The Road to Yellowstone

Westward Wanderlust, Day 3
July 12, 2012
Big Horn National Forest, WY

Good morning
Leigh Creek,
even though I know
you never went to sleep.
I heard you
singing as I slept,
into my dreams
you crept.

Leigh Creek, Big Horn National Forest WY

This beautiful morning at Leigh Creek was accompanied by a delicious YPB breakfast (Greek Yogurt & Peanut Butter). topped with a generous shake of the granola I made for the trip. YPB is one of our favorite quick, easy camping meals.

Yum!

The water in Leigh Creek was cold and refreshing. A few head dunks in the rapids and we were wide awake! We enjoyed a leisurely morning creek-side before we packed up for a day of driving.

Leigh Creek, WY

As you may recall from yesterday’s exciting roll through Wyoming, the drive from Big Horn National Forest to Yellowstone was long and fairly flat. There were subtle rolling hills, lots of big sky, several oil derricks, and a few ramshackle homesteads. Intermittently eyebrow raising and beautiful? Yes. Thrilling, captivating, and full of exhilarated gasps? No.
So we’re just going to go ahead and spare you the exercise in scenic tedium and bring you straight to the main attraction of the day.

We made it!

D taking in the immensity of it all.

The wildlife experience at Yellowstone can be very up close and personal. There are many areas in the park, swarming with tourists and merchandising opportunities, where it seems that many people forget this fact and assume humans are the masters of the domain. But often, all you need to do is turn around to realize you are face to face with something wild, something that does not adhere to “Stay on Path” signs. There is always the distinct possibility that something much bigger, much stronger, and utterly untamed is going to be looking at you before you even see it. Like a bison … at the Yellowstone Visitor Center.

Buffalo at Yellowstone, Picture by D.R.J

The lack of fence or span of grass between us was slightly unnerving, yet it was almost comical – this huge beast lounging calmly at the dusty meeting of cement and soil, staring lazily back at us as if to say, “Yes, actually, I live here. Where do you belong?” He sat seemingly unaffected by the bustling traffic of conservation commerce and family memories in the making. I began to realize how deep we were in the territory of predominantly undomesticated species.

So close!

As we drove through the park we watched for more wildlife and marveled at the tall trees, big sky, and awesome vistas.

Road through Yellowstone

Bull Elk, Yellowstone[/caption]
Before setting out to explore the park, we wanted to make sure we had a chance at a decent campsite. Being that we are visiting all of these National Parks during peak season, every attempt at establishing a home base has the possibility of being a challenge. We made the decision at the beginning of this voyage to not make any reservations ahead of time. We have an outline of the places we want to see, and about how much time we want to spend in each, but are not tied to any rock solid commitments. So far, it has been pretty freeing not to look at a calendar, watch, or cell phone often for an entire day. Our compass is the most used instrument as far, (West! Keep going West!) as well as our handy dandy “Your Guide to the National Parks”. Thanks to Mike’s recommendation, we headed straight for a great campground along a lake that shares the name of a favorite feline friend of ours:

Lewis Lake, Yellowstone

We were able to snatch a great walk-in site.

Awesome walk-in site at Lewis Lake

After pitching our tent, we heading out to see what we could see before it got too dark. We hiked the West Geyser Basin and along Lewis Lake, but there was not enough light to get many good shots. That, and the mosquitoes had become extremely friendly. We watched the sun set on Lewis Lake and headed back to camp to crash.

Sunset over Lewis Lake

Lewis Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Tomorrow, we will explore Yellowstone, starting with one of the top attractions here, Old Faithful.

Campsite, Lewis Lake

Day 3 Soundtrack –
Joe Walsh “Rocky Mountain Way”
Quicksilver Messenger Service “Fresh Air”

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