Wyoming Trip 2013 Part Three - Yellowstone, Bridge Bay to Slough Creek

the story goes on! sorry these posts are so long, but i have to keep up or i will forget details as i go, and you know me, i have to record our adventures to help me remember and to make them seem real :) 
besides, these next couple days might just be my favorite part of the trip.

so the next day we were headed up north out of the Tetons and into Yellowstone National Park. Lucy was all prepared for road travel with her fuzzy forest friends lift-the-flap book, a big favorite on this trip. when she sees the owl, she raises her arms to "fly." 

we stopped at an iconic view of the Tetons and the Snake River famously captured by Ansel Adams.

 a little story: my brother mikie is obsessed with Legend of Zelda and has been since he was a kid. sometime along the line he figured out that his favorite image of Link preparing for a journey was modeled after Ansel Adams' photo of the Tetons, and ever since he wanted to come to this place and pose in this awesome vista.
So he did it. Link in the flesh.

the kids were very supportive of this venture.

we stopped along our way up the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway (which connects the two parks) to hike to a hidden little spot called Huckleberry Hot Springs. 

we picnicked in a beautiful meadow by a piping hot stream that i was scared to walk through.

mikie carried lucy across for me.

across the stream we found the little soaking pool

but matt was the only one who could stand the heat! i think he's peering down at a mysterious rectangle shape under the water, like a sunken treasure chest.

and then we crossed up into the wonderland that is yellowstone national park. if you've ever been nervous to visit, having heard that it is insanely crowded or the most popular national park in america, fear no more. it is a HUGE place with so much to see and do within its over 2 million acres of land (3,472 square miles) that you can get lost in wild enchanted places every day. even the more touristy spots we visited were never too crowded, except for Old Faithful on our very last day, and they were all worth every moment. we were there five days and i wish i could go back and spend ten more. 

our first official stop in Yellowstone was the West Thumb Geyser Basin, an incredible volcanic caldera area at the edge of Yellowstone Lake with beautiful and fascinating active hydrothermal features. i never expected to be so awed by geysers and mud pots, but wow are they stunning in real life. lucy took one look and was hooked as well. at this particular area, everyone took turns carrying her around and she bounced joyously and kicked and called out with glee to see the bubblings and frothings of these strange and magical waters.

from the moment bella carried her down and showed her the bubbling mud of Thumb Paint Pots, she was seriously entranced. she thought it was all hilarious!

all the varied colors of the waters are caused by heat seeking microorganisms. who would've thought they'd be so glorious in their manifestation?

by the shores of lake yellowstone....as far as the eye can see...the largest high elevation lake in north america.

steaming hillsides and lively, rumbling earth and waters gives you the sense that the whole landscape could blow at any moment. the only one of us with the sense to be a bit scared of all this was bella. she kept us on her toes, sometimes saying "let's get outta here!" 

jarom was in heaven. yellowstone is a true playground for him, with strange and slightly fearsome features and scientific quandaries, a labyrinth of mysteries and oddities of the natural world. he is fascinated and engaged here, and always ready to explore something new.

our whole group at the basin boardwalk, late afternoon august 6, 2013.

that night we camped at bridge bay campground in the heart of yellowstone. it was the highest elevation we camped at and possibly our coldest night, and addie and art arrived late that night! i barely got to see them, busy getting lucy to sleep, but they rolled in and set up their tent trailer and it promptly broke, so that the rest of the trip they had to prop up a corner of the frame with a 2x4.

also that night our campsite rang out with an extreme game of jarom's new favorite: Jelly Belly Beanboozled. if you are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with this marvel, it is a game that contains jelly bellies in crazy and disgusting flavors disguised to look like regular jelly bellies. for example, you could get buttered popcorn or it just might be rotten egg. if you're brave enough to play that is. for me it was enough to smell people's breath, particularly of the baby wipes variety. darin was a real superstar at this game and his reactions were hilarious.  in recollecting, he says his favorites were skunk spray and canned dog food, least favorites moldy cheese and barf. obviously.

