First animal and geyser sightings

(Thursday, July 16 ~ pre-lunch)

Our first day we clearly did not have "our groove on" and it was nearly 10am before we even made it to the entrance to Yellowstone. As soon as we paid our $25 entrance fee (good for a full week) Kylie and Caleb began asking when we'd see some animals. Thankfully before we had gone less than 10 miles we saw our first two

a bald eagle in it's nest (this was the moment that Ian and I wished we had bought each other a kickin' telephoto lens for the camera for one another as an anniversary gift) and a female elk. The kids had a hard time seeing the eagle due to being strapped in and we realized in those first few moments that for this trip, car seats were going to be the bane of our existence. Caleb never really did see the eagle and so his first animal spotting was the elk. (This must be part of the reason for his sheer delight in recalling that we saw "lots elks" each time anyone asks him about our trip.)

On the 14 miles from the West Entrance to Madison Junction we were treated with several types of landscape from forest to river glade to rock mountains. At one point I noticed some cliffs that reminded me of some of my dad's photography and so we pulled over to snap a few shots. Ian caught this image of Caleb that I am really digging! (The clouds totally remind me of some of Dad's last photographs!)

And then just a few miles south of Madison Junction on the South Loop we saw our first glimpse of the geothermal activity that Yellowstone is famous for. We stopped the car for at least the 10th time in the first 20 miles and Kylie was totally fascinated ~ and perhaps a bit spooked ~ with the smoking ground ahead that turned out to be the Lower Geyser Basin.

And even though we got some strange looks, I was really glad at that point that the kids were harnessed up!

Besides I've decided that folks who do a double take like that are either thinking to themselves that they wished they had cute doggie leashes for kids back when their kids were toddlers, or they don't have kids yet and their day of (in the words of one of my dear friends) "being smote" is coming...
One thing I noticed was even in desolate ground filled with smoking fumaroles, boiling springs, sulphuric bubbling mud pits, and a layer of steaming water covering most the ground that there is beautiful life ~ it became one of the things I most loved about Yellowstone!
When we got back in the car from our first stop, Kylie refocused her attention on the promise of wildlife and set out to identify animals from the wildlife identification card that good friends of our loaned to us. Kylie really enjoyed showing her animal knowledge and took studying the card VERY seriously! (I was amazed at some of the animals she correctly identified! When she told me there was a lion on the Yellowstone identification card I told her she was mistaken ~ until I had to eat my words as she was pointing to a mountain lion. Still don't know how she knew that one...)
From there it was on to the Upper Geyser Basin which includes what is perhaps the best known geyser in the world, Old Faithful. As we were approaching the boardwalk Ian suddenly stopped and said, "Hey, look, Darcy decided to visit Yellowstone with us today!"

Strange thing is that neither Kylie or Caleb seemed to question what he meant when they saw the ladybug crawling on my back.

We passed by the ranger station and noticed that the next predicted eruption of Old Faithful was less than twenty minutes away, so instead of taking our stroll across geyser hill, we decided to stop and enjoy the show.

Yes, this is our new sit-and-stand stroller for travel. No, it didn't replace the jogger. In fact we bought this stroller for this trip and for our return to China. It is more compact and lighter and overall it did well, but sometimes on the trails I sure wish we'd had our jogger!

Amazingly enough, the rangers were within two minutes and even though it isn't by any means the highest geyser that erupts in the park, it was an impressive show. At least to Ian and I anyway. Caleb and Kylie clapped their hands and cheered for the first minute or so and then were easily distracted and ready to move on.
Hunger and the need to let the kids rest caused us to head back to the car. Despite their cries for food, sleep won the contest and within two minutes of being buckled into their seats, the kids were OUT! So Ian and I drove around some areas that can be viewed easily from the car and let our babes catch up on a little sleep. After an hour or so we got our first sighting of a buffalo.
**Let me just say here that YES, I realize it is really a bison. But think about the song. Would it sound right if the words were, "Oh give me a home, where the bi-iii-son roam, and the deer and the antelope play..." No, it wouldn't, so from here out you will see me call the animals buffalo!**

Yep, those HUGE beasts have right-of-way on the road. Ian and I were so excited that we ended up waking Caleb up. And of course he wanted to see a "wa-wa buwf-a-low," (we've listened to our Silly Songs Veggie Tales CD so many times that I'm surprised it hasn't melted. Caleb's MOST FAVORITE song ever is the Water Buffalo song and he can sing most of the words. And his excitement was so cute, I didn't have the heart to break the news to him that he was actually seeing an American Bison and not a buffalo at all) so Ian pulled him up in the front seat for a few minutes ~ after all, we weren't going anywhere.
I knew that Kylie was really excited to see a buffalo, but she slept right through all my attempts to awaken her. I should have had the camera for when she finally woke up and Caleb decided to break the news that she missed a sighting.


NaiNai said...

I'm so glad you all had such a wonderful experience. The weather looks great!! Thanks for sharing the wonder and excitement. The picture of Caleb and clouds is awesome. And Kylie is such a serious student - she's amazing.
Love, Grandma Miller

Sharon said...

Sounds great, I love your story telling!!!

Ally said...

Love all the great Pictures!! Looks like you all had a wonderful time. I have always wanted to go to Yellowstone!

Cindy M said...

Love the picture of Caleb! Awesome! I, too, am enjoying your trip. Love the new stroller, too!

Nancy said...

Looks like a great trip and its only a half day! Can't wait to read the rest. Love the tiny polka dotted passenger on your shirt.

Laurie said...

Great shots! And I had to laugh at your comment today- I can just Caleb lining up everything according to size. How cute is THAT!!!???!! Aren't boys fun? :)

Anonymous said...

oh the joy of seeing the wild life in Yellowstone! It is so beautiful!
I totally would use the leashes too!
Aunt Cici

Michelle said...

Love the picture with the ladybug. The wildlife is awesome.

Tricia said...

I'm wishing you had a telephoto too. How cool to see the Bald Eagle. Love the picture of Caleb on the rock.