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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Yellowstone- tons of pics

 Yellowstone Falls. These are the Lower Falls (308 ft). I have wanted to see this for a long time.  We woke up fairly early on the first day of camping. (Out campsite was right next to the bathrooms, which I thought would be great. It wasn't. I am a really light sleeper so I was constantly woken up by the clamming of the bear box and the bathroom door. It was also so bright that I read without a flashlight, by the light of the bathroom lights, inside my tent.) We wanted to go see the animals while they were really active. There are some active geysers on the cliff walls.

 There is a hiking path that leads to the base of the falls. I wanted to go down but I was a little nervous about wildlife down there at the hour we were out. We were the only people there at the time so I "played it safe." I kind of regret it now.

 A few massive elks that we saw. We saw one of these at dusk the night before. He was laying in some tall grass and all you could see was his antlers.  We were good and stayed at a safe distance from the animals.

 Speaking of animals being close. We had seen bison grazing in Hayden Valley on the first night we were there, but they were not very close. (These were also at Hayden) This herd was blocking the road. The vehicle that looks like an ambulance is equipped with a speaker that plays a clicking noise, like hooves on a road. It basically drove right up to the herd and "encouraged" them to move to either side of the road.
 Bison also make some weird noises.

 Babies in the back!
 Right next to the car.

 I wanted to show a picture with all of the cars that are stopped. It was pretty obvious when you were coming up to something while driving in the park.
      These next pictures are all from the Mud Volcano area. The acidic hot springs have reduced the soil to a fine clay. There are various mud pools, mud pots, and mud volcanoes. It smells like sulfur here (and at most of the hot springs.) There is a nice boardwalk that goes through this whole area. There were signs warning people to stay on the path since many people have been badly burned by accidentally stepping somewhere fragile and getting hit by the steam.

 There were pretty mountain bluebirds on this path too.

 This was a mud volcano. Most of the time you could not see the mud/water bubbling in that pit filled with steam but sometimes the wind would shift and you could see the churning. It was pretty violent looking in there.

 On our way back to Canyon campground, again in Hayden Valley, we ran into another herd. They were on the side of the road but began crossing to the side all the people were parked on.
Check out the huge camera with the guy on top of the car.  See that guy in the tan pants? I was convinced he was going to get gored by a bison
Here I was debating asking the kids to cover their eyes. The guy took a step forward and the bison started walking right for him. Luckily, nothing happened.
 This group started walking right at our car, which was stopped on the road about 100 feet back.

 This is through our windshield. Hello! (Note the tan pants guy again walking towards the bison)

 Mammoth Springs Area- Lots of travertine terraces and mounds built by hot springs. There is a daily flow of about 750,000 gallons of water that is constantly shifting. The bright colors in the water are from bacteria and algae. Recent, dry deposits are white and older deposits are gray. I guess there is a spring up here on the upper terrace that has so much carbon dioxide that birds die when they stop for a drink.

 Wild, huh?

 I really liked this spot. You can't see it well in this picture, but there is water flowing down over all this rock. (Someone also lost their hat right under the boardwalk. Human trash REALLY sticks out if you see it anywhere at the park)

     That night there was a rainstorm. I slept better since most people stayed away from the bathroom. Lol. When we woke up it was pretty cold. The clock in my car said it was 44 degrees when we got to Old Faithful.

 Lots of people waited to see the eruption of Old Faithful. The park predicts when it will erupt again (pretty accurately) within a 10 minute window of error. I watched the live webcam of this a lot before I came so it wasn't really as exciting as I hoped when I saw it live.
 I was interested in how the steam kind of blended into all the clouds. It was cool to watch the sky constantly changing
 One of the biggest disappointments of our trip also came on this day. I was really looking forward to seeing the Grand Prismatic Spring, located at the Midway Geyser Basin. Since it was so chilly out, the steam basically covered the surfaces of everything, making it difficult to see. The warm steam hitting your cold face felt nice as we walked through.

 Look at the variation of the blues in this hot spring! It was gorgeous. I have never seen water that blue- then I remembered it was all from temperature and the bacteria that live comfortably in that temperature and it became slightly less appealing. :)

 Headed closer to Grand Prismatic.

 Grand Prismatic Spring- the largest hot spring at Yellowstone, famous for it's colorful bands of algae. Here is what it is SUPPOSED to look like (if we were flying overheard on a perfect day):
(source linxlik.com) 
This is what we actually saw:

 Well, you win some, you lose some.

 More of the midway geyser basin
 Hot springs flowing into the Firehole River

   On the third day of Yellowstone (starting at the Old Faithful pics), we moved to Madison Campground (in the rain.. boo). This was the view if we took a path about 200 feet from our site. We came back here a few times to relax and look around. 

 Looking from the river, back towards the campground. (Notice all the bare spots on the tree trunks from animals rubbing up against them)
 There was a junior ranger station with a nice wildlife viewing area around that river bend. The boys got their junior ranger patches here. David was adorable while he was solemnly taking his junior ranger pledge.

    While we were at the ranger station, Timmy and I also saw a western tanager (not my photo, stock photo) How pretty is he?
      Yellowstone was amazing. There is so much to see. We did not see any bears, which I was grateful for. (I was worried about bears. Extremely worried actually. Unfortunately, an experienced hiker was killed by a bear during the time we were there, but we did not know that until we returned home. We heard a bunch of sirens and wondered what was going on. I'm glad I didn't know then.) Katy Perry was apparently vacationing with John Mayer in one of the hotels at Old Faithful a few days before we arrived. We didn't see them either.  We could've easily stayed many more days and still not have seen everything. 

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