Sunday, July 13, 2014

Old Faithful

To our great delight, my sister and her family had planned to meet up with us at Yellowstone and were camping in the site right next to us. So our kids were thrilled to be spending some quality time with their cousins; and we had a great time visiting with our family. Old Faithful topped everyone's wish list of things to see in the park, so we decided to go see her on our first full day at Yellowstone.

On the way to Old Faithful, we spotted our first "Animal-Jam" (traffic jam caused by crazy drivers stopping in the middle of the road and rushing off to get way too close to animals, resulting in all of those animal attack videos on YouTube). Seriously, I have to say, the park was really well-designed with huge paved pull-outs in many areas of the park. There was usually ample space to pull all the way off the road to see animals safely, but I think people lose their heads when they see wildlife and sometimes don't think as clearly as they should. We saw many examples of not-so-safe behavior and driving, but thankfully the majority were thoughtful.

I apologize to this elk for the rather...err...unflattering view, but I was ecstatic to spot my first elk, so I feel compelled to share this shot I took from the Winnie. 
Once we got to Old Faithful, the happy cousins made their way to the main event.
It was unbelievably warm today, and we were waiting for quite some time for the next eruption, but our kids were so happy to be with their cousins that they sat happily on the boardwalk. Thank goodness for cousins!




And finally...the main event! It was really cool to watch, and also entertaining to listen to comments from the crowd.
Some of us were more thrilled than others---but we all had a great time!
Littlest cousins looked like they were plotting as they read the "what not to do at geysers" sign.
L was fascinated by the bubbling pools.
I loved the color of some of the pools, like this one. And it was amazing to see the rock formations within them. This was a very cool walk.
While we were walking along the boardwalks, we got to see Old Faithful erupt again, this time from her other side.
Our little guy loved the placards marking each feature. He was trying to say each letter in the name, as he traced it with his finger. So cute.
I had to take a photo with my love at the Sweetheart Pool. It was so pretty!
The system of boardwalks was really amazing. It looped around Old Faithful and all of the thermal features and pools. What a fun way to explore the park! We spent hours here, and I didn't even realize how much time had passed.
It was fun to hear what the kids were discussing at the pools. Definitely fun to see all of the different personalities interact with one another.
Family pic at a pretty bridge.
These two little daredevils loved looking at all of the beautiful pools.
The colors were stunning, and seeing all of the various features was really surreal.
As our oldest daughter said, "It feels like we're on the moon or something."

We made our way down the boardwalks and back to the Old Faithful Inn. This beautiful landmark was gorgeous, inside and out.
 
 Look at all of this woodwork!
When you walk into the lobby, if you look up, you'll see carvings, and woodworking, and all sorts of beautiful details. That is, unless you have a jaded 4-year-old boy, who does not want to be inside.
As soon as we walked inside, he looked up, looked around, and turned to my sister and said, "Oh, I've been here before!" 
She asked, "Oh really? You have?"
And he said, "Yes. We bought our fishing poles here. I've already been here."

OK, great. We've driven for 2 days to get here, and my kid thinks the historic Old Faithful Inn is the Bass Pro Shop! haha. We all had a good laugh at that one!
Luckily as we walked out to the parking lot, we were able to redeem the value of the trip for him, when someone spotted a bison in the parking lot!
Look at this big guy. 
He was SO huge, and so still, that I seriously thought he was fake when we first came out. But he was very real. We watched him (from a distance) for a while, then made our way back to the Winnie for the drive back to our campground for dinner.
On our way home (hours and hours later) this big guy was still in the same location, and I was lucky enough to get pictures of him from the front. What a gorgeous elk!
Amazing first day in Yellowstone!