Aug. 22 - 26; Yellowstone National Park

Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 25, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, August 22, 2011

Yellowstone National Park - Day 1, Wyoming

 (by Emma)

Today we first went to the Grand Teton Visitor Center to show the ranger our work and to get our Junior Ranger badges.  Then we started the drive north to Yellowstone National Park. 

On the drive to Yellowstone we saw lots of burnt trees, and a really pretty river.  When we got to Yellowstone we stopped to take a picture by the welcome sign.  Then, the first thing we did was drive to the Visitors Center to get our Yellowstone Junior Ranger books.  We watched a movie and went into a learning room where I learned that forest fires are actually good for the forest and especially the Lodgepole Pine because fire is the only thing that can melt the sticky glue so that the cone can open up and the seeds can fall out.  This allows the forest to start new, fresh growth.

Next, we drove to Old Faithful geyser.  There was a visitor center there also, so we went inside and learned about geysers.  We went outside and saw Old Faithful explode with water.  Old Faithful got it's name because because it erupts just about every 90 minutes for two minutes. 

We went back to the Visitors Center and got a Young Scientist book.  We learned that it is lava under the ground that heats up the water and sends it up a small chamber where there is only a small opening, and when the pressure builds and builds, it causes the geyser to erupt.  Some erupt on a regular schedule like Old Faithful, but many others do not erupt on a schedule like that.  While we were learning, they announced that another geyser named Beehive was going to erupt because it gives a signal every time it is close.  We rushed outside and saw it erupt.  It was much bigger and longer than Old Faithful!  It lasted 8 minutes and 32 seconds.

Next we drove to our campsite and I drew pictures.  We took a shower and went to an evening Ranger program to learn about the wolves.  We learned that wolves used to be in only a small part of the US, but now they have spread to the whole US.  We walked back to the RV and wrote in our journals and then went to bed.

Yellowstone National Park - Day 2, Wyoming

(by Katelyn)

Today we went to an animal sightseeing spot early in the morning.  At the spot we saw lots of Bison.  We also saw a Golden Eagle very far away.  Because we were not seeing any other animals, we did not stay very long.

After searching for animals, we went to a hiking trailhead.  There we went on a hike called the 'Rim Walk', which goes around the 'Grand Canyon' of Yellowstone.  We went with a Ranger and a group of other people.  I learned on the hike that there is a berry on the side of these paths that is very sweet and that the bears like.  We also learned that this is the area of the park that a man was attached by a Grizzly Bear and killed earlier in the summer.  Another thing that I learned in the walk is that you can tell a fir tree because its needles are soft ('friendly fir'), and you know if it is a spruce tree if its needles are spiky ('Spiky Spruce').  One last thing that I learned was that if you look very closely you can see little spikes growing from the ground.  That is a baby tree.

After the 4 mile hike we went to a couple of waterfalls:  The Upper Falls, Lower Falls, and Gibbens Falls.  They were okay, but not the best that we have seen.  However, I did learn that the name Yellowstone came from a name the Indians used to describe some of the rocks in the river:  'Yellow Rock'.  That name eventually became 1 word and turned into Yellowstone.  Also, the Yellowstone River, which runs right through the park is the longest undamed river in America.

We went on some more hikes around geysers, but they smelled and I did not like them, so I am not going to write about them.  What was fun is that we continued our drive around the park to a small town called Madison.  At Madison we all got our Yellowstone Junior Ranger Patch.  After this, we went back to __ to eat dinner, and then we stopped to try to find animals again at sunset at the Hayden Valley. 

Animals we saw today:  We saw many animals today.  We saw a Grizzly Bear on the side of the road.  It was really cool because it was fluffy and big.  The second animal we saw was a bison that charged at us.  It was really scary because it was a male buffalo and it is mating season.  We saw a very large pack of Elk in the Hayden Valley, and a Golden Eagle.  Finally, we saw a next of Ausprey along the Yellowstone River.

I had a great day.

Yellowstone National Park - Day 3, Wyoming

(by Madison)

Today we went back to Old Faithful to complete our Young Scientist book.  When we arrived, we first watched Old Faithful erupt.  This time it was a lot less exciting because it was our second time watching it and we knew what to expect.  However, it was really fun watching the first timers reactions.

