Sunday, July 22, 2012


The Sandersons balanced our wonderful trip to Nauvoo with a surprise of their own: taking Mike and I to Yellowstone National Park!  It's hard to believe that you can live in Wyoming and Colorado your whole life and never go (Mike and I had never been).  All of the crystal pools, bubbling broods, towering mountains, vast lakes, and wildlife were incredible to us!  This was such a fun, relaxing couples trip and we really enjoyed spending time with Mike's parents.  Here is how it worked:

Tuesday: Settle in at RV campsite.  Visit Fishing Bridge:  The lake was so gorgeous and we had gorgeous blue skies all day!  I guess they used to allow fishing off the bridge, but haven't since the late 70s.  It was still really gorgeous scenery.

Here's the Sanderson's on the bridge

...and the more recent Sanderson's on the bridge

Sadly, many of the trees were killed by beetle stripping and some were burned by wildfires.  We would drive through the luscious forests and pop over the hill only to see miles of dead trees.
Visit West Thumb geyser basin area:  This area was sweet!  It was mostly full of hot spring pools.

These large pools were bubbling with activity below the surface, smokey, and reeked of Sulfur!  It was also amazing how they carried from muddy foot-wide holes to crystal clear pools 27 feet deep!  

Everywhere we went, we were expected to walk on boardwalks because you never know where there are areas of activity just beneath the surface of the ground.  Mike and I kept joking about 'the dangers of stepping off the path.'

A lot of these pools were colored by the minerals they deposited (Sulfur, Magnesium, Iron, etc).  
Visit Old Faithful geyser and surrounding basins:  Old Faithful, while cool, was not nearly as impressive as the surrounding geyser basin, or the West Thumb area in my opinion.  The one animal we saw the most of at this site, besides bison, were tourists.

Good Old Faithful.  We went back later that evening to see the geyser again, and once it was finished doing its thing, this guy said "well, that was lame!"  Note:  It was not lame.  If you drive 4,000 miles just to see Old Faithful at 9pm, yes, you will be disappointed; but that only means you are lame. 

Emerald Pool
We followed a tour guide who talked about old frontiersmen who would do their laundry in these hot pools, and discovered that putting soap in them caused explosive geyser activity.  (Every kid listening was sad they didn't bring any with them)
The Old Faithful Inn was massive!  This picture doesn't do it justice
Go on a secluded walk around the surrounding geyser basins:  Mike and I walked around while Mike's parents made reservations for dinner at the Inn.

Hot head
Ashley, the smoker
The large cauldron in the next photo was said to have petrified trees within it's mound when it erupted into activity years ago.  These were some of the white trees in the surrounding area.

Mike was making a slicing motion to show just why this formation was called a "shelf".  I don't know why the facial movements were necessary...
This lovely "Sawmill" geyser threw water maybe 20 feet over the boardwalk while tourists either marveled or cowered, trying to pass without being scalded. 

Dinner at the Old Faithful Inn:  The dinner was awesome, but what we really loved was walking around the lodge and admiring the early 1900s architectural feat.  I don't know just how many trees were used to build this inn, but the entire inside was lined with them.
They say that the architect built the upper portion, referred to as "the crow's nest" partly as a fulfillment of a childhood dream.  It was closed to foot traffic in 1959?  due to earthquakes which moved some of the structural support beams.

Wednesday: Visit Sulfur Cauldron mud volcano, and watch for animals at Hayden Valley:  One of the coolest parts of our trip was getting to watch for wildlife through the binoculars in the large, spacious fields.  Collectively on the trip, we saw: red and golden-mantled ground squires, marmots, chipmunks, elk, bison, a grizzly bear, canada geese, white pelicans, raven, ducks, rabbits, otters, two bald eagles, and osprey/hawks.  

These guys loved to walk in the middle of the road.  But it's ok.  They observed traffic laws.

The chemicals found in the hot springs leached into pipes under the parking lot, corroding all of the metal grates
Big mud puddle.  Smelled like a toilet.
In addition to the wildlife, we saw bluebells, cow parsnip, lilies, shooting star flower, wild flax, geranium, pond lilies, etc. etc.  Gorg. 
This cave called "the dragon's mouth" made waves as if it was on the seashore.  It belched steam and rumbled with activity.  Pretty sweet.
Hayden Valley

Love this elk... 7 pointer?

These pelicans were diving for fish and every time I went to snap a photo of their faces, they would dive down to get anther one.  Here's a lovely little butt shot they did just for me
Walk around Canyon area's Upper and lower waterfalls, Inspiration and Artists Points, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone:  These waterfalls were gorgeous and huge!  It was fun to hike to all the different scenic points surrounding them


It's funny how many ways Mike and I imagine people crawling over the railings and sliding down the falls.  Well, maybe not funny...either quirky or morbid.   

Dinner at Tower Roosevelt Lodge:  This place was way laid-back and felt like a wild-west restaurant.  We had kind of tex-mex style dinners which were delish. 
Here's the Sanderson brood rocking out on the deck
Thursday: Leisurely morning, picnic lunch, and petrified tree visit

Volcanic activity caused the cells of this tree to fill with silica, preserving it in stone.  
Mammoth hike, ice cream and museum movie presentation at Mammoth
THREE parking spots.  Are you kidding me?!...Jerk.
I said this mound looked like butterscotch ice cream melting, and Tim and Jane took us out for ice cream! 

I don't believe in this controversy, but if I did, I would bet they filmed the moon landing around these craters.
"Old fashioned" telephone booth in the hotel
Sheepeater, Norris geyser area (Steamboat geyser, roaring mountain, black tail deer plateau):  Some formations were not as impressive as advertised (Sheepeater), but the whole Norris geyser basin was gorgeous!

Norris geyser basin

Apparently, microorganisms in the water act as a visual temperature gauge; the greener colored ones living in cooler water, while the red thriving in hotter temperatures. 

Kickin' back after a long day

Friday: Scenic cruise around Yellowstone lake:  The tour guide "excited us" with her stories about the scenery, "monsters and shipwrecks!".  It was a pretty little boat ride, and we actually saw two bald eagles on the island below.

Return Home:  For dinner, I made my Al Forno pasta which Tim called "Anti-pasta" because it is anti- all the things he doesn't like about alfredo and marinara sauce (apparently, when you combine the two and add garlic and red pepper, it is delicious!).

It was so relaxing to be out in nature and to enjoy Yellowstone at a leisurely pace.  There was so much to see and do, and we will always remember this awesome trip!  Thank you Sandersons! 

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