Geysers and Hot Springs - Our Last Day in Yellowstone

Oh, this day.  This is the one that I may never live down.

We were supposed to get an early start because Old Faithful, our ultimate destination on this particular day, was on the other side of the park, kitty-corner really, from where we would enter Yellowstone.  This meant many, many hours in the car.

Ken was up bright and early, ready to go.  My energy levels were not quite so high, but I, too, managed to get out of bed and into the shower.  When I was done in the bathroom, I went to get the boys up.  This is where the schedule went offline.  KC didn't feel good and didn't want to go.  Thinking about all the driving we had been doing, the motion sickness he had suffered the day before, I wondered if a few more hours sleep wouldn't be enough to reset his system.  

I'll admit I didn't want to miss Old Faithful.  It's one of the big geographical attractions of the park, after all, and how lame would we be if we had visited Yellowstone without making it to the most famous geyser of all?
So, determined to go, but concerned that the children were simply overwhelmed, I encouraged Ken to let the boys sleep for a couple more hours.  He agreed even though he wasn't happy about it.

The extra sleep helped, though.  The boys woke up, ate breakfast, and showered.  KC no longer felt sick. Mind you, he wasn't happy about spending several more hours in the car, but at least he didn't feel like he had when he had first opened his eyes.  With some encouragement to hurry up, we loaded into the car and started toward the geyser basins. 

The first one we stopped at was the Norris Geyser Basin.  It was quite pretty and, despite the parking lot being packed, didn't seem terribly busy as we walked along the pathways. 

After a brief stop for a picnic at one of the roadside parks, we continued on our way.  Along the route we spotted this fellow relaxing just a few yards from some fishermen. Unlike the streams in the northeast area of Yellowstone, this river was dotted with quite a few fly-fishermen.  The animals, though, seemed fewer in number.

Doesn't he look relaxed? 

Between Norris Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, there was another cluster of geysers and hot springs.  We decided our time was rather limited and a walk wouldn't do.  Lucky for us, there was a paved route you could drive.  

Okay, so I did get out of the car for just a second to get that picture right there.  And Gage had followed me so he could snap this picture.

I'm short.  Sometimes this requires standing on things not meant to be stood upon.
Eventually we made it to Old Faithful.  We filled up on gas and goodies and then made our way to the benches which would afford us the best view the timely eruption.  Only this eruption was not very timely. If my memory can be trusted, I believe we waited for a little over an hour.  

Eventually our patience paid off and we were able to see Old Faithful do its thing.  It was quite pretty, but I must admit I thought it would go a lot higher and last a lot longer.  Ken felt the same.  Ken also felt the urgent need to get in the car and on the road.  Unlike yours truly, he was actually paying attention to the time and was getting worried that we would get stuck in Yellowstone after dark.

Turns out he was right to worry.

It was a long drive back to the cabin that night.  We got stuck in construction and a rain storm.  As we were driving through Lamar Valley the last little bit of sunlight deserted us.  

Map Courtesy of LonelyPlanet.Com

If this wasn't clear before, let me make it abundantly clear now.  All those animal pictures I've been posting?  99% of them were from Lamar Valley.  The bison, elk, antelope, and bears seemed to find it the most appealing section of the park.  So, imagine it's pitch black and there's no ambient light, not even stars or the moon, to help you spot these critters along the road.  Oh, and add in some sprinkles and then a nice steady downpour.  Luckily, we only had one antelope run out in front of us and a couple of black bears roaming next to the road. 

Once we were out of the park our worries did not end.  Apparently guardrails on mountain roads are not seen as an absolute necessity.  Driving on rain-slicked roads in the dark with no ambient light?  Yeah, Ken was not a happy camper, and I can't blame him.  If I had forced the kids out of bed and into the showers when he wanted me to, we would have been back to the cabin just before nightfall.