The next day’s adventure was wholly my fault. I bought gas in West Yellowstone before entering the park. I hiked, and we picnicked at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone before continuing on to Cody, Wyoming, for the night. Cell phone reception in the park is sporadic at best. It was only the next morning that I read the message that my wallet had been picked up a hundred yards from the west park entrance and turned in. I must have left it on the back of the car when I pumped gas.
We had been awed by the rock formations in the Shoshone National Forest outside the east gate. “I want to drive this from east to west next time,” I told Mom. I hadn’t meant to do it the next day. Or return west to east the same afternoon. It took six hours to get back to our starting point in Cody, but the scenery was beautiful.
We slept at the top of the Big Horn Mountains that night, a serendipitous adventure our husbands would not have had with their yearning for plans and reservations. The next night (after another map-reading adventure) we slept in the Black Hills. The following day we picnicked at Mount Rushmore and drove through the Badlands of South Dakota in the afternoon. (By this time I had figured out that I needed to study the map for myself.)
Now my mother-in-law, Claudia, and I are both home with memories of laughter and shared experiences and photos that only hint at the glories we saw. The RV dream is stronger than ever, but if you don't mind, Mom, I'll read the map.