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Ten Things of Thankful: Yellowstone Edition

A lone bison grazes in a meadow in front of the erupting Castle geyser in Yellowstone

While Labor Day weekend traditionally sees families enjoying summer's last hurrah, John and I decided to spend the week of the autumn equinox camping at Yellowstone National Park. It's been quite a few years since we last camped in a tent, and even longer since we've camped in a tent during rainstorms. However, camping is easier with two adults than it is being outnumbered by children (fun though that is--seriously), and we both knew better than to touch the sides of the tent and invite the precipitation inside, so we managed to stay relatively dry. We also were happy to eat PB&J and leftover pasta salad for dinner while sitting securely in the van. Neither one of us drew on the fogged up windows nor breathed each other's air nor put an arm on the other's arm rest, so all in all, it was a boringly peaceful occasion.

The rain didn't actually start until Wednesday afternoon, so Monday and Tuesday were quite pleasant, and of course the rain we saw wasn't anything like the historic flooding Yellowstone had earlier this summer. Friday morning was also dry, which was good, because it made packing up the tent a much nicer experience than it would have been in a pouring rain. Also appreciated was the fact that the van  (whose odometer turned to 210,000 during the week) stopped making the low complaining engine noise it was making on Thursday evening and got us home with no problems on Friday. We even stopped at the emissions test place on the way home and were able to take care of the vehicle license renewal, so that's done for another year. 

Regardless of the weather and momentary worry about the vehicle, the camping trip was a success. By taking out the seats in the van, we had plenty of room for all the gear that made tent camping relatively comfortable, because let's face it, we aren't quite as young as we used to be. So, a quick-to-inflate tall air mattress was top on the priority list. The one mistake we made was in purchasing a double sleeping bag. We thought it would be perfect to keep us warm. We were warm enough, but we apparently don't know how to turn over inside a sleeping bag without pulling the fabric under ourselves, so that in the middle of the night we ended up trapped closely together, neither one of us able to move. John said I needed to give him more of the sleeping bag. I told him the zippered edge was under me and that I had no leeway. We wiggled around and managed to finally extract ourselves. The next night, realizing that we failed the remedial course of How to Sleep in a Sleeping Bag, we slept on top of the sleeping bag and just piled blankets on top of us. That worked much better. 

We stayed in Madison Campground, and were directly across from a school group. My initial reaction was concern that the kids might be noisy and keep us awake, but I needn't have worried. What a great bunch of kids! They were from the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, and from my understanding, the school is just what it sounds like: the curriculum relies heavily on field trips. Kudos to the staff and students; I was very impressed with how polite they were. 

Yellowstone National Park is John's Disneyland, and I love it, too. Besides containing over half of the world's geysers, Yellowstone is home to its own "Grand Canyon," Yellowstone Lake (the largest high altitude freshwater lake in North America), and numerous species of animals. If you ever get a chance to visit, go! (You don't even have to camp in a tent, if you don't want to.) Oh, and if you do go, tell Park Ranger AJ Ferrara hello for us. A couple of years ago on a Yellowstone trip we met a park ranger who was extremely knowledgeable and willing to share that detailed knowledge about the geysers with us. Imagine our delight when we realized we had stumbled across AJ again this trip! Seriously our favorite park ranger! 

I'm sure there are at least 10 things I am thankful for in the previous paragraphs, but to spare you thousands of words, I'll end with some photos and videos. 

What beauty did you see this week? What are you thankful for? Be sure to visit the Ten Things of Thankful Blog hosted by Dyanne and her co-hosts and see what others are sharing this week! 

A dead tree is reflected in the water at Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Steamboat Geyser, still shooting water on Tuesday after a Sunday eruption

A rainbow appears while Riverside geyser erupts

Morning Glory pool is just one example of the colorful hot pools in Yellowstone

The following video shows the bubbling mud of Artist Paint Pots. Turn your sound on to get the full effect. 

This final video is a clip of how it is to drive through Yellowstone when the bison decide to come parading down the road. 


  1. We got to go to Yellowstone when i was 12, but i haven't been since. No tent camping for us when we were growing up, so i wouldn't know how to even start and i admire people who do it tremendously.

    My Sweetie and i could never, ever sleep in a double sleeping bag. We have to have two separate blankets on the bed, he just cannot share.

    1. Unless we can coordinate which way we turn over, I don't think we'll ever sleep successfully in a double sleeping bag, either! :-)

  2. Your camping sounds exciting! Which reminds me that I haven't gone camping for ages and that I haven't even thought of it recently... Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

    1. Thank you! Our camping trip was a lot of fun. :-)

  3. Una (and Ola and Bella, for that matter) would have totally enjoyed the buffalo encounter (in your video). Have not been camping since... well, ever? lol
    Great geography and viewage.
    (Of course, am a total fan of road trips...was surprised at the relatively short-drive but then, everything I imagine out in your part of the continent seems like an hour drive to the corner store)
    have an excellent week

    1. LOL ("an hour drive to the corner store") One of these days, John and I would love to take a really long road trip and see lots more of the country, but we are happy to have Yellowstone not-that-many-hours away.


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