Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yellowstone Highlights

These images are all out of order because of the way Blogger uploads them. I decided I don't care, I'm not going to spend the time to rearrange, so you'll just have to bear with me. I'm finally posting them!

This here green and gold glory is a hot pool We saw a lot of them in Yellowstone, and they are really quite beautiful. This colors are from heat-loving algae and bacteria, and from the mineral content of the water. Different colors of algae grow at different temperatures, and often, the center of the pool is too hot for any algae but appears bright blue because of the minerals in the water reflecting sunlight (same reason that sky is blue). This one is green because the center is cool enough for the yellow algae to grow. Yellow + Blue = Green.

This is Grand Geyser, the tallest predictable geyser in the world (that's what the sign said). We got there at 2pm, it was predicted to go off between 2 and 6 pm. We got lucky, it went off about 30 minutes after we got there and it was spectacular. I may post the video I took of it sometime later. It was definitely worth the wait.

It's in the same geyser basin as Old Faithful, which, oddly, was the area of the park we probably spent the least amount of time. It is usually the first place people go, and certainly has the highest concentration of geysers.

And of course, it has Old Faithful. Which is still faithful - every 90 minutes, + or - 10 minutes. We were there in the evening as the sun was setting, which was really annoying because all the good seats were taken. Until the geyser erupted and I got this shot looking into the sun.

One of the things I highly recommend is the Junior Ranger program. For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, $3 gets you a workbook with activities they have to do, everything from coloring to attending a program to finding out certain facts. Rachel really enjoyed it, and you get a special Junior Ranger badge at the end. The rangers will ask for everyone's attention and talk about the accomplishment and the kids eat it up.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is not as big as the Grand Canyon. But it's still pretty grand, and very yellow. Which isn't showing up in this picture, but trust me. That little spot o' white to the right in the foreground? The corner of a good-sized snowbank. In July. I'm just sayin'.

Yellowstone is famous for animals, and we got pretty lucky that way. This bison is ambling right along the side of the road. We saw enough elk and bison that we didn't bother to stop for most pictures.
Oh, and these truly are wild animals. Don't approach them, even if they look like big hairy cows. Two people were gored while we were in the park (we weren't nearby at the time).

And definitely don't approach a grizzly. See the hump on his back? Grizzlies can run 30 mph, and you can't. Stay in the car, unless he's 1/2 a mile away.

But this marks the first time in my life, after MULTIPLE visits to Yellowstone (at least 12-15, having grown up nearby), that I have seen a bear in the wild. The curse is broken.

Like the hats? Yellowstone is ~7000 ft. above sea level, and there's very little shade in geyser areas. We all had hats, and not one of us got a sunburn. Yay!
This is the top of Mammoth Geyser. It's mammoth.

See? Grandma has a hat too. And me. We're looking at the wildflower guide trying to identify flowers beyond calling them LBF's. You know, little blue flowers?

Looking out over Norris Geyser Basin. This is where we first learned about color-coded algae.
But no shade, see? You walk on these boardwalks out over the thermal areas, so you don't fall through the thin crust into the boiling water. It's a good thing. Most of the hot pools were between 150-200F, which doesn't sound so bad until you realize water boils at 199F at this altitude.

My crew at Artist's Paint Pots. Mud pots. I think they're my favorite thing at the park. They're just so... bloopy.
JC's shirt says "Sarcasm: one of my many talents"

This was actually before Yellowstone, in Grandma's backyard, playing "fetch" with my sister's dog, Lucy. Lucy loves to play fetch, but she prefers "chase."

This, the most adorable baby in the world (after my own kids, of course), is my sister's baby Matthew. We got to meet him for the first time. It was love at first sight for all of us. John complained after we got home that he didn't get to hold the baby. Grandma and I tried to monopolize him.

The kids would probably say the highlight was go-kart racing, which was a Sunday afternoon spur-of-the-moment.

Our last "hike" in Yellowstone was out to Morning Glory Pool near Old Faithful. It was hot, and as mentioned, no shade. JC took brief pity on William (after much begging) and did give him a ride for a bit. So did I. John was merciless.

See aforementioned tip about not approaching bison. These people were lucky, however, it does make getting to your car interesting sometimes...

At the top of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Really, a "on the edge" overlook. The hike to get down to this point is only at third of a mile long - but it has a vertical drop of 600 ft. Going down isn't so bad, as it's a series of switchbacks, but going back up is a challenge. There's a bench at the corner of every switchback. And remember, it's about 7000 ft elevation, so you really will feel the lack of oxygen. But well worth the view.

We really had a lovely time, both visiting my mother in Idaho, and then going up to the park with her. It was a nice combination of hanging out, and destinations with activities. And we were so glad that my sister and her family came too!


Jill in MA said...

Great photos!! It makes me remember my times in Yellowstone! And that baby sure is cute!

ooolia said...

Loved the photos. I want to go back to Yellowstone, too! and we were just there last year. Looks like you all had fun, too.

Glad to see you're back.