Lesson Learned in Yellowstone

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Aug 22, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Friday, August 22, 2008

We started off our last full day in Yellowstone like any proper tourists should...we spent way too much money on souvenirs.  Seriously.  We had to ship stuff home because we didn't have enough room in our suitcases.  And in case anyone is wondering, it only took two days for our package to make it from Yellowstone to Arbutus.  Impressive. 

Matthew picked our final hike:  a three-mile loop to the Natural Bridge, a fifty-foot high rock arch created by water rushing under the lava rock.  The hike was fairly easy, winding through a forest of lodgepole pines.  We came across a couple of trees with the bark quite scratched up, most likely by bears or bison.  At this graphic evidence of bear claws, I began to get a little scared.  Not so much lions and tigers and bears as just bears.  I was on high alert for the remainder of the hike. 

The wind did not help.  Oh, did I forget to mention how gusty it was outside today?  Well, let me expound.  The wind was whipping through the trees.  The pine trees were creaking and screeching, and cracking up against each other.  We heard at least one tree fall, and witnessed a huge branch come down.  As my anxiety rose, I thought back to the time I was in the outhouse when the rest of the Singletons saw the wind funnel rip up two trees in ten seconds.  At this point, I was thankful for my small bladder.   As evidence of the wind, take a look at the video Matthew took of Lake Yellowstone, which looked more like Yellowstone Ocean today.

The Natural Bridge was well worth the risk of bears and windburn (Beck, that one is for you).  We climbed up under the arch, took some pictures, and then proceeded up the steep, switchback trail to the top.  Amazingly, there is one lone tree growing on top of the arch.  We all agreed this was one of our favorite hikes. 

After making it back to the car without seeing any bears (insert huge sigh of relief from me here), we proceeded on to the Midway Geyser Basin.  The two main attractions here were the Excelsior Geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring.  Because of the winds, the steam was out of control, and apparently, so were hats.  We must have seen half a dozen different hats laying around on the ground around the geysers.  I am certain there were quite a few people with sunburned scalps.  And if you know anything about Matthew, he was gripping his hat like it was the last hat on Earth. 

With all the wind, it was hard to capture all of the brilliant colors on film, but we tried.  The Excelsior Geyser was definitely my favorite.  It dumps 4,000 gallons of steaming water right into the Firehole River every minute.  Yet another Yellowstone sight that somewhat defies description. 

After a quick drive down Firehole Lake Drive to see some more geysers, we headed back to the Fishing Bridge General Store for dinner.  A little backstory here may be necessary.  We ate at this general store earlier in the week, and they had the best fish sandwich ever.  So, I wanted another fish sandwich before we left.  I had been talking about it for days.  We arrived at the diner, and luckily we had beaten the dinner rush.  Our waiter came right over and took our order.  We then sat back, rehashing the day.  About 15 minutes later, our server was back with our food.  Grilled cheese and chili for Beck.  A fish sandwich for Dad.  Grilled cheese and soup for Matthew.  And nothing for me.  That's right.  He forgot to write down my order.  At this point, Dad tried to be nice and offered me his fish sandwich.  I refused, because I knew how hungry he was.  I decided just to wait patiently for the kitchen to rush out another fish sandwich.  Yes, you just read that correctly.  Me and the word "patiently" in the same sentence.  What a pipe dream.

As I sat there trying not to eat my own arm, I noticed another server making fun of our waiter for screwing up our order.  She thought it was hilarious. Well, about ten minutes later, as our waiter was waiting on a family of seven, my fish sandwich was ready.  The lady in the kitchen yelled our server's name.  He did not respond because he was taking the huge family's order.  Instead, the girl server who thought it was so funny that I didn't get my food strolls over to the window, looks at my sandwich and then casually walks away.  Without picking up my food and running it to me.  Like any good server would have done.

Two minutes and many more curse words in my head later, the lady from the kitchen screams our server's name again.  He was still taking the family's order.  The other server walks over to the window AGAIN and informs the cook that he is busy.  And she starts to turn away again.  At this point, hunger took over and I yelled across the restaurant (scaring the crap out of my father-in-law in the process), "Is that a fish sandwich?"  Unbeknownst to me, as I am turned around in my seat throwing daggers with my eyes at the lazy, good-for-nothing server, my overwrought waiter is rushing over to get my sandwich.  So now, it seems like I am yelling at him.  He runs the sandwich over to me, apologizing profusely.  I now feel awful for yelling, because I really wasn't mad at him.  And the rest of my party loses it.  Everyone dies in a fit of laughter at my ridiculous behavior. After about five minutes (and half a fish sandwich later), I am finally able to see the humor.  Lesson learned?  Do not get in between me and a fish sandwich.  And my family has assured me that I will NEVER live that moment down.  I fully expect to walk into a room in twenty years and have one of them scream at me:  "Is that a fish sandwich?"  I suppose I deserve it...(BTW, Matthew has informed me after reading my recount of the fish sandwich debacle that I left out how I also yelled at him for laughing at me.  It's true.  Before my blood sugar was back up, I kind of yelled at him because I did not think it was funny.  Luckily, he knows how I am when I haven't eaten, and he is not holding it against me.  Plus, I told him I was really sorry). 

After dinner, we took one last drive through the Hayden Valley to watch the wildlife.  And we are sure glad we did.  We saw bison headbutting and running around a little crazy.  We also saw another grizzly bear feeding on a bison carcass.  Actually, feeding is too calm.  Devouring.  Fur was flying everywhere.  Second lesson of the day?  Bears are scary. 

Tomorrow is going to be long...we are headed out at 6 a.m. to the airport.  Here's hoping we can sleep on the plane!
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