After a bear free night, we packed up our gear and made it to Yellowstone National Park. First up was Old Faithful. It was a worldwide famous Geyser that you just have to see if you go to the park. It erupts about every 90 minutes and luckily for us, we’d timed it just right. We parked up and walked to the viewing area and joined the many hundred also there to see it. We only had to wait about 5 minutes for it to explode. It can throw about 25000 litres of boiling hot water, 40 metres into the air, for about 5 minutes. At first it was just spitting a few drops out. Every now and again, it would tease us with a little spurt and you’d see everyone start filming it, only for it to stop. But when it did erupt, it was humongous. You could really tell the power of it.
Next on the list was the Midway Geyser Basin. It was a collection of hot pools, small Geysers and colourful surrounds. The trail was quite short and was in a loop. Once you stepped over the bridge to the Basin, you were on a large looped path, which was built onto the rocks. Along the path there were hot pools that were so blue and welcoming, but looking at the steam that some of them were producing, the last thing you’d want to do would be to go in one! There was so much steam that you’d have to wait to take a photo – at some points, it covered the path and you couldn’t see in front of yourself! One really odd thing was the colours of the steam. At some points, it was blue. The colours were so vivid and the landscape so different – it was like being on another planet.
The last stop of the day were the Yellowstone Falls. We decided it was time for a stroll so we completed the South Rim Trek. It was a 6-mile trek that took us along side the river and falls and also through the forest. It started at Artist’s Point, however, in true Barry style, we got out of the car and I directed us to the toilets instead of the trail entrance. It didn’t take us long to get to the entrance but before we did, there was a viewpoint where you could see the whole of the lower falls. It was 100m high fall, which is twice the height of Niagara. It was very impressive and possibly the best waterfall we have seen on this whole trip.
We started to get into the trees and away from the river. We were on our own and were still conscious of any cardboard boxes; I mean bears, which may be in the area. Every now and again, we’d have to clap or shout just to make them aware that we were there. We never saw any though. One thing about parks and trails in this country that we’ve noticed is that they are no way near as clearly labelled as the ones in OZ. I can see many people getting lost over here. We made our way through the forest. It was a tiring walk – lots of up hill struggles but not many downs. We did get hungry and we had sandwiches in the rucksack. But we were not going to sit around in a forest eating when there were black bears around! We made it to the mud pools. Now this place definitely looked like another planet. The land was dull and dry and there were big pools of bubbling mud scattered around. There was only one thing wrong with this place. It was the smell of sulphur. It ranked a 9 on the “Salt Lake” scale. If you breathed through you mouth to stop the smell, you could taste it. It was vile and there was no escaping it whilst you were in the area. Eventually the smell stopped and we were at a clear lake. Funnily enough, called the Clear Lake. It wasn’t that clear but the water was sparkling and had a bright blue tint. Walking further on, we were nearly at the half way stage where big tall trees surrounded us. They all had one thing in common. The markings of a bear using it as a scratching post and boy, did these bears really go to town on them – there wasn’t a tree in the area that hadn’t been “used”. I’m just glad we weren’t there at the time of scratching!
We got to a viewpoint of the Lower Falls again, this time however, we were a lot closer. We had our well-deserved sandwiches and continued the walk back through the forest, back to the car. We were minding our own business when we noticed a massive lone buffalo grazing on some grass. It didn’t notice us so we left it to have its snack.
That night, we were staying in a small town called Cody. Apparently, it’s the Rodeo Capital of the World. We dropped our suitcases at our motel, and headed to grab a bite to eat. We fancied meat so we stopped at a place called “Bubbas Bar-B-Que“. It looked like a traditional American Eatery. I ordered pulled pork with chips and beans and Stef ordered half a chicken. We also got a side of 2 ribs and garlic bread each. When it came out, it was massive. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs. But sitting there, watching people, everyone was taking home doggy bags. We ate as much as we could but it was way too filling. Bring on the doggy bag!
The Cody Stampede Rodeo was a lot of fun. Neither of us had been to one before and we knew we were in for a treat as when we were waiting, we saw a double rainbow. However, I think Stef was more excited about the bow than I was! There were bucking broncos, lassoing calves and even racing. One of the funniest parts was when the presenter got all the kids from the crowd onto the main paddock. He lined them all up and made them do press-ups in the dirt. The kids loved it but I’m sure their parents, who probably made them go in the first place, were not too happy. Once all the kids were standing in a long line (there must have been about 40 of them), he released two little calves. They had ribbons on their tales and the first two kids that returned them, won. The kids went sprinting towards the poor animals that ran to the other side of a large muddy puddle. Some of the kids stopped at the waters edge. The others just ran straight through it. Kids were losing their trainers, falling over and getting covered in mud. Everyone was in fits of laughter.
The rodeo clowns even had to fish out the odd shoe to return to the parents.