American Adventures 2: Yellowstone National Park Part 1

We drove across Washington, towards Pullman, the town where Eva had worked for WSU, near the border with Idaho. We were going to meet Eva’s friend Maddie, then head over the state line to Moscow to stay the night.

The drive was pretty good, although I got very hungry after not having my muffin. We arrived and did a little tour of where Eva worked while we waited for Maddie to finish working for the day. We headed to a lovely “brew pub” where we had tasty dinner. Eva and Maddie mostly chatted.

After dinner, we dropped Maddie home and went to see where Eva had lived, then headed out to Moscow. The Super 8 motel that we were staying in was easy to find and the room had three double beds! Luxury! Eva and I were beginning to enjoy having beds and showers readily available.

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The Cougars banner at our Super 8 – Eva only just noticed that the cougar head says “WSU” after working there for several months!

We got up in the morning for the free breakfast and I attempted and failed to properly use the waffle machine. There wasn’t much food for Eva the vegan, which would become a running theme, so we went into Moscow and bought provisions in the Coop.

Then we drove towards Butte, Montana. I loved the name! Along the way we stopped at a few rest stops, where there were people selling coffee and many many ground squirrels. The toilets at the one stop were a bit knarly and the water tasted odd, so we were happy when we found the next one which was much nicer and had a pretty view.

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Mum at one of the many rest stops on the journey

It was on this journey that we found the Beatles radio station, which became our favourite for the remainder of the trip. Who doesn’t love the Beatles?

We got to Butte and checked in to the Best Western. We were given a room on the ground floor with a window that looked out into the corridor. There was also a loud barky dog next door. Mum was not happy. We went and asked to change.

We were given a first floor room. This one also had a window that did not have an outside view. Mum was beginning to gently emit smoke.

Finally, on attempt three, we got a room that had a proper window.

We headed out to pizza hut for tea. Dad and I were hungry but Mum and Eva didn’t feel much like eating, so Eva didn’t eat and Mum had a few slices.

We headed back to the Best Western in a bit of an odd mood, on the way spying a glowing white point on the mountain behind the motel. This is apparently the statue of the Lady of the Rockies.

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Lady of the Rockies (not my photo – AllAroundTheWest, Flickr)

Mum and Dad went for a walk as mum was getting a bit of cabin fever and Eva and I continued our Netflixing.

The next day, we went down to breakfast, where I was told to get some shoes. Apparently one has to wear shoes to breakfast… who knew? There was lots to choose from, cooked stuff, cereal, pastries, juices. It was lovely.

We packed up and ventured out again, this time driving all the way to Yellowstone! It was a nice drive and got nicer as we drew closer to our destination. One of the cooler things we saw on the way was Earthquake Lake, a large lake with the skeletons of drowned trees sticking up out of it.

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Earthquake Lake

We were too early to check into our motel in West Yellowstone, so after having a bite to eat (mainly our leftover pizza), we drove into the Park to see some geothermal action!

We decided to start at the main geyser basin, home of Old Faithful Geyser. Mum and Dad had come to the park in 1991, so were very excited to see everything again.

In the visitor centre, there are boards telling you what time the frequent geysers are going off. We noticed that Castle Geyser, apparently Mum’s favourite, would be going off soon. We raced to get there, storming down the gravelly path. On the way we saw a box containing maps. We walked swiftly past, but I went back to get one, sure that we  would like to have one. I grabbed the guide and speedily made my way back to my family, looking at the map as I went.

Very quickly, my foot fell down a small hole in the path and I fell over.

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Ouchies

I popped back up, embarassed, and returned to my family. We kept going to get to Castle Geyser, so we wouldn’t miss it and then I sat down and sorted my grazed leg out.

We waited for a very long time for Castle to go off, seeing Old Faithful, Beehive and Lion geysers all go off in the distance.

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Old Faithful going off in the distance!

After a long wait in the sun, Castle finally decided to stop teasing us with small jets of water and erupted in a spectacular fashion.

