There is a fork in the road and a certain Robert Frost poem in my mind. Instantly I choose the road less traveled but for different reasons. There are two options for our campsite this evening, one filled with views and one with quiet (or a bit more quiet as it is a site in a campground). Usually we choose spots more dispersed but because of the active grizzly cubs and mamas around the area, camping in an actual campground is perfectly peachy to me. In an act of not-so-bold reasoning, I figure the more popular site with the views is already full so down the road we go.
To our amazement there are multiple sites still available. We are obviously not in Colorado anymore and are cheering our Wyoming good-fortune. Feeling brazen we decide to head back up to the second campground for maybe our luck will continue to grow.
I am not a gambler. Okay I'm a gambler with a $1 betting limit (as in total amount I will play) in Vegas. But feeling confident that there are still many options available even if the other campground is full we head onward and upward. I'm driving the truck and feel excited and nervous but not nauseous (I get car sick very easily as a passenger on curvy roads). Luckily our kids seem to have inherited my husband's stomach of steel in addition to his handsome good looks and exceptional logical mind. We drive up the dirt road higher and closer to beautiful towering pinnacles and hopefully the site where we will pitch our tent and rest our heads tonight.
There are 12 sites and four are still available. "Luck be a campsite tonight!" I sing in a voice more distant from Sinatra than he could have ever dreamed. The sun is shining and the magpies are squawking as we pull into our site. It is THE ONE. No one else is around or at least visible. The boys bound out of the truck happily ready to explore. I crack open the celebratory sunscreen tube for everyone. We are a jolly bunch. Soon, however, things becomes eerily quiet when we realize that while we have enough food, blankets and clothing to appease even the finicky kiddos, we have neglected to bring one important piece of camping equipment. The tent. When we announce to the boys that unfortunately we will not be spending the evening at this spot, one of them suggests that all is well and we can just go home and get it. After applauding his problem-solving skills I remind him that home is about 10hrs away. The nearest "real" town is Jackson which is about 2hrs away.
Immediately I'm quite conscious and hear the universe exclaiming, "TEACHABLE MOMENT!" So with more cheer than Santa I announce that we are having an adventure already and how exciting it is! After some dazed and confused looks from the boys, we hop back into the truck and head west. Where will we sleep tonight? I don't know but it is going to be so exciting to figure it out! It will be somewhere new and west of here! Yee-haw I (almost) yell.
Thinking and driving, driving and thinking we head towards Grand Teton National Park in hopes of eventual cell service and a plan. Finally a bar pops up on my phone and I call the lodging reservation desk for the national park. Everything has been booked months in advance but I'm hoping they can at least tell us where other lodging areas (that don't require a tent) may be scored for the evening. After being placed on a long hold a cheerful voice announces that minutes ago a cabin in Colter Bay had a cancellation. Would we like it for the night? Yeeessssss! I have no idea where Colter Bay is but we are going there now! It turned out to be an absolutely wonderful experience in the Grand Tetons. There was a fox den with baby foxes nearby, grizzlies had walked by the cabin earlier that morning and we ended up with a cabin AND a bathroom. No need to ever test my luck in Vegas again, we struck gold. It was the beginning of a road trip with more adventures than we anticipated and memories we won't forget.
As we headed north through Yellowstone, we saw wolves. Then, there was that bear...a wee bit too close to our new tent (acquired at a K-Mart the next day), rainbows dropping into a lake and more rainbows on the ground as the magical geysers and springs sprung steam and scents skyward. We finished off in Montana and a trek back to a place my family used to call home. So thankful that forgetting an integral part of camping equipment let to adventures we couldn't have planned.