Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aug 24 - Tuesday, Yellowstone part 2

We had a picnic lunch just north of Grand Canyon, near Cascade Lake. As in Grand Teton National Park, there were warnings about bear activity and cleaning everything up. As a result, there weren't any scavenging chipmunks or squirrels. Needless, to say we did our part by cleaning up the picnic area. Leave no trace!

The Norris Geyser Basin was next on the agenda, we took the Back Basin Trail and saw some spectacular sights. Along the trail was Steamboat geyser, the highest spouting active geyser in the world – it can shoot up to 300 feet in the air. It only has major eruptions rarely and we didn't see one; however, it shot up in a minor shot for us. Bret is pictured by it. Most of the trails are boardwalks, but you can still get steamed by geysers. And there are warnings everywhere to stay on the path, don't throw things, no pets, etc. In one place the trail had been relocated because new hot springs had appeared right beneath the boardwalk. Reed is pictured by the Porcelain Basin.

The boys had their Junior Ranger booklets, and the only thing left for them to do was attend a ranger talk. We stopped at the Junior Ranger Education Station in Madison, and the boys had fun playing “Who Wants to be a Wolf Watcher,” a game-show style informative presentation on wolves which we all enjoyed. After this, the boys were awarded their junior ranger badges. The ranger asked if the boys were scouts. With an affirmative answer, she told us about the Scouts and Rangers program that started in 2009. More on this tomorrow!

We stopped at some more turn-offs as we headed down to the Old Faithful area. When we arrived there, Old Faithful was going off again! Always a fun thing to see. We headed into Hamilton's, a shop and diner. There was a small herd of bison near one end of the store. After our dinner there, we noticed that one of the bison had wandered over next to the Sportsmobile! We had to hang out a little longer until it wandered away.

We passed Lewis Lake as we drove down to the Park's south gate. At one point, there were a lot of cars and people out looking down the slope. We asked what was up, and the answer was “grizzly bear in the river eating an elk.” So we turned around and parked and joined the mob. By then the bear was on the beach, we could just see it's head in the shadow of the trees. We could see the elk carcass in the river, stripped ribs pointing skyward. Not much of a view of a grizzly, but we saw it and that was amazing.

We stayed at Flagg Ranch. That's located in the Rockefeller area, a patch of land between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. John Rockefeller Jr bought the land and donated it to the government, but it is not part of either National Park. We hoped to see moose, but twilight walks above the river and marshy areas only brought mosquitos out.

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