Friday, December 18, 2015

Day 4: Falls and Detour

Hard to believe that the trip has almost come to an end. In fact Day 4 was the last day we decided to venture into Yellowstone so we decided to start at the Old Faithful Inn for some souvenirs. The Boys were excited to be out of the car.

It's not like they just spent the last 2 hours in the car together. They had a little energy to blow before we headed in.

We had brought old pocket cameras for the boys to use but forgot about them until they were fighting over... a hat. We distracted them by pulling out the cameras and heading into the Inn to meet up with the other half of our group...which we had lost when trying to find a parking spot.

This was one of the places we visited about 15 years ago. I remember the wood but honestly the thing I remembered the most was how crowded it was. This time it wasn't nearly as crowded, although I am taller so perspective is a bit different. I am not a log cabin type of girl, don't get me wrong they are interesting and the detail amazing but if I was to build one it is not my style. Ok I do like the looks from the outside but inside seeing only wood is not what I prefer. On the other hand my parents LOVE log homes, it is their dream to build one...which could be why it is not MY dream home. If I could build them one I would because they deserve it. Until then we take notes of what they like ;)

The most original part of the lodge was constructed in 1903 by Robert Reamer. We didn't take a guided tour so I don't know exactly how old the lobby and stairs are but they appear well aged.

One of the souvenirs was a book "What I saw in Yellowstone" by Durrae Johanek as we walked out of the gift shop we saw her in the lobby signing books! The boys loved talking to her and telling her about the bears we saw.

 After we did some shopping for souvenirs we headed upstairs to the balcony. This was the view I remembered seeing Old Faithful from during my first visit.

We wondered our way around to the Visitor's center and found another gift shop...if only we had seen these earlier...

The boys rarely looked up from taking pictures until we wandered into the kids interactive section.

That was a big win! Although I think the adults were more interested in watching and waiting for the geyser simulator than the kids.

My mom really wanted to see the Grand Prismatic Springs but we kept missing it. I'm not sure how because even as we were driving by we could see the blue glow.

Unfortunately with the air being so cool there was a thick steam covering most of the springs so we were not able to see much.

This was another one of those places where the water is boiling hot and yet there were hoof prints in the middle next to the springs.

We grabbed a bit of lunch just as he started to rain and then headed to see some falls. The first I think we happened upon by accident as we were trying to get an information area. We were walking and turned around to see this just peeking through the trees.

We found an overlook...

As we regrouped the kids tried catching a chipmunk...we did stop them. Instead we said we could take some pictures home to remember them.

The next stop was Uncle Tom's Trail to the bottom of the Lower Falls. It is not for those scared of heights or unable to walk long distances because you are winding your way down to the bottom of the 308 ft waterfall. We came across a tour group and heard the story (found in the link) about Uncle Tom and the original tours. I love hearing stories like that.

Then after walking down the winding trail to the stairs you are climbing down 328 stairs that you can see through because they are mesh like. So it throws off your perception. My husband and oldest had some issues. The oldest more so because once at the bottom we had to have a firm talking in order to calm him down and prepare for the ascent. While at the bottom we did get to see a lovely view.

Our group became separated on the way up because my sister had slipped and hurt her knee towards the bottom and my mom's knee was also bothering her. Like I said while a fun adventure it is a difficult journey. My 4 year old though had a blast, we had to keep slowing him down both going down and up.

As we headed for our last location we were once again in traffic due to people vacating their cars in the middle of the road to get up close pictures.

Not sure I would want to get this close to an animal with antlers that large...

And of course a bison was nearby as well!

The Artists Paintpots was the last thing on our list to see before heading back. It was one of the first places we went when we were in Yellowstone 15 years ago. It was raining pretty good when we pulled in. So only half our group went and we took one of the little cameras so not to chance ruining our good one.

We were eager to get back to the cabin for dinner but God had other plans for us. We were only about 5 minutes from Big Sky when we saw traffic backed up. The road was closed up ahead due to a semi overturning and they didn't know when it would reopen.

We had 3 choices...
1) Sit tight and wait but the road may be closed until midnight.
2) Go back to West Yellowstone and wait.
3) Go around the mountain through Bozeman about a 2 hour detour.

