Yellowstone National Park and the Boulder Buffs
The drive to Montana from Seattle was a long one. The total travel time was about 12 hours but this seemed longer due to our late night Karaoke session the night before. We arrived about 50 miles away from Yellowstone and decided to stay at the Super 8. The Super 8 is fast becoming our preferred hotel chain in the 0 to 1 star category. The plan was to wake early at about 6am and spend the day exploring Yellowstone before hitting up Jackson, Wyoming in the afternoon. Unfortunately our plan did not come to fruition when we all woke up at 9:30am. By the time we ate our complimentary breakfast and loaded up the car it was about 11am. Whoops. Another planning fail occurred when we realised the road we were going to take south from Yellowstone was closed due to snow until May 11th
. This meant we had to zip across to Idaho and back into Wyoming adding a few 100 miles to our journey. It also meant we would miss out on visiting the Grand Tetons National park.
We entered Yellowstone and were instantly impressed. The entrance is flanked by massive snow capped mountain ranges and the road hugged a beautiful, cold stream. Joseph busied himself reading out all of the sights we could see along the way. Our route was somewhat restricted due to roads still being closed but there was still wildlife aplenty. Lisa and I have never seen a bear in the wild and were keen to check one out. We made our way to Yellowstone Lake in the centre of the park. On the way we stopped along at sights such as the mud volcano. The park sits on top of Yellowstone caldera, a supervolcano that is considered active. So there are lots of gysery, steamy, volcanoey things scattered throughout. On our way to the mud volcano we pulled off the road to check out a few steamy cauldrons. Walking back to the car Lisa stopped us to check if the large brown animal across the river was a bear. It was. We sat and watched the big old beast wander down the hill to the river and take a drink. He then plonked down in the sun to presumably work on his bear tan. I reckon it was a grizzly bear, check out the photos, you be the judge. The bear definitely left us all on a high and Lisa was determined to find more animals as the official animal spotter of the trip. There were a few giant Bisons grazing in the plains which are impressive in size but look a little silly with their skinny hind legs. They carry all their weight in their front. In keeping with my tradition of eating every new animal I meet, I later ate a Bison burger in Boulder. Delicious.
Our next major stop was at lake Yellowstone. Surprisingly, most of the lake is still frozen and only the edges are starting to break apart. It too was surrounded by snowy mountains so we decided this was the perfect place for lunch. After a tasty salad we headed to one of the parks main attractions, Old Faithful. Old Faithful is a geyser that faithfully erupts steamy water every 97 minutes. It was quite late in the day and we knew we had to get to Jackson at a respectable hour for dinner. We were secretly hoping that Old Faithful would sense our presence and erupt on cue. This did not happen so we sat around for about an hour. It was definitely worth it in the end as she spewed out water high into the air. The only downside was it added more time to our commute to Jackson and we only saw the town in the dark. But we did get upgraded to a cute little log cabin for the night, one of the nicest places we’ve stayed on the roadtrip so far.
Boulder, Colorado was our next stop. This little town was a decent drive but it was a must see destination as it was where Joseph went to college at the University of Colorado. The afternoon we arrived, the sun was out and the weather was warm. The weekend also marked Josephs 10 year anniversary of his graduation, which of course meant about 5000 class of 2012 college kids were kicking their heels up. As Joseph was activities coordinator for Boulder, we took a tour of his old campus. The university is beautiful and poops all over Australian universities. I guess this is why tuition costs so much here, someone has to pay for all that sandstone. We strolled across the beautifully manicured lawns and visited Josephs old dorm. That night we took in the sights (bars) of University Hill. The next day the weather turned, dropped to about 10 degrees Celsius and started raining. I am told Boulder gets sunshine 300 days a year so it would be just our luck. We still managed to hike up to the flatirons, large rock formations in the surrounding mountains. Boulder is a very healthy, active town so there were lots of people out and about hiking all over. Lisa also found out that hiking is really just walking. Fortunately, we did not spot any bears in the wild this time.
On our last night in Boulder, we arrived back at our somewhat shady accommodation to find a young couple arguing in the house across the street. The crazy girlfriend was screaming at her boyfriend, Ben. She was asking why he had text Juliana back. He couldn’t provide a suitable reason so an argument ensued. She was screaming so loud that the neighbourhood dogs howled in unison. The police were eventually called and everyone quietened down. It was the perfect end to our stay in university town, Boulder.