Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yellowstone (Part 3)

Yesterday was Wednesday and you know what that means. That's right, Yellowstone Wednesday!! This time we decided to take the north loop since we did the south loop last time. We got out at 9:30 and were at the park by 10:00 after spending about 10 minutes cleaning the windshield of the truck. There are about 100 little swallows here that make their homes in the eaves of the office/laundry building and deposit their droppings all over the place. I'm serious, we have to constantly clean our picnic table daily, clean the windshield of the truck every time we go somewhere and pretty much can't sit outside or risk being pooped on. Anyway, on to Yellowstone. I finally got a picture of the entrance sign without a crowd of people there.

It's really GREAT that we have a whole month to explore this park. It's soooooo big and I just couldn't imagine only having one day. It makes me think about other places we've visited before going fulltime and only having one day. Imagine all the stuff we missed. It makes me want to go back to Yosemite. I took my kids to the Grand Canyon once and although it was absolutely beautiful I couldn't enjoy it because I was afraid one of the kids would fall off. I know, paranoid.

As I said before, we took the north loop this time. There weren't that many geysers and frankly not a lot of places to stop at. We saw some people pulled over and when we looked we said, "oh, just another geyser" or "it's just more Bison". We got spoiled. I think the elevation was a lot higher too. The roads were kinda scary sometimes as they were quite twisty and not real wide. I had the cliff sides on my side and a lot of times there were no guardrails. YIKES!! I know at one point our elevation was 8800 feet.

Our mission though was Mammoth Hot Springs and the LaMar Valley. I had seen pictures of the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs and they were stunning. Alas, when we got there the water at the terraces wasn't running. The pictures were from 1977! It looked like a terrace of salt. Apparently it's not like Old Faithful and can't be predicted. Sometimes it could be years before it starts flowing.

The LaMar Valley was the viewing area for the wolves. We had planned to be there at dusk because that's when most of the animals are active. We saw so many more animals on this loop than the south loop. When we pulled off on a road to see a petrified tree there were a TON of cars on this little one lane road. We saw a ranger there and she told us there was a black bear on the hill. We had to go to the end of the road to turn around so we got out the binoculars to see the bear and let me tell you, unless you knew what you were looking at you would have NEVER known there was a bear up there. It was so far away and it was laying down. Somebody told us where to look and then he lifted his head so we knew he was there. Way too far away to take a picture. We forgot all about the petrified tree.

We took a picnic lunch to avoid the crowds in the restaurants but didn't anticipate the crowds in the picnic areas. Oh well, we had our chairs with us so we just found a pullout and had our lunch there. Since we were going to look for wolves at dusk we had to find a place to eat dinner. We chose the Roosevelt Lodge because it was close to where we were headed. The food was not so great and I wouldn't recommend it. We both got the baby back ribs but they were way over cooked and not much flavor. Good thing the barbecue sauce was really good.

We made it to the LaMar Valley but couldn't find any wolves. We did find some pronghorn, some deer and lots more bison. We were sitting on the side of the road watching this buffalo herd when we heard the distinctive howling of wolves. We never did see them but we sure did hear them.

We decided to head home as it was starting to get dark. We really didn't want to drive back in the dark but the day that we had really made it worth it. I put our coordinates in the Garmin to head back but didn't like the way she was sending us. Just as we were preparing to make a U turn to go her way we ran into a mini traffic jam. That usually means a wildlife show. Sure was! We finally saw a bear up close!! He paid no attention to us and continued eating his flowers.

After leaving him we drove further down the road and saw another traffic jam. Sure enough there was a little guy who was scurrying up the hillside. He looked like a pretty young bear. I think he was scared because he was really fast. Too fast for pictures. Further down the road we saw a herd of deer, a herd of elk, several coyotes and Uinta ground squirrels. It was too dark to take anymore pictures. We saw way more animals on this loop than the other one. It was a very good day.

Some more pictures of our day...

Believe it or not this is NOT snow. Kinda looks like a painting, doesn't it?

More of the amazing scenery


Sandra said...

You have some beautiful photos there! I just love seeing wildlife. Too bad it was too dark for photos.

Dee and Jim said...

Thank you for the wonderful pictures. I sure hope you can meet up with our friends up there.