and his family as well as Joe were vacating their condo this day,
heading home. They were on their way by 9:30 am. John and I moved
into their place and checked out of ours, since our week ended on
Saturday while theirs didn’t end until Sunday. They all needed to
get back home sooner and we’d paid (in credits) for all this condo
time, so we thought why not give ourselves another day? A day of
rest before driving home the next day.
was a bit different in that no one would have done the housekeeping
before we moved in, but it worked out just as well. We could strip
the bed we’d use and they’d bring new sheets, along with new
towels and kitchen towels/dishcloths.
TV, napping and reading we visited the little “Museum of the
Yellowstone”. Very reasonable price ($5/senior), good exhibits and
were on our way by 8 am (Montana time), getting home around 3 pm
Spokane time. Nice, having the chance to put things away and go
sum, this was a wonderful family time. All those hours driving in
Yellowstone National Park gave us even more opportunities to enjoy
one another. John and I are hoping to get the family together for
another big trip in about 5 more years to celebrate our 50th
time we went straight to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (also
early, about 9 am), visiting 2 spots.
Point (I took way too many
Along the trail to Sublime Point
On the way back we came across a black bear feeding in the forest near our trail
to Uncle Tom’s Point (waterfalls).
John and Justin wanted to stand where there was standing water, so they perched themselves on a small stick that teetered when the first one got off.
up: lunch near Yellowstone River, so refreshing.
our way towards more geothermal sites we came upon bison, much closer
than we’d seen before.
the way after that stop Justin spotted a great view of a lone bison,
so we stopped to check it and a hot spring (Sulphur Cauldron) nearby.
the area of the Mud Volcano we saw some neat hot springs;
Mud Volcano is no longer erupting, so it wasn’t that much to
favorite hot spring was Dragon Mouth Spring and the hot water
areas surrounding it.
Yes, I took LOTS of photos there, but what can I say – I love the looks of that place.On our way out of Yellowstone we had an opportunity to get photos near the Yellowstone National Park sign.
arrived back at West Yellowstone in about 1.5 hours. We stopped in
town for ice cream treats, then to our condos. Joe, John and I
walked to town for gifts and an item for Trish (me). When we
returned Justin and family went to the pool while John and I rested.
made our pork chop dinner, aiming for 7 pm, but our oven wasn’t
working as expected, so the potatoes weren’t ready until 7:30.
After dinner and cleanup John & I went to bed. Lily joined her
family, then came to sleep at our place.
was another area that John and I had missed, largely due to crowds
and no reasonable parking. This time, because again we left around 8
(more like 8:30 am) it was possible.
area is mostly full of fumeroles, where steam is venting all the
time. It’s an area of high heat and low water because these steam
vents are usually found on hillsides and above the basin’s water
Porcelain Basin (milky color of mineral deposited here – Siliceous sinter- led to the name. It’s brought to the surface by hot water, forming a sheet over the flat surface.
hot springs here are reshaping the mountain. As the hot water rises
it goes through limestone, dissolving it only to deposit the stone as
it flows above ground. Over time the water shifts where it flows,
leaving chalky white terraces where before, when the water flowed,
the terraces had the golden colors the bacteria would bring. As you
approach the area keep your eyes peeled for Canary Terraces which I
believe don’t have a boardwalk alongside. We missed them. We did
manage to find a parking spot near the restrooms to get that badly
needed break. Then we were able to explore the Palette Spring.
it made sense to continue on to the Lamar Valley, where the
pronghorn antelope, wolves and bison hang out. We only managed to
see one antelope, but didn’t get a photo, then a herd in the
distance of bison.
of us were sun burned and generally exhausted from all our excursions
in the park Tuesday so we decided to relax this day. Everyone but
myself visited the stores in town (West Yellowstone) while I napped
and read. The kids swam in the afternoon while some of us adults
napped. We had supper early at 4 pm (grilled hamburgers and hot
dogs, the fixings and grilling provided by both families) because we
needed to be at the Diamond P Ranch for our horse rides.
Justin/Jamie, John and I as well as Lily went to the Ranch for our
ride while Joe stayed at the condo with Gabe.
