Wednesday, August 12, 2015


We made two overnight stops through Wyoming to get to the east side of Yellowstone. The campgrounds in the park were totally booked up, all of the state park campgrounds for 20 miles outside of it were booked also, and the local weekenders were pouring in. We spent more time trying to figure out how to see Yellowstone than actually seeing it. But we frantically secured a campsite for a couple days and plotted our approach. It's a big park and we were far outside of it!  

One of our stops in Wyoming was Sundance. We met some nice people and the kids got a chance to pet this traveling pooch who had her own set of goggles.

Our timing coincided with the days just before the start of the huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD. We saw thousands and thousands of motorcycles coming and going all headed in that direction. 

Andy headed to the local fairgrounds in Buffalo, WY where he watched the 4-H fashion show. The models were kids and adults in coordinated ensembles with their sheep. He also watched the sheepdog trials. It's a totally different world. 

Every time we spotted something from the car windows, Cubby would screech, "where?!? where?!?" It didn't take long to figure out what the problem was. Back to Walmart where I shopped for groceries and Andy took Cubby for an eye exam. She picked out some cute frames and we arranged to have them sent to a different Walmart when they were ready.

Just hanging out at the campsite. The bear warnings were unsettling. 

In our first campground outside of Yellowstone (Wapiti) we met Hoot. He was going into 9th grade and was a total hoot. The kids had a lot of fun with him and were disappointed to have to relocate to a different campground and say goodbye. 

Hoot taught Drew some fly fishing techniques. Drew picked it up right away but didn't catch anything. 

Quick stop at Sylvan Lake. We made an early, chilly morning start for Yellowstone. It was about 20 miles from our campground to the entrance and then almost another 15 to the Visitor Center. We passed the Yellowstone campgrounds on the way and they were, indeed, packed. 

Sylvan Lake.

Fred with the Caldera in the background.

Steam rising from underground thermal vents overlooking Yellowstone Lake. 

Overlooking the rapids.

We joined a Ranger walk at the Volcano Mud Flats. We were warned to stay on the boardwalk because the ground is so hot but we did see a lot of bison tracks in the area. 

Lone bison. 

Overlooking the Lower Falls.

Andy and the kids completed the walk down to the bottom to see the falls. I had to turn back due to a crippling fear of heights. Andy always takes a photo of me at the moment I turn back but I'm not including pics of me making mad faces. 

Updrafts do funny things to hair. 

Rainbow. Plants grow along the sides of the canyon because they get water from the mist. 

It's hard to see but there's a female moose and calf in the grass. 

Here she is as seen through the binoculars. 

Another long day of driving with lots of stops and starts and we were all ready to get home. But as we rounded a corner we spotted this amazing sight. It's a rare treat to see one in Yellowstone and they are so cool looking. They aren't native to the area but were brought in for game hunting. 

Our binoculars were another Walmart score! 

It was a little frustrating being so far outside Yellowstone but it helped us decide to backtrack to Cody for the day and visit the Buffalo Bill Center. It was a really great museum and totally worth the visit so the campsite worked out for the best. We ate our picnic lunch in the courtyard and there were a bunch of baby bunnies living in the garden. They were not very shy so Cubby was thrilled to get close to one of her favorite animals. Flour enjoyed it also. As usual, the best part of any outing is the animal sightings! 

So cute!

The museum has different wings and each wing is really a totally separate museum. Buffalo Bill, natural history, native american, art, guns. It took us hours to get through it all and at the end we went out the door as they were starting to lock up. We were too busy to take many pics inside but Andy got this one. Drew is standing on Cody, Cubby is standing on our campground and I'm standing on Yellowstone. 

Look out! 

At the end of the day. 

At the entrance on 2nd visit. 

On our 2nd trip in we brought the whole rig through so we could relocate to the west side of the park. We made a stop at Yellowstone Lake to have lunch and go for a swim. 

It's so great being able to move your house from one beautiful spot to the next. 

Yellowstone was unbelievably crowded. We spend a lot of time with plenty of personal space and don't manage the masses of humanity very well. 

This is the crowd waiting for Old Faithful to blow. The gray sky background and thousands of quiet, anticipation filled people made the actual event sort of anti-climactic. We were a little crabby that day. But the waiting gave the kids time to finish their Junior Ranger books. 

We hung around so long we got to see it twice. The Visitor Center was very educational and we really enjoyed the movie. Plus there was such a massive traffic jam leaving the parking lot we couldn't leave. 

The view of the gift shop from the balcony where we got ice cream. Lots of people were browsing around with giant ice cream cones and screaming kids. We finally escaped but then Andy decided to go back in to buy a sticker. The kids and I placed bets on what reaction he would have when he emerged from the shop: Drew thought he'd start a boring conversation about how crowded it was; Cubby thought he'd blast past us shouting, "let's go!"; and I guessed that he'd make a loud, exasperated statement. I won when he blasted out of the double doors and exclaimed, "Ugh! I've got the meat sweats!"

Firehole River. 
Grand Prismatic Spring feeds hot water into the river. 

Wildlife causes major traffic jams in Yellowstone. But elk are pretty impressive. 

Grazing along the river. It was a nice end to a kind of frustrating day in the park. Yellowstone is really beautiful but we weren't prepared for the crowds. If we had to do it again we'd go in a quieter season or just plan better. Off to the woods to recover! 

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