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
reserved 2 condos through WorldMark for our family gathering at
Yellowstone this year. John was on the Internet the instant we were
permitted to reserve our week -13 months before our arrival date.
We’d wanted a 3 bedroom but those were already reserved. We put
ourselves on a waiting list for that 3 bedroom, but no one ever
canceled. I’m mentioning all this so you have a clue how difficult
it can be to get reservations for a famous National Park stay. The
best thing about our WorldMark condos for Yellowstone is that they
are in the town West Yellowstone which is right at one of the borders
of this park. Our 1 bedroom started on Saturday and the 2 bedroom
for Justin and his family started on Sunday. So after driving 8
hours, stopping in Missoula for lunch and fuel at Costco, then more
fuel at Ennis, we arrived and got settled in time for dinner. We
asked when we checked in for suggestions for a good place to eat
quickly, but not actually a fast food place. She recommended
“Firehole BBQ”. Because the town is so small, we easily walked
to our restaurant. I absolutely loved it. It was super fast. We
perused the menu as we stood in the short line, then were handed our
food and paid for it. Wonderful brisket for me (½ lb) with a side
of coleslaw and a pulled pork sandwich with a side of beans for John.
We kept half for another day. Great prices (for the area) and great
food. I highly recommend them.
purchased the transfer package from HAL (Holland America Line), so
felt confident there’d be no issues, nothing to worry about getting
onto our plane for Seattle, then Spokane. HA!
all started with when we could get off the ship. We were supposed to
leave at 8 am, but didn’t get our “call” until 8:40 am.
Getting nervous, because our plane was leaving at 11:15 am. Once off
we were directed into very long lines and waited again. Getting more
nervous. Finally got on a bus after 9 am. The driver, as we gets
going, explains that it takes a couple hours to get to the airport.
He liked to joke a lot so I was hoping that was a joke. He even had
to stop the bus in a nearby parking lot so a lady could come on to
let us know the airport protocol. Finally, we are at the airport,
running to our kiosk. We’d been told prior to our trip that we
would have to use a kiosk to get our boarding passes. We finally got
to what looked like our kiosk, but it didn’t work. Went to the
desk (where people check in their luggage), waiting in a line. We
found out that this was the wrong place. Our plane was “Westjet”
using Delta Connection. We’d stopped at Westjet, had to go on to
Delta. At the desk there the young man spent a lot of time
struggling to get our boarding passes. Oh, he started with, did we
have any luggage to check, because if so we were too late. Wow, was
I glad we didn’t. We were desperate to get to a toilet, so we found
a moment shortly before he got our passes. I think it was 10:20 am
when he did. Now we had 2 sets of Customs (Canadian and US) to get
through and their airport security.
have kiosks where we can scan our passports and smile for a photo
(Canadian), the US just looked at our passports. In the line for
airport security we noted our concerns and a couple people let us get
ahead of them and even helped us with what the Canadian security
needed (shoes off but not separate electronics). Wouldn’t you know
the gate for our plane was really far away from security, but at
least no trains. We got to our gate after 11 am (remember the plane
was leaving at 11:15. They called our “number” just as we
arrived. Whew!!! Apparently another plane had to wait on the taxi
lane before it could use this gate to disembark its passengers, so
our plane was forced to wait. You can imagine our relief when we got
into our seats! We even got to sit together. Interestingly, no food
or beverages, because, I’m sure, it was a short flight to Seattle.
Thank heavens we’d brought snacks with us.
didn’t have too far to get to our gate in Seattle and made that
flight fine. Also, no food or beverages on our way to Spokane. Ah,
we got off the plane and Justin soon picked us up.
nice to be home at 3:00 pm, with time to get things plunked down at
home and shop for some food. Home Sweet Home.
only am I going to condense our activities during this time, as I did
before, I’d like to note that much of our sea days were spent as
they were the last time. In fact, several of Judson Croft’s talks
happened during this set of sea days.
