2021.06.11 Buffalo Balls

Confession time.  After just two days, we have failed our goal to eat ice cream every day of the trip.  Believe me, we tried.  After getting out of our late dinner last night, we tried several places, but every shop was closed – even Food Round Up, the grocery store.  We have to do better.

Today’s first order of business is to pick up our bibs for our race on Saturday, the Yellowstone Half Marathon.  It seemed too good of a deal to pass up running this race since we were already going to be in town.  It was a nice outdoor setup to get the bibs and shop for race swag.

Packet pickup with a mountain backdrop

We returned to the motel around 11 and kicked Marissa out of bed.  Honestly, we are all enjoying this vacation so far.

We had a picnic in the room, then Stephanie and I each went for a 2 mile run around West Yellowstone to get the blood pumping and maybe get acclimated.  We were both a bit oxygen-deprived during that first mile, but it got better. We are at 6,600 feet, compared to 700 in Tulsa!

Marissa and I went for a walk around town, visiting a few souvenir shops, while Stephanie got cleaned up after her run.  Once we got back together, the three of us went over to the IMAX movie theatre.  It is more than just movies, though.  Mallory told us it has the best deal on ice cream in town.  We got 50 cent soft-serve huckleberry ice cream in there.  GOOD STUFF.

We also watched a 45 minute IMAX movie about the Yellowstone region. It wasn’t just all about the IMAX ice cream.

Finally, around 4:00, we figured we would head into Yellowstone National Park.  We’ve been in town 24 hours and not managed to get there.  As we approached the entrance gate, we found out that 4:00 may be an ideal time to show up.  No waiting.

No traffic at the West Yellowstone Entrance!

We pulled up to pay for our annual pass with the park ranger, and Stephanie asked from the backseat if there was a Veteran’s discount.  The park ranger said yes there is, it’s free.  Wow – free national park pass for veterans!  This started last year and we were oblivious.  Thank you US Government for taking care of our veterans.  Believe me, we’ll make it up to you in the gift shop later.

Driving through the park, I would call it pretty light traffic.  We were on the lookout for wildlife, but on our drive in, the best we could do were to spot two Canadian Geese.  (Not exactly exotic birds.)  We did hit one pull-off to look at the Madison River and the valley.  So serene.  There were several fly fisherman out in their waders.

Madison River

At Madison Junction, we turned left to go north, still on the lookout for wildlife or something interesting.  We didn’t have a great deal of time due to dinnertime being right around the corner.

We shortly came across a pullout for Terrace Spring.  Sold!  What is Terrace Spring? We don’t know yet, but we’re going to find out.  It turned out to be a nice little attraction, and we only had to fight a couple other tourists while there.

A short boardwalk took us around a small pond with an obvious hot spring bubbling up out of one end.  As the boardwalk continued, there were several other terraced springs.  The highest one had very clear water, and with our polarized sunglasses on, you could see the bubbles rising up through the water to the surface.  An A+ attraction!

Terrace Spring!
Terrace Spring’s multiple levels

We decided to head back after this stop, but did squeeze in a stop at the Tuff Cliff.  This cliff face was full of holes, due in part to a history of volcanic ash that used to float through the area.  YNP is full of natural curiosities!

Tuff Cliff

We did run into a bit of traffic on the return.  Any time there was a slowdown, we were fully engaged to see if we could locate any wildlife which may have caused it.  We did see a single elk between the road and the river.  Couldn’t see it well, but we’ll take it for an abbreviated first visit to the park.

Solitary Elk

A few miles later, Stephanie claimed to see a single bison, but this was not independently verified by the rest of the vehicle.  But as a positive, Marissa informed us that she thought Yellowstone had “nice scenery”.  It’s good to know we are all enjoying today’s tour.

About the time we entered YNP, Stephanie texted Mallory to see if we could visit tonight’s restaurant before they meet us and we can get our name on the list.  We were not interested in another late-night dinner with our race bright & early tomorrow.  We lost cell service during the drive, and when it reappeared, we got Mallory’s text that she has the “camp cold” and shouldn’t join us tonight.  That is the worst possible news.  We made plans to bring her some medicine after dinner.

The three of us ate dinner at the Buffalo Bar.  We learned later this is Mallory’s favorite restaurant in town, so we were inadvertently rubbing salt in the wound.  We had to put our name on a waitlist, but it only took 9 minutes (not 90) to get called.  Tasty food, and quick service.  This is now our favorite restaurant in town too!

Dinner at Buffalo Bar

Stephanie got the Buffalo Balls, which were two buffalo meat meatballs over mashed potatoes.  Of course, this tickled Marissa, and she was saying “Buffalo Balls” the rest of the evening.

After dinner, we walked down to the Food Round Up, our neighborhood grocery store, to get Mallory’s medicine.  For some of us, this is our third trip into the store today.  We can’t get enough.

At the Food Round Up, each aisle has different wildlife on the sign. This place is the best.

We drove out to the campground where Mallory is working, meds in hand.  She told us how to find her trailer.  It’s a pretty sweet deal that the housing is provided for these summer employees.

Arriving at Mallory’s

It was good to see Mallory for a few minutes.  We delivered the meds and caught up for a few minutes, but we didn’t hang around long.  None of us wanted to catch whatever she may have. 

After getting back to our motel, we all felt it was time for one more round of ice cream.  We won’t eat ice cream every day, but we can average eating ice cream at least once a day.  So with two ice cream helpings today, we are now on track for our new goal.

Huckleberry Ice Cream!

After ice cream, it was back to the motel for an early bedtime.  Tomorrow is race day for some of us, and another late sleep-in for Marissa.  We are counting on more Mallory time tomorrow, assuming she is feeling better.  Pretty sure Dr. Mom’s meds will do the trick.

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