Day 8! Yellowstone

We’ve had a long day today driving back to the Canyon area to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from various viewpoints along the way including Lower and Upper Falls and the view from Artist’s Point.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

Sand at Artists' Point

Sand at Artists’ Point

 

Yellowstone River at Lower Falls

Yellowstone River at Lower Falls

Here’s a very shaky video that Simon took of the roaring Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Some of you will recall that last year Simon did the 300 steps of Uncle Tom’s Trail and then had to climb back up the 300 again and that I couldn’t do it as I was rather ‘under the weather’. Well, it was our intention to do it again this year so that I could also experience the pleasures of the 600 step round trip. Alas, when we arrived and as advised, carrying water and snacks, we found that the trail was closed due to dangerous conditions. Oh well, at least that gives us an excuse to come back again to tick it off our list.

On the way we stopped off to take photos at Sheepeater Cliff. During our trail ride yesterday, our wrangler, Chelsea, was telling us the story of how the cliff was named for the Shoshone Indians who lived throughout the mountainous region. Their use of bighorn sheep earned them the name of ‘Tukadika’ or ‘Sheepeaters’. They would herd sheep to the top of the cliffs, drive them over to their deaths and would then go down and collect the bodies for dinner!!! Charming, but I guess that’s how it was back then!! Lucky we don’t have to do that for our meals these days.

The cliff is basalt lava that formed ‘columnar joints’ when it cooled nearly 500,000 years ago.

We also visited Yellowstone Lake in the southern park of the Park and imagine our surprise when we arrived to find that the Lake is still frozen over!! After the luck I’ve been having with mishaps lately, we didn’t think it a good idea to walk out on the ice to see how thick it was!!

The frozen Yellowstone Lake

The frozen Yellowstone Lake

 

Travelling from Mammoth to Norris we saw what is known as Roaring Mountain and today it was particularly active so we stopped to take a couple of photos. The roar of the mountain used to be heard some four miles away but today it is still very active but it is much quieter.

Roaring Mountain on the Mammoth to Norris road

Roaring Mountain on the Mammoth to Norris road

Roaring Mountain on the Mammoth to Norris road

Roaring Mountain on the Mammoth to Norris road

On the way back to our hotel we got stuck in a ‘bear jam’ and as this was the first bear we’d seen on this trip did try to get some photos but it was utter chaos with cars and people everywhere so we are hoping to see one before we leave the Park on Tuesday. People tend to go crazy when they see bears!!!!!!

We ate in the dining room again tonight and this time was served by Sam from Wisconsin. We had a real laugh, he was a great personality and was telling us how he had backpacked around Guatemala. He told us that we should visit Wisconsin, particularly around Lake Geneva which he said is really beautiful, so that’s now on the bucket list. We told him about our problem with the bread plates and when he saw us after that he tried to snatch our plates away.  All in all, a great guy. If you read this Sam, we will be looking for you at Lake Geneva when we visit!

Day 7! Yellowstone

We started the day by taking the opportunity to do a horse ride in the back country of the Park. Three million people visit the Park every year but less than 1% actually get to see ‘behind the scenes’ and we can now say we are two of the 1%.

Simon rode Logan and I had Crockett, two very lovely animals. They were very gentle and we were lucky enough to see bison and elk on our ride plus quite a few elk bones! You will see from the photos that we decided to wear safety helmets. After listening to the safety talk where we were told that ‘death’ was a real possibility due to the wild life and terrain so we thought the insurance company would take more kindly to paying any bills that may have occurred from the ride if we wore helmets. Here we are looking every ounce the riding professionals that we are!!!!! Don’t you just love those helmets!!

One suggestion for the wranglers would be to provide mounting blocks for the ‘vertically challenged’ among us!! It’s a shame someone didn’t get a video of me trying to mount Crockett, it would have made a very good YouTube video!!!!!

Sand on Crockett

Sand on Crockett

Simon on Logan

Simon on Logan

On the way to our next destination we passed one of the hot springs and lovely waterfall near Mammoth where we are staying.

One of the hot springs at Mammoth

One of the hot springs at Mammoth

Waterfall near Mammoth

Waterfall near Mammoth

After our very enjoyable ride we made our way to Norris Geyser Basin where probably the biggest collection of geysers in the Park can be found. We spent a couple of hours doing the complete 2.2 miles circuit. This place is really something to see and smell!!!! The smell of rotten eggs makes me gag every time (I know, too much information). We were lucky enough to see one of the geysers, Vixen Geyser, erupting, showering three children with water. They were very excited indeed and were running around telling everyone what had happened, giggling all the time.

Vixen Geyser

Vixen Geyser

Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

Echinus Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

Echinus Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

We then drove up to Canyon Village, which sits more or less in the centre of the Park, through the Dunraven Pass which only re-opened yesterday after the winter snows and en-route saw snow drifts of between 8-10 feet. Simon decided he would find out how deep the snow really was ………….. it was deep. We were rather taken by surprise when we looked up at the mountain and there was a skier coming down towards us complete with his back pack …. I think he must have been going to do his shopping and taking the quick route!

