Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 12

Today we saw the Mud Volcano and the sulfur Cauldron - what can I say... PPPPEEEEEWWWWW!!!  The fumes are so toxic you can't stay there very long.  There are signs that said if you feel ill to leave right away!  That can't be good for your health!

Other than the bubbling mud and smelly lakes we saw some kind of hawk swoop down to attack a duck - right over our heads - thank goodness the duck got away!

After doing this 1 km walk, we decided to drive back to where we had see the bear the day before. There he was, still lying down in the same spot.  So off we went - deciding to come back later - since it's not very far from where we are staying.

We could not have returned at a more perfect time!  Just as we got there, the bear got up and made its way down to the side of the river where the carcass now was - in plain sight.  We could very clearly see that this was in fact a grizzly bear!  It was pretty cool to watch it eating off this buffalo carcass - you could see him digging through to find some yummy meat.  You could see the water dripping off its fur -we could not have seen it any better - unless on the side of a trail being attacked!! at least this was a safe distance and we were separated by a river. This was a chance in a lifetime! and we were lucky enough to see it!

After watching for a couple of hours we went on our merry way to see if we could now see the elusive wolves.  As we were driving in the hayden valley - where most of the wolf packs live - guess what we happen to come across.  A wolf jam!!!!!!!  yes! we would finally see the wolves!  Well, without binoculars or scopes impossible to see - just a white little dot... but... we had binoculars!  We saw two wolves feeding on a buffalo - we just missed the kill but that's ok... this is still a pretty rare sight!  Pretty awesome!

As you are watching the wolves, you have to be aware of the bison around you as they can also attack at any moment.  In fact, a guy on a motorcycle had the scare of his life.  I'm sure he needed new underwear when the ordeal was over! A bison charged him and his bike - but stopped just before hitting him - the guy fell over - and -I didn't see his face but Remi did - his face was priceless! Thankfully everyone was fine - everyone started laughing since this tough motorcycle guy didn't look so tough all of a sudden! Who can blame him!?

We left the area and on our way to the next sight seeing, we stopped for a potty break.  All of a sudden I hear Remi yelling out to Sophie: "Catch" and he hurled a bison pie at her!  It was so funny! Good thing I was the first one to go to the bathroom because I would've needed new pants!!!  She was so upset (her and her germ phobia!!). Now that was priceless!

Later that day we saw a coyote running right beside the car - we could almost have petted it.  We saw bald eagles again and other birds of prey.  We looked at the wolves one more time.  Interesting fact: when buffaloes lose one of their members, they mourn.  How do I know?  When the wolves left the dead bison for a rest, the herd came around and surrounded the dead animal - the whole scene was very solemn and heart wrenching... it was like a bison funeral.

On our way back to the hotel, we were stuck in a bison jam.   Two buffaloes, standing in the middle of the road, refusing to move.  Great.  How long will this last? a whole 10 minutes!

This was our last day in Yellowstone.  It's a marvelous park that everyone needs to see once in their life.  It's hard to believe that one day, all this beauty will be gone forever.  I'm feel blessed to have been able to have experienced it.

Tomorrow will be a sad day - we will be leaving this beautiful place.  We will be heading Rushmore.  Good bye Yellowstone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 11

Day 11 was a really exciting day for us!  Before we get to the exciting part, we have to start with the mundane stuff!

We leave Old Faithful and head to the Canyon.  On the way, we stopped at the West Thumb basin.  It's raining - first time since we left Ottawa.  Lots of steam so it's hard to see the basins. There are some that are in the sahpes of cones and they are in the lake.  Pretty neat.

We leave the west thumb and continue on our way to our next destination.  On the way, we saw a group of people - a jam of some kind - and so we stopped to see - what if it was a grizzly bear I've been wanting to see?