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Castle Geyser

We then walked on down the geyser basin to Morning Glory Pool. We went past lots of dormant geysers and beautful pools, realising we had missed the very rare Giant Geyser by three days. Morning glory is a stunning pool with bacteria causing a rainbow effect.

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Morning Glory Pool

Eva was getting hungry and we were all very thirsty, but we made the long hot walk back over geyser hill, where we saw the interesting anemone geyser go off – it has two sides and does one side, then another and then repeats.

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Anemone Geyser erupting

We went into the visitor centre and attacked the water fountain before browsing the gift shop.

We went back out to join the hoards of people waiting to see Old Faithful go off. We had decided to eat at the Old Faithful Inn, a very special old hotel where Mum and Dad had stayed on their last visit, so Dad disappeared to book us a table and returned with a device that would bleep when our table was ready.

We waited and saw Old Faithful go off in its magnificent and timely fashion. It’s no wonder people had decided to build the main tourist hub around it. Nature is incredible.

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Old Faithful!

We went in to the Old Faithful Inn and had a little look around the main foyer. Wow. The engineering that had gone into building such a massive place out of huge logs was a wonder to behold.

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Inside the Old Faithful Inn

There was just about enough food for Eva, despite the fact that her soup came late and they didn’t know what a vegan was. I had a starter of pitta bread and hummus, which should have been for sharing as I got about four pitta breads.

It was going pretty well until Eva was angered by the waiter, who said there were a few vegan dessert options. Turns out there was just sorbet. Eva made an effigy of the waiter out of her leftover spaghetti squash main and stabbed it with a fork. Note to any eateries in touristy areas – don’t anger the hungry vegans…

We headed back and checked into our motel, which was pretty decent and very close to the National Park border.

The next morning, we headed out to find breakfast. West Yellowstone is very small, but has a few eateries. We found a lovely little place called “Greens and Grounds” which had vegan porridge and tasty cheese and egg crossiants as well as good coffee.

After breakfast we drove up to Mammoth Hot Springs. The drive was lovely, passing through some large meadows where we saw a sleepy Bison and some deer. Near the end of the drive, there were some very cool rocks and a gorgeous view down into a valley.

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Such a good view

We had a quick visit to the visitor centre, then went to have lunch at a big cafeteria in Mammoth town. There were nice bean burgers for Eva and I as well as tasty chips. In the line we met another vegan, who I persuaded Eva to give her number to. She did so in the time-honored fashion of slipping him a napkin on her way out of the cafeteria!

We walked out together, with me in front, but as she went to drop the napkin, it fell onto the floor, so she had to pick it up and thrust it at him. We ran around the corner, cackling.

He did text her though.

We walked up to the main event of Mammoth – the stunning terraces. They are just sensational, and I couldn’t stop taking photos.

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Mammoth Hot Springs

After the walk on the lower terraces, we headed back to the car and saw some elk hanging out on the grass. We watched then for a while, before retreating swiftly back to the visitor centre as a sudden shower hit.

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The Elk

The rain cleared and then we drove up to the upper terraces to look at those too – it as certainly worth it – my favourite was called Canary Spring.

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The upper terraces look like an alien landscape
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Canary Spring

We then drove on to Norris Basin, which smelt, but had some very steamy geysers, including one called Steamboat. While we were there, we were pounded by a short hail shower – another reminder of the altitude we were at!

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Norris Basin

We walked back to the car after a brief viewing as it was starting to get dark and Mum was concerned that a bear might come and eat us. Near the path, we spied some beautiful snow-shoe hares, who seemed unconcerned about bears or us, for that matter.

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Steamboat Geyser

We had dinner in West Yellowstone, at a place called Bullwinkles, which had one or two options for the plants based family members and some very tasty wine. I had a lovely mushroom burger.

We had two more days in Yellowstone, with so much more to see. Too much, in fact, for just one blog – so catch up on that next time!

 

 

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