Monday, September 19, 2011
I love traveling at this time of year. Most of the crowds have abated, as kids go back to school, and the weather should still be nice, but not blazingly hot. Because I freely admit that we north westerners are kind of heat wimps. The downside is that the days are getting shorter. Good thing some of my family are early risers (that would be Tate and me). We got everyone up and moving with the daylight, so as not to waste any of it.
We were packed up, fed, and on the road before 8am, and what a beautiful morning. I looked out my window and thought, "I could really like living in Montana."
Gee, even the gas stations have character.
Thanks to Tate, all our visits to National Parks and Monuments are free! No (hearing) loss without some gain, I guess ;D Here are the grasshoppers, at the north (Gardiner) entrance to...
Another thing to consider about traveling in the fall is the animals. You know... mating season, or the rut. She sure looks like she knows she's hot property.
Tate brought along some of his Schleich bunnies, thinking he would make a series of photos of them visiting the parks, but his camera apparently gave up the ghost. I offered to take pics for him any time he wanted, but this was the only day he thought of it. (Apparently the War Log was more appealing.) Still, I love the idea he had, and the way he fitted one or two of the bunnies with gear from some of his plastic soldiers... that's my Tater :D
And WOW, that's Mammoth Hot Springs.
We live at sea level.
Well, yah, we knew that, but we'd never really thought about it. As we hiked up and down around the hot springs we were amazed at how out of breath we were feeling. Probably because we were at about 7000' in elevation. Good golly, Miss Molly! If you were at 7000' in Washington state there would be no trees, no grass, and probably no animals, because you'd be standing on a glacier! Okay, rant over. Probably. Though I may feel compelled to mention that again later. Just possibly.
And this picture? I like rocks. I think they're fascinating. Good thing, because we saw a lot of rocks on this trip. This rock? I loved its curvy-ness. You can see that it was once fluid. Amazing.
We saw a lot of these guys around the park. I lost count. But I loved the look of this big old boy, relaxing in front of one of the hot springs.
We stopped and hiked around the Norris Geyser Basin, after a picnic lunch. I know the boys look kind of like, "I'm too cool for this," but let me tell you, they were into it.
Gunnar is pointing out the bright green. Do you know what that is? Bacteria. Apparently the different colors of bacteria are a good indicator of the temperature of the water - different colors thrive at different temps. Who knew? Of course, many of the colors you see in the park are caused by different minerals, but we thought the bacteria "thermometer" was pretty interesting.
Apparently very few of the geysers in the park are on any kind of predictable schedule for erupting, so we were thrilled to see whatever activity presented itself - like Steamboat Geyser burbling away and even sending out occasional jets of spray.
Of course we couldn't miss the Artist's Paint Pots, because what boy wouldn't love stinky, sulfurous pools of boiling mud?
These four cow elk seemed very relaxed, grazing along the Madison River...
... but you can be sure this old bull wasn't letting them out of his sight.
Our first day in Yellowstone we just explored the northern end of the park, then headed out to West Yellowstone to another KOA. But this time, Grandpa and Grandma were waiting for us! They were on their way home from Mt. Rushmore and joined us for three days. And, being the generous Grandpa and Grandma they are, they had upgraded us to a deluxe cabin, right next to theirs. And by "deluxe" I mean we had our own bathroom - always a pleasure ;D
Day 3 Miles : 170 Total : 990