Geysers, but No Grizzlies
Today we finally reached our original objective -- Yellowstone National Park.

We left the ranch after breakfast, about 7:30 local time.  We got to the park gate by 8:15, figuring the earlier we got there, the better.  At the West Gate, we bought two lifetime National Parks passes for $10 each.  (For once, we’re glad to be senior citizens.)

On the 30-mile ride to see Old Faithful, the traffic was light -- but it slowed to a standstill every time wildlife appeared.  Cars pulled over to take pictures of the bald eagle and its nest -- almost blocking the signs that said “Do not stop, leave car, or walk on roadway.”  Buffalo were everywhere, in every meadow, and even on the hard ground around the geysers.  

About halfway to Old Faithful, geysers and bubbling hot mud puddles appear all over the landscape.  It’s like some science fiction movie watching steam come up through fissures in the ground.  Where are the aliens or dinosaurs?

When we arrived and parked at the Old Faithful viewing area, we found crowds of people sitting on the huge semicircle of benches facing the geyser.  According to a couple on the front bench, they had arrived an hour earlier -- right after an eruption.  The next one was due about 9:30, which was 10 minutes after we arrived.  Old Faithful put on its show almost exactly on time.  This was definitely worth the trip.  The spout of splashing, steaming water rose over 100 feet in the air, and then gradually subsided.

After a snack at the Old Faithful Lodge, we decided to continue around the park road loop counterclockwise, instead of retracing our route.  This meant we saw ducks on Yellowstone Lake, found fuel near the Fishing Bridge, rode by more mud volcanoes, and saw colorful geologic features called Artist Paint Pots.  Along the way we saw, of course, more buffalo, as well as some elk.  We did not run into any grizzly bears, wolves, or bighorn sheep -- they were probably as interested in the people traffic as we were!

The whole tour of the park took us about five hours, but some of that was extended because of  road construction on the Norris-Madison road.  This section is actually closed at night, because driving it could be really dangerous.  Native buffalo are not much for streetlights!

We got back to the ranch about 2:30, relaxed, and did our final trip laundry.  We had an early supper in the Saloon (Chicken Cordon Boar sandwiches, featuring wild boar bacon).  Before heading back to the cabin to pack, we bought our souvenir T-shirts.  Tomorrow, we get back on the road!

Check out our Yellowstone photos by clicking here.../Yellowstone%20Photos.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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