APRIL 20, 2012–DAY 11
Hope you can “see” the message. Enter the correct answer in the comments section at the end, and you will automatically be entered into the drawing for a Give-Away. Better yet, if you can tell me how to join all these photos into one on Photoshop Elements, you will be my friend forever!
6:00 a.m. in the morning. Once again the alarm goes off. But we are just too tired of getting up, so we don’t get up until. . .
6:30. We grab a breakfast to go at the hotel and head down State Route 191. We had called ahead this time, and Yellow Stone National Park was opening TODAY!! We were going to get to see Yellowstone after all–ON THE VERY FIRST DAY IT OPENED. State Route 191 is marked as a scenic route, and it is.
State Route 191 takes you just inside Yellowstone Park, then you exit again before reaching West Yellowstone.
The altitude was high, and it was quite cold and windy. I was so thankful that we all had winter coats.
8:42. We enter West Yellowstone and are again reminded that we are not in tourist season yet. Very little is opened, and I am glad that we grabbed breakfast at the hotel, because not much was opened. We stopped to fill our tank with gas and buy some postcards for the kiddos’ journals.
9:03 We entered in at the straight gate. We didn’t try to drive over the pass which would have led to destruction. We were in Yellowstone!! Not all the roads were opened, however, so we were going to have to re-exit the park at the North Entrance and drive back up to I 90. This would put us just a few miles down the road from where we spent the night, but it was the only way we could see the park.
Anticipation was running high. We expected to see animals, animals, everywhere.
Then we saw our first animal inside Yellowstone. . .
. . .a little black chipmunk. We were all disappointed. Surely, the next animal we saw would be BIG. . .
then we saw an eagles nest with a Canadian Goose nesting in it.
No eagles. No bison, just a Canadian goose.
Then we saw another Canadian goose,
and yet another Canadian goose,
Then two more geese.
And one more goose.
Then a loon,
and another Canadian goose.
Geese are fine and all, but we can see them at home. WE WANTED TO SEE SOMETHING BIG!!!
Then we rounded the corner and. . .
we saw these monsters. They are SO huge! They are a mass of muscle!! IMPRESSIVE!
So what is in your mind O Great Hulk? Once when we were living in Ecuador we were driving along a road and got into the middle of a group of cattle crossing. We thought that it would be fun just to “mill” with the cattle in our boxy 1980 Blazer. One of the cattle decided he needed a scratch and casually leaned against the driver’s door. The metal door dented in as easily as an aluminum can.
I have a LARGE respect for bison. On our honeymoon drive west, we stopped by Yellowstone. We parked in the Old Faithful parking lot, and saw a large buffalo ambling along. We hurried to watch the Old Faithful Show and packed the seats along with hundreds of other people. The Old Faithful Show started, but all of a sudden, we realized that 50% of the spectators were turned away from Old Faithful. We looked as well, and we saw a buffalo charging a group of about 7 people. The people had run into a little mass of trees. The buffalo would go around to the other side and charge at them. They would run to the other side of the little group of trees and the buffalo would circle around to the other side and charge again. This happened about 4 or 5 times when all of a sudden a woman in the group went crazy and screaming she ran right into the open. The buffalo charged and picked her up and threw her about 10 – 15 feet. Then he did it again. And again. She was a screaming rag doll. Then the buffalo ambled right through the crowd that parted and right near Old Faithful and continued on his way. An ambulance arrived shortly, and carried the woman off.
We then saw a lone coyote. Coyotes have a shiftless gait and they are always looking over their shoulder like they are guilty. I grew up in Illinois on a farm where at times the coyotes would get in a pack and howl at the moon. I always found this noise comforting, but now that my kiddos visit the farm, they find the howling terrifying.
We stopped at the Fountain Paint Pots and on the car next to us sat this Rook ??. At first glance it doesn’t look like anything more than a blackbird, but look at the size of this bird!!! He was huge! (I looked up Rooks and I don’t think that is the bird’s name, does anybody know this bird’s name?)
The sky was a gorgeous thin blue, and the air was a snapping cold. Even with my winter coat on, I was cold.
