We woke up today in Rexburg, Idaho at 8:55 a.m. The hotel breakfast ended at 9 a.m. Jimmy and I used our hands to smooth out our hair and hurried to the hotel lobby. The kids followed us a few minutes later. The young lady in charge of breakfast was cleaning up and putting everything away. When we explained that we’d gotten in last night at 3 a.m., she gladly turned the waffle makers back on and agreed to extend breakfast a few minutes. Thank you, Lord!
Next, we were headed to Yellowstone National Park – Emma Grace’s choice for the trip. She was in search of the Grand Prismatic Spring (or as Jimmy named it – the Grand Pragmatic Springer – him and names!). We still had a two-hour drive to the West Entrance of the park. Normally, I would have tried to get the family up earlier to get to the park but honestly, we all needed the sleep!
When we stepped outside the hotel, planes were flying just overhead performing tricks for the families lined up in the hotel parking lot with foldable chairs. We found out it was the Legacy Flight Museum air show. The sunny blue skies were a great backdrop to the soaring planes. As the daughter of an Air Force officer, it brought back good memories of weekends spent at air shows in my childhood.
After leaving the hotel, we found a local Wal-Mart Supercenter where we could stock up on food supplies. I also tried to find Nate a sweatshirt at Wal-Mart but apparently, 50 degrees is summer in these parts of Idaho so they don’t sell sweatshirts this time of year.
On the way to Yellowstone, we passed thousands of fields of farmland with the mountain peaks as a backdrop.
Slowly, the farmland turned into forest (Targhee National Forest) as we neared the park. Also, the streams next to road were teaming with fly fisherman and for their sakes, hopefully trout. Close to the west entrance, we saw the sign welcoming us to Montana.
Yellowstone, the first National Park of the U.S., is mostly in Wyoming but parts of it stretch into Montana and Idaho.
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho – as an East Coast girl, these are states that I never dreamed of visiting. But I’m here and ready with my camera to document all of it.
Yellowstone sits on the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano in North America. The heat of the Earth’s core along with a huge chamber of magna produce over 10,000 geothermal features, including 300 geysers in Yellowstone National Park. It’s an active volcano but supposedly it hasn’t erupted in 640,000 years. As a Young-Earth proponent of creation, I wasn’t worried about witnessing an eruption.
As we entered the park, we followed the road along the Madison River. Again, fly fisherman littered the banks and river. At one point, we stopped at a parking lot to talk to a fisherman. We met a man named Stan and he told us he’d been fishing at Yellowstone all week and had not caught ONE fish. Eeekkkk!
In Yellowstone, they only allow fishing with flies (lures that are artificial bugs). I’m sure that fishing at Yellowstone is a dream come true for avid fly fisherman but they really make it hard for them to catch anything. The boys showed Stan the pictures of the fish they caught in Tahoe. Stan had some colorful language when he saw the colorful rainbow trout. Seeing the pictures seemed to give Stan some energy to keep fishing – good deed done for the day. 😉
Driving around the park, there are holes everywhere with steam floating up into the sky. These are all geothermal features.
We decided that we wanted to head south from the Madison Campground (where we’d be sleeping that night) first in order to see the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful. At 1:14 p.m., we encountered very slow-moving traffic.
We waited and waited… We considered turning around because I thought it was just Saturday traffic at a National Park. Maybe we could come this way early in the morning tomorrow? Everyone else wanted to push through the traffic.
At one point, we wanted one of the kids to get out in the traffic and get lunchmeat out of the cooler so we could start making sandwiches. The kids had already heard some stories about the wildlife we might encounter at Yellowstone. No one wanted to get out.
Finally, Luke agreed and said, “I don’t mind if I’m lunchmeat.” Funny!
At 2:23, we saw the reason for the long delay – buffalo. Stan (the fisherman) had told us to beware of the “buffalo jams” – back-ups due to buffalo sightings. Sure enough, we were in one hour and nine minutes of traffic for buffalo. Apparently, they are the rockstars of Yellowstone.
