"Wylie's Lake Camp"
Before this lodge was built in 1920, William Wylie ran a camp here, for tourists who slept in colorful, striped tents on wooden platforms. Eventually they built this lodge for dining and recreation. There are still no guest rooms in the lodge, but eventually the sleeping tents were replaced with cabins.
Our Pioneer Cabin, C-14
Don and I checked in at the lodge and took our key up the hill to the "Pioneer" and "Frontier" cabins. In 1929, there were 250 cabins and today there are about 180. The Pioneer cabins were the older, less updated of the two cabin options.
I'm always game to stay in the less modernized rooms. But the weeds and worn steps made the little cabin seem a tiny bit neglected.
But Don and I were more amused than concerned about our dated room. It was perfectly clean and that's really all I cared about. The fishing themed bedspread looked like something June Clever would have picked for Beaver and Wally's room. The window, above the bed was actually pretty charming, with a view of pine trees.
Sink & Water Heater
The wall near the bathroom was cluttered with important things. Between the ceramic sink and the hot water heater, there was a maze of connecting pipes and covered electrical cords. In fact the whole room had intriguing connections.
Plumbing Pipes and Locking Gadgets
The bathroom revealed more pipes. Again, all was clean, but the paint on the inside of the metal shower stall was peeling. The door locking system was a curious one. But no worried, since Yellowstone is incredibly safe. Unless bears can operate those locks!
I must go back and focus on that sink one more time. A two faucet requires a little extra work for face washing, unless you don't mind using icy or scalding water on your face. I have to give them credit for providing a stopper plug, so I could mix the water. And then I had an option of soaps! National Parks steer away from wasteful individual soaps and disposable bottles. But I had big choices here! The pump bottles provided nice quality facial soap and lotion AND I had a "real" soap in the shape of a bear. He traveled home in my suitcase.
We actually didn't mind our little cabin at all. It was especially nice since we were traveling with ukuleles which can be a problem, when you have thin walls. But the best place to spread out and enjoy some free time, was at the lodge.
Corner Bar and Fireplace
There was a small bar that opened in the evening and there were two fireplaces which were in use. In the morning we enjoyed some coffee in front of the rock faced hearth. We didn't even have to share the fire with anyone.
The Dining Room
This spacious old dining room had big windows looking out towards the lake. The food was served cafeteria style, so we opted for a trip up the road to another hotel for dinner. However, breakfast was perfect. After two weeks on the road, we were getting tired of being served. It was nice to just pour our own coffee and pay for a yogurt and sit wherever!
The ritzy Lake Hotel was just one minute up the road. The The old Colonial looking hotel was quite ritzy in comparison. The guests were wearing nicer clothes than us and the menu prices were a bit steeper. I'm sure the rooms didn't look like our cabin, either. Funny though, the hotel had the the same lake view as our lodge, but where were the rockers? I don't even think they had a real porch.
Luckily we made good use of our lodge porch before we went to dinner. We grabbed 2 "front row" rockers and stared out at the water across the grassy field.
Pretty soon the porch chairs were all in use and we had a pretty nice time sipping our drinks and chatting with our fellow rockers...
...or at least some of them.
The couple to my right talked about how their Yellowstone Trip was planned around spreading a relative's ashes. We rocked and talked and it felt oddly like we were residents in a home for the aged... in a peaceful, not gloomy way. Then "Debbie Downer" sat down next to Don. She started a monotone conversation with Don by asking where he was from. "Oh you're from Texas? I'm sorry..." She used this as an intro to her poorly executed joke, with a punchline that I'm guessing was supposed to make fun of Texas. She'd obviously been waiting to meet a Texan so she could try it out.
Safe at Sunrise
Don and I were determined to catch sunrise over Yellowstone Lake the next morning. We were also determined to lug along our protection since we promised our kids we would be smart travlers in bear country... and not make them orphans. Our son had visited Yellowstone a couple months earlier, the same week a park employee was mauled to death by a grizzly. Scott gave us his unused bottle of Bear Mace, which was a requirement for wilderness camping. I carried extra protection, a primitive jingle instrument which would hopefully scare any bears away, before mace was needed.
It was so lovely and peaceful as we walked along the shore. I spent part of the walk trying to mute the annoying jingle sounds coming from my bag as I walked. We clearly were not in an area where bears hang out.
The sun rose over the mountains and it was officially morning! It was such a stunning view and so very different than 24 hours earlier when we saw the sun rise through the steam of Old Faithful geyser. I liked this sunrise even better.
Back to Camp
We hiked back to the lodge... which is really not a camp. But it so reminded me of two camp memories from my youth. The first, was a 2-night cabin stay with my Campfire troop... lanyards and poison ivy is about all I remember. The second was a two month experience as a camp counselor at Camp Waziyatah (for wealthy girls from New York) in Harrison, Maine.
My memory of our stay at Lake Lodge will always be a blend of two cozy worlds... the cabin and the lodge. It was an odd combination of Summer Camp and Old Folks Home! That sounds bad, but there was something sweet and simple about it! The fall travelers who filled up those lodge rockers were mostly retired. They had the time to stop and enjoy and chat with each other. Back at the cabin, I felt like a kid at camp. I wanted to move in a bunch of cots and gather my friends to join Don and me with flashlights and ghost stories!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!