table mate status changed during this time. I’d met David at my
exercise classes. He even went to more than I did. We talked a bit,
finding out that he not only lived in Walla Walla, WA (not so far
from Spokane) but regularly had to come to our Eye Clinic for
checkups. John and I got together with David and Lisa at the buffet
lunch once and found out we had a whole lot in common: She has a
degree in Digital Art (don’t remember the proper name) and loves to
watercolor. Her mom was famous for her detailed watercolor
paintings. David worked with supercomputers in Los Alamos, NM. The
same sort of thing that our son Justin does for Oregon State
University. They have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren, we have 2
sons and 2 grandchildren. They love snorkeling (have done it at
every port on this trip I think) which we love as well. We’ve just
slowed down a bit and didn’t bring our gear so we could pack light
(one carry on and one backpack each on this trip). They love their
RV but haven’t had the experience we’ve had, so lots to share
there. They love homes and are extensively remodeling their
Victorian house in Walla Walla. They also told us that they have a
late dinner setting but would prefer to eat early. We mentioned that
our table of 4 (set for 5 pm) has room for 2 more. We asked Shirley
and Larry if they’d mind, they were fine with it. They’re very
easy going. So we had even more fun times at our table with 6 people
until Vancouver. (Update: David and Lisa visited us in Spokane in
after this (May 8) John and I began to seriously consider buying a
camera. For a couple weeks we’d been intrigued with the talks on
the Go Pro, but we realized eventually that we really didn’t take
videos (that option is on our current camera), we’re not into
physical adventures we wanted to show off and we really couldn’t
see ourselves sharing our videos through social media which seems to
be the goal.
John noticed the photography department on the ship had a camera
similar to mine for sale. Hmm. Mine is 7 years old with certain
issues. The new bridge camera is just like mine. These are a bridge
between a “point and shoot” camera and a “professional”
camera. The lens on mine goes from wide angle (28mm) to telephoto
(500mm), which was important to me. The new one didn’t seem much
heavier yet it’s lens went from 28mm to 2,000mm. Wow! Bridge
cameras have their lens permanently attached to the camera, you can’t
change into a different lens. Long ago I realized that when a
telephoto opportunity arose (wildlife usually) there wasn’t time
for me to change lenses and still get the moment I was after. Plus
it was a pain to lug those lenses around.
asked tons of questions, got excellent answers. Some of my issues
were solved. One major headache was that my camera was inconsistent
with focusing. I did everything I could to give the laser beam time
and steadiness to get the focus. Still, many important photos just
had to be deleted because they weren’t in focus. I learned that is
a common thing that happens when a digital camera ages. Apparently
4-5 years is an average for how long these cameras last. The shutter
mechanism is another part that stops working. I’d had issues with
the telescoping of my lens but that had seemed to improve over time.
and I spent an evening (right after dinner) in the hot tub discussing
our camera options.
new camera (Nikon Coolpix P900) was on our minds the next day. I
asked David who had lots of Internet access (we had none-expensive),
if he would mind checking on Google for reviews and prices of this
camera. He was most generous, giving us the information: price
around $500 (just what the ship was asking yet we’d also not have
taxes or customs to pay). Reviews were excellent (4.6 out of 5).
This camera was great for travelers, wildlife and nature. Just my
thing! We bought the camera and proceeded to take lots of pictures
to figure it out before our trip ended.
the movie “The Girl In The Spider’s Web” and loved it. We’ve
really enjoyed the books/movies of Steigg Larsson (Swedish) who, most
unfortunately, died after writing three books about this “girl”.
This movie is based on a book by Larry Lagercrantz who based it on
the main characters in Larrson’s books, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael
Blomkvist. They are mystery/thriller stories.
attended “Coffee With Our Environmental Officer” and found it
fascinating. Here are some of the facts he shared in answering guest
questions: 53% of the ship’s garbage is recycled. Leftover food
is ground into a pulp then sent overboard (where allowed). Toilet
waste; the liquid is treated and sent overboard, the solids are off
loaded on shore. Gray water (sink) waste is treated and sent
overboard. Fresh water is made from salt water from the ocean. Some
countries (places) don’t allow this so they buy water then. Diesel
fuel has to be at 0.?% sulfur by 2020 so HAL/Carnival are installing
scrubers to get it to that. Others (ie. Norwegian) are buying
expensive fuel. They use anti-fouling paint so critters don’t
stick to the ship and thus giving the ship less friction surface.
were told that at 8:30, on deck 3, there would be a “Chocolate
Surprise”. It was not a buffet as we’d anticipated, but servers
walking around with different chocolate goods. Mmm. We tried as
many as we could “run down.”