Yellowstone

Last Memorial Day, we went to Yellowstone National Park.  Actually, we left on Sunday morning.  It wasn’t really planned, we just kind of decided to do it.  Just kind of a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing.

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If you really have no idea where Yellowstone is, it’s in the northwestern-most corner of the state of Wyoming, with thin strips of the park lying within the eastern border of Idaho and the southern border of Montana.

We drove there from our house in Farmington, Utah; so we took the Interstate 15 north pretty deep into Idaho, until we had realized that we missed the turn and ended up getting off the freeway and going to this tiny “service station” in the middle of nowhere to ask for directions.  It was really just an old house that reeked of that old house smell and cigarette smoke, with two old ladies working there, but they told us that we could go east on a dirt road that would take us pretty much straight to West Yellowstone.  And they had cold Mountain Dew, so it was all good.

We took our minivan down the dirt road, which worked out fine because it was actually fairly smooth and well graded and we could do like 40 or 50 mph on the straight parts.  There were still the remains of dirty snowbanks on the sides of the road in some places.  Actually, most of Yellowstone still had a lot of snow left.  When we were up on the Beartooth Highway, the mountains were still covered in a few feet of it.  But anyway, the road took us through forests and past some ranches and wound around quite a bit before we actually got to West Yellowstone.  But I think it was still pretty early in the afternoon when we got to the park entrance.

On Sunday, we basically drove from West Yellowstone, Idaho, to Gardner, Montana, so we were going through the northwest area of the park.  It’s actually a very large park; one Yellowstone documentary I saw said that it is technically big enough to be its own state.

A fire a few years back had swept through most of the park, so most of the forests are not very tall and very light green.  But the ones we saw as we first started into the park still had the old, tall trees.  The few hours we had on Sunday may have been the best part of the whole thing.

Most of the stuff we saw wasn’t super noteworthy, but it was still a nice place.  We ended up in Gardiner by the time it was about to get dark.  Gardiner is this redneck town right on the northern entrance to Yellowstone, in southern Montana.  All the buildings have those wooden false fronts, and I swear every business also had a bar.  Like, at the end of all the place-name signs you would almost always see “& Bar.”  We ended up eating at this pizza place, which was pretty good, and then getting a single small room in the Best Western.  They had a hot tub, which was nice, but I didn’t get much sleep that night.  But when I don’t sleep, I think.

Since about the Summer after eighth grade, I’d had these fantasies about being a music artist.  They were really just fantasies, though; not much aspiration.  More just random stuff I came up with, and I was really just fantasizing to pass the time.  I just remember, when I was laying there, unable to sleep due to the crowded conditions, I was thinking about this remix that was on the radio (I listened to the radio a lot more last summer, but that’s unimportant).  I was really thinking about the lyrics of the song that was being remixed and they kind of applied to a situation I was in.  I started thinking about what I could do with that particular song, to make it cooler or personalize it or something.  (I don’t actually do stuff like this, I just come up with ideas all the time.)  Then I’m like, what if I came up with my own lyrics to build on what they’re saying and then, like, rapped them over the electro-music that had been remixed in.  And then after every rap-verse the chorus of the song would play… And what if I had some stage name…what about my Reddit username?  That would be really cool…..

Obviously, I never actually did that.  I don’t really even listen to that kind of music now.  But that idea was, as far as I can remember, the first real aspiration I had.  I’ve always had a small aspiration to be a music artist since then, although it has evolved quite a bit.  I’m just not sure exactly what to do……

Anyway, Yellowstone.  I don’t know… the next day we got up and went to the breakfast buffet that was complementary with the hotel.  That was good, because an unlimited amount of free food is always good.

We went back in the North Entrance and the drive for a while from the entrance was beautiful.  I don’t remember what everything was called, but there were some cool waterfalls and forests and mountains and lots of wildlife; mostly buffalo, deer and caribou.  I do remember that we took a side road to go see this petrified tree and there were a whole bunch of cars lined up, and I’m like, “Is a petrified tree really that interesting?”… Turns out there was a black bear, down the hill in the small valley, not more than maybe three hundred feet away from us.  It was just chilling out, messing around with some log… it took a swim in the creek (which, for your information, is pronounced “creeeeek”, not “crick”) and floated down the river until we couldn’t see it well anymore.

