Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Western Adventure: Day 12

Since we're within the one year anniversary of our trip, I need to get a move on with these recap posts. Things should move a little quicker now since there wasn't too much to take pictures of after we left the Grand Canyon. But first, our last full day in Yellowstone!

Interested in what we did before our last day in 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

Day 12: The Roosevelt Arch and the Old Faithful Inn

Nick and I woke up super early to drive from the Lake Yellowstone Hotel to a few areas near the north entrance. We stopped at a general store near Tower Fall looking for breakfast but didn’t find anything edible. What we did find was a fence made out of branches that had awesome designs on them from pine bark beetles! This is one of my favorite photos from the trip.

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We also visited the Petrified Tree before driving to the north entrance where the Roosevelt Arch is located.

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 It reminded me of the people whose faces appear in the stone to report to the Gnome King in Return to Oz. Unfortunately I can't find a picture if you don't know what I'm talking about! I urge you to not show that movie to children though.

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The arch is a pretty classy entrance to the park as the top of it reads “For the Benefits and Enjoyment of the People.” The park rangers like to remind visitors that the park is owned by everyone and that we should all take responsibility in preserving it for future generations. It got a little redundant, but it’s an important message in an age where things are replaced constantly.

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We took a quick stroll through Gardiner, Montana, and then headed back into the park to Mammoth Hot Springs, the largest hotel area in the north area of the park. It’s also the fanciest area of the park and the location of the first growing grass that I had seen in about a week. What a strange sight! Yellowstone must have groundskeepers working around the clock to keep these lawns and gardens flourishing, because nothing of this sort grows here in the natural landscape.

Our first stop was the map room in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. How awesome! It was a map of the US and every state was made from wood that came from that state.

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The pictures don’t do the map justice—it was hard to capture the different textures. It’s definitely worth seeing if you visit the park. Here's where we were...

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...and here's home, very far away! We live about 20 minutes from Trenton, NJ, which is marked on the map.

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After a very disgusting lunch (I would have much preferred a pre-packaged 7-11 sandwich, if that tells you anything), we took a walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs, which were apparently no longer active. We had been looking forward to seeing these but they were pretty boring and bland in person (it looks WAY better in our pictures for some reason).

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It was well into the 90s that day. When we got back to the car I was feeling kind of sick due to lunch and the heat, so we decided to skip the short hike we had planned and went straight for a soak in the Boiling River. Sounds refreshing on a hot day, right? It actually was!

A short walk from the parking lot is a spot where a hot spring flows into a cold river. Over time, people piled up rocks along the river’s edge to keep the hot spring water contained, creating a natural hot tub of sorts.

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I remember seeing Bear do this on an episode of Man Vs. Wild. Thankfully the rocks were already there for us so all we had to do was walk in and sit. It was so refreshing! Look how happy I am now!


We sat a good distance away from the hot spring so the water was a refreshing temperature, but the other people in this picture were sitting with their backs almost touching the hot water (the greenish water in the bottom-center of the picture). I’m surprised they didn’t get burned.

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The trail head to Boiling River includes a few signs that warn against the possibility that organisms that can cause Primary Amoebic Meningoenchephalitis and Legionnaire's Disease are present in the water. The signs instruct you to not submerge your head under the water as the organisms enter through your nasal passages. I can’t tell you how many people I saw dunking their heads! Just another example of how people don’t understand that Yellowstone is a wild place, not a theme park where there are no real dangers.

This beautiful scene was our short walk back to the car.

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We spent the rest of the day driving through the park and stopping at the various sites along the way.

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We stopped at the Fountain Paint Pots, which weren’t nearly as good as the Artist Paint Pots, but did include a fun geyser called “Spastic Geyser” that constantly erupts. These neat trees were in the same area. We nicknamed them "The Clydesdales."

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For dinner that night we ate at the Old Faithful Inn, which looks like a really big treehouse. I had bison ravioli, which was delicious, with another $6 bottle of champagne! After dinner we wrote out postcards in the lodge and then took in a night viewing of Old Faithful erupting. It was so peaceful without the hundreds of people around. All you could hear was the night bugs and the water falling onto the ground.

Up Next: A tour of the Old Faithful Inn and then driving to the Grand Canyon!


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