Irene and I added to the geothermal activity

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Thursday, July 22, 2010

It was a slow start today - I had to rescue my washing (the laundry closed at 9:30pm and I thought it was an hour earlier as my clock was still on LA time and thus an hour behind) and feed it into the dryer so went downstairs at 8:30am in my pyjamas with book. I thought that it would be nice to sit in the early morning sun and read while enjoying a cup of tea. They don't do straight breakfast tea in the US so I had water which just wasn't the same. The sun was great though after yesterday and I did some brain training puzzles as that seemed more appropriate at that hour of the morning than reading a novel. The dryer took an hour to finish and by that time there was a queue of very unfriendly women (note that men don't do washing in the US either) who could barely give one the time of day. I thought I was back in LA! 
We got a 10% discount on breakfast at the restaurant next door so went there to see what was on offer. They do a buffet breakfast. We had rubbery scrambled eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy (I still haven't got the courage up to try that yet), a savoury bread and butter pudding (which was quite nice), french toast (not like any I have had before), yoghurt, granola, fruit and some pastries. Coffee was free but I had to pay for my tea and they don't seem to understand that you need boiling water to make a good one. 
Anyway I am beginning to get the hang of american breakfasts and find it very easy to eat enough to keep me going all day. We did not eat until 10pm tonight and only just managed to get served - it stays light until about 9pm so is easy to forget about food when you are busy seeing all there is to be seen. We have yet to see a bear!
After a nice couple of hours shopping - I bought a new pair of sandals and left my old ones with the shop keeper. They had been mended a couple of times and had really had it. The great thing about Montana is that is has no sales tax. There are only 4 US states without it so they pay higher income tax. If there is sales tax, you can always choose not to buy something but with income tax you have no choice. Both Irene and I could have spent a fortune. What was lovely about the shops is that they don't compete and tell you what you can find in other shops even if that means they lose your business. It was rather nice - a Ms Beaver (very chatty and friendly) ran a shop that sold furs like those you see in the old westerns where trappers bring their goods into town. She also collected river rocks and sold them which seemed somewhat strange. They were literally just rocks that had very little of note about them but that may be because I just don't get it. 
After the strenuousness of shopping, we needed to 'go potty' so went to the Blue Goose Saloon where we also had a beer. We had Trout Killer Ale while they were cleaning the taps and then the bar guy gave us some samples of local beers. The bar top was marble like (you couldn't really see as it was very dark in there) and it was badly cracked - I asked whether someone had smashed their head on to it while drunk but he just said no that it was very old. He did point out the marble floor which was cracked and told us that it was caused by a customer riding his horse into the saloon while drunk. It was a great old pub - lots of animal head trophies on the walls and pictures of famous people who had visited. There was a huge marlin above the bar as well as a gator head. A sign said something like "We are always happy with our customers, happy when some arrive and happy when others leave".
We thought we had better get back to Yellowstone Park so see all the sights but it was very late when we made that decision. There are so many vehicles in the Park and they are doing a large amount of road work so it is taking ages to get anywhere.
The first thing we did was go down to the Old Faithful geyser which blows about every 90 minutes. They said it would happen about 4:58pm so we sat on the verandah with a coffee and ice-cream and waited. Old Faithful did its thing on time so we were pleased about that. There were masses of people there waiting. It is not really that spectacular (the blow holes in WA match) but I like the regularity of it and the fact you can sit on rocking chairs in the shade and wait for it. Old Faithful Lodge is the most popular place to stay in Yellowstone and is booked out years in advance. Actually all accommodation in Yellowstone (and all national parks) is booked early hence the fact that we are staying outside and having to drive long distances. The Lodge itself is old and very pretty despite the fact that it is full of homo sapiens - they are, as I mentioned some wit saying earlier, for the most part quite well behaved. We did see a coyote or wolf on the way which added to the list of animals we have seen.
However, still no bears.
After Old Faithful, we went to see the Artists' Paintpot which is basically a mud geyser. We had a short walk around the area on these board walks. It really is very well done and is easy for most people to access. This was the one place where there was no access for wheelchairs. Even in places with two or three steps they have mini-elevators (similar to that at the movie theatre in Cairns which I had never seen before) or properly sloped ramps. In Yellowstone picturesque places where there are steps they have signs directing wheelchair users to where they can get the best views. I have been very impressed - it is much better than in WA although we are getting there. My only complaint is the bad sign-posting of toilet facilities - we were absolutely busting so had to go bush even though there were signs saying to keep to the path. We figured we were far enough away from the thermal hot spots but you never know. Apparently despite the warnings a fair number of people suffer from bad steam burns each year.
Next it was Yellowstone Canyon and the waterfalls. By this time it was getting towards sunset and the mozzies were out so it was a quick stop at all the vantage points to take numerous photos. Some people were actually starting to hike which is a bit of a worry cos that is when the nasties (bears) come out. There are signs saying don't hike at night but people just ignore them - perhaps that is why there are 14 people killed by bears each year!! I have to say once again that Yellowstone Park is really fantastic and well worth a visit. I wish we had longer here but at least now I have seen it even though it was a very quick one.
We stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs at 10pm for dinner and I am surprised they still served us but it was very nice and we fell into bed at about midnight hence the late posting of this blog.
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Lance on

Yellow Stone Park looks great. Looking forward to the next log.

David W on

Keep up the good work Kate - it makes a great vicarious holiday. We missed Yellowstone in 2009 so glad you're doing it for us!

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