Bears and Volcanos

We traveled to Yellowstone, and stayed at a camp in Livingston. It was just north of the North entrance to the park. The KOA camp was great, and it has become one of our favorites.

Yellowstone is huge, so we decided to stay a few nights to see as much as possible. We had two days in Yellowstone, so we got out and saw a few sights, but it was mostly a driving, sightseeing excursion for us. We didn't have time for that much hiking.

I was amazed at how big the park was. After passing the gates to enter, there were several park ranger stations each with souvenir shops, gas stations and stores. The park itself had five entrances we learned of, from several different states.

Our first day in the park we stopped at the Mammoth Hot Springs. It smelled like rotten eggs, and everyone started to get a bit of a headache eventually and we moved on. The sight was pretty amazing though. It was such beautiful landscape that suddenly transitioned into what I can only describe as an alien world. With colors, smells, and textures of a planet that could only support bacteria and amoebas. It was truly amazing to see and experience.

It was getting late, so we didn't have time to get all the way to Old Faithful on the first day, so we just decided to make the small loop, and see what animals we could see as we drove. We weren't disappointed. We saw buffalo, elk, animals that resemble a deer and tons of birds.

There was some stress, I should mention, from Drew. He was concerned that we were in the Kill Zone. Since Yellowstone is essentially a volcano, he was sure it would blow while we were there. We needed to be out of there as soon as possible, and he wanted to get past the ash zones as well. Since that was going to be somewhere in Washington...he had to wait. But he had a hard time letting his guard down, and everyone was pretty tired of hearing about it after the first few hours.

Another odd experience the first day, was what started as a beautiful sunny day, suddenly got cloudy, and as we drove over one of the mountain areas in the park, to get back to our entrance, we literally hit a blizzard. I'm talking about snow falling, on winding roads with minimal visibility, and it was nearly dark. I was nervous, and when that was combined with all the back seat drivers in my car and Drew's volcano explosion it made for a stressful drive. We did stop once to get out and see and experience the snow. My daughter Delilah loves snow, and was probably the only one not scared or stressed. I wish we could have stayed in it longer, parked, but the sun had set and the glow was fading fast. I wanted to get off the mountain and back out of the snow as quickly as possible. We loaded back into the car, and drove quickly and safely off the mountain. The snow stopped as we drove down, and it was dark, as we left the park. I drove back to our camp and we all slept well, except for Drew. We were still too close.

The next day, we drove all the way to Old Faithful, cut through to Yellowstone Lake, and then back up and over the snow mountain from the day before to exit the park.

Old Faithful was quite a tourist spot. Benches and wooden walkways all around it. Hotels and shops were also all there. We waited till it fired, saw the fountain, and made our way to the gift shop, then the car. It was definitely amazing, but I think it would have been even more amazing to stumble upon the wild area, without all the build up. It must have been quite a sight to see, in it's early years.

We drove past the Lake and saw lots of Animals along the way. We made a few minor stops a various labeled pull outs, and eventually made it back up to the snow mountain. There was really no more snow, and Delilah was disappointed, but I was thankful for the visibility and the daylight. We headed back to the camp, and enjoyed the site.

The next stop for us should be Missoula, MT. It will still be in the Ash Zone, but Drew will just have to deal with it.

-Bobby