Monday, July 12, 2010

Yellowstone

Okay, perhaps a little more time to plan would have been a good idea. It was a whirlwind weekend packing up Friday, driving, seeing the park and camping on Saturday and then more sightseeing and driving on Sunday. Definitely worth it to see the sights though and now if (when) we get a chance to go back, we have a list of things we want to see. Our next trip on the agenda is to visit Mt. Ranier National Park and a Great Wolf Lodge--we have a weekend in mind, but nothing is set in stone yet.

But let's move on to the pictures!

On the way, we passed this great sign. At first, all I could think was "wisdom, thataway", but then Josh pointed out the sign for Salmon and now it just reminds me of the "if you give a man a fish" maxim...."if you want fish, go straight, if you want to learn how to fish, turn left"

We also happened to pass Big Hole National Battlefield on the way, so we stopped in to take a quick look around the visitor's center. The mosquitoes in that area were absolutely ridiculous--it was like being in Texas again, except these were itty bitty baby mosquitoes. Inside, they had some pretty neat things, and of course I had to take a picture of this Nez Perce infant cradle. All of that light blue and the flowers are bead work.
Once we got to the park, we checked in at the Madison visitor's center and got Sierra's junior ranger packet. They were also about to start a ranger-led activity (a requirement to get her patch), so we hung around for that. It was call a talk called "3 dog park" and was all about how to tell the difference between coyotes, grey wolves and red foxes from a distance. Very very informative and Sierra is still having a little trouble keeping all the facts straight, but Josh and I learned a lot and have been able to answer her questions, which is good.

Our next stop was Old Faithful. We had seen the end of an eruption as we drove up and knew we'd have a while to wait for the next one and that we'd be having a late dinner, so we took the time to eat a quick snack in the car before heading up.
At the visitor's center, we picked up a young scientist packet and kit for Sierra to work on. Here's Sedona goofing off while I help Sierra and we all wait for the next eruption (and Sierra was worried she was missing out on school!)
Still goofing off
What? You want me to stick two thumbs up like this? Yay! I have Old Faithful steam coming out of my head!
We finally got to see the main event! (Old Faithful erupts approximately every 90 minutes. They post the next expected eruption time--based on how long the last eruption lasted--in the visitor's center near the geyser)
We tried to get pictures of the kids with Old Faithful, but we couldn't get them to look away from the geyser and toward the camera (which is how it should be, certainly can't fault them for ignoring us to take in the sight!)
I'll admit, I'm only including this picture to prove the baby is getting bigger regardless of my weight gain (I'm 20 weeks now, which should be over half-way through if the my previous pregnancies are any indication)
It wasn't too terribly late yet, and Sierra needed to hike a trail to get her junior ranger patch (we were hoping to turn the booklet in the next morning), so we walked the Geyser Hill Loop. This is the Heart Spring. We learned from Sierra's young scientist program that the hot water melts silica as it comes up to the surface and then the silica cools and builds up around the spring. We also learned the springs will sometimes "pop up" through roads and parking lots (which we saw in person the next day--in some places they've blocked off part of the roadways because there is now a spring there!)
And this is an example of some of the crazy colors you see around the springs. The color isn't just the rocks or water, they are the microbes that live in the water. You can tell by the microbe's colors what temperature the water is. The blue you see in the center of the springs isn't from the water either, it's the microbes that like the hottest water.
It started to get late, so we headed to camp. We ended up with quite a good campsite (especially for reserving the day before!) and our nice neighbors let us start our fire from their's, so we quickly got dinner going for the girls
And it's just not camping without s'mores, so of course that came next. I just love this series of pictures

Getting help eating the s'more
Oops! Too big of a bite!

