Don't worry. We made room for food. Each couple was in charge of one night's dinner, and we gathered all our groceries from a classic vacation grocery store. You know the kind. This was no Publix. It wasn't even a Piggly Wiggly. It was a proper frontier store, mostly preserved packaged goods. The best we could find for our planned fish tacos was frozen "shrimp". But we all thought on our feet, found everything we needed, and piled back in the car, with two bags of groceries per lap, and drove to the rental house.
We drove, and drove, and drove. We had very clear directions, but they were of the landmark variety. They consisted of "drive down such-and-such road until you see the mountain; then turn right until you see Old Mr Frederickson. He'll point you to the driveway." After much doubling back and doubling back again, we found what we thought ought to be the house (they don't do house numbers in Idaho) and then spent about 20 minutes fanning out across the property to find the keys. But eventually we found them and got in, and it was awesome. There were big, comfy couches everywhere. There were seemingly thousands of rooms. There was a hot tub on the back porch. There was a huge common room with a big TV for Beijing Olympics viewing. And there was an audioanimatronic deer head on the wall. We made ourselves right at home and began our vacation in earnest.
Over the next week, we played countless rounds of flip cup and Mario Kart, watched lots of Olympics coverage, cooked and cleaned in the kitchen, played Ricke Bocce ball in the yard, soaked in the hot tub, built campfires in the fire pit, took silly pictures, played board games, channeled our assigned totem animals (Andrew and I were moose; others were wolves, bears and...beavers? pikas? I can't remember), and spent all sorts of quality time in the house.
We also spent all sorts of quality time in the parks. We drove all over Yellowstone and saw canyons and rivers and burnt trees from the wildfires. We went on hikes up and down and around and through. We saw Old Faithful and its neighbor geysers. We saw eagles and pikas and, according to Andrew, a moose, and, finally, on our last day, a bear. We went not only to Yellowstone but also to Grand Teton, where we walked around a lake and up a mountain or two. One day we took the plunge and went swimming in a glacier-fed lake. Another day we went canoeing in a very shallow river and watched a distant forest fire spewing smoke into the atmosphere. We had some good food along the way, too, including a very slow but delicious pizza lunch and a phenomenal dinner at Teton Thai. We spent lots of time in the van, which brought us closer together than we wanted to be at times but ultimately brought us even closer together as a family.
Some were sick intermittently; others lost their tempers. Such is a family vacation. But we all had a wonderful time being with each other and enjoying the beautiful scenery and the clean air. And all too soon we had to head back to Cody for one last family dinner in a frontier steakhouse, followed by one last game of flip cup, in a hotel that Buffalo Bill built. Then it was a flight to Salt Lake City, a flight to Atlanta, and a flight to Tallahassee. Then, for Andrew and me, another set of flights back to London, away from the wild west, away from America, and back to our own adventure in London.