. After leaving Jackson Hole, we drove through Grand Teton National Park to get to the south entrance of Yellowstone, where we saw our first wildlife sighting- a herd of buffalo. We stopped to take pictures before making our way into Yellowstone. And as I had expected, Yellowstone is a really gem. The landscape is so diverse and there is such a variety of wildlife, it would take one a full year to see everything that this 100 square mile park has to offer. We arrived at our campground in Grant’s Village around 6:30 p.m. Grant’s Village is located at the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake, a very beautiful and large lake, only steps from our site in Loop H. Our first night, Niko prepared chicken franks, corn on the cob, and for dessert we prepared bananas wrapped in foil on the grill. We each filled our foil packages with different garnishings. Janis: plain, Katrin: m&ms (from our trail mix), Niko: trail mix, and mine: marshmallow and m&ms (mine was the best!). After a satisfying meal, we headed to bed. I don’t know if I slept at all. It was freezing cold! In the low 30s, we believe.
The next morning (the 12th), Janis and I emerged from our tent at 8:45 a.m. and drove to the general store to get coffee for Niko, Katrin, and ourselves. I got a white chocolate caramel cappuccino for Katrin and me. They were delicious! I also picked up some Jiffy Pop popcorn for later that night
. When we arrived back at camp, we had breakfast together then headed towards Old Faithful, where we sat on benches circled around the geyser with hundreds and hundreds of other tourists sitting in anticipation for this famous American landmark to erupt. And Old Faithful didn’t let us down. She put on quite a show for us! 4,000 to 8,000 gallons of water gushed from beneath the earth’s surface into the air for us to oow and awe over. It was a sight to remember. After watching a short film on the park’s history in the visiting center (while the others returned to the car), we went on a little hike up the hill to get an overhead view of Old Faithful and the surrounding area. On our way down, we encountered Solitary Geyser, where we got to observe a geyser erupt up close and personal. It is amazing to think that it erupts every 4-5 minutes everyday. We then continued downhill to the boardwalk that guides you past some of the park’s many geysers, hot springs, and pools. Very fascinating, to say the least! So many different colors- ranging from turquoise to rust orange. We also had the opportunity to walk in the Old Faithful Lodge. What an impressive lobby- all wood and very rustic looking! We then headed back to the car, where we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and headed back on the road to Fishing Bridge where a ranger told us we might spot some grizzly bears. We went to the visitor center there and were told that it was more likely to see them in Hayden Valley. Being that is was already pretty late, we decided to stick around the bridge and walk around
. We spotted a herd of bison across the river and several varieties of animal droppings as we walked along, but no bears. Although, on our drive back to Grant Village, we saw some cars pulled over, so we stopped too and got to see a small family of deer. Down the road, we also got to see a lone elk! We were very happy with the amount of wildlife we got to see, but I really would have liked to have seen a moose or a bear. Well, I will just have to come back someday! I have something to look forward to in the future.
When we got back to the campsite, we began preparing dinner. We had turkey franks this time with corn on the cob, beans, and for an after dinner snack popcorn. Oh and for a little pick me up dinner, we made some hot tea on our fire pit. Once again, it was a great dinner. At one point, we thought dinner might be ruined with a downpour of rain. Fortunately, it passed quickly and we were able to eat, clean the dishes, brush our teeth, and get to our tents before the rain came down. Thank goodness, it didn’t last for too long, but it wouldn’t matter if it had, we were perfectly snug in our tents. I learned from the previous night to dress warmer. I went to bed with two pairs of socks on, two pairs of pajama pants, a long sleeve, and a sweatshirt inside my 20 degree weather REI sleeping bag. I was perfect! And I was able to sleep soundly. I did, however, wake up to the sound of the elk (it’s their mating season).
After leaving Boise, we stopped at a Pennzoil to get our oil changed, as well as Wal-Mart to exchange our mattress. The air mattress is not supposed to be returned if it was purchased over 15 days ago. But somehow, we were lucky and they let us exchange it. After making these short errands, we had a 400 mile drive ahead of us to Yellowstone National Park. I had been looking forward to visiting the park. I was there when I was 6 or 7 with my parents. And this past year in Professor Mozingo's landscape architecture class I had learned a lot about the national park system, which all began with Yellowstone, our nation’s first and a model for all nations. Before arriving, we stopped in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to have lunch a take a short look around the town center. I absolutely loved Jackson Hole. We looked inside the famous Cowboy Bar, which has saddles instead of stools at its bar. The majority of the bar’s décor and charm can be attributed to its use of knotty pine and stuffed wildlife throughout (including a grizzly that was supposedly killed by a man who bit into the bear’s jugular)