Our Great Quest for Elusive Moose! ~ A Grand Teton/Yellowstone TR - Completed!

Discussion in 'California & the West Trip Reports' started by disneyfaninaz, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    I am back with yet another trip report. I can’t believe how popular my Yosemite trip report still is. I hope you enjoy this one as well!

    Cast of characters:

    Me - SAHM and obsessive vacation planner, as you will see during this pre-trip portion of this report.

    DH - my rock, my foundation, loves to take vacations that he allows me to so meticulously plan.

    DD (9) - Our well traveled daughter. She loves nature and would rather take trips where she can be running around.

    Background:

    We had such a great time on our trip to Yosemite National Park last year (see link to trip report below), that just a couple of weeks after returning home, we decided to plan a trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for the Summer of 2010.

    After doing my research, I discovered that when visiting Yellowstone, it is advised that you stay at multiple places within the park so you can explore without having to back track more than necessary. I also learned that you need to book Yellowstone lodgings well in advance, as they tend to book up for the Summer season. With that in mind, I booked our lodging for the Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins and the Canyon Lodge & Cabins in June of last year. We have Western cabins with Queen beds and private baths, both musts for us. So far, so good! :goodvibes

    You know the saying, best laid plans, and so on. Well, it never fails when you take the time and plan out your trip day by day, something is going to come along and make you change them. :confused3 We were very excited to hear last October that our niece was getting married in Santa Barbara, California. :bride: We were less excited to hear that she happened to pick the day we planned to leave for Yellowstone. :rolleyes: We looked into flying directly to Jackson or Salt Lake City from Santa Barbara, but there were no direct flights available. Everything went back to LAX, Denver or Phoenix. I also didn’t want to pay luggage fees on some of the airlines. :scared1: Fortunately, with a little creativity, we are able to stick to our original week with a change or two in our lodging. Instead of flying into Salt Lake City in the morning and driving to Jackson on our first day, we will now fly in Salt Lake City in the evening (after returning home from the wedding that morning), spend the night and then drive directly to Jackson Lodge the next day. We will then spend the original 4 nights in Yellowstone and end our trip back at Jackson Lodge on our last night before we leave the next morning for Salt Lake City to return home that evening. We are in for a very long travel day as we will fly home from California on Sunday morning, June 6th. We will come home, change clothes, eat lunch, grab our Yellowstone luggage and head back to the airport for our Southwest flight to Salt Lake City later that same afternoon (no baggage fees!) :thumbsup2

    Life is full of little challenges, as we were dealt a huge one in December. On December 7th, our DD was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. :upsidedow We had a lot to learn, and still are, on managing her condition. :teacher: It will definitely be a challenge on our trip to Yellowstone as we are dealing with time changes and high altitudes. But, we will persevere and not let it put a damper on our trip. :)


    Day 1: Where are we again?

    Finally, after a year of planning, rearranging plans, and anticipation, the time has finally arrived to take our trip. After a wonderful and cool weekend in Santa Barbara and a beautiful wedding, we flew back to Phoenix from Santa Barbara on the morning of Sunday, June 6th. We went home for a few hours to repack a few bags, grab a few more bags, eat lunch and then head back to the airport to catch a late afternoon flight to Salt Lake City. Did I mention that it was hovering around 109 degrees when we left Phoenix! :sunny:

    Upon our arrival at SLC we rented our car and checked into our hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. I raised money for and participated in the City of Hope Walk for Hope in October, 2009. As an incentive, I received free Hilton Honor Points and subsequently a free room. Because of this, we were able to book a room in Salt Lake City using my Hilton Honor points. Sweet! We found a very nice sports bar just down the block from our hotel and had a nice meal while Boston beat up on the Lakers! (Yeah!) Oh yeah, and it was only about 80 degrees when we landed. :cloud9:

    We had just spent 3 days in California, 3 hours at home and now we were in a different time zone about to embark on our Great Quest for Elusive Moose!

    Next: Day 2 - And away we go!
     
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  3. maryr1oz

    maryr1oz Mouseketeer

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    Loving your report so far!!

    Can't wait to hear more, it's a place i would very much like to visit one day...

    :banana::banana::banana:
     
  4. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    We woke up fairly early to embark on our adventure. Our hotel offered a free breakfast so after we ate, we packed up the car and headed north. :drive: Our original plans included some time to sight see in Salt Lake City before heading home. Unfortunately, that part of itinerary was given up because of the new plans. However, because of an inadvertent wrong turn, we ended up seeing quite a bit more of Salt Lake City than we anticipated while heading out of town. We even drove by the University of Utah and saw the Olympic cauldron. (Sorry, no picture) :sad2: That was an unexpected and pretty cool surprise! Anyway, once we finally got back on track, we were taking I-15N to Idaho Falls and then cutting over on 26 to Jackson. It was a cloudy, dreary day and it started raining the minute we hit the Idaho border and did not stop until we hit the visitor center in Moose, Wyoming. Despite the rain, it was a beautiful drive and we couldn’t get over how green everything was.

    Upon our arrival at Jackson we made a quick stop at the Smith’s to get a case of water and snacks for our diabetic daughter. After a short stop, we headed towards the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. Then, before we knew it, we saw it! The sign indicating that we had indeed arrived!

