Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yellowstone and Old Faithful

Pictures L to R: Shoshone River on the highway into Yellowstone; Sylvan Pass, 8, 541 feet; Geothermal activity along Yellowstone Lake; Kepler Cascades; Old Faithful (not the best pic--my camera was acting up again!); Heading out of the park near West Yellowstone, MT.

25 July 2009 Wapita, WY to West Yellowstone, MT 135 miles

We were excited to be heading into Yellowstone, and after a quick cleanup, we were on our way. The drive up from Wapiti was beautiful, as it passed through the Shoshone River Gorge. The wildflowers along side the roadway were incredible, and it was surprising to see so many different kinds and colors together in one place, especially at this elevation.

David was a little nervous about how Baby would do on these mountain passes, and when we left Green Creek Inn, we were sitting at 5500 feet elevation. Once we were in Yellowstone the highway continued to climb until we hit our highest elevation today of 8,657 feet. Baby did fine, and I think Dave is feeling pretty good about that.

We stopped along Yellowstone Lake to take some pictures of the geothermal activity along the shoreline and were amazed at the plant life that continues to grow in this environment. When we stopped to take some pictures at Kepler Cascades, we ran into a young couple from Germany who were fascinated with the car and the trip. So much so, that they asked if they could sit in it and get a picture taken. Kepler Cascades is a must-see at the park. The park service has built a viewing platform out over the cliff face, so that you are basically standing directly over the water about 50 feet below. It was so high, and with the water rushing past, I have to admit that I experienced a bit of vertigo.

From the falls, we crossed the Continental Divide (twice in fact, because it made a horseshoe path along the ridge line) on our way to Old Faithful. Although Old Faithful was impressive to see, the wait had heightened the anticipation of everyone around, and as the appointed time (give or take 20 minutes) drew near, it was almost comical to hear kids and adults alike talking to the geyser: “Come On!” “Just do it already.” “You can’t hurry nature.” These were just a few of the comments we heard.

Old Faithful was truly a sight to behold, and knowing that it was not man-made made it even more impressive. We were so occupied during the first eruption of Old Faithful taking pictures that we missed much of the beauty of just watching and experiencing this event. So we spent the next 90 minutes until the next eruption walking around and eating lunch—a surprisingly good meal—at the lodge cafeteria. Unfortunately, while we were waiting, the clouds started rolling in…it seems to be our life story on this trip! We were soon sitting in a sprinkling of very large raindrops. About the time Old Faithful finished doing her thing, the clouds let loose and we were in a downright downpour. We were both pretty wet by the time we made it back to the car.

We headed north around the loop, stopping occasionally, once the rain passed for pictures and although we saw signs telling us there was “wildlife” crossing the road, the only wildlife we saw were the two legged idiots who stopped in the middle of the highway to take pictures. We never did see any bison, and only saw two elk way off in the distance—perhaps we were in the wrong part of the park. Maybe they only hang out at the higher passes and elevations. However, we didn’t want to tax Baby on the 10,000+ foot passes, since we still want to make it home. Maybe we’ll have better luck next time…when we return in a modern car!

The rain cleared as we hit West Yellowstone, Montana, just outside the park gates. Boy is this a touristy town—souvenir shops galore, food booths offering all kinds of stuff, and motels everywhere. Looking to the clouds building in the west, and the way the wind was blowing, we decided to get a hotel room; but much to our dismay, every place we checked was booked for the night. Hoping that the “big” rain was over, we headed out of town in search of a campground…
We camped about 10 miles out of town at Lions Head Campground. We got set up and dinner done when the sky opened up and it began raining again in earnest. We jumped into the tent to sit it out, and finally it stopped about 7:30, but once the rain stopped, the Montana-sized mosquitoes came out. We headed back into the tent for the night just to escape them.

1 comment:

  1. We were in Yellowstone in late June. Then they told us that June is Mosquito time at Yellowstone. I knew they were lying! We have been ther two other times and had NO mosquito problems.I thought Pen and I had killed as many as there were. Sorry we tried! It does seem you probably have been having a really good time? In June also we saw very few animals, on other trips we saw many more animals. Cannot tell you why. We'll keep you in our prayers for a safe and dry trip.
    The blog is marvelous, I bet you have started something!
    Tom & Penny K.