We chose the detour. While we didn't get that fabulous dinner we planned on cooking we did get some great scenery. I just pointed the camera out the window and kept clicking.

There is "our" just on the other side is our cabin.

Until we hit Bozeman we didn't see anywhere open to get gas, food, or a place for a potty break. Until we reached this little league ball park. They had very nice bathrooms for being out in the middle of nowhere. The last picture I took with the sun still giving off good light. 

It was late by the time we got back to the cabin but to think if we hadn't taken the detour what we would have missed. THIS made us fall in love with Montana.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 3: North Yellowstone Entrance

Wednesday we took it easy in the morning and decided to take a different way into Yellowstone going through Bozeman. It may have taken longer but it was nice to see an actual town with stores. The trip was really quiet and beautiful.

As we neared the North Entrance the views became more and more breathtaking.

This was the first time we came into Yellowstone without a traffic jam or feeling rushed...unless you count the need for a bathroom. As soon as we entered there were Deer Elk just hanging out in the middle of town and even next to the buildings which made it harder to find an available bathroom.

Once we found where the bathrooms were located we attempted to find a parking spot...but we found every single parking spot filled. We had to go just a bit past Mammoth Hot Springs to find parking and then it was back to figuring out where a bathroom might be. (Yes this was our mission with 8 of the 12 needing to go) As we approached the boardwalk our mission was pushed aside enough to enjoy the beauty. It truly is awe inspiring...

Especially when you think about how it was created and naturally continues to change. There are signs everywhere telling you to keep off the ground and then you look over and see hoof prints from bison. The kids were enthralled with all the information we were telling them.

The weather was amazing during the whole trip. It started out pretty cool on Wednesday morning but by the time you add in the hiking and the sun shining straight down on us and I was regretting having us all wear long sleeves. Although by the end of the day I was happy we did.

This is the one picture I really wish we could have taken without people standing there. It is a site that you just sit there taking it all in.

As we drove off we noticed this on the other side. Again just one of those places that will always be a fond memory but happy I was able to snap a few shots as we drove down the road.

We didn't make it far before a bison decided to take a sharp turn and cross the road in front of us. I didn't have the camera ready when he was directly in front of us but here managed to snap a photo as he moved towards the oncoming car before exiting the roadway.

The 2 younger boys occupied the back seat talking non-stop.

Not even 5 minutes after the above picture I snapped this one...

And can't forget big brother...

On our way to Old Faithful we came to a standstill when a herd of bison decided to cross the road. This became a very common theme and by Thursday bison just became like seeing a dog roaming the neighborhood.

Even if we felt like we saw them ALL of the time, they were still magnificent creatures.

This was not only the first time to see selfie sticks but also to see so many in use. People really need to use more common sense when it comes their safety. Many times we saw people standing on a cliffs edge or next to a bison.

We thought we only had about 20 minutes before Old Faithful was suppose to erupt but it had other plans. A cold sprinkle started...

Then it started to get more cloudy...

The boys grew impatient, it started to look like it was about to erupt and then fizzle out for the next 45 minutes...

Then we had to run for cover which wasn't bad until you add in the hundreds of other people who also decided to take cover pushing and shoving until the kids let alone myself couldn't see well. At least I got a photo with my brother.

We made it just in time for it to start pouring.

We may not have had an up close view but we ended up meeting a family from California which helped time pass by.

Once it started the kids stood open mouthed and excited. To see it through their eyes made it all the more special.

We stayed protected until it was over and we could put away the camera. After last year and me getting caught in the rain, ruining my phone, we are more leery about taking electronics out in rain.

Of course when we ran back to the car I found my window down. Luckily we have floormats with a lip that caught most of the water, seat was dry because I had it folded for the kids to exit the back and nothing was taken.

On the way out of the park we passed the same herd of Bison that had crossed in front of us on the way to Old Faithful. This time they were huddled down waiting for the rain to pass.

Sometimes it really takes getting away from it all to realize how special nature is. I hope to have Day 4 up next week, until then... keep smiling!