Moving Day

8/3/19 – Saturday

Justin 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.

This 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.

Besides TV, napping and reading we visited the little “Museum of the Yellowstone”. Very reasonable price ($5/senior), good exhibits and movies.

Homeward bound

8/4/19 – Sunday

We 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 grocery shopping.

In 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 anniversary.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Dragon Mouth Springs

8/2/19 – Friday

Barn swallow welcoming us as we get ready to leave our condo for the day.

This time we went straight to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (also early, about 9 am), visiting 2 spots.

Artist’s Point (I took way too many photos)

Artist’s Point
Artist’s Point
Artist’s Point
Jamie, Lily and Gabe at Artist’s Point
Joe at Artist’s Point
Justin and Jamie at Artist’s Point

Along the trail to Sublime Point

Along the trail to Sublime Point
Along the trail to Sublime Point
Gabe throwing rocks into the canyon as Jamie and Justin watch. Do you see the edge he is standing on?
Along the trail to Sublime Point

On the way back we came across a black bear feeding in the forest near our trail

Black bear

Onward to Uncle Tom’s Point (waterfalls).

Uncle Tom’s Point waterfall

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.

John and Justin
John being careful as he gets off that stick.

More family shots

Jamie and Lily
Lily, Justin and Gabe
Joe at Uncle Tom’s Point

Next up: lunch near Yellowstone River, so refreshing.

On our way towards more geothermal sites we came upon bison, much closer than we’d seen before.

Bison
Bison
Bison
Bison

Along 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.

Bison

At the area of the Mud Volcano we saw some neat hot springs;

Sulphur Cauldron

Sulphur Cauldron
Sulphur Cauldron
Sulphur Cauldron

The Mud Volcano is no longer erupting, so it wasn’t that much to look at.

Mud Volcano
Mud Volcano

My favorite hot spring was Dragon Mouth Spring and the hot water areas surrounding it.

At Dragon Mouth Spring area
At Dragon Mouth Spring area
At Dragon Mouth Spring area
Joe and I (Trish) at Dragon Mouth Spring
Dragon Mouth Spring
Joe at Dragon Mouth Spring
Joe at Dragon Mouth Spring
At Dragon Mouth Spring area
At Dragon Mouth Spring area
At Dragon Mouth Spring area

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.

Lily and Gabe saying Hello to Yellowstone
Justin, Jamie, Lily and Gabe saying Hello to Yellowstone
John, Trish and Joe saying Hello to Yellowstone
Trish, John and Joe Leaving Yellowstone!
Lily, Gabe, Jamie and Justin Leaving Yellowstone!

We 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.

We 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.

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Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley

8/1/19 – Thursday

This 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.

Norris Geyser Basin

This 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 supply.

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.

Porcelain Spring
John looking out at Porcelain Spring
Fumeroles
Porcelain Spring
Porcelain Spring and Fumeroles
Joe and Lily at Porcelain Spring
Emerald Spring
Steamboat Geyser

Mammoth Hot Springs

The 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.

Palette Spring
Palette Spring
Palette Spring
Joe at Palette Spring
Limestone area that used to have a hot spring flowing over it.
Overlook, where the Palette Spring begins
Mule deer trying to get something to eat amidst all the tourist hubub.
The same Mule deer trying to get something to eat

Logistically 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.

Bison
Bison
Bison
Grandkids enjoying the creek where we had our picnic before we left Lamar Valley
Another picture of Lily and Gabe at the creek.
Views along Dunraven Pass, the rout we traveled from Lamar Valley to West Yellowstone
Dunraven Pass
Dunraven Pass
Dunraven Pass
Mama elk with her 3 foals. Notice the rain drops in the river.

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Diamond P Ranch

7/31/19 – Wednesday

Many 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.

Trish sitting very straight on “Smitty”.
Lily with Justin nearby near the corral and barn/office.
Lily in the meadow.

Jamie and Justin. Their photographer is near Jamie’s horse.

The following are photos taken by their photographer:

Trish on Smitty
John on Scout.
Justin
Jamie on Opera
Lily on Boo
Group photo in meadow. Notice Smitty trying to get some grass.
Moments later I’m pulling his head up.

As 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.

John’s photo of our view in the forest meadow.
Group shot taken by our guide in the forest clearing.

As 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.

Yes, we were all saddle sore for several days later. I will say that Lily, even now, is eager to go on another horseback ride.

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Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Geysers Hill, Overlook, Firehole Canyon Drive

7/30/19 – Tuesday

We 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:


Midway Geiser Basin
Excelsior Geyser Crater
Excelsior Geyser
Excelsior Geyser
Excelsior Geyser

From 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.

“Deep 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.”

Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

Along path back to car
Justin and Jamie at Excelsior Geyser

As 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.

Old Faithful
Old Faithful
Joe before our second view of Old Faithful blowing.

Next we hiked the Geyser Hill:

Goggle Spring
Beach Spring
Heart Spring
John and Lily getting photos of the microbes.
Microbes in hot spring

Then 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.


Hot Spring on Fairy Falls Trail to Overlook
At Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook: Trish, Joe, John
Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook
Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook
Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

Tacos 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!

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Grizzly and Wolf Center, Diamond P Ranch and Happy Birthday to Trish

7/29/19 – Monday

Since 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.

They are a non-profit rehab and educational center. They had different grizzlies on view throughout the day, plus wolves, raptors, coyotes and ground squirrels.

Grizzly
Grizzly
Rough – legged Hawk
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagles
Great Gray Owls – can you find both of them?
Red – tailed Hawk
Coyote
Grandkids with Grandma on Big Bear couch.

We 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.

Lily riding “Spirit” as Joe watches.

After 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).

We finished the day with pool time for the kids, hot tub for John and I.

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Firehole Canyon Drive

7/28/19 – Sunday

Since 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!

Firehole Canyon waterfall

We 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!



Oregon Short Line
Oregon Short Line
Oregon Short Line
Oregon Short Line

Finally we checked out the Grizzly & Wolf Center that was very close to our condos.

Joe, 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.

Because 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 prefer.

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