July 4th, 2010
Wow, most amazing day filled with wildness, patriotism and joy!! We woke in the stunning beauty of Silver Gate, Montana. Everyone was feeling lazy so we just poked around in the morning, Quinn and I walked for a while toward Cooke City but Quinn got spooked by a No Trespassing sign and we turned around. Then we went and put our feet into the freezing Soda Butte River. The river is just a short hop down the road from Pat and Bill’s cabin. Mid-morning we decided to torture our children by making them hike up to Bridal Falls. The hike was very short but with a big payoff. Huge falls coming out of the granite rocks, falling at least 40 feet into a freeze cold stream. Ella ventured across the river, over a fallen tree, and then she was able to Billy Goat climb up to the big pile of snow/ice that was still left under the falls. Pretty incredible considering we were in 94 degrees just 2 days ago. She mentioned that she was not afraid of heights, but of heights falling on her :-)
After a quick lunch, we sat on the awesomest porch and read and watched ATVers go barreling down the Bannock Trail. Quite a few kids, without helmets, went cruising by. I am hoping they don’t give Ella and Quinn ideas! Around 3pm, we decided to go into Yellowstone for a "quick little tour". We arrived at the park gates and because the power was out, we were allowed in for free. An auspicious beginning, me thinks. Pretty quickly we saw Bison, laying down acting very nonchalant. We went cruising across the field to get a better view of them. We stopped to see mountain goats, through the scope of a professional spotter. By the time Quinn looked, they were gone. He returned to the car and immediately said "See Ella? All animals hate me."
We then headed toward Mammoth Hot Springs (the northern entrance to the park). That's when we saw loads of jaywalking bison, traipsing all over the fields and roads. The hot springs were very cool, but according to Quinn, "They're not that Mammoth!". The tiered views were in.credible as were the variety of languages being spoken by our fellow visitors. The steam rose in waves as we walked around and the smell of sulfur soon became a common background smell for all our travels.
Back to the Lamar valley (the Serengeti of the USA)... Wow, what an incredible place! We saw a bald eagle (bonus points because it was fourth of July!), moose, elk, bison, 4 bears and a wolf. We got to watch a wolf circle around the field with the hope of reclaiming her kill from a grizzly who sat gnawing it. Alas, her intention was thwarted by the hungry carnivore. The wolves keep mostly to themselves, so it was a treat to see, and not what we expected. Up on face book I figured how to flip it up the correct way, sorry I don't see those controls here.