Monday, September 28, 2009

Mon, Sept 28: Yellowstone National Park

It got down to 19 degrees last at the rig. Our propane furnace kept us nice and warm though. It is another beautiful morning. Dick went to the office to pay for last night and tonight and found out the park road from West Thumb is closed due to a fire. That has really messed up our plans! We had planned to drive the big circle but that is now out because the road from Madison to Norris is also closed for construction. All we can do is the is the section from Madison to the South Entrance...all of which we will also drive tomorrow. So, we spend the rest of the morning answering email etc.

About noon, Carolyn puts together a picnic lunch, some of the cheese we bought in Canada, crackers and a few other things and we head into the park. Since 9AM, when Dick went to the office, the sun has been covered with a smokey haze! We drive into the park anyway, but the smoke really gets bad by the time we get to Madison and we almost turn around. Fortunately we don’t and head on toward Old Faithful.
The first thing we see are many empty cars and the owners standing in the river fishing.

We take a side trip through Firehole Canyonand see Firehole Fallsand a neat swimming hole above the falls.A young boy and his dad were swimming! Then we pull off on an overlook for the Lower Geyser Basin and have our lunch.The wind has picked up and is clearing the smoke out.

After lunch, we turn off for Firehole Lake. Here we stop to look at one of the many bubbling pools of hot water. There are several geysers on the road that are smoking,but none are going off. We then head to Old Faithful and the Visitors Center. The Park Service is really in the building mood. A lot of changes have been made since we were here in 2003. There is a temporary Visitors Center and a huge building right in front of Old Faithful that will be the new Visitors Center that will open in August 2010. At the Visitors Center, we find out that the brown trout are running which explains all the fishing, that there are actually four fires burning in the park and that Old Faithful will go off in about 45 minutes. We kill some time by heading up to Kepler Cascadesand then come back and wait for Old Faithful. Right on time she goes off with a nice display (the puff of white just to the right of the water plume and just above the tree line is the smoke from the fire near West Thumb). We then go over to the Old Faithful Innfor a couple of pictures of the six story timber lobby.

and wind up buying some really well done photographs from a guy selling pictures he shot in the park.

It is now a little after 4PM and the sun is low in the sky. We drive back the way we came and turn off on the Firehole Lake road again to see if anything is happening. We find several of the little geysers are going off,but we missed the Great Fountain Geyser.Back on the main road, the fishing continuesand it is prime time to see wildlife. Sure enough we do. There are several traffic jams! First we drive by an elk cow and calf grazing along Firehole River.Then we see a bison.The best is a bull elk watching over his haremas they graze along side or wade in the river.One calf is even nursing while he and his mother are wading. There is also a grey wolf near the edge of the river checking out the herd and catching rodents (the elk is looking right at the wolf; he is the dark spot to the left of the dead trees on the right).The last jam is for a Bald Eagle. He is close to the road, but is up in a tree with too many branches for a good picture.

We get back to the rig and cook up the rest of the corn and the beans we bought just after we crossed the border and grill the trout. It turned out to be a nice day even with all the closed roads.

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