Simon enjoying the snow at Dunraven Pass

Simon enjoying the snow at Dunraven Pass

Skier at Dunraven Pass

Skier at Dunraven Pass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful drive but when we arrived at the Village it rained and got really quite cold but after refreshing ourselves at the Yellowstone Grill where we partook of a burger (nicely cooked) for Si and a grilled cheese sandwich for me, (I have to post what we ate because there are those among you who like to know the tiniest little detail) we really didn’t care!

In one of my earlier posts I told you about the hotel we are staying at, but didn’t mention that it has just one dining room which means there is usually a wait for a table. All the staff are very friendly and always willing to have a chat about your day.

Today, we had just arrived for dinner when a rather large coach party arrived and it seems that there was immediately a shortage of bread plates for the incoming diners. We were just enjoying our pre-dinner bread (always a favourite with me, I would rather have the bread than the meal!) when a waiter came and asked us if we had finished with our plates, we said we hadn’t which was pretty obvious as there was still bread on them. He went away and five minutes later was back again asking if he could take them away. We again told him ‘no’ and from then on every time we saw approaching we took hold of the plates with both hands just in case he was coming to steal them from us. Needless to say, I had hysterics and just couldn’t stop laughing.

The food has been excellent, but tonight it was necessary to complain about Simon’s bison steak (I do hope it wasn’t one of those we saw earlier in the day), sorry to all vegetarians reading this!! He ordered it as ‘medium’ but when it arrived was swimming in blood, even the mashed potato couldn’t soak it up! Now anyone who has watched MasterChef will know that red meat has to be left to rest before serving it or the end result is a plate swimming in blood.

Nevertheless, he ate it and then complained, well he did say that regardless it was actually rather delicious. I did advise the manager, Lauren, of what MasterChef had taught me and she was obviously very impressed with my knowledge as she kindly took the cost of the steak off the bill and even treated us to two free desserts!! The poor waiter who served us had only been working there a week and the next morning he had the pleasure of serving us again for breakfast and this time we had to complain about the fact that we had to wait 25 minutes before we were even served coffee and tea, let alone our breakfast. I think he was rather pleased to see the back of us!

 

Day 6! Yellowstone National Park

Some of you reading the blog will know that we were here last year on our ‘big’ tour of the USA and so loved the Park decided to comeback again to spend more time seeing the things we missed. We are not disappointed as it is just as lovely as we remembered it.

We were told it would be cold and to expect snow but here at Mammoth it is warm and there’s no snow in sight, except on the surrounding mountains, so those thick winter jackets we packed probably won’t be needed after all! Just glad I didn’t bring the snow boots I bought!!

Today we visited the Lamar Valley and Black Tail Deer Creek and stopped to take a photo of two bison crossing the road. Imagine our surprise when we turned to walk back to our car and saw a man motioning to us to get out of the way because a huge herd was making its way straight towards us. Needless to say we hurried back to the refuge of our car. There were baby bison among the herd and this makes the parents very nervous when confronted with humans and vehicles.

Bison herd that took us by surprise!

Bison herd that took us by surprise!

We were also lucky enough to see two moose or is that mooses? This was a first as we didn’t manage that last year.

Two Moose

Two Moose

Here are a few of the hundreds of photos Simon has taken of our trip around the Park today. Hope you enjoy them!

Elk

Elk

Sand in the Lamar Valley by the Yellowstone River

Sand in the Lamar Valley by the Yellowstone River

Bison enjoying a dust bath

Bison enjoying a dust bath

A flower in the Lamar Valley

A flower in the Lamar Valley

Mummy bison with babies

Mummy bison with babies

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Sand looking out over Yellowstone

Sand looking out over Yellowstone

Another mummy bison and baby

Another mummy bison and baby

The Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley

A yellow bellied Marmot

A yellow bellied Marmot

 

Day 5! Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

Hello Everyone, we are back and normal service will be returned! How can we all survive without the internet, we sure can’t!

As today was a driving day there’s not really much to report. The drive to Yellowstone was a long arduous one, about 6.5 hours, not helped by the fact that ‘Margaret’ our sat-nav took us completely the wrong way for an hour before we finally realised and looked at a good old fashioned paper map, realised her mistake and got back on the right road! At least our ‘beast’ is very comfortable.

Our 'Beast'

The other big event was me trapping one of my hands in a heavy metal door! Of course, it just had to be the one that I had already bruised when I feel down in the restaurant at Gatwick.

Mammoth Springs Hotel, YellowstoneWe arrived at Yellowstone and are now all settled in to our hotel, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel on the north side of the park.  It’s an old hotel, opened in 1937 and they like to keep everything fairly original and rustic so we have no internet, no TV, one usable electric socket, no air conditioning and no wardrobe space. There are five coat hooks on the wall with six coat hangers and just four drawers. We did know this before we came so it did not take us by surprise and we did book a room with a private bathroom so that’s a plus and the location and our view is excellent.

We set about booking a hotel last November and even then could only book the five nights we are here as all the other dates and hotels were taken. So, a message to all those thinking of coming to Yellowstone ………………. book early!

On the drive through the Park we did come across a heard of bison, some with their babies, so here’s a photo to close with.

Mum and Baby Bison