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    It didn’t take long after that to spot our first wildlife. A small herd of Elk grazing amidst the sage.

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    Unfortunately, the Tetons were shrouded with clouds most of the day and peaks would peek out sporadically as we drove North.

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    Shortly, we were at Moose Junction where the Grand Teton visitor center is located. Since we plan on seeing more National Parks within the next year, we decided to buy the America the Beautiful pass. It is good for a year. We also got our National Park Passport stamped, purchased the Junior Ranger worksheet for our daughter, did some shopping and looked around the center. They had fur pelts for all of the animals that are found within the parks from bears and bison to wolves. Even the elusive moose!

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    It was neat to feel the different textures and levels of softness of each. Then we were off again on the Teton Park Road towards Jackson Lake.

    Our first stop was The Chapel of the Transfiguration. It still has an active congregation and meets on Sunday when the road isn’t closed.

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    When my mother was young (around 11) she visited the Grand Tetons and recently unearthed some slides that my grandfather took from the trip. She asked me to take a picture of the view from inside the chapel. Evidently, it hasn’t changed!

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    We stopped at every pullout and overlook along the road and took cloudy pictures of the Tetons. Even in the clouds, they are a magnificent range.

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    We finally reached our destination, Jackson Lake Lodge.

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    After we checked into our room, which was the first set of cabins closest to the lodge (sweet!), we headed back to the lodge to take in the view from the floor to ceiling windows in the main lounge area. It was phenomenal.

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    We then wandered outside to the deck with an even more phenomenal view. When we arrived, several people were looking at the Willow Flat area where a small herd of elk had started to circle. Evidently, a grizzly bear had just appeared from the sage and was stalking them. A gentleman with a high powered scope let our DD and I take a look. :magnify: My DH ran back to our room to get his binoculars, but by the time he came back, the bear had retreated back into the sage and he missed seeing him.

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    We ate dinner at the Pioneer Grill which is a never-ending counter (think of soda fountain parlors). I ordered a hamburger and chocolate shake. The chocolate shake was made with chocolate ice cream and was very rich! After dinner we headed up to the lounge to watch the sunset and hit the gift shops. My DH spotted a Stetson hat in one of the shops but didn’t know whether to get it or not. It had been a long day of traveling so we headed back to the room and hit the hay.

    Next: You mean we actually climbed in the Tetons?
     
  5. AZBeth

    AZBeth Mouseketeer

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    Awesome start!! We had a trip planned to YNP and GTNP this summer but had to cancel due to a conflict with a family reunion but we do plan to reschedule for 2012 so I am enjoying your report so far and can't wait to hear the rest...
     
  6. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    My DH’s idea of a vacation is sleeping in. So, I was the only one up and about at 5:30 AM to catch the sunrise over the Tetons. Actually, even 5:30 AM was a bit late, but I got up anyway. I grabbed my tripod and brand spanking new Nikon DSLR camera (my birthday gift) to hopefully grab some beautiful shots of the range. The sky looked clear, so I was excited to see what the sunrise would look like. I walked to the lodge, made my way up the stairs to the lounge and what greeted me? Absolutely nothing. That’s right, evidently they take the mountains in at night. :rotfl:

    Seriously, there was nothing to see. The entire range of peaks was obscured by fog! :eek: I walked out on the deck where another hearty soul had the same idea I had. Except, he was there earlier and said that 10 minutes before, the mountains were clear except for the fog over the flats. Really?! Seriously?! I missed it! Anyway, I waited patiently and low and behold the fog started clearing again, the peaks started appearing and it was truly a magnificent sight!

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    Some elk had also come out for some breakfast.

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    While we had been told that the flats out back of the lodge were a popular place to spot moose, I had not seen any yet. But, the trip was still young, there was plenty of time yet.

    I stayed out in the 37 degree temperature for about an hour, took my shots and went back to the room. Not surprisingly, both DH and DD were still in bed. So, I joined them!

    We rolled out for breakfast a short time later. Before breakfast we went out on the deck to see if we could find any moose. No luck with moose, but the sun on the peaks was amazing.

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    We ate in the Mural Room, which is the lodge’s fine dining room with floor to ceiling window views of the Teton range. It was truly beautiful. We enjoyed the breakfast buffet featuring their famous Moose Waffle station. Yummy!

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    After breakfast we went back to the gift shop and bought my DH his Stetson (Happy early Father’s Day Hon!)

    Today was going to be a very long day with a lot of road to cover as we were eventually heading into Yellowstone. In doing my research, I was looking for short 1-2 mile easy to moderate hikes to do within the parks. One that came up on top was the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point trail in Grand Teton. The trail was considerably shorter if you took the ferry across the lake. The ferry started operating at 10:00 AM, so there was no rush to get going. We eventually headed back South on the Teton Park Road toward’s Jenny Lake. The lake is beautiful.

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    When we got there, we paid for and rode the ferry to the other side where the 1 mile trail through Cascade Canyon to Hidden Falls began.

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    My DH didn’t realize that he was going to be this close to the range itself. He had only seen pictures from a distance, so he was pleasantly surprised as we started walking up the wet, muddy trail. We were rewarded with many cascading streams on our way up and close up view of the peaks. We were amazed at how fast and furious the streams were running from the snow melt.

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    We finally reached the falls and were rewarded with another amazing sight.

