Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hey BooBoo!

There was only one thing left to do today: hunt bears. Having finally acclimated to Mountain Time, we both got up a bit later than the past few days, and we didn't get out of the condo until 9. However, we had nowhere to be today, just a general idea to head to the Hayden Valley where bears are commonly spotted. It was also the last stretch of the loop that we hadn't driven in the park. 

We made a quick stop at Old Faithful station so Beth could get a poster. Then, since it was right next door, we went to Black Sand Basin. It was one of the last geyser basins we hadn't seen. There was nothing too impressive there and we were heading back to the car when a woman stopped us and said "I'm going back to the car, but if you want to see a bear, it's over there." Ah-ha!We damn-near ran to the platform where a man was standing looking off toward the treeline. Sure enough, you could make out the silhouette of a bear. I snapped a few pictures and zoomed in: it was a grizzly! How can you tell a grizzly from a brown bear? If the hump on their neck is higher than their rump, it's a grizzly. We were probably about 200 yards away, a safe enough distance especially given that we were downwind. We stood there a good 10 minutes just watching. The woman came back and said she realized her boyfriend had the keys and if the bear came this way she'd rather be with a group. Finally, the bear disappeared into the trees and we were left in amazement.
He seemed to be foraging for food

As soon as we got in the car, we hit a herd of buffalo crossing the road. There were many buffalo sightings today, some closer than others. Off we went toward the West Thumb. We stopped at the platform there to check out yet more thermal pools, and take in the vast expanse of the inlet. You couldn't see the other shore and that was only an inlet of the main lake!
Green Thumb lake
At this point we were getting kind of hungry, so we headed on towards Fishing Bridge. Unfortunately, when we got there, the area was closed up. Must be a busy place in the summer as there was a huge hotel there and apparently a restaurant that overlooks the lake. There were many buffalo just hanging around in the lot, taking back their piece of the land. 
More buffalo just not giving a damn
We drove on a bit more and entered the Hayden Valley. This was what I had envisioned the entire park looking like, just vast fields and a big river cutting through rolling hills. A few more buffalo sighted we took a break at the Mud Volcano area. More geysers, mud pots, and stinky air. There was one cave called the Dragon's Mouth that steamed and made lots of noise and smell. A LOT of smell. We got out of there and took off to Canyon Village for lunch. There we picked up some random foods at the general store and had a nice chat with two older women from Oregon. They had no idea they were right by the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, so we pointed them towards Artist Point. After we checked out the exhibit on the super volcano we took off back towards home.
Hayden Valley
We made one last stop at Gibbon Falls. We had always seen people stopped there, but you couldn't see the falls from the road, so we finally decided to take a look. They were pretty, but kind of flat as far as waterfalls go. That stop complete, we went on home having completed the entire loop of the park.
Gibbon Falls
It's overcast now, so I was lucky to get those Milky Way photos last night. I think it's supposed to sprinkle tonight and then be cloudy tomorrow. The plan is tacos and margaritas for dinner, and then driving around town and checking out the historical society and maybe the bear and wolf sanctuary tomorrow. We saw everything we wanted to see in the park and I couldn't be happier. A relaxing day off before we head home will be nice. Can't believe this trip is nearly over already. We waited so long for this and had such a good time here, it's going to be hard to go back to the grind. 

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