The Beartooth Highway was also cool, I think it’s like the highest paved road in the United States or something to that effect.  It went up the mountain and over this pass, and like I said, there was still at least a few feet of snow left up there.  I don’t know if that’s normal for the end of May?  I guess at that elevation it is.

I found a picture…

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So that’s cool.  Another cool place was this canyon, called “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River”.  I think this place is why they called the park “Yellowstone”, because the cliffs are made of yellow stone.  And there’s a bunch of these waterfalls… I’ll find a picture for this one…

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I got that one from Wikipedia.  I don’t care what your English teacher says; Wikipedia’s the best.

We drove around this area and checked out some of the viewpoints around the area.  It would make sense to see formations like this in a place like southern Utah, but in a place like this it’s kind of weird.  But still really awesome.

We drove down from here, past the Yellowstone lake, which is apparently the largest high-elevation lake in the United States (Yellowstone has a lot of those high-elevation records I guess).  It looks exactly like you think it would look, just like a big lake in the mountains.

Before we hit the road for the long haul back, [It was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to be back in Utah and have some time to sleep before we had work and school and stuff the next day (but let me just say, I would have definitely rather stayed in Yellowstone than gone to school those last few days.  I pretty much had almost no social life at that point.  It really never got much better from there; as I’ve been in California this past couple of weeks I feel like the last little bit of it just kind of melted… but ninth grade… ugh.).], we hit the Old Faithful Geyser, because you can’t go to Yellowstone and not see that…just in case nobody’s seen it or seen a picture or anything, I’ll find another Wikipedia picture.

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Perfect.

We had enough daylight left to see the Grand Tetons on our way back (we took a different route back).  We ate at Wendy’s in Jackson Hole.  As we passed through Jackson, I was a little bummed that the pizza place we would always go to when we were up there on my birthday was no longer there.  Mountain High Pizza Pie will be missed. Anyway, we drove down from Jackson down the canyon along the Snake River (which brought back some good memories because my extended family used to have this big family reunion every couple of years where we would go river rafting in that canyon) to Star Valley.  The sun was going down as we were passing through the valley.  Star Valley is a nice place.

We went down through Montpelier, Idaho, and passed Bear Lake (I guess one wouldn’t know where those places were unless they lived in the general area.).  We drove down Logan Canyon, which is pretty treacherous in the dark, especially after the summit near Bear Lake.  We didn’t end up getting back to Farmington until around 1 a.m., so I’m glad I picked up that Mountain Dew Big Gulp during that last long haul to save for the next day.

So yeah, Yellowstone was cool, 10 out of 10 would recommend.

Davis Creek Hike Waterfall I

When I went to get the link to this hike, I realize the header on all of the Farmington pages is a picture of the street I live on!  How fun.  The Davis Creek Hikes are just a quick drive up the hill.  My choir friend told me I’d have to pass a “no tresspassing” sign to get to them, yet they are government maintained trails, so I guess that sign was posted by the people who live up the mountain.  This was a short, steep hike of a half mile to the first waterfall. You head up the road just north of the cemetery on 200 East, then curve right as the road curves, follow it up past the unwelcoming sign and park in the pull-off area by the reservoir.  Walk up past the trail marker right where the creek hits the road to the Davis Creek sign a few yards farther in the trees.

With kids 4-11, I didn’t know if the little people would handle it well, but they did great, and I had them rest whenever they wanted to.  The views back down were amazing, the trail was soft and covered in leaves and lined with yellow wildflowers.  At the top there was one place I could straddle the stream and carry the kids across to the other side where there was a flat, grassy area and they could throw rocks in the waterfall to their heart’s content.  I’d like to take Ben up and do the longer hike to the second waterfall and another area called “Pretty Valley.”  Imagine how lovely this will be when there are actually leaves on the trees!

