Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 4 (Saturday)

Today’s drive started with Ryan digging for gold in his nose. I don’t think he’s struck actual gold, but he sure is trying. We’ve offered to give him my dad’s little shovel from the professional group “The Shovelers”, which is an real looking tiny metal shovel. I think he’d use it and damage himself, so it’s remained a joke, although he has seen the actual tiny little shovel. We started out from Cody around 8:30am and headed to Yellowstone. It was a beautiful drive. Ryan and Tyler were taking pictures of each other and me. We didn’t stop along the way since we were eager to get there. We had originally planned to camp at Bridge Bay in Yellowstone but didn’t cancel nor bring our stuff to camp, so we stopped there first. Because I really wanted to camp for “real” and the smell of pine was intoxicating for me and reminded me of all the Minnesota fun times I had as a kid and all the camping trips I had, I had really wanted to camp where it was real, not in the middle of town as it was in Cody and Rapid City. I don’t know if it was Andy’s idea or mine, but we were both game for giving camping in Yellowstone a whirl. Our tent doesn’t insulate well against breezes or rain and the temps will get down in the 40’s, but we brought enough stuff that I think we’ll be ok. The worst thing that can happen is that we sleep in our Explorer. Which brings me to bears. After we changed our camping reservations for Sunday night, we went on towards Old Faithful. A bunch of cars were pulled over on a non-pullover area so I asked the guy with a camera what was out there. BEARS! I saw a real, wild bear! Andy saw two of them and we both thought that one was pretty young, maybe even a cub. We saw bears! That was cool.

Once we got to Old Faithful after a very long drive, we made some sandwiches for lunch and got some Diet Coke, and enjoyed our lunch while we watched the geyser steam. In the distance, we saw another one, Grand Geyser, spew. It was pretty far away, but made quite the show. Old Faithful started sputtering about 15 minutes before it actually started We loved watching the eruption! The boys both took pictures and I got some good ones. It’s interesting how quiet geysers are. Ryan thought it was going to explode, but really, it’s just water erupting, nothing much more. I was disappointed that many people started to leave as soon as the highest parts were done, but it went on for another few minutes. People! You came all this way, it’s not like it takes all day for the thing to erupt! Wait a few minutes and just enjoy the view!! So we sure did!

One thing I have to note is that a huge portion of the park was burned in a forest fire in 1988. You could still see the burned trees, but in many areas, the pines were filling in nicely. It’s very sad to see acres upon hundreds of acres of burned trees.

We then walked on the boardwalks around the area of Old Faithful, which is part of the Upper Geyser Basin. There are geysers and hot springs all over the place! It’s so neat, fascinating how you can just be walking along in the forest and all of a sudden, there’s a pool of bubbling water! All over the area, you can see the most beautiful blue pools of steaming water and mini volcanoes where you get hit with a pocket of warm, humid, sulfur air. We learned that there are things called “bacteria mats” that go along with the springs. Of course I wanted to touch everything there, but I knew better. Once we were done with that walk and got our souvenirs at the gift shop, it was just at the time where Old Faithful was going to erupt again. Tyler and I ran to see it while Andy and little hot Ryan went back to the car. It was great timing since it started erupting just as we walked up. Old Faithful twice in one day!!! It was awesome. Thanks for being such a trooper and running with me, Tyler.

While driving along towards the paint pots, which are cooler than cool, you can see areas where it’s steaming. I guess it’s because we never EVER see that at home, so it’s more interesting, but I certainly don’t remember this as a kid. Driving along in a meadow basically in the forest and you see areas of steaming ground. Cool, very cool.

The paint pots look like boiling mud, which I think is one of the neatest geothermal activities past geysers and hot springs. It’s really air being released in a mud made by the lack of water, but I could have watched those things for a few hours. It’s like the tiny pools of hot springs that appear to be boiling but is really air being released into the water. It looks like boiling water, so I just sort of want to believe that it is boiling water.

I think I got about a hundred pictures of these things too. Maybe 150…I think that’ll do.

