Monday, June 13, 2011
Yellowstone Here We Come! (Days 1 and 2)
June 6, 2011
Normally waking up at 4am puts me in a bad mood because that’s the time the alarm starts it’s morning shrill, but not this time. We actually woke up well before that and we weren’t headed to work. Today we would follow the long white line of the highway towards Yellowstone National Park.
Day 1 reminded me of the song “…and the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round….” It was a long day of traveling, 895.9 miles to be exact. We said goodbye to the cat at 4:45am and into the dark we drove, well, Robert drove. I slept.
An uneventful day as we stuck to the freeways to make good time.
Las Vegas sucked as usual, a time change as we crossed into Utah, weather got a bit yucky (WINDY!) as we cruised through Provo, hit some rain as we headed into beautiful Idaho, and arrived at our first day’s destination around 8pm.
We stayed at the Riverside Hot Springs Inn in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. The hotel was old and the floor squeaked with every step, but it was cozy. I’m sure it was haunted, but I was too tired to do any ghost hunting.
Shortly after we arrived, we soaked in the mineral hot springs in the basement of the hotel. The hot water helped Robert relax after a long day of driving, but the water was too hot for me. I emerged looking like a tomato.
A rough night of slumber in a strange place and off again we went the following morning.
June 7, 2011
Day 2 was a much better traveling day. We checked out at about 8am, took a quick tour of the town, and off we went. Didn’t take long for it to start raining again, pretty heavy rain as we drove through St. Anthony…and cold too (37-degrees)!
As we passed into Montana our excitement level started to rise and at 11:07am, welcome to West Yellowstone! Check-in at the Brandin' Iron Inn wasn’t until 3pm, so we had a quick bite at the Outpost Restaurant and at exactly 12:12pm, we entered Heaven, otherwise known at Yellowstone National Park!
Less than 15 minutes into the park, we saw a bald eagle and a herd of bison. We knew it was going to be a great day to see wildlife... and it was. We would actually see the bald eagle several times during our trip as we entered/exited the park. He kind of became our welcoming committee.
Our plan was to get off the pavement and do some hiking, but the weather wasn’t very conducive for that. There was lots of snow still on the ground and it rained quite a bit during our trip. We even hit some snow flurries, but we did do some short walks through some of the geyser areas.
We walked the Fountain Paint Pot Loop in Lower Geyser Basin and got some great pictures, picked up some souvenirs at Grant Village (46-degrees) and at about 3pm we saw our first BEAR! Oh, she was pretty, with a big sunspot on her shoulder.
When there were more than two or three cars parked along the road, we usually saw wildlife, mainly elk or bison. But when there was a traffic jam, we knew it was more than an elk. And it was. The Black Bear was oblivious to the throngs of people snapping its picture. It was moving parallel to the road and eventually went back into the forest. I can get a bit excited and I think I might have exclaimed, “Holy shit, it’s a bear!”
At exactly 7:47pm, we would see the 2nd of three bears during our trip. Another beautiful black bear, but the people were completely out of control and I got rather upset. There was a group of Japanese tourists fresh off the tour bus who actually chased the bear while waving their little instamatic cameras. Really? Let’s chase a bear. I guess they forgot there were no fences separating them from the animals like at the zoos. The bear got spooked and ran up a hill and into the dense forest to safety. I half hoped the bear would charge and maybe eat one of the smaller ones running after him. Now that would make for some great photography!
Shortly after seeing the bear, we returned to West Yellowstone, checked into our hotel, and had dinner (pizza) at the Wolf Pack Brewing Co. It was a good day.
Total mileage: 355 miles.
To see more of my photography from Yellowstone, visit my gallery. Comments are welcomed.