Davis Creek Hike Waterfall I

When I went to get the link to this hike, I realize the header on all of the Farmington pages is a picture of the street I live on!  How fun.  The Davis Creek Hikes are just a quick drive up the hill.  My choir friend told me I’d have to pass a “no tresspassing” sign to get to them, yet they are government maintained trails, so I guess that sign was posted by the people who live up the mountain.  This was a short, steep hike of a half mile to the first waterfall. You head up the road just north of the cemetery on 200 East, then curve right as the road curves, follow it up past the unwelcoming sign and park in the pull-off area by the reservoir.  Walk up past the trail marker right where the creek hits the road to the Davis Creek sign a few yards farther in the trees.

With kids 4-11, I didn’t know if the little people would handle it well, but they did great, and I had them rest whenever they wanted to.  The views back down were amazing, the trail was soft and covered in leaves and lined with yellow wildflowers.  At the top there was one place I could straddle the stream and carry the kids across to the other side where there was a flat, grassy area and they could throw rocks in the waterfall to their heart’s content.  I’d like to take Ben up and do the longer hike to the second waterfall and another area called “Pretty Valley.”  Imagine how lovely this will be when there are actually leaves on the trees!

Farmington Bay Bird Refuge (Waterfowl Management Area)

The kids had Monday off after Easter and I decided it was time for a pre-summer preview of all the natural delights Farmington has to offer.  Due to gas prices and frugality measures, this summer’s plans include a hiking/biking schedule that covers Farmington’s 100 miles of trails and hopefully a family pass to the Farmington City Pool a half a block away.

On Sunday night, my choir carpool friend told me about the Blue Herons nesting in Farmington Bay five minutes west of our house and a fantastic waterfall hike five minutes east of my house. I decided we’d do both.  I started with a lecture on how if they fought and complained the whole time it would greatly sway whether and who I would take on various summer outings, so behavior was actually very good and everyone was rather pleasant.

Holy cow this place is beautiful.  I felt so blessed to have it right next door.  I didn’t realize it was a freshwater area, since it is right on the edge of the Great Salt Lake.  There were SO many birds there and it was so peaceful.  We had the place, and the ranger, all to ourselves, so we got a private tutorial on the habitat and the kids were very engaged in the little displays in the visitor’s center.  We took a short trail out on one of the dikes and the bird chatter was loud and everywhere.  It was a little chilly, but a very nice time.  Apparently they have different birds at different times throughout the year–in March is geese and February is bald eagles.   We will definitely have to make this a monthly thing.

My zoom on my iPhone is kind of lame.

Yellow-headed blackbird

Heron nesting poles. (“The people supply the poles, the birds supply the nests.”

 The view back towards our house.

Farmington Bay Bird Refuge (Waterfowl Management Area)

The kids had Monday off after Easter and I decided it was time for a pre-summer preview of all the natural delights Farmington has to offer.  Due to gas prices and frugality measures, this summer’s plans include a hiking/biking schedule that covers Farmington’s 100 miles of trails and hopefully a family pass to the Farmington City Pool a half a block away.

On Sunday night, my choir carpool friend told me about the Blue Herons nesting in Farmington Bay five minutes west of our house and a fantastic waterfall hike five minutes east of my house. I decided we’d do both.  I started with a lecture on how if they fought and complained the whole time it would greatly sway whether and who I would take on various summer outings, so behavior was actually very good and everyone was rather pleasant.

Holy cow this place is beautiful.  I felt so blessed to have it right next door.  I didn’t realize it was a freshwater area, since it is right on the edge of the Great Salt Lake.  There were SO many birds there and it was so peaceful.  We had the place, and the ranger, all to ourselves, so we got a private tutorial on the habitat and the kids were very engaged in the little displays in the visitor’s center.  We took a short trail out on one of the dikes and the bird chatter was loud and everywhere.  It was a little chilly, but a very nice time.  Apparently they have different birds at different times throughout the year–in March is geese and February is bald eagles.   We will definitely have to make this a monthly thing.

My zoom on my iPhone is kind of lame.

Yellow-headed blackbird

Heron nesting poles. (“The people supply the poles, the birds supply the nests.”

 The view back towards our house.