Parental Neglect

According to the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, the recipe to raise a child is simple:

  • Combine hot food, dry shelter, pet dogs, braces, a broken nose, the occasional new pair of shoes, and 1 cup milk.
  • Bake the mixture at 98.6°F for 18 years.
  • Let hormones cool for 10 years and ...
  • PRESTO!, you've got a well-rounded human being!
  • Let rest for five minutes before carving and serving.

The cookbook notes that baking time may vary and warns that "adding too many optional ingredients" may spoil the results.

We followed Betty's recipe with great attention, but something wasn't quite right with Simon. There was a vacancy in his eyes, an emptiness in his soul, a weakness in his heart.

Then we realized the magnitude of our parental neglect!!

We missed an ingredient!

We forgot to take Simon to Jellystone National Park!

Eager for a recipe redo, we invited Simon to join us for a week's springtime tour of the world's first national park!


Are you all vaxxed up and feeling better about, well, everything!!?

Grab a cup of your favorite nearly post-pandemic beverage and join us on Simon's excellent adventure, Jellystone Completes Me!, presented in the ever popular Picture-n-CaptionTM format.

Let's go!

Shall we?
Pssst ... Don't forget to pack your pick-a-nick basket!


The Towering Inferno!

Any trip to Jellystone begins with a stop at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National MonumentWhy? Because it's right on the way AND these two volcanic characters have something in common: Samples sent to 23andME revealed that they share the same hotspot DNA!

Yep! The same giant pool of magma heating Jellystone today also created Craters of the Moon 15,000 to 2,000 years ago. But keep your hardhats on boys and girls because both areas will be volcanically active in the future! Shake it and bake it!

Pictured above: The ever popular hike to the top of Crater's Inferno Cinder Cone.

Take a Left!

It may appear quiet enough, but by mid-May, West Jellystone was bustling during a spell of perfect spring weather. Fast-forward six days and our trip home featured a section of completely iced-over roads. You know what's fun? Driving on solid ice at 35 MPH while keeping an eye on the oncoming semi-trucks!!!

Ah! Springtime in the Rockies ... never a dull moment!


Bimodal Eruption Geyser Disorder!

Rarely visited and almost never photographed, Old Faithful blows her top every hour on the hour! 


OH SNAP! She's bimodal! 

A bimodal geyser has long and short eruptions. This, in turn, means the period between eruptions vary because of the time needed to recharge the water chamber lurking below.

Of course, this is scientific nonsense.

In reality, the geysers were made and are operated by the Mole People! The only reason geysers are unpredictable is because these subterranean rodents are really bad at running the boilers that power the geysers! They're not plumbers ... they're BLIND MOLES!

As we raised Simon, we warned him incessantly about the Mole People under his bed. He remains very frightened of them to this day ... as should you.

Hey Brother, Can You Lend Me Hand?

Rule #1: Never throw a severed hand and sugar cubes into geysers or hot springs! Pick one or the other, but NEVER both at the same time!

Umm ... Did You Fart?

The geyser basins are wonderful places to enjoy the aromatherapy of hydrogen sulfide! Pictured above, enthusiasts gather to deeply inhale this intoxicating ambrosia resembling an exquisite blend of organic eggs and free-range farts.

Actually, egg farts smell better.


Even in May, it's guaranteed you'll hit traffic jams for one of two reasons:
  1. Understandably, bison (very large cattle, but in disguise) decide it's easier to walk on the highway or ...
  2. Photographers with very long lenses are taking pictures of a distant bear!
Our worst traffic jam took 45 minutes to advance 1.5 miles. The cause? Long-lensed photographers who just HAD to get a totally unremarkable image of a bear!

Though I fancy myself as a photographer from time to time, it's too bad the bear wasn't closer ...  much, muchcloser!

Those are Mighty Big Tetons!

The Grand Tetons! How long had it been since I last visited this mountain kingdom? Well, I was young enough that we made many jokes about their French name. Every now and then I still make those jokes. Anyway, they're enormous and pointy!

At this time, please join me in the gutter by reading paragraph three of this Wyoming Magazine post.

A day trip to view Les Grandes Tetons and their soaring 6,000-foot rise above the Snake River plain is a must during any Jellystone adventure. 

Fun Fact: Simon giggled all the way back to our motel. All I had to do was say "Tetons!"


Here, cool people with sunglasses pose at the highest road crossing of the Continental Divide in Jellystone.

Fun Fact: Also known as the Great Divide, it's easy to forget that this geographic feature extends from the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska to the Straight of Magellan at the southern tip of South America! 

But what's its total geographic length?

This question was too googleplexing for Google ... (Really, I tried, a lot)

I eventually used a mapping app and came up with a very rough 10,000 miles.

But what is the actual length? You tell me!

OMG! It's time for the first ever ... 21st Century TourAlongWithTodd Challenge!

  • Here's the word problem:

    • If you dropped Simon off at the Seward Peninsula and made him walk barefoot along the very crest of the Great Divide to the tip of South America with only two candy bars - one an Almond Joy and the other a Mounds bar - how many miles would he have walked?

  • Here's the only rule: You have to send me an email citing your source and the number of miles.

  • The first reader to send a plausible and verifiable answer wins something BIG! 

Johnny D'oh!

Johnny didn't learn to read when he was a kid. To Johnny, a warning sign was just a thing with squiggles on it. Johnny's parents didn't love him ... and sadly, Johnny was never seen again.

