Friday, August 22, 2014

Yellowstone Day 2

Gooooooood Morning Yellowstone!  This photo is brought to you by Bug.  I took one too, but I liked this one so much better.  We woke ourselves up pretty early on day two hoping to see some animals, but all we saw were the two legged hungry kind on their way to the main lodge for their cup of joe. The view from the lodge's considerable front porch (minus the construction) was probably as much of a draw as the joe.

I gave the kids a choice of a slow day driving up and stopping at whatever we wanted to see along the way and going on a hike.  The yells of "hike" are still echoing across Lake Yellowstone today.  After a quick check-in with the front desk on what hike would be good with two small children and we were on our way to Storm Point trail which begins right next to Indian Pond.

Isn't it pretty?  We followed the trails into the woods which even at 9am was better than being out under the direct sun.   It's always nice walking through the woods.  We've done a ton of hiking as a family and there is just something about walking through the woods that slows everything down.  I don't know if it's the quiet and lack of distractions, or if it's just us being alone as a family, but we do love our hikes.  

We were walking along talking about this and that when this view popped up out of no where.  Such an amazing view of the lake and we walked along beside it for a while before we hit this very cute wooden bridge.  I love wooden bridges.  I have no idea why, but there's nothing like the sound and feel of walking on one.  I say we convert all sidewalks to wooden walkways.  I bet we'd all be a lot happier!

About half way through our hike we found ourselves at this beautiful overlook.  

We were all having a good time, enjoying the view when Bunny - my fearless girl - walked right up to the edge of that 30 foot drop behind them down to the water and large boulders sure to crush her little bones. And then I lost my mind.  Now, *I* am afraid of heights, but neither of my kids seems to have inherited that little trait. So seeing my beautiful baby so close to what, to me, is obviously clear death, sent my poor heart into a tizzy.  Once I'd managed to pull her back from the edge and she'd managed to remove my death grip from her arm, we had a long talk about safety.  With only me on this trip with them, we all needed to be extra careful.  And that included not going to close to the edges of death drops and stopping mama's heart. 

And with that, we moved on down the edge of the lake until we found this beautiful sandy beach complete with rocky point.  If you zoom in on this picture, you'll even see my two little monkeys down at the very tip of the point.  And while we were down there, these two little monkeys came out to play with us - as long as we were very still and very quiet that is. These are Yellow Bellied Marmots for those not in the know, and they apparently love this area.  Cute little guys, no?

We wrapped up the hike and started our long trek north to Montana out of the North entrance.  We hadn't gone more than a few yards when we came across this old man wandering next to the road.

I got a little too close and was the recipient of some dirty looks from one of the many wonderfully helpful park rangers.  And despite my error in judgement, she was more than happy to answer questions for us.  

As we continued to make our way North, I worried he was going to be our only encounter with a buffalo when we found this guy just chill-axing on the side of the road.  We stayed a safe distance this time.

I was thrilled to see two whole Buffalo on our trip, but we had no idea what was waiting for us just around the river bend.. just around the river bed.. (okay, name that song!)

We were stuck in traffic that didn't move for over a half hour.  Have you ever sat in bumper to bumper non-moving traffic with a 6 and 8 year old?  You do whatever it takes to keep them entertained.  And that included taking photos of lots of trees and singing Pocahontas Disney songs.  

The wait was so completely worth it.  

After sitting in the car for so long, we stopped at the first hot springs / mud pots we came to. This is Dragon Mouth Springs.  A wonderful bubbling, steaming cave that even sounded like a dragon roaring.

Bug, however, was clearly less than impressed with the smell.  

I don't know why though.  The buffalo didn't seem to mind it.

We decided to move along, but got caught behind this buffalo for a few minutes instead.  Best game of follow the leader, ever!

He led the way to the biggest herd we saw (and one of the best views) of our whole trip!  We didn't know it at the time, but there are only about 4,000 buffalo living in all of Yellowstone.  It just doesn't seem like enough considering how prevalent they used to be back in the day. 

The Tweedles and I talked a lot about why Yellowstone was protected, and why there was a need for places like this.  I don't know how much sunk in, but at least we're giving them the beginnings of a conservation education.  And with views like this, it's never to early to start.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

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