Friday, July 8, 2011

Yellowstone National Park, July 2011 “Star count in more important than thread count.”

Viewing OF from lodge porch
I am sitting on the balcony in the Old Faithful Inn built around 1904 with local lodgepole pine.  Straight ahead is a view of the famous geyser.  Probably the best way to write about Yellowstone is in a lump grouping since I am spending seven days here.  I left Cody for Yellowstone on Wednesday.   Only the day before did I call for reservations even though I now hear you need to do this WAY ahead of time especially for the July 4th weekend.

Regrowth area of park
This  national park adventure began with a 20-mile drive viewing HUGH toothpicks standing upright in the dirt.   In 2003 a devastating fire when thru vast acres of the park.  Also some kind of bug did the rest.  There are areas where the road side is starting a new dense forest.  Lodgepole pines only release their seeds thru fire.  Looks like the seeds blew up against the slight road banks and germinated.   These babies are about 5 feet high now.    
   Have a good site in a wooded area.  While putting up my tent it became extremely gusty.    One blew so hard I heard a tree crack but couldn’t tell which way to jump because of the noise and wind.   Then a nasty blast of dirt, bugs and needles came right at me.  All I could was turn by back….gross.     Turns out the trees were in the next camp site.   Altogether many trees went down and even the area electricity was out but fixed late evening.    Yep, sleeping in the Element is a good thing. 

On my way found another snow area to play in.   Kids that stopped here were so excited and running, rolling and sliding in the stuff.   Once I rounded Yellowstone Lake it seems to burst with greenery.    I expected it to be smaller.     WOW….I am in Yellowstone National Park.    I had always planned to take this adventure to finally see my own country.   “And now I are.”  
I see you too!
 The roads are the usual twists, turns, up and down with every change a new vista.  Maybe this is my favorite roads.    The traffic is extremely light and the pavement is in perfect condition.   Got up very early for animal watching.    My view was graced with large elk, deer and many bison.   One peaked in my car.

The smaller geysers look like camp fire smoke from a distance.  Each of the geysers has its own distinct look, size, color and even sound.   Some were bright emerald in color, others sky blue, many were a tan color.   Some geysers shot up 3 – 5 feet frequently, some only bubbled and gurgled constantly.   Several areas had multiple large stream vents close together; others were just little puffs off the road side without a mention.   It is astonishing to see ones with mud stacks that percolate.

Artist Point
Beautiful small lakes boiling like a pot ready for spaghetti and others with just a ripple of heat across the top.  Yellowstone was created by volcanic action which left a large area caldera.  Unlike Hawaii’s volcanoes which also create calderas, Yellowstone’s is closer to the surface.  The ground is warm and constantly changing yearly.   Some spout higher, some stop venting, nearby trees die or vegetation chances.  Past earthquakes have also caused these changes.  Even today there are small earthquakes usually unnoticed.  Besides the major geyser stops and boils another must see is on the South Rim called Artist Point.   This is an overlook showing a very deep canyon slanting into the Yellowstone River with forest for a backdrop.  A 300 ft. drop is also visible from here over Lower Falls.   There is so much to this place, it takes days to see and absorb.

Grizzles at West Thumb
Excited to see my first grizzly at West Thumb in the park near the walk way.  Seems the elk were in this area last week so the grizzly is still checking it out.   This one was named Preacher and was mellow so we got a good look from ¾ a block with rangers standing by carefully watching his every move.

Grand lobby of Old Faithful Inn looking up
I spent time at the Old Faithful lodge.  This is a must stop to see their great room lobby created with giant logs.   Lunch buffet at $13.99 serving buffalo chili, crusted steamed trout, salad, BBQ chicken, rolls, etc.  insert 696)  Another place to eat is at Canyon Lodge turn off.   The lodge has soup/salad buffet for $9.95.  In the same complex is a deli and a snack bar.   The buffet is the better deal.
So as I stated earlier, I am upstairs on the covered second floor veranda to wait for Old Faithful  (OF) to spout right on time.  I liked this view and you can also walk a close by path to see.   Went back again several days later.  This time had a great lasagna meal w/ veggies and garlic bread ($10.99)  in another  Old Faithful building on the other side of the OF geyser.  This cafeteria style dining room has an indoor view of the geyser but I went outside.  The geyser action was different this time.  It kept spurting, stop, spurt, stop many times finally OF shot up 15 minutes after predicted.  
This park has lots of stores with souvenirs, snack bars, and deli; gas only $3.99 which is about 30 cents more than outside the park.   Best deal is 5 scoops of different flavor ice creams for $2.92and then eaten on the porch in a log swing watching smaller geysers.

Old Faithful Inn also has excellent Verizon cell reception.  This day
had me exploring for 12 hours throughout Yellowstone and I didn’t even see half nor make all the stops.   Rangers were very good about telling which were the best. Rangers lead a wild life viewing in Hayden Valley at 7 a.m.  It takes about ½ hr. to get there from Bridge Bay to a large turn out on the right.  Bring binoculars as viewing is way below.

 So far I have seen everything fairly close by exploring on my own so didn’t stay.   Drove further to a quiet turn off to watch a bison herd in the distant prairie amongst snow patches, framing mountains and pine forest patches.  Watching the progress of 20 bison crossing a plain is privilege .   They took about 40 minutes to munch their way ¾ of a mile.  Another day here viewed a large herd of elk in the distance. Whenever I stop like this I have noticed a bunch of cars will pull in behind me thinking I have spotted wild life.   But then of course I do the same thing.
Lots of fly fishing along the river.

To just relax and catch up have made another stop over a wide bend in the river to enter into this blog.    Whenever I stop like this I have noticed a bunch of cars will pull in behind me thinking I have spotted wild life.   But then of course I do the same thing.
 On July 4th  had lunch at Canyon Village and further on  went over Mount Washburn at 10,243 ft.  Love the hot to cold driving in a half hour time.  Viewed Tower Falls.  Stopped at Roosevelt Ranch for a frosty


  1. Love the title, but what about them? Could you see the dark patches of the Milky Way? You should stay up late and watch for shooting stars.

  2. I have watched the stars but am usually camping in a forest with limited view.