Eloise: “It stinks like a hard-boiled egg!”
The colors in the thermals were almost tropical-like. We caught up with a high school group on a field trip and tagged along listening in. Apparently Eastern Siberia (Kamchatka) also has mud pots, but they are in a remote area. There are other countries like Iceland with thermals and geysers. (Click here for a very interesting blog post about Iceland’s thermals.) Yellowstone has it all.
The Mud Pots remind me of a scene out of a horrible fairy tale or perhaps a J.R. Tolkien world. At the same time, they are so comical to watch!
“Gurggle, gurggle, glub, blub,” they say.
We continued on to The Great Fountain Geyser. You can see a close up of the map of Yellowstone here.
Everywhere we looked there was something interesting–even if it was just an uprooted tree.
We arrived at the Great Fountain Geyser and parked in the parking lot. The Hunni said, “Now look at that sign just outside the outhouses. It says, “No pee anytime.”” And his daughter said, “But Daddi I HAVE TO GOOOOOOOOO!” Then the Daddi said, “But the sign says “No Pee!” “Pleeeeeeease Daddi, can’t we just disobey the sign this once?”, said Scout and Eloise. Then the Mommi intervened and told them that once again, their Daddi was teasing them. “The sign really means “No Parking.”” I explained. But while we were in the outhouse, Eloise wasn’t convinced. She wanted to get the job done and get out of there–just in case the police came by!!
Because the air temperature was so cold, there was an extra amount of fog. I was walking down the path with Little Man, and soon I couldn’t see The Daddi, LBG (Little Big Guy), Scout, and Eloise. Then out of the mist came an old man leaning on a gnarled stick. It was a bit freaky. Then he spoke, and it was in broken English–he was an elderly Oriental man. Although he was old and leaned on his gnarled stick, he seemed to be someone important. We spoke briefly, and he commented, “ahh” in a very knowledgable way after all of my comments. It was kind of like a movie, only it was in Yellowstone. Then he walked back into his future, and I walked forward into mine.
Once we got out to where it was windy, the mist cleared, and was it ever COLD!
We arrived at Old Faithful seconds before it went off. Perfect timing!! Eloise kept calling it “Aunt Faithful” as she has an aunt by the name of Faith. We now call her “Aunt Faithful.”
Just after Old Faithful finished, The Beehive went off. We started walking in that direction enjoying the show.
We didn’t realize how much sun we were getting, and we all got a slight sun burn. I should have realized, and I even had sun screen in my purse, but I just didn’t.
We wanted to see everything, but we only had a day, and we hadn’t brought a stroller. This meant that we either had to go Little Man’s pace or The Hunni had to carry him on his shoulders.
Little Man liked to walk with one foot on the edge and one foot on the pathway. He also liked to stop and pick up little stones, and then drop them into the holes in the boardwalk where the pine knots had fallen out.
Scout’s feet started hurting. She had been complaining about them for the past two months. I talked with her Uncle Steve and his girlfriend about heel pain. Both said that you can get growing pains in your heels. Steve’s girlfriend remembers her heels really hurting in her early teens. You can also damage your heel in sports. Now Scout never complained about heel pain when she was wearing her soccer cleats, but she did complain when she had to run in her regular, cheap-o, tennis shoes. We since have bought her a better pair of tennis shoes, and she hasn’t mentioned any more pain.
The Hunni had to end up carrying Scout on his shoulders, so that cut our hike short. We decided we would head back to the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center.
The Old Faithful Visitor’s Center just opened in 2010. We only had time to stop for postcards and a restroom visit, but it is more like a museum. I’d love to go back and see the model of a geyser.
Here are our reflections in the glass.
Now it is my dream to get to take our kiddos to the Old Faithful Inn and spend the night there. I remember the first time I saw the inside of the Inn–I was so wowed! I probably was about ten years old. My dad tried to get the family a room, but they are booked all season long. We walked over to the Inn, but it wasn’t opened yet, so we went in anyway.
