Day 15 – Last Day in Yellowstone: Reflections

As our holiday draws to a close and the sun sets on our final day in Yellowstone we find ourselves reflecting on where we’ve been and what we have done and seen during the previous two weeks. We have done everything we came to do and seen everything we planned to see. Therefore, today, we didn’t feel that we had to hit the park in a big way, but instead had a more relaxing day since we will be up for at least 24 hours tomorrow for our journey home.

We got up late and began packing for our trip tomorrow. Then we went into West Yellowstone for lunch; Old Town Café and a good, honest American welcome and a great meal. The town was very quiet as everyone was in the national park and we walked up and down the town for a few minutes just taking in that ‘being in America’ feeling.

Over lunch we had planned to return to Canyon Junction to walk the North Rim of the canyon (we did the South Rim a couple of days ago), as we had really enjoyed that area of the park. But as we drove the now familiar roads on the way to Canyon Junction we realised just how tired we were after two weeks of activity and decided to opt for a nearer destination called Artist’s Paint Pots. We just wanted to walk and reflect on the holiday and not do anything too strenuous. So we wandered another alien terrain of thermal activity – this time a thick bubbling caldron of something resembling freshly mixed plaster or cement but wetter. It had a pleasing gloopy sound and spat out globules of white earth that landed with a slopping, splattering slap on the hot, steaming ground.

And so we did reflect on our time in the USA this year and realised just how different and pleasing, in their owns ways, the three national parks were. In Teton we were able to climb the 10,450ft Rendezvous Mountain and experience an exhilarating Alpine setting. Staying in a skiing resort added a wonderful laid back feeling to the place. Our day cycling and rafting will stay with us always and it was here that we saw our very first moose!

In Glacier National Park we loved the sheer scale of the place with its hint of Canada; its stomach churning cliff edges and glaciers (even in the heat of a 90 degree day) provided a dramatic edge and a feeling of space and freedom. The vista of St Mary Lake, with a backdrop of jagged peaks is a must see for anyone visiting this region. Here we saw mountain goats up close and personal!

It would be easy to see Yellowstone as a disappointment if you came looking for towering mountains and dramatic scenery. This is not what Yellowstone is like. It is undoubtedly beautiful, the majestic Yellowstone Lake is a sheer pleasure and its green and pleasant valleys will tug at anyone’s heart. But two things set Yellowstone apart from its neighbours: The alien, steaming, thermal features make you believe you are on another planet at times. The smell of sulphur and the hot waft of egg sounds worse than it is. But the colours are amazing. This place is like nothing we have ever seen before. The other thing is the wildlife; Bison, Elk, Bear, Eagle, Coyote, Moose – much more accessible and more common (in our brief experience) than in the other parks.

And there are people we will remember; Bob and Jeanette were real down to earth out-west Americans through and through. There was an honesty about them – the sort of people you could trust – a couple still in love after 66 years of marriage! And there was Dana from Seattle, who Rachel has already played scrabble with online, with many more games to come. Then there is Tracy, our host in Glacier – a bear of a man with a very soft centre who ‘does it all for God!’. And the small boy who held a door open for me with a typical American politeness, which we have noticed in many young people here.

We could go on and on but we’ll leave it there and just say – Huckleberry Ice Cream – is the best!

Thanks for reading. Until next time….

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