Saturday was our first day in the park. We drove to West Yellowstone, where we again gathered as a group and then headed into Old Faithful. Grand Geyser, one of our very favorites, was set to erupt around 4:00 p.m. We arrived with only minutes to spare!! Grand gave a great show!! It was awesome! Then we walked around the boardwalks and headed out to Morning Glory pool. We also hiked past Morning Glory to another geyser located back toward Biscuit Basin. That was fun too! It was a long walk back in, and by the time we got back to our cars, the kids were tired and hungry. We ate a quick dinner and then split forces. Some of our group went to watch Riverside Geyser. Some of us waited for Castle Geyser. We took our kids for ice cream and then to the new visitor's center. We saw Old Faithful as well. We took the kids into the Old Lodge and looked around in there. It was fun! By the time we drove back to West Yellowstone, it was after 9:00 p.m. It was cool because all of our rooms were in a row, with the exception of David and Alisha. They were downstairs. The kids loved going from room to room. I will point out, we were exceptionally cautious about keeping them quiet. With that many children, it was a challenge.
The next day was Sunday and our first stop was Midway Geyser Basin. Then we went to Black Sand Basin and hiked the loop there. We also hiked to Artemesia Geyser, which is a short hike into the woods across the street from Black Sand Basin. It was so enjoyable to be in the woods. I loved the smell of the pine trees and the gentle breeze. The weather wasn't too hot or cold. We were so blessed while we were there.
After our hikes, we drove to a darling picnic site and had lunch. The kids were quick to find a trail which led off into the forest. We hiked the trail for a little way before it was time to depart. It was only a little ways until we reached the West Thumb Geyser Basin. I love West Thumb. The first time we saw that basin, it was ugly. The pools were brown. It was desolate. Only a couple of years later, there was a shift in the hot spot. Two of the pools became bright blue. One of the pools started erupting enough the boardwalk had to be moved back. It was like the basin came to life. On this visit, the basin was equally beautiful. West Thumb sits right on Yellowstone Lake, and the lake was spectacular this year. The water was very high and deep blue. Just gorgeous! There was a pleasant wind coming from across the lake, so the loop by the water was refreshing. It was fun!
After West Thumb, we drove to Grant Village. There is a darling gift shop there, as well as yummy ice cream. Let me tell you, there is nothing more revitalizing to children than ice cream! Ha ha ha! They ate up and then we all spent a while looking around the gift shop. Then it was back on the road. We all regrouped at the Fountain Paint Pots, hiked the loop there, and then headed over to catch Great Fountain Geyser. Great Fountain is another favorite of our family. The crater it is located in is spectacular, but it also has an amazing eruption. We arrived just in time to see the geyser erupt. By that time, it was dinner time and we had some hungry troopers. So we all decided to head back to West Yellowstone for dinner.
Monday was another great day. Unfortunately part of our family had to head for home. Poor Chris and Jessica ended up with a very sick little girl. Annie threw up five times in the night. Poor Alexis woke up in the middle of it all and cried for almost two hours. Jessica was beside herself by morning. They decided they better head back to Burley to care for their sick one. We were fortunate in that we got to keep Burke. He is such a great kid, it wasn't a problem at all to keep him. (0:
Our first stop was Norris Geyser Basin. I was always a fan of Norris when I was younger, but this year, it wasn't great. Many of the pools were dull. There were tons of people and it was very hot. But even with the setbacks, it was fun to be a family, walking around and laughing together. By the time we finished our hikes at Norris, the kids were starving. I have to admit, I was hungry too. We found a really fun picnic area with a creek. We stayed there for a while and let the kids play in the water. They had a blast! They could have gladly stayed by that little creek all day long. But reality set in, and it was time to hit our next destination: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Our first stop was Brink of Lower Falls. You get to hike about half a mile down to a viewpoint right at the edge of the falls. It was amazing! After all the hiking we had done thus far, the kids were tired. They did not want to hike anymore. Dawn and Jaxon have a favorite hike they like to do every year, which was an additional three miles. My parents decided to take the children to the visitor's center in Canyon Village while Dawn, Jaxon, Tammy, Jason and I hiked the North Rim Trail. David and Alisha, Kris and Amy decided to drive the Mammoth/Tower Falls Loop and meet up with us later in West Yellowstone. Our little group set out for our hike. It was truly beautiful!!! We did end up on the South Rim Trail. We saw the area where the man was attacked by a bear and killed only a week before we were in Yellowstone. They have the trail closed and have bear warning signs posted all over the area. It was scary to be in a place where we knew a bear had killed someone. We didn't see a bear on our hike, but we did see a deer. I figured with a deer in the area, there was not likely to be a bear, so we were safe.
After our jaunt, we went back to the visitor's center and met up with our parents and children. Of course, it was ice cream time again. Ha ha ha! (0: Then we left Canyon and drove to Gibbon Falls. The new overlook there is spectacular! They did a wonderful job! There were lots of big rocks there, so you can imagine where the kids played. After Gibbon, it was back to West Yellowstone for food and souvenir shopping. At the end of that day, we were all tired. I don't think the kids have ever slept so soundly!
Tuesday morning it was time to head for home. Part of our family decided to head to Jackson. I didn't have a good feeling about making the trip, and it was a good thing we didn't go. Our van has been acting up for a while now. Unfortunately, the mechanic has been unable to narrow down the problem. He tried, but when he drove it for three days, it never had any problems. Anyway, Jason and I took our little family and headed to Mesa Falls. I have seen the sign for Mesa Falls before, but have never been there. It was so fun! We stopped at both overlooks and visited the Visitor's Center there. I had a special experience while we were at the upper falls overlook. I was standing, looking out over the river. I had been thinking about Ashley the entire trip, remembering what it was like to have her with us. She had been on my mind a great deal that morning as well. As I stood there, I had the most happy, peaceful feeling come over me. It was like she was telling me she was alright and that she didn't want me to be sad. I knew she was near. I am so lucky to have been her mom. Every day it seems like I find another blessing that came from having her as part of our family. I wish I could tell her just what she did for me, how she changed my heart and my life, how she brought such unity to our family. She was my princess, and she always will be.
On the way home, we stopped in Idaho Falls to eat. Right after we got back on the freeway, the van died. It did restart after a few minutes, but after that, it ran rough all the way home. We ended up coming home through Downey. It seemed to do better at slower speeds. I am so thankful I listened to the prompting I had earlier that morning. Had we gone to Jackson, I am not sure we would have made it. Who knows where we would have been stuck, with a van that wasn't running well, and not up to traveling over mountain passes. The cool part of this story is that we had no trouble the entire time we were in Yellowstone. I know that was not an accident. We were blessed. We were blessed with the financial means to make the trip. We were blessed with good health. In the time I needed to know my angel was close, I felt her.
I am so grateful for this wonderful world we have been given to live in. Looking at the beautiful and breathtaking sights around us, there is no way one can deny there is loving Father in Heaven, who loves us, who is always near, ready to help us in times of trial. I feel right now like I am in the eye of the storm. Life this summer has been so peaceful. I haven't felt so much peace in a very long time. While the storms of life continue to rage on, I have learned to dance in the rain. And it feels so great!!!!!!