Day THREE: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”
Monday, August 22nd 2016
Everyone had a great sleep and woke up ready to roll for Day 3! Our food system is being refined and tweaked and we almost have a solid rhythm. We are finding by keeping all the breakfast food in one cooler it minimizes searching for food items and helps us be more efficient. We typically eat a huge breakfast, stop somewhere for a roadside picnic lunch and then have a smaller dinner in our room at night.
For breakfast we have been enjoying oatmeal (my favorite) with toppings like crushed walnuts, blueberries, raisins and brown sugar. We also have hard boiled eggs, bagels, muffins, yogurt and bananas. We use our electric tea kettle to make French press coffee (yes, Quinn brought our French Press – we love coffee!) and warm water for oatmeal and hot cocoa.
Mammoth Hot Springs (Wyoming), is a very short drive from the Inn – you cannot miss it. Parking was easy and there are boardwalks for your safety and exploration. This hike does contain some impressive stairs – great exercise.
Mammoth Hot Springs is, well, a mammoth geothermal feature of hot springs on a hill of travertine! Once again, I am not a geologist, but my best understanding of the Springs are they formed over thousands of years. They are the result of hot water from the spring cooling (I think the water temp at the spring was around 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit and deposits calcium carbonate (the springs are mostly white) as the water cools. The manner in which the water comes up the vents from the spring through a layer of limestone (which I believe provides the calcium carbonate) provides this beautiful slow creation of these Springs. Due to the heat of the water (the Springs are technically on the outside of the Yellowstone caldera) there are also some beautiful orange, brownish formations from the algae that propagates the formation. In Yellowstone, you can tell a lot about the temperature of a feature by the colors in the formation. Due to shifting land and earthquakes some areas of the Springs have ‘shut off’ and other areas continue to grow at an impressive rate. There are some beautiful boardwalk hikes to look out areas for amazing views and photos of the Springs.
We spent a couple hours at Mammoth Springs and then enjoyed another beautiful drive to the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park where we visited The Roosevelt Arch (Montana). You see many warning signs in Yellowstone…some that confused us…like below…
The Arch, built in 1903 (after the government had approved the legislation to create Yellowstone in 1872) and was the historic landmark left for the people of the United States as a ‘gift’ and ‘reminder’ of the sacredness of the National Parks. At the top of the arch it is inscribed, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” You can park your car along the side of the road (parking is available), walk through the arch and snap your historic photo!
We ate lunch next to the arch and watched some type of antelope – deer animals (not sure what they were) play in a football field near the arch. After lunch, we packed up the car and headed to our next destination, The Canyon Lodge Cabins for a two night stay. On our drive we were so excited to see our first bison! There really are no words to capture how you feel as you drive through these beautiful lands and see a herd of bison grazing, running, and playing in the valleys – no words…
Due to the number of places to see in this area of the park, we decided to stay in this location for two days (the longest we will stay in one place this trip). We stayed in the cutest cabin at the Canyon Lodge. The Canyon Lodge also has a mini shopping/visitor center attached where you can learn more about the area and shop. My thirteen year old fell in love with bison on this trip which sent us on a scavenger hunt to find the perfect “Benny the Bison” stuffed animal. No kidding, we literally went to three different locations (over several days) until we finally found this special souvenir…all three girls bought the same bison and they really came to serve as a symbol of this trip for our entire family. We even have a Benny the Bison song and dance!
Our cabin would not be ready for a few hours so we set out to begin enjoying what is called “The Yellowstone Grand Canyon.” There are several entry points along the canyon, all with amazingly stunning views of rock formation and waterfalls! We spent a lot of time here just taking in the beauty and having fun with photography.
An interesting observation we made on our trip was the number of visitors from other countries. (Our trip coincided with the European holiday, too). It was very cool to hear the smorgasbord of languages all around us. It gave us an appreciation of how fortunate we are we LIVE here! When you see families plan their holidays and vacations to experience Yellowstone from other countries, it reinforces the magic the parks behold.
We watched the sun begin to set into the canyon and then drove back to check in to our cabins. The stars….the stars…the stars…my word. It is one of those places so dark you look up and see the Milky Way and so many constellations, planets, stars and satellites. I will share our star gazing experience tomorrow…for those of you who know me, you will understand how my fear of being eaten by a wild bison or bear in the middle of the park had to be overcome so we could enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.
We checked into our adorable cabin, met ‘grey shirt boy’ (more on him tomorrow), ate some dinner and went to sleep. Once again, no T.V and no internet allows for wonderful mental rest too…