Monday, September 19, 2016

Leaving Yellowstone

Well, it's time to pull out from Yellowstone.  Our original plan was to head South and see the Grand Tetons.  But it was sooo windy yesterday that the wildfires that had been near West Yellowstone, had moved southeast and crossed the road.  This is a picture I took yesterday while we were waiting for Old Faithful.  Those are not clouds, they are plumes of smoke from that fire.  We all thought it looked like it was coming from the wrong direction... now we know, the fire had set it on the move.

So the Southern entrance/exit was closed and they actually evacuated folks who were in the most southern portions of the park by West Thumb and Grant Village.  They were closed.  So we planned to head back east and head out the way we came in.

We woke up on Monday morning and...
it was snowing!!!!!!

 By the time we packed up the cabin and were getting in the car - there was a LOT of snow on the ground.  Knowing we were hitting some passes over 8000 ft, we put it in high gear before it got worse.

 I had really hoped to stop at the Continental Divide - we had studied up on it before the trip - but with the snow, we cheered as we crossed The Divide - and kept right on going.
 And then this guy decided to slow us down.  You can see we were in the lower elevations because there was no snow at this point.

 And the bison came to say goodbye too....
 I had to stop and get a picture of this previously burned forest.  One of the things that I think is soooo cool about the forest fires, is that although it seems so harsh - it's actually for the health of the forests.   The current fires were all started by lightening strikes.  There are trees in the forest with cones that ONLY open with heat.  So without fire there are some trees that would not repopulate.  God's so amazing that way.

It's funny because the pictures tell you if we were on a pass, or in the valley below.  Like these Pronghorn - who came on down to the non-snowy zone.

 But then in a higher pass area, we were stopped by these free ranging cows.  Cracked us up - not the wildlife we were expecting.

 And on to South Dakota!
Our plans included a trip to Devils Tower  -but it was so rainy and the visibility was so limited that we decided to skip it this year.  We know we will be back to this area again, so we'll have another chance to see the first National monument then.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Yellowstone Day 3 - the Geysers and such

One of my favorite days in the park!  There is SOOOOO much to see on the West side of Yellowstone, I knew we couldn't get it all in so we did have to skip a few sights.  BUT, the ones we got in.... some of my favorite!!!!!

As you head south, you'll get a good view of "liberty cap" - one of the Mammoth features.
 What is so amazing is that as you drive by, you can see the ground steaming.... just an amazing sight to see.

 We did get to see a beautiful fox slinking through a field.
 We really enjoyed driving on the Firehole River scenic drive.  This is one of the reasons I'd hate to have an RV here - some of the scenic drives do not allow RV's or busses - this was a beautiful drive.  The thermal features were really amazing!

I think my favorite drive was through the Lower Geyser Basin (also a no RV zone) on the Firehole Lake Drive.  It was amazing - with several beautiful geysers.

The spring was just entrancing...
 And we were sooooo fortunate that we got there right before the Great Fountain Geyser went off.  It goes off about every 12 hours.  Just awesome to watch!  You realize how much water comes out by the waves that begin to come off the geyser platform.

 While we were watching the Great Geyser - we also saw the White Dome Geyser go off.

 And the Steady Geyser empties water right into the Firehole lake.

And if the lower geyser basin wasn't fascinating enough - then you get to the Midway Geyser Basin.... I think this was my favorite from a beauty standpoint.
 It's amazing to once again watch water from this hotspring to flow into the Firehole River.  Just a little bit down, there are fishermen in the water.
 The first thing you come to on this hike is the Excelsior spring...
 Then - the Grand Prismatic!  So beautiful.  It was super windy the day we were there - so you were constantly trying to stay out of the steam.

 Opal pool....
 Turquoise Pool....
 This is actually the geyser crater - at one time this was more than a hot spring - it was a geyser.  Still releases a ton of water - but none is flying in the air.
 And finally we made it to the Upper Geyser Basin and home of Old Faithful...

 While we waited for the eruption - the girls got checked off on their Jr. Ranger books and earned their badges!!!

 Then we went back to watch and wait.   Now see those trees across the way....
 Now imagine for a moment that you are sitting right there next to Nicole and Megan.  And suddenly Nicole says - "Hey, look at that bear!"  Well everyone out there grabs their binoculars to look for the bear... and sure enough she does see a bear..... WAY FAR AWAY.  How she saw it, I will never know!  On the other side of the geyser basin in the middle of a mountain of trees - she sees a bear climbing a tree.  The man next to me confirms with his massively powered binoculars that she did indeed spot a bear.  Everyone else there was like, "how did she see that?" - no clue - but she's got eyes for wildlife now!

And finally - Old Faithful (who was late, by the way).

 It really was an amazing sight - but I can't say that it was my favorite.  There were so many beautiful things, it's hard to rate them!

What a great day exploring the geysers and more hot springs!  It'll be sad to leave Yellowstone - but we are taking soooo many memories with us!