Final Yellowstone Post! (Mommy misses community and we see lots of animals: Elk, Pronghorn, Yellow-Bellied Marmot, Bear, Bison)

Our time at Yellowstone is officially over. It is still rated as RR and E’s fave national park (as mentioned already). Even the long driving distances, massive animal jams, and bigger crowds than we are used to couldn’t deter them from their decision! We did have one time we went through the entrance gates and we were the only ones. That was a strange feeling. So strange I had to get a pic:

We had a great few weeks here and it really is a special place. Two other commonly-known tidbits that I haven’t mentioned yet are that Yellowstone was the first national park (in America but also in the world!) and it’s 2 times bigger than Rhode Island.

The last week and a half at Yellowstone was cold and rainy off and on but we had all kinds of fun. We enjoyed nights by the fire, played inside, had fun with new friends, pet lots of dogs, found some good bike hills, and did lots of great school work:

Thursday (the 12th) after work we went on “Harlequin Lake” hike which is very close to the west entrance. It wasn’t too hard or too long and it was very quiet.

The only signs of wildlife were ducks and these pieces of beaver evidence:

We made sure to stop and say hey to the elk along Madison that we’ve seen frequently:

This stag still seems to be working hard to earn his ladies’ devotion:

“What are you lookin at?”:

“I wasn’t rejected. I am choosing to rest and lay down.”:

Friday the 13th we went to Monument Geyser Basin which was a pretty hard 2 mile climb.

AB still hasn’t embraced hiking completely yet and I forgot the nerds 😊:

But it was so pretty!

It was really strange to see geysers on top of a mountain.

And here are some pics from artsy RR:

Our last weekend in Yellowstone started really rough and ended beautifully. I mentioned this on an earlier blog…. but we had big plans for Saturday until we arrived at our location after a morning of driving and realized somebody didn’t have shoes on. wow. Haha. I laugh about it now … but it really spiraled the day and I struggled. Everybody else rolled with it and had great attitudes…. but apparently it was my turn to be negative nelly. Looking back I see I was just tired in many ways. Since it was the anniversary of the flood, I was reflecting on that. Was thinking about our neighbors and family and how much I miss community and being known and being smiled at and just the little things like that. It is difficult to not be connected physically to loved ones or even acquaintances outside of our special 5 for so many months. It’s really the only negative of the trip and I think it was very healthy for me to cry and acknowledge the ache for what it was. I don’t ever want to complain or be unthankful but the reality is that I am (we all are) made for community and relationships and that longing is from Him. Jesus is the center then our nuclear family is in the next ring then family and friends in that outside circle. That longing for that outside circle is a good longing. It can turn unhealthy when we need praise or approval from others… or when we put them in the center ring… but we are made for relationships and it’s healthy to mourn when you’re gone from them! Just preaching to myself here 😊.

Eventually I came out from the grey cloud that I was dragging over my head …. actually I burst out with a bucket full of ugly pig snorting tears to the point where B had to pull over because I couldn’t breathe lol. And all was well :). We will be back to community before we know it and the Lord continues to encourage us to embrace the now as much as we can.

Back to the weekend recap:

Saturday we saw Tower Fall:

Pronghorns and Bison in Lamar Valley:

Mountain goats on the cliffs:

What? You can’t see them? Yeah me neither. They’re the white dots.

And enjoyed the views on Beartooth Highway:

We found random ballet slippers in the back of Betty for our little shoeless one to wear so we at least could get out of the car for a little walk even though we couldn’t hike.

Look at RR in the background :

We had some snow fun:

And this guy really lifted my spirits. He’s a yellow bellied marmot!!! I was shocked I spotted him. I saw movement as we were driving and screamed for B to stop. RR and I are getting great at our wildlife watching:

We crept closer and closer and watched him on top of that hill but never could get a good pic. I was sad to not get him but as we drove away I saw him again! Do you see him?

What a cutie!

Yosemite Sam is wrong about them! These yellow bellied varmin aren’t cowards. He stood his ground courageously! As we read about them we loved them more and more. Amongst other things they are the largest true hibernators and they LOVE the sun! They also often form colonies and the daughters will stay close to the parents their whole lives. 😊

On the way home Saturday night there was a major animal jam which we believe was a result of these bears we eventually passed:

And these elk right along the resident area of Mammoth:

At least the drive was pretty as we stayed in the car TWELVE hours that day! Creeping at a 25 mph pace stop and go the whole way. By the end I was doing the crazy laugh and losing my mind pretty good lol.

Aren’t these elk incredible? They pretty much fall asleep and just graze and never lift up their heads:

We sat and watched them for quite awhile and then the Stag made his move right as we were leaving which was perfect so we could see him even closer:

Isn’t he wonderful !?!??!

Sunday we headed back to the Old Faithful / Upper Geyser Basin again.

We saw this cutie on the way:

We made a quick stop at Black Sand Basin which ended up being B’s fave:

Then we turned in our Junior Ranger books and got our patches (patches here not badges!). B y the way after our discussion with the ranger about our time in the park, he had Brandon and I fill out an unusual animal sighting form. When we explained where we saw the cougar they said they had been getting reports of possible cougar in that area! I felt very validated because almost all other sightings have been in the north part of the park and not where we were. Brandon doesn’t care about validation. He’s just happy to be not-cat-food.)

At Old Faithful we finally went into the Inn. I thought the Lodge was awesome but the Inn is so much better. The Inn is the one built 100 years ago with Lodgepole pines the architect picked himself. The kiddos wanted to go into the treehouse up top so badly!

But they were easily pleased with ice cream instead:

RR was happy to see the rest of the features of the Upper Basin. I loved this rainbow:

I gave him the camera and let him do his thing. Here are some of his faves:

At Morning Glory Pool:

This extra-fluffy cutie was next to the trail on the way back:

Our last night (Wednesday) we made sure to go tell the elk goodbye. I think the stag we’ve been watching finally won his ladies’ hearts! πŸ™‚ What great closure for us haha. His harem is really tightening up. He was bossing them around like crazy and keeping them close.

He got them all super close and pushed them away from us and then stood between us and them and gave us this stare! “Who’s the man now?!”

It was great!

Bye bye elk! And congrats on your harem Mr Stag.

Thanks Yellowstone for all the memories! I think one or more of the Rooks will definitely be back: