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Posts Tagged ‘geysers’

I’m sitting in the lobby of a suburban Denver Super 8 waiting for a load of clothes to dry so the boys won’t alarm any fellow travelers when Belinda flies home with them tomorrow.  It’s fifteen minutes past midnight; once again a late morning start leads to a late evening stop.  Having spent last night in Saratoga WY, we didn’t have all that far to go.  But I zigzagged us over four different mountain passes and through Rocky Mountain National Park to get here.  Belinda wasn’t real sure about my taking the scenic route, warning me all day long that she wanted us to end our day early. That is until she got to talking to the couple at the next table in Estes Park and added an hour to dinner.  And then we hit road construction traffic on the interstate . . . culture shock for us after driving some achingly lonely roads over the last couple of days.

Here are some pictures . . . though for some reason I seem to have been less active with the camera since we became a foursome.

Friday: Belinda gives me the gift of some alone-time in the morning, taking the boys to a leisurely breakfast while I walk all over Upper Geyser Basin with the goal of adding a new geyser to my “witnessed eruptions” list.  What a glorious morning!  I manage to catch Riverside in action (with the help of an official prediction from the geyser rangers) and am very lucky to be in the right place at the right time to watch unpredictable Beehive geyser give a great performance.

In a picture, Beehive looks dainty and graceful.  In person, the roar and the velocity of the water shooting from the cone is awe-inspiring.  Think of a fire hose nozzle a full three feet in diameter.

Riverside only goes every six hours or so, but it erupts for a full twenty minutes, shooting in an impressive arc over the Firehole River.  The hordes of tourists waiting on Old Faithful to go will never see this.  Well worth the hike and the wait.

From the Old Faithful area, we drove over to Yellowstone Lake and spent most of the afternoon following the Yellowstone River downstream.

Picnic by Yellowstone Lake.  As usual, the boys would rather play than eat.  Getting Andrew to eat has been one of my biggest struggles on this trip.  Five minutes down the road from this stop, I guarantee that Andrew says “Daaaad, I’m hungry.”

We stop at LeHardy rapids to watch some absolutely huge cutthroat trout struggle upstream.

Belinda took this picture through the window of the bison she goaded into nearly ramming my car.  Bad Belinda.  (She’ll tell you this was her favorite moment of her time with us.)  Right now I’m hitting the accelerator.  Gotta go!

This time when we visit the brink of Upper Falls, I make Andrew use the bathroom next to the parking lot before we start down the trail.  As a result, we get to linger for a while, admiring the rainbows in the spray.

Somehow, the boys agree to hike down Uncle Tom’s Trail to view Lower Falls (more than 300 steps descending 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the canyon).

Will on the way back up the steps.

We walk the Rim Trail to Artist Point, and I get this shot along the way.  One of my favorites for the whole trip.

After dinner in Canyon, we drive back over Mount Washburn and up the Lamar River Valley.  On her first trip through this part of the park, Belinda gets to see both a grizzly bear and a wolf.  Granted, they still looked tiny even through spotting scopes, but I’m envious of her luck.  We also watch a big herd of bison on the run, clearly spooked by something.  Once again, I’m evidently too busy with my binoculars to take any pictures in Lamar Valley.  We end the day in Cooke City.

Saturday: We drive back up into the Beartooths, play in the snow, and climb a little “peak” just off the road, then follow the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (no pictures, somehow) to the uber-historic town of Cody, where we spend the night.  We are less interested in history, however, than we are in Cody’s self-proclaimed status of “Rodeo Capital of the World.”

Andrew won’t walk through the “stinky steam,” but he has no trouble with climbing on this big bull.  Go figure.

He also has no hesitation in getting into the ring with all the other kids to chase the calf with a ribbon tied to its tail.  Big brother decides not to participate but regrets his decision almost immediately.

Andrew has a great time running around the ring, but afterwards he’s downright angry that he didn’t get to the calf first and win the prize.

No pictures downloaded yet from yesterday or today, as the USB camera adaptor seems to be a new addition to the “lost items” list.  Oh, well.  Belinda would probably say that there’s nothing picturesque about central Wyoming, just sagebrush by the billions and random, incomprehensible rock formations.  I really like these landscapes; thank God that Belinda has the boys to entertain her.

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Well, from this point, the tenor of the trip has changed a bit.  On Wednesday afternoon, I shipped home much of our camping gear from Jackson before going to the airport to pick up Belinda.  We’ve become a foursome.  And I sit right now in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn . . . extra luxurious accommodations compared to what we’ve been used to.

(BTW, we shipped via UPS.  Why is it so easy to find a UPS Store but not see UPS trucks on the road?  FedEx trucks continue to be everywhere.)