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    We didn’t go the other 2 1/2 miles up to Inspiration Point as we were kind of a short time table. After climbing back down and taking the ferry back across the river, we ate at the Jenny Lake Store. They had fresh deli made sandwiches available for purchase and picnic tables outside. It was lovely.

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    As the clouds continued to clear, we got breathtaking views of the Tetons against a bright blue sky.

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    After lunch it was time to hit the road and head north to Yellowstone. It really was a much clearer than the day before, so we stopped often as the mountains peaked through the clouds.

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    Unfortunately, we did run into road construction outside Lizard Creek Campground and were delayed for about a half hour.

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    Once we got through the construction and the JD Rockefeller Parkway, we entered Yellowstone.

    Next: Look out Yellowstone, here we come!
     
  7. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Tuesday, June 8, 2010 (continued)

    Once we got through the road construction, it didn't take long to get to Yellowstone. We almost missed the turnout to the sign, as it come up so fast.

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    We went through the South Entrance to Yellowstone Park where we flashed our pass. No muss, no fuss! One of the first sights along the road was Moose Falls, but we didn’t stop. We were surprised by how much snow was still on the ground as we drove.

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    The next was Lewis Falls, which could be easily seen from the road.

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    We also saw some fly fishermen enjoying their sport.

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    We then came across Grant Village where we stopped briefly at the Visitor Center. I purchased a membership to the Yellowstone Association which got us discounts at all of the Yellowstone bookstores and hotel gift shops. My DD also got a very cute stuffed wolf that she named Teton. We then continued towards the Lake area where we had magnificent views of Yellowstone Lake with the snow covered Absaroka Mountains in the background.

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    Our next stop was the Mud Volcano pullout. Here they had boiling mud pots and steaming caves.

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    After the Mud Volcano we enjoyed some overlooks of Hayden Valley. The only wildlife we saw was Bison grazing by the side of the road and in the distance.

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    We then headed towards our lodging for the next 2 nights, Canyon Lodge.

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    We had a Western cabin reserved for 2 nights. We got checked in and drove around to our cabin. This area had just opened earlier in the week, so the roads were still full of pot holes from the snow and run off. We had fun dodging them. The cabins were recently refurbished and was quite nice. We had a nice view of the forest, instead of the parking area, which was very nice.

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    We ate at the Dining Room that night. DD got an activity book and if she collected stamps from 4 out of 5 Yellowstone lodges she would get a prize. After dinner, we went to the gift shop to get her first stamp. Then we went to the General Store for breakfast goods for the morning. We had a refrigerator in our room for our DD’s insulin, so we could keep milk and juice cold as well. I caught this little guy in the snow.

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    I had originally planned to attend a Ranger Program while staying in the Lodge, but my DH and DD had no desire, so we went back to the cabin, got settled in, DD watched her DVD player, we played a card game and hit the hay. Unfortunately, none of us got a lot of sleep that night as we all suffered from the altitude. We were about 7900 feet above sea level. We are desert dwellers and are only about 1000 feet at home. I had such a hard time catching my breath, I considered calling the paramedics. Fortunately, with a little help from my inhaler, I was able to get some sleep.

    Next: What are you all looking at?!
     
  8. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    I guess the hectic travel over the last few days and not sleeping well that night caught up with us because we were all slug-a-beds this morning. Today we were going to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Yellowstone Falls. I was hoping to be at Artist Point by 10:40 AM as I read that is when you can see a rainbow from the lower falls. By the time we got breakfast, showers and got out the door we actually made Artist Point by 10:30 AM. Our room was only about ½ mile from the North Rim Road so it was a few more miles than that to the South Rim Road. We happened to spot this bison getting his breakfast on the side of the road right before our turn off.

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    Unfortunately, it was not a sunny morning, so no rainbow was to be found, however, the view was still stunning. This particular view was probabaly named after Thomas Moran, the painter who painted famous pictures of this falls and canyon. :artist:

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    After we spent some time at Artist Point and after somebody was nice enough to take our obligatory Christmas Card photo, we continued on our way stopping at overlooks along the way.

    We stopped at Uncle Tom’s Overlook and had a great view of the Upper Falls, which is actually shorter than the Lower Falls you see at Artist Point.

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    I told my DH about Uncle Tom’s Trail and that you could get down close to the falls. I was actually confused with the Brink of the Lower Falls trail. Anyway, my DH and DD went off to find Uncle Tom’s Trail as I was not feeling well enough to hike it. After listening to one of the rangers talk about the trail, I quickly realized that this was not the trail I wanted them to take so I set off to find them before they started down it. Along my way, I found this colorful bird.

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    Fortunately, DH and DD were walking back after realizing that they didn’t feel up to it either. We then headed towards the North Rim Road and stopped at all the overlooks.

    The first stop was Brink of the Upper Falls. You can actually look down as the falls go over the edge.

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    We then continued onto the North Rim Road. The first stop here was the Brink of the Lower Falls. However, it was a little too strenuous for somebody just getting used to the elevation, so we passed on it. But we could see where the overlook was from the Brink of the Lower Falls trail head.

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    Also, from the this point you could look across the canyon and see Uncle Tom's Trail.

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    Boy, am I glad we didn't take that one! ;)

    We then went on to Lookout Point.

