Saturday, July 11, 2015

Big damn road trip part 2

You know what the worst part of a National Park is?

The tourists.

The past week was spent exploring Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I was beyond excited to get there, a peek of the explorer in me coming to the surface. The Nation's first National Park! Old Faithful! Bison casually walking by!

Plus, a week with my Massachusetts (and CA) family! We found a wonderful cabin that holds 10 about 10 minutes away from the park entrance. It was lovely, although very dated. I believe the oven was the original one, from the 70's. Either way, it had its charm and we weren't in a cramped hotel room. It was a perfect home base.

Day 1: Old Faithful. I understand why it's such an attraction, since it is the most predictable of the geysers. After seeing her we walked along the path and looked at all of the other geysers in the area. It was a warm day, and smelly. Yes I made several jokes about demons in the area (if you're a Supernatural fan you'll understand). I think my niece Audrey captured how it smelled perfectly.

We probably hiked a good three miles around the geyser area, and everyone was exhausted and sunburned by the end. We desert rats forget that higher elevation brings a different type of sun!

Day 2: Mammoth Springs. This day did not begin well. Some construction was happening in West
Yellowstone (the town right outside the park entrance), so you had hundreds of people merging into one lane and trying to get to the park. It was terrible, and by the time we made it to the springs, which was about 50 miles away, 3 hours had passed. We were all happy to get out of the car at that point, and we had plenty of elk to entertain us.

Mammoth Springs were bigger spaces of geyser activity, and the formations created are beautiful. What was most interesting to me are the different climates all in one place. You feel like you're in the desert, then the mountains, and there were spots that reminded me of the ocean due to the smell of salt in the air. It was very confusing.

Construction aside, traffic is crazy in this park. It's understandable, it is summer and everyone is on vacation. The park has one main road and it's a 45. Several times we were stopped or going at a crawl because wildlife was seen. There's not much you can do about it, but on this particular day is was hard to stay positive.

Day 3: No park day! Grandma took us all on a horseback riding tour. I'm pretty sure this is due to our niece Audrey's love of horses, but either way it was a wonderful morning. Overcast, cool, and riding through the mountains. It was fabulous. After that we decided to stay out of the park, and just hung out at the cabin all afternoon.

So if you are ever out in the Yellowstone area and want a break from the crowds, I highly recommend The Diamond P Ranch. Lots of fun, and they can handle even the most inexperienced riders. That was me.

Day 4: Last day in the park. I think this was my favorite day. We went up to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and the upper and lower falls. It was beautiful and rainy all day long. It did clear enough to take a few hikes down into the canyon a bit for better views of the falls. We had a bear sighting, very close by. Slightly freaky, but we just stayed on the path and it moved on.

After that we drove on to see Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest high-elevation lake in North America. We almost turned back, as we were stopped once again by wildlife. We didn't see it, but my sister's family did. A mother bear and her cubs were feeding off of a bison carcass just off the road, and had been there for several days as the mother bear was guarding their food supply. Traffic was backed up for a good hour, and we learned this has been the third day. I think my nephew got some good photos, so I can't wait to see them!

We also had a bison walk by.

Then we saw the entire herd, which was amazing.

By the time we made it to Yellowstone Lake, the girls were pretty finished for the day, so I got out momentarily to take it in, then we drove around it to start our trek back to the cabin. I loved it, so beautiful. Would have loved to stay longer. This day was probably my favorite sight-seeing day.

Day 5: Souvenirs! The girls really wanted to walk through West Yellowstone and browse around in the shops. So after we checked out at the cabin we headed there and found some knick knacks.

After that, we headed through Idaho to Boise, for what is currently a very relaxing day before our cousin's wedding this evening at the Botanical Garden. Right now, I'm heading down to the pool, but I leave you with the cutest thing I saw in a gift shop.

*Big damn road trip Part 1

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