July 6

Welcome to Bozeman Montana, gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

After checking in at the Homewood Suites, a hotel block much like all the others (La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Hampton Inn, Ramada Inn and so many more) that line the highway, we headed out for the number one attraction in town, The Museum of The Rockies.

At The Museum of The Rockies their biggest claim to fame is their collection of dinosaur fossils and the current star of the show is Big Mike...
...from their website.

"The full-size bronze - the first bronze skeleton of a dinosaur anywhere - was made in the likeness of a Tyrannosaurus rex found in Eastern Montana in 1988. At 15 feet tall, 38 feet long and 6,000 pounds, "Big Mike" was named after the late Michael P. Malone, president of MSU-Bozeman from 1991-1999. "
Then we traveled out into the countryside, to a fishing lodge, the Gallatin River Lodge, a lodge near the Gallatin river, and the food was really good.

We went out for a sundowner stroll...
...and one of the guys eating with us, we ate at the bar since we only got appetizers, was taking his dog for a run.

Oh what fun! Bela is one of those perfect dogs. With a tennis-ball-hurling-stick I could get the ball to go for a mile. She would then race out for it no matter how far, come back and drop that baby right at my feet, sit as instructed, and wait.

I was not in the least tempted to want a dog but wow-ee that was fun.
The countryside as the sun sets.
This might be what we're in for the next week as we travel from Bozeman through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Woodland creatures in the setting sun.
The last rays making the clouds glow in Big Sky Country.
July 7

We decided to take a stroll around downtown Bozeman before heading out to Yellowstone. This is a charming little pocket park.

Bozeman is basically a college town, also the home of the county government, and busy with sporty tourism and 'gateway to Yellowstone' visitors.
The highways and main roads are lined with shopping plazas and all the big box stores and every chain store, but still they've maintained an historic downtown feel in the historic downtown but the place I was most excited about visiting was...
...the American Computer Museum. I thought it was going to be in a dusty storefront where some geeky old guys had piled their old computers. Not exactly so.

It's a profitless private enterprise founded and funded by Barbara and George Keremedjiev "To collect, preserve, interpret, and display the artifacts and history of the information age."
My hope was realized!

There it is, second from the right, the Compaq Portable 286. It cost thousands of dollars in 1986 when it first came out and when I somehow, I don't remember how exactly but pleading and foot stomping might have been involved, got my company to buy that thing .. and I hauled it around, all 50 pounds, because I really really wanted to be Portable.
Out of Bozeman we drove straight east to Livingston, another cute old western town, population 7,044, and another 'gateway to Yellowstone'.

According to Ms Wiki: "The city was inhabited for two decades by Calamity Jane and visited by adventurous traveling members of European royalty. Today it is a small art haven, filming location (A River Runs Through It, The Horse Whisperer, Rancho Deluxe, and others), fishing destination, railroad town, and writers' and actors' colony."
On the border of Montana and Wyoming, just outside the tourist mecca of Gardiner, is the Roosevelt Arch, at the East Entrance to Yellowstone.
A few miles in from the entrance is Mammoth Hot Springs. That's the community down there including the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, where we stayed for the night.

They have all the National Park necessities and they even have gas, also a Visitors Center, many historic buildings (the army was posted here for 30 years in the early 1900s), places to eat, and a huge Gift Shop of course.
It was raining when we visited here and I haven't got my pictures off the phone yet. How much information shall I copy from the internet... I haven't decided!

It's all about the geology of The Center of The Earth and if you're particularly interested you can always ask Ms Google. She knows everything.

More of the amazing sites around Mammoth Hot Springs. There are miles of boardwalks that take you through the Lower and Upper Terraces.
A waterfall along the Gardiner River near Indian Creek.
At the Mammoth Hot Springs Visitors Center.

The Visitors Center at National Parks are a must first stop which we did as one must, to get maps and plan the day and then we came again in the late afternoon to tour the displays.
The cabins where we spent the night, part of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. It was just fine. Cozy. That means small, but the front porch was a delight.
Our constant visitors demanding food. We gave them nothing but they persisted, insisted even.
From our front porch we could watch the elk gathering on the hillside for an evening snack.
And again from our front porch in another direction. It looked just like this only very much better, symmetrical, thicker, and with every color of the rainbow distinct and gorgeous.
July 8

Before leaving Mammoth Hot Springs we decided to make another pass by the terraces (created by "a series of colorful springs in various stages of accretion or decay").

This is a You Are Here map along the way. The NPS does a great job with the boardwalks, the signage...
...and the Park Rangers ready in various strategic spots to give talks and answer questions.
Mighty marvelous.
We wanted to visit the Tower-Roosevelt area which was going to occasion a retracing back to Mammoth but there was so much to see in this section including the fabulous Urdine Falls.
And the wildflowers were heavenly, all sorts of bright colors in beautiful patterns dotting the meadows and the roadside vegetation.

Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture to look heavenly but I did torture Sharon with Oh Looks! ooows and aaahs.
We decided to have a little trail walk and there was a Park Ranger checking out a badger den to report back to the office. Of course he was happy to tell us all about it.
What happens whenever there is an animal in view, the crowds pour out of their cars and jockey for position to get the shot.

Following are from several different events. This was a buffalo herd off in the distance.
There are three bears in this picture, mom and two cubs. One of the cubs is very hard to spot sitting above and to the left of the mom.
And the mom getting up for a good look-around.
This is a different time when a teenager was gamboling along an open meadow.

