Monday, August 18, 2014

Jackson Hole & Yellowstone {Days 7, 8, and 9}

And, we're on to the last three days of our trip. If you missed Days 1&2, Days 3&4, or Days 5&6 click on the links. But, for we begin, just a quick disclaimer: I apologize ahead of time for this rather lengthy post. Feel free to just skip ahead and look through the pictures to do the story telling if your strapped for time.
Friday was the seventh day of our trip. On this day, we mainly just drove around and looked at lots of the attractions if you will. Our first stop was the Information Station, where the Rangers helped us map out where we should go around the park. Our first attraction of the day was Gibbon Falls, a waterfall just as its name suggests.
Next, we stopped at the Artist's Paintpots. They were so talked up that I was excited to see them. We had chosen to go to the ones that had four different colors. Well, after we had walked the loop, the four colors were unclear. I was expecting like a red, a yellow, a green, and a blue one. It seems that there was a red, light blue, dark blue, and white one? Maybe a brown one? It is definitely unclear. I let you take a look at my pictures so you can judge for yourself.

After my disappointment, we went to a stop with some more geysers. Yippee!  We get to see more steam and water come out of a whole in the ground like a natural fountain. Woohoo! Let the fun begin, or shall I say end after the one hundredth one. Thank goodness the blue and green colors in the water at this stop could distract me from my being so done with geysers in the first place. As you can tell, I felt no need to take pictures of more geysers, so I opted to focus on the water.

At this point in our day, we were starving. We wound up at a "Soda Fountain" super late, like I'm talking we didn't finish eating until 3 o' clock. It was a cool place though. It had tables that kind of snake around so the waiter would come down the center of two rows to take our order. I decided to go for the black bean burger. I had never had one before, but it seems like a great healthier and vegetarian option.

Across the way was another visitor's center. This one was no exception. My dad forced us all to go in and watch another lame video. Keep in mind that this was the third one in seven days.
After we survived our last visitor's center video of the trip, we moseyed our way over to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which also had falls at the bottom along the river at one point. We stopped at multiple points to get different views. At one lookout, there was a huge deer creature right beside the sidewalk. You would be amazed at how close people were getting and how undisturbed the animal seemed. There were tons of people at these stops, which reminds me... I almost fell to my death at one of the lookouts. I was taking a picture of Sarah in front of the sign, but I couldn't get everything in my shot, so I backed up and practically fell down the side of the canyon. Luckily, my foot was fat enough to not fit between these two rocks, so I was saved. I kind of just freakishly laughed off my near death experience and breathed very deeply in my mind thinking well that would have been a dramatic way to say goodbye.

So, since I survived, we drove all the way to the other side of the bottom loop to the Grand Prismatic Spring per my request. Becca and I had been dying to see it after drooling over all the pictures we had seen of it in the various visitor centers. It was amazing! The materials of the natural ground formed a rainbow! As magical as it was, there was lots and lots of steam coming from it so it wasn't as clear as the pictures led us to believe. However, we heard that you can hike up the nearby mountain to see a better view from overhead.

After a long day of climbing in and out of Donavon, we drove back to Yellowstone for some pizza. Of course I got pineapple in mine. We also made a quick store run before calling it a night.
The next morning was the beginning of our eighth and final day in Yellowstone. We "slept in" a little and hit loads of traffic just trying to get into the west entrance. It was Saturday after all. Due to the long wait to get in, our first destination was a picnic lunch. I made some Huckleberry Brownies from the mix I got at a gift shop for the lunch. The berries were a pretty strong addition to the taste of the brownies. I ended up making them in pie tins because our rental did not have the right size pan, and when my mom went to cut them up they sort of just crumbled. Needless to say we passed around crumbles in a bag.
As soon as we were done pouring brownie crumbs into our mouths, we took a walk down to the Boiling River. At a certain point along the way, the Boiling River meets an ice cold river. Their waters mix and form natural hot tubs. I mean as natural as people moving rocks to form more of a tub. I loved it because I am already kind of obsessed with hot tubs to begin with, but hot tubs formed by nature, truly amazing! It was kind of hassle in some ways because you would get extremely hot streaks and extremely cold streaks at times, but I was loving every minute of it.

Shortly after drying off and changing in our trusty Donavon, we headed to Mammoth Falls located just up the hill. We passed some wildlife sunbathing on the grass along the way. Us fellow LAers thought Mammoth Falls looked like the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. They were spectacular. And, of course we saw an ice cream sign, so we had to stop in. Of course, I chose a huckleberry ice cream cone.

As we finished up the last of our cones, we went and looked at another waterfall. In true Dale fashion, my dad wanted to hike to see another view of the falls, but no one else did. Thus, we decided to wait in the car as he strung my brother along for "250 steps" there and "250 steps" back.

Once my dad's hiking desire was fulfilled, we took a five mile or so scenic drive recommended by the ranger at the information station. It was beautiful. It was along an unpaved travel that seemed so secluded with no one around. We got lucky and spotted lots of wildlife here and there. The drive was so picturesque that it seemed it was out of a fairytale.

After exiting our little nature heaven, we wound up at the petrified tree. Basically, it was a tree stump with a fence around it.
Finally, we chose to spend our last time in Yellowstone driving along a road said to be filled with animals left and right. And, it did not disappoint. There were tons and I mean tons of bison. At some points, they even held up traffic as they decided to calmly walk across the road as if the cars weren't even there. I heard the road was bear central, so I was on the look out. Sadly, we did not see any after hearing it was pretty much a guarantee. We also heard there was a wolves den along the road, but we didn't see any either. Luckily, we had our bison so the rather long up and back drive was worth it.

At ten o' clock or so we walked into a cafeteria for dinner. I chose the barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes complete with huckleberry sauce. And, my my, it was delicious. So, that my friends ended our time in Yellowstone.
The next morning we loaded Donavon up with our eleven pieces of luggage, nine backpacks, and one tote bag. And, we went on our way to Salt Lake City. It was only about four hours of driving. For some reason I was expecting it to be longer. We stopped for lunch a little more than halfway through our drive at a place more or less like a truck stop. It was such a lovely meal let me tell ya. We sat across from some parked cars beside a freeway and ate the last of our food. It was just great.
We realized we had some time to spare, so we decided to head into the city. We ended up at the main Mormon temple. It was stunning. It was so pristine with its white exterior and tall towers. The square outside of it was adorned beautifully with a variety of colorful flowers, bronze statues, and fountains. It would have been so neat to go inside of it, but it was closed because it was a Sunday. And, let me tell ya, it felt like the whole town was sleeping. I had never seen anything like it.

Shortly after gazing at the temple, we made our way over to the airport. It was tough letting Donavon go, but we had to just rip off the band aid sooner or later. He was so good to us that Donavon. We will be truly missed. Sadly, we also to say our goodbyes to Graham because she was booked on a later flight. But, we went on and flew the short flight home feeling like two of us were missing.
So, there you have it. That was the end of our trip. I hope you have enjoyed joining in on the fun. On Wednesday I will be reflecting and recommending our activities in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, as well as debuting a video of our trip. You won't want to miss it!
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