Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017
Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fairy, Swamp, and Artist, but No Inspiration and No Uncle Tom, Part 2 - Mon., June 12, 2017

Continued from Part 1...

From Fountain Freight Road, we drove northeast through Madison and Norris on our way to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Lunch was a top priority because our last "food" had been Atomic Fireballs and Jolly Ranchers at the waterfall. It was about 11:30 a.m. when we ate. The weather forecast was for bad weather to hit at noon. 

Below are two of the tour buses that take people around the park. They were both in the Canyon Lodge parking lot.

Historic Yellowstone touring vehicle

After we ate, we immediately went on the North Rim Drive which, by this time, was completely packed with cars. 

I gave Susan and Darren some options for hikes: the very steep hike down to the brink of the Lower Falls (they passed); a short hike to Lookout Point for an awesome view of Lower Falls and the Canyon (which we did) or the Red Rock steep trail down into the canyon (we didn't do); another very short walk to Grand View for a view deep into the downriver side of the canyon (which we did); Uncle Tom's Trail (steep iron stairs down into the canyon for an up-close view of Lower Falls - more on this later), and Artist Point (which we did).

First up: Lookout Point. This is a great place to see Lower Falls. 

Lower Falls
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Yellowstone River at the bottom of the canyon
Lower Falls from Lookout Point
Darren and Susan
Next stop, a short distance down North Rim Drive from Lookout Point: Grand View. No view of Lower Falls from Grand View, but you can see way downriver in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River
Me at Grand View
Susan and Darren
At Grand View we saw this cool motorcycle with side car. That evening, the motorcycle with side car was parked very close to us at the Old Faithful Inn Cabins. 

I thought we could go to Inspiration Point along the North Rim Drive; however, that whole area was closed due to construction. We then continued down to the South Rim Drive. I really wanted to take Susan and Darren on the iron staircase down into the canyon to see the Lower Falls from a closer vantage point, plus it would have been great stair-stepper exercise. Unfortunately, the whole Tom's Cabin area was also closed due to construction. 

Our last stop in Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the iconic Artist Point. If you've seen any postcards of Lower Falls and the Canyon, or any famous photos or art work of the Grand Canyon and Lower Falls, they were most likely inspired by or photographed at Artist Point. 

With many of the other sites closed in the Canyon area, Artist Point was way over-crowded! Since I had been there before, Susan and Darren hopped out of the van and I took over driving, being stuck in traffic, and looking for a parking spot. The plan was, if I didn't find a parking space, I would continue driving around the parking lot and pick them up when they were done. Thankfully, lots of people were coming and going and a spot opened up on my first time around.

I was able to catch up to Susan and Darren. Artist Point is spectacular and breath-taking! It's hard to stop taking photos.

Lower Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
from Artist Point
Susan and Darren
Me at Artist Point
Lower Falls from Artist Point
 
It was after 1:00 p.m. and still no storm. We decided it was time to head back. If the weather held, we could see Roaring Mountain with Dragon Mouth Spring and Mud Volcano. 

It looked like our luck would soon run out. In the photo below, it is hard to tell, but the big, black, circular-shaped cloud looked like a super-cell storm. 

Dark, black, circular super-cell cloud
Super-cell formation
We made it to Roaring Mountain and saw Dragons Mouth Spring and Mud Volcano while it was still sunny. Dragons Mouth Spring roars and hisses. 

Boardwalk to Dragons Mouth Spring

Dragons Mouth Spring
Dragons Mouth Spring
The photos below are what's left of Mud Volcano. In 1870, explorers watched as Mud Volcano shot mud and steam into the treetops, shaking the ground with each eruption. Two years later all that was left was a lake of boiling muddy water. The volcano had blown itself apart.

Mud volcano's bubbling pool
Close-up of the bubbling, roiling mud

Shortly after, the rain started and the clouds lowered. We headed back to our cabin at Old Faithful and we ran into rain and rain mixed with snow. The temperature had dropped fast. I made a trip to the shower house for a shower, then walked 1/4 mile over to the General Store on the other side of the Old Faithful Inn. 

For some reason, an ice cream cone sounded really good. I got two scoops in a waffle cone and took it on the covered porch of the General Store. They have big wooden rocking chairs and a rocking swing. I sat on a rocking chair in the cold, eating my ice cream cone while watching big, fluffy flakes of snow come down. My ice cream didn't melt. Hey, a bonus when you eat it outside in the cold! 

Meanwhile, employees from the General Store were coming out and snapping selfies of themselves in the snow to prove to their relatives back home in the heat that, yes, it really was snowing in Yellowstone.

I contemplated eating ice cream while it was snowing. Did that mean I was eating a snow cone? LOL. I crack myself up.

The walk back to the cabin was in a fluffy snowflake blizzard. I didn't bring an umbrella, but I did have a hood on my winter coat. By the time I got back to the cabin I looked like an abominable snowman. Then the snow melted on my coat so I had to hang it in front of the heater in my room to dry it out. Oh, the adventures one has on vacation. Makes good stories to tell.

View from the door of my cabin
Yep, it's snowing!
I had the same view from the window of my room. As I looked out, I saw an elk walk across the far hillside. So cool!

It was a good night to get some sleep. We were pretty tired from the day's hike to Fairy Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Let me re-phrase that, it was a good night to get some sleep until the loud, cracking thunder at 3:00 a.m.

Here's hoping we can get over the passes to Jackson, Wyoming in the morning.

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