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    Grand View,

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    and then Inspiration Point. It was extremely windy and a bit chilly while at these overlooks and it started to sprinkle rain.

    After we admired the canyon it was time for lunch so we opted to go back to Canyon Lodge and get some sandwiches from the Deli and eat them in our cabin, as it was too windy to eat outside. On our way back to our cabin, DD spotted a deer eating in the forest.

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    After lunch it was time to head up towards the Roosevelt and Tower sections of Yellowstone. We drove the 19 miles to Tower Junction going through Dunraven Pass. That was an experience and one we had to do twice as headed back to Canyon later in the afternoon. I’m glad the weather was good because I’d hate to have driven that road in snow! Anyway, it was a very scenic drive through a lot of the burn area from the 1988 fire. There was a lot of snow too.

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    Right before we reached Tower Junction we stopped to take a small walk down to see Tower Fall.

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    Unfortunately, the Roosevelt Lodge was closed. It was a good thing we had already eaten because that it is where I originally planned lunch. However, DD couldn't get a sticker for her activity book. Anyway, after enjoying the view of Tower Fall, we decided to see Lamar Valley so we took a right at Tower Junction. Not long after making the turn we came across a bridge. We saw a lot of people pulling over, getting out of cars and running towards the river. I asked somebody on the bridge “What is everybody looking at?” She told me that a bear had just swum across the river and was headed up the embankment towards the road. Woo hoo, we just found an honest to goodness bear jam! Well we joined in the melee and pulled off as soon as we found a safe place to do so. We all grabbed our cameras and piled out of the car. DH and DD went booking across the street. I had to change my lens. Anyway, the ranger showed up just as the bear made his appearance from the brush.

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    We were probably within 20 yards of the bear at the closest point. The ranger started telling people to get back in their cars and off the side of the road. We got our picture and headed out when the bear started heading away from the road and back into the brush. The bear seemed to take it all in stride as if he was used to bear-parazzi. We later determined that the bear we saw was in fact a young, probably, 3 year old grizzly!

    We went on our way and spotted Pronghorns,

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    and a large Bison herd with our first glimpse of red doggies (baby bison).

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    We watched a bison actually swim across a creek. We even came across some people with scopes with an eye on a bear sighting way up in the hills where you could only see it with a high powered lens. We also found wildflowers and a lady bug.

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    We had a lot of fun driving through Lamar Valley, but the skies were beginning to look threatening, so we turned around at the Yellowstone Institute and headed back to Canyon Lodge. When we returned to the bridge towards Tower Junction, everybody had moved on and we headed back through the Dunraven Pass back to Canyon Lodge.

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    When we returned to the lodge, we went to the Visitor Center and checked out the exhibits there. It was a very nice center.

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    Then it was off to dinner in the cafeteria. While we were selecting what we wanted to eat, the power actually went off twice. It is hard to pick out food in the dark. Fortunately, after about 5 minutes it went back on and we were able to purchase our food and eat it.

    Since we were leaving Canyon in the morning, we headed to the General Store for some more breakfast items and back to our cabin to pack up and get some sleep. We had a huge driving day planned tomorrow as we were heading towards the North and West ends of the park.

    Next: Shhh! Be very very quiet, we’re stalking bison!
     
  9. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    Thanks - I'm really enjoying this!!! Did you even see any moose? That was our one disappointment in our Yellowstone trip two years ago - we didn't see any moose. :( We did do Uncle Tom's trail - but that was on the third day of our trip when we'd had some time to acclimate, so given your difficulties with the altitude it's a good thing you didn't try it. It's pretty strenuous.
     
  10. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Thanks for reading! :) As far as the moose, all I can say is stay tuned. ;)

    There is no way I would have made it back up Uncle Tom's Trail so I'm glad we didn't try it! :eek:
     
  11. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Our plan today was to go from Canyon to Norris, and then head north to Mammoth Hot Springs and then come back down to Old Faithful Snow Lodge. It was going to be a long day with a lot of driving.

    We woke up Thursday morning to sunshine. We ate breakfast in our room, packed up the car, checked out, mailed postcards and headed back to Artist Point to see the Yellowstone Falls in full sun. We got to the falls a lot earlier than the day before and, once again, missed the rainbow, but it was still stunning to see with sunshine. We admired the view for a little while and then headed on our way.

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    It was a 12 mile drive to Norris. Along the way, we saw this coming towards us.

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    We also passed a small herd of his friends in a clearing near a picnic area off the road. DH thought it would be fun to see if we get a closer look at the Bison from the picnic area. So, we pulled off, parked and starting walking toward’s the clearing. We found this:

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    and these tracks. We were definitely on the scent!

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    In a very short walk, we came across the bison in the clearing. This was our first glimpse of red doggies up close. But it wouldn’t be our last!

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    The bison seemed to be aware of our presence, but we kept our distance and they didn’t seem to mind us being there. After awhile, we headed back to the car and on our way.

    We arrived at the Norris Geyser Basin about 10:00 AM. We decided to walk along the Back Basin. We saw Steamboat Geyser, which is the largest of all the geysers. Unfortunately, it is unpredictable and hasn’t had a full eruption in several years. It did, however, spurt quite regularly.

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    We also saw many colored springs and pools. DH and DD had cravings for boiled eggs during our walk because the sulphur smell emitted from the springs smells like eggs while their hard boiling.

