Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yellowstone days

Hi all!
We wish you all were here having fun with us!
We are in Butte, Montana (think copper mines), nestled in a KOA, enjoying the comforts of electricity and running water. We just spent 3 days in the nation of Yellowstone—honestly, its as big as some countries. For most of that time, we had no cell phone service, not to mention internet access, hot water, heat, access to newspapers. USA Today is delivered there once a week. Here's a picture of me when we stopped high on a mountain to let Winnie play in the snow as we drove west from Cody, WY to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is an other worldly place, due to the geothermal hot spots—bubbling mud pots, boiling hot springs, fumaroles billowing with steam and of course, the geysers. We did get to see Old Faithful spout—it was fun, shooting about 75 feet up in the air. At the time, however, it was raining. Lynne and I had been walking out on the boardwalk trail among the other geysers and fumaroles, some aqua, some burnt orange, some with crusty grey mineral deposits built up in the shape of a cone, each one unique. We were sharing a big umbrella (that Sue and Sandy had given us as a present a few years ago) because the rain was intense, when all of the sudden it started thunder and lightning. We were about ½ mile from the lodges (built in the 1930’s, beautiful grand wood buildings) when BOOM!! went the thunder and FLASH went the lightning right over our heads. It was a little too much excitement.

Yellowstone is in a big wide valley with snow capped mountains (Absoroka Mts.) in the distance. The valley is actually a caldera, (a collapsed volcano) formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The earth’s magma is just a few miles under the surface and the cracks and fissures of the earth allow water to reach the magma, and then send it back up to the surface super hot. Yellowstone Lake is the highest big lake in the world—we were almost at 8000 feet most of the time in the park. Both Lynne and I felt the altitude—we were short of breath going up hills and I felt a little headachy. We spent part on one day along the rim of the Yellowstone Canyon, formed by the Yellowstone River. This is just one of several magnificent pictures we took there.

Yellowstone is also home to lots of wildlife and you can see it all. For the first time, I saw two wolves—one grey and one black. It was from a lookout over a vast meadow. That night we could also see elk grazing, and it was nothing to see bison anyplace. In fact, our campground was covered with bison plops (very interesting to Winnie, who takes everything in stride.) It was cold—we had thought to put our kayak into the lake until the ranger told us that the water temperature was in the 30’s and we would only survive 10 minutes if we ended up in the water.
Anyway, there is plenty more to tell about Yellowstone, and more that we didn’t get to see. It rained hard all night last night, and the forecast was for more rain today, so we headed west into Montana. Here's a picture of Montana countryside.
Tomorrow, we will get to Spokane, WA.
Lynne and Winnie are curled up on the bed as I write. I can hear the distant sounds of cars and trucks on I-90, but it’s fun to be back in civilization.

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