Our rides began with instructions and raindrops. Justin, John and I put our raincoats on while Jamie and Lily figured their sweatshirts would do. My feet didn’t reach the stirrups in the beginning, so my sit bones were really hurting at first. I wasn’t sure how I’d manage the whole 2 hour ride. Our group rode across a highway (our guide stopped the traffic) to a meadow where our guide helped anyone with issues. Yay. When she got to me she noted that if your bottom was sore that meant your stirrups weren’t set high enough for you to put your weight on them. If your knees were sore that meant the stirrups were too high. John also noted that you should have the ball of your foot set against the stirrup. As all of us were getting straightened out, their photographer took photos. Diamond P Ranch horse ride – Photos John took before we left the corral for the road and some in the meadow as we all got adjusted.
The following are photos taken by their photographer:
we got going along the trail into the Gallatin National
Forest my rear started to feel decent. “Smitty”, my
horse, kept trying to eat grass but we weren’t to allow them that
because they had to focus on this time as their job. Thus I had to
pull his head up often. He also insisted on walking really close to
the tail of the horse in front of him. So I kept pulling back and
saying “Whoa” to keep him more distant from the horse ahead. We
were both stubborn regarding this matter the entire trip. Most of
our trail was in the Gallatin National Forest so no sweeping views as
I’d expected. Only one, sort of, from a clearing we stopped at in
the midst of our ride, where John took a photo of the view and our
guide took some photos of our group. I was very glad I didn’t
bring my camera because of the chance of rain. John brought his so
he could take picture of us all when we stopped for a break in a
clearing in the forest. Naturally the mosquitoes had a field day on
the horses and us riders as we all were rather still for the photos,
deep in that forest.
we traveled onward it seemed the storm was growing and by the time we
reached the meadow near the road it was really raining, along with
lightening and thunder. At that point the horses weren’t too
frightened but they did try walking faster. Once we crossed the road
Smitty was trotting and putting himself parallel to our “horse
line”. So I kept reining his head back into the line but his
rear/feet didn’t follow. Justin yelled “You’re not riding a
show horse Mom” because of how Smitty was walking at an angle. At
this point the storm let loose with drenching rain and hail. Our
guide and helpers were assisting others off their horses with boxes
to step onto. Smitty tried heading fast towards the corral so I
yelled “Whoa” while pulling back his head. He stopped but tried
going again. Finally our guide got to me and said Smitty would not,
at this point, work with a box at this side so I got to get off
without one. Man, just getting my rain drenched right leg up and
over the saddle was a huge struggle, but then I was able to slowly,
smoothly, descend that foot to the ground, then get my left out of
the stirrup. Boy did I skedaddle to the office. We managed to pay
our bill but I forgot my water bottle as we dashed to our car. Poor
Lily and Jamie were truly drenched.
we were all saddle sore for several days later. I will say that
Lily, even now, is eager to go on another horseback ride.
were on the road by 8 am, no easy task for 7 people, but worth it
because we saw some animals and made it to the Grand Prismatic Spring
(and Midway Geiser Basin which includes the Excelsior Geyser) before
the crowds. John and I had never managed to see this part of
Yellowstone because it was usually overflowing with parked cars and
lines of people. The only bad element this time was how foggy it
was, so our views were more limited. When we got to the Grand
Prismatic Spring we did manage to notice that there were people
looking down on us from a spot above. We could certainly see how
that would be a way better view. Later that day I asked a ranger how
people got there: you can park at the Fairy Falls trail parking or
Biscuit Basin parking (the latter is larger), then walk across the
bridge on the path to Fairy Falls and the Overlook (overlooking Grand
Prismatic Spring). Here is what we saw that morning, before we knew
about the Overlook:
the poster about Grand Prismatic Spring: It’s the largest and one
of the most brilliant of Yellowstone’s hot springs. It stretches
200 feet (61 meters) across. The high temperature (160 degrees F, 70
degrees C) ensures that the hot spring is often cloaked in steam.
beneath us magma from an active volcano heats water that rises to the
surface through fissures in the rocks. The result is a hot spring
that pours almost 500 gallons of hot water each minute into the
Firehole River. Minerals dissolved in the hot water are deposited
and gradually build the gracefully terraced shoulders of this
feature. … The blue color is created by sunlight scattered by fine
particles suspended in the water….the yellow, orange and brown
colors encircling the spring …are caused by thermophiles-heat
loving microorganisms. These microbes contain colorful pigments that
allow them to make energy from sunlight and thrive in the harsh
conditions of the hot springs.”
soon as we arrived at Old Faithful we found out it would blow within
the next 20-30 minutes so we stationed ourselves to watch. Later we
had lunch at a picnic table nearby, then saw it go off even higher.