When we were done watching Old Faithful we went to see a couple of hot springs as we worked on our Young Scientist books.  We were walking toward a geyser named Daisey when we saw a large crowd gathering around Grand Geyser, which is the largest predictable geyser in the world.  The challenge is that it can go days between eruptions.  When we got there people told us that there were signs that it might erupt soon, and it was also quite late.  We were there for about 20 minutes when Grand Geyser swung into action!  It was really cool because it went so high.  A lady there who is an expert on geysers told us that it is not unusual for it to calm down completely, and then shoot up again even higher.  We were lucky enough to see that happen two times, which is well more than the average.  It erupted for over 8 minutes, which is much longer than Old Faithful, and it was also much larger.

When Grand was done, we then started to walk in the direction of Beehive Geyser because we heard that a small geyser next to it was erupting, which is a signal that Beehive will erupt within 20 minutes.  We got seats right in front of the geyser, and sure enough Beehive erupted right in front of us.  We watched beehive and it was really cool because the water came down on us and we got soaked.  I didn't want to get too wet because it was windy and cool, and I didn't want to get cold.  Beehive erupted for 5:02 minutes.

My favorite geyser was grand.  I liked Grand because it went so high.  It was also special because it is so infrequent.  I think we were really lucky to see so many big geysers.  We finally went back into the Young Scientists room and worked on our books for about 45 minutes.  When we were done we got our badges, watched Old Faithful one last time, and headed to the RV. 

Next, we went to an area called the Grand Prismatic Spring.  It is a very large and very pretty spring.  It is so colorful because of the large number of microorganisms in the hot water.  While there we met a photographer who was taking pictures with a fisheye lens, and he showed us the cool effects.  We decided that we are going to get my dad one of those for Christmas!

When we were done at Grand Prismatic, we drove back to our campground because it was getting late.  We ate dinner and got ready for bed.

Yellowstone National Park - Day 4, Wyoming

(by Madison)

Today we went animal watching, but accidentally!  We left a little late and were driving toward Mammoth Hot Springs when we saw a large group of people gathering in a parking lot right on the side of the road.  Dad was able to pull over right on the road, and we could see 3 Grizzly Bears down by the river.  It was a mom with 2 cubs (actually, 2 yearlings).  We watched the bears for over an hour through the camera and a spotting scope as they were running back and forth and digging for food.  Then, about 20 minutes into this we saw 2 coyotes come out!  We were excited because that was 2 animals that you don't usually see in 1 day!  We were watching the coyotes for about 20 minutes, and then the beard started to chase them.

Next, we saw a bald eagle flying along the river.  We watched it land along the river, and then we saw several juvenile (younger then 2 years) eagles fly over our heads.  These eagles do not yet have the white head and tail, which they get in their third year.  Now we were watching eagles, which was really cool!

We were there almost all morning because there were so many animals, and the Grizzly Bears were slowly starting to walk up toward us.  We did not think that they would want to cross the road with all of the people, but they kept coming right toward us!  They were walking right up the hill toward our RV, and we ran back and got in.  A Ranger came and had to yell at some people who did not move, and the Grizzly Bears kept coming up the hill.  We could not see them for a minute when we were in the RV, and then when I looked out the mother was right there!  The mother and one of her babies charged across the road right in front of our RV, and we were taking a bunch of pictures.  The second baby got scared and ran back down, and the mother turned around and looked mad.  Then the baby came back up and crossed the road and went into the woods with the mother.  (NOTE:  after this event, we went to the Ranger station, and it was confirmed that this is the same mother Grizzly that killed a man earlier this year.  They know this because she was tagged in the ear after the event, and you can clearly see the tags in the pictures.  The bear was not killed because it was determined that she was only protecting her cubs, and the man did not follow correct procedure when confronting a bear!)

When we got to Mammoth Hot Springs it was already 2pm.  We hiked around the hot springs for about 2 hours and took pictures.  We all wanted to go to the place in the river where you can swim, so we drove there.  It is where the water from the springs runs down into the Yellowstone River and the hot water meets the cold water.  It was really cool because when you lean forward it is really hot, and when you lean back it is freezing cold.  We had to leave after about 20 minutes because we could see a big storm coming.  When we got back to the RV it started to pour, and there was lots of lightning.

As we were driving back, we saw some angry buffalo who were scratching their horns on the trees and getting ready to fight.  They were running around and making lots of noise.  They went out of our sight, so we did not see what happened.

The final thing that happened on the way back was that we went right through a hail storm.  Fortunately, the hail had already fallen, so we just saw it all on the ground, but the road was covered in ice!  It was the biggest hail we had ever seen, and we had to stop to take pictures.  We had to drive back slowly with all of the ice on the road.

This was a busy and exciting day!

