Monday, June 30, 2014

A Very Bozeman Kind of Week, Evading Rain and Earthquake Lakes

After a somewhat lazy Sunday with rain, games and good friends, our next week was another fun filled adventure.  We kicked off the week with a picnic complete with balloon animals, tattoos and sno-cones!

 Next up was a hike with friends.  We hit up Sourdough/Bozeman Creek which was an old road so the trail is nice and wide and the ascent is pretty gradual.  With 9 kids, 1 dog and 3 moms all together it was quite the adventure!  We ended up going out and back about a mile each way, but we spent about 3 hours with lots of "boogey" breaks, throwing rocks and finding bugs.  (The kids conspired the entire time to find places to hid off trail and then jump out at us and say "boogey boogey boogey."  It kept them way too entertained!  With all the running back and forth, the kids may have even hiked closer to 3 miles!
 One of the older girls offered to take our pic at the end!
 Due to some crazy scheduling, we were up for a hike the next day as well!  We hit up Drinking Horse Mountain.  There's a short loop I normally do with "new" hikers but Catherine was game to hike with the big boys so we did the entire hike!
Catherine is certainly slow and steady while Matthew raced ahead with his buddy and then took breaks.  However, Catherine did the entire thing by herself, even after I was tempted to give in and give her a piggy back ride.  The trail is a little over 2 miles round trip but it's about a 700 foot change in elevation.  Here we are goofing around at the back of the pack:
 The kiddos had a good time in the stick hut at the top:
 And of course we stopped to feed the trout on the way down!
 Friday we spent the day getting new tires, getting the oil changed and getting prepped for our big 4th of July trip.  Part of this prep was going to be taking a quick overnight trip camping.  With the kiddos in tow, driving around looking for a site late at night is no fun and in this area sites fill quickly so we prefer to reserve when we can.  Surprisingly, the only place with reservations available was Yellowstone!  My dislike of summer tourists pales in comparison to my dislike of driving around to find a campsite, so we booked 2 nights in Yellowstone!  We also ended up bringing the dogs with us, which is something we normally wouldn't do since they really can't do much in National Parks.  However, our plan really was to just hang around the campsite where dogs are allowed so it almost worked.

We ended up with intermittent rain as we packed Friday and by the time we hit the entrance to Yellowstone it was POURING and mud and rocks were cascading down the cliffs near Mammoth.  The rain let up to a light sprinkle while we set up camp and it proceeded to rain the rest of the evening.  Two kiddos ready for bed:

 And two semi-wet dogs!
 June was not into sleeping on the floor at all and ended up snuggled on Catherine for the night:

 The next morning it was lightly sprinkling as we started on breakfast but it ended up pouring down by the time we ate, so it was time to put our fancy minivan to good use.
 Since we had the dogs and we were on the East side of the park, we thought we'd head out toward Cody and explore in the National Forest.  There also seemed to be some blue sky that direction which would have been an enjoyable change of scenery.  The other benefit of heading to the National Forest was we could pick wildflowers for our flower press, a project the kids have been wanting to work on for weeks.  They did a great job finding flowers and now the waiting and drying begins!
 The sun didn't last for long and once we finished a picnic the rain had started again and canceled out our hike.  Since we weren't going to outsmart the rain we decided to head back to the campsite and wait it out in the camper.  We definitely saw plenty of these guys:
 At some point Catherine fell asleep so we headed out for more wildlife watching and a stop at Mud Volcano.  Catherine preferred sleep:
 And Dragon's Mouth:
 The sun came out for a bit (though the wind then picked up a ton) so we got out for some hiking in Hayden Valley:
 It was still really cold unfortunately:
 And it started raining so back in the car until we got to the lake and one of the few dog friendly trails.  Sky was thrilled (though unsurprisingly our trip was cut short by more rain and hail):
 Back at the campsite we took advantage of a break in the clouds to start dinner.  Matthew found a great log to be made into a gun/hammer and he and Catherine made up a series of obstacle courses around the site:
 As we cleaned up from dinner the sprinkles started again and it was a little too early to put the kiddos in the camper for bed so we hopped down to West Thumb to check out more geysers and outrun the rain.  Catherine is a very enthusiastic geyser guide!
 The next day we nice break in the weather and decided to hit Norris Geyser Basin.  We had done parts of it in the winter so it was neat to see it in summer again!
 Steamboat geyser:

 Catherine was our leader most of the time, running ahead with her arms flapping shouting "there's a geyser there's a geyser":

On our way out we stopped in for a picnic along the river and were treated to two bald eagles, one who ended up doing some fairly successful fishing, at least we think!

 On one of our rainier stops earlier, we had found a cool, simple "Naturalist kit" that included a great, laminated color field guide for kids.  Anyway, we didn't pick it up thinking we'd put it on a Christmas list or gift list but by the time we left we realized how useful it would be to have for the summer.  Of course the next stop didn't have them but we were told there was a shop in West Yellowstone.  This did not prove to be true but we discovered they have a shop in the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center instead.  I had heard good things about the newly reopened center and we'd never been there so we took a short side trip.  There were lots of interpretive stops to explore, including this lodge that got swallowed by the lake.
 And when you're near the water's edge, rock throwing is a must!
 Some "rock climbing" for Catherine:
 Earthquake lake itself:
 The slide that created said lake:
The interpretation on this little side adventure was a bit repetitive but still well done.  The stops were each cool and the whole thing is a fascinating look at a major geologic event.  It is also a GORGEOUS area to explore for a day trip.  Unfortunately, we didn't ever end up with our naturalist kit but I'm so glad we checked out the area.

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