Sunday, March 20, 2011

3/10/11: Buffalo and Elk and Geysers, Oh my!

Sorry for the very very delayed posts everyone. I will finish these all tonight.

March tenth was by far my favorite day of our trip to Montana. We woke up extremely early to get a to-go breakfast and head on our 1-hour drive. Where? Why?

To go snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. When we got there, we put on full suits of rental clothes to keep us warm and comfy. We got briefed on the rules by our guide. My personal favorite was "Don't stop next to the Buffalo", because they may injure you.

We got into the Snowmobiles with my Dad at the wheel and me in back. We drove off at full speed, which made me pretty nervous at first. The roads were a bit bumpy due to snow, so that only increased my nervousness. Eventually we got to a river, and our first sight was a Buffalo having a drink. I thought that that was pretty amazing, but the truth is it was hardly a sight compared to the rest of the time. A few minutes later, we saw a buffalo walking on the road, which instantly reminded me of my favorite rule. Already I had gotten used to the snowmobiles, and I was having an amazing time. We saw a few Elk in the same river, and more and more buffalo. After seeing tons of animals, we got to an area where there are lots of geysers. We saw lots of them, including ones that are constantly erupting. We also saw boiling mudpots and pools of crystal clear, hot spring water. After looking at these, we took off on our snowmobile again.

Eventually, we got to the pinnacle of our journey. We stepped off of the snowmobiles and into the recently built Old Faithful tourism building, which had exhibits, shops, and a short movie clip to watch. But first, of course, we went to the geyser, which was directly behind the building. It was a little off-schedule, so we had to wait a while to see it erupt, but we did. It was amazing! Apparently it was about 130 feet tall for a good 2 minutes. That's a LOT of water.

After, we went inside and saw the short movie and bought some souvenirs. We learned all about geysers and other natural phenomena at Yellowstone. Then, we went to lunch, where I and most others had a cheeseburger. Then, we took off again, just missing a second eruption of the geyser. On the way back we saw more and more Buffalo. Giant herds of dozens of them. And then, our guide for some unknown reason stopped us. I looked up to where he was pointing and saw a wolf walking on a ridge. That was the first time I'd seen a wolf in the wild.

We kept going, and ran into more and more and more buffalo and elk. After a while it was ALMOST a drag having to stop all the time to see them. Eventually, we got to another river that had formed a giant canyon over the years. It was huge! We followed the river upstream and eventually got to a huge, beautiful waterfall. Of course my dad used the opportunity to throw snowballs down the cliff and see if he could hit certain rocks. We circled back after a while, and came to the river I mentioned at the beginning. We looked across, and saw a big elk with huge horns sitting down looking at us. So we stopped and took more pictures.

We took a slightly different path getting back to the entrance, and to our surprise we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree. It didn't seem to mind our presence, so we took pictures for a while. Finally, we headed back. It was a long day, and it was time to get back to the hotel.

We made it back just in time to get to the first plenary session, which was about the sun, and solar magnetism, flares, and cycles. Then we had dinner. Afterwards, the second plenary began, which was about using artificial gravity to get to Mars.

After that, we went home for a bit, but we came back for the best part of the night: the Ice-Cream Social. And it was tasty. I only had one bowl though, because I had stuffed myself at dinner.

Finally, we went home and went to bed. What a great day it was. I have tons of pictures and photos that I'll upload as well.

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