Monday, August 12, 2013

Young Faithful, Teenage Faithful, Old Faithful

We took a little journey this week to Yellowstone National Park.  Well actually, it was a five hour drive through Utah, Idaho and Wyoming..but what a gorgeous drive it was!

We packed up goodies for lunches, reserved a Hotel in Idaho and eight, yep I said eight, of us packed into a van and headed out.

You can only see six of us here, but Melanie and Aaron are in the front seats!

Melanie had arranged our first night stay at Idaho Falls Hilton Garden Inn. The Hotel was right on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho Falls and was beautiful.  It was also far less expensive than staying closer to Yellowstone.

As a matter of interest, if you are a senior citizen, don't forget to ask about the Senior Citizen Pass - only $10 per carload to get into the part for the entire season as long as the "oldie" is in the car with you - in this case that was ME!

We were all excited about finally getting to see Old Faithful up close and not just in pictures on on television. 
We really had no idea how much beauty was about to be spread out before us.  Melanie had bought books on the Park and we all got "educated" on Yellowstone and the surrounding area.  I learned so much about the "Hot Spot" and the geysers and mud pots that I had never heard before.  The landscape is surreal as you come into the area and begin to see the rising steam spread across the landscape.  I had never realized exactly how many vents there would be and how large an area the caldera actually covered.  It was actually a little spooky to consider the fact that all of this had been formed by an eruption, and all that activity was still going on beneath our feet to this day. 

The mountains and streams surrounding and within the area were also incredible.  It was a semi-cloudy day in Yellowstone, and actually a bit cool....we all had sweaters or jackets on to fend off the chill. 
The steam holes you see above made an incredibly loud racket and had an eerie feel like something resembling what Hell might be!  Eeekkk!

As I got closer they were even more scary.  But all of this was so interesting.  There were boardwalks across the fields so that you didn't walk on the highly unstable ground, which might crumble under your feet throwing you into steaming water!  Wow!

The children were fascinated with all of this, but the best comment of the day came from my littlest granddaughter, Alivia.  We were leaving the area in the pictures here and getting ready to go to see Old Faithful.  We had timed our arrival so that we would not have to wait too long before it errupted.

Alivia and I were holding hands and walking back to the van when she looked up and asked, "Granma, why do they call it Old Faithful?" 

"Well, Alivia they call it Faithful because it sends steam and water rising into the air at approximately the same intervals day after it is faithful to erupt.  They call it Old, because it has been doing it for such a very long time," I explained. 

"Oh, okay Granma.  But I guess they probably used to call it Young Faithful, then Teenage Faithful and finally Old Faithful, huh?"  I laughed and said,

"Yep Liv, you are probably right about that, and if they didn't they probably should have."

I love traveling with kids.  I love seeing things through their innocent eyes. 

This was just one of the many steaming pools we saw on our walk back to the van.

All this heat and energy is amazing to me.

I am extremely happy that our Forefathers had the foresight to preserve these huge open areas in their pristine state for all of us to enjoy.

If you get the chance to do so, don't miss seeing this glorious Country.  It is truly amazing!
When we arrived at the site where Old Faithful is actually located, there was a huge Welcome and Information Center with all kinds of wonderful hands on displays for the kids as well as the adults. 

There were thorough explanations of geysers, mud pots and the other geological wonders of the Park.  The original Old Faithful Lodge is also located at this site.  The original Lodge nearly burned down in 1986 with a forest fire coming to within 1/2 mile before the firemen were able to turn it away. 

There are also wonderful areas to stop and view the sites, and picnic areas all around, so pack some goodies and enjoy the wonderful weather as well as the sites. 

I must admit that after seeing some of the other small geysers, hot pools and mud pots, Old Faithful wasn't as impressive as I thought it might be...oh it does shoot water and steam up into the air over 130 feet about every ninety minutes, but there are so many impressive geysers and geological formations that it is really just one of many.  A really nice Ranger explained in detail how the geyser worked and how it has chambers where the steam builds and his talk was great...well worth listening to if you have the chance.

After the Old Faithful eruption, we all piled into the van and found a great place to have our picnic before continuing our journey through the forests at Yellowstone.  The trees are amazing....tall and green Lodgepole Pines line the roadway in one area were lining the road to the degree where it looked like a tunnel.  The Lodgepole pines were used by the Indians for supporting their teepees.  No tall and straight!

It was amazing to think about the Indians living in this area and all the wildlife which surrounded us.  We did see a few Elk across the field, but because of the time of day we were there, we didn't see as much of it as we would have liked.  You have to arrive either early in the morning, or stay until late in the evening to have the best chance to see bears, Moose, Elk and more.  But we were on our way next to see the Grand Tetons, and really needed to move on.

We couldn't resist stopping at this beautiful waterfall and letting the kids check it out.  Aaron and Liv climbed on the rocks to get a better view, while Nervous Nellie Granma watched!  But, as you can see, it did afford me the chance to take a nice picture of them.

 That's Rachel standing out there scaring me to death - encouraged by Granpa who had just been standing in the same place!  Aaaaauuuuuggghhhh....he is worse than the children!

Beauty abounds in this wilderness like area in spite of the fact that millions of tourists visit each and every year. 

There were people from all over the world visiting the day we were there, and somehow in this pristine, beautiful setting I was proud to be an American. 

So, onward we went, periodically stopping to take pictures of particularly scenic areas and letting the kids take it all in.

But, to be totally truthful, the adults were the ones who were actually awestruck with the wonder and beauty of the area, and we all want to go back again soon to see parts of Yellowstone we didn't have time to visit on that day.

As I said before, it was a day with off and on showers and clouds, but the Grand Tetons were absolutely spectacular, and we were so glad we decided not to miss them on our drive.  This is Jackson Lake and the Tetons are in the background.

This huge lake is amazing and there is no way a picture can give you any sensation of how tall and majestic the Tetons actually are!  I loved the "pointiness" of these mountains, and there is actually a glacier running down the North side of one of the mountains in spite of the fact that we have had numerous days over 100 this year!  The kids couldn't resist climbing down the embankment to the Lake to stick their toes in the icy water in the lake.

Ashlyn is such a protective sister, and was trying to help Liv figure a way down the embankment without falling...
 After a little coaching from a gentleman below, Rachel, Ashlyn and Alivia all made it down to the rocky shores of the lake.
The girls weren't down by the lake long when we heard a clap of thunder and told them to come back to the Van so we could continue our journey.

Everywhere you look there is such beauty in this area.

 Our next beautiful encounter was along the Snake River, looking across to the Grand was positively breathtaking, and offered another photo op, so we all jumped out of the van and walked along the walkway here.  The views were awe inspiring.  This was one of the locations where Ansel Adams photographed the beauty of the area to help include it in the Yellowstone National Park.  Thank God again for those who had the foresight to want to preserve all of this for us.
 I really wish I could find a way to demonstrate the depth/height/dimensions of all of just can not do it justice.  The Snake River...with Tetons in the rear.
 Snake River/Grand Teton National Park
 There is a really lovely stone walkway all along this area where you can walk and read plaques describing the area, how it came to be preserved and named.  So lovely.  We all stood there and imagined how it must have looked sometimes with Buffalo roaming the plains areas and TeePees and Indians hunting there.

Even the trees took our breath away.

We will go back to Yellowstone and to the Grand Tetons.  We are really enjoying our Western Adventures and plan to soak up all we can of the local culture and history while we have this marvelous opportunity.

So again I urge you, if you haven't seen the American West you need to!  It will wrap itself around your heart and squeeze and make you proud to be an American!



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