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    While we didn’t walk around the Porcelain Basin, it too had some beautifully colored pools.

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    After about an hour of wandering around the Norris Geyser Basin we headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs.

    I had been following another internet forum specifically about Yellowstone. A few people had reported and shown pictures of a mama bear and 4 cubs, evidently this is a fairly rare occurrence, around the Swan Lake area, which, by the way, happened to be on our way to Mammoth. I was hoping we would be lucky enough to see them. As we approached the area, we could see all of the cars pulled off the road. We also saw many people with tripods and scopes aimed toward’s the hills. The bear-parazzi was in full force. There were even people sitting on top of their SUVs and minivans. While everybody was looking west at the bears, a fox was spotted on the east side of the road. This is all I got!

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    Anyway, we decided to join the fray and found a place to pull over. A woman was kind enough to allow us to look through her scope, but honestly, the bears were in the brush and we couldn’t see them. A man, who had been there the entire day, said he could see them from on top of his van, but it wouldn’t hold anybody else. Anyway, here is my picture of the bear. It is the block spot just to the left of the tree.

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    After concluding that we weren’t going to be seeing more than that, and the fact that we were getting hungry, we hopped back in the car and went on our way. Shortly after leaving the bear–-parazzi, we saw Rustic Falls off the side of the road.

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    We arrived in Mammoth around 12:30 PM and headed straight toward’s the Dining Room.

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    It was very nice and we had a delicious lunch. It was getting windy outside and it felt good to sit indoors and enjoy a nice meal. After lunch we headed over to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Gift Shop to get DD’s sticker in her activity book. We then wandered over to the Albright Visitor Center, stamped our passport and looked around.

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    They had a self guided tour of the Old Fort. We walked a little, hoping to spot some elk, to no avail.

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    It started to sprinkle as we headed back to the car. We decided to go ahead and drive to the North Entrance so I could see the Roosevelt Arch. On the way out, we saw elk hanging out on the lawn.

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    It was only a 5 mile drive and only took about 15 minutes to get to the North Entrance. We also crossed into Montana in doing so. Unfortunately, it was raining as I stood out on the street to get pictures of the arch.

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    We then reentered the park and headed back to Mammoth.

    We decided not to walk among the main terraces as it was raining and there was no shelter.

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    We thought the Upper Terrace Drive would be perfect. As we pulled into the drive, the rain stopped so we got out and looked around. The terrace was beautiful.

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    We could even overlook Mammoth.

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    After admiring the formations, DD decided she had to use the restroom, but refused to use the outhouses provided at most major pull outs. (Actually, there were relatively nice as outhouses go!) So, we had to drive back to Mammoth, by this time it was pouring. We couldn’t park near the facilities so we had to dodge rain drops, very unsuccessfully I might add. Oh well, we didn’t melt and we then headed on our way towards Old Faithful.

    To be continued. . .
     
  12. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Where were we? :scratchin Oh, yes, it was pouring and we were just leaving Mammoth to head down to the Old Faithful area. At this point, I was getting a little frustrated with our wildlife sightings. I had wanted to see a Bighorn Sheep, but because of the weather we couldn't really go out looking for them. I was also disappointed in that we hadn’t come across any bison blocking the road. As annoying as people say they are, I really wanted to be stuck in a bison jam. I was also getting frustrated that we hadn’t seen any moose on the trip. I kept a look along all of the rivers we saw while driving, but saw no moose. :sad2:

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. We passed the bear- parazzi at Swan Lake, but still had no better view of the bears so we went on.

    After we passed Norris we came upon the Artist Paintpots. It had stopped raining again, so we parked and walked the 1/3 mile trail to the pots. It was really quite a pretty walk with the green around the colored mud pots and springs.

    [​IMG]

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    However, our highlight of the day came when we stumbled upon Terrace Spring thermal area. There is a small 1/3 mile boardwalk loop that takes you past 2 springs where yellow monkey flowers flourish along the banks of the springs.

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    However, it wasn’t the spring that interested us, it was the small herd of bison grazing very near the board walks, and with babies to boot.

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    We parked and started up the boardwalk to get pictures of the bison.

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    The babies were so cute and pranced around.

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    We stayed awhile enjoying the show, however, some of the bison started crossing over the upper side of the boardwalk and heading towards the parking lot.

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    DH was worried we were going to be trapped so he insisted that we get going. It was so incredible to be so close to these animals.

    We continued past Norris towards Madison. Our guide book specified a one way side road that would take you by Firehole Falls, so we took it and was rewarded with this.

    [​IMG]

    The road hooked back up with the main road and we were on our way. We were also afforded beautiful views of the Firehole River. Evidently, this is a favorite fishing hole for many.

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    We finally reached Old Faithful Snow Lodge at about 6:30 PM. We were hungry so I put our name on the waiting list for the Obsidian Room. It was about an hour wait, so we had time to get checked in, drop our stuff off at our cabin and make our way back to the main lodge for dinner.

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    A couple of our neighbors.

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    Dinner was very tasty and the service was good.

    After dinner, it was time to go see the big attraction, Old Faithful, herself.

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    We watched the last eruption of Old Faithful before sundown, did a little shopping and went back to our cabin. It had been a very long but very exciting day.

