This past month in Yellowstone National Park has been crazy good! I’m going to get you caught up on all of our activities with the family. Once again, I am refraining from posting the wildlife pics and scenery pics. I will create a separate post for those later. We saw so many wonderful things! But this post is about the family fun .. again!
As you may recall from my last post, our grandson Garrett had joined us in the Grand Tetons. After enjoying a week there, we drove the Bear through Yellowstone to Mammoth Hot Springs at the North entrance to Yellowstone Park. There were a couple of water events up that way that we wanted to experience. White water rafting was first on the agenda. And what fun we had! Mike and Garrett got the primo seats at the front of the 8-person raft. You can’t see me in this picture, but I’m right behind Mike. Our wet ride/workout lastest about 3 hours. This was Garrett’s first white water raft experience and he loved it.
We had also read about the Boiling River. A short hike took us to this popular stretch on the river where the hot spring joins the cold river. I took a pass on the whole bathing suit thing, but Mike and Garrett wanted to experience a soak in the Boiling River. A few inches in one direction and the water is too hot, a few inches the other way and it’s freezing cold. They found a good spot and enjoyed it as well as could be expected with that many people vying for a spot of their own.
For the next week, we took many hikes in the Mammoth Hot Springs area and in the Lamar Valley in the northeastern section of Yellowstone. We got up close and personal with a black bear and her cub and saw lots of other wildlife (pics in a future post). It was great! Garrett thought we were trying to kill him with all the tough hiking (but I think he really enjoyed it).
Next we traveled up into Montana for a couple of days, spending a night in Bozeman to wash the RV and do some stocking up for when the rest of the family arrives. Then we spent a night in the Red Cliffs National Forest Campground on our way back down to Henrys Lake State Park in Island Park, Idaho. Again, this was to be our base camp for the next 2 weeks when the rest of the family joins us.
Plans got adjusted when our granddaughter Paige’s All Star Softball Team made it to the Western Nationals Championship. Her Moorpark team was having an incredible year going undefeated and winning District. Then they took 2nd place at State, so we knew that qualifying for National was a given. Kimberly and Lance took Paige to the week-long event in Sacramento and sent Blake to join his brother Garrett with us until they could get here. In the end, Paige’s team took 9th place overall out of a softball season that started with 7,100 teams competing! What a wonderful year she had with a great group of girls!
We drove to Idaho Falls airport to pick up Blake. The Yellowstone Log Home lumber yard was on the way home so Mike stopped to load up the back of our little SUV with end cuts. It’s so cheap and the boys love chopping the logs for our campfires. Most campgrounds sell those little 5 piece bundles for about $5 or $6. We filled the back of our car for less than $10!
And, we just had to stop at Big Jud’s Diner again. Blake was confident that he could finish the one-pounder by himself. He has a terrific appetite, like many 16-year-old boys, but it proved to be more than he could finish. I’d say he ate about 2/3 of it though and a large basket of french fries! Garrett knew better, so he and Mike split one.
We had a surprise for the boys. Mike had rented a 4-seater ATV for a day. The original plan was for all the guys to go out on it. But since Lance was in Sacramento for Paige’s tournament, that left a seat open for me. Bouncing down dusty roads in a very loud machine isn’t my thing, but I went along to get some video footage and ended up having a pretty good time. Mike took the first shift behind the wheel and drove us up to the top of Sawtell Mountain (over 10,000 feet) for some great views. It was COLD up there! Then he let the boys take turns driving the rest of the day. Blake has a learners permit to drive, but Garrett is only 13 and this was his first time driving over 10 mph. He was having a blast tearing down dirt roads doing 40 before Mike slowed him down a little.
The town of West Yellowstone was having the Mountain Man Rendezvous that week. We learned that this is a reenactment of an 1800’s encampment where they all dress in period clothing and sell handmade things. We walked around ‘Traders Row’, watched a hatchet throwing demonstration and a wood carving demonstration, and bought a few souvenirs.
An Antique and Classic Car Show was also taking place in town. We watched the parade and then admired the cars in the park. The boys bought raffle tickets to win a classic 1966 mustang convertible.
We took a drive over to Earthquake Lake and spent some time in the Visitor Center learning about the tragic night on August 17, 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake caused an 80 million ton landslide on the Madison River creating a new lake that destroyed homes and killed 28 people who were camping along the shore of the Madison River.
We spent the rest of the week hiking in the geyser basin and canyon area within Yellowstone Park. It took Blake a day or two to acclimate to the elevation. He’s a varsity soccer player and is physically fit. So he was surprised at how tiring it is when you’re not getting the air you’re used to!
Kimberly, Lance and Paige finally arrive! We had to cram pack a lot of sightseeing into just a few days. So we focused on the geysers one day, then the canyons and waterfalls the next day.
On another day, we rented a raft to do a float trip on the Snake River. We were worried that we might get rained on. We didn’t have any extra days, so we had to take a chance on the weather and fortunately we got lucky.
We also spent an afternoon at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It’s a fascinating habitat for grizzly bears, wolfs, eagles, and other raptors.
Back at the campsite, we enjoyed playing corn hole, building big campfires and cooking pudgie pies.
Inside the Bear, we celebrate Kimberly, Paige AND Garrett’s birthdays, play cards, and practice dance steps. Lots of laughs, lots of fun.
Our wonderful summer in Yellowstone with all the family visits has come to an end. The kids are all home and preparing to start back to school, and we’re heading toward Oregon to get solar panels installed. I’ll do another post on Yellowstone, however, before I get into all that. Cheers!