We all slept in this morning. Stephanie and I got up at 8:00 and the kids were in bed well past 9:00. When the kids finally did roll out of bed, we made “breakfast nests” to eat on the charcoal. Hash browns, sausage and egg wrapped in tin foil. It was a big hit.
With the coals still hot, we went ahead and made our dinner for the evening – pizza burritos. A tortilla with pepperoni and cheese, heated up in foil on the charcoal. It is something easy to pack for eating on the go later.
During cleanup, I took several buckets of water across the road to the dishwashing room, which shares a building with the restrooms. As I was leaving with my buckets, an old woman asked me if I was cleaning. Not truly understanding her question, I told her I was rinsing some buckets. She told me that I was doing a great job because the room looked great and everything is so clean. Being mistaken for park maintenance is a good sign I am in need of a shower and a shave.
We did not leave the camp until Noon. We are obviously taking this vacation seriously! Our first stop – the showers and laundry at Grant Village. We have not taken a shower in three days and we are so ready for one. We’re also ready for the laundry as each person was only allowed to bring 5 outfits, and we’re on day 5.
The facilities at Grant Village are immaculate and large. The mens and womens shower area each have 12 individual showers, and at least a half dozen sinks. There are probably 80 washers and dryers. Showers are not free here, but we did receive 6 complimentary showers at check-in. The normal price for a shower is $3.25. Let me tell you, at this facility, it would be worth it.
I found a nice picnic table outside and was blogging while waiting on the laundry to finish. Three different people approached me and asked if I had internet. The answer was No.
On the way back to camp from the showers, Miles told us that he saw an old man naked in the shower room. The old man was banging on the shower door trying to get his grandson out. Miles did not appreciate this.
We did eventually leave camp at 3:00 for our first experience with Yellowstone – Old Faithful. Who cares if this was about six hours later than originally planned? We were all feeling good, clean, and well-rested.
When we did get to Old Faithful, we realized we had found the people. I had been pleasantly surprised with the lack of traffic on the roads in the park thus far.
We made a beeline for the Visitors Center and found that we were about 40 minutes from the next scheduled eruption. We browsed around for a few minutes when we heard the final Park Ranger talk of the day at the geyser was just about to start. Off we went.
It was so neat to see the boardwalk circling Old Faithful and every spot was taken up with spectators either sitting or standing.
The eruption was scheduled for 4:19 and it happened just a few minutes early. Old Faithful is not the geyser that erupts with most regularity, or with the tallest plume, but it is puts on a great show and nobody was disappointed.
The wind was blowing hard and the breeze took the water directly to our right, causing the crowd to scatter that were getting wet. Who stands downwind of a geyser?
The strong breeze made it a bit chilly. Of course, we did not bring any of our jackets from the campsite and Stephanie was hedging on going for our trail hike. Marissa, of all people, was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt.
So we went to the Gift Shop and got Marissa a Yellowstone fleece jacket, and by the time we got back outside, it was 80 degrees and sunny. Let me rephrase – it was hot. We took a 3 mile hike around the geysers and Marissa wore her jacket around her waist the entire time.
We did not start our hike until 5:30. Well, if you can’t take your hike before the other tourists show up, then take it after they clear out.
Marissa had a great hike and took tons of pictures. This cannot possibly be the same child we had to constantly badger to continue hiking just the day before. She was even providing us impersonations.
Marissa: Who am I? (then, in a whining voice) “I’m tired. I need to go to the bathroom.”
Marissa: No! It’s Miles pretending to be me.
As you take the boardwalk loop around Old Faithful and the numerous other geysers and pools, you can go into geyser overload. Looking over the horizon, you will see steam coming out of the ground in a dozen places. It is a surreal landscape.
The geysers are so plentiful that at one point we were looking at one geyser bubbling, an old man next to us had to tell us there was one erupting right behind us. There is too much to look at!
As you walk past some of the geysers you can smell the sulphur in the steam as you pass through it. Other times you can feel the heat from the steam. Every geyser is just a little bit different from the other.
Our trail hike ended at Morning Glory Pool. This is a nice sized pool with super heated water. The temperature of the water creates a perfect environment for different bacteria. There were some amazing colors in this pool. The camera would not pick it up, but when we put on our sunglasses and looked down into the pool, you could see one area that was glowing blue like an orb. Kudos to Stephanie for noticing that!
At most of the geysers and pools there were signs reminding people not to throw their trash or coins down into the water. Morning Glory Pool used to have much more vibrant colors, but over time the vent at the bottom has become more clogged with junk which changes the temperature of the water.
Our walk back to the Visitors Center was a more direct path with fewer geysers. However, our return trip did provide one more bison than we saw on the walk out. This big guy was hanging out around 100 feet off the trail. We resisted the urge to walk up to him and take a family photo.
Once we returned, we made it our mission to visit every gift shop around Old Faithful. Believe it or not, there are many of them. The first place we stopped had been in operation since the 1800s and still had the authentic soda fountain installed. The building was striking because it was made with “burled wood”.
We made our purchase and asked the older lady working the register where she was from. She had retired from Texas to Sun City, Arizona. But for the last few summers, they have come to Yellowstone to work. In fact, the park so caters to the seniors that come up and work, they have dormitories. Every gift shop or building there at the Old Faithful area had dormitories. She lived right above the gift shop she was working in. I see a future retirement job for Stephanie and I. (Miles asked if he could get free admission to the park.)
We were in the gift shop for 30 minutes or so, and by the time we left the sky was dark, it was starting to sprinkle and the temperature had dropped severely. We boogied down the path to the Old Faithful Inn, which has been in operation since dirt. It had a magnificent interior highlighted by a massive stone fireplace and chimney. And of course, we bought a few things in their gift shop.
Leaving the Old Faithful Inn, we saw a crowd of people under the portico taking pictures toward Old Faithful. We assumed it was erupting, but that was not it at all. By this time the rain was coming down pretty good and there was a double rainbow lighting up the sky right over Old Faithful. It was fantastic!
We had never seen a rainbow with colors this vivid. And it was the first time I can ever recall seeing a double rainbow.
It was a fitting ending to a great day that all five of us were running down the trail in the rain enjoying the rainbows over Old Faithful. Definitely something I won’t forget for a long time.
We found refuge in the main gift shop at Old Faithful. We spent another 30 minutes in this store, but bought surprisingly little. We shut the store down at 9:30. It was drizzling, so I ran out to the van and drove it back to the store. We had one of only six vehicles in the parking lot. This lot was packed with thousands of cars when we arrived.
As we pulled out of Old Faithful, the van thermometer said it was 51 degrees. We went from cool, to sweltering, to frigid in one afternoon.
We pulled into our campsite around 10pm. We still hadn’t eaten dinner! It was too cold to eat outside at our picnic table, so we ate dinner in the van with the engine running for warmth.
This has been one of our favorite days of the trip so far. There may be something to this “sleeping in” concept.