The peaceful side of Yellowstone

I woke up in the middle of the night–I was toasty warm under the duvet but it was cold!  That and the sound of the river rushing by my little porch was heaven. Less heavenly was taking the dog for a walk in the morning.  When I arrived I had seen these signs about ice that I thought they had just not taken down for the summer:

They were not, in fact, kidding

And then I almost slipped on the ice. It was 33 degrees at 7 am. And me in my Tevas.  Gave Calli a quick walk (after which she got  immediately on the bed to warm  up and get her $40 worth)

Brrr….wake me when the sun warms things up

and went into a wonderful breakfast (making up for the uck at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls). Fresh fruit, real oatmeal, good yogurt, cheesy scrambled eggs and bagels. Yum.

My idea of breakfast

We were on the road by 7:45 and Calli started whining almost immediately.  I pulled over as soon as I could and walked her around the turnout.  It wasn’t that. She was sick of the car. I would have walked her up past the lodge before I left, as I did last night, but I wanted to get on the road AND we had encountered this sign warning us of grizzlies:

Yeah, I’m so turning around right now

Black bears are one thing, but grizzlies? We turned around, but I did take yet another picture of the river:

Gallatin River from the bridge at the lodge near sunset

The woman at the front desk said they rarely see grizzlies.  Another woman told me there was one under her window at another hotel a half hour away. I kept thinking of the sign in the cabin Annie and I rented over Fall Break–it had a joke about carrying bells and bear spray. You could tell grizzly poop from regular bear because it had bells in it and smelled of bear spray. I don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to bears.

Back to Whining Calliope.  She kept up her tune all the way to Yellowstone, even though I stopped to let her sniff around a few times. It was 9 by the time we got to the west entrance, and already there was a line.  But I had decided nothing was going to ruffle me today. And it all went great.  There were a couple of turnouts to see heralded sites (e.g. Artists Paint Pots), but they were so jammed with cars I just drove through the craziness and got back on the road. We almost turned off to take the northen loop, but a bison sighting had caused a traffic jam worthy of LA.

So I kept going–perfect decision.  There was a turnout overlooking the flats, the river, the hills. No cars. We pulled in and got out. There was a beam marking the end of the parking and I sat on it. And watched a bison graze in the distance, the ducks swim in the river, the different shades of green and blue. And did nothing.  Calli lay at my feet, maybe dreaming of mutiny, but she was good. Until she caught a whiff of bison. Then she voiced her opinion, loud and clear. But the bison never caught a whiff of her.  She hushed. The whole world was hushed. In the same park as yesterday. It was great.

There is a bison in there somewhere
My bison, in the middle
Same view different direction

More cars started showing up after about 10 minutes. Soon the tiny lot in the turnout was full but I didn’t care.  It was so lovely.  One family with a passel of kids, all of whom had binoculars except the baby who sat on the ground and inspected the dirt with gleeful concentration (and bravo to the parents who were thought this was just fine). Dad gave them things to look for and helped them.  It was great. For once I kept my mouth shut.  That was great, too. I pretty much do know when, in case you were wondering.

At some point (I need to take voice notes or something) we went to the large Yellowstone Canyon Village so I could walk the dog and look for Suzanne’s request. (Nada, sorry, my dear, but I did try.)  There was a pile of residual snow for Calli to roll in and eat, and she got a bit of people time in (I don’t think I count as people).

I took a wrong turn at one point (not knowing I had–no GPS) and wound up at a lake  (Pumice Point) that Calli very much wanted to swim in.

Pumice Point

I asked a woman there if she knew where we were. She didn’t but they had a hired guide, a woman in maybe her early 40s, a beautiful outdoors woman tending to the van in which she carried her passengers. I approached her and said “Excuse me, but rumor has it you know what you are about around here.” She turned around, smiled broadly, HUGGED ME, and said “are you lost?” ” Well, not really since I have loads of time to get to Cody.”  She came over to my car, showed me where I had gone wrong on the map, and smiled her way back to the van.  Bless every fiber of her being.

We were making our leisurely way to Cody, stopping occasionally.  We stopped to smell a sulphur spring, just long enough to take a photo.

Think people would find these so fascinating if they knew what supervolcanoes were?

I spend a lot of time in Yellowstone trying not to think of Vesuvius.  Yellowstone is a supervolcano.  I don’t like even the sound of that word.

We stopped at Fishing Bridge and Calli clearly wanted to try her luck in the water.  A couple of grandparents and their three grandsons (teenagers) were on the bridge and the boys climed down to the water.  Well, heck. I asked them to keep a lookout and let Calli wade in. “Will she go in? It’s so cold!” On cue, Calli lay down in the water. But not for long. It was COLD.

As we meandered out, we drove past a huge lake.  There were several turnouts, but I hoped something better was ahead. And it was.  A pebble beach with parking spaces and a view of the vastness of Yellowstone lake with the mountains in the background.  Calli expressed no interest in swimming. I think the Fishing Bridge did her in.

Families skipping stones on the beach
Our beach with snow-capped mountains in the background
Another one

We spent an hour there.  Just sitting for most of it. Then I wrote a couple of postcards at a picnic table and a couple from Florida sat down to join me. They were very nice, but I wasn’t feeling conversational so it was a bit of an effort.  We had a nice chat and then I left.  And drove, happy and satisified with Yellowstone at last, out of the park. (Not quite so easy, as it involved climbing–and descending–Sylvan Pass, impassable for six months of the year.) But before we leave, here are some more pictures from my day, this one from the river beneath some falls that I surely would not forget:

Yellowstone. Somewhere

And this one near another volcanic sulphur pool, identifiable only by the smoke rising from the green (and the handy sign behind Calli’s head saying don’t come further):

Calli (reluctantly) posing in front of sulphur pools

The drive to Cody was stark and startling.  I could (should?) have taken many more photos.  These will have to do:

Car for scale
On the way to Cody
More Pit Stops for Rocks
Rocks and River

Then on to The Cody Hotel and a whole nother adventure.

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