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    Next: Sometime between 12:00 and 4:00 PM.
     
  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Once again we slept in. Today’s plan was to stick close to the Old Faithful area and hit most of the thermal features.

    We started out by having breakfast in the Obsidian Room. Again, it was very tasty and the service was good.

    After walking back to our cabin, we hopped in the car and drove up towards Midway Geyser Basin. For those who don’t know, the star attraction of this basin is Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone and boasts some of the brightest colors to be found. I looked with envy at the beautiful pictures that people took of this hot spring. I also knew that the best view was from a higher vantage point than the walkways. So, I had done research and found out the best way to get to one of the hills overlooking the spring to get a better look.

    We arrived at the Midway Geyser Basin at about 9:30 AM. We were lucky enough to see an Ospry go fishing for breakfast and come up with a fish next to the parking area. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to get a picture.

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    At the basin, all you could see was steam. It was indeed a very cold morning, thus the steam was very thick from these very hot springs We walked around the boardwalk.

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    I got the best pictures I could of the magnificent colors, but quickly gave up on my idea to get a higher look as all I was going to see was steam. The colors were so bright, even the steam reflected them.

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    After admiring this basin, we went to take the Firehole Lake Drive. This was a nice drive with some nice pools, springs and geysers. Including

    White Dome Geyser,

    [​IMG]

    Artesia Geyser

    [​IMG]

    and the Great Fountain Geyser.

    [​IMG]

    Now, I made an observation I’d like to share at this point. We are all Disney fans, or else we wouldn’t be on this board, and we understand that when Disney gives us a time for a show, we arrive at that time and the show begins. It is my belief that Yellowstone, and nature in general, for that matter, work more like cable repair people. When your cable goes out, you make a service call and are told that a repairperson should be at your house between the hours of 12:00 and 4:00, for example. :hourglass Geysers in Yellowstone work very much the same way. The rangers can do their best to predict when geysers will go off, but they usually give you a few hour window. Hence, what we found at the Grand Fountain Geyser. This geyser is supposed to be spectacular when it erupts. Unfortunately, you either need to be very lucky, have a lot of patience or have a lot of time. Unfortunately, we had none of the above! So we went on our way.

    Our next stop was the Fountain Paint Pot Loop Walk. This was yet another basin full of springs, mud pots and geysers.

    [​IMG]

    Spasm Geyser:

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    Yellowstone returned the old Yellow Buses back to service several years ago, we were lucky enough to come across on in the parking lot.

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    Our next stop was the Black Sand Basin Walking Tour. The highlight of this tour was the Emerald Pool. I’m sure these colors rivaled that of Grand Prismatic.

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    After touring the basins that were easier to get to by car than walking, we headed back to our cabin. We lightened our load and then walked to the Old Faithful Inn for lunch. They had a very nice Western BBQ Buffet in their dining room. Now, about 5 years ago, we planned a trip to Walt Disney World and stayed at the Wilderness Lodge. One reason I wanted to stay there was because it was fashioned after the lodges of our national parks. Well, I have to admit, I was surprised how small the Old Faithful Inn is compared to the Wilderness Lodge. Of course, Disney handles a few more people a year than Yellowstone.

    [​IMG]

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    Anyway, the Inn was quite quaint and the buffet was very good. After lunch we toured the inn a bit. There is a deck that you can sit on and look directly at Old Faithful.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To be continued.
     
  14. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    After lunch, we decided to take the loop around the Upper Geyser Basin. It was a very nice walk past many famous and not so famous geysers and pools.

    [​IMG]

    Anenome Geyser

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    Heart Spring

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    If you go to the visitor center, there is a board that will list all the next predictable eruptions for the geysers. It showed that Castle Geyser would erupt between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. We happened to time our arrival at Castle Geyser around 2:15 PM. There were some other people waiting for the eruption, so we knew we hadn’t missed it. Well, we sat for about 30 minutes waiting. It didn’t go. DH and DD were tired and decided to go back to the cabin for a siesta. I decided to wait and then walk up to the Morning Glory Pool. Another item on my bucket list for the trip.

    Anyway, Castle never did more than spurt.

    [​IMG]

    I got tired of waiting so I made my way up the hill to Morning Glory Pool and was rewarded with this.

    [​IMG]

    While walking back towards the lodge, I came across these spectacularly colored pools.

    Chromatic Pool

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    Wave Pool

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    Belgian Pool

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    DH called me on my way back and told me that he and DD were sitting and waiting for the 4:00 eruption of Old Faithful. I told him that I was going to watch the eruption from the boardwalk side. Which I did. While waiting they listened to one of the Ranger talks. The Ranger said that wind will effect some of the eruptions and that Castle Geyser is one of those geysers where wind will interrupt it’s schedule, making it impossible to predict.

    Old Faithful went off as scheduled.

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    The wind was blowing away from me and my DD actually got kissed by a geyser while watching it.

    We met up again and decided to head to the Old Faithful Lodge for some ice cream! It was nice to be able to sit awhile after walking the entire loop.

    After our snack we decided to walk back to the Old Faithful Inn and check out the gift shop. Old Faithful was due to erupt again around 5:30 so were hoping to see it again. We did.