Yellowstone National Park - Day 5, Wyoming

(by Katelyn)

Today I woke up and went to a beach on Yellowstone Lake.  Next to the big lake was a smaller pond where we found snails.  Finding snails was boring, so I went to help Mom with lunch because Dad was out in the Kayak.  When we were done we got the picnic basket and blankets and set-up.  When it was ready we called everyone over.

After lunch I went to s different section of the lake and found frogs.  I liked catching frogs better.  Once I caught 3 frogs, Madison and Emma crowded me until I was squished.  That made me upset and I had to go away.  Finally they left because they could not catch anything, so I went back and caught more frogs!  We did this for most of the day, and then we went swimming in Yellowstone Lake while Dad put the kayaks away.

We then drove to Cody, WY because my Mom has a flight in the morning.  I was doing word searches when I heard Dad say, "MOOSE!"  We had not been able to find a moose for the whole trip, so we were excited.  Dad pulled over and we walked back and saw 1 moose in a pond eating grass.  We took pictures and let it be.  We were excited to finally see a moose because they seem to hide and are difficult to see.

Once we got to Cody we saw that they have a nightly Rodeo and we decided to go for Mom's last night.  I really liked this Rodeo because they also had kids in it.  My favorite event was Barrel Racing.  I liked it because we saw really fast horse riders.  My favorite person was an 8 year-old who won the barrel racing and also a 3 year old who went really slow.  Most of the people did it in 18 seconds, but she took 99.99 seconds!!  We also saw a bull rider get hurt, and they had to bring in an ambulance and take him out on a board.  We decided that we would not want to ride bulls.

After the rodeo it was late and we went to bed.

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Xiu on

Some people already think my family is weird. My next story will make them think we are even more weird (or maybe just Xiu). We were so lucky to have seen some great geysers erupt: beehive, old faithful (3X), grand and beehive again. Grand geyser erupts anywhere between approx. 7 to 11 hours (maybe). When we happened upon the grand geyser, some people had already been waiting there for over 4 hours. So, we were excited to see what the fuss was all about. The grand geyser can sprout / erupt many times but the average is 1.5 eruptions per event. We got to see it erupt 3 X during our sighting event. Grand geyser puts beehive and old faithful to shame. After we saw grand erupt 3X and then the girls got wet under the beehive eruption, the kids and I had a long philosophical discussion about marriage and husbands (don't know how it got started!). They compared the geysers to men and talked about what kind of husbands one should have. Katelyn and Madison said the grand geyser kind and young Emma chose old faithful kind. Their rationale was that Grand was so much more beautiful and "more grand" than old faithful. Emma's rationale was that you know exactly when and how old faithful is going to erupt. Old faithful got its name because of how consistent it is. Mommy then explained the differences and said that the kids are way to young to be talking about husbands! Finally daddy couldn't resist and chimed in that we are just so lucky to have daddy because he is both the grand kind and the old faithful kind. That comment we have to agree with for today, although daddy owes mommy big because he will miss mommy's birthday and has already missed anniversary while being on the trip. I do have to say I don't know what owes me big means though!
When we accidentally came upon the 3 grisly bears and other wild life, we stayed at Hayden valley for over 4 hours (we were there for an extra 2 hours because Mike wanted to take pictures of the bald eagle fly ahead). However, the bald eagles were stubborn and did not fly much... they just sat there for a long time. Even if they flew, they were too far away for good pictures. The good news is that many of the pictures did come out, especially the ones with the bears and the juvenile eagle.

Correction: the river where we went swimming is called Boiling River, not Yellowstone river.

Despite some small disagreements between kids and mommy and mommy and daddy, and a few days with a pounding headaches, the 2 weeks with the family were great. I am so proud of my family for being so brave and adventurous. This has been a great adventure indeed... I do believe the kids are learning so much about the country and themselves. What I hope they get from this trip are a few things: appreciation of nature, (especially the beauty that is America); the father-daughter, the sister to sister and overall family bonds that are some of the most important things in life; material things are nice to have but they are not so important in the grand scheme of things; and lastly, the strong belief that one can do anything if one puts his/her mind to it (changing direction in life to spend more time with family, hiking 13 miles up the mountain in the middle of no where, biking 50 miles, and living in close quarters for months). I am so looking forward to seeing everyone back home on 9/24. But I am also excited about the possibilities that will come from their next trip!

PopPop R. on

Great Tetons & Yellowstone pics ~~~~~~~~ Brings back many fond memories ~~~~~~~ Cheers & Love, PopPop R.

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