By: Sandra Elzie
Welcome back on our westward journey across America! Did you set out on this trip with us two weeks ago? If not, you might want to read about our first two stops along the way: Devil’s Tower and Mount Rushmore.
Today we’re driving through open plains and the local weatherman has forecast the day will be hot and dry…and he’s right. By late afternoon when we arrive at our destination, the lodge where we have our reservation for the next two nights, we’re seeing more trees and the scenery is a little greener…but not a lot cooler.
A few years ago, a huge forest fire roared through Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas, turning some of the hillsides into standing matchstick and costing a lot of animals their habitat. It’s taking a long time for the animals to reenter the devastated areas, but we did see some bear, a few elk and a fox that ran across the road in front of our car. I especially enjoyed watching a black bear mother with two little brown cubs. They were playful and content in the meadow of wild flowers and rocks as they chased each other and yet stayed very close to their ever-watchful mother.
We also saw a LOT of bison. They tend to stay down in the meadow areas, so their habitat wasn’t as impacted by the forest fire…and besides, the meadows revives much quicker than the forest. We were held up for about twenty-five minutes while a bison wandered down the middle of our lane…and of course, stopped traffic going both directions so everyone could snap pictures. Where do the bison walk or lay? Yes, I’m sure you know the answer…anywhere they want!
We stopped at a few sulfur pits or steam pits and walked up to see them, but after a while, we started passing them up. When you’ve seen one steaming pit…and smelled the sulfur, you’ve seen…and smelled… them all. We saved our energy and time for the more unique and picturesque stops…like Little Grand Canyon and a beautiful waterfall. The morning is waning, so it’s on toward the main attraction…Old Faithful.
Was Old Faithful worth our time? Oh yes. We parked (an experience all it’s own when there are hundreds and hundreds of cars and motor homes trying to find a spot) and wandered down the paved path, stopping to read all the plaques about the area and the geyser. Then we sat on wooden benches…there are about four or five rows of benches in a semi-circle a good distance from the steam spout…and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We had just missed her last show, so we had to sit …in the hot sun…. about an hour…but it was worth the wait. Even just watching the expression on the faces of the audience as she started hissing was worth the price. (It costs about $20 to enter the park…unless, like us, you’re a Senior and then you can get a lifetime pass to all National parks for $12.00)
A quick glance at the crowd and then our eyes are glued to the geyser as she performs a few hundred feet away. Every nationality you can imagine and dozens of languages are exclaiming their admiration around us with oohs and aahs. She starts small, like she’s hissing a bit to get our attention, then a little more…and a little more…higher & higher as if she’s teasing us…holding off her most grand moment as long as possible. Then, as if bowing to a packed house, she slowly lowers until she’s gone from sight. (sigh)
The crowd disperses quickly, heading back to their cars or over to the ever-present souvenir store. By now it’s a bit past our normal lunchtime and our stomachs are growling louder than the bears, so we follow the crowd in the direction most likely to take us to food.
The park has numerous stores where you can buy just about anything you want, including snacks & lunch. From T-shirts, mugs & jewelry to packaged sandwiches, ice cream and salty snacks, the store caters to those who eat as if they’re on vacation and even those who have special dietary needs. They sell several kinds of fruit, so our lunch was a shared over-stuffed turkey sandwich, a piece of fruit and bottled water. The prices were reasonable…$6.00 for the sandwich, $1.00 for each piece of fruit, $2.50 for the LARGE bottle of water. They also sold all the goodies to make Samores if you were camping in one of several campgrounds in the area.
Since I hate to dust knick-knacks, I’m not a huge souvenir person, but we bought a couple of mugs and I purchased a lot of items to put into a “basket” for the 2013 Brenda Novak Auction for diabetes. By the way, after you read and comment on this site, I hope you’ll click on the link for the Brenda Novak Auction website and take a peek at what this California author and a ton of her friends (mostly authors) are doing. (Then I hope you will put it on your calendar to go back next May and bid on some of the unique items that will be offered. You’ll find all kinds of offerings…from jewelry or books to Coach purses, and even vacation trips. It’s fun to see what all is being offered for bid and it’s even fun to bid and at the end of the month-long auction, to find out what you’ve “won.”
I plan to offer a “basket” on Yellowstone, one on Mount Rushmore and one on Devil’s Tower…among others. For the past few years, Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Blog has hosted our own page on the Brenda Novak auction under the name of BLOG BOUNTY, so I hope you’ll check it out. It’s fun and the proceeds go toward finding a cure for juvenile diabetes…a very worthy cause.
As all great vacations must come to an end, eventually our time at Yellowstone is over and we head home. Would I make this trip again? You bet I would…just give me a day to pack & stop the mail delivery and I’ll be ready to “hit the road” again to any destination…near or far.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the road trip my husband and I made this summer and, again, I’M OFFERING A BOOKMARK FROM YELLOWSTONE TO ONE LUCK PERSON WHO LEAVES A COMMENT TODAY. GOOD LUCK!!!
You can read more about Sandra Elzie, (awa Sandra McGregor for e-books), at: