Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thermopolis One More Day, Then Yellowstone At Last

We finally got some good weather, and enjoyed another day in Thermopolis, WY. We had a good time at the TeePee bath house, enjoying several hot pools fed by the natural springs.


Don even talked me into going down the slide, although I’m not sure I’m glad I did. I bumped my elbow hard enough to bleed and swell, and lost my glasses when I reached the end that deposited me in the pool full of a bunch of kids who probably thought I was a big chicken! One of them very nicely dove down to retrieve the glasses, though. This was one of the smaller slides, and it looks very tame from this vantage point, but it’s a whole different story after climbing all the steps and standing at the top. Traveling down it, you pick up speed, then unexpectedly turn the other direction. It took my breath away! The view of the hot springs was great from the top, but I didn’t want to go back with my camera, so no photos were taken!


I did get a couple of telephoto shots of the mountain which boasts “World’s Largest Mineral Hot Spring” and some of the mineral deposits below.

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Heading south from Thermopolis, we enjoyed our drive through the Wind River Indian Reservation, beside Boysen Reservoir and State Park, and through scenic Wind River Canyon.


The river was running high and fast, and we were glad we didn’t go kayaking.


Because of our inability to plan ahead and make advance reservations in Yellowstone National Park, we spent a few days near Moran Junction, near Grand Teton NP, waiting for the 9-day stay we managed to get at YNP. We visited the Grand Tetons, where we’ve both been before, and made a few side trips including one to Jackson for lunch, shopping and re-stocking food supplies. The view was spectacular, but the RV park was way overpriced and left a lot to be desired.


The sites were large and mostly pull-through, but many were badly rutted and unlevel. The green ground you see in these photos is from a heavy covering of weeds, not grass. But the location was good.


We learned too late of a beautiful boondocking site up on a hillside that we could see on the other side of the highway. In fact, we connected with Montana owner friends Robbie and Alice Simons who were parked there. Darn, I didn’t get a photo of them! But I did get a shot of their site. Next time we come through here, we’ll know where to go!


We finally reached Yellowstone NP on Saturday, June 19. At last, we’re achieving one of our major ‘bucket list’ items! As much as Don and I have traveled, both individually and together, neither of us has ever been here. (I don’t count the one time I took a quick drive from a business meeting in Jackson to see Old Faithful one afternoon in a previous life.) As we approached the south entrance, we felt the child-like excitement of a new adventure!


That emotion was tempered somewhat by seeing effects of the forest fires that have occurred over the years. According to Wikipedia, “Forest fires occur in the park each year; in the large forest fires of 1988, nearly one third of the park burned.”


With all these trees, we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get our satellite dishes tuned in from the Fishing Bridge RV Park. However, our site gives perfect access to the southern sky, and the dishes locked in easily. It’s also good to have sunshine to help our solar panels supply energy, since the park has no electricity. Generators are allowed 8 am – 8 pm in this section, and we were lucky enough to be far away from most of the noisiest portable gen sets used by several campers here.


The sites are small, but the park service doesn’t fill the area, to reduce the effect of generator emissions in the environment. There’s also plenty of forest retained between loops of the campground, giving the feeling of spaciousness and being out in the wild.


We’ve started exploring the park, with excursions to Bridge Bay and Canyon Village, as well as our own ‘neighborhood’ Fishing Bridge. Each Visitor Center is designed to emphasize an aspect of the park; Fishing Bridge focuses on birds. Many of the lodges were built in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Each General Store has slightly different products, encouraging shoppers to check them all out. Prices of food are high, but many other items such as T-shirts and books are reasonable. Here are a few more photos from our first two days in Yellowstone NP. The lower and upper falls of the Yellowstone River are quite spectacular!

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