Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yellowstone 2016: Part Two

On the 9th, we woke up slowly, or I should say HG and I woke up slowly. I’ve enjoyed her seven-year-old body adjusting to the summer schedule and sleeping until 8 or so, but John was up with the sun, anxious to explore. He’d go out to take pics for an hour or two and come back as HG and I were just getting going!

We packed up and headed north toward Mammoth. We went through some really neat gorges with interesting geological features (and lots of gusty wind) and several beautiful meadows with snow capped mountains in the distance. (Not a single animal, though.) After exploring the crazy looking place that is Mammoth Springs, we grabbed lunch there, oogled some elk snacking on plants at the hotel’s front door, and then turned east for Tower/ Roosevelt. We stopped for a glance at Undine Falls and then ran across park-arazzi, only to discover that they were watching a mama bear and her two babies! They were waaaay off the road, but HG was able to check them out with the binoculars and see them a little as they bounded through the grass and climbed on a tree.

Soon, we made it to Roosevelt Lodge and explored the corral. Yellowstone requires kids to be 8 to ride, but after we explained that she has ridden horses for years, they put her up on a horse and led her around the corral for a small loop. At least she got to hop on! Afterward, we enjoyed rocking in the rocking chairs on the lodge’s front porch, soaking up the view, which was one of the top reasons we wanted to go back to Yellowstone. We ate an early dinner and set out to explore a bit more, stopping at Tower Falls. The sky looked like a bad storm was about to hit and then the raindrops started to fall, so we didn’t make it too far.

The morning of the 10th, we woke up to RAIN. And even worse, COLD rain. Ugh. We tried to warm up with breakfast by the fire at the lodge and then hopped in the car to explore the mountainous road between Tower and Canyon. John would hop out from time to time to take pics, while HG and I took selfies inside the car. We made it to Canyon to see the northern rim of the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone,” and kept going down to Lake again, on the search for BEARS. We made it to the fishing bridge, and despite all the road signs warning of bears, all we saw were lots of bison and an osprey. Bah humbug. We had seen so many bears in 2008, but after a few days in the park in 2016, we were beginning to think that had to have been a stroke of luck. We turned around, had a late dinner at Roosevelt, and went to bed (with the heat cranked way up!).

The 11th was our last morning in the park, and it was again rainy. We decided to make another drive down the Lamar Valley, which is usually known for tons of animal activity, but again, nothing more than bison and an antelope. We finally gave up and decided to head on to Bozeman, MT, where we were set to fly home the next day. Around the spot where we had seen the mama bear between Tower and Mammoth several days before, we came upon cars stopped dead in the street, both directions. But no one was out of the car like you usually see with the park-arazzi, so we looked to see where they were looking. And then we saw it- a BEAR! Right on the side of the road! It was on the opposite side of the road, so we turned around so that we could pass right next to it. I could have literally reached out my window to touch it- AMAZING!! So we finally had some redemption and not a minute too soon!

We got to Bozeman early afternoon, so we went to see “The Secret Life of Pets” and then settled into our {comparatively} wonderfully luxurious hotel room. (Highly recommend the Element. Very new and modern with excellent customer service, and within a block of Main Street) HG, in her pajamas, snuggled into the deep, fluffy comforters, laid back to watch TV, and said, “I feel good!!”

By the way, Bozeman was a beautiful little mountain town with tons of organic food (co-ops) and local restaurants. People were nice, and the town was covered in colorful flowers. Kind of like an Oxford out west.

We got home really late on the night of the 12th. HG ran straight to Cressey’s bed and made me get her out so that she could hold her. She kissed her face over and over and held her hand. She said, “She smells so good, Mama!”

We loved having a few days to disconnect from reality as a family (well, mostly…when this mama wasn’t hanging off the top of a mountain to get cell signal to check on the baby). Although we missed Cressey like crazy and were a tad stressed by renovation projects/ decisions at the new house, it was so nice to have some quality face time together, and we loved showing Helen Grace a very special part of the country and letting her experience a park that held special memories to us.

Seven years in, and I still can’t stop staring at her sleeping angel face.

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Gibbon Falls- this was a beautiful place to stop and take in the view. The falls open into a stream through a beautiful forest with a mountain view.



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Between Norris and Mammoth





I didn’t get out of the car here because I watched John and HG almost get blown off the side of the mountain!



Mammoth Springs

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Elk are everywhere you turn at Mammoth.


Undine Falls- another beautiful and steep view


HG was a little scared to sit on that wall, so she’s carefully perching.


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A mama bear and her two babies! See the baby climbing up the vertical tree branch?


You can see the mama here.


Riding at Roosevelt




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Lamar Valley

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See the osprey nest?


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The view from Roosevelt Lodge


I’ve waited a long time for this experience with my baby!

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Our hard-earned Frontier cabin

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Tower Falls


Here comes the rain

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The start of a new day (10th)…but more rain


A little different view at breakfast than from dinner last night

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Trying to warm up. It was in the 40s that morning.

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Sightseeing from the car

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The top of Mt. Washburn




“We’ll stay right here, Daddy. You go get that picture!”

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Lower Yellowstone Falls



Another osprey


That elk was still there on the way back. He hung out in that field all day.


Bison crossing


And off he went into a field…


As we pulled over later to look at an elk (or something), we turned to see a bison coming up behind us on the other side of the road. He then crossed the road to our side…right at us…eek!




{Stir}crazy girl at Canyon for lunch

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Back to Roosevelt for some reading (and wine) time on the porch

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Our last day in the park, the 11th, we drove out to Lamar Valley and stopped at Soda Butte.



There are mountains behind those clouds. And they didn’t have snow on them yesterday like they do today.


Lamar Valley







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Roosevelt Arch at the northwest entrance to the park

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A very happy girl

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Our first morning home, July 13th, I woke up to see this on the video monitor. HG was in Cressey’s room, just staring at her. She held her all day!

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