Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Salmonella Resistance

We believe that it is imperative to develop a strong resistance to salmonella early in life.

What better way than licking battered kitchen utensils?

No children contracted salmonella in the making of this post.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway - Day 7

All good things must come to an end - and so it was with our vacation. We headed home by way of the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. There is an upper and a lower falls - but the museum and better boardwalk, stair areas are at the upper falls. There is also a two mile hike that you can take to see both falls. It is the second largest undisturbed waterfall in the west (ie it hasn't been made into a dam).

Can you tell that Addison is done with pictures? In fact, she was just done with everything and so ready to go home.

Here's a quick picture of lower falls where we stopped for a snack before starting the drive home.

Yellowstone - Day 6

We were up early after sleeping in Mammoth and wanting to head out looking for wildlife. We were able to see more elk and a buffalo. We also saw 2 coyote. We really wanted to bears but we didn't drive the stretch of Yellowstone between Canyon Village and the West Thumb which is where most of the mammals are - but Addison was done with scenic car driving. It just isn't something she appreciates - yet.

We drove through Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Village and decided to hike the North Rim Trail. The paper said that it was a 3 mile hike and you basically could see all the overlooks and walk through the forest. Right after we started our hike we crossed two dear foraging on the path. Addison loved them and was calling to them which kind of scared them away. And, this little chipmunk loved Addison because she would drop her crackers for him to eat.

We also saw Cascade Falls which you can't see from any of the lookouts.

And we saw the standard upper and lower falls (this is upper).

The only lookout which had fence where we felt safe letting Addison get out was at Inspiration Point. Otherwise she just had a good time being in her pack.

Unfortunately, the hiking guide wasn't very clear, and so it was actually 3 miles one-way. It made for a long hike and we actually hiked back most of the way on the road. But we still had a good time.

Yellowstone - Day 5

Driving from where we were staying in Island Park to the West Entrance of Yellowstone was 35 miles one way. That isn't very far, but with Addison, it seemed even further. Since she doesn't sleep in the car and Yellowstone is a huge park it was getting a little taxing to drive back and forth everyday. We decided to pack an overnight bag and see if we could find a spot to sleep closer to the park that night. When we left our cabin this is what greeted us on the road. The driver fell asleep about 3 am (wasn't hurt) and we had a nice chat with the police officer flagging traffic.

When we got to Yellowstone we decided to go to the furthest northern section of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs. Neither Oliver nor I had been that far up in the park and it is where the original entrance to the park was built. We first toured Canary Hot Springs (part of the upper terraces) by stairs and boardwalk.

Again, there wasn't railing the entire way around - sometimes just boardwalk - so Addison was only able to get down at some of the lookout spots because she would have gone exploring right into the water.

After walking around Canary loop we headed down to the lower terrace area of Mammoth Hot Springs to walk up stairs, hills, and boardwalk. It is about 2 miles to do both loops but it is a sight to behold. The hot springs, unlike geysers, change dramatically and fairly quickly. Deposits can change shape and height by more than 12 inches per year. Yellowstone is constantly moving boardwalks and rebuilding stairways to accommodate the changes in the hot springs.

When the hot springs are active they are vibrant, colorful, and filled with boiling water. Then, in a matter of years, they go dormant and only their structure remains. There were many examples of active and inactive hot springs. Excavations in the park have shown hot springs in areas more than 100 miles away.

After touring the hot springs we drove into Gardiner, Montana to see about finding a place to spend the night. Gardiner is only 5 miles from Mammoth - unlike West Yellowstone which is 14 miles from the nearest "town" inside the park. We weren't happy with any of the hotel prices in Gardiner so we headed back into the park. Here is the original park entrance built for "For The Benefit and Enjoyment of the People".

We decided to stay in the cabins in Mammoth. Each cabin has two double beds, sheets, towels, a sink, and a porch that is shaded in the heat of the day. There are communal bathrooms (about 4 cabins to a bathroom). We checked into our cabin about 2 and Addison napped while Oliver and I read our books on the porch.

The drawback - well, we stayed in a cabin adjoined to another cabin and there is no insulation between the walls. About 10 pm some Asian people came back from their day in the park and stomped, yelled, slammed the door, talked, laughed, and generally went about making a raucous. They woke the baby! Needless to say it was a long night. I do feel they got what was coming to them when Addison woke at 6:30 crying and fussy and generally unhappy because she was still tired. We tried to pack up and get out quickly - but I'm not feeling the least bit sad if they heard every last noise she made that morning. If we were to stay there again we would try to get a cabin that isn't adjoined to another - but they were clean, we had plenty of towels, and the bathrooms were nice.

After Addison's nap and dinner at the local grill we went swimming at the best kept secret of Yellowstone: Boiling River Hot Springs. The springs are on the road between Mammoth and Gardiner and you have to hike about .5 miles to get to the swimming hole (all flat and totally easy). The swimming part is where the hot springs are running into Gardiner River. You can sit with against a waterfall of hot water easing the sore muscles of your back but still being in the cool river. It is the best of being in a hot tub but not overheating. It is also shallow with small pockets where tiny kids can wander and current it not strong. It is rocky and you'll want to wear water shoes in the river - but it is bliss.

After we got back from Boiling River I put Addison to bed and Oliver went driving to look for wildlife. He saw two male elk sparing right outside the car window - see you can see the glass of the passenger door in the picture below.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Yellowstone - Day 4

Addison was in need of a down day and so we decided to spend some time in West Yellowstone. We went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to see the bears and wolves more closely than you could in Yellowstone. Because bears are solitary animals, they only let one or two bears out at a time, which was a little disappointing because they don't have any viewing area of where they are kept indoors. We would go back again, but probably not until our kids our aged pre-school through 5th or 6th grade.

One neat thing is that they took a small school group into the bear pen and let them hide the bear food. The center always hides the food for the bears to keep their sense of foraging and roaming keen, instead of just always having the food in the same place. The kids hid food through the exhibit and then got to watch as they let the bear out to come and find the food.

Not only does the center have 7 bears but they also have 8 wolves recovered from Hollywood. The TV/commercial/movie/photo shoot industry breeds wolves and those that don't "make the cut" are euthanized. The center has been able to recover two packs of four wolves each from that sad fate. Because it was in the middle of the day when we were at the center, they were mostly sleeping, but you could see them walk around every now and again.
Align Center
Since that swim hole was closed we decided to head up to the Norris Campground and swim off of Camp Loop A - per the recommendation of one of the park rangers. It was pretty swift, deep, and rocky so we didn't stay long. But we did see a lone buffalo eating nearby. You might be able to make him out behind Oliver and Addison at the swim hole.

After our time at the discovery center we went into Yellowstone to go swimming and have a picnic dinner. We drove the Firehole Canyon Drive (on the stretch between Madison and Old Faithful). The swim hole along that loop is closed because a girl died swimming there, but the drive is still gorgeous with some stunning waterfalls and cliffs.

When that swim hole didn't pan out either we headed to a spot we saw with people swimming from the day before. It is in a picnic area that is south of the canyon drive but before lower geyser basin. Warm water from the geyser basin was running in the water and so the water was pretty nice. Addison still didn't love the water because the bottom was rocky, but she loved chatting with everyone else swimming there. She loved hanging out on her towel, eating dinner, and pointing and talking about everything around us. We finally left when two 20-something-year-old-"men" came down to the water in their briefs for a "bath" and their business was hanging out...yep, good times.

With all our swimming hole searching we did get to see a coyote and Addison wore her sunglasses for more than 60 seconds! If you have any suggestions how we can get her to keep them on they would be welcome!