Sunday, July 27, 2008

Last vacation post: Yellowstone National Park


Old Faithful erupting
The last few days of our vacation, after we left Idaho, were spent in Yellowstone. This is probably going to be a fairly words-light, pictures-heavy post since all the pictures are uploaded and I need to leave for church in ten minutes.

We came into Yellowstone through the west entrance and stopped near Gibbon Falls to eat our lunch. It was absolutely beautiful, and Abigail was entranced by the scenery.



We perched Juliet on top of the car to eat, since there were no picnic tables (it was sort of an unplanned stop due to the increasing noise volume from the back seat indicating extreme hunger that couldn't wait for a picnic area).



Abigail and I clambered down the slope to get a good look at the river--totally worth it.



After we got to our campsite (Canyon campground) and set up and realized the mosquitoes there were the largest and fiercest and swarmiest we'd ever seen (the rangers told us it was because there'd been an extraordinarily wet/late spring), we decided to drive up to Mammoth and let the girls nap on the way. About halfway there, we hit a traffic slowdown, which in Yellowstone means there's some kind of wildlife up ahead.

We woke up Abigail just as the buffalo was passing our window. She glanced up and said, "buflo?" and immediately went back to sleep. Oh well.



When we got to Mammoth, the kids were still pretty tired, as you can see here (oh, and notice that rip on my shirt? You'll be seeing it a lot, since I wore the same shirt the next day. I slept in it that night too. It was just too cold to change clothes, although I mercilessly stripped the kids down and put them in clean clothes. But I decided to be dirty and warm. Plus, my clothes were already covered in bug spray and campfire smoke--it's not like anything clean would be clean for long. Anyway. I digress).



Mammoth is pretty cool. Last time Neil and I were there, we set up our tent in the middle of the night (we had to enter from the north since the east entrance was closed due to wildfire) and so when we heard feet crunching over the gravel in the morning, I was REALLY irritated, since I was so tired. I said to Neil, "Can you believe how noisy these people are? They must be on their way to the bathroom or something, but man, they are NOISY!" Then somebody brushed against our tent wall, from BOTH sides, and I was so mad! I was just getting ready to start yelling when Neil told me to look out the tent window, and I saw these huge elk hindquarters. Our tent was completely surrounded by a herd of elk. So for the next few minutes as our tent rocked from side to side, we sat there and watched the elk go by. Pretty crazy. That's what I love about Yellowstone.



When we got back to our tent, the devil mosquitoes were out in full force, so I took the kids inside the tent to set up our beds while Neil started a fire.



We cooked our tin foil dinners (kielbasa, potatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and carrots), which Abigail refused to eat and Juliet threw to the ground (which we then had to clean up because of all the bears) and then the monsoon began. I've never seen it rain like this in Yellowstone--holy cow. The mosquitoes fled, we put the kids in the tent, and got completely and utterly soaked moving gear to the car. Pretty nuts. We were all pretty grumpy, and nobody got a good night's sleep.

The next day was much better. We started off with a drive through Firehole Canyon, which was absolutely beautiful.



Neil and the girls in front of Firehole Falls



...and then we stopped at the Fountain Paint Pots and checked out the sweet colors (the fountain paint pot itself is bubbling mud). Abigail really liked these.





...checked out some geysers...






We drove to Old Faithful and watched it erupt--Juliet stared in the other direction the entire time, but Abigail was suitably impressed. Then we walked over to the Old Faithful Inn (below) and thought very seriously about staying there that night instead. We wished we'd remembered to grab some cash out of the car to get huckleberry ice cream. We wandered around the inn (dates from the early 1900s and is absolutely gorgeous--all wood with a crow's nest up in the ceiling, about 8 stories up, from which an orchestra used to play before the 1959 earthquake (now you can't go up there)).
It was kind of dark, but maybe you can get an idea of what it looks like.


Then we drove out to Yellowstone Lake...


...and Hayden Valley to see the huge herds of buffalo.



We ended up at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Most of these pictures are taken from Artist's Point. At some point, Juliet unbuckled my watch and it fell off. I looked all over for it, but to no avail...I was pretty bummed about this, since I just got a new watch after about a year of not having one. Sad day.










This is the lower canyon--all the colors are from the geothermal activity.



I can never remember which falls are the lower and which are the upper, but here are the other canyon falls. This is how I distinguish them: the falls where I lost my watch, and the falls where I fell going up the stairs and almost dropped Abigail, but didn't, just sliced up my wrist instead.




Some pictures at our campsite: these were the last pictures I took because then the camera ran out of memory and I didn't feel like getting the laptop out of the car to upload the new ones. Would you believe that I took 470 pictures on this trip? Be grateful I'm only posting about a hundred of those. And you thought there were a lot of pictures on this blog...

One of the new things Abigail learned on this vacation was about swordfighting and and shooting guns (due to her male cousins). She threatened a lot of trees. I have some pictures of her bashing trees too, but I didn't upload those. I'm not sure yet how I feel about this new behavior--it's funny when she's challenging someone with a Twizzler, but not so funny when dinner's green beans turn into small pistols.

The other new thing about Abigail from this trip: we nicknamed her Pyro. She was pretty much obsessed with fires, and kept going off into the woods to collect her own pile of sticks, with which she would then "build" a very careful fire next to the one Neil had built. Oh, and we came home with an imaginary friend named "Jaxna." No idea where that came from either.


Speaking of pyros...Neil and I spent a long time that night messing around with the fire (and the camera). I was really glad we did in retrospect, because we were planning to camp another night in the Black Hills (and we'd already paid for the campsite) but then as we were driving to it the next day, an absolutely magnificent hailstorm started and there was ice and rain everywhere...so we kept going. And stayed in a hotel, which had actual showers, which was pretty exciting since we hadn't seen a shower for three days.



And then we drove home. The end.

4 comments:

Elise Decker said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHAEL!!!!! YAY!!! glad you had a relatively fun time in Yellowstone! I'll probably talk to you later today...maybe...anyway, have a GREAT birthday, Rachael!

Kritta22 said...

Is it your birthday!?! Happy birthday!
I wanna know where you stayed in the Black Hills. My grandparents live in those parts of the woods! Just curious. I love your story about the elk and your tent! I soooo wouldn't have yelled and then looked! :)

Kayli said...

Okay, I've never really wanted to go to Yellowstone before this, but now I so do!!!

joanna said...

That is some amazing scenery! I haven't been to Yellowstone before.

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