Thursday morning we drove into Yellowstone and stopped at the Madison Junior Ranger Station. I thought the building would have a short little door that adults had to bend down to get through, but it was regular size. There were quite a few kid ranger programs though, so we sat in on the Animal Hats talk (a.k.a. horns and antlers--I now know the difference between the two) and the kids and Robert got started on their seventh junior ranger program.
Ranger Sharon asked Ethan if he wanted to help put up the flag and he did. This made a big impression on Ethan. (Tune in for Friday's report to find out just how big.) Jonah and Isaac also helped.
There was a display table of "please touch" horns and antlers in the station and Jonah had fun with this bison horn. I wonder what the difference between a bison and a buffalo is?
(Really Afton? A third picture from the Junior Ranger station?)
Here are the boys in front of the Madison Junior Ranger Station. I just thought it was such a fun place, and we did spend about an hour there. It was our first introduction to Yellowstone, and the first "Junior" Ranger Station I'd ever seen. And I've seen a lot in the last 22 days.
We drove up the road a bit to the Old Faithful Village. This is where we stopped last night for dinner, but this time we came to see the geyser. It is both old and faithful, erupting every 60-90 minutes. I took plenty of pictures of the geyser erupting, and even a video, but the video is sideways (I keep forgetting--no portrait mode!) and the pictures I did take just don't do it justice. So you just get a shot of Jonah and the sign.
We lunched in the Old Faithful Inn. It is stunning to behold. Seriously. The inside is made from all this knotty pine and stone and it's just beautiful. At lunch, the waiter brought activity books for the kids and in the activity books there was a page for collecting stickers from different places around the park. Collect four out of five stickers and the kids would each get a cute stuffed bear and a coupon for a free ice cream sundae!
The only problem was the different locations were hours away. We decided to collect the stickers anyway and it really turned out to be a good thing. As we drove from place to place (Lake Lodge, Canyon Lodge, and Roosevelt Lodge) we were able to stop and see some amazing things.
Or sometimes we didn't even have to stop, as in the photo above. This bison just walked down the road past our car. They are so weird-looking.
Another stop was the trail at Mud Pots, or Mud Volcanoes. I can't remember exactly what it was called. I can remember that it was strange and otherworldly and that it reeked of sulphur. At first the boys complained about the smell, but we all eventually got used to it.
Except when we got to Dragon's Mouth Spring.
It was at this point that the boys started to complain about how many times we were stopping to see bison. I had to agree that it was starting to feel like "you've seen one, you've seen them all."
On the way to Canyon Lodge, we stopped at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lower Falls. The walk to Artist's Loop was short and very well worth it. The view was inspiring. Kind of hard to see in this picture of Jonah, but Lower Falls is in the background
Here you can see both Lower Falls and the yellow stone that Robert said Yellowstone National Park got its name from. I'm thinking Christmas card with this photo.
We completed the kids sticker books and they got their stuffed animals from Roosevelt Lodge. Just as we were driving off, there was a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder and the storm continued as we drove back over the mountains. The pounding rain turned into plopping slush and then marble-sized hail. The road between Canyon Lodge and Norris was completely covered in an inch of hail. Before we exited the park though, the sun had reappeared and the roads were clear.
What a difference a few miles can make.