Today was long but amazing. Everyone seems to have gotten their second wind… or more likely we are adapting to this higher altitude. Air Thinner = Everyone tired until they adapt. Today though everyone was able to go and to keep going. We started at 8:30 AM and got back at the apartment around 10:30 PM so an absolutely full day of awesomeness.
First, we had to fuel ourselves up for the day, so we ate breakfast at the Old Country Restaurant again. Same waiter as yesterday, Brock, same great food, same affordable prices. Loved it! We then headed out to tackle our day.
Our first stop was Gibbons Falls. They were not extremely high or free standing, but they were still really pretty. We didn’t do the ½ mile hike down to get a better view because I knew we had several walks planned for the day, so we just took a few pictures from the overlook and headed on. Something in the air at this stop really aggravated Jack’s eyes so we swapped drivers, so he could put some drops in and close them for a few minutes while we headed on to our next stop.
Artist Paint Pot came next. Here we walked the mile loop to see the different geyser pools, the colors from the various bacteria in the waters was quite pretty. However, I think once you’ve seen one group of them you may have seen them. It was a nice walk though and the air was cool. A piece of this walk was several stairs and Mama handled them like a trooper. You can’t ever say she lets her body limit what she does … she pushes it to the limit that is for sure. The view off the top was outstanding and the pools were pretty, so it was worth it.
We then headed down to the North Geyser Basin which was supposed to be a 3-mile hike, but part of the trail was closed so it was probably closer to 2 maybe 2.5. We did the Porcelain and Back Basin sections of this. At one-point Mama got the shakes, but something, I believe the Lord, had prompted me to make sure we had snacks on this leg of the journey, so we stopped at let her eat a bit before heading on. The Lord does look after us, that is for sure.
Once we got on the Back-Basin section part of it is in the forest with benches. We sat at one for a while to rest and enjoyed watching the chipmunk run around. I hope I got some good pics, time shall tell. There are chipmunks everywhere here and they are super-fast and seem to always be moving. They are so cute. By time we got 2/3 of the way through this walk though we were all done with geysers… I was getting that irritability I get when I’m hungry (even though I don’t feel hungry) and I was really glad to see the car. I am a Snickers’ commercial!
We then booked it to Gardener, the town right out side the north entrance, to get some food. We passed so many beautiful things on the way and I kept promising myself we would stop on the way back, so I would go eat. It was so hard to pass them though… We ate at Yellowstone Pizza and it was delicious! I highly recommend it if you are in the area. The food was good, and it overlooks mountains and meadows. During lunch several pronghorn came to munch in the meadow; it was just nice to sit, eat and soak it in.
After lunch we began to head back and hit the sites we missed, but of course we had to take pics of the Roosevelt Arch first! That is like a right of passage for visiting Yellowstone I think. By this point my agenda has kind of been thrown out of the window, because its 4 PM there are so many gorgeous things I want to stop and see. We stopped on a whim and hiked a bit in a meadow and hill to get a view of the valley below. We stopped and climbed on rocks, climbed down to rivers and generally just had a fantastic time. The scenery in the northern section of the park is so dramatic and breathtaking. This section is by far my favorite part of Yellowstone so far. I could sit and just be here…
We also stopped by Mammoth Springs on the way back. When driving through the area with all the buildings there was an entire herd of pronghorn including a male with a full head of antlers just hanging out in the grassy square they have in the center of the “town”. We stopped and got a ton of pictures. He was so majestic, and it was so odd to see him in town surrounded by people… He charged another pronghorn at one point, trying to mate her I believe completely ignoring the people watching him and the cars passing by. They are used to seeing us, that is for sure.
We then stopped by the Hot Spring formations themselves and they were very unique and pretty. Almost like frozen waterfalls in places, though the water was still flowing over them even if you couldn’t see it. They were also varying colors which was neat… there was a girl that was following us in her car through the drive through part. Following as in … going to see the same things at the same time, not in the stalker sense. Anyway, I could tell she was serious in the composition of her photography, but I could also tell she was new at it. I don’t know something just told me… she was taking pics of a flower with her standard lens and I asked if I could show her something… I got out the Macro and let her use it for a couple of pictures. She was elated – I think she will become quite serious in her photography. There was just something about her, the way she waited to pose the shots, the angles she was trying to get… I hope I helped to inspire her. When her work is worth millions maybe she will remember the lady at Yellowstone?
After the springs and stopping a zillion times to take pictures of the scenery we headed back to the apartment. Twice on our ride back we had to stop and take pictures or at least slow down because a Bison was walking quite literally down the middle of the road. He was taking his sweet time and knew without a doubt he owned the road and everything in it. It was surreal – here you are driving along and then a Bison, which is quite large, is just there, in the middle of the road walking by you like it’s a no big deal. Amazeballs!
Once we got back to town we stopped at a few of the souvenir shops to get our picture frame, Christmas ornament, Jack’s hat, etc.… the obligatory souvenirs that we love. It’s funny—many people go for expensive stuff? Jack and I like the cheap souvenirs that are probably made in China… ah well. We also grabbed a couple of jackets that we saw – they seem to be well made and the price was good so win!
By this time, it was 9PM and we still have not had dinner, so we headed over to the Otter Bar. Brock, from Old Country recommended it to us this morning. We ordered our drinks and asked for straws to be told in no uncertain terms the do not have straws. It immediately didn’t sit right, not that don’t have straws as several people are cutting them out (though they could get paper straws and not have an environmental issue), but the tone and way he said it. When he came back to get our order I asked him “why they have no straws” to which he explained the environmental issues we were already aware of. I politely suggested he give an answer like that next time someone ask for straws and it would go over much better with his customers. He apologized and after that seemed to be much nicer and approachable.
We had jalapeno wontons as an appetizer per Brock’s suggestion and OMG they are good! We should have just ordered 3 helpings of those – they were that good. Our food was good too, but those were amazing. As we were going to leave I asked for a paper cup for my tea to be told they don’t have those as well. He laughed and said he has no idea why though… It was a good meal, but my yelp review will mention the lack of to go cups. If I pay $3 for a drink I expect to be able to take it with me… The food was good though and the service was also fairly decent after our first communication, so it was a win.
Now we are back at the apartment and everyone is asleep. We check out of here tomorrow and will be sleeping in Cooke City tomorrow, which is on the east side of the park. Tomorrow is also a busy day but fun – we are doing a wagon ride / dinner! I’m looking forward to it and will let you know how it goes. Until then sleep well Blogland!