Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yellowstone, ho!

Around the beginning of May, we took a trip to Yellowstone with our friends, Jeannie and her husband Stephen. McKay and I are WorldMark owners, so we were really excited to visit a new resort! Plus, I had never been to Yellowstone and I couldn't WAIT to take Gabriel to see bison and bears and Old Faithful.

Jeannie, Stephen, and McKay got Stephen's car loaded up and then came and picked me up from work and we were off! It was only about a 6 hour drive - not bad! But as we got closer to Yellowstone, it got colder...and colder....and we started seeing snow....and then more snow....and then--holy crap!--it was piled up twice as high as our car on the sides of the road. Oh boy. We weren't expecting it to be like this.

This was a portion of the road with very little snow--we were actually able to pull over!

Oh well. What could we do?

We arrived at the resort and, my goodness, it was BEAUTIFUL.

We had a three bedroom...condo? That's how they always are with WorldMark, though. It's like a little apartment. There's always a kitchen stocked with all the dishes and utensils and cooking supplies, a washer and dryer, etc. We got a three bedroom so Stephen and Jeannie could have a room, Gabe could have a room, and we could have one. There were two nice bathrooms, a nice balcony, kitchen, dining room, living room, blah blah blah--it was nice! We got there in the evening, so the guys went to the game room and played pool while Jeannie and I went to a local grocery store to pick up food and other supplies. That's one of my favorite parts about WorldMark--you don't have to spend a ton of money on eating out because you can cook in your fully stocked kitchen!

The next day we decided to visit the bear and wolf refuge near the resort. Lucky us! They just so happened to be doing a bear-proof container test that day! Every once in a while, manufacturers of bear proof containers will submit their product for testing. They put food in the containers and put them in with the bears to see if they can get into them (or how long it takes for them to get into the container). Some work great....others, not so much.

Watching the bears and wolves was really neat. The people running the refuge are awesome.

There was a (kind of) weird little museum part...some of the displays were a little disturbing, so I'll spare you those...

They had a fun gift shop that we THOROUGHLY enjoyed!

After the refuge, we continued our journey into the park (We stayed in West Yellowstone and one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park was like....five minutes away...or less) where we saw some buffalo!

Those are bison in the upper-right portion of the top picture below!

Sidenote: Let it be known that Stephen RAN OVER MY FOOT at this point in the trip. It must be documented. There were some bison walking down the road right next to the car, so we stopped. They were on the opposite side off the car as me, so I opened my door and stepped out to get a couple of shots (Yes, I know that was unbelievably stupid and dangerous....but I had to take advantage of such an awesome shot!!). It was then that Stephen decided to pull forward. I guess he didn't know that I had stepped out of the car and that it was the only thing standing between me and a giant buffalo...? In any case, McKay was furious and nearly murdered the poor guy. This is the "awesome" shot I got....while being run over...

wah wah waaaahhhh.....oh well....

One of the major things I wanted to see was Old Faithful. I got my wish! I'm not sure if any of you have ever been to Yellowstone or know much about Old Faithful, but they can kind of predict when she's gonna blow, so there's a tentative schedule letting you know the general time when the geyser will erupt. We got there at the tail-end of one eruption and decided to stick around for another one. We had some time to kill, which meant we got to do some exploring and picture-taking!

There were so many beautiful things to see!

Finally.....FINALLY! Old Faithful erupted. Over 30 minutes "late". I guess that'll teach us to predict nature!!

This other little geyser erupted around the same time and kind of showed up O.F. - it went WAY higher...

The next day, we decided to explore the resort and found the awesome indoor pool so we took Gabe swimming. And here, I insert my complaint: Sometimes being the photographer is the crappiest job!! I never get to be in any of  the pictures and, as far as anyone else can tell, I'm completely uninvolved with my son or in family activites....sigh....

After the pool, we explored the adorable little town of West Yellowstone. So cute, guys. Seriously. To our dismay, a lot of stuff was closed because "the season" wouldn't be starting until the following week. Talk about bad timing. Oh well...

There were large, painted fiberglass bison all over town. I wish we had taken pictures with more of them!

All in all, it was a fun and memorable trip! We hope to return to Yellowstone (DURING "the season" next time) in a few years!