Disneyland, Not so Happiest Place on Earth

First of all, we had absolutely no plans on stopping at Disneyland. It wasn’t part of our road trip. We were going to avoid it. However, as is plain to see, we changed our minds and surprised everyone with day at Disneyland!!

We used the app to get our tickets and reservations, showed up early and got great parking. Disney folks know that great parking still means quite a hike.

We got the whole crew unloaded, there is 5 of us and our little one would definitely be needing his stroller for the long day ahead and we hike toward the entrance.

Before you can get to the actual park entrances you need to pass through security. No biggie, right? We just had our basic toddler supplies, wallets, etc. I also had a selfie stick. A short selfie stick that we planned to use once at the park entrance and stow away in the stroller for the rest of the day. We wanted one family picture without having strangers handle our phones (COVID and all).

Well, not being Disney buffs, when the security person who looked at the stuff inside my one pocket hip pouch for entirely way too long and the selfie stick and phone in my hand and said I would have to walk it back to my car or abandon it with him because they were banned in the park we believed him and left it there because we did not want to walk all the way back and waste of Disney time. So we ended up with an okay shot of just the boys in the family. After seeing many other guests in the park with selfie sticks we started to get perturbed. Later, I checked the Disney Rules and it turns out that selfie sticks are banned but not tripods. Well, my selfie stick was a tripod. Many tripods can be selfie sticks. Anyhoo, can’t change the past and I ended up replacing it with a better selfie/tripod.

Once in the park, we were taking turns going on rides with our older boys and at first this was working great. We were able to let the ride staff know and get a fast pass for the other parent to take their turn. Originally, we were told we could get up to 3 fast pass for our group. Which was perfect because we have two older boys, two parents and a toddler. So while one parent stays back to hang with the toddler the other can ride with the boys. Then switch. Well, every single time I was the second parent to ride with the boys and every single time I was grilled about where I got the fast pass, what time was it for, and a few other questions I can’t remember and never knew the answers for. We were not waiting half the day to use these, we were switching right out. It was incredibly annoying, ride staff was loading these passes on to our app and not giving us any kind of instructions to be able to pass the quiz. It really felt like we were being accused of something.

It was a learning experience for us for sure. We still don’t understand the parent/caregiver fast pass program. We absolutely will go back, because I am craving another churro and the boys still had a blast. Next time, it looks like I will have study all the rules before we visit. If you would like to go over park rules visit https://disneyland.disney.go.com/park-rules/

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, West Yellowstone

Are you planning on visiting Yellowstone? Looking for up close encounters with wolves and bears? Of course, there’s a chance to see wolves and bear in Yellowstone National Park. We have seen them at varying distances each time we have been to the park. Whether you get to see these great animals in Yellowstone or they evade you during your stay a trip to West Yellowstone to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a side trip worth the effort and fuel!

While the main attractions here are the bears and wolves, there’s more! Other exhibits that are definitely worth checking out include river otters, birds of prey, ground squirrels and more. The onsite Bald Eagles are rescued birds that are no longer able to fly in order to hunt for themselves.

The Grizzly bears are rescues or bears that have been trapped looking for food and/or finding it too close to humans or have become aggressive toward humans. GWDC offers an enrichment program that involves allowing younger children to participate in hiding snacks/treats for the bears to find when the are released from their dens into the habitat. Since our visit, I have noticed that there have been some habitat changes and some of the bears have been relocated. Great news for the Grizzlies!

GWDC is home to three packs of grey wolves for a total of 9 wolves. The exhibit is set up to offer excellent unobstructed views of the wolves, well, being wolves. The handlers provide enrichment through adding scents and hiding bones and fish.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center provides a wealth of information about these amazing wild animals. Handlers provide talks about behavior and we even caught a bear talk that involved how to properly use bear spray. Bear proof and not so bear proof products were also on display showing just how strong and determined these bears are especially when it comes to food.

Want to know more? Visit the GWDC website to plan your visit and learn more about this non-profit Wild Life Park and Educational Facility. If you are looking for a campsite nearby, we have just the secret spot! It wouldn’t be a secret if I told everyone about it now would it?!

Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana

This impulsive stop was entirely worth the short distance out of our way. We are slightly fascinated with deep dark damp caves. Here, we took a guided tour of the cave system. We got to hear about the caves’ history as well as history about the area and the park.

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana offers camping and cabins, hiking and biking, fishing and hunting and so much more. Our favorite part about this park was the cave tour. Especially the stalactites and stalagmites.

It is important to dress for going underground. It is definitely cooler in the caves. Another important thing to keep in mind is the bats. No, the bats will not get you, but you shouldn’t wear shoes that you have worn in other caves. Wearing different “clean” shoes that have not been in other caves helps protect bats from a fungal infection. With Covid-19 visitors also need to wear a mask inside the caves.

Before we went on the tour we looked at pictures taken in the caverns. Wow did they look great. We did not have extra lighting or any kind of fancy equipment. We are not even sure they want people using lighting equipment. It is best to check on those type of rules directly with the park.

For more current information visit the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park website. You can also make reservations using their website.