May 23, 2010 Day 33 Yellowstone Here We Come

We get up to find out it snowed about ½ an inch last night. The RV is covered in snow as well as the car and campsite. It is 32 degrees outside. CC goes out to hook up the water so we can get breakfast and brush our teeth. Then we pull in the slides, hook up the car and away we go to the Yellowstone Visitor Center. Before we left we did check with Grizzly RV to find out if they had openings in case the roads closed down on us and they did so we have a backup plan if needed. At the Visitor Center we get PTCC her Jr Ranger book and recheck the conditions. The last update was at 1235 am and the only thing closed is Dunraven Pass because of the high elevation. So we get back in the RV and head out. We show my pass at the entrance station and we’re now in Yellowstone. The roads look clear with no snow on them, which is good. We are riding alongside the Madison River and not too far down the road we see a bison family. 2 adults and a calf are walking alongside the road. We of course take pictures and move on since they weren’t blocking the road. Still following the river we see some Trumpeter Swans floating along. Then we take the turnoff for Firehole Canyon Drive which runs next to the Firehole River and has a waterfall. We take lots of pictures and videos and get someone to take our picture by the sign here. We are going in the direction of the Midway Geyser Basin when PTCC yells bison! There is a large bison walking down the center line of the road so we give him room to walk and wait for him to go by. In one of the pull outs I snap a picture of a Bald Eagle high in a tree next to the road. Our next stop is at Nez Perce Creek where we stop and read the information sign about Chief Joseph trying to keep his tribe off the reservation. Then we come to the Fountain Paint Pot area and stop there to walk around the mud pots. The ground is all white from the minerals spewing up and it smells like sulfur. We see a lone bison right next to the boardwalk grazing. They look so bad this time of year since they are molting their thick coats. They should probably keep them a little longer since it is still snowing this week. We walk around and see the Clepsydra Geyser and Spasm Geyser which have lots of steam around them. All the tree branches are bleached white from the minerals in the water.

Then we make our way to the Midway Geyser basin where we walk over a bridge on the Firehole River. We could see streams of water running into the river from the geysers and wherever they fell in the river plumes of steam came up since the river is so cold right now. The streams were amazing colors of orange, rust , red, and browns. The steam was so thick we couldn’t see where we were going sometimes. The pools were the most beautiful aquamarine blue I’ve ever seen. It was hard to get good pictures because of the amount of steam coming from them. We walked the boardwalk until we got to the Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the one that has the most colorful pictures taken of it. It’s hard to see unless you are above it. There are these really bright orange bacteria mats that we walked over. At the end of the boardwalk was this little conifer tree that had icicles all over it so we snapped a shot of it. As we drive on towards Old Faithful we see several herds of bison with the calves and mothers near the river. There was also a lone bison across the river-I guess he didn’t want to be crowded.

We make it to the Old Faithful visitor center and park the RV and go inside. PTCC has already finished her Jr Ranger worksheet and can be awarded her patch. CC gets his pin and I get my NP stamp. Then we head outside to look around since Old Faithful will blow sometime near 1217 pm. We get our picture taken at the Old Faithful sign and then walk over to the Old Faithful Lodge and walk around inside and check out the shop. They have a cafeteria inside as well. We head back to the viewing area and take seats in the front row to wait for the show. We work on the pages of PTCC’s Jr Ranger book that she didn’t have to do before. We wait around and at 1219 pm Old Faithful starts to blow.(PTCC here- It started with 2 false alarms, and when it actually went off at first it was like “This is worse than the ones at Disney” but after it got a good start I was actually like “WHOA THIS IS AWESOME” and that was an awesome experience totally epic). After the show we walked around the geyser basin. The bridge to the upper area was closed because an elk had been killed near the upper side of the river and the rangers didn’t want people near where a bear or wolf might show up. We were able to see Castle Geyser and the Beehive Geyser before moving on to the Old Faithful Inn. We purchased our Yellowstone picture frame here and took pictures inside the building and then headed back to the RV for lunch.

After leaving the Old Faithful area we cross the Continental Divide (elev 8262 ft) at Craig Pass and again a few minutes later (elev 8391 ft). Then we see the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. It is huge and covered with ice. We see elk on the left side of the road but can’t stop because there is no room left in the pull out. We then drive on to the West Thumb Geyser Basin and stop to walk around the boardwalk here. It flanks Lake Yellowstone and the geysers are all pure topaz blue in color. There were ducks out swimming in a little patch of water in the frozen lake. The Grand Tetons could been seen in the background. The pools looked just like some of the springs we have in FL such a deep blue in color. One of the signs I saw said the water was 167 degrees. Not a good idea to jump in.

We continue driving and see the Arnica Creek Sandbar that was the original road that stagecoaches used to get around Yellowstone. We pass Bridge Bay and the fishing traps that Indians added to the lake to catch fish. We then pass Lake Hotel and the next stop is Fishing Bridge. We roll over this old wooden bridge with pedestrian walkways on each side and come to a small village that has a gas station, shop, visitor center, mechanic area, and a warming hut for cross country skiers. And then we finally see the sign to check in for Fishing Bridge camping. Yeah we are here. We check in and go to our site. We are in the last section because we want to use our generator. We have sewer and water but no power. A lady in a shop later told us that Xanterra is 2 years away from the end of their contract and they don’t want to make expensive changes unless the NP renew the contract so they are waiting to see what happens. The power fluctuates so much because of the larger coaches taking 50 amps when the park was only built for 20/20 amps years ago. It caused so many meltdowns and brownouts that they are not offering power anymore.

PTCC sees snow piled up in the woods so the first thing she wants to do is play in it. So she grabs her bibs and snow boots and away she goes. She works on building a petite snow woman that is really cute. After we get set up we head back up to the village to check it out in the car. The shop has a grocery, a dining counter and a huge array of goods for us tourists. CC talked to a saleswoman that was from AZ and got the low down on stuff in the area and I met a woman that lives around the corner from us in FL. Literally ¼ mile from our house. She and her husband came out last year and liked it so much they decided to work here this summer. They will stay until mid September and then head back to FL. After checking everything out we came back to run the generator to charge all our electronics and make dinner since we won’t have power after 8 pm. It’s been a busy day so I’m sure we will all sleep well tonight.

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