Monday, July 15, 2013

Yellowstone Trip! Day 3: In the Park.

Last Monday morning, we got ready quick, and were out the door to head for Yellowstone National Park, which was just down the street. We stopped for gas, and saw the arch of the North Entrance at Yellowstone! 
We went through the arch, and the "Welcome to Yellowstone National Park" sign was like 15 yards away from the arch. Tons of people were parked there, taking pictures, asking other's to take their family picture. I was asked a couple times to take some family pictures of other people, and we asked those same people to take pictures of us. 
We got back in the car, and paid our way to go, and we were officially in Yellowstone National Park! Now it was time to look for animals. My grandpa said that each time you see a parked car on the side of the road, or a stopped car in the middle of the road, that means there most likely will be an animal near by to see. The first animal we saw was a herd of elk drinking at the river. 
The elk were still in the Montana part of Yellowstone, and we quickly entered into Wyoming. We barely saw the sign! It was a tiny, wooden sign that said "Entering Wyoming". 
(I actually took this picture on the last day in Yellowstone.)
The very first site we saw in Yellowstone were the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces. My goodness, they were beautiful! You could see water rushing down the mountain of terraced stone. The walkways are build on fragile crust that could erupt into a hot spring, right then and there! It's fascinating and scary. 
I loved the white stone. It looked chalky, mineralized, the whole hill of hot springs was beautiful. These were not the most beautiful hot springs. I thought these were cool, I didn't know what I was in for. We left Mammoth Hot Springs, and drove further into Yellowstone. A whole new world of beauty and nature opened up to me. Soon, traffic had come to a stop, and we saw a bison walking down the road! It was crazy! 
He was a big boy too! My goodness! This picture is actually a still shot of a video I took. I pieced together all the videos I took Yellowstone and made Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 movies of Yellowstone. I will put the first day in Yellowstone movie at the bottom of the post. 
We saw more buffalo on the way to Artist Paint Pots. These are beautiful hot springs that look like an artist's paint pallet. I was expecting them to be different then what they really were, but none the less, they were beautiful. The bison we saw was just sauntering near a hot spring, near trees so he could grub. We also passed by some thermal ground. The earth makes the water boil in these hot springs! They were everywhere in Yellowstone! 
We arrived at the Artist Paint Pots. A selected area, filled with beautiful hot springs, deep, aqua blues. My goodness, so gorgeous! And nature does this? I'm impressed. 
The Artist Paint Pots were one of my favorite hot spring beds. 
Then we drove down the street to Fountain Paint Pots trail. Now these... these were so beautiful. THE DEEPEST aqua blue pools. So pretty. They looked so inviting to just jump in, and go for a nice relaxing swim, but if you actually did that, the water would scald you, and you'd be one big blister... that is if you didn't die. 
Better to look at then to go swimming in... use common sense and read the signs. 
On the crust of one of the hot springs, we spotted buffalo poop. We were wondering how they bison even got in there! There were gates around the hot springs, well most of them. 
 We walked the loop to the back geysers. Fountain and Morning geysers. There was a park ranger there, and he said that the Fountain geyser went off at a predictable time just like Old Faithful, but an earth quake, or some kind of earth shift made it so the Fountain Geyser never goes off. It shoots off water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That was really fascinating. 
After looking at the beautiful hot springs in the Fountain Paint Pot loop, we drove down the street to a road called Firehole Lake Drive. This looped road housed some beautiful hot springs. The first day at Yellowstone was basically the hot spring tour. We saw most of the hot springs on Day 1 (technically day 3 on the trip). Of course we saw hot springs every day at Yellowstone, but we saw most of them on the first day. 
The first hot springs we stopped by on the drive was Firehole Spring. The steam kept following me wherever I walked, so in the video I made, I said "Steam follows beauty".
Toward the end of the road, we came upon Firehole Lake (I'm assuming), and there were so many colors within that lake. The iron in the rock under the water made the water in the lake a deep pink, and off to the side, it looked like a rainbow in the water, like a mermaid lagoon. It was beautiful. We also had been noticing these streams of black water, and were wondering what caused it. We thought it was some kind of algae, or the stream must be really, really deep, but we figured out that it was just some black rock. My grandpa and I walked the boarded walk-way up the lake, I wanted to see what it was all about, and on the way down, we both discussed that we wanted to touch the water. We went near a little wooden bridge that cars could drive over the little creek, and my grandpa and I put our hands over the water, to see if it was too hot too touch. It wasn't super hot, and we stuck our hands in and it was like bath water. I'm sure this was one of the very few places that the temperature was this low in a hot spring creek. 
We got back in the car and drove up the street to a Ranger Museum and Campground, in need of a bathroom. We saw a sign there that said to keep a food storage locked and safe, and to be bear aware. When you are camping in Oregon, on a safe, monitored camp ground, you don't normally see bears, but in Yellowstone, they are everywhere! So you have to keep your food locked and safe so the bears don't go rifling through it. 
After using the facilities, it was time to head to Old Faithful for a late lunch. At this point, I wasn't feeling my best. I was feeling a little dizzy. It wasn't dehydration, I was drinking plenty of water. I was just feeling dizzy. We looked through the gift shop real quick, and then we spotted the Old Faithful Grill. It wasn't really a grill, it was more like a deli. I ordered a sandwich, and mistook tartar sauce for mayonnaise... that was an interesting surprise. After lunch, we headed to Old Faithful. We had one minute to run from the grill to the geyser and we made it! Old Faithful goes off approximately every 91 minutes, give or take ten minutes. We made it just in time! 
Once Old Faithful stopped shooting up water, and went back to steaming, we went to check out the lodge. In the lodge gift shop, it was way too hot, and way too many people. Someone pushed me into a shelf of valuable plates, and luckily nothing was damaged or broke, but I had to get out of that gift shop. I couldn't even move barely! I was feeling claustrophobic. I told my grandparents and sister that I was going to be outside. I stood outside the gift shop for a few seconds, and then people kept bumping into me as they were trying to leave the gift shop, I wasn't even standing directly outside, I was off to the side a little bit. I found some open seats available, so I invited myself to sit down, and boy, was it needed. It felt nice to sit down. About 30 minutes later, my grandpa came up to me said that they tried to call me, and couldn't find me anywhere. I told them I was going to be outside the gift shop, and I was! The service wasn't very good in Yellowstone, so the phones were kind of no use to call or text. Oh well, I was where I was supposed to be. 