    [​IMG]

    After Old Faithful, we headed back to the Old Faithful Lodge for dinner in the cafeteria. We had heard that their lasagna was actually pretty tasty. It was!

    We enjoyed just sitting for a little bit, then we hit the gift shop in the lodge, went back out to catch Old Faith yet again,

    [​IMG]

    stopped at the general store for some breakfast and headed back to our cabin for the night. Tomorrow we were checking out and heading back to the Grand Tetons.

    Next: Where's the moose?
     
  15. rileyreese

    rileyreese Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    196
    I am in! We are going to Yellowstone in early June 2012! Can you tell me what the temps were like?

    I hate you had altitude sickness, I had it when we went to Africa and it was awful!
     
  16. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    Thanks for reading! You're going to love Yellowstone. The temperatures wll vary from one end of the park to the other, but overall I'd say the average temperature was about 50 degrees. But coming from 110 degrees, we didn't mind at all.

    Fortunately, I was able to get acclimated to the altitude pretty quickly so it was only the one night that was bad. It was scary though! :scared1:
     
  17. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    1,163
    I'm sorry you missed seeing Castle Geyser - I saw it twice when we were there and it was VERY impressive - once it starts erupting it goes on for close to an hour! Did you see Steamboat Geyser at all? That one goes off fairly frequently - and it just bubbles and spurts and spouts - we called it the "Happiest Geyser".
     
  18. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    Me too! However, it was a very windy day and the ranger told us that the wind effects the eruption of Castle Geyser. Oh well, next time.

    We did see Steamboat Geyser, I could have watched it all day just sputter and spit.
     
  19. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    We woke up and had breakfast in our room. We decided to check out the gift shop one more time and get DD her sticker from Old Faithful. She only had 2 so far and needed 4 to get a prize. However, since Roosevelt was closed and we wouldn’t be going to the Lake Lodge, she would only have 3. The lady at the shop was very nice and told DD that she deserved a prize anyway and went back to her storeroom. When she came out, she had a small stuffed moose with magnetic legs to wrap around objects. It was very cute and we were very grateful.

    We then went out to see if we could see Old Faithful erupt one more time before heading toward’s West Thumb. Unfortunately, it was about an hour to the next eruption so we decided to say goodbye and leave.

    DH was a little tired of thermals and geysers and didn’t feel like a long walk, so we skipped seeing the Lone Star Geyser and headed towards West Thumb. We stopped at Kepler Cascades.

    [​IMG]

    We passed the Continental Divide twice as we climbed out of the Old Faithful area. Our highest elevation was around 8390 feet.

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    On our way to West Thumb, we saw these guys by the side of the road.

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    When we arrived at West Thumb, it was very cold and windy. Yellowstone Lake looked like the ocean with the waves crashing along the shore.

    [​IMG]

    In fact, the famous fishing cone, where long ago fishermen would catch their fish in the lake and simply insert their catch into the cone to cook, was covered with water.

    [​IMG]

    We strolled around the boardwalk and saw some more interesting thermal features.

    [​IMG]

    We then headed toward’s Colter Bay in Grand Teton for lunch.

    We exited Yellowstone and entered the J D Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway.

    [​IMG]

    We were expecting to be delayed again by construction, but they took Saturday off, so we had no delay. We arrived at Colter Bay and ate at the Ranch House Restaurant. They had a really good salad and potato bar.

    After lunch we headed to the visitor center. Our neighbor had told us about the American Indian museum and the American Indian artist who made jewelry there. I ended up buying a bear pendant made from abalone shell. It was a thread your own bead thing, but it was a good price.

    After the visitor center, we headed toward Jackson Lake Lodge to see if our cabin was ready. We were lucky that it was. We unpacked the car and headed back out to see more of the Grand Tetons. This time we took the other part of the loop past Oxbow Bend.

    [​IMG]

    While the bend was beautiful, it was not teeming with wildlife as we had hoped.

    We then kept driving until we came across a jam in the road.

    [​IMG]

    I had finally found my bison jam! It wasn’t bison walking down the middle of the road, but a substantial size herd was crossing the road to another field.

    [​IMG]

    We then stumbled across Cunningham’s Cabin. This is a picturesque stop. However, the cabin is a lot smaller than it appears in photos I have seen.

    [​IMG]

    We walked around for awhile and then continued on. We pulled off one of the overlooks to find a couple of guys with really powerful scopes and camera pointed down to the river below. Evidently they had their eye on a large moose. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, he had wandered into the brush and was no longer visible. Seriously?!! Our timing stinks today!

    [​IMG]

    We went on our way and eventually ended up in Moose Junction at the main visitor center again. We had heard rumors that a moose was spotted near the visitor center earlier in the week. But alas, we could not find it. After we visited the facilities, we headed back toward’s Menor’s Ferry. When we arrived at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, they were preparing to hold a wedding. What a beautiful place to be married!

    Anyway, we headed toward’s the river and Menor’s Ferry.

    We went into the General Store and talked to the storekeeper for a bit.

    [​IMG]

    He told us of a full grown bull moose that had walked by the store the other day and that a woman in the store screamed and the moose ran away. Go figure! How come I can’t be so lucky! Anyway, we saw this interesting chair made out of elk and moose antlers.

    [​IMG]

    We also saw the pulley system used by rangers to demonstrate how settlers would cross the Snake River.

