The Clone Chronicles
Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved
All rights Reserved
Waking up in the hotel, I am at first a bit confused. When I remember where I am I decide to get Ian up and we get things packed. Our hotel has breakfast so we go out to the lobby and eat. One of my favorite motel breakfast items is bake-your-own Belgian Waffles. We add some fruit, juice and milk to round out our dietary needs.
Starting down the road, I head south and down to the north gate of Yellowstone National Park. As we pass through Roosevelt Arch I begin a commentary of what we are seeing. When we arrive at the gate, I do notify the Ranger on duty that as a Federal Agent, I am carrying a firearm but that it is secure in the truck. I do this as a courtesy, which also lets the park Rangers know I am there. Perhaps not needed, but I believe it is the right thing to do. I also think it might help with security just in case.
Ian wants to look at everything through his new binoculars, even me! Our first real encounter with the animals of the park comes as we arrive at Mammoth Hot Springs and view the resident elk herd. One buck has a rack that seems seven or eight points and a spread of over six feet. He is laying down and leaning his head to the side resting his rack on the grass.
While Ian takes pictures, I coach him on some small points about centering and composition but let him snap happily away. Having purchased several memory cards for the camera means not worrying about too many photos. I also take some of Ian. Or rather, lots of Ian.
Stopping at the information area, we get both a National Parks Passport, the Adventurer Edition, and get the packet for Ian to maybe learn about the Junior Ranger program although we won't have time on this trip for Ian to earn any badges. We start the work as we take the short drive through the springs for a look. The terraces have been deposited by the spring over many years but, due to recent minor earthquake activity the spring vent has shifted, rendering the terraces dry. There is now very little water flowing around the terraces but most of the beauty is still there. The drive or the hike holds much enjoyment.
Many people have the idea that the Yellowstone volcano is extinct. The reality is, that it is only dormant. If it were extinct, there would be no Yellowstone. Water flows down into the thermal features, is heated by volcanic activity then pushed back to the surface, sometimes with inspiring results. There is also a scientific belief that the Yellowstone Caldera is beginning to build up, which could ultimately result in a new eruption of the Yellowstone volcano. As a Super Volcano, this could mean massive destruction across North America
When finished with the Mammoth springs, I take Ian for a walk around the cabins here. They are known to visitors for all the marmots that have borrowed under the cabins. While we are walking, I actually spot a coyote that is creeping around the cabin area looking for lunch, possibly something to take and feed her cubs. As Ian and I watch, it is amazing to me that she, (at least I believe it is a she), is using the cars of people in the area for concealment as she creeps around. Not wanting to disturb her, we do not follow as she continues her hunt.
After about 45 minutes we are again on our way. I had wanted to go over by Roosevelt lodge and look for wolves by the Lamar Valley but one of the roads is closed which would require returning to Mammoth so I decide to drive down through Norris Junction and then over to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we drive, I ponder the changes in Yellowstone that I am aware of, and discuss some of this with Ian. Considering how many people want to reduce government and minimize Federal control of anything, I wonder if there will be a Yellowstone when Ian grows up.
Stopping for a restroom break we also fill our hydration packs and at the suggestion of a Ranger, I buy a can of Bear Spray which I slip onto my belt. While designed as a protection against bear attacks, it is also reportedly useful as a repellent for a Bison attack although everyone who says this also says they have never really tried. With more than 4000 bison in the Yellowstone region, incidents are happening more often. Add to this the naturally stupid that try and get close to the wildlife, and you set up too many chances for a disaster.
After getting the passport stamped, we take the drive down the Canyon Loop stopping at the various viewpoints. In a moment of real weakness, I decide to take the hike to the brink of the lower falls. The 3/8 mile trail seems almost straight down. I have always found it interesting that the Lower Falls actually had a bigger drop than the upper falls. Three hundred and eight feet. I remember seeing it once in the winter where all the water was pouring out through an ice tube due to the extreme cold.
The thunder of the falls shakes you to your soul and Ian clings to me with a near death grip. Getting him to let go long enough to take pictures of him with the falls in the background is difficult but accomplished as we mark off another item on his list of things to do. Ian practically drags me back up the trail, which now seems almost straight up, and back to the SUV for cold drinks and snacks. Having the latter in the truck keeps us from having to stop at all the snack bars for food so we keep moving on.
Next I move us over to Uncle Tom's Trail. Not really wanting to take another long hike, I decide to just take us to the overlooks and get more pictures. Ian needs a pit stop and that is what he gets. He almost seems more willing to have an accident than to have to endure the smell from the Pit Toilets that cover a majority of the park. After that we head down to Artist Point. I have always loved the views anywhere in this canyon.
Our next stop is at the Mud Volcano. Ian wrinkles his cute little nose at the sulfuric smells coming from the various features of this area, only slightly better than the toilets, but is more surprised by the Bison roaming around the area. Taking the short trail, we move around past Dragon's mouth and Black Dragon's Cauldron. I keep a wary eye out as the Bison are running around the area. I see that there are a couple of Rangers keeping track of the large mammals also.
Moving on we stop for a passport stamp at West Thumb then move over to Old Faithful. As evening starts to creep up on us we wait with many others for the eruption of this world renowned feature. I take the time to get Ian an ice cream and a couple of mementos from here. Ian is a bit nervous at the crowds around us and keeps a good hold of my hand. We are fortunate that the sun is in just the right position for there to be a rainbow in the vapors from the blast. After watching the spectacle, I sense that Ian is getting a bit tired, as am I. We walk back to the truck then take the drive down to Lake Village. In spite of the splendor of the Old Faithful Inn, I think I prefer the hotel at Lake.
As we check in I also make reservations at the Hotel Dining Room. Taking Ian up to the room I have him shower, telling him to cool the water a bit to wake him up. As he dresses, I do the same then we are down for a later than normal dinner.
I start us with the Lobster Seafood Ravioli, then Ian has the Bison Tenderloin while I have the Alaskan Salmon. There is lots of food and we Split a dessert called a Yellowstone Caldera. Although I can hardly move, I practically have to carry Ian back to our room and he barely gets undressed before falling into bed and is asleep halfway down. It does not take long before I follow.
Authors Note: Thanks to those who have made comments and/or suggestions on my story. I hope you are enjoying this.