National Parks Tour: Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Al was right. This morning the temperature was 39 degrees. First time I have had to wear my jacket. I slept well as the room was nice and cool.

First thing we noticed when we came outside was that one of the bear-proof garbage receptacles was open and garbage was all over the ground. Crows were having a good time picking through all the mess. A Lodge staff member was coming from another direction with a bag and yelling at the crows to go away. Guess someone didn’t lock the receptacle correctly or the bears have gotten smarter.

We walked across the parking lot and passed the Yurts to the Old Faithful Lodge. Some members of our group were outside eating their breakfast waiting to see Old Faithful erupt. I told Chuck I would rather eat inside. Well, that was not an option. Big signs – no eating indoors at all.

The line was cafeteria style. I ordered some oatmeal with brown sugar and a side order of bacon. They put the oatmeal in a round container and the bacon in another round container. Chuck ordered the scrambled egg breakfast with a biscuit. They put the eggs, sausage, and potatoes in one small cardboard box – no dividers – and put the biscuit on top. We got coffee out of the machine. We gave our breakfast tickets to the cashier and she gave us plastic to-go utensils and a bag.

We decided to walk back to the room with our breakfast. Even though we walked fast, our food still cooled off. Chuck’s food was all jumbled together in the box. It looked gross but he said it tasted okay. My oatmeal was the consistency of cement. Bacon, a trailmix bar, an apple and coffee for me today.

At 8:45, we were on our way to our first stop – the Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Geyser Basin. Al had two warnings for us – (1) stay on the boardwalk – don’t step on the ground as it could collapse and you would be severely injured or killed by the scalding water and (2) protect your electronic gear from the sulfa steam. I brought my rain cover for my camera. Chuck wore his rain jacket instead of a heavier jacket.

The area had a desolate lunar look to it. The ground looked like a crust and steam was coming out of cracks.

As we were walking around the area on the boardwalk, a woman in our group tripped and fell. Luckily, she landed on the boardwalk and didn’t fall into the crust. But she had a hard time getting up and she was hurting. Al and her husband had to help her get back on her feet. Found out later that she had both knees replaced because of arthritis. I hate that she fell but I noticed that she was wearing open-back sandals. Why would you wear them? Al had told us to wear good walking shoes today as we would be on some uneven terrain. My definition of good walking shoes were my tennis shoes.

Then, just before we made it all around the boardwalk, she fell again. She went down hard and I was afraid she had busted her wrist trying to catch herself. Tripped with those sandals again. When Al and her husband got her back on the bus, another person had some Tylenol to give her. Al offered to get her to a doctor but she refused. I bet she will be bruised up but at least she didn’t sprain or break a bone.

On our way to our next stop, Al spotted two wolves in the Gibbon river. Luckily, we didn’t have any traffic behind us so Wade was able to go very slow while we snapped pictures. One ran away but the other one took his time getting out of the river and just looked at us. Magnificent. Last time we saw a wolf was on the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Alaska.

Our next stop was the overlook at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We had wonderful view of the Falls and the Yellowstone River.

We stopped for lunch and restroom break at the Canyon Village Center. We decided to pick up sandwiches and chips at the grocery store side instead of going to the longer line at the grill. Glad we did because the members of the group we sat with got food at the grill and were disappointed in the taste. You would think someone couldn’t mess up a grilled chicken sandwich but she said it was rubbery. Our sandwiches were good but the prices are crazy – $20 for two sandwiches, chips, and a bottle of water. The group said their meals were even more. Jeez.

After lunch, we stopped for a photo opportunity at Hayden Valley. There were Trumpeter swans in the river.

Our next stop was the Yellowstone Lake Lodge. We walked down to the lake to admire the view. Al told us that Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in the Park. The lake is 7,732 feet above sea level and covers 136 square miles with 110 miles of shoreline. While the average depth of the lake is 139 ft, its greatest depth is at least 394 ft. Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 ft in North America.

Our last stop before heading back to the Lodge was the Artists Paintpots. Al warned us about the ground again and to stay on the boardwalk. This area did not have the same overpowering sulfer smell like this morning. I thought all the different pots were very interesting. Some were colorful, others muddy and bubbling, and others were holes of bubbling water – all shapes and sizes.

Before we got back to the Lodge, we saw a bison sleeping by the side of the road. Why was he sleeping there? I guess because he could. Who is going to tell him to move?

Once we arrived back at the Lodge, Al said that according to the schedule Old Faithful should be erupting about 4:15. We would have time to drop our stuff off and go to the viewing area. At 4:00 we were walking to the area and encountered a big crowd coming toward us. Old Faithful erupted at 3:53. We missed it. What to do? Go ahead and have an early dinner and see it later or just find a spot and wait until the next scheduled eruption?

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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