Thursday, July 04, 2013


So, Yellowstone was awesome. Driving into Yellowstone- not so much. We decided to take the advice from the little old guy who ran the motel in Sheridan and go route 14A instead of interstate up and around to the North side of the park.

 "There will be animals" he said. "Herds of 300 buffalo" he said.

First I will address the fact that we only saw 2 pronghorns, which we called antelope-y things, before we got into the park. The seconds and most important point that can be made here is that the road WAS STRAIGHT FROM HELL for those of us with a fear of heights.
I started out driving, and may have come as close as i ever have to a full panic attack. Mike took this picture out the window, you can see how the road just runs along the very edge of cliffs. This was probably about 1/2 way up the mountain.  I felt like I was driving off into air constantly. not cool little old man at the motel. not cool. I made it all the way to the top and decided that I had made it that far, i was going to drive my shift. Then we came to a sign that said "Brake Check area ahead" and then a sign that said "Steep declines 10% grade ahead". I pulled over and Mike drove, which was good because I would have put the car in the ditch (on the side by the mountain of course) and climbed out and laid as flat as possible and cried till they drugged me or knocked me unconscious to get me back in the car. As it was, I cried and closed my eyes and told Mike that he was driving waaaay too fast and then repeated that he is an excellent driver and I know that I'm not in my right mind, but no one was allowed to talk to him while he drove except me to tell him he's going too fast. About 3/4 of the way down the mountain, the smell of the brakes made me very happy that Mike and Dad had replaced the brakes before we left for the trip. There was one view that had me yelling "You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!!!!!" because there is no way that people don't die off that, the tourism industry keeps it all hush hush, I'm pretty sure. but as you can see, there are no pictures of that. My blood pressure is rising just remembering it.

The good news is that after we got into Yellowstone, we got to see our first Grizzly bear.
and technically we wouldn't have seen it if we had come in from the north side, so I guess there's that. It was fun though, everyone just pulled off the road and was standing around pointing. It turns out that this is how Yellowstone works, if you see people pulled over pointing, you pull over and ask what they're pointing at. Then you all stand around looking and pointing together and telling the new people. It's very fun.
There are also tons of Buffalo in Yellowstone. We did get to see a herd of them in the park with their babies. Mike was nearly killed by the estrogen release as a giant "awwwwww" came out of the back of the van upon realizing there were babies in the herd. There was a group stopped to see an elk, but by then we were tired and wanted to get to camp. Our campsite was fantastic. It was plenty big, we were caddy corner from the real bathrooms and dish sink, and it was right across from a family that had built their own trailer. I could see the wheels turning in Mike's brain as he talked to Rich about building it. We packed up everything into the van every night as our check in guy had told us they had a grizzly through the camp the week prior.
We saw lots of great stuff in Yellowstone. We got to see Old Faithful twice.
Go Bearcats!
 The hot springs are pretty, but smell a bit like sulfur sometimes,  which in turn causes loud gagging sounds to emit from Alyssa.
 Our hike to Clear Lake, which turned out to smell a little too.
At the Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (yes, i went there- personal growth high fives all around) Jillian and Mike wanted to go down a steep stairway/pathway and they took Veronica and Alyssa with them. Jillian took this picture. I didn't cry when she showed me (more high fives).
 Then we saw an Elk as we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs. Also note to Mom: Don't drive the NorthEast sections of the upper loop. Not as bad as the drive in, but Yellowstone and I strained our friendship a bit during that drive.
Which it turns out is where all the girls hang out.
 And then we saw our second grizzly.
 We decided to walk to Fairy Falls, by long roundabout way. We aren't sure exactly how long our hike was, because there were some inconsistencies in the distances listed, but it definitely was not the popular hike that most people take. We passed some people from Montgomery on the way. 
We tested our hiking/ trail following skills around some hot springs that had flooded the trail. We walked through all kinds of terrain.
 This was a little over 1/2way. You can see the falls waaaay back on that ridge off to the left.
We made it!! there had been a lot less shade than we had hoped, but the girls were awesome troopers, and the sunscreen held up well. the only toasty parts ended up being spots we missed when we sprayed up that morning. Mike and I figure he carried a kid for probably 6 miles and I carried one for 3 (on and off).
 We chose the Prismatic (i think that's the name) as our last stop before heading back to camp on our last night.
And i'll finish this post with a picture of where we went creekin in the evenings. One evening we even shared the space with a buffalo. Our campground was right off the little beachy looking part on the right. There the stream on the right (cold water) joined with a smaller stream off to the left (warm water). You could stand  with a leg in cold water and a leg in warm at one point.