There was dust everywhere. The chairs were all piled up, and all the carpets were pulled up. There appeared some workmen in hard hats, and they asked us what we were doing, but I explained that I just wanted my kiddos to see the inside the building.
(The is also an Old Faithful Lodge. The two names can get confusing.)
Ninety minutes had passed, and it was time for “Aunt Faithful” to go off again. Here you can see the crowds we had to battle to get a good seat.
She is beautiful in her long flowing white dress and misty veil.
We still had “miles to go before we could sleep,” so we decided to get a bite to eat and get back on the road. The only problem was we couldn’t find a place to eat, so we ate four apples, three yogurts, one left over sandwich (divided into thirds for the kiddos), and some pretzels. Then we discovered that the Snow Lodge had a restaurant in it that was opened. But by that time the Daddi declared we were full enough to wait until we exited the park, so instead the kiddos all spent some money in the gift shop, and the Mommi made one more restroom stop.
We had seen bison, we had seen Old Faithful, we had seen the Mud Pots, we had seen elk, a coyote, and several geese, but we ALL were hoping to see a grizzly bear.
The bear was foraging for food under rocks and logs. The Grizzly could just rip up a log and toss it aside like it was a pile of dirty laundry in his way.
We watched the bear for a little while (along with several photographers and other tourists), but we had a long way to go yet.
Leaving through the North Entrance we saw beautiful scenery at every turn.
We took the short detour through these boulders, then headed on to Mammoth Hot Springs. Little Man was sleeping, so I stayed in the car, but the kiddos and Hunni took a short walk around the hot springs.
I believe the north section of the park has the most majestic views. This valley is the winter valley for most of the migrating animals–elk, deer, sheep, etc. . . By this time it was late afternoon and many of the animals were coming out to graze.
We couldn’t find any restaurant opened in Gardiner, so we kept on driving. We took State Route 89 out of the park, but as we were driving we noticed a smaller road that ran parallel to 89. Next time, we plan on taking 540 as it looks interesting. We could see the ranches off in the distance, but I think 540 would take you past their front entrance.
We reached I 90 and just past the on ramp we saw. . .
We all were SO hungry!!! A yogurt and apple doesn’t stay with me very long.
Almost everyone ordered off the breakfast menu. When I am that hungry, breakfast always sounds the easiest to eat.
I noticed a $5.00 cinnamon roll on the menu and asked about it. Our waitress showed me with her hands how big the cinnamon roll was, and I said, “I’ll take one!”
I shared it with the kiddos and The Hunni. Then the kiddos spent more money in the gift shop as it sold knives. Clement bought three on the trip.
I’d give this restaurant a “B”. The breakfast was delicious diner food. The service was great. The bathrooms needed some work, and they served fake butter (margarine), but overall a great place off Exit 333 in Livingston, Montana.
10:55 p.m. We entered Wyoming for the second time.
11:03 p.m. We saw a mule deer that wanted to cross I 90. Thankfully it didn’t cross in front of us as I was driving.
11:30 p.m. I saw a raccoon trying to cross the road.
11:47 p.m. We arrived in Gillette, Wyoming and checked into a nice hotel.
12:30 a.m. My clean head hit the pillow. I had been trying to stay alert since supper, and it was so wonderful to close my eyes.
1:23 a.m. LBG (Little Big Guy) is crying out in his sleep. Then we realized he was awake and had growing pains in his legs. I remember those. So did The Hunni as he got up and massaged LBG’s legs for over 45 minutes.
4:44 a.m. Little Man started crying. He needed a bottle, so I got up and made him one. I then realized that The Hunni had fallen asleep next to LBG. He looked a bit cramped, so I woke him up, and he got back into a larger bed.
8:00 a.m. The alarm went off. Ready or not, it was a new day. And we had plenty of driving ahead of us.
tune in to read about our April 21st.
Here is a hint.
Yellowstone really made me think of our Creator as an amazing Artist–a bit wild and raw, and amazing.
We were trying to get a family portrait. LBG decided that he wanted “the whole world in his hands.”
P.S. Know I know it was a long time ago, but don’t forget to guess the “message” found in these photos.