America’s first national park. One where the animal watching is almost as good as the people watching.
No, but really, Yellowstone really is great. The park is so diverse and has many intriguing aspects. We started off by staying in the campground at Grant Village. We were happily surprised to find out that our campsite reservation included two bottomless hot showers! Showers were needed- we were funky after 2 days of driving and 4 days of hiking/backpacking in the heat. It is amazing how good it feels to be clean.
The next morning we slept in, cooked a massive, delicious bacon and egg breakfast and pulled just about everything out of the van. The White Rascal was in desperate need of a organizing overhaul. Slowly but surely, we are learning how to efficiently live out of a 50 square foot home. We have settled on a pretty good system- sometime down the road I will give you all a proper tour.
Finally it was time to see what we came for- Old Faithful. Sure enough, the geyser blew its lid on time, and hundreds of spectators (including us) oooohhhhed and ahhhhhed. The photos didn’t turn out so great, as the clouds had settled in and a white geyser on white clouds doesn’t work so well. Barbara and I both found the other geothermal activity (geysers, steam holes, and springs) that sprinkled the valley more interesting and entertaining. Walking around the boardwalk, it felt as though Walt Disney himself had created a new park on the surface of the moon. He was kind enough to include the lines of hot and ornery kids as well. Some were so excited to see each one (MOM AND DAD LOOK AT THIS!!!), and some not so much (“Mom they all look the same and they are not getting any more interestinger”) Like I said, prime people watching.
In hunt for a restrooms, we wandered into the Old Faithful Inn, and I am so glad we did. One step inside, and we felt as though we had teleported back in time about 100 years. The rustic building has so much charm and character. The open, woody interior has a 70 foot ceiling, and there are a couple of mezzanine levels that let you soak everything in. Later that night, we came back and took seats at an old writing desk on the third floor mezzanine and caught up on journaling and thank you cards. As we wrote, we enjoyed a great concert of violin and piano as a musician serenaded us with beautiful melodies that echoed throughout the whole great room. It is not a night that we will soon forget.
The next morning we met our limit on interest in geysers and steam holes, as we took the hike around Norris Valley. Seems the 13 year old girl in the Old Faithful Valley was onto some truth. From Norris, we headed north up through Mammoth, east to Roosevelt and then south to Fishing Bridge, spotting many bison along the way. At Fishing Bridge, we took care of laundry and indulged in showers and ice cream.
We spent yesterday searching for wildlife. We drove back North through Hayden Valley and along the way spotted more bison up close and personal. We also saw heaps of people on the side of the road with scopes and binoculars. We pulled over, and got out to join them. Turns out Barbara and I aren’t much of the wildlife watching type. After no more than 20 seconds we got tired of looking at tiny dots in the distance. We climbed back into the White Rascal to go get a bit more up close and personal with the animals. We headed over to Lamar Valley, where we found herds of bison down by the river. These beasts are an impressive mass of muscle and fur. On the way back towards Mammoth we picked up a couple of nice hitchhikers from Utah (if you guys are reading this, sorry I didn’t catch your names- leave me a comment below). They had been out backpacking for 5 days and said they had up close encounters with wolves and grizzly bears… I think that backpacking may be the best way to actually see the wonderful wildlife in this park. That said, it was super nice to have some time to rest and relax in this awesome place.
We had originally planned to stay another night in the park, but Barbara and I had both gotten our fill of Yellowstone. We decided to head north toward Glacier National Park. We stopped in Bozeman to cook dinner at a city park, and then to grab groceries. After errands and an internet session, we headed up to Battle Ridge Campground (Free!) about 30 minutes outside of Bozeman. We parked the van near the entrance and crashed out in our mini-RV. Solid night of rest only to be woken up by…. GUNSHOTS.
This is Montana after all. Seemed appropriate that someone would be hunting at 730 in the morning on a Tuesday. So we hit the road…