Yellowstone Nat’l Park: Go for the Flora & Fauna not Old Faithful

by Bob Sparrow

Upper Falls

Upper Falls on the Yellowstone River

My first experience of Yellowstone was yesterday’s geezer of a geyser and as you have no doubt surmised, I was less than thrilled. Today was a totally different story as we headed to Canyon Village in the heart of the park, which affords some of the most spectacular views of the deep canyons that the Yellowstone River has carved out over the years. Pat, Pam and I took a 6 miles loop hike on the South Rim that gave us spectacular views of Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Artist Point, Lilly Pad Lake, Clear Lake as well as some close up inspections of geysers, mud holes and hot springs. We could have run into any type of animal on this hike so I made sure I had my bear spray with me. Which reminds me that I forgot to tell you about our encounter with a bear at Jenny Lake yesterday. We were hiking around the south end of the lake, minding our own business, when hikers coming from the other direction said that they just encountered a bear a few hundred yards up the trail. They said the bear had ‘faked charged’ them and one of the men who had bear spray stood in front and sprayed the bear, who then retreated. I thought I was being smart and prepared when I brought along some bear spray, but since I was the only one who did, I ended up being the stupid one as I was pushed to the front of the pack as we headed down the trail towards the bear. The rest of the group stayed close behind me, very close, in fact I was concerned about stopping quickly and getting ‘rear ended’, so to speak. We did indeed run into Mr. Bear as he crossed the trail about 50 feet in front of me; I stopped (and wasn’t rear ended, thank you!) and pulled out my bear spray and had my finger on the trigger not knowing exactly what would come out or how far it would go if I squeezed it. The bear must have sensed that I was ill prepared for this situation and moved on without incident. It wasn’t, however, without accident, as my shorts were in need of some laundering.

Back to Yellowstone – we wanted to see some buffalo – from a distance, and our server at Saturday night’s dinner recommended we go to Hayden Valley just north of Yellowstone Lake. So after our hike and another lunch of cheese and wine (I was feeling so ‘French’ that I think I started to smell bad) by the river, we headed out to see some buffalo – which we did. If I can get a video on this blog (NOT!) I will show you a buffalo walking right down the middle of the road right past our car – he was a huge, magnificent animal. We also saw elk and moose along the way, just minding their own business, making this place even more beautiful. The wildest of animals in the park are the multitude school-aged children, and I applaud the parents for introducing their children to this environment at an early age, but a quick travel tip, if you plan to visit Yellowstone, go in September when the kids are back in school.

Buffalo Bar

Start of the West Yellowstone ‘Pub Crawl’

We drove back to West Yellowstone, cleaned up and as I write this we started our pub-crawl. We decided that we’d have one drink at each of the five bars that our server on Saturday night said were the best bars in town. We decided we would all go to the first bar in one car, which we’d pick up in the morning and walk to the others, which were all within a couple of blocks. First stop, the Buffalo Bar, which had a bunch of buffalo, elk, moose and deer heads hanging on the wall. After two drinks (We wasted little time in breaking the one-drink rule), we wondered how hard those animals had to be running to get their heads through the wall like that. Also on the wall there was a sign that said, ‘If you have to drink somewhere, drink in the Buff’.

Next stop was the Slippery Otter, which we drove to (Oops, broke another rule). It had a scuffle board table in it, which some people played while others drank. I started wandering if it was a good precision to bring my laptop and record this as things were starting to get a little fuzzy navel. Bob Pacelli complained that he tasted the soap used to wash his wine glass, but the waiter said that was implausible as they never wash the wine gasses. We then waddled to the next block to Bull-wrinkle’s, where we ordered some more imbibing. We ordered some sliders, but they brought us these little hamburgers instead. We didn’t want to raise a rumpus, so we just ate them and currampulated over to the next salon, which was Wild West Pizzarena. We ordered another rounder and listened to the guy praying his guitar and singing like a bird-watcher. By now we were slurping our word and acting incognito, so the servant recommended that we have coffee. We told her we were not driven, but we ordered a Long Island Iced Coffee just to make her snappy.

end of crawl

End of the ‘Pub Crawl’

The last place we went, we didn’t go to, as it was getting latte and we were no longer Thursday. So now I’m thinking I’m back in my hotel womb, as I see a bed that needs buttering and I believe I was over-swerved, but want to varnish this before I crush.   But tomorrow I’ll be somber as we get back on the Rhode Island and head for wherever we’re headed.  Chow.


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