bag to wrap in it would have been nice, but considering my lack of supplies, other than water and food, it went well.

Bear safety has become somewhat of a hot-button issue at Yellowstone.  There has been one bear-related fatality in Yellowstone already this year, and signs warning of the hazards of bears are all over the Park.  (Further proving the danger of bears at Yellowstone, a follow-up segment to the 2011 bear fatality, being taped on CNN on bear safety at the Park, was disrupted by a bear.)

Fortunately, it turns out that hiking with a two-year-old in bear country can be a great asset, to keep bears away.  One thing you can do to deter bears is to make noise so they know you’re coming.  Two-year-olds love to make noise!  We sang together as we hiked, and Jude loved it when we clapped our hands through the wooded areas where we had less visibility in front.  (Conversely, if you encounter a bear, do not make a lot of noise; stay calm; talk calmly and do not yell; and do not make eye contact.  If the bear comes toward you, lie face down with your arms behind your head and play dead until it leaves.  You do not want to be seen as a threat.  In this alarming scenario, having a two-year-old with you might not be a good thing.)

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, near the north entrance to the Park, where we were staying, and its surrounding “campus,” reminded me of both summer camp and college.  We had a shared bathroom, so as I trudged over in my PJs, I was reminded of the sense of familiarity and camaraderie you feel in college; we were in the wilderness which reminded me of my Adirondacks summer camp; and the whole cluster of buildings reminded me of the environment from those times in my life.

The restaurant near the lodge has an all-American wine list, and the menu highlights many regional specialties.  Foremost on the menu were bison and trout.  Although I love trout, I must say the bison far exceeded the trout which was a little dry.  Patrick had bison sliders which he really enjoyed.  Jude and Patrick most enjoyed the huckleberry ice cream – a specialty of the area.

Summit of Mt. Washburn

A highlight was hiking the 10,243-foot Mt. Washburn.  We did this hike on our final day, and it took a little longer than we had expected.  This meant that when we reached the bottom, Jude was ready for his nap.  This was unfortunate for us parents, because we wanted to visit Norris Geyser Basin, which was close to Mt. Washburn, but far from our hotel (we did not want to do this long drive again in the limited time we had at Yellowstone).  What to do?  We called an audible and decided against Norris and for the world-famous Old Faithful geyser.  The upside here was a long drive to Old Faithful, which let Jude have a long undisturbed sleep in the car.  This experience, to me, demonstrated the importance of flexibility when traveling with a child.  Had we just gone to Norris, Jude would have been tired and cranky; had we retreated back to the hotel, Jude probably would have slept well in his tent, but we would have not seen any geyser during our visit.  Instead, visiting Old Faithful turned out to be perfect, a very impressive natural wonder enjoyed with a well-rested little guy.

There were a lot of kids at Yellowstone.  With a diversity of activities, food options for kids, and a wide age range of kids around, it was a very easy place to visit with a toddler.  It’s a huge Park and we just touched a tip of it – we definitely want to come back one day.




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