Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 4 Breathtaking Yellowstone

Today is the day we enter Yellowstone for the very first time!

This is something MD really wanted to do -- and I have to say I am thrilled this was a trip he asked to take BEFORE he graduates from high school.  Both Matt and I have never been here -- so we are as excited as the kids :)

Our villa is located 1 block from the North Entrance to Yellowstone.

We entered in the morning with the temperature being 75 degrees.  We started to drive UP almost immediately.  Our first stop was Mammoth Springs.  We were greeted by some elk.  Yes, they were just hanging out in town ;)

The view at Mammoth Springs is magnificent.  There are several key ingredients combined to make the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces: heat, water, limestone, and a rock fracture system through which hot water can reach the earth's surface.  Unfortunately, the smell is like rotten eggs!!!

Now -- none of the kids have ever been at this altitude -- 6800 at this point.  AND the sulfur smell was hard for My Darling.  Really, there were some medical things happening -- so, because 2 of the kids were have some issues with this area only Matt and MD went to the top.

  To be honest, I was a bit nervous at this point because it was just the beginning.  I was praying hard that everyone would adjust and have a good time.

Thankfully, after some gum, Tylenol and lots of water everyone was feeling much better and our day could continue.

Our next destination was Norris Geyser Basin.  Although, there would be a few minor stops along the way.

Driving through the mountains was breathtaking for us!!!  There are many freshwater lakes in Yellowstone.  The lakes enhance the beauty of the mountains for us!

 One of my favorite pictures Matt took!

I love this picture of JM looking off to the mountains!

We finally arrived at the Norris Geyser Basin!

We spent lots of time reading about what this area was all about.

Norris Geyser Basin, named after an early Yellow-stone Superintendent, may be the hottest geyser basin in Yellowstone. The Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. made test wells in 1929 to determine subsurface temperatures. One test hole was abandoned at 265 feet when the temperature reached 401 °F and the steam pressure threatened to destroy the drilling rig.

The stark, barren landscape of Porcelain Basin is the result of an acidic environment. Because of this hostile condition plants, algae and bacteria have difficulty in establishing themselves. Instead the basin derives its colors from mineral oxides, in spectrum's of pink, red, orange (iron oxides) and yellow (sulfur and iron sulfates).The acidic water has also created changes in the formation of sinter deposited around vents. Silica deposits as tiny, sharp spines instead of thick, beaded deposits common in more alkaline basins.
The largest geyser in the world is located here. Steamboat Geyser has long periods of dormancy, but when it does erupt it sends jets of water nearly 380 feet high in a spectacular display. -- UNFORTUNATELY, we did not see this geyser blow :(

This is really an enormous area.  We did 2 different 1 mile loops AND we did not cover the entire area.  

In between the 2 hikes we took we went to the car and had a picnic lunch.  JM REALLY wanted to hike to Vixen Geyser.  This would be a mile hike.  The girls and I were not overly thrilled about this in the heat!  BUT when we arrived -- it IMMEDIATELY erupted and JM was thrilled -- well, really all of us were!

 Look at JM's face! -- He looked right to Matt -- see it's going NOW!

 We all really liked this one -- it went off for about 5-6 minutes.

JM and dad goofing around ;)

Our hikes did involved us drinking LOTS and LOTS of water.

Now we just had to make the big loop and start heading back to our villa.  This is not a QUICK task.  AND there are many beautiful scenes to behold along the way.  

We stopped at the Upper/Lower falls in the Canyon.  We immediately encountered 2 Bull Elks!!!  We were so excited.  The rangers did a good job keeping people at a good distance -- these animals ARE WILD!

 Loved this picture MD took of the Bull Elk with the kayaks in the background.

We really stopped at this area to see the falls -- it was beautiful BUT the hike down would be to difficult for the girls.  SO we decided to view from a distance and NOT do the hike.

This is the lower falls. 

 We drove to a new lookout to view the Upper Falls.  We did take the SHORT hike to this one.  
WOW -- BREATHTAKING!!!  I love the colors in the water!!  Look close and you will see people on a lookout right near the water.

While looking at the falls an osprey flew in front of us.  MD followed it and watched it land in the nest.  Both parents and two babies were in the nest.   

As we continue back to the entrance we have to reach the highest point of the day -- an elevation of 8900

There is so much beauty along the way!

