We made it to Yellowstone this week, a destination we’d been looking forward to for a while:
A big highlight of Yellowstone was meeting up with the Strack family — Bob, JoAnn, and their daughters Claire and Sage. The Stracks are my sister’s neighbors from North Carolina, which is admittedly a tenuous connection on which to base a camping rendezvous, but they’re that cool. They are 20-some days into a month-long camping tour across Canada and the U.S., and we were really excited to camp and hike with them for a few days.
Amy gets photo-of-the-week this week. She shot this of Yellowstone Lake near our campsite during one of her morning walks:
Amy joining JoAnn for some morning pushups:
Bob is an organizer like Amy, so like two generals, the two of them planned out our daily maneuvers:
The detached father. The distraught mother. The scalding boy. All essential elements of good literature captured by the sign at Old Faithful:
One of many strangely beautiful formations that ooze out of the ground at Yellowstone:
The bubbling steamy water and the sulfur smell sort of have a toxic waste vibe:
…but then these beautiful pools look like nice hot tubs:
We were down wind from Old Faithful when it erupted, so we got a little wet:
It was cool seeing Old Faithful, the pools, and the hot springs, but it was crowded and we had to stay on these boardwalks. I just felt very…detached from it all. Afterward we went for a hike that was a little off the beaten path and had a great view of the Grand Prismatic Spring. These colors are simply amazing:
The moon rising above the lake by our campground:
The next day we drove from Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park for some all-day hiking. Inside the park, we took a boat across Jenny Lake to get to a nice trailhead. Here’s Bob and Amy working out more details:
I liked the Tetons way better than Yellowstone. Less crowds; no boardwalks or fences:
Here we are stopping for lunch. I’ve really learned to love hiking for a while, and then stopping somewhere scenic for a packed lunch.
…and then being fueled up for some more hiking:
We took the trail to this calm spot in the river. We took our shoes off and waded in the water, though I could only keep my feet in there for about 10 seconds at a time. It was very cold but felt great!
Saw me a moose:
It was a pretty warm day, so I was surprised when we came upon a patch of snow by the side of the trail. The girls used the snow to cool their heads:
Amy, JoAnn and Bob at the end of the afternoon:
Towards the end of our hike, we stopped at a cool waterfall. Note the crowd (ugh..):
Back on the boat, heading to the parking lot on the other side of the lake:
Amy and JoAnn skipped the boat ride and hiked the long way back. We had to wait a bit for them to arrive back at the parking lot, but a round of frozen fruit bars gave the kids some extra patience (good move, Bob!)
I hope the Strack girls had as much fun with my girls as my girls had with them:
Dinner that evening for a trail-weary crew:
The next morning we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed on to our respective next stops. We had so much fun with the Stracks and look forward to seeing them again when we visit my sister and her family in October.
Again: Ugh! This was the line of traffic coming into Yellowstone as we were leaving:
A herd of bison was roaming near the road (which was only exacerbating the traffic problem.)
Yellowstone is huge (over 2 million acres). It took us 40 minutes after leaving the campground to get back to the entrance, but once we were out of the park it was only a mile or so to our camp spot in West Yellowstone. For the next few days we’re camping next to some other friends, Shawna and Matthew, who we met up with in Golden, CO last month.
West Yellowstone is a small touristy town right outside of Yellowstone National Park. The weather has been nice, so we walked along the streets and browsed the various shops on a couple evenings this week:
Amy, my girls, and Shawna took a trip to Earthquake Lake. The lake is a result of a major rockslide that occurred during the August 17, 1959 earthquake that tragically struck this vacation area. My then-12-year-old mom and her family were camping in Yellowstone just the day before the earthquake hit, making this site even more interesting to the girls.
There’s a quant little breakfast place right across the street from our campground, so that’s where we ate this morning. (I now have 2-breakfasts-worth of chocolate chip pancake leftovers that I’m pretty excited about.)
Late morning, my family, Shawna and Matthew drove into Yellowstone for a short hike:
Amy and I were marveling at how this Yellowstone river snakes along in a seemingly random fashion:
Stopping for lunch:
The trail we took ended at this field filled with cracks hissing out steam and holes either blowing out hot air or filled with boiling mud. My favorite was this 8-foot-tall “mud pot” that was puffing out steam. It sounded like a large animal breathing.
I was disappointed with Yellowstone until today. Getting away from the crowds and signs and boardwalks and getting to “be” in a place like this was what I was hoping for since we got here. It was cool to feel how ”alive” the Earth really is. Our planet is amazing.