Adventures in Yellowstone

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This parkway connects the northern entrance of GTNP to the southern entrance of YNP.

We left GTNP Friday morning and drove up the Jonh Rockefeller Memorial Parkway to the south entrance of Yellowstone.

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While taking the boys’ picture above, I heard a foreign language being spoken to my left. I glanced over and saw three people on bikes. I couldn’t believe what I thought I was seeing…so I asked them. “Are you the Danish family of three (mom, daughter, dad) bicycling across America before your daughter goes back to school?” With a surprised look on their faces, they said, “Yes.” This was the same family our buffalo watching friend from Grand Tetons had told us about. And they were right there!! When we first heard about them, we were so amazed someone was doing that. And then for those someones, out of all the thousands of someones in these two national parks to be right next to us, well that was another God gift. When God is a part of your life, it becomes a small world. You find His personal love in your life in many places throughout the day, sometimes right in front of the Yellowstone sign. This family began in Washington D.C. and will finish in Washington state. They’ve cycled many parts of the world – Asia, Namibia, all over Europe. They take their bikes whenever they travel. While pregnant with their daughter, they were cycling Alaska! I told her she was literally born to do this, it’s in her blood. I asked about getting sore. They said for the first two weeks, you feel it. But then it gets better. Climbing the Ozarks was a challenge, but these guys are tough!! Meeting them was inspirational, and a blessing. It was an honor to have given them all a hug! Thank you, God.

We were on our way to West Yellowstone, MT, but planned a stop at Old Faithful first. We figured this was a great way to break the boys into their first official trip to Yellowstone — seeing this world famous wonder!

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We checked into the RV campground and picked up our rental car. Then we took off for Ennis, 77 miles north.
We planned to board Melbee while at Yellowstone. That would make it easier to stay out in the park and see as much as we could see each day. When we got to the vet’s office where she’d stay, it was hard to leave her. The space they had for her was tiny. And they would not be walking her during the four days. We left with heavy hearts, praying our little girl would be alright. That night, it was hard to sleep. Torturous, really. Because we felt Melbee’s situation must feel torturous to her. Sabbath morning, I called the vet’s office. Thankfully, they were open until noon. We got back in the car and drove back up there to get our girl. We would just have to adjust our Yellowstone expectations and make due. Mel was ecstatic to see us. Albert, at the front door of the office, could hear her tail banging against the stainless steel sides of her enclosure, even though it was in another room down the hall and around a couple of corners. It felt wonderful and right to have made that decision. None of us ever regretted it, even though it meant missing out on seeing some of the wildlife farther away in the park.

That afternoon, we went into the park and stopped at Madison to go to the river. One thing we’d missed while being on this trip was Communion. So we decided to have Communion with the boys in Yellowstone as a special memory. When Jesus was spending His last evening with His disciples before being crucified, they shared a special Passover meal together of unleavened bread and grape juice. He told them to do this in remembrance of Him. So we did. Jesus took the servant role and washed His disciples’ feet, so we symbolically washed one another’s feet, too, in the Madison River. We took turns serving each other the bread and grape juice. We read the story from John and Luke in the New Testament.

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After Communion, the boys had fun in the river.

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We found some somewhat fresh bear poop!!

Our friend, whom we’re calling “The Wetherman” for this episode, gave us animal sighting reports for each day so we’d have an idea of where to go. That was really helpful and fun. We visited Slough Creek Saturday evening where wolves had been sighted the night before. We never saw wolves, but we did see their poop in GTNP! If you’re willing to look closely, you can see hair follicles from its last meal. (Click on each one to see it bigger)

Here’s who we met at Slough Creek.

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This guy was 6ft away as he walked down the road.

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There were calves everywhere. And they did Rupert Runs!! It was adorable!!

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This is a courting couple – he’s on the left, she’s on the right.

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This was rutting season (mating), so the males were constantly making this throaty sound that reminded me of lions.

This is how Albert and the boys watched the buffalo while I drove around…

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On Sunday, we went to Mammoth Hot Springs area to see some of the park’s geological features.

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It was fascinating to watch the water run over the mineral deposits and see the scaling pattern that’s developed over time. (But not millions of years like the signs say. We know it’s only been several thousand since the flood.)

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This was Albert’s favorite.

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There’s a maze of boardwalks that take you around to see all the sides of this…thing…

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We stopped by the Mammoth Hotel, and they have something called the Map Room. You can see why. This map is 17ftx10ft, and it’s beautiful! An architect from Seattle designed and made it in 1937. It took him five months. It’s made from fifteen different woods acquired from nine countries. The detail is amazing, making it a true work of art. It’s been here in the hotel since June of 1937.

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We stopped by the Visitors’ Center and found some buffalo horns.

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The boys had seen these rocks and were hoping for a chance to climb them…

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Climb every mountain…

We took a quick peek at Tower Falls on the way back to Melbee.

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We woke up at 2:45 am to drive to Hayden Valley. This was our last hope to see bears or wolves. We arrived with plenty of night sky left, it being 4:30. We saw coyotes, elk, and bison that morning. And the mist rising off the river as the sun came up was just breathtaking.

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We stopped by the Mud Volcano before leaving Hayden Valley.

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While we were walking along the boardwalk, this guy came out from behind a tree!

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We wrapped up our time at Yellowstone with the boys being sworn in as Junior Rangers. They’d worked on completing their Jr. Ranger booklet and attending a ranger talk.

While driving out of West Yellowstone toward Bozeman, we were able to see some of the fires that have been burning through the area. At one point, we saw flames above the trees.

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