Cheng was turning 40. I wanted to plan something fun. He hates surprises, so no big party. He’s doesn’t respond well to gifts, because he doesn’t really ever want anything. He does enjoy hiking, things outdoorsy, and PBS type documentaries. I remembered him watching an entire series on the National Parks, so I decided to plan a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National park. Remember he doesn’t like surprises, so I made sure to tell him all about our upcoming vacation. We had fun. I took a lot of photos. Waaay too many photos. Here are fewer than 30 of them with some of my commentary highlighting the best/most interesting parts of our trip. If you desire to see more, I uploaded 300+ photos to Cheng’s Flickr account.
We scheduled our entire vacation around being able to stay one night in the original Old Faithful Inn. Over the 24ish hours we spent here, we watched Old Faithful erupt 6 times, including once under a nearly full moon. The next picture was right after an eruption at sunrise.
Coating up with protection from the hot, hot sun leaves Cheng looking more like an old man than ever.
Unless of course you take time out to swim in the hot/cold mix of water where boiling waters join the freezing Gardner river.
Our car temporarily became swept up in a herd of bison crossing the road in Lamar Valley. Once the males started groaning and sticking their tongues out at each other (across the road, through our car) I realized how close and how huge they really were, and decided to close the window, offering tons of protection I’m sure.
Two days before our hike along Beaver Pond Trail, near Mammoth Hot Springs, a ranger informs us of multiple bear sitings along this trail. I can’t decide if I want to see a bear or not. Luckily (or maybe un-) we don’t see any grizzlies or black bears.
But we do find a lone pronghorn munching grass on our 6 mile walk.
Travertine buildup from these hotsprings coats the signs and edges of the boardwalks to make it look like snow.
Herds of elk mommas and babies hang around outside our cabins at Mammoth Hot Springs. In another month or so rutting season starts, so I’m glad we’re not sticking around for that craziness.
I dragged Cheng on an hour-long horseback ride through blooming fields of sage. He got stuck riding a horse actually lazier than he is, urging and kicking him the entire way!
Here we are at the brink of Lower Falls looking south down the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
I’m not sure how we timed this visit to Artist’s Point so perfectly, but look at the amazing rainbow in the mists at the bottom of Lower Falls!
Different bacteria thrive in narrow ranges of temperatures, as shown here and in the next 2 photos. See how the colors very clearly change around the edges of the hot springs?
Roads on the east side of Yellowstone were closed a few days due to smoke from the Alum fire, named because it originated near Alum creek.
We hiked about 4 miles round trip to see the Lone Star geyser, arriving just in time to see this “minor” eruption of 25-30 feet for 2 minutes. We got comfortable, had lunch, and witnessed a “major” eruption, shooting 40-50 feet in the air for about 20 minutes, culminating in a 10 minute bout of steam creating a roaring, tornado-esk vortex.
Sunset over the Midway Geyser Basin really lit up the boardwalk and surrounding hot springs.
It was difficult to look anywhere, but toward the amazing sunset, but facing this direction showed off the lovely pinks in the steam and the mostly full moon.
We saw this geyser erupting from the main road. Cheng got so excited, he careened into the parking lot, took off running in his yellow crocks, knocking old folks out of his way to beat the tour group already on the boardwalk and left me to leisurely follow, taking photos along the way. It was still erupting when I finally got there.
Our 4 mile hike to the lookout over Phelp’s lake in Teton National Park, recommended to us by our house(cabin) keeper. We chose not to continue the switchback trail down to the lake because it was getting late. And because we’re lazy.
Jackson Lake Lodge looks out over an enormous grazing area great for wildlife watching. Somewhere in this phote are elk, and maybe moose.
Cheng shows off his Geocaching trackable created for his birthday – Lordy, lordy look who’s 40.
After numerous dead ends down gravel roads too rough for our sporty Kia Rio, we finally found the right one leading to The Boundary Cache, where Cheng made his first find and dropped off his trackable.
What an amazing vacation! Happy Birthday, Cheng!
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