    [​IMG]

    We decided to head back to our cabin for a small rest before heading out to dinner.

    After our brief rest, we drove up Signal Mountain road before eating at Signal Mountain Lodge. It was a very windy road that seemed to never end, but there were 2 overlooks at the top that you could see the park on both sides. The views were stunning.

    [​IMG]

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    We made our way down and went to the lodge for dinner. The view toward’s the Teton range was amazing while we ate a very good meal and lamented the fact that we would have to go back home the next day.

    After dinner we headed back to Jackson Lake Lodge. DD wanted to sit in the lobby and play card games while we watched the sunset.

    There was a wedding here as well. The bride, in her strapless gown, looked very cold as she posed for pictures out back of the lodge. About sunset, we were rewarded with the most beautiful images.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was then time to call it a night and get packed up for our drive back to Salt Lake City tomorrow.

    Next: STOP the car!!!
     
  20. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11,716
    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    We all woke up a little cranky this morning. :mad: I don’t know if it was because it was the end of vacation, the dread of the long drive back to Salt Lake City, or the fact that we have been here almost a week and haven’t seen one moose! Well, that was why I was cranky, don’t know about the rest of the fam.

    Anyway, we ate breakfast in the Mural Room again this morning. On the way, I caught a picture of this bird (I think it’s a robin).

    [​IMG]

    Then I went out to the deck and got this.

    [​IMG]

    Breakfast was very good as usual with an extraordinary view. After breakfast, I decided to head back out to the deck to get some last photos of the marsh. (Did I mention that I couldn't get enough of the views of the Tetons)?

    [​IMG]

    People were saying they had seen a moose down there so I was hoping to spot it. I had some luck in that it was still there, but very hard to see in the brush.

    [​IMG]

    My DH and DD decided to join me after they paid the bill. I told my DH that I was going to go to the cabin and get a camera with a bigger zoom to try to zero in on the moose. While I was away, just my luck, the moose evidently had a calf that ran away from the mom for a few seconds before scampering back into the protection of the brush. Was I there to see it? Noooo! Did my DH have his camera to capture the moment? Nooooo! Okay, now I was just in an even more pissy mood that I hadn’t yet seen a moose and we were an hour away from leaving the parks. :mad:

    I guess my DH understood my frustration as he started a diatribe in his best Jacque Cousteau accent that we're “On the great quest for the elusive moose!” We checked out of the lodge and headed towards Oxbow Bend in hopes of spotting a moose in the water there. No such luck!

    [​IMG]

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    We then stopped at various turnouts that overlooked the Snake River. No such luck!

    [​IMG]

    When we got to Moose Junction we headed down to Dornan’s camp area. We were on the other side of Menor’s Ferry.

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    While we didn’t see a moose, I did catch a picture of this bluebird.

    [​IMG]

    We then headed to the visitor’s center to use the facilities before heading out of the park. Needless to say, I was not in a good mood :sad1: and my DH knew it. As we were driving over the bridge to head out of the park, I was diligently watching the shoreline along the Snake River. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something. I immediately shouted “MOOSE!” My DH said “WHAT?” I shouted, “STOP THE CAR!” So he pulled over after we crossed the bridge, I grabbed my camera, got out and started walking back on the bridge to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, which my DH was sure that I was! :rolleyes1 Low and behold, standing along the shore line in the brush was a young moose. Not a moose with a full set of antlers, but it was still the Great Elusive Moose! EUREKA!!! We actually started a moose jam of our own as people started walking over on the bridge and slowing down to see what we were looking at.

    [​IMG]

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    We got our pictures and then headed out. :cloud9: After all, we had a long drive and a plane to catch. Okay, it wasn't the biggest moose ever, but I saw one and I was happy. :thumbsup2

    After we hit Jackson, we stopped at the Rustic Inn to get a picture of the famed Elk Antler Arch.

    [​IMG]

    We took a bit of a different route back that took us through rural Wyoming. It was Sunday afternoon, and I can honestly say that we did not see a single person in any of the towns we passed through. The scenery was beautiful and the yellow wild flowers in the pastures were stunning. It threatened rain most of the day, but we only got spit on a couple of times.

    We passed through this antler arch in one town.

    [​IMG]

    We also passed by Bear Lake. It was huge and was the most beautiful color of blue.

    [​IMG]

    We finally arrived at Salt Lake City International Airport where we checked in our rental car, checked our luggage and headed to our gate, only to find out our flight was delayed by about half an hour. Oh well, we grabbed something light to eat and waited. Our DD had a loose molar and was playing with it at the gate. Next thing I know she’s going “Mommy, my tooth came out!” She was so excited to lose her tooth in the airport. What a way to end a vacation!

    We arrived safely at home to about 90 degrees.

    Thus ending Our Great Quest for the Elusive Moose. I hope you enjoyed my little report. If you ever get a chance to visit any of this country’s National Parks, I would highly encourage you to do so! And if you get a chance, definitely go to Grand Teton and Yellowstone! :wave2:
     
  21. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    1,163
    Great trip report!!! Thanks for taking the time to write and share it with us - I know that's a lot of work.

    I'm glad you finally saw a couple of moose - that's wonderful! We never did see any on our Yellowstone trip, so we were disappointed. But that's really just about the only thing that didn't go as planned for us.
     

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