 When we stopped to just look at the view we spotted a fox who was in the process of shedding his winter coat.  

 MD gazing at the view -- we are at about an elevation of 8600.
 Both the boys!  It cooled to about 60 degrees here AND breezy.  It actually felt freezing!

The next stop was Tower Falls -- the girls were getting tired and again we just viewed the backside of the falls from the lookout.  Tomorrow we will take the short hike to see the front side of the falls.

On our way down the hill we were delighted to spot a pair of black bears.
We stood from the road and watched them for a bit.

At some point during this day we also saw a buffalo, another black bear, mule deer and a coyote.

When we arrived back at the north entrance there were MORE elk to greet us -- again THEY ARE WILD!!!  You DO NOT approach!

The last few miles back to town has very steep mountain sides.  We actually got to see mountain goats.  This is a mommy and she had two babies with her.

We finished off this long and wonderful day with some pizza.  One of the pizza's had elk -- which was something new for us to taste.  ALSO we were blessed that they had gluten-free crusts which were AMAZING!

All in all this day was simply AWESOME!  
Yes, it was long.  Yes, a few got a bit sunburn.  Yes, we encountered some interesting smells IN and OUT of our van ;).  Yes, we are tired!  


Really, it was so worth it!!!!  Especially when you hear Elizabeth say to her sisters, "We are seeing all God's creations!"

I can't wait until tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 3 A little more at Keystone AND traveling

A bit more sight seeing in Keystone


Traveling to Yellowstone

An AWESOME night of rest at The Presidential View was had by all of our family.

 view from our balcony

view of the town

We packed up and made our way over by Mount Rushmore in route to Crazy Horse.  After we passed Mount Rushmore we were discussing the different types of rock and what other mountains they could of used to carve the presidents.  We came around a bend and the rock/mountain was HUGE and so beautiful -- well, it was the side of Mount Rushmore.  I have to admit with the rest of the family this was actually more magnificent than seeing the front of Rushmore.  You actually got to see the enormity of the Monument.  

So, we decided to continue to head to Crazy Horse.
When we arrived we felt the price $28 was a tad high for the amount of time we could allot to this place.  SO -- we snapped a few pictures and left.

Matt REALLY wanted to take a ride on Needles Highway in Custer State Park.  
Hmmmmmm...... This is a curvy, narrow, long and HIGH road. 
 I DO NOT like heights.  There is NO guardrails and you get over 7000 feet elevation. 
 NOW -- when I finally convinced myself to calm down -- with LOTS of prayer and self-talk -- I do have to admit it is BEAUTIFUL!

One lane tunnels

 lots of beautiful rock formations

a VERY narrow tunnel

Going through the VERY narrow tunnel

JM touching the walls of rock as we go through the tunnel -- he LOVES this

When we finally approached the end we were greeted by some mountain sheep.  


The best part -- coming around the bend to leave the park there was hundreds of buffalo.  Oh, my -- we LOVE seeing buffalo!!!!


Our girls had to get some of their goofies out ;)

 I LOVE JM's look at My Darling :)

Yes, they get so crazy!

Finally, by early afternoon we decided we should start back -- but the GPS gave us some interesting directions back to Keystone -- hmmmm... a very LONG dirt road ride -- some two-tracks (dad my van is soooo dirty now!!!)  and finally back into town.  

Ummm... this dirt road is RED CLAY!

AND taking this way allowed us to find a lovely rock shop -- this is JM's FAVORITE thing!!! Yes, we did find some great rocks to purchase and add to his collection.

NOW finally, the long drive to Yellowstone.  

HONESTLY -- it is a LONG and boring ride.  
3/4 of the way into the ride there was more beauty with the setting sun and the mountains.

 This is an HUGE tire!

We finally arrived at our villa in Gardiner, Montana -- which is at the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  


Thankfully, we were blessed again -- the villa is beautiful with plenty of room for our large family.  It is not completely handicap accessible but thankfully we did not need that this time ;)

NOW -- to get a good nights rest so we can enjoy the wonders and beauty Yellowstone holds. 

*******Matt and I take turns using the camera AND sometimes the kids grab it to take some -- when I download at the end of the day I love seeing the pictures that were captured by all -- they are not always what I expected BUT it is always fun AND there always some surprises!