Last week the Boy, my mom and I spent the week roaming around Wyoming and a bit of Montana.  It was a combination trip – part fun obviously, but also a lot of hard work on my part.  We spent the greater part of the week traveling through Yellowstone National Park while I conducted an environmental audit for our company.

We started with a loooong drive – a bit over 9 hours.  The Boy did absolutely fabulous!  No crying fits!  Plenty of play in his car seat!  Our first stop in the park was Mammoth Hot Springs for a night.

mammoth

(photo shamelessly stolen from our corporate website)

We met up with my cohort in Environmental Crime Protection, Chris, and his family for dinner and a bit of elk watching.  Sorry, no pictures – it was too close to dusk and I have enough shots of the beasts from the last few years. Plus it’s calving season and the gals are cranky.  It was a long day and we finally headed for bed around 9:30.  The Boy?  He.Wanted.To.Go.Home.  Ugh. I feared it would be a very long week…

Much to bright and early the next morning, I headed off with our crowd of auditors for the day.  Mom and the Boy played tourist around the springs for a bit.

mammoth2

(photo shamelessly stolen from our corporate website)

Then a spot of lunch before heading off to our next location – Old Faithful Inn!

OFI

(photo shamelessly stolen from our corporate website)

We only stayed here for one night as well.  *sigh*  Yes, it was a lot of moving about.  Do you realize how big YNP is?  Here’s a map. It’s a roughly one and a half to two hour drive between Mammoth and Old Faithful.  And Old Faithful and Lake.  And Lake back to Mammoth is over 2 hours (closer to 3 depending on traffic and bison jams).

Mom spotted some great wildlife on the drive to Old Faithful, including a bear…but the Boy slept through most of it.  Good thing too – he needed the nap after the long night.

We met up again in the evening with all of the audit team.  First for a spot of wine, cheese, and fruit.  And then for a very very special treat.  Take a look at this picture:

Crows2

This shot is taken from the lobby of the hotel.  The first level you see there with the lights is a balcony folks wander around.  In fact, it’s actually the 3rd floor and where we had our little social.  The rest of the wood work and structure going up?  That leads to the Crows nest.  During the grand old days a band played from the first platform and guests could actually climb up the stairs to the roof of the hotel for a spectacular view of the surrounding geyser basin including Old Faithful.

You can see the Crows nest in that overview photo of the hotel.  It’s the flat part of the roof the flags fly from.  Unfortunately, none of my photos from the top turned out very well.  But here’s a shot of the Boy waiting for our escort to come unlock the gate.  Due to the increased number of visitors and the hotel being over 100 years old, you can’t just wander up there anymore.  You need to know somebody.  I tell you…this job is full of perks.

Crows

I suspect Old Faceball (as he calls it) was one of the Boy’s favorite parts of the trip.  The Boy himself was also a major hit with many of the visitors.  We’d hauled his strider bike along figuring it would keep him occupied.  We were quite correct.  (On a side note, I’d also bought him a helmet Saturday before we left…if he’d had his way he’d probably never have taken it off.)  Anyway, the Boy made good use of the paved sidewalks and boardwalk areas around Old Faithful.  Mom said a good number of folks took his picture and/or commented on just how darn cute he was.  I think Strider Bikes are going to need to send me a check for all the advertising we did for them.

So where were we?  Oh yes, it’s now Tuesday morning…off to Lake Hotel! (After a full day auditing around Old Faithful Village.)

Lake

(photo shamelessly stolen from our corporate website)

We stayed in a cabin here.  I’d never stayed in a cabin and found them quite enjoyable.  One major advantage – not as much noise.  The hotel is quite grand, however the walls are paper thin.  The cabins are more secluded and quiet.  Good for us and better for our neighbors.  Luckily we’d had no repeat of the first night with 45 minute screams of wanting to go home.  We stayed in the Lake area for 3 nights (oh thank heaven).  This is my favorite area of the park, hands down.  I love the Lake, plus the surrounding valleys are always full of wildlife and spectacular views.  Let’s see…

bison

(Bison just outside Hayden Valley)

Here are a few of those famous bison you hear about.  These do not make my top list of wildlife to view as we have plenty around here to ogle.  But the calves are darn cute (you can see a couple of them in the background).

Pelican

Here are a trio of pelicans on Pelican Creek.  Very fun to watch.

BikerAnd what is this wild creature?  Oh yes, the Boy on his bike (I know, no helmet…we were just wasting a few minutes before loading up the car).

Lake Hotel was also probably the Boy’s favorite part of the trip.  First, he went on a boat ride with Grandma and his new friends (Chris’ wife and kids).  I was off auditing so I don’t have any pictures…but I hear it was quite a time.  The boat is the same one as in the pic of the hotel up there – the Lake Queen.

As an even bigger topper to the trip, we went on a bus ride!  Holy buckets batman, the Boy was fascinated with these guys from day one.  I was glad we finally had a free night to take him.

Now there are not the typical tour bus you may be thinking of.  Oh no, these are the original buses from the 1930’s.  Back around 2004, Xanterra bought the buses back and fully restored them.  They were reintroduced to the Park in 2007.BusTourLogo

You can read more about it here.  Even better, here’s a YouTube spot from one of the videos we sell:

And here’s the Boy in full glory riding along

Busboy

We enjoyed the Lake Butte Sunset Tour.  And luckily for us, the weather finally was a teeny-weeny bit cooperative.

sunset

I haven’t said much about the weather.  That’s because, for the most part?  Ugh.  Snow.  Rain.  Sleet.  Cold.  Not very fun.  Finally at the end of the trip it started to warm up a bit (60s) and the sun would peek out from time to time.  I snapped this photo of the sunset while darting in and out of the bus trying to stay warm.

Friday was my last day with the audit team.  We departed Lake for a day auditing Canyon village (where the Boy made friends with a very nice gopher) and Roosevelt.  I really don’t have any photos of these locations as I was either a) driving or b) busy auditing.  But here’s one last guy you’d probably like to see:

Griz

Our second (or is it third?) Grizzly bear!  The Boy slept through it…again.  We also saw a Black bear on our way between Canyon and Roosevelt, but he was up among the trees and not being photogenic.  The last bear was spotted on the way back and was across a valley traveling down a slope.  He was easy to see as he was highlighted against the snow.

Friday afternoon I had really hoped to travel through Beartooth Pass on our way to our weekend destination (Cody, WY), but we needed to haul Chris back to the Lake area to meet up with his family.  So instead we traveled out through the East entrance of the park.

Next up?  The Wild West!

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