It is 6:30am Sunday morning (for those of you that are looking after my soul, Jean took me to Mass last evening) and I am trying to sum up the three days that we spent in Yellowstone Park with our younger daughter Jeanette, her husband Mark, and their three pre-teen sons Luke, Eli, and Tommy.
We spent the three days terrorizing much of the Park; accumulating an over abundance of photos and movies in the process. Everywhere we looked, Park visitors ourselves included, were taking pictures with equipment that ranged from an iPhone to some instrument that resembled the Mt. Palomar telescope.
The thought occurred to me that in the interest of preserving the moment “on film”, we may not be taking the time to actually embrace the experience “live”. A sign of the times I suppose. Another thought – what will become of all these photos? Did you ever wonder what is going to happen when the world runs low on pixels? People will be selling their pixels on line or hoarding them under their mattresses in case of a major pixel crises
Anyway, at the risk of being hypocritical here, I am going to rely primarily on our photos and videos to describe our last three days. Here is a brief summary of our visit to Yellowstone National park:
Tuesday, September 3rd we drove with our daughter and her family from Gran Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park where our first stop was Norris Geyser Basin. This being our first experience with geysers, we were amazed by the the variety of colors and variation in clarity of the geyser pools. One could find a clear aquamarine tinted pool just a few feet from a brown muddy one. We saw some bleached animal bones in the shallow water at the edge of one of the pools. No idea if it was someone’s Fido or wild animal that strayed to close to the edge of the deceptively inviting pool of near-boiling water.
At the risk of exhausting all of our wonder on the first day – we next visited Old faithful, the iconic symbol of Yellowstone. (No worry, there was much, much more to astound us in the following days).
We watched a couple of eruptions of Old Faithful (pretty cool if you don’t watch the guy turning the valve – just kidding), after which a lone bison bull casually meandered (being so big they do this a lot) across the front of Old Faithful’s base as if called in on queue for a photo op.
Dan at Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park
Geyser Pool at West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park
It was dark (very dark) when we reached our lodgings north of the town of West Yellowstone that evening – more on the lodging “adventure” in a separate blog post.
Wednesday, September 4th we traveled back into Yellowstone National Park to visit up close and personal a couple more areas of dramatic geyser activity including Lower Geyser Basin. Again, we were struck by the variety of geysers – actually of the 30 or so bubbling mud pools, hot water ponds, spouting geysers and steaming fumaroles (openings in the ground that emit hot gasses) that we visited – no two were the same.
We capped off the day by visiting the Upper & Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on the east side of the Park. The massive quantity of water that flows over the falls, their fall distance (the lower falls drop more than 300 feet), combined with the fact that they are deep in the Canyon, makes them a wonder to behold.
Proving that Yellowstone has something for everyone, we witnessed a toddler having the time of his life stomping around in a puddle in the Lower Falls parking lot, his mother encouragingly looking on.
Got back to our rural lodgings on the west side of the Park before dark – how simple it was to find the house in daylight – and enjoyed an evening around the fire pit viewing more celestial bodies than this mind can process.
Jeep at West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park
Falls at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Young Lad enjoying water sports at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Thursday, September 5th we traveled to the north end of Yellowstone National Park to first check out the Mammoth Hot Springs region. The first thing that strikes one entering this area is (are?) the piles of massive white jagged boulders strewn across the landscape.
The geysers at Mammoth Hot Springs have formed a large hillside of colorfully stained white mineral deposits. The jewel of the formation is a set of aquamarine pools at the top of the huge mound from which spill sheets of steaming water over the edges of the serrated walls of the pools.
Next, we moved on to the Gardner River for a soak in an area where the hot water from an underground spring spills down the hillside into the rock strewn river. By carefully walking (mostly crawling) among the rocks one can seek out a region of the river where the extremely hot water from the spring blends with the cold water from the river to enjoy a warmish soak. Due to the strong flow from both the river and the hot spring, the situation can be more of experiencing continuously fluctuation water temperature from barely tolerably warm to chillingly cold.
Got to know the right places to sit.
On our way up the river path to the confluence (one of my favorite words) of the hot spring and the river, we passed a heard of elk being closely watched by flag waving Park rangers. As we sat in our soothing pools of mixed warm and cool water, the elk slowly made their way up the river toward us; grazing on algae in the river bed and grasses on the river bank. Soon we were face to face with these rather large but strikingly beautiful (please excuse the cliché –it’s early) creatures. Bathers sat pretty much motionless as the mini-herd slowly ambled by.
It was late when we finished our soak in the river, so we decided to have dinner at the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge before making the 70 minute journey back to West Yellowstone. As we journeyed back down the winding two lane road through the Park on a moonless night, we encountered a bull bison standing directly in our path. We came to a stop as he stood there seemingly sizing us up and deciding whether to punch a hole in our car with a casual swing of his head. After a bit, he slowly ambled on with an expression that said “d—m tourists”.
End of another great day in Yellowstone thanks to the great preplanning on the part of Jeannette and Mark.
Approaching Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
Bathers in Gardner River with Hot Spring Water entering on the left
9 -3-13 Bison in front of Old Faithful
9-3-13 Old Faithful blow No 1 at Yellowstone
9 3 13 Old Faithful blow No 2 at Yellowstone
9-3-13 Churning geyser at West Thumb Yellowstone
9-4-13 Heading toward Yellowstone from the Grand Tetons
9-4-13 Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin Yellowstone
9-4-13 Fumarole at Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
9-5-13 Elk at Gardner River hot springs