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Yellowstone Upper Loop

West Yellowstone, Montana: We were up and on the road by nine o’clock this morning, picnic packed, and ready to learn what the day would show us in Yellowstone National Park.

But first, I must transport you all to Costa Rica, where our Only Child was celebrating her birthday with her family. Assuming Lenny asked the server to send a birthday dessert out for Lisa:

Whatever. Close enough.
Leo and monkeys

I also received this photo from my favorite grandson from the hotel pool - with monkeys in the trees. Monkeys. Sloths. Surfing. Mani-Pedis. Riding horses. Zip-lining. The grandkids are having the best vacation ever? Plus, they can Facetime with us any time!

Our first stop this morning was at a beautiful meadow just west of the Madison campground. Not sure why/when, but there are a series of teepees erected at the edge of the meadow and it makes for a most magnificent backdrop - especially as the meadow is filled with Black Eyed Susan.

Beautiful meadow along the Madison River
Same meadow, looking west

Again, Sweet Reader, I will post a lot of photos, with captions. Enjoy. Or not.

Sheepeater Cliff: The Tukudika were a band of Eastern Shoshone Indians,
known for eating sheep.
Norris Geyser Basin
Roaring Mountain

We arrived to a very volcanic-active area near Mammoth Hot Springs. Here, a constant flow of geothermal activity keeps the ground always moving with sulfuric water bubbling up to the surface atop mounds of minerals.

Orange Spring Mound
Calcite mound
Calcite Springs
Bull Snake

A bull snake (relative to the gopher snake we see in the Coachella Valley) was hanging out below the calcite springs. Looking for mice? Gophers? Moles? Voles? Small tourists? Bull and Gopher snakes look so similar to rattle snakes, and the sneaky reptiles KNOW they look like rattle snakes, and often try to mimic a tail shake to intimidate prey. A rattle snake kills with a venomous bite. A bull/gopher snake constricts their prey... then swallows it whole. This bull snake was about five feet long.

Rock formation at Mammoth Hot Springs
Palette Springs - more mineral-rich water bubbling up to create a tower

We drove and drove and rarely saw a beast. It's like the National Park had forgotten to release the animals from their cages today. Then, out of nowhere, a lone bull hopped out on the road - basically scaring the heck out of me, and way too quickly for My Driver to even stop (or maybe even see the creature). A few miles down the road, we found a lone bison, happily munching away next to the road, for all the tourists to enjoy:

It has been a strange few days in Yellowstone. Where previously we have seen hundreds of elk or bison together, this trip we have seen only a few bison together and only lone elk. Time of year? Climate change? Dumb luck? Recent flooding?


Seeing a female elk in the middle of the Madison River was a rare site for us!

Elk in the Madison River

Though herdless, we still had a great day in Yellowstone and returned to our motorhome for a wonderful dinner of Spaghetti Carbonara (I used turkey bacon... no one knew) and a simple salad.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Must. Make. Salad.

Our adventure continues tomorrow! Until my next update, I remain, your unconstricted correspondent.

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