My oh my!  It was a bear! Is it a black bear? a grizzly? hard to tell - it's black and smallish and because of it's position, can't tell if it has a bump on his back or not.  He's sitting, hunched over on the other side of the river - less than 100 feet away.  We can see him very well with the naked eye.  He gets up and starts climbing to a "clump" of dead branches where he laid down - and we could only see its head.  Talking to the people around - and the park ranger - we find out that there are two bears - one behind trees eating on a buffalo carcass, and this younger one waiting for his chance at some food.  We also find out that it is a grizzly bear - black grizzly!  We watched a while to see if he would come out again - but nope - so we left to go back to Hayden Valley - on our way to the outdoor cookout.  In the valley we saw a blad eagle - it was so close! It flew over our heads for probably 5- 10 minutes.  We saw it land beside another eagle - perhaps his spouse or child (we saw them again the next day).

We didn't see much other than the bald eagles and bisons of course.  We drove back to the place where we climbed on a horse pulled wagon to get to the cookout.  That was fun and delicious!

On our way home - about an hour drive of the most beautiful scenery - Remi and I saw a badger crossing the road.  Sophie was so upset that she didn't see it! oh well! That's life!  Made it to the hotel and went to bed.

What will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 10

I don't know why we didn't get these when we first got here but better late than never I guess - we bought binoculars.

This is our last day at Old Faithful.  We decided to do the 5 km walk to see the last few geysers in the area.  On this walk, we saw interesting things and people! We also saw grizzly bear paw prints. 

The riverside geyser erupted for over 20 minutes!  It's interesting because it shoots on an angle.  The water comes towards you over a small river hence the name riverside geyser!

We made it to the end of the trail to see the morning glory pool.  Unfortunately, over the years, people have thrown rocks and garbage in the pool and so it's not as bright and colourful as it used to be.  By the way, it's illegal to throw anything in any of the pools - they are not wishing wells - and there is a pretty steep fine if you are caught doing so.

On our way back - we saw someone getting picked up by the ambulance- it was a pretty hot day and it was probably dehydration.  

We went for a nature ride to see what we could see... we saw an otter, an osprey, a bald eagle from pretty close, some ducks, and I forget what else.  We got back to the hotel too late- everything was closed so chips and chocolate was dinner!  We will have to do better than that tmorrow!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 9

We got up nice and early  to go see the Grand Prismatic from above.  Unfortunately, Remi couldn't join us as he was still not feeeling well from the nachos.  Instead, he stayed behind and did laundry.

So off Sophie and I go for an adventure...and what an adventure it was!  We park the car and start walking on the walking trail.  It's so cool -you turn a curve and start going up a little hill.  When you get to the top, you can see steam come up. Some people, I was one of them, can see colour eminating up in the steam.  What a sight!  People who just "look" usually don't see the colour... interesting isn't it?  Anyway, we keep walking a little bit until we saw a trail - but not a kept trail... it's just people who've gone up this steep mountain side.  We could see a couple coming down so Sophie and I start climbing.  There are trees fallen down everywhere, so we climb over them and try not falling down.  It's quite the steep grade so we have to stop from time to time to catch our breath.  Not the time to have a heart attack!  All I can think on the way up is - this better be worth it!

OMG! Was it ever worth the hard work!  It's the most beautiful thing I've seen!  I could've stayed there all day looking at this magnificent water hole!  What beauty! It's even more beautiful than any pictures in any book!

Now, understand that I'm not fond of heights - what getting older does to you!  Sophie had to take most of the pictures because I couldn't stand and look down.  We start looking around and what do we see?   Just a little further, we see a real trail with a little overlook!  We came up this horrible way -which we now have to go down - when we could have  done an easier way!  Oh well - our view was much nicer I'm sure as we were much higher and above the tree line.

I'm sorry Remi had to miss this beautiful sight!

After our grand prismatic adventure, we went for a drive and visited the last basins left - Biscuit and Black Sand Basins. Lots more geysers and hot springs.

Another beautiful day in Yellowstone!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 8

We decided to take a day and drive to Grand Teton National Park -when you pay to enter Yellowstone, this includes entry to Grand Teton - a little over an hour away from Old Faithful.  Grand Teton is a mountain range in the Rockies.  It's quite beautiful.

Perhpas this is where we will see our grizzly bear?  No such luck. We only saw a trailer explaining how to use bear spray (which we have a can of) and what to do and not to do in case of an encounter.

We did see 2 sand hill cranes though.  They are quite pretty and noisy too!

