Wednesday, April 30, 2008
As I mentioned, our next stop along the way home was Yellowstone National Park. It was snowing pretty hard that morning, and so when we arrived at the exit off of Rt. 90, we stopped to see what the locals knew of the roads between there and Yellowstone.
The response: "About the same as here." and "Oh, this is the best time to go to Yellowstone, no one is around and with the snow you can see things better..."
None of us had ever been to Yellowstone. So we went.
Truth: The roads were considerably worse as we drove along. But it was a good time to go to Yellowstone - no one was around. Now when it came to seeing Old Faithful... well, hang on. I'll get to that in a moment.
We sat in stopped traffic for a little while on our way due to an "icy conditions" related car accident. But eventually we got passed and continued on our way.
Due to the snow, the scenery along the way was limited, but beautiful!
Arriving at the park, all roads were closed except the route to Old Faithful. So we made our way over that direction...
... and saw lots of wildlife along the way!
We also drove through a few "Thermal Areas" - as usual, pictures do no justice to the actual sights we saw.
Upon arriving at the Old Faithful Visitor Center we saw the few people that were there were leaving - our first indication that the geyser had, in fact, just erupted. So we ended up with about 90 minutes to spend before the next predicted eruption.
Since we had time, and we were the only ones there, they invited us in to watch a short film about Yellowstone Park. As we were the only ones there, we enjoyed the film - adding our own commentary where appropriate... :-)
Then we walked over to the "Geyser Grill" and gift area to browse, and get some hot chocolate.
Finally, we were within the 10 minute eruption window and walked over to the viewing area. The wind and snow were so intense we could hardly keep our eyes open while looking towards the geyser (sunglasses helped). But we carefully positioned ourselves the best we could...
...and then waited...
...There She Blows!! Yes, friends, that is a picture of Old Faithful erupting as we saw it. The other handful of tourists didn't have quite so nice a view as they did not take the wind into account (or didn't care to take the necessary measures to avoid it) and Old Faithful blew right into them.
This picture is a little better - taken towards the end of the eruption.
After seeing Old Faithful, we piled back into the van and started to head out of the park. Or tried to. It took awhile to get out of the parking lot thanks to a herd of buffalo (or were they bison?) that apparently wanted us to stay longer.
And then we were distracted by a couple of grizzly bears (we were told they were probably brother and sister cubs) that were out walking/playing in a field.
And then, as we left, the skies cleared. The blue skies against the white snow and the striking terrain was breath taking!
And that, friends, was Yellowstone.