Depart our massive room in West Yellowstone. The dog spent a cold and rather lonely night in the car, but seems okay. I, on the other hand, am freezing, as I am wearing only shorts, a t-shirt and thin cardigan.
We are through the park gates after gassing up at the gas station and McDonald's. Yum.
The kids are in a heated argument over whether the terms "bison" and "buffalo" are interchangeable...I'm raising nerds, I think. FYI, the correct term is "bison" but they were misnamed by settlers who thought they looked like the African buffalo. (The apple doesn't fall far, does it?)
9:13 a.m. Fire Hole Falls
It is brisk and lovely here and smells of pine. The little falls here are full and loud.
We get stuck in a bit of traffic and realize that a herd of bison are blocking the road. Yes, I am THAT close to this guy, who is right outside my window (and looking none too pleased at my photography)...they are snorting in a rather intimidating way and are about 10 in number, including a juvenile and two babies. Just awesome!
We stop in for a short hike around Painted Hole, which is a series of burbling mud holes and geysers. The kids are thrilled with the little ones, I can only imagine what will happen when they see Old Faithful! Willa thinks that the Paint Pots looked like the surface of the moon. I agree.
11:48 a.m. 57 Degrees, Cloudy
We leave Old Faithful and head towards the park exit. During our hour and a half here we saw a Jr. Ranger program (thus fulfilling one of the lengthy requirements to become a jr. ranger here), got hailed on, finished the jr. ranger workbooks and took the jr. ranger oath. We had just enough time to make it outside to watch Old Faithful erupt, one minute ahead of the predicted time. It erupted for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. During our visit, we learned that if the spout lasts more than two minutes, it should go off about 90 minutes later. If it is less than 2 minutes, it will erupt 65 minutes later. Give or take 10 minutes. Very interesting!
We head out towards the Grand Tetons. The kids are playing "Go Fish" with their new Yellowstone National Park Cards.
1:37 p.m. 60 Degrees, Sun and Clouds
We exit the park and have a quick picnic lunch at the lodge near the southern entrance to the park. Currently we're stopped do to road construction (our recovery $$ at work, evidently). I believe there are some 20 miles of dirt roads ahead of us....should be interesting. Willa is reading to us from her new book, "Who Pooped in the Park."
To further torture the kids with National Parks, we briefly stopped into the Grand Teton visitors' center to get a stamp in our passport and take some pictures. Back on the road, the kids are sketching and we're discussing how mountains are formed. And it looks like we are driving right into another storm.
Exiting Teton National Park
3:57 p.m., Wet snow, hail and lightening, 49 Degrees
A harrowing drive through the steep, yet beautiful Teton Pass
4:05 p.m. Clouds and blue sky, 50 Degrees
Welcome to Idaho! We drive through the Targhee National Forest in sun, but currently are heading straight back into black sky. This part of the foothills are so gorgeous with rolling green and golden wheat fields that are undulating in the wind. There is also an amazing lightening show...
5:23 p.m. Idaho Falls
We are finally back on the interstate after crossing the scenic Idaho Falls. It's still 250 miles to Provo...
7:29 p.m. Welcome to Utah!
We pull into the hotel in Provo, UT. A long day, especially for the poor dog who has been locked in her crate for most of the last 36 hours. Yellowstone isn't particularly "pet friendly" and she sat in my lap for the better part of the last hour getting some love.
We're planning our route home...and are really looking forward to sleeping in our own beds.