Monday, September 21, 2015

Yellowstone Getaway

Pretty much on the spur of the moment, we had a chance to take a short vacation to Yellowstone Park and environs, so we took it!  Because of the make up of our group, we required 5 bedrooms, so this cabin in Island Park fit the bill nicely.  We could easily have fit a few more.  The loft area had a bedroom with queen size bed plus 2 more queen size beds in the more open loft area and also a bathroom.  The main floor had 2 more bedrooms, each with a queen size bed.  The basement had a large family room, 1 bedroom with a queen size bed and 2 additional bedrooms, each with 2 additional queen size beds for a total of 10 well as a total of 3 full bathrooms, 2 washers and 2 dryers....not to mention the hot tub out in the yard.   Plenty of room for the 7 of us!  Our group included the two of us, my sister and her husband, their son, a former exchange student of theirs from Japan and my mother.

Once we were settled into our cabin, we were ready for a day of seeing the sites in the park.  I remembered the park from my childhood, but the park of today seemed quite a bit different.  The bears are gone.  We saw not a one.  I am sure the bear policies of my childhood were far different as everyone then openly fed the bears and it was not unusual to see them hanging around the roads begging for handouts.  Those days are gone.

We got to the park entrance about the same time as a bajillion cyclists on their way to Old Faithful, so driving the narrow roads was an adventure all by itself.  Once we got past the entrance the most common site was the bison.  They were everywhere, so we had to be alert for cars stopping to view them as well as an elk herd.

Eventually we got to to one of the geyser basins and set out on a hike to see a variety of little geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud pots.  There were probably more foreign tourists there than Americans.  For certain there were a couple of tour Chinese and one German.

The sounds of bubbling mud, boiling water, and small spouting geysers sputtered along with the excited chatter of Chinese and German tourists.

Warnings were everywhere that we were to stay on the boardwalks and not venture closer to the various features as the crust is sometimes very thin and could easily break under the weight of a person, plunging them into boiling water, and yet, at one area we visited a group of bison trotted right across the dangerous area.  It made me wonder how often it resulted in boiled bison.  They are difficult to see in this picture, but are brown spots right at the center of the picture.

Eventually we made our way to Old Faithful where we first visited the Old Faithful Lodge.  I thought the interior would make a wonderful movie set for a Lord of the Rings movie.  I can't imagine the hours of work it would take to make such a large and fanciful building.

Soon it was close to time for the predicted eruption of the Old Faithful geyser so we made our way to the viewing area to await the show.  Soon the steam coming from the geyser started to increase and then little jets of water burst out, eventually followed by the tall bursts of steaming water that this geyser is famous for.  We actually saw it from two different areas as we went back later in the day and say it again from the other side.

After watching it a second time, we decided to split up.  The more mobile members of the group set off on a 2-3 mile hike up through the geyser basin while the more mobility impaired members of the group did some shopping and then headed to a different geyser area to pick up the hikers.  As we were skirting one of the upper areas of the geyser basin, a man pointed over to the nearby hillside and to our astonishment we saw a large gray wolf trot by.  I had never seen a wolf in the wild before.  As the trail started to wind through the trees, we came upon this big bison near the trail, but he seemed to be busy eating, so we ignored him and just kept on walking.

By the time we reached Morning Glory Pool, my feet were getting a little tired, so I was looking forward to getting to the car.  At the pool, the boardwalk trail ended and continued as a dirt trail through the woods to get to the other parking lot.  We were almost there when we came to two more bison right on the trail.  They seemed in no hurry to move on and we couldn't really got around them because of the uncertain nature of the ground if we left the trail.  At last, we had to give up and go back the way we came.  We were tired and hungry by the time we finally reunited with the vehicles.

Throughout the park was ample evidence of the devastating fires that burned so much of the park years ago.  I was happy to see that so many new trees have grown up to take the place of the burned ones.  We saw many trees like this one with the new trees growing up around them.  It's no wonder they fell down with such a shallow root system.

I was interested to read this sign.

I remember this event well.  I was in Utah at the time with my grandparents.  My grandmother said she felt the quake even from that distance.  Of course it was devastating because of the mountainside that came down and buried a campground full of people, eventually forming a new lake, called Earthquake Lake.

The last thing we decided to check out before heading home was Grand Prismatic Pool. From the surface it was not all that spectacular, so along with a number of others, we started hiking up the side of a nearby mountain until we came to an outcropping of rock which was not obstructed by trees so we could see what it looked like from above.

The bluest water is the hottest.  As it cools various types of algae are able to survive, causing the color variations.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at Lewis Lake to have a quick lunch before heading for home.

No ordinary cold lunch for us!  My sister quickly heated up the broth for french dip sandwiches which we enjoyed along with freshly sliced tomatoes.

On our way south out of the park we also passed the majestic Tetons before seriously heading for home.

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