(this is not beanboozled, below)

the next morning joey, emily, matt and i woke at 4:30 and left by 5 a.m. on a covert operation. our mission: to secure not one but three sites at the much coveted non-reservable campground Slough Creek, on the northeast side of the park. there are only 22 sites available so competition is tough this time of year. we were hopeful but also aware that we might have to split up our group since we'd be lucky to get even one of these sites.
we drove through the early misty morning, greeted by solemn family of elk gazing straight out of the steaming dusky land to watch us go by. 
it is strange to pull into a first-come, first-serve campground at six a.m. early risers are stirring in their tent as the sun comes up and you are acutely aware of any and all camp activity. it takes a brave soul: you have to approach strangers with bedhead before their first cup of coffee and ask if they are leaving that day, and if so, may we claim the site? it took awhile, lots of patience, and a glorious sunrise, but we ended up staking our claim to three amazing sites right by each other, two of which were right by the bubbling creek!

and we encountered this leisurely group of breakfasters on our way back out the 2.5 mile dirt road. this is exactly why the sites at Slough Creek are so coveted: they are in the Lamar Valley which is premiere wildlife viewing territory and also home to the famous Druid Pack of yellowstone wolves.

it took forever to get back to camp, with traffic flowing and roadwork blocks. we got back to bridge bay later than the 11:00 checkout time, when everyone else had finished packing up camp. sorry gang! but we just secured you an amazing future :)

back on the road, we picked up a few necessities and made lunch at the picturesque Fishing Bridge General Store.

we stopped at the fascinating and odorous Mud Volcano. the park's most acidic area, it smells strongly of sulfur and features mostly mud pots where gases build up and explode up through the mud. the land has never seemed more alive!
 the names say it all: we walked up the "cooking hillside" to the "sizzling basin" and "churning caldron." 

fun to have these cuties along for the walk!

and ended our visit at "Dragon's Mouth Spring," where a hot and heavy mystical dragon tongue comes lashing out the waters to remind us all that we live in a fantastical universe indeed.

by afternoon we were all setting up our heavenly little homestead up at Slough Creek. some of us bathing beauties even took the time to refresh in our very own cold resident waterway.

that night i was on group dinner duty. i made the lentils recipe that jorden taught me along with brown rice and a cucumber yogurt tziki sauce. joey took over bread duty for me and worked on the flatbreads.

while this gang played a rousing round of jenga.

joey and kids working on flat bread rounds to be grilled on the fire, and making passionate plans to open their very own bakery together in the future.

both our babes love lentils! healthy kids, they are truly both the best eaters. 

i better stop there before i break some kind of long-blog record. there is so much more to tell about our little slough creek wonderland, so i'll return tomorrow and maybe even get us through the rest of the trip.

thank you so much if you've read this far. i am sure my enthusiasm for our family travels gets a bit overwhelming, but it is like a second journey for me to remember and record these days.


thewoodenroad said…
it is so fun and wistful to relive this quest, sis. thank you for posting so meticulously and with such vivid and exuberant commentary.
Jen said…
I'm really loving this whole series of posts. I've never been to Yellowstone but plan to get there someday, so this has been a lot of fun to read. Found myself rooting for you to get those coveted campsites and thinking "Yay!" when you got 3 all together. Camping vacariously with you and your adorable family is fun. Keep it coming!
Jessica said…
I always love reading along with your adventures!
Heather, it is so wonderful to read about all your adventures! I love the pictures and the beauty you portray for me and all your readers! I don't know if I'll ever get to any of the magical places you describe and picture for us, but I feel very close to almost being there by reading your words. You use such beautiful imagery when journaling your trips! It was fun for me to nurture yours, Joje's, Em's and Dad's kitties and plants for you while you were gone and know that you were having the adventure of a lifetime, paving the way for others. Seriously, you (maybe with Matt) should someday write and illustrate a book with your photos of all the places the family has been over the years on these wonderful summer adventures. You are so good at it!! I love you honey, Marma.
i love these posts! so inspiring. the animals take my breath away, and the zelda venture is hysterical (in a really good way). thanks so much for sharing your family's trip with us!
dolly anna said…
i love that your group was able to get those rad sites! it takes a special kind to do so. :)
teddy and i just watched a docu on yellowstone, how it's a huge flat volcano with so much life and heat under it, young land constantly changing. i want to be there in that wilderness with you. your pictures are so lovely along with your words.
what a success!!!!!!
Anonymous said…
i am always surprised when you apologize for long posts! i LOOOOOVE long posts. it's your blog baby, you get to make it as luxurious as you want!

i didn't realize you went to yellowstone! i was there 21 years ago (OMG)and thought it was so magical. and in the height of summer too...the roads were crowded, but you're right, it's a big place/space with lots to see. love the buffalo pics! and i love traipsing along with you, and the babes and the fam. i feel honored to get to read about your adventures. can't wait for the next post! xoxoo
Anonymous said…
I love the long posts! In fact, I'll cry, "More!" These pictures are beautiful and it is wonderful to vicariously live through your Yellowstone adventure. I have always wanted to go, but since we live in Maine, it's a bit of a trek! We'll make it out there some day, though :)

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