We took a 2011 Chevy Equinoxfrom Seattle to Yellowstone. Clark Koelsch and Director of Photography extraordinaire Chayse Irvin flew up from LA to Seattle. We hoped in the SUV and took off, driving 2000+ miles...sleeping in parking lots...and finally resting at an assisted living facility before driving a consecutive 15 hours back to Seattle.
Writer/Director/Editor Keith Rivers
Written essay: Carey Bolden and Keith Rivers
Director of Photography Chayse Irvin
Actors Clark Koelsch & Keith Rivers
Musician Lila Nelson
Song: "Who is it?"
Special Thanks to Justin Brown for organizing equipment and itinerary.
Name of Route:
“Seattle to Yellowstone: A Path We Must Take”
I-90 East through Washington and Montana US-89 South to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The Seattle skyline led us out of the city on I-5 as we merged onto I-90 eastbound and into the darkness of Washington’s endless evergreens and snow-capped mountains. Guided by the stars, we rotated driving duties as music and lyrics drifted in and out of our ears like a poetic dream.
As the sun launched over the horizon, we were introduced to the serene, flat vastness of big sky Montana, and our 2011 Chevy Equinox had witnessed our confessions, philosophies, predictions, and stories of old loves, all that comes along with your typical “guys’ weekend”. With no strict agenda, we stopped anytime we felt the need for adventure, a pee break, or maybe even a little bit of trouble.
First stop: just outside of Harrison, MT, we hiked through a wheat field and past an old Chevy Blazer from another life. We encountered a bone-yard of cattle skulls, one of which we knew had to join us for the remainder of the trip. We named our bull skull “Homer.”
We dug through old mining caves in the ghost town of Pony, MT with the guidance of a tiny LED light. As we ventured back from the smell of sulfur, we passed an old, yellow school bus, which reminded us of the film “Into the Wild”. We had to explain the movie to Homer.
In Bozeman, MT, we drove to our friend Nick’s grandma’s house for a true Montana home-cooked steak dinner and shot some pool. Hands down best steak we’d ever had in our lives and it wasn’t just the marinade. Our head’s hit the pillow hard that night when we made it to the Bozeman Retirement Home we called home on this journey. This was an assisted living facility for old folks, and a place where we made some new, old friends.
Next stop: our final destination. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming – a place complete with wintering waterfalls, ancient trees, geo-thermal geysers, mud flats, colorful paint pots, and herds of buffalo. Ever sang the song, “Oh, give me a home, where the deer and the antelope roam?” We’re knee deep in it. Old Faithful and Boiling River were our favorite stops in Yellowstone. Although, there is no documentation of Boiling River, thanks to an unfriendly elk who ironically gave chase to our Director of Photography: Chayse Irvin. As he walked back to the Equinox to get the camera, he took a drive into the freezing cold glacial river, downstream. Homer found this very funny. So did the rest of us.
Soon, nightfall was upon us, and so were the park rangers and police officers. So far, two warnings, no speeding tickets. They’re stoked that we’re documenting our trip and traveling as far as we’ve come. Noted that the law enforcement community in Wyoming is surprisingly friendly!
We began our trip home with a stop at a Bozeman gas station followed by Ted’s Montana Grill. The bison burgers were the perfect fuel for our 10-hour drive back to Seattle. Again, more sleeping and alternating the wheel. More music scoring as we passed old steam pipes, bridges, tracing imaginary trails of stars.
One final stop before arriving home: Goldmyer Hotsprings, deep in North Bend, WA. Nature’s hot tub nestled at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. We soaked in the 120-degree water carved from an old cave, soaking and sealing the memories we made, and how we’d never forget the experiences or people we’d met along the way. Even homer.
maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Seattle,+WA&daddr=Yellowstone+National+Park,+Gardiner,+MT&hl=en&geocode =&abauth=ddb801b1:nQixhjkT24QpRySaZgV48-x2wN0&mra=ls&vps=1&jsv=341a&sll=37.0625,- 95.677068&sspn=49.891082,77.958984&num=10
24 hours of driving earned us a bunk for the night at a Montana Retirement Home/Assisted Living Facility. Made a few new old friends, too.
Ted’s Montana Grill has some of the best bison meat Montana has to offer. It’s also an eco-friendly restaurant – when was the last time you drank from a paper straw?
RECOMMENDED MENU ITEM:
The bison burgers at Ted Montana’s Grill were so good, even the bison recommended them.
NATURAL OR CULTURAL ATTRACTION:
Pony, Montana was the perfect locale for exploring old mining caves. I think I’ve got the black lung, pop! -Zoolander
Yellowstone National Park’s winter waterfalls, ancient trees, geo-thermal geysers, mud flats, paint pots and herd of buffalo made the trip worth the drive. Boiling River was the only part of Yellowstone not documented, since our friend Chayse left the camera in the car...and was chased by an elk when he went back to get it.
Old Faithful helped us all check off another item on our bucket list. People travel from all over the world to see this geyser shoot water 50 to 60 feet off the ground every 1.5 hours. It is the most consistent geyser in the world. At the edge of the Northern border of Yellowstone, we snuck into a local spot: Boiling River finds its origins at the intersection of freezing glacier run-off and an underground geo-thermal vent that waterfalls into the river. At 105-115 degrees, it is nature’s hot tub. The current of cold water and black mud bedding keeps you alive and refreshed.
PURCHASES AND MEMORABILIA:
Past endless fields where the deer and antelope roam, near a 1,200 acre farm outside Bozeman, MT, we encountered a wheat field brandishing old cattle skulls who begged to come along for the ride home. Plus, they’re free.
WHAT CARE DID YOU DRIVE IN:
2011 white Chevy Equinox
WHAT CHEVY MODEL WOULD YOU RECOMMEND DRIVING IN:
2011 Equinox, Tahoe or Traverse, but the Equinox is 32 MPG.
WHAT MUSIC WOULD YOU RECOMMEND LISTENING TO WHILE DRIVING:
Scoring the scenery from Seattle to Yellowstone and back, these music artists are a must have – The Head & The Heart, Come Gather Round Us (search hard to find this band), James Blake, Lila Nelson, Allen Stone, Tindersticks, Jamie Lidell, Vital, Penguin Café Orchestra and Patrick Watson.
Special Thanks to Nick and LeAnn Bunn in Montana for allowing us to stay the night at your assisted living facility and your amazing and grateful hospitality (Hyalite Country Care). My stomach thanks you for letting us have the last Bison Burgers on the menu at Ted's Monatana Grill! God Bless you!
Very special thanks to the people who gave the rough cut a good constructive critique:
John Kenney Jr.