Now we are driving back to Canyon Village and get some grub (see, I’m a camper, I say “grub”…does it count when we buy it???). Speaking of campers, I’ve never seen so many RV’s and campers, EVER. That’d be a nice way to travel. We’ve been very lucky with our nice weather and friendly people.

I have been telling Andy for a very long time, probably five or so years, that I would love to get in a shallow river and just play. I did this so many times as a kid and thought the boys would have the best time. So, while I was spacing out, Andy found a spot and pulled over on the Firehole River in Yellowstone. It was PERFECT, the best stop along the way. We got out and I put my foot in, expecting it to be absolutely freezing since there’s still a little snow on the higher areas. It was at first, but probably because my feet were so hot. It was warm! So we got in and walked around scoping out rocks, throwing some, and had a good time. Ryan ended up getting completely wet and Tyler got mostly wet. We skipped rocks, dug with our feet, and splashed. Thanks for that stop, Andy! Now if we could just find somewhere like that on our side of the park where we will be staying. Ahhh, it couldn’t get a whole lot better.

After our very fun and spontaneous stop to play in the river, we were stopped in road construction. Boy, THAT’s fun when the worker guy comes and says that it’s going to be another 20 minutes and your kid says, “Man, I REALLY have to pee”. He waited, thank goodness but he sure did make a beeline to the bathroom when we got to our destination, almost 40 minutes later! We drove along in a meadowy area and ended up seeing tons of buffalo. They are so neat! One group of not-so-intelligent people were walking up to the group of three buffalo while two of the buffalo were just munching on grass and the other was walking towards the morons. What don’t you understand about the sign “WILDLIFE DANGEROUS! DO NOT APPROACH” and the bright yellow paper you get when you enter the part that clearly states “WARNING, MANY VISITORS HAVE BEEN GORED BY BUFFALO. These animals may appear tame but are wild, unpredictable, and dangerous.” DUH! I was watching like I was going to see a horrible car accident, but the buffalo decided the string bean people would be no match so he went along and started munching on the grass with his friends. Along that stretch of road, we saw buffalo just lounging and some in groups, but there weren’t more than just a few together at a time. It reminded us of a book the boys have, called “Underwear”. A grumpy buffalo, Bismarck, was just grumpy and wouldn’t laugh and have fun like his friends, Orpho the Orangutan, Egor the Egret, and Zachary the Zebra, who really enjoyed going to underwear festivals and even wore ALL their underwear at once. Bismarck was SO grumpy, the bugs even left, so he was left all alone. They challenged Bismarck to say “underwear” ten times without laughing. Bismarck tried but ended up in a pile of laughs, began to enjoy life, and even, GASP!, wore underwear. The bugs came back and all was good. It’s a cute book, really.

After we drove through the buffalo, we stopped at Canyon Village when it began to POUR. We saw extremely heavy rain, hail, and lightning. Thankfully, we didn’t have a tent put up in the area and we could sit and be dry in the truck. Ryan was NOT happy at the storm for sure.

We picked up some dinner and headed back to Cody. Along the way we saw some park rangers and people stopped at a really pretty point along Yellowstone Lake. Then Tyler yelled, “BEAR!”. What??!!! So I told Andy to stop so I could see another one. I got out with my camera and watched the park ranger push people away from a certain area and back to the parking lot. I couldn’t see the bear at that point, but after talking to a girl there who was excited to get an Iowa plate on her list, the bear emerged a little closer than what I thought it was. So I got some good pictures, let Ryan see it, and we went on our way. BEARS!! When you have a vehicle at your disposal and are fairly far away from them, it’s all good. I do enjoy a good thrill though and that’s about all the thrill I want when it comes to bears.

We got back to a dry campsite and a nice cool night. One other camper who looked like a very nice gentleman (I really mean redneck) was light off fireworks. One tipped and blew up close to another camper so at least the “Hey, knock it off!” worked. No more fireworks. I can’t imagine that lighting them in a very dry area filled with people was the best thing to do, hence, the rule of “No fireworks in city limits.” Seemed like a no brainer to me. The boys finally got their s’mores and we all crashed around 10-10:30. What a day!! And so much more coming our way, too. I love this trip.

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