Backtracking a bit, here are the past couple of days in pictures.

Monday: From Swan Laundry in West Yellowstone, my last post location, we drove back into the park and on to Upper Geyser Basin, where we walked out onto the boardwalk just in time to see Castle Geyser erupt in the distance.  Castle has become perhaps my favorite Yellowstone geyser; it only goes a couple of times a day, but it’s relatively predictable and very impressive.  Castle’s eruptions last much longer than those of Old Faithful, and they’re followed by an impressive roaring steam phase, which was still in full force when we got this close.

Daaad, will the stinky steam get us?

We wandered the area for an hour or so, waiting for Old Faithful’s next eruption.

If possible, visit Upper Geyser Basin after dinner, when you can have it (relatively speaking) to yourself.

My favorite vantage point for watching Old Faithful is on the backside, away from the buildings and the crowds on the main boardwalk.  Plus, you can sit right over the outflow stream where it drops into the Firehole River.

The boys both say that “tasting Old Faithful” has been one of their favorite things so far.  Funny what resonates with them.

We ate dinner at the lodge, watched the sun go down, and saw Old Faithful go again (a much longer and more impressive show this time).

Never in a million years did I think this picture would turn out.

A personal rule: on any given visit, give Upper Geyser Basin a long enough visit to see two eruptions.

Despite all lodgings in Yellowstone having been booked solid months in advance, we hit the cancellation jackpot for the first time on Monday night and ended up staying in Grant Village.  We had lingered so long and so late at Upper Geyser Basin, that this was a real stroke of luck.  At the same time, I secure a cancelled room at the Old Faithful Inn for Thursday, knowing Belinda will be thrilled (I understand these rooms can book a year in advance).

Tuesday: Driving south to the Tetons, we tried and failed to snag a campsite at Jenny Lake (10:30 AM is not early enough!) before backtracking and establishing camp at Lizard Creek.  We then drove south again to spend the afternoon and evening at String Lake.

No swimming pools like this at home!

In fact, there’s no natural swimming hole I can think of within an hour and a half of home that’s clean enough to let the boys wade around in.  Certainly not going to let them do this in the Hooch!  What a shame . . . no wonder modern kids suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder.

Will happily cooperates while I experiment with backlighting and shutter speed.

Returning to camp, we learn two things: 1) our campground hosts know exactly where we live (their son lives in our neighborhood) and 2) a black bear has been nosing around our camp.

Fresh claw marks . . . the bear was up in this tree when our campsite neighbors came back for the evening.  Daddy Hoot, them Park Rangers aren’t just trying to be annoying with those pesky food storage rules!  This bear got no joy in our campsite.

Wednesday: Lingered late in camp while Will played with the ten-year old girl from the next campsite and I talked with our campground host.  Poor Andrew . . . this is the second time that Will has found a campground friend, and Andrew has ended up feeling pretty left out.  Will tries conscientiously to include him, but he just doesn’t quite know how to hang with older kids and ends up coming back to where I am and moons around.

Leaving camp, we spend the afternoon getting ready for Mommy . . . showering, doing laundry (again!), cleaning out and organizing the car, shipping stuff home so she has room to sit.

Belinda arrives on schedule, we eat dinner at Dornan’s in Moose (cowboy-style Dutch-oven cooking–highly recommended), and then drive to Jackson Lake Lodge for the night (yet another cancellation jackpot).  Happy that Mommy is with us, the boys stay up too late.  In his fatigue, Will gets all weepy and emotional.  Our dynamic is definitely different . . . no more Team Testosterone.

Thursday: Why the hell does housekeeping begin knocking on doors at 8:00 AM?  And why knock when you don’t really listen to the people inside yelling “We’re still in here”?  Just a question.

But we slept late anyway before heading to Jenny Lake, where we join the tourist masses for the boat shuttle and the subsequent hike to Hidden Falls and then Inspiration Point.  Will misunderstands me when I say that the trail into Cascade Canyon is flat once you get beyond Inspiration Point, and at one point he turns and yells “Daaad, you were wrong; this trail isn’t flat!”  Another dad going the other way with teenagers in tow comments grimly “He’ll never believe you again.”

I haven’t loaded my pictures of the hike onto the computer yet. but I’m not sure they’ll be that good anyway, the mid-afternoon light being far too harsh (it was flat-out hot today).

Now, we’re backtracking through Yellowstone with Belinda along.  Tonight at Old Faithful, tomorrow night probably in Cooke City again before turning south towards Denver, where she’ll fly home with the boys and I’ll turn the Outback eastward to finish the circuit.

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