Later that day, after we left Old Faithful, we drove to West Thumb near/on Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake is HUGE. It's a giant lake off to the side of Yellowstone National Park. It's beautiful though. In order to see the lake, we had to walk on the boarded walk way. On the way to the lake, we saw some hot springs, and a lone elk. 
The elk was very close to us, and very much near the hot springs. I was afraid I was going to witness the poor yearling fall into a hot spring and scald himself. I did not want to witness that! Luckily, I didn't. I captured the elk beautifully, some with the hot springs in the background, some with the lake in the background and the hot springs. He was in a perfect place to be photographed. 
This picture is my favorite of all the elk pictures. I captured the elk right in front of a reflective hot spring pool, with birds flying over head, and you can see the clouds reflecting, the elk is grazing, I love this picture! It looks like a painting, but it's a photograph taken by my iphone. Impressive huh? 
We went further on the walk-way, and saw some beautiful hot spring pools. 
We left the lake area, and the elk was still there, grazing away. We were trying to make it home in time so that we could eat some dinner, but we knew we probably weren't going to make it back to Gardiner before things closed. We spotted the cutest buffalo on the side of the road, we guessed the bison was a female because I noticed that the bison had a little flower stuck to her mane, like a flower in her hair. It was so cute. 
Down the road a ways, we saw another bison, grazing away. At this point, we had seen so many buffalo, they were old news to us. But still interesting to see.
On our way to Mammoth, the sunset painted the clouds beautifully. We decided to stop in Mammoth instead of Gardiner, given how much time we had. We went to the dining room in Mammoth (that was an expensive dinner...) I ordered the bison taco, and a Caesar salad. The bison taco kept falling apart on me, and I was given tiny plates. I wasn't really impressed with the dinner, but it was something to eat. 
The salad was good! They put chicken on the salad, and that was amazing! I love eating salad with meat mixed in. 
After we ate, we headed back to Gardiner for the night. 
This concludes Day 3 of the trip, and the first day in Yellowstone National Park. 
This is a video I pieced together of all the little videos I took on Day 1 in Yellowstone. 
Enjoy!
(And sorry for the long post.)

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