Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Arriving at Yellowstone National Park

On Thursday morning we went on towards Yellowstone.  We were able to check into our hotel early, so after unloading, we took off to the park to get info to plan our next three days.  We arrived at the Old Faithful Visitor Center about 20 minutes before Old Faithful erupted, so we got to see that right off the bat.  We then spent the next couple of hours following the boardwalk on around to several other points of interest along the way such as the Castle Geyser and several others.  The My favorite one was the Riverside Geyser – we timed it just perfectly as well, arriving within 20 minutes of it’s eruption, and got pictures of it erupting with a bonus rainbow!

Old Faithful just prior to eruption

There she blows!

Blue Star Spring

Waiting for another geyser to erupt

Caught a rainbow at this geyser

This geyser looked like a scary monster's face to me. Anybody agree?

Riverside Geyser

Caught a rainbow at Riverside Geyser too!
Then we went back to the van so we could hit the Grand Prismatic Springs that we had passed earlier on our way to Old Faithful.  This time we also walked a boardwalk around it, but it was much shorter.  It looked like a big pond, but the water in it was hot and steaming, and it gave off a bluish color.  It was really pretty in an eerie sort of way.  The colors come from the heat-tolerant microoranisms that thrive in the hot water.  There were lots of pools like this throughout the park, and in these hydrothermal areas the mixture of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide emitted a noxious odor.  Scott said it smelled like Easter, Emilee said it smelled like rotten eggs, and Ashlee and I thought it just smelled gross.  At one point around the boardwalk, the sun was shining behind us, and Scott noticed our shadows on the steam, so I had to get a picture of it.  We thought it turned out pretty cool.

Creepy, huh?

Overlooking the Grand Prismatic Springs at sunset
We loaded back up into the van, and a car coming toward us was flashing their headlights at us.  Assuming there was something we might want to watch out for up ahead, I slowed down and, sure enough, there was a herd of buffalo out in the field that a few other cars had stopped to see.  There just happened to be a pullout right there, so of course I stopped.  We jumped out of the car and started down the street toward where we had seen them.  They were way ahead of us in the field but were walking further into the trees, so we couldn’t see them.  We walked a bit further and were almost to the back of an SUV that had stopped on the side of the road to check it out when the herd decided to cross the road right there in front of that SUV… the one we were standing behind!  WHOA, NELLY!  BACK UP THE TROLLEY CAR!  I was not comfortable being that close to a herd of buffalo that were as big as my van!  We started backing up toward the van and watched the buffalo start off walking down the road right in front of that same SUV, just as if they were a car!  So we got back to the van and followed them.  There we were, following a herd of buffalo down the street!  Too much fun, but I was glad I wasn’t the first in line.  The poor van had suffered enough injury on this trip so far… it didn’t need to be attacked by buffalo!

Following a buffalo herd down the street

They weren't sure which way to go or who the leader was

At one point a couple of them started butting heads

Glad we were three cars back and they were going the other way!
A bit further down the road we noticed a bunch of people stopped again.  This time there were about 20 elk grazing in a field beside a stream.  They were a bit further away, so we stopped and got out of the van to take some pictures.  I felt much better about being out of the van this time since there was a stream separating us from the elk!

It was a bit dark, so this is as good as it gets for the elk pic.
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and bed!  I might not sleep tonight after so much excitement!

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