It’s 4:00 am. It’s dark. The tall trees are blocking the night sky. I know there are animals about. Good thing they know I’m moving around and stay out of sight. I am all ready nervous. I’m tired. We got to camp, set up and I found my bed at 1:00 am. The three hour nap was enough to make me feel full of anxiety. I walk over to Aaron’s rig. He opens the door shortly after. There has been a few mornings that he has had to dump some children out of their bags by simply grabbing the foot and lifting until they plop out. Katie (15) did not find this entertaining but it worked. Today She is up and so is the rest of his crew. Albeit just long enough to buckle up in the cab of his truck. We drop the top and secure the step stools. I walk to my van and my wife has us ready for transport. We are supposed to meet some friends (Ben and Heather) at 6:00am in Lamar valley to watch the wolves. He told us “Sun rise is your best chance and maybe your only chance.” We are a bit ahead of schedule. It only took us fifteen minutes to get ready to roll. We have been told it will take one hour and fifteen to thirty minuets to reach the institute. We pull out and can’t find the Lamar institute on the Garmin so I follow Aaron’s lead. He has a map. We head left out of the camp ground for about a half hour before we realize that we are headed the opposite of where we need to go. I guess his map was up side down. Remember we are running on day 7 with three hours of sleep. Behind schedule we pick up the pace again. Maybe a bit over the legal limit. This was not a smart choice as the sun starts to rise we see that Yellowstone is chalk full of wild life. I’m in awe at how many animals are about.
We finally meet up with Ben and Heather a little past 6:00. The sun is up and he tells us that not even five minutes earlier he had two black wolves cross the road not 50 feet in front of his car where he was waiting for us. We continue to watch and watch but after it all we missed them. A bit disappointed we pick up our chins and don’t let it bother us. We begin touring Yellowstone. The buffalo are every where. It’s as if they are cattle.
We see Hawks and Eagles. The kids are awake but barley. We tell them if they spot an animal before us we will give them a quarter. But only three of the same. And a wolf is worth five dollars. They get all three buffalo in a matter of minutes then it became challenging. They are excited seeing this amazing park yet there heads are bobbing.
My wife and I have Mason and Tristen in our van with us. The teens are now getting along famously after yesterday’s coming together.
And the park is teaming with life. It’s perfect. It feels as if I’m dreaming. So tired I’m not sure if I’m awake or asleep and the environment around me is unbelievable. We stop at a great overlook. One of Bens favorite. My son has the binoculars and spots an Osprey. Far away in the trees. He now has spotted two birds. The first was a hawk. After a bit we move on. Off to the left suddenly are some female big horn sheep.
We have seen more wild life in the first morning in Yellowstone then all 6 days previous. The Yellowstone canyon and the falls are what come next. So we climb out of the rigs running on inspiration and bewilderment we start walking down the trail to the lower falls. Everyone is all smiles despite how tired we are. As we reach the lookout on top of the falls, literally on top!
We are impressed. I’ve seen a lot of things in my short 38 years but this was beyond me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had just been through three National Parks in Two countries in 6 days. Yellowstone in the first few hours has taken the cake. After some pics we take that long walk back up the hill to the parking area on our worn out legs. It was the hardest trail that entire day. Not that it was a tough hike but are body’s are wearing thin. We walk to another look out and see Jacobs ladder and think to our selves insane! It’s on the other side of the canyon. It’s a stair case that is huge. From where we stand it looks to be a mile at least. Maybe longer. We take in what we can and continue on. The pots come up. Dragons breath and so on.
It is humbling to realize I was literally standing on probably the most powerful naturally active force known to humans. And it is obvious all around Yellowstone that it has no intention of going into a soft slumber anytime soon. We walk the board walks and enjoy they crazy that’s everywhere.
We load up and head for Old Faithful. It’s named after its predictable timing. It goes off in perfect increments. They say you can set a clock by it. I think that they are exaggerating a bit though. We get to the parking lots and they are full. People are everywhere. We haven’t seen this action anywhere in the last 2,000 miles. So we park at the very back. Everyone is hungry so we brake out the BBQ and begin cooking a little lunch. There are picnic tables off in the trees. We eat and enjoy each others company.
After we all get done we pack it up and walk to the geyser. Are luck is still with us. We arrive with just ten minuets until the next show. It felt like an hour but it did finally erupt. So impressive!
Before we head back to the cars. Ben bids us farewell as he and Heather head back home and we decide that we need to take the rest of the day off. We head back to our campgrounds passing so much beauty I can’t digest it all.
We only saw such a small portion of all these parks. We decide that each one should be our destination in future trips. I’m sure Yellowstone will hit my list often. We pull up to our sites and set up camp. We have it down now. It only takes moments before we are BBQing chicken for dinner. Some people come over and get pics of Aaron’s set up.
It happens all day every where we go. Then a lady shows up needing Aaron’s help. She has a flat and no tools. So with the small bags we brought he gets her set with what she needs. We eat and finally just relax and cook s’mores. Not for long though because we head to bed early hoping we find some sleep.