There was another chance with three different bears but the crowds were too overwhelming so we didn't stop.
Roosevelt Lodge, and outside of camping, the most rustic of all the accommodations we visited. Rustic and charming like the olden days.
We had lunch in the dining room here...
...Sharon: salad. Me: ice cream.
These folks were just relaxing on the porch making this pose for someone else but that doesn't mean I can't have it too.
After returning to Mammoth we took the south-west route to Norris Junction...
...and the very cool Norris Geyser Basin.
So-o-o-o many more from this walk and I haven't gone through to choose my favorites yet.
(I don't remember his name...)
On the way from Norris to Old Faithful you can take a turn out called Firehole Lake Drive. Here is one of the geysers, White Dome and a few minutes after we arrived...
...we got this. Wow.

Then Old West as we are, we shared a prime rib dinner in the dining room of Old Faithful Snow Lodge and had an early night.
July 9

Usually I go for 10 pictures a day - enough to tell a story and not so many as to weaken the resolve of my family and friends to follow along. But these last few days it's been toooo many. Sigh.

Making the southern loop from Old Faithful we stopped first at West Thumb and the West Thumb Geyser Basin that borders Yellowstone Lake.
It was a fantastic stop and yet a place that we'd not heard of before.
But don't miss it if you come to Yellowstone. We were gaga for the whole walk.
Check out the crowd, and the road around this site was a parking lot. We had to stop and good thing we did. Look into the lake in the space between the trees and you'll see...
...these guys.
I thought I'd certainly remember the name of this place, but no.
THE most amazing of all the falls so far, the 300 foot Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, downstream from Yellowstone Falls.
Following the river above into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
I was actually expecting to find ourselves in a traffic jam surrounded by bison but that didn't happen.

BTW, we don't have buffalo here, we have only bison. Ask Ms Wiki for details. We do have a town called Buffalo WY (not to mention Buffalo NY) which doesn't make naming conventions any more clear.
This was a sulfur springs turn-out by the side of the road. It was steamy, hot, stinky, and .. what ..
.. a bison, lounging.
The Continental Divide is not a straight line but waggles north to south depending on the mountain range so you can cross three times within the park. Here's one spot...
...and this pond just at the Divide sends water both west to the Pacific and east to the Atlantic.

From here we made our way back to the Old Faithful complex.
Sitting oh-so-comfortably at the outdoor lounge at the Old Faithful Inn, cool beverage in hand, feet on the rail, looking directly at Old Faithful herself (known to the staff as 'the old girl') we wait patiently...
...for this. What a little bit of Yellowstone perfection!
An interior of The Old Faithful Inn and an exterior from the internet.
July 10 morning

It's our last morning in Yellowstone and we're walking on the boardwalk trails nearby the Old Faithful Inn.

That's the Old Faithful Inn in the distance and you can see a few of the many buildings in the complex - the excellent Visitors Center, the Old Faithful Lodge, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge (the only year-round accommodation here), a gas station, post office, market, and Ranger Station.
Hey big guy.
Here come pictures of a few of the geysers and hot springs visible from the boardwalk.

Those steam baths that you'd get walking by actually felt pretty good, and when a geyser would spit geyser juice on your head, that was fun too as an opportunity to sing out Geyser Juice.
Called Beehive Geyser, a crowd gathered for a scheduled eruption. The woman standing was telling everyone 'NO, Don't Leave, she's Gonna Blow'.
More more more.
Wildlife sightings are always such a thrill.
Yes, more.

Then we drove the relatively short distance out of Yellowstone and into the Grand Tetons National Park.
A first view of the Grand Tetons from out the car window. More of the Grand Tetons coming up next.
July 10 afternoon/evening

Welcome to Grand Tetons National Park and the view from Jackson Lake Lodge.
Reflect-o from the windows at the Lodge...
...and how one might enjoy an afternoon beverage. We weren't staying here but how lovely it is.
The Ranger Station at Jenny Lake.
We continued through the park to our accommodation in the western town of Jackson in an area called Jackson Hole, a distinction I had not previously made.

Our place, The Ranch Inn, is actually right in town, easy strolling to all that is Jackson including this outdoor entertainment for the benefit of the tourists.

From the guidebook: "In other parts of Wyoming, Jackson is viewed with a mixture of awe and disdain...
...awe over its gorgeous scenery, but disdain that Jackson is not a 'real' town, just a false front put up to sell things to outsiders. Yes, Jackson is almost wholly dependent on the almighty tourist dollar, but as a result it enjoys a cultural richness lacking in other parts of the state."
This is a view of the Snow King ski runs from our balcony at the Ranch Inn fitted out with a table and comfy chairs to enjoy the sweet mountain air.
July 11

We left Jackson and doubled back to the Grand Tetons to do a little sightseeing.
At the Visitors Center in Jackson, this exhibit is called Elk Migration and the main displays reference the National Elk Refuge adjacent to Grand Tetons National Park.

There isn't much to visit there as it's a refuge and we're supposed to be leaving the elk alone.
There they are again, the Grand Tetons. Basically you just drive along the foot of the mountain range, go up a little to the lakes and forests, and admire the scenery.
The Visitors Center at Moose Junction, nicely built.
And even the kids are kickin' it.
Next stop a buzz through Menors Ferry Historic District and the Chapel of the Transfiguration...
...best known for this view.
This is Wednesday and on the weekend there is going to be an exhibit of the work of 50 artists who have been making art in the park during the preceding week.

We saw many of the artists doing these projects and it would have been great to see the show.
So handsome.
Oh goodie, lunch at the Jenny Lake Lodge...
...the white table cloth restaurant in the Park.

It was very nice, and then the rain came. And then Sharon did a little shopping and we spent a lazy evening at our hotel getting ready for the next phase of our trip - Salt Lake City.
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