Monday, September 14, 2015

NW Day Fifteen, Thursday: "All This Cool Stuff"

We made an 8:30 run to the Grant Village General Store  for food for breakfast, since the last day the Lake House offered a breakfast buffet was Labor Day. A quart of milk, a bottle of apple juice, two small containers of yogurt, and locally made cinnamon rolls were secured.

We made it out of the hotel by 9:30, because everyone was tired so we took it slow and easy. We only made it as far as the gift shop though. Nearly an hour was spent there, but we secured several small items (including *titanium*) and breakfast for the next day, so not bad. (Also, Boybot is clearly feeling back to his usual silly self. He picked out a great postcard to send home to his sweet Grandma. I’m sorry, Mama, all I can say is that at least they didn’t have any shark postcards.)

Our first real stop was West Thumb Geyser Basin.

 (Originally, we had planned to do Old Faithful and the west side of the Grand Loop on our first day in the park, but that was going to be a pretty active day, so we swapped itineraries to give Boybot extra time to recover.)

The conversations we had were about the top ways people die in Yellowstone. The number one cause of death is hypothermia/drowning in Lake Yellowstone where the temperature never gets about 40 degrees or so. People fall in (or jump in) and their muscles cramp so that they can’t swim. The number two cause of death is from scalding. People fall in hot springs, climb in hot springs thinking they are like hot tubs, or walk on the fragile crust near hot springs, which breaks and plunges them into scalding water.

West Thumb was especially exciting because it presented the possibilities of freezing or boiling right next to each other. 

We stood next to Abyss Pool(?) Spring(?) and Boybot speculated about whether or not anyone would be able to recover the body of someone who fell in there or if maybe the bottom of the pool was full of skeletons or if maybe even the bones dissolved. 

Sweetling and I really loved the amazing colors that were present.

All in all, it was a great start to our Yellowstone visit. A cool, and short, boardwalk path around some neat features.

After discussing how cold Yellowstone Lake always stayed, even in the middle of summer, the next thing that had to be done was to experience this for ourselves. Without the hypothermia, of course.

We then drove north along the east side of the Grand Loop.

We saw an elk in the forest, and three more on a sandbar on the lake.

We made an unscheduled stop at LeHardy Rapids, since we were driving past it. Boybot and I enjoyed throwing pinecones and leaves into the rapids to watch what happened to them.

Then we drove through Hayden Valley.

Where we saw more bison and some really beautiful trumpeter swans.

We also saw a coyote hunting in the field across the river, but he was too far away for the camera zoom lens. (But not too far away for binoculars. Boybot ran back to the van to get his binoculars. Later in the day, he told me he thought Yellowstone would be boring…just me and the Jedi taking pictures of scenery. He said he didn’t know it would have all this cool stuff in it.) 

Also seen, but not photographed was a bald eagle hunting over a distant lake. I know for sure that he was a bald eagle, because the ranger who was standing next to us also watching wildlife identified it with her binoculars. 

From Hayden Valley, we drove into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for a view of the falls.

Sweetling also made friends with a baby pine tree.

Late lunch (or “Linner” as Boybot said, was at the Canyon Cafeteria. The Jedi had a bison sloppy joe. I chickened out, but tried some of the Jedi’s sandwich and regretted my cowardliness.

Driving out of the Canyon area, we encountered a “bear jam”…which is a traffic jam caused by too many cars pulled over, slowing down, or simply stopped on the road to take a photo of a bear.

We drove back south through Hayden Valley again…

And then drove across the Yellowstone River at Fishing Bridge to Steamboat Point, where we had a beautiful view of the sunset over Yellowstone Lake.

While we were waiting for the sun to set, we were joined by two ravens who were very interested in our van. And also by a bison, who was just walking up the road next to our van. (I have a video of this, but no photographs to share at this time.)

After sunset..

We had dinner in the Lake House Lodge.

Then we drove back to our room in Grant Village in the dark. And by dark, I mean PITCH dark. We could see a little of the road in front of the van, and a few trees along side that road. But if you looked out the side windows or the rear window of the van, it was like staring into the abyss.

We rounded one corner of the winding forest road and there were two HUGE elk just strolling down the center of the road. Fortunately, the Jedi was taking the ink black roads slowly, and was able to stop in time. 

Before we turned in for the night, we stopped off a parking lot in the Grant Village area to look at the stars. You could see the Milky Way stretching from one side of the sky to the other. A beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

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