Day 3 - to Old Faithful
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Posted by Greg (188.8.131.52) on January 22, 2008 at 23:25:57:
In Reply to: Day 2 - Yellowstone posted by Greg on January 22, 2008 at 23:24:48:
We awoke at 5:30am to a 15 degree temp. Brrr.
We are all packed and ready to go to Mammoth and find our coach. First thou we had to drop off a suit case at the front counter as they will keep our extra stuff locked up until we get back. Great folks at the Absaroka Lodge in Gardiner.
We found a parking spot across the street from the Hotel, went into the restaurant for breakfast. Our waitress was Lannie and she was from Florida. First winter in the park (first snow ever) and she enjoying, but did not like the cold.
After a small breakfast, we chatted a bit more and told her where we were going. Oh, she says, my friend Tom is a snow coach driver and he is driving to OF today. If he is your driver, please tell him that I am sorry about his keys. I locked his keys in his car this morning and he was really mad.
We went back to the SUV and hauled our luggage over to the staging area.
A Snow coach stopped and loaded all of the luggage and all of the riders had to board a bus that would take us to us to where the snow coaches were.
They were four coaches heading south to Old Faithful this morning.
Our driver was Vic.
Our snow coach was a 2007 Chev 3500 van that had snow tracks installed instead of tires.
Ceri and I sat behind Vic. We all introduced our selves, Donna sat in the passenger seat so she would not get car sick and her friend Matty, sat behind Ceri. There were three guys maybe 21-23 from Korea that were visiting the USA and they wanted to see Yellowstone and Old Faithful. They sat behind me.
They also did not speak much English.
The other 3 people were not very friendly and they sat in the back.
The first 100 yards was extremely rough, some of the people in back started to complain about the ride. Vic told them it would be much better once we were on the road. The three guys loved it.
Once on the road as we were heading up the Golden Gate, Vic told us that he and two others heard wolves earlier in the morning from this area. The thought was it may be the Hayden Pack.
Once we climbed and arrived at Swan Flats, the view was outstanding. The mountains were snow packed and you could see for many miles.
The guys behind me were loving every minute and taking many photos.
Along the way Vic gave us a guided tour, he was great. In the mean time, Donna, Ceri and I hit it off and we were joking around.
Turns out she has a cabin in Upper Michigan near my home town.
Vic had planned stops along the way and anytime any of us wanted to stop for photos he stopped as well.
When we arrived at Gibbon Falls, we all filed out and Vic pointed out the slide that on the other side of the road. It was had to be 40 to 60 high up the snow bank.
Well, before we knew it, these three guys were climbing the hill and sliding down. Way kool.
That is when we found out that they did not have a winter coat, boots or gloves.
They had on windbreakers and tennis shoes!!!! Boy were they cold. We loaned them an extra pair of gloves and offered our coats, but they said no.
We passed a bison carcass on the right side (west). The hide was in stretched out and what was left of the body was stripped of everything, just bones left.
When we arrived at the warming hut in Madison, we all got out as they had heated bathrooms and hot cocoa. Actually they had a nice selection of stuff.
I viewed a few photos of the lynx that were taken the end of November that was on display.
I then tried to walk down to the meadow to see the snow. Very very pretty, the snow on the buildings, the hill sides, the river and buffys aways away. No Sand Hill Cranes today.
The last of our 4 coaches arrived and the driver, Tom, told us that they just saw a Bobcat. A lady had photos. Her name was Robyn and she shared them with us. Very very kool.
I looked at Ceri and then said, "hey Tom, did you find your car keys yet"? Boy, the look he gave us. He came over and we told him how we knew about them. We all laughed.
He then said, if you have Lannie again for a server, ask her how her winter coat is that her mom sent the money for? He was laughing, she spent the money on bikinis!!
We started talking to Vic and told him he looked very familiar to us. Turns out he has worked at Lake Lodge for many years and he has assisted us in the past.
Then I said, How is Alex? He looked and then laughed. I remember Pat from MO telling us that Vic was going to be on Jeopardy.
He laughed, yes that was him and he won a little more than $25K. When Alex asked him his profession, he announced that he was a snow coach driver in Yellowstone National Park.
On to the Fire hole River drive and at the falls we all got out again.