But don't worry,
No graham cracker, marshmallow or chocolate were wasted in the photographing of this child
Sierra was enjoying her s'mores too, of course

The next morning, while we had breakfast, let the tent dry off in the sun and packed up, Sierra finished her worksheets to get her junior ranger badge

And we drove off to see the rest of the sights we could squeeze in. This is the mud volcano. Let me take a minute to clarify just how weird it is to see boiling water and mud coming out of the ground. I partly blame my high school AP Chemistry teacher, Mr. Wilson--he did that experiment where you make water "boil" by putting it in a vacuum. He was teaching us the classic PV=nRT equation (the water was bubbling because of low pressure, not because it was hot), but it just got the idea in my head that not everything that seems to be boiling is actually hot. Thankfully my fear of authority (which required staying on the trail) overrode my almost unbearable desire to touch and see if it really was hot.
Also near the mud volcano was the dragon's mouth. Pictures just don't do this one justice. It is erupting inside a cavern, so you hear a "roar" as the water spurts out. Of course, the pictures also don't do justice to the smell. The girls started hating seeing vents because they knew it'd stink to walk around them. Poor Sedona even started pointing at rivers and saying "stinky!!"
Our next stop was the brink of the upper falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This was an easy 1/4 mile hike (round trip) and Sierra LOVED the waterfall
Then we stopped for a pb&j lunch before going on to the brink of the lower falls of the canyon. This one was a pretty rough (remember, I'm pregnant, Sierra was walking by herself and Josh was carrying Sedona) one mile roundtrip hike down--and back up--some seriously steep switch backs. They have benches very frequently along the way though, and it is WELL worth the walk. I think this was Sierra's favorite part.



This also gave me the vantage point to take my favorite picture of the whole trip


There was more we planned to see, but it started raining and it was getting late, so we decided to head towards the park entrance. Poor Sedona was passed out (complete with drool) within minutes

Last, but not least, we got to see a lot of wildlife. Good thing, because as soon as we entered the park Josh declared it would not be a successful trip unless he saw a big mammal.

Elk that were snacking alongside the road (this was taken with a telephoto lens)
Black bear (I think, based on the ears and seeming lack of shoulder hump) that was by the side of the road. This was NOT taken with a telephoto lens

Coyote that was on the road. We learned at the 3 dog park talk that the coyotes and foxes stay close to the road ever since the wolves were re-introduced in 1995. The wolves stay away from the roads and wolves will kill any coyote or fox they come across.
We saw so many bison they stopped getting interesting. Sedona would even spot them out in a meadow and shout "bison!!" This guy walked down the hill and right into the parking lot at the mud volcano

This herd was working on crossing the street and caused quite the traffic jam
These two butted heads for a bit and then crossed to join the rest of the herd. They didn't seem to be really fighting....looked more like typical human boys rough-housing, but what do I know about bison behavior?
And this also was taken with a regular lens. He was just walking down the street and could've cared less about the cars going by. It was a narrow road too. We ended up driving by with him about a foot away from the car (maybe!). So the picture quality's bad, because I don't love you enough to roll down the window when one is that close.


All in all it was a great trip even if it was tiring for everyone! Sedona ended up napping for FOUR HOURS today!!

7 comments:

The Mama said...

Holy cow...absolutely amazing! I'm totally jealous!

(PS: You think fantastic!)

Ana said...

that is AWESOME! Sam is very jealous now.... she was looking at the pictures, and looking at me, and looking at the pictures...

The Hills said...

Y'all are welcome to come visit!! You can stay here and get to either Glacier or Yellowstone (or both) easily, or we'd meet ya at Yellowstone. I'm totally serious too ;-)

Angela, Tim and Makenzie said...

Great pictures Kimberly!

Brandy said...

Great pics! I love your favorite picture too the most! :)

The Hills said...

I know! Isn't it great?? That's the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the only editing I did was to crop it down slightly (to get the safety rails out of the picture)...the lighting and all was just like that, I just put the camera on landscape and hit the button! I think we may print that one out and put it on the wall.

Karen said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Yellowstone! We went there when I was pregnant with Kaily. I also grew-up going there often so it was fun to go back. There are so many fun things to see and do while you are there I hope you can go back to see them all. Maybe one of these days we'll come up and meet you there. We're about 5 hrs away from there

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