On the 24th Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip, we spent an abbreviated day driving through Yellowstone National Park, where we had close encounters with Old Faithful, muddy geysers, a herd of elks and several hungry buffalos.
OUR TAKE ON GEYSERS
Geysers are to Yellowstone what waterfalls are to California’s Yosemite National Park: they are everywhere and they are largely what makes this park, the nation’s oldest and largest, unique. There are nearly 300 geysers in Yellowstone so one thing you need to budget your time around is which ones you want to see.
The most popular one, of course, is Old Faithful. I had been wondering why it is that Old Faithful hogs up all the attention and I think the reason is three-fold. It is one of the park’s tallest geysers. It is centrally located in the park. And most important than all, it has a predictable (hence “faithful”) time when visitors can gather to see it pop (about every hour and a half). Those three factors are a big reason why Old Faithful is the star of the show here.
The other major geyser visit we did today was to the painted mud pots that are also near Old Faithful. These colorful, liquidly geysers, like almost all of them, smell like a really bad case of indigestion. The foul smell is from the mixture of chemicals mixing with sulfur. It’s that combination of chemicals that also give the ground and liquids the beautiful colors that they have.
The geysers are interesting but once you’ve seen three or four, you’ve seen most of them. What the kids and us wanted to see the most were the famous animals Yellowstone is known for, especially the bears.
A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH ELK
One of the highlights of the day was when we noticed a big commotion of cars right off the park road. Naturally, we got off to investigate and noticed it was all about two grazing elks. We waded to the front of the tourist line and before you knew it the two elks became 10. Both the elks and us got real cozy with each other so gradually we went from being 25 feet or so away from a big papa horned elk to being 15, then 10 and then eight or so feet away. Behind us was a growing swarm of other tourist families busily snapping photographs.
Were it not for the intervention of a park ranger who commanded everyone away from the elk I think some of us would have possibly asked the elk for a ride. The ranger told us the recommended viewing distance is 75 yards away.
A FRISKY BUFFALO
Not to be outdone, we had scarcely gotten back in the car when we saw our first buffalo just off the road. We thought this was an infrequent event but apparently buffalos walk wild all over Yellowstone so this is usually only a big deal the first few times it happens to you. This buffalo really liked us because he hung out by our Traverse for like 10 minutes. At one point he sent us scurrying for the car when he moved right in front of it to cross the road.
All throughout day one of Yellowstone, we searched and searched but could not find a bear.
SPRINT NEXTEL ROAD TRIP TIP OF THE DAY
When traveling west, be sure to bring plenty of moisturizer and lip balm. The dryness in the western states is so strong that even if you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, your face, nose and/or lips can crack. Three of us have already had bloody noses and all of us have had chapped lips.