Day 8 - Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Good morning Yellowstone!
Boy was it cold when we woke up! And I don’t just mean chilly. I mean get dressed in your sleeping bag and run to the warm car every 5 minutes to warm up so your fingers don’t break off while you brush your teeth, cold.
Well, of course our first stop was the Old Faithful visitor's center. When we got there we saw a sign for the next eruption, which was about an hour and a half away. We decided to wait instead of trying to come back later so we walked around the visitor's center and then walked past Old Faithful himself. As eruption time was getting nearer, more people began to show up and we went to grab a spot to watch the famous show.
It started. And it ended.
It was less impressive than I thought it would be. All that hype, all those pictures. We did think it was cool and definitely something that needs to be experienced, but we also did start referring to it as Ol’ Unimpressive. We saw a giant raven in the parking lot, which I believed was choosing its next prey. Yes, you saw that right. We saw a big raven. And I wrote it down. It was nearly as impressive as the geyser. That's how unimpressive Old Faithful was. Sometimes famous things just don't live up to their hype. And we drove off to see the next stop on the list.Guess what? More bison! And closer than the previous day! Would the surprises never stop? I sure hoped not. Next place we parked (barely… the parking lot was crazy! Keep this in mind for the remainder of the story…) was the Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin! We loved this! Way cooler than Ol’ Unamazing. The Grand Prismatic is the crowd pleaser, but it is accompanied by Turqoise Pool and Excelsior Pool, which you'll pass while walking the pathways to Grand Prismatic. We walked up to these boardwalk pathways that led to giant steam clouds. I really can’t describe it. The water was bright blue with streaks of orange running from it. The steam rising from it took on the color of the spring below it. It was way more impressive than my description. We awed at the various springs along the path, snapping pictures. The wind was very strong, blowing the steam from the spring in constantly changing directions. One moment you would be soaking up the warm air from the spring and the next you'd catch a chill from the cold morning air. One of the funny and kind of sad bits is that the wind was so strong up on this hill that it had blown dozens of hats off of people's heads and many were now sitting in the springs. It's hard to imagine how anyone would be able to clean it all up without damaging the springs themselves.
Then we returned to the parking lot…. And there was a bus. This bus was sitting in front of our car, obviously wanting us to move so it could park. People were gathered around the front of the car. We ran to the car and got in. No one said anything to us until we started to pull out. The man said something about how he wrote our license down and gave a snarky smile. I guess we parked in a bus area (but so did 50 other people). Well, being the guilty person I am, I worried for the next 10 minutes of our drive, sure that we would be hunted down and sent to prison, if not publicly executed.
We stopped at a waterfall… or the scenic area for part of the waterfall (a big one, Firehole Falls). Then a few more springs (very smelly). And then we hit traffic. We didn't mind this so much when we found out it was due to a bear and her cub! But we really didn't see much except for part of the mama bear and a little fluff of a a baby bear. It was still exciting! We added that to the list of animals we’d seen on our trip and continued on. We stopped at a store near Tower Fall, grabbed a Yellowstone root beer, took in the view of Tower Fall and continued up the path to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It was cool! It begins with a huge waterfall, Yellowstone Falls, and continues on as a winding river weaving through a canyon. And of course… there were rainbows. I don’t remember the exact details of the rest, but there was a lot of getting in car, driving, getting out of car, walking, repeating. At one point we walked past a field with a bison standing in it. So close. It was the closest one yet and James decided he wanted a closer look. Despite my efforts to not have him gored, he began to approach it. Luckily another silly man was closer and James ended up turning back.
We next stopped at another one of those "scenic view" points that overlooked a valley. There were lots of people gathering and this usually meant there was an animal nearby. After getting out and straining our eyes for wildlife, we asked around. Some people were saying they could see a bear, but I am betting it was a bison in disguise. We drove a bit more and hoards of bison were just standing there. With no tourist paying any attention. Across the street there was another outlook and there were deer or elk in the far distance. Then we stopped at Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano in Hayden Valley and it reeked. Worse smelling thing all day! Well, we didn't stay there long. I am not a fan of sulfur. Next, we stopped at Dragon’s Breath, or something that sounded like an ingredient in a wizard’s potion, where a hot flow of steam is continually streaming out of a hole in a rock. There were hot springs scattered around this area, putting off a lot of steam. It was neat and pretty fun to see. We ran into a local guy just hanging out and laying in grass, taking a nap. I should mention, it was a bison, even closer than the ones before. We were positive that Yellowstone planned their appearances to prepare us for the vast numbers and closeness of the species. I was sure the next one we would see would be in the back of our car, complaining about the radio. We hopped in the bison-free car and began to drive.
F-O-X. Fox, the next animal to be added to the list! Cute lil guy was just running around a grassy area, waiting for us to take pictures (how thoughtful). We turned the corner and saw an ELK, the animal with the largest population in Yellowstone (of the large animals). And where had they been this whole time? Here apparently. We got out and looked at the handsome guy. James, once again, got too close. We drove around another corner and MORE ELK! I see what you’re doing Yellowstone… We went back to camp, relaxed, made dinner, and went to sleep.
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Here is the route we took during our adventures in the park:
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