Today, Johnny's memorialized in this painting entitled Johnny D'oh!, displayed at all of the park's thermal fields.

Simon said he's happy that we made him learn to read because he didn't want to end up like Johnny D'oh!

What a Difference $4 Makes!

Food and travel go hand in hand, and finding culinary gems are part of the fun. Restaurants may be too busy, but we've learned to be wary of those that aren't busy enough! And there's always street vendors to explore. One night we tried an Asian street-side takeout. For $13, I was rewarded with a Styrofoam container featuring white rice, fatty teriyaki chicken, and veggies consisting of two small pieces of broccoli on a bed of cabbage. NOOOOO!

In contrast, the following night we went to The Branch. For $17, I had the best fish and chips ever ... AND was able to substitute the chips and coleslaw with a side Caesar salad and the Veg du Jour. OK, it wasn't really fish and chips any more, but when in doubt, go to The Branch!

Oh! Start your day's sightseeing early so you can hit The Branch's happy hour from 4:00-6:00 and not feel guilty!

All Aboard!

Fun Fact! When you go to The Branch, don't be surprised to see an exquisitely kept Pullman train car as you enter! The Oregon Shortline 1903 was named for the year it was built. Constructed for $16,685, it served as an executive rail car for the vice president of the Union Pacific so he could travel from Salt Lake City to Jellystone in style.

Simon was disappointed that we didn't give him a train like this one when he was a kid. We reminded him that we gave him a Thomas the Tank Engine train, Thomas the Tank Engine books, and he watched the Thomas the Tank Engine TV show ad nauseum!

So yeah, he pretty much had the full experience.

Blogger's Note:
  • Thomas the Tank Engine is nothing! If you want "ad nauseum," imagine watching Gumbie: The Movie every day as we did in Simon's formative years! For months!

  • It didn't matter. This masterpiece of stop-action cinematography had young Simon's seal of approval.

  • I dare you to watch Gumbie: The Movie in its entirety. I DOUBLE DOG DARE you!

Let's Kickbox This Motel Back to the Stone Age! 

Caught on tape in our room at Three Bear Lodge, Simon and Natalie are midway through a 20-minute kickboxing workout courtesy of an app on Simon's phone. Though asked to join in, I had the common sense to stick with my review of the day's photos accompanied with a vodka tonic. Besides, I didn't want to show them up with my finely tuned Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kicks!

For a kick-ass review of Chuck Norris' kicking skills, take a moment to view this brief presentation of "Chuck Norris Kicks Everything!"

I guarantee this will be the best four minutes of your day!

You're welcome!

How Much for the Doggie in the Window?

As a way to encourage domestic travel in the era of COVID, Cruise America now includes a dog with every rental. You can even give your pup any name you'd like! Of course, Cruise America dogs really don't care what they're named. Their only interest is in what food you have and how soon they can eat it.

On one Cruise America camper, the dog was winking at me. Really. That weirded me out.

What can I say? Mammoth Hot Springs are cool! Built over time by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, these travertine (a form of limestone) terraces are colored by algae that thrive in the spring's very hot water.

Yes, of course I knew all of this without having to look it up on Wikipedia. 


You'll Never See Another Shot Like This!

Lower Jellystone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Jellystone expose over 1,000 feet of volcanic debris and flows deposited from the last eruption of the Jellystone caldera. A super volcano, Jellystone's dramatic geologic life is difficult to comprehend. The catastrophic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1981 ejected 1/4 of a cubic mile of debris into the air and across the landscape. Pretty impressive! Until you consider Jellystone. 

The graphic below speaks volumes. Mt. St. Helens was a tiny burp!

When will the Jellystone blow its top next? According to the USGS, it's not overdue. So yes, you can plan a safe trip to Jellystone any time. Or course, there are plenty of earthquakes to look forward to!

Step to the Right ... a Little More ... a Little Bit More ...

Though mom was nervous as Simon walked onto this narrow rock peninsula to take a photo, at least he wasn't taking a selfie ... which hasn't gone so well for others in similar situations.

On this hike, from Artist Point to Point Sublime, the trail takes you precariously near the canyon rim at times (four feet?) and is even more exciting when hiking on slushy snow! 

I'm Hungry! And Your Face Is My Nap-Time Snack!

No wolves were harmed in capturing this image at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Jellystone. The center's a cool stop and the $15 admission fee in support of the Center is well worth it. They've got several of these cuddly pups, a bunch of grizzly, a new aquatic center, and an expansion of the bear habitat is underway.

The Center isn't a zoo. It's a research facility that hosts animals that would have otherwise been put down ... as in "You stupid bear! You're an ugly dork!" or "Hey wolf! Your mamma was a chihuahua!"

Fun Fact: Container manufacturers pay the Center top dollar to have their products "road tested" by the bears. Each container is filled with rancid meat and then placed in the bear habitat to see how long it takes the bears to get the yummy prize inside.

Mission Accomplished!

In one short week, Jellystone completed Simon's childhood. He's all grown up! And for us, the long dark shadow of parental neglect has finally begun to recede.

Above, Simon's relaxed, debonair, and cool-cool casual as he poses with the giant teddy bear at the Center's gift shop. So Happy!

Well ... until the tantrum that ensued after we told him he couldn't take the teddy bear home. So much wailing and so many tears!


There you have it! Another Jellystone adventure is in the bag, but not to be forgotten.

More TourAlongs are on the way!

Until then ... Ciao!

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