We were packed and on the road in a reasonable amount of time and our first stop was at the Hot Spring Terraces just 5 miles north of our Campground. These were stunning white, yellow and red, steaming pools that cascaded water from one terrace to the next. We just had to stop and walk around and check them out. It was amazing to look at and we could have stayed there all morning, but the trill of KaMate from the car reminded us that he had not had his picture taken in a while so we obliged and took his photo in front of the terraces. We then slowly (did I say slowly yet?) puttered down the West side of the park in long lines of cars, rv's and construction zones
. The line of traffic coming into the park from the west entrance was stunning, it simply never stopped flowing in. We exited the park into the small town of West Yellowstone and headed for the Targhee Pass and the state line of Idaho. We made it up and over the pass, crossed the line and turned back around with the intention of simply getting gas in town and heading back into the park. This we did accomplish, but as we drove through town we saw a restaurant that was called "KiwiZ"!!!!!!!! It advertised sausage rolls and meat pies and had a New Zealand flag hanging out front. Well, before you can say KaMate, we had turned around, piled out of the car and burst through the door full of eager anticipation for what might be awaiting us. Sure enough, there were meat pies, (Bison) and a Kiwi woman was running the restaurant. It was a bit early for lunch, but we stopped and ate 4 pies anyway. We had a good chat with the owner and it turned out that Kiwis stopped in at the restaurant nearly once a day in the summer season. It was a nice taste of home, but the pies should have been round, not rectangular!!!
We then carried back on into the park and took the long, slow drive down to Old Faithful. Yes, this overly touristy destination was our next stop. The parking lots were big enough for several hundred vehicles, but we still had to circle for a wee while before we were able to 'create' a spot. We jumped out and walked back to this world famous geyser and within 10 minutes of getting there, it erupted, sending its plumes of boiling water and steam over 40 feet into the air
. There were over a thousand people all gathered on the benches and seats that ringed this geyser and it was great fun to hear the "oohs and aahs" from the crowd. Old Faithful is currently erupting every 90 minutes so we felt quite lucky to have timed it so well. Then it was back on the road, south through Yellowstone and into the adjoining Grand Teton National Park. This was another slow and trafficky drive, but we were more than compensated by following some beautiful rivers through lush, green, alpine meadows with snow capped mountains towering all around us. Jess even made the comment, "I know it's the same type of scenery as we saw in Glacier, but something about here is so much more amazing." For me, I think the steam rising from the countless hot spots throughout the park added the mystical and surreal to a stunning mountain environment.
We made it to our campground by mid-afternoon, checked in and then headed to Colter Bay Village to check out the Visitor Centre, get some badges and a warm afternoon treat, an ice cream. We had a nice afternoon watching movies about the Park and the area and then headed back to the tent for dinner of bison burgers. It was then time to head out for a 'night drive', as while in the Visitor Centre we picked up a couple of tips about places to spot moose, beavers and otters. Well, seeing a moose is at the top of Jess's list and we are all keen to see beavers and otters (Eli's war cry by now). We stopped at the first place and saw nothing so we carried on to the oxbow, a bend in a river that over time almost becomes its own separate pond
. There were several people lining the road here and we saw some sort of critter swimming in the water, it was very far away and it looked a bit like a beaver. Then…..then….out of the water on the far side of the river we saw for sure, a beaver sitting on the bank over 100 feet away. We grew quite excited, took lots of long distance photos and then what looked like a small beaver was swimming across the oxbow towards us. We sat down quietly in the bushes and watched it approach. It turned out to be too small for a beaver, but was a muskrat instead!!! Two aquatic mammals in one night, what a wonderful treat. As we walked back to the car awash and aglow with another wildlife success, we decided to walk further down the oxbow and see if we could spot an otter. Well, no otters were spotted, but we certainly did nearly as well, as there on the bank, munching on a willow branch not 10 feet away was a full-grown beaver. We could hear him chewing away and the longer we sat and watched, the more beavers appeared until there were 5 either swimming or munching on the bank. Lily even shot a great video with her camera of two beavers fighting over a willow branch. Fully satisfied and after 10 at night we drove home and crawled into bed well-filled with another day which was jam-packed full of memories.
We woke up and wished Uncle Pete well and this time it was not a difficult farewell as we will be seeing him in just over two weeks at the family wedding in Upstate New York. The plan was to pack up the car and prepare for the drive through Yellowstone, and then west out of Yellowstone in order to cross into Idaho, turn around and head back into the park and then South to Grand Teton National Park.