Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yellowstone - Day 2

We started off this morning heading towards the northern part of the park.  Our eyes were peeled looking for animals!  About five miles into the park Scott spotted a bald eagle, so we turned around and sat to watch it for a while.  We were secretly hoping it would fly away so we could see its wing span, but he was content to just sit and pose where he was.

We drove up to Mammoth, and there were elk eating on the grass in the town square.  Some of them were grazing, and some were just laying down under the shade tree.

We then drove to the Gibbon River where we were hoping to walk on down the river trail to the natural hot springs – the only springs where it is legal to swim in Yellowstone.  On our way, we spotted this sign and thought it would be a fun photo opp.

When we arrived at Gibbon River, there were picnic tables at the parking area, so we grabbed a spot and had lunch.  Unfortunately, due to extremely high water flows, the hot springs were closed off, but we were able to walk the trail down to it even though we couldn’t get in.  On the way back to our car, Scott gave me a shove in the back and said, “Snake!”  Since he’s always joking around about stuff like that, I didn’t even jump.  For example, when the girls are walking ahead of us on the trails, he’ll throw sticks in the woods beside them and act like it was a bear.   So I didn’t even give it a second thought… except for the fact that this time he actually “shoved” me, which I thought was going a little overboard!  I walked about six more steps and turned around to see why everybody had stopped.  They were looking at the snake that I had almost stepped on and would have if Scott hadn’t shoved me.  Creeped me out!  Then we all got tickled about how I didn’t even jump at his warning because I just assumed he was goofing around!  One of these days I’ll probably get eaten by a bear because I won’t believe him when he tells me there’s one behind me.

 The snake is toward the bottom left - it slithered
across the trail right after I almost stepped on it.  I was only
able to get about 1/3 of it in the pic.
Wasn't willing to get any closer!

And speaking of bears… we saw two of those today.  Two black bears.  One was off in the distance wandering through a field of yellow wildflowers.  The second one was as we turned down a side road to check out a petrified tree.  About a half-mile down the road we saw a group of people standing by a ranger, so we followed the path of camera lenses to a bear roaming down in a hill.  It created quite the traffic jam on this little dead-end road.  People were stopping in the middle of the road and getting out of their cars to see the bear.  After sitting on the road behind abandoned cars for about 15 minutes before the ranger got things moving, I was thinking “IF YOU WANT TO SEE A BEAR, GO TO THE ZOO, PEOPLE!”  I guess there’s just something about seeing a bear roaming free around the woods that makes people lose their minds.  Yes, we were snapping pictures too, but at least I didn’t abandon my car in the middle of the road.  Ha!

 See that black spot in the middle of the picture?
That's a black bear.  Couldn't get any closer.

This one was a little closer, but it was down in a ravine

And speaking of crazy people… we saw lots of those today.  We drove further down the road and came across another group of people in a field.  This time it was an elk, an elk with the hugest set of antlers I have ever seen in my life.  He was laying down in a field right at the forest edge.  And the crazy people were down in the field with the elk taking his picture… the elk with the biggest antlers I have ever seen.  We were just waiting for somebody to get gored!

These people were standing about 30 feet from this elk -
this elk with the hugest antlers I have ever seen.

And speaking of gored… well, I’ve got nothing about that, but it seemed to flow with the last two paragraphs!  I do however have some great bison pictures.  They are really enormous creatures.  I was terrified that one of them would step out into the road in front of our van!  We took the pictures from the safety of our car… as we were passing by.  Can you imagine one of those things attacking your car?

We finished up our day on a couple of short hikes to see the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls (base of falls and brink of falls).  Got lucky again with the rainbow over the falls!

After finishing up at the waterfalls, we headed back toward the hotel.  We took an accidental turn into a parking area and decided to stop and see what was there.  It happened to be Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest, currently active, erupting geyser, shooting up to over 300 feet during a major eruption.  It hasn’t actually had a major eruption since March of 2005, but we still got to see a minor eruption, shooting up about 15 feet.  We decided not to hang around to see if a major one would occur!  On our way back to the van to head to the hotel, Ash spotted a bunny.  Can’t see those at home?  :-)

Steamboat Geyser

 Since most places in Yellowstone smelled like "Easter"
it was only fitting that there be a bunny somewhere here!

As we headed back to the hotel, we were able to catch the Yellowstone sign for the first time without a line of eager people waiting to take pictures, so the girls jumped out for me to grab their picture.

One of the funniest things that happened today... we had all had our eyes peeled throughout the day hoping to spot a bear.  On one of our stops, we pulled into a parking lot, and Ashlee gasped.  When we asked why she gasped, she said, "Never mind."  Of course, we pushed for an answer, and she sheepishly replied, "I saw that out of the corner of my eye and thought it was a black bear."  We howled.  Here's what she saw.

I guess when you see the lady,
all dressed in black,
out of the corner of your eye,
when you're already on the lookout for a bear,
it could be deceiving. ;-)

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