As per what the calendar says, IT’S SPRING!!
Well, the calendar says spring, but where we live that doesn’t mean that we have a lot of spring-like weather. My neighbor’s daffodils have finally bloomed. My tulips are a couple inches tall… no buds on them yet though. I am thinking that one day soon I need to get out and mow the lawn for the first time this year. But I’ll have to mow in between snow storms or anchor myself with a rope to the trees in my yard to keep me from being blown to Kansas in the 40 mph wind gusts. (Also, I need to dodge the shingles that are being blown off everyone’s roofs!) We are under a constant advisory for heavy frost (it was 24° when I got up this morning).
So, what I’m saying is that “spring” is a subjective term.
However, the Powers That Be have decreed that my National Park needs to be open to vehicles again and have plowed out the roads and thrown open the gates! Actually, they opened it two weeks ago, and we couldn’t get there until last weekend. I felt like such a slacker… I felt that I was neglecting my furry animals and bubbly geysers after such a long winter.
It was such a happy moment when I flashed my All Park Pass to the still friendly Park Ranger (she admitted she’s not as friendly in July) and crossed the border into my Happiest Place On Earth. Can you hear the big, satisfying sigh escape my lungs as I think about it? Ahhhhhhh…… home again!
We were surprised by a few things: First of all: There’s still a TON of snow up there! Yes, it’s melting quickly, but there are still a couple feet left on the ground. We’ve been there with snow in the spring before, but the depth was very unusual. (Check out my CLOUD BLOG to see one of the mountains I snapped a picture of. The snow still looks so deep!)
Our second surprise was in the form of best friends. Right after we entered The Park we drove past one of the pull-offs along the river and whaddaya know? There was Shack, Little Miss DooLittle and Stinky parked and hanging out with some of Stinky’s co-workers! We hadn’t called them to see if they wanted to go together like we usually do because… well, why didn’t we call them? I don’t know! But it was a wonderful surprise and when we invited ourselves along with their party, they very graciously said we could hang out with them. (Before Max quit at the hospital here, he worked with these same people as well. So it was a little “co-workers reunion.” They are good people.)
Our agenda was kind of limited. Many of the roads are still closed and the back country is closed due to grizzly bear activity, so we had to skip hiking and stick to the “touristy” areas. i.e. geyser hotspots, visitor’s centers, etc. But those places aren’t bad in the spring when tourist numbers are down. Going into the new Visitor Center at Old Reliable was pleasant because we had the run of the place to ourselves and could see and interact with the awesome new displays they have.
(This is an “indoor” geyser display. It shows how hot water starts to boil and build up pressure before it finally releases through a hole at the top.)
The third wonderful surprise was that we actually saw 3 brand new baby bison! We thought we were still about 2 weeks away from birthing season so when we saw these darling little things we were thrilled!! We probably sat here for 15-20 minutes just watching them.
I’m sorry….but as many times as I’ve driven by and watched bison, I still love them. I still love to stop and take their picture as they walk past my car. I love to listen to their hooves clip clop on the pavement. I love to watch their heavy head swing back and forth. I love, most of all, to hear their little grunt and snort as they communicate with each other. They are such massive, powerful animals.
Per our tradition, lunch was spent in the parking lot of Old Reliable. It was about 38° with a chilly breeze turning our sandwiches into frozen weapons that could chip a tooth.
(I wonder where Max’s coat is?)
Sadly, we had to part ways. When you travel with National Park Newbies, they have tendencies to get bored more quickly and since Shack and Stinky were their hosts, they needed to leave too. So Max, Inigo and I kept driving up the road and sadly waved good-bye in our rear-view mirror.
You’d think these kids had never seen snow before!
We really didn’t want to leave, so we pointed the car toward another geyser basin. A HUGE area that is chock full of geysers, hot pools, mud pots…..
What an adventure that was! See what this sign says:
Well, they meant it! Some parts of the boardwalks were completely clear of snow and ice and others…. well, just look at the athletic training we experienced:
Balance Beams galore
And don’t forget to check out the awesome shoes my son wore! Yes, Good Mommy of the Year award goes to me. I grabbed his coat, gloves, hat and earmuffs but didn’t check to see what he had on his feet. Yeah for sandals!
But it was all worth it for views like this:
And fun shots like this:
To gain perspective on just how much snow is left in parts of The Park, look at this:
The entire day was a highlight, but the truest highlight of the day was this:
This little beauty was out hunting in the grasslands. Now, I’m no expert, but this seriously looks wolfish to me! It was pretty awesome watching it pace back and forth across the surface of the icy snow and then suddenly pounce and shove its head down through the crust. We didn’t see it catch anything, but the process was pretty amazing!
Sadly, we didn’t see any grizzly bears this trip. But we almost did! We saw it’s tracks in the snow across the river and someone saw a carcass it had been feeding on. But when you’re tabulating sightings, an “almost” doesn’t count. :(
An otherwise uneventful drive home completed our first trip of the year. There is a rumor that we might go again next weekend…. I’ll hold my breath for this one. Because that would be the ultimate Mother’s Day gift for me!
(Thankfully, while we were there we didn’t run into idiots like these people. They were there two days before us.)
Since I wrote this post this morning, I have experienced a true spring!! I got the lawn mowed for the first time…. which was amazing! I didn’t think I’d get the mower started without the help of Max, since it hasn’t been run in at least 6 months. BUT IT STARTED ON THE FIRST PULL!! (I have to say another BOO YA!!) And while I was mowing I noticed that the tulips in my back yard have buds as well as my Violets have bloomed.
*sigh* LOVE IT!