With all our stuff unloaded at the KOA, we could fit everyone in the minivan together, which made exploring Yellowstone a lot more fun! Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper have visited the park several times (maybe I'll tell you the story about Grandpa photographing bison another day... just a hint: don't throw rocks), and had lots of special places to show us.
The bison were not hard to find. Especially when they're walking right down the road. They're not tame animals, you know? And the males are especially feisty this time of year, so we were happy to observe them from inside the car or at a distance.
The bison aren't the only excitable animals. Look what the bull elk have done! The work themselves into a frenzy and scrape their antlers against the trees. They make an indescribable bugling, grunting sound and do other *ahem* less appealing things as well. All for the ladies ;D
Grandpa Grasshopper loves to take photos, and he's really, really good at it. Most of my memories of my dad, from childhood vacations, look just about like this.
We woke to frost on our cabin and vehicles - glad we aren't tenting! - and the morning was rather chilly. We were prepared for that, but the bummer was the steam. When hot water meets cold air you get a lot of steam. Here we are at the breathtaking Grand Prismatic Spring and mostly we could see... steam.
I think Kerry was much more excited about the Old Faithful Inn than the geysers. His architectural heart was beating double-time as we strolled through the lodge. Gorgeous.
We checked the time and headed out to the viewing area to wait for the big event.
Old Faithful. Right on schedule. Predictable, but breath-taking, nonetheless. And an absolutely gorgeous day, to experience the full effect.
There are many other geysers and hot springs nearby, so we took a little two? or three? mile walk around the basin. Grandpa and Wyatt...
And Grandpa and Grandma with their boys :D
I don't remember how old I was when we toured Yellowstone. Seven? Maybe eight? But I remember a few things, and one of them was Morning Glory Pool. The stillness and clarity of the water were amazing, but the deep turquoise color mesmerized me. Though I knew better, I wanted to throw myself in and immerse myself in that unbelievable turquoise. I wanted to dive down and see where the channel went.
So of course, I insisted we hike out to Morning Glory Pool... and was a bit disappointed.
After nearly forty years, the color has changed. It's gone from a heavenly turquoise to a greenish hue. Still beautiful, but it doesn't sing to me the way it once did.
I mentioned yesterday that the vast majority of the geysers are not nearly so predictable as Old Faithful, so we were excited to see Grand Geyser erupt, just by coincidence, as we were passing by.
One of the early explorers (John Colter?) tried to describe what he had seen and nobody believed him. That's not hard to understand, when you see it for yourself. It's a place like no other.
We got back just in time to see Old Faithful perform again. Truly amazing, although one ranger commented,
"You've just driven hundreds of miles to see.... water boil."
Truth, but not the whole truth.
As we continued around the southern half of the park we crossed the Continental Divide... twice! I think we crossed it a total of six times on our trip. Crazy! And just look at that elevation. Good grief.
More bison - a whole herd of them resting in a meadow near Lake Yellowstone.
Among the park's "must-see's" are Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls. And here, we made a mistake. Photographers take heed - you want to visit the falls in the morning, when the sun is behind you. They were beautiful, but harder to photograph in the late afternoon. However...
This is from right above the Upper Falls - still gorgeous!
Looking down into the valley - quite a drop! In this area you can see a lot of the yellow stone that gives the park its name.
Looking back at the Upper Falls from the Lower Falls. See the lookout point down below? Some of our group decided they needed to see the falls from there. Others of us decided we liked the view just fine where we were!
Kerry, Tate, Gunnar, and Grandpa Grasshopper are waving back up at us :D
I'm sure it was worth the effort, even if some needed a bit of extra encouragement to get back up to the top!
It was a glorious day, but we were all ready to get a hot dinner and head back to our cozy cabins!
Day 4 Miles : 140 Total : 1130