On Thursday, I headed off, so optimistic about all the things that I was going to manage to fit into my day. Finding water for the tank was number one on the list, but I also needed groceries and windshield wiper fluid. Of course, I’d have to buy gas somewhere — it’s a daily occurrence when driving this much — and after a few nights without plugging into electricity, it would also be nice if I could find a spot where I wouldn’t feel bad about running the generator for an hour or so to recharge my computer. I wasn’t going to kid myself about getting any real writing done, but at the very least, I wanted to update my blog. That meant I also needed at least a short time of internet or cell service availability.

Cutting a long story short, by 5PM, I was tired, sort of frustrated, sick of driving, and had at least another hour of driving to get to where I’d been hoping to spend the night. And I still needed water. But then there, practically calling my name, was the Bozeman Hot Springs Resort.

It had only one problem: it was the most expensive resort I’d ever seriously considered staying at.

On the other hand, it also had one incredible virtue: with an overnight stay, you got a pass to the hot springs. These springs were swimming-pool/hot-tub style, and easy walking distance from the campground. There were 9 different pools, or maybe 10. (I feel like I remember 6 inside, and I know there were 4 outside.) It also had live music, with a singer-guitarist on a stage in front of one of the outside pools. Fancy! And for tired, frustrated, camping-dirty me, totally worth the $64 I spent on my campsite. I took a shower, soaked in all of the hottest pools, then took another shower. Yay for hot water!

The campground also included a nice hotel-style breakfast in the morning: scrambled eggs, waffles, yogurt, cereal, apples, bananas.

And the campsites weren’t horrible. They were definitely the parking lot style, the kind of place where if you stuck around long enough, you’d get to know everything about your neighbors just by overhearing every word they say, but they weren’t piled up on top of one another. There was nice grass between the spaces and I stayed in a water-electric spot, so refilled my fresh water tank and my jugs, and recharged my computer. Also used the sous vide cooker and insta-pot to prep some food for quinoa bowls later in the week. Yay for electricity.

a camper van parked in a grass site with blue sky and clouds in the background
I had no neighbors on either side of me, so it was nice and spacious, but it would have been pretty cozy if the campground had been full.

Plus, it kept me close to CostCo. One of the reasons for my frustration was that CostCo had the most comfortable camping chair I’d ever sat in out on display. I’ve been trying out camping chairs for basically forever. Well, for three years anyway. They’re just not really comfortable, mostly. They’re fine for half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes if you’re sitting around a campfire, but they’ve always got metal bars that dig into your legs or weird armrests or they’re too low to the ground or oddly angled. I’ve never found one that I really liked until that day at CostCo. And it was only $29.99! An absolute bargain, given how expensive they usually are.

Unfortunately, the only one they had left was the one on display. But that was okay, because they were getting a new shipment — 224 of them — the next morning. All I had to do was come back. That wasn’t exactly convenient, since I’d hoped to be well on my way to Yellowstone by the time CostCo opened in the morning, but it was worth it to me, because it was such a comfortable chair.

But boo for CostCo. When I drove back the next morning, there were no chairs. I found a helpful CostCo employee — not the same one I’d talked to the previous day — and he used his walkie-talkie to ask about the chairs. Alas, they hadn’t arrived. But they were still on their way and ought to be in the next day.

Did I want to stay in Bozeman another day? Nope. Places to go, things to do. But by the time I’d gone to CostCo, parked, wandered around searching for my chair, found an employee to help me, and chatted, I was already running late to get a campsite in Yellowstone for the night. (They’re first-come, first-served: during peak season, they fill up by 7:30 AM, but this time of year, they fill up around noon. I was about three hours away, so would get there around 2.)

I decided to start driving south, while I considered: how badly did I want that chair?