Idaho 2011, Day 5—Yellowstone NP, No. 1

Being OCD presents a number of problems; everything has to be wrapped up in a nice, neat tidy package. We are almost there! The motor home is clean, including the windows, the car is vacuumed, and everything is stowed. Now we can relax and enjoy the area, maybe.

Today, we are off to West Yellowstone to purchase some new Vibram wading boots, then driving to Tower Junction in Yellowstone National Park, doing all the sites on our right as we go and all the sites on our left as we come back. Sounds like a plan, huh?

In West Yellowstone, we looked for the Blue Ribbon Fly Shop. Craig Matthews owns the shop, and was a previous co-owner of Blue Ribbon Fly Shop in Mountain Home. Craig is an innovative fly tyer and has written several books on fly tying and fly fishing Yellowstone country. I attended a two-day seminar he gave to the Mid-South Fly Fishers in the mid-1990s. We had a difficult time finding the shop, but Kay found the address on the iPhone. Craig was tying as we entered the store and we had a nice conversation with him. With boots purchased, and some flies to replace those left at home, we drove towards the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Traffic was backed up getting through the gates but we were able to bypass traffic using Kay’s “old folks” National Park passport (I’m finally old enough to get one the day before we leave in late August). Just a short distance into the park, traffic practically came to a standstill; as we made our way forward there were a few cow elks grazing near the road, and tourists had stopped to photograph them. This was to be a pattern for the rest of the day.
Gibbon Falls, 84 feet, Yellowstone NPOur first stop was at Gibbon Falls, 84 feet high.  With heavy snows and a late melt, the falls was magnificent.  It’s difficult to get a perspective of size with photographs, but there are people standing in the upper left corner.  A new ADA “trail” had been constructed and provided several places at which to photograph the falls.
Artists Paintpots, Yellowstone NPArtists Paintpot contained small steam vents, geysers, colored pools, and gurgling pots of liquefied earth.  The trail was only 1/3 of a mile long but did rise in elevation a couple hundred feet.  
Lunch was cheese, sausage, apple, and crackers among the trees and mosquitoes in one of many roadside picnic areas.
As we drove further north in the park, we saw many fly fishers fishing the Madison, the Gibbon, and the Gardiner Rivers.

The first bear sighting was between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction, where park visitors had chased a black bear up a tree.  Kay photographed it, but it was so far away and among the leaves, it was hardly detectable as a bear.  At Petrified Tree, a second bear was in the valley, laying among the wild flowers; it was too far to photograph.  IMG_2046Just past Tower Junction towards Lamar Valley, the 3rd bear was really close to the road, causing a bear jam.  Several rangers were herding park visitors back into their cars.  It’s amazing how stupid people are!  Just a little further east, a couple of bison herds were grazing.  Road construction and time constraints prevented any further exploration of Lamar Valley.  On the return trip to the RV park, a solitary bison was IMG_2049enjoying the peace and serenity of the park.  Undine Falls presented a nice diversion from the crowds and traffic.  We bypassed the 4 mile walking tour of thermal features at Mammoth Hot Springs, but did stop to purchase a season fishing permit.  We also are saving Norris Geyser Basin for another day.
The supermarket in West Yellowstone was crowded, but we picked up a few groceries for the next couple of days.  We were late getting back to the RV, but Kay and the crockpot provided a ready-made dinner waiting for us.  Another try at the satellite failed, so I give up.  It’s time to call for help, or do without.
As an aside, this was my 5th and Kay’s 3rd time to visit Yellowstone National Park.  The park is far more crowded than at any time in previous visits, and animal sightings are fewer.  Park rangers say that the crowds are about normal for this time of year, but that there are fewer animals because of the heavy snowfall and a longer than usual winter.

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