Ahhh…Yellowstone. It’s our first night here in the granddaddy of all national parks, and how splendid it is. We had a leisurely morning getting out of the Grand Tetons. Tobes has embraced the joys of sleeping in (after being up before 6:30 nearly every morning of his life), so we finally had to dump him out of his sleeping bag at 9:00. Leo had been up for a while, keeping us company and asking great questions about how our solar system works, the hemispheres, and United States geography, among other things.
It’s only a couple dozen miles from Grand Teton National Park to the Yellowstone border, but Madison campground is another 40 miles from the south entrance gate. We cruised on up to Old Faithful, where we joined the crowds witnessing the geyser’s eruption. The boys were suitably impressed. The new visitor’s center at Old Faithful is really beautiful, with well-planned exhibits, a kids’ room, and some short films. We’ll have to go back and explore some more. By that point, the day was quite hot and we wanted to get to the campsite. We passed by the big geyser basins with a promise to come back later.
As we found our campsite, some crankiness was setting in, so we got the tent up quickly and went to explore the nearby Madison River. That was a good move, since the boys quickly found some other kids and they all played around in the shallow water while we chatted with some nice folks from Minneapolis. Good humor was restored, and after a quick supper we decided to make an evening visit to a couple of the boardwalks. That was a good move, since the air was cool, the crowds were gone, and the light was low and golden. We saw paintpots, fumaroles, geysers, and bacterial mats of all colors. The boys just couldn’t believe that places like these exist, so their interest was truly captured. On the way back to the campground, we saw some elk grazing by the roadside. We’re hoping to get out early one morning to see more wildlife. With only 3 days here, it’ll be hard to see everything, but we’ll give it a good try.
Gail agreed to my scheme to give me a head start and allow me to bike ahead to the Yellowstone border, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. I headed out at 9:30 under a deep blue sky and pushed it hard on the now-familiar route. My hope was to make it to the ticket booth before Gail, and sure enough I made it in an hour. Unfortunately I didn’t pack money or a snack, so I stood around for over half an hour listening to my stomach rumble, watching the non-stop flow of vacation travelers, until I met Susan. She was cycling solo from western Canada to Phoenix, and I loved chatting with her and checking out her inventive rig. She was blogging her trip, so she carried a netbook, a Garmin (the kind that uses AA batteries), and a solar trickle charger that powered all of her devices. She must have been in her late 50s or early 60s, and was clearly having a blast. Chatting with her brought back a flood of memories of my cross-country bike tour in ’88.
It’s 6:30 on Friday and I’ve been sitting in the car writing this blog entry. Just a moment ago I looked up to see a massive bison casually walking down the campground road just 100’ in front of me! Unbelievable—too bad I couldn’t find the camera in time.