BLOG 50—Yes, the big five oh!

What a perfect time to release the fiftieth edition of my blog–just now going into Yellowstone National Park.

As we were entering by way of the north gate, things changed as we went into the world from years ago, a fantasy world of wilderness (except for all the tourists.) We saw that the park is basically divided into a northern loop drive, then one to the south–the north awaits–

Here we go!  

As we are driving the fall colors are starting to show–orange, red, yellow–such a pleasure for the eyes, and, this is the perfect place to see the changes. This park is kept very nice, yet, too many people passing through. And, this being a Monday and Tuesday, I can’t imagine what I would be like in a nice summer weekend, bumper to bumper traffic for many miles, I would presume.

Four million people a year take the drive through this magnificent park, yet, we who are staying to the road are missing so much. You see, there is much more that can be experienced in this huge park. I would love to return to take a couple weeks of long walks with a backpack holding my stuff and sleep in the outskirts and mountains of the park to see what others won’t.

Tina keeps smelling natural things in the park that I cannot smell (you might say, “I smell bad?”.) I think this is from my brain injury from years ago; the nose does not work right. I feel that I am missing out on so much, but, when you don’t have it, you don’t know what you are missing, so I am alright.

August 29–After entering through the north gate, right away we were in the Mammoth Hot Springs. Bubbling water and steam in many areas, so strange to see.

At the entrance is the Roosevelt Arch, and then, as we entered, we came upon a herd of Pronghorn Sheep as a welcoming party. Then we saw boardwalks winding through the ever changing travertine terraces. We did the drive through the upper terraces.

At Norris Geyser we saw a variety of geysers and hot springs, quite dramatic they are. Quite an attraction for guests at the park.

We followed the road quite high into overlooks, and down into meadows and lakes where we saw many ducks and swans.

On to roaring mountain, where the heat and steam escaping the mountain is quite loud, and sometimes, I read, it has been heard up to four miles away.

There are five towns (well, kind of town like) located within Yellowstone, one of which is called Mammoth Springs. Restaurants, food stores, hotels, post offices, gas stations, everything you would need to live, at twice the price as outside the park. So, we did not spend much time in these towns.

There are five different ways to get in and out of the park. Each of the entrances has all of the above (I can tell they do like money from tourists.)

Rivers, lakes, forests, geysers, hot springs, animals, and waterfalls are in front of us, here we go further in. We saw more animals at The National Bison Range, but these lands hold so much.

We went to see Swan Lake, and we actually saw two swans on the lake. These brilliant birds were thought to be going extinct, but they are now making a comeback.

A nice drive, yet some of the drive was closed because of ongoing road work A park ranger said that with the newer vehicles the roads are too narrow. But, you know these Americans, the bigger the better (oh boy.)

This drive held so much, it is hard to remember all we saw. A park ranger said every day there is something new—in this ever changing park. As we were driving, we decided to exit by way of the northeast gate; you would not believe what awaited our eyes. The Bear Tooth Scenic Highway was spectacular. We drove up to a height of over 10,000 feet, way up there, though many switchbacks, but we did not see any snow patches, though.

A special thing, a fox walked across the road right in front of us, we could tell by the big bushy tail. Did not have time to take a photo, sorry for that. And, out in the distance, we saw many pronghorn sheep eating what they could.

 

Also in this upper loop, we saw a wild goat, a species introduced into the park and they are competition for the native bighorn sheep and native mountain goats. Sounds like some idiot a couple of their goats loose In the park and now they are causing problems (now, remember to keep your goats at home.)

Then down to Cody, Wyoming to spend the night at Kmart, which was right next to a McDonalds, where I could go online in the early morn the next day. For dinner we did a special treat for us, we went to a nice restaurant and shared a bison steak, which I’m told, is much healthier than cow (mow—I had to say it.)

August 30—Back into the park by way of the east entrance, and, look at that, tremendously beautiful High Mountain peaks all around us.

As we were going in we noticed a sign saying, “hard sided camping only”, meaning no tents. With the bears in the park, you have no safety in a tent—the bears will gobble you up. A disappoint for me, we did not see any bears in Jellystone Park (hey Yoggy), I was hoping so much we would. I joke with Tina often that I want to find a bear and play pat-a-cake with said bear.

As you arrive in through this entrance, you run right into Yellowstone Lake, a huge natural lake. In this lake, you can see many natural hot springs here and there. I don’t think this is a lake you would want to go for a swim in, you might turn out hardboiled (but then again, you may like that.)

Then we stopped at Le Hardys rapids, we were hoping to get a glimpse of a grizzly bear we heard was eating on a bison carcass, which the day before two bears were fitting over. However, when we got there, the buffet was already over. Where this carcass was, rapids were everywhere on the river, looking like it would be difficult for any boat to maneuver through.

We went to see the upper and the lower falls, which are in, what they call, “The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.” Magnificence is a word that comes to mind, what a display if power these falls held. The walls of the canyon were such a beautiful array of color. After a short walk in, you start to hear the falls, then before you, water is nonstop going over the edge, how beautiful.

On each side of the canyon, because of the river flowing, though, the canyon walls get higher and higher. And, the way the sides are cut out, it looks spectacular. Red and blue color running through the rocks with white like marble made this a feast for the eyes.

And, I cannot leave off “Old Faithful”, such a big part of Yellowstone, that had to be a part of our trip. Going off about every 91 minutes, we got there with about 35 minutes to go. Then the rest of the crowd started showing up, I could not believe the big crowd that was there by the time the geyser blasted, and for a Tuesday.

It went off, not too big a deal, but good to see it once again. I was in the park in the eighties and witnessed.

August 31—Directly below Yellowstone is Grand Teton, and grand it is. There had been a fire to the south of Yellowstone, which we had to drive through to get there, what was left looked devastating. For the Tetons you simply drive on one road and see the majestic mountains off to your right (driving from north to south.)

What a wonderful experience, if you ever get the chance, you must go. Until then, there are many videos on YouTube that will show you the sites.

September 1—This was a day of driving from the Tetons to Rock Spring.

September 2–Currently we are driving on The Sheep Creek Geological Loop, this is amazing. Around every corner is a different landscape for the eyes, just keeps getting better and better. From red rocks to very large boulders to green trees growing to pine forest–how surprising. But, being Wyoming, this state is a collage of colors, magnificent.

We had stopped by a park office and she suggested taking this loop, I am so glad we did. 

The whole time we only saw one truck, a great thing to see, us alone in the wilderness. But, I am wishing we did more hiking in woods. Longhorn sheep are the only wildlife we saw. We were going to pass by this area quickly but got captured by the visual delicacies that it contained.

September 2-4—On the map, we saw The Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway and had to take the drive, boy, am I glad we did. The whole drive was quite beautiful. We drove to Spirit Lake, were we put up for the night.

This campsite was right on a breathtaking river and woods all around.

This trip is quite an amazing anthology of experiences that will last a lifetime, I am glad you are along for the ride.

In the last blog I had written that I am going to start posting this blog every Sunday, today is that day, here you go. I also write that my daughters, April and Jasmine, said they will write to me every Sunday, too, I hope they follow through.

Last night we awoke to a large thunderstorm, which kept us awake for a time. In the morning, as we were departing, in a meadow we saw a moose! His large antlers sticking up, I had to think of Bullwinkle.

Heading toward Colorado next, you will hear more soon.

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