Day 70

Wednesday, August 3, 2005West Yellowstone, MT
Miles: 7663The people, they're eating my brain!
We had once again slept in the van to ward off the cold, Yellowstone air, and so were up and about fairly early. Our camp chairs, which we had left out to occupy our site, were soaking wet and covered in the dirt that the rain had splashed up. We packed them into garbage bags and tossed them in the van and headed out for the adventure of the Upper Loop. As we drove, we saw a big bull bison walking calmly along the side of the road. Thankfully, he did not share the deer’s views on our rammability, as we probably would have lost that round. He just walked along and looked at us with pretty brown eyes as we took photos from the safety of our vehicle. We stopped to look at the Letardy Rapids, which are filled with spawning trout in the early summer. The landscape, with the river, and the trees and particularly the mist, reminded us of Olympic National Park, where we took our vacation last year, when we still took normal vacations, not massive multi month trips. A bison walked along beside us for awhile, turning his pretty brown eyes to look at us as we took pictures (while safely in the van).

As we began the Upper Loop, we stopped at the Museum of the National Park Ranger. We learned that the National Parks had once been run by the Army, hence the residual militaristicness of the uniforms. They had some photos of the snazzy female uniforms from times before female rangers wore what male rangers wear. The sixties brown shift dress was a favorite.

On our way up, we saw Roaring Mountain, a hill with a bunch of vents on it, so the whole thing smoked. It was still pretty early in the day, so the mist helped add to the coolness.

Our next real stop was the Mammoth Hot Springs. Another zoo, and another smelly geyser area. We were quickly learning that geysers are not our things. They give Ceridwen horrid headaches, and they just tend not to be that exciting time after time. But we did the drive and looked at the cool ringed formations and then continued, fighting traffic and crazy people to get to Tower Falls.

Tower Falls themselves were a bit anticlimactic. Because of construction, Upper Loop Road is not truly a loop at this time, so Tower Falls had become the day’s destination. The lower path had been closed as well, so all we could see was from the upper viewpoint, which was blocked by trees.

As we retraced our steps back to the West Entrance, or exit, in this case, we saw a baby bear. A ranger was directing traffic around it, as people seem to have problems leaving the animals alone. We had seen crowds of people going right up to elk and taking their pictures. Elk goring didn’t sound fun to us, but what they heck. Had the ranger not been there, the chances that a mama bear would kill a tourist would have been quite large. And then the bear would have had to have been killed because someone was an idiot. So it was good that the ranger was there for the protection of all.

Our last stop in Yellowstone was Wraith Falls. A short burst of rain kept people away as we walked the short path to the Falls and we got some nice private time with them. The Falls are two thing streams of water that run down a rock in small rivulets. The effect makes the water look like, well, wraiths. Having reached the end of our Yellowstone adventure, we headed to West Yellowstone, MT, a town, and settled into the welcoming arms of a KOA, complete with showers and laundry. In fact, we spent the evening getting various things clean. ...