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Yee-Haw From Wyoming

HAPPY WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY!

Note: This post was written 08.26.20

We are in full cowboy mood out here in Wyoming.  Yesterday, we went trail riding up a mountain.  It was the boys first time horseback riding, and despite Bryson being a little hesitant at first, I declare the experience a success!  

Our trail guide was really sweet with the boys.  He sensed Bryson’s initial hesitation and reassured him.  The boys asked our trail guide questions the WHOLE time, and he was happy to answer them all.  

Tonight, we are headed to two cowboy activities!  We will begin our evening on a covered wagon trip to an outdoor space where we will eat dinner and listen to Western music.  After that, we will head to the Jackson, WY Rodeo which doesn’t begin until 8PM so it will be a late night for the boys, but from what we hear, it will be worth it!
 
Tomorrow, we will explore Grand Teton National Park.  We already drove through it on the way here, but it was very hazy from the wildfires in several Western states.  Today is the first day we have not had a hazardous air conditions warning on our phone in at least a week.  Luckily, we could not smell the smoke, just see the haze.  We are hoping for clear skies tomorrow as we really see Grand Teton National Park.
 
If you follow me on social media, you already heard about this!
We got up close and personal with a moose yesterday!  I was drinking my coffee and saw it dart by our window.  So we all scurried out in our PJs to see where it went.  We stayed back and watched it eat.  We were super lucky to experience this, but the moose wasn’t done with us.  As I took the boys to the playground in Teton Village, we accidentally passed less than 6 feet of him.  He was hidden in the trees.  Not only were we not social distancing, but being that close to a moose is not safe!  Once we realized what was going on, we retreated to a safe distance and I got some great footage of the moose walking.  Check out my social media accounts for the video Facebook or Instagram.
 
We have been really busy since my last email.  Last Wednesday was our last night in Bozeman.  We really love that town.  I took the boys to the Museum of the Rockies where they saw real dinosaur fossils, including this complete T- Rex!  
We spent our last night in their cute downtown eating dinner outside, walking Main St, and enjoying ice cream.  Then, we were off to Yellowstone.  We had passed through en route to Bozeman, but we came back to ‘explore more’ of it.
 
We spent our first night in Yellowstone, right by Old Faithful.  When we arrived, there was a big crowd waiting for it to erupt.  I had read that it erupts every 20-120 minutes, so I thought we were fine to drop off our bags and then head to the crowd.  It turns out that there is an eruption estimate that is given, and it was about to blow any minute!  Unfortunately, we missed that first eruption, but we did catch three more during our stay which is pretty awesome.  We just put out our camping chairs we brought with us and waited (somewhat) patiently.  The nice thing is that the crowd was much smaller that late in the evening.  
 
We also were able to see it erupt twice the next morning.  As we walked to breakfast, it had just started so we ran to see it.  After breakfast and coffee, we took a walk around the other geysers and geothermal activity in the area, Old Faithful is not the only geyser in town – just the most impressive!  It was a beautiful cool morning for a walk even though it was still hazy, but not as bad as the evening before.

The last eruption we saw was probably the most impressive because the sky was the bluest and provided a nice contrast.

It was a great start to a day full of geothermal wonder.  The Grand Prismatic Spring was very impressive.  We did a little hike to see it from above, but also walked around it.  It is the largest hot spring in the United States and third largest in the world. It is wider than a football field and deeper than a 10 story building! 

The vivid bands of orange, yellow, and green are created by different species of thermophile (heat-loving) bacteria that change colors based on the water temps. That deep blue center is just too hot for the thermophiles so that is the natural color of the water with the blue changing color slightly based on the depth of the water.

We also saw some other geysers throughout the day, but Mammoth Springs is worth detailing here.  These travertine terraces are formed by hot springs that rise up through limestone, dissolve the calcium carbonate, and deposit the calcite in these formations.  This is also how the Pamukkale in Turkey was formed – I featured Pamukkale two weeks ago in my Wanderlust Inspiration section of the Weekly Explorer.

Geothermal day was a long day with lots of walking, so we just relaxed the next couple of days in Gardiner, MT just outside the North entrance of Yellowstone – with the exception of going white water rafting along the Yellowstone River.  Our hotel was also on this river, so we spent most of our time just enjoying the view.
 
On Sunday, we spent time on the east side of Yellowstone and drove through The Grand Tetons (which we couldn’t even see because of the haze) en route to Teton Village, our home for the week.  The highlight on the east side is The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone which also is home to the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.  This section is so impressive (even with the haze). 

We aren’t ‘hikers’ so we have to pick and choose where we choose to walk beyond the viewing points.  We made a mistake here and took a hike that we thought was giving us a better view of the Lower Falls, but we ended up walking through the woods to another view point with a parking lot!  Thus, we wasted a chance to go beyond and ‘explore more’ which bummed me out so I insisted we keep pushing and ‘hike’ down to the top of the falls so we could experience the sheer force of the water.  

Well, I made it.  Boys made it about 3/4 of the way down, and Rob volunteered to sit with them on a bench while I made my way down.  It was a steep walk, and Connor seems to have developed a fear of heights at some point so there was no point in pushing the boys at this point.  The walk back up was a work out, but we made it.  Next up was a picnic – there are so many scenic picnic spots throughout the park.  Then, we saw the Upper Falls, Mud Volcano, and Dragon’s Mouth Spring.  

This is the boys at the Upper Falls.  Yellowstone requested visitors to wear masks in crowded outdoor areas like the viewpoints and boardwalks around sites.  We basically just left the masks around our ears and under our chins, then pulled up and down as needed.  Yellowstone was very crowded, but I have been told that it is less crowded than normal during the summer – I can’t imagine!  I think we have seen license plates from every state along the way!
 
Now, we are in the Jackson Hole area enjoying western life.  Here is one last photo of the boys.  When elk lose their antlers each spring, they are collected and used for decoration – including the town square in Jackson, WY.  
Needless to say, we have been busy with lots more to come in the next 10 days before we start heading home.  This trip is helping to satisfy my wanderlust that has been unfulfilled since COVID took our big trips away earlier in the year.  I keep dreaming about the trips I will take next year once there is a vaccine, but this trip has been the perfect alternative for 2020. I am so grateful we made it happen.
 
Keep Dreaming,
Horseback riding yesterday reminded me of Rob and my last horseback riding adventure, ten years ago in Mendoza, Argentina!  We rode up a mountain, drank matcha tea, and had a gourmet steak lunch prepared for us with Malbec wine to drink of course! 

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