I am so exhausted from today, I can barely write!
Today ended up being our longest day so far. We were up at 6:15 to drive 2 hours to get to Grand Tetons National Park bright and early.
We entered the park through a quieter, side road so we got a little sign!
The Tetons boast tall mountains with pointy tops next to a big open valley, which makes for great view and pictures.
One of the cool things we learned was how in the early 30’s J D Rockefeller saw the need for the valley to be preserved, but the government wouldn’t bite, so he created a dummy company and anonymously bought up most lands in the valley and then donated it to the government (after much struggle). What an amazing act of foresight and generosity!
We went on a 2 mile hike around a lake, marveled at mountains, finished our Jr. Ranger program and were headed North into Yellowstone by 2:00.
I love seeing how these trips have challenged my kids in their thinking. So when we do the Jr. Ranger program, there is a lot of info on protecting the parks, not feeding animals, don’t pick wildflowers, and educate others as well. We see a lot of stupid humans mistreating the parks, but as we were finishing our walk Cora saw a family finish picking a bouquet of wildflowers. After having an internal conflict, Cora went with her gut and went over to them and told them that it was illegal to pick wildflowers in a National Park. They probably thought she was stupid or didn’t care, but I told her that it is always better to do what your gut is telling you is right than to care what people will think of you. The character is strong with this one.
The big sign!!
Yellowstone is massive. Add to that size, mountain driving and a ton of people and it is kind of logistical planning nightmare. If our trip was only a week to Yellowstone (which could be easily done – it’s huge)then I would have hunkered down and planned really well, but to be honest, I didn’t.
This is only 2 1/2 days out of a 5 week roadtrip, it just took more attention than I gave it. Let me explain. There are 5 entrances, 6 distinct areas of the park and about an hour or more of driving between all of these things.
If I had done extensive planning (and had endless money) I would have stayed the night next to the area we were exploring and cut down on driving time, as it is, we are staying 2 nights 1 hour outside of the East entrance because it was much cheaper than staying closer. This makes for lots of driving – gorgeous drives- but long.
If you want to do Yellowstone, just ask and I can help you plan your trip right because the park is amazing.
We used our half day to explore the Geyser basin of the park. Yellowstone is a volcano. Those gases make their way up through the earth into underground streams and cause geysers and Hot Springs. There are lots of different types which I can’t begin to explain and we saw several really pretty and amazing ones today.
A storm passed over Grand Prismatic spring when we were touring it and as it left, half of the viewing area was sunshiny and the other was dark grey with storm! The great was pretty against the white geyser steam backlit by the sun.
We ended the day at the Old Faithful village where we showed up just in time for the eruption of this consistent geyser.
We attended a Ranger talk about the past of Yellowstone and all the stupid things humans did here before we knew about conservation (a bear lunch counter?) It was a great talk and even the kids really enjoyed it.
After a quick trip to Old Faithful Lodge, an architectural milestone, we headed out at 8:00. As much as I wanted to explore this place for hours because it was so beautiful, we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to our hotel.
What a day. I am glad all of our days are not marathon like this, but man did we see some sights!!! The kids did so great! We bought Brenna he trip gift today (the other kids were easy to buy for, she was hard). She got figurines of all the animals we have been seeing on our trip! Bear, moose, elk, and even a Park Ranger. All of the kids have been having a blast imagining, making up story lines and names.