Next we hiked the Geyser Hill:
we drove to the Biscuit Basin parking lot and walked the Fairy
Falls Trail to the sign for Overlook, then saw much better views of
the Grand Prismatic Spring.
for dinner thanks to Justin and Jamie. Lily and I had “traveling
tacos” that she learned about in Girl Scouts: Start with a small
bag of Fritos, add chili, then your toppings. Yum!
Justin had spent the day before driving, we figured a day in town
would be good. Thus we all went to visit the Grizzly and Wolf
Center. Since we never saw any grizzlies, coyotes or wolves
during the rest of our Yellowstone visit, I’m really glad we did.
are a non-profit rehab and educational center. They had different
grizzlies on view throughout the day, plus wolves, raptors, coyotes
and ground squirrels.
drove to the Diamond P Ranch around 4:30 pm, after resting at
our condos. John and I had made reservations for us all (except Joe
who wasn’t interested) to go on a horse ride. Gabe was not happy
with the thought, so we went there to let both kids give it a try.
Us four adults had ridden at least once before. Gabe was not even
about to go near that horse, much less touch a horse, so that made
the decision to cancel his ride easy. Lily was excited, loved
petting the horse, then got on. She was sure grinning at the end of
her 5 minutes. Our rides were reserved for Wednesday but this was
our last chance to cancel anyone without penalty. Fortunately,
because Joe didn’t want to ride a horse either, it befell him to
babysit Gabe when the rest of us had our ride.
all that excitement, we went to the Branch Restaurant to
celebrate my birthday and Justin/Jamie’s Anniversary, (yes, where
the Oregon Short Line rail car rests – thus the rest of our family
could walk through it too).
finished the day with pool time for the kids, hot tub for John and I.
the rest of our family (Joe, our other son, rode with Justin’s
group) wouldn’t arrive until late in the day we decided to scope
out Yellowstone National Park and places to see in West Yellowstone.
We’ve been to Yellowstone twice before (the latest was in a prior
blog for 9/8/16), but we’ve never stopped in the town of West
Yellowstone. In the morning we planned to drive to Old Faithful,
partly to see how long it would take, after collecting our map and
newsletter at the entrance gate. Note: if you have a Senior Pass
(you can get it for $80 at any National Park once you’ve reached 62
years of age) you have “free” access to all the parks and more as
long as you’re alive. Here at Yellowstone you can use the lane on
the far right for those who’ve “paid” already. It moves very
fast. On our way to Old Faithful we saw Firehole Canyon Drive and
thought it would be fun since we’d never done that and we’d just
enjoyed that lovely meal at Firehole BBQ the night before. Well, we
mustn’t have been paying attention when we needed to and missed the
sign. As we neared Old Faithful we saw a huge line of cars. Well,
that was enough for us to turn around. We’d gotten a good idea of
the time it would take to get to Old Faithful from the West
Yellowstone entrance by then, about an hour. On the way back we
peeled our eyes to the road for that sign and saw it, this time at
the back end (it’s a one way road). Thus we enjoyed a fun drive to
a waterfall and a spot for actually swimming in the Madison River
below. There was quite the little hike down so we just watched the
swimmers as we drove by. There were not many people on the road or
parked for the sites, maybe because it was Sunday. Later when we
drove this way with the family it was packed with people!
scoped out the Museum of the Yellowstone, then walked along their
“West Yellowstone Historic Walking Tour” (brochures available at
the Museum and WorldMark condos). Along the way we saw the original
Oregon Short Line 1903 rail car, specifically built for the Vice
President of the Union Pacific. They actually built a Holiday Inn
and the Branch Restaurant around it!
we checked out the Grizzly & Wolf Center that was very close to
Justin and his family arrived. We provided a spaghetti dinner for
everyone. Before leaving we’d planned to share cooking meals for
the gang, which worked out very well. Because Justin/Jamie had the 2
bedroom condo, they had the chairs and settings for a larger group,
so we always ate at their place, thus John and I got to carry our
food items to their condo.
we had a Murphy bed (pulls out of the wall), we could take someone
from Justin’s group. Thus Lily volunteered to stay at our place.
Mostly to get away from her “annoying” brother, I think. It
worked out well: she could be with us where it was quiet yet go over
to their place where all the action was when she wanted. I was
really glad that we had that separate condo, because it provided us
time for peace and quiet and a chance to get to bed earlier as we