Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Great Western Adventure: Day 11

It appears that I completely forgot to recap the rest of our Great Western Adventure! I am determined to sum up the back half of our trip so you can see the amazing things that we did and saw!

Interested in what we did before we kayaked on Lake Yellowstone?
Days 1-4: Chicago, The Corn Palace, The Badlands, and Wall Drug
Day 5: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devils Tower
Day 6: First Day in Yellowstone
Day 7: First Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons
Day 8: Second Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons
Day 9: Back to Yellowstone and Visiting Old Faithful 
Day 10: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lamar Valley

Day 11: Kayaking on Lake Yellowstone
After another quick breakfast of biscuits, bacon, and oatmeal, Nick and I drove to the boat ramp for Lake Yellowstone, which was about 40 minutes from our cabin. We had booked a guided kayak with the same company that we used for our kayaking and camping trip and, to our delight, our guide was Julia from our previous trip! We ended up having a personalized tour because no one else had booked for that morning.

We paddled along the edge of the lake so we could see the active thermal elements and those that are now dormant.

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We passed over a lava tube which was kinda eerie and also went past the old Fishing Cone, also called the “cook it on the hook” spot. Back in the late 1800s, the Fishing Cone was one of the main attractions at Yellowstone, where tourists could catch a fish and then "cook it on the hook” by holding it in the Fishing Cone geyser. Over time, the geyser stopped erupting. Today, it is covered by water. I snapped this pic later on when we were out of the lake.

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We passed by a ledge where hot spring water was pouring into the freezing cold lake.

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Julia had us put our hand in the water to feel how the top layer of water was hot and then a few inches below the surface it was freezing. It was pretty cool!

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After a quick lunch at Grant Village, we headed back to the car where I was startled by a text message informing me that we had had an earthquake back at home. What?! Sure enough, there had been an earthquake in Virginia and our friends and families felt it up in Pennsylvania. That was the first of the strange things to happen at home while we were vacationing over a super volcano. During our vacation, there was an earthquake, a hurricane, a tornado, flooding, and a murderer on the loose back at our usually calm home. The only thing we experienced was a bad lightning storm. Go figure.

After we made sure everyone at home was OK, we went to the West Thumb Geyser Basin, where another boardwalk was set up to wind between the hot springs. We saw some really pretty hot springs, many of which we had seen from the lake during the kayak.

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That evening we went on a walking tour of the historic Lake Yellowstone hotel, the oldest hotel in a national park.

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Our guide told us a bunch of fun stories about the early visitors and how the hotel was built and then added on to over the years. During the outside portion of the tour, I couldn't stop watching all of these birds flying in and out of their nests. You can also see how buggy the walls of the hotel gets. They have to repaint it pretty often because of the mosquitoes.

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There were a lot of political struggles over the years within Yellowstone and the men involved did a lot of crazy things, such as the guy who ran ferry trips across the lake sank his own steamboat in the lake when he was forced to stop running the trips! The interior was also pretty cool, including this huge fireplace with decorative tiles.

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After the tour we took what was supposed to be a quick drive up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to take a better look at the upper and lower falls, but the bison had something else in mind: a huge traffic jam. Neither direction of the road was moving at all because the bison just kept walking back and forth across the road.

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At one point a ranger came and played a sound from his jeep that sounded like hoofs trotting on pavement and the bison seemed to disperse. We also passed this dude who was taking a nap about 2 feet from the road.

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Unfortunately on the way back to the hotel the bison were back at it, causing us to be late for our dinner reservations in the fancy hotel restaurant.

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I was not pleased, to say the very least!

We ended up only being a few minutes late for dinner. The dining room was PACKED. This is one of the only “fancy” restaurants in the park, so if you are planning a trip and want to eat there, make sure to make your reservation way in advance. I had bison tenderloins and Nick had sea bass. They were both delicious. Plus they have $6 mini bottles of champagne. Amazing! For dessert, I got the Yellowstone Caldera (a chocolate cake with molten chocolate center) and Nick got the French apple galetta, and they were both great.

Happy and full, we retired for the evening in our hotel room, the only non-cabin that we stayed in while in the park. After sleeping in a bare bones cabin for a few nights, the hotel room felt kinda weird.

Up next: We visit the Roosevelt Arch and the Old Faithful Inn!


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