Yellowstone Grand Loop

No cycling today, just up at the crack of dawn for a bus tour of the park itself. I had no idea that we were camping at the Roosevelt Gate, so I’ll just be inserting the stock photo here, because our bus swept us into the park so quickly (and it was 5:30 am) that I didn’t have time to get the shot myself.

My best shot of entering the park…
P1010313

Our crew member suggested we stop at Mammoth Hot Springs just as we passed it, so our driver took us to the upper entrance. As we exited the bus, the domestic partner noted that his right knee was looking larger than his left. I decided to document the drama… perhaps to remind mister “I don’t need to train” that he might not need to, but he might want to in the future.

P1010315

I’m so glad we stopped, because we arrived at dawn, and these photos can’t even begin to convey how spectacular it was.

P1010320

P1010323

P1010324

P1010330

P1010331

P1010332

P1010333

P1010334

P1010335

P1010337

P1010338

P1010341

P1010342

P1010343

P1010344

P1010345

P1010346

P1010348

We visited another hot springs, but it wasn’t quite as awesome. The later tour buses were already starting to catch up with us. Our route was changing because of the fires in the park. The smell of smoke in the air had me thinking, “Who has the s’mores fixings?”

P1010349

And then… Bison. First at a distance –
P1010357
– and then close-up
P1010359
Everything reminds us of Buddy today: shaggy, slow-moving, grumpy
P1010362

We arrived at Old Faithful JUST as it was blowing, so we stuck around for another 90 minutes. We found espresso.
We were stalked by a zombie.

P1010364

We waited…
IMG_2675

And finally!

Then off to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which was vaguely reminiscent of the Hotel Overlook. Which inspired a series of zombie shots. Sorry.

P1010376

P1010378

P1010379

And then to Yellowstone Falls and Artists Point. As I would see over the next few days, I wasn’t the only one inspired by the view.
P1010383

P1010390

P1010393

I love me a giant topographical map:
P1010411

More Bison!
P1010413

As we left the park, the skies darkened, it began to rain, and then hail. A really good day to not be on the bike and to have the tent sherpas setting up for us!

The view from our camp at Pilot Creek during a break in the rain:
P1010415

Dinner was spaghetti bolognese, which is my favorite “I’m in out of the rain” meal of all time. The beer garden was onsite (we couldn’t have beer at the school where we’d camped the night before) and they had a great Idaho red wine that we enjoyed.

After dinner, we were told to put all of our food and toiletries in dry sacks, and then take them to a truck that would hold everything overnight. We were in bear country, and this was the condition the Forest Service had placed on allowing hundreds of us to camp there. After we’d dropped our bags off at the truck, we wandered back by the catering tent. A dozen or so brownies were still lingering at the desert table.

The domestic partner asked, “Do you think we should take some back to the tent? For breakfast?”
I just stopped and stared at him.
“What did we just do?”
“Oh. OHHHH. (pause) Admit it, though, you thought it was a good idea for a minute there.”
“No. No, I did not.”