Finally, we arrived at the Midway Geyser Basin, home of Grand Prismatic Spring. We had to use the facilities before finding the Spring. One lady in line (about my age and American) asked me what I thought of the strange signs in the restrooms. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, she said, “I guess a lot of international people must stand on the toilets.”
Here’s the sign she was referring to:
Very interesting! I would see this sign in every bathroom at Yellowstone.
It’s been surprising to see how many people from other countries visit our National Parks.
We heard so many different languages – it seemed that English-speaking people were in the minority in the parks.
After the bathroom break, we made our way to the boardwalk that surrounds Grand Prismatic Spring. Around it are several other lesser-known springs that still boast the beautiful blue-green water.
It was a chilly day – around 50 degrees as a high. So as a cold-blooded person, I loved walking through the spring’s steam. It wasn’t good for my hair but it sure did warm me up – albeit momentarily. As soon as I felt the warm air, the wind would blow the steam by and a cold, damp pocket of air would slam into me. Ooooooohhhhh!
One lady that passed was explaining to her kids, “This is what it feels like when I have a facial.” Yes!!
Here’s the view of Grand Prismatic Spring from the boardwalk:
This is a not an edited picture. I love the contrast of the bright, blue sky against the orange color of the bacteria layers around the spring.
Next, we drove a little farther down the road to find the entrance to the Fairy Falls Trail. We hiked up about 20 minutes to get this view of Grand Prismatic Spring:
From there, we drove further south to try to see the Old Faithful geyser erupt. We got to the viewing area of Old Faithful at 4:15 p.m. The area was packed with visitors. We had no idea what the projected eruption time was. Another visitor told us – 4:20 p.m. The next projected Old Faithful eruption – 6:55 p.m. Perfect timing – almost like we’d planned it.
Did I mention that the weather forecast for the whole day at Yellowstone was rain? Thank you, Lord.
After Old Faithful, we waited in line at the Visitor’s Center to ask a ranger about the best places to see in the park tomorrow. Jimmy had his heart set on seeing more wildlife. The ranger gave us recommendations for the best wildlife viewing areas that we could visit tomorrow morning.
From there, I told the family that even though I had something to cook for dinner at our campground, I’d prefer to just find an inexpensive place to eat at the park. Less mess, less clean-up – less chance of attracting bears.
We quickly found the Geyser grill. On the overhead menu, they advertised that they only used organic or local beef sources. This should be good – and it’s pretty inexpensive for a park.
It wasn’t good at all. Emma Grace still talks about the “rubber burgers” we had there. Those “fresh” burgers were cold. Thankfully, we heated them in the microwave to make them edible. Once other customers saw us heating up our burgers, there was a line at the microwave. Hey, the fries were good – and the water.
Time to head to our campground. This camping spot was another gift from the Lord. I got it by checking the website over and over again for a cancellation. When I found it, I was shaking because I was so excited to see a spot open up. After multiple error messages, I called customer service and was able to book the site.
The only catch – we’d have to borrow a smaller tent to fit in this spot. But hey, we’d get to camp at Yellowstone. Little did I know then what type of memories we’d make that night.
We set up camp, got our fire started, and put our food in the van.
As opposed to Yosemite, at Yellowstone they allow you to put your coolers and/or food bins in your car.
The kids got creative in putting together their own form of bowling – with our ubiquitous Crystal Geyser water bottles, 2 Pringles cans duct-taped together, and a soccer ball. At one point, we had a family tournament. Let’s just say I carried my team but in the end, the champions were Luke and Seth’s team.
At dusk (around 9:30 p.m.!), Emma Grace and Jimmy headed to the very close restrooms (another advantage of the campsite that just happened to come open). On the way, they saw a white wolf in the camp.
All of a sudden, I heard from husband shouting, “Wolf in the camp! Wolf in the camp!”
He was trying to let the other campers know. Good job, babe!
Thankfully, I was already in the tent and I assumed the boys got in the van. Just then, I heard Seth at the tent door asking to come in. What is he thinking? I was flipping out – probably too much – but I didn’t want him getting bit by a wolf. The kids like to re-enact this story. I don’t think I was overreacting but according to them, I was very dramatic.
Let’s see who’s going to get dramatic tonight?
Thank you, Lord, for another special day in your magnificent creation!