We did see this beautiful little church.  It was completely made of wood - inside as well.  There was a sign that said it was illegal to light a candle in the church.  This beautiful little Catholic Church was built in memory of those lost in the 9/11 attacks.  What a nice gesture...

For lunch we had the most disgusting nachos I've ever tasted!  It was a bowl type dish.  At the bottom were nachos.  On top, piled a mile high was chicken, then on top of that was tomatoes and onions. On top of that was cheese.  They were so gross that Remi ended up getting sick from them! Yuck!

Once we got back to Yellowstone, we decided to go see the Grand Prismatic.  It's in a basin near Old Faithful.  Wow!  It is quite beautiful!  The colours are just breathtaking! Tomorrow, we will try to get to the path where you can actually see it from above.  It's supposedly even better from there.

When we got back to our cabin, Remi went to bed and Sophie and I went to explore.  We took some great shots of us jumping off a bench in front of Old Faithful.

All in all, a very nice day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 7

Ah, another beautiful day in Yellowstone!  We are really lucking out with this weather!  To think the websites we looked at before leaving were telling us to bring our parkas!  We sure have not needed them yet!

We pack up and leave for Old Faithful.  On the way, we stopped to see bubbling mud pots.  Pretty cool thing to see!  We also saw the artist paintpots - different holes of mud with different colours - it almost looked like an artist's paint palette!  The colours are created by the bacteria and algae that live in different temperatures.

We saw a geyser called spasm geyser... it was pretty spastic!  We arrived at Old Faithful just in time to see it erupt.  Wow!  It wasn't quite as exciting as I expected it to be.  There was a lot of smoke and so difficult to see the water.

Later that evening, I went by myself to take a walk.  There are various little pathways to see different water features.  I will have to return tomorrow as I didn't bring my camera.  I also got to see Old faithful a second time.  This time, it was quite spectacular!  It sure shoots up high!  With the sunset in the background, it's quite a site to see.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yellowstone Trip: Day 6

Today was an interesting day.  We saw tons of wildlife, went swimming, had great food and relaxed a little.

We first decided to find the Boiling River - one of two legal places to swim in Yellowstone. Interestingly enough, you can't find this place on any of the park maps...we had to ask at the front desk where to find this amazing place.  Ends up it's about 2.5 miles away from Mammoth - exactly at the border of Wyoming and Montana.

We park and from there walked for about 10 -15 minutes.  Was it ever worth the walk!  The name of this river is very fitting as the water really is boiling.  It falls into a freezing cold river.  Where the hot and cold water mix is where you sit, enjoy and relax. What a weird feeling!  If you stretch your leg and place your foot in the freezing water, it all balances out and you don't really feel it... it's so weird!  You need to make sure you don't get to close to the Boiling River though as you will get burned.  This special swim was one of the highlights of my trip.  If you ever visit Yellowstone you MUST visit this spot! Don't forget your swimsuit!

For lunch we had bison burger and bison tacos.  Yum!  After lunch we decided to go on an excursion to hopefully see more wildlife.  I am NOT leaving this park until I see a grizzly!  Here's what we ended up seeing on our excursion: a black bear, many birds of prey (falcons, hawks, eagles), mule deer -crossed right in front of us, pronghorn, bison, a moose -quite rare in the park now since the fires of 1988 - and we actually caused a "moose jam"!  Sophie was quite happy about this.  What's a moose jam?  Well, hundreds of cars stop to see what you are looking at!  Picture this: here we are, trying to show people where this moose is hiding in a bush... there are lots of bushes... getting people to see it... not an easy task!  We also saw a red tailed hawk and I took this really cool picture of it.  

We had an interesting day filled with wildlife - something the whole family enjoys seeing.  It's wonderful to be surrounded by nature.  An interesting fact: the park is as natural as humanly possible. This means that if the rangers (we call them wardens) find and injured animal, they will not help it.  They will nature take it's course.  If there are forest fires, they will let them burn as this helps to rejuvenate a forest.  Of course they make sure people don't get caught in these fires or that the fires don't come to close to housing compounds.

Tomorrow we are leaving Mammoth Springs area and are moving to Old Faithful.  I can't wait to see if this geyser is as magnificent as I imagine it.