What a difference from summer to winter. How beautiful. The falls were not frozen over, but it was definitely a winter scene.
I scanned the tree tops and there she was, a huge Bald Eagle. Before I could get the camera ready, she was gone.
By the time we arrived back on the main road, we viewed 6 more Bald Eagles.
The next few miles along the river we counted over 22 Swans, 10 elk, geese, ducks, many dippers and of course buffy's.
I joked with Vic that you drivers must take a class on spotting dippers! I do not think Vic missed one along the entire trip.
We passed the Upper Basin and continued on our way to Old Faithful.
Soon we arrived at the Snow Lodge.
Our luggage was already waiting for us.
The three guys were heading over to see Old Faithful and then heading back to Mammoth on Vic's return coach. Those guys were having a ball.
We said good bye to Vic, hugs exchanged and we were on our way to the front desk to check into our Western Cabin.
Christine was at the counter helping others, our eyes caught each others and we smiled and said hello. If she is working, she has asked all Loons not to make a scene.
We checked in and then found two plastic sleds that we would use to pull our luggage to our cabin.
The path has not been plowed and we did not have our winter boots on.
I unlocked the cabin door, walked in and dropped my camera bag and the keys on the desk and turned around to start unloading the sleds when, click! Yup, the door closed and locked behind me.... We were locked out.
So back to the front desk, maybe 400 yards away to get another key. Nathan offered his assistance and came back and unlocked the door for us. Ceri just smiled...
Once we were unloaded, we loaded up the cameras and headed to the VC as we were going to call Carolyn when we arrived for the 2pm web cam show.
I called Carolyn and Ceri started calling family members.
At 1:55 we were in front of the web cams, waving. Our grandsons could not figure out how we were on the computer screen waving and Ceri talking to them on the cell phone. What a kool idear. Thanks Carolyn, you are awesome.
Once we were done, it was time to walk the basin. Truth be told, this would be my first time walking the basin.
Carolyn at the VC warned us of how slippery the basin was today, many have fallen so be careful.
We crossed he bridge and headed to the left taking photos and taking in the solitude and beauty that we were seeing.
When we were about 100 yards in, heading towards Lion, I started to slide, I was doing the best to keep my balance. All told, I glided, slid for more than 50 feet. The entire boardwalk was now solid ice.
That sure gave me a second wind. Sure surprised me.
I told Ceri to stop and I would come back to her. Ceri has a problem at times with balance and this is not the place to not have it.
She said she would come to me. She took one small step and she almost lost it.
The my cell phone rings, the callers tells me it is Joe, Sheriff Joe from Maricopa County Arizona. I recognised the voice, it is Whereduck, David from Phoenix calling to say hello. I was talking to him when Ceri decided to sit down and slide the next 45 feet to me on her tush..
I wanted to take a photo, but my hands were full.
I told David we were having a ball and yes, we did not have coats or gloves on at Cooke City and also at the OF web cam. Guess we were ready for the cold.
We started to walk a bit more but the boardwalks were solid ice. We had a really hard time getting to Lion.
At Lion, we met up with a fellow named Jerry. He had watched us slide and he decided not to go the way we came.
We met another couple that was coming up the hill and they said it was worse behind them and they were not back peddling.
We scanned the boardwalks and you could not hardly see anyone, they were empty. Those that were there were heading in as well.
We were able to watch Old Faithful from Lion, very nice view.
It took the 5 of us close to an hour to get back to the bridge.
Ceri and I then headed over to the parking lot web cam to make snow angels and a snow man.
I sank in first and then Ceri. We had fun making the snow angels. Then we found that we could not get out of the deep snow. It took some time, but we made it. The snow was too powdery to make a snowman. Bummer.
We headed back to clean up and have dinner.
We thought our reservations were for 7pm, but it turns out that they were for 8:30pm. No way, so we headed over and had a bowl of chili.
We then returned to the cabin, it was snowing and blowing. We had brought a DVD player with us, so we popped in a movie and relaxed for the evening.
Just before midnight it was 19 and snowing pretty good.
We need to get a good night sleep as we were having breakfast at 6:30am before we head to Canyon, Hayden Valley and Lake on a Bombardier.
What a wonderful day.
- Day 4 - to Canyon Greg 23:26:52 01/22/08 (3)
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