Thermopolis was exactly what we needed and more! We are feeling relaxed and recharged! The RV park we are staying in has a playground and it has been filled with children since we arrived. The girls have been making friends, playing, and having lots of fun! This has lent to some downtime and alone time for John and I and some needed space between the girls. We've done laundry and had great hot showers!!! We've biked to the local hot springs and giggled down the water slides. We've played family tag in an awesome park and paddled on Boysen Reservoir. We've enjoyed lazy afternoons at camp and days with few plans. It's been awesome!
When we left Jackson, WY we had a couple of days of cool dry weather that allowed us to get outside and explore. From Jackson we went south to Granite Hot Springs. The drive was beautiful and the road followed the Hoback River. The river, which was a deep red/chocolate color from all the rain, really caught our attention because the rivers we've seen so far have been clear and green! When we made the turn onto the road to Granite Hot Springs we realized we were at the confluence of the Hoback River and Granite Creek. Here's what we saw...
After watching the swirling water colors at the confluence, we stopped by the Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours to check out the almost 200 sled dogs they had on their property (we had been told about this place on our last night in Jackson). When we arrived (unannounced) we were given a great tour of the dog yard and facility. It was a beautiful location and we all came away with a better understanding of what goes into training, feeding, breeding, and maintaining these amazing Alaskan sled dogs.
From there we followed the road through a gorgeous valley to the hot springs where we soaked and swam for a couple hours. We camped along Granite Creek that night and enjoyed a relaxing evening outside eating yummy dutch oven nachos for dinner.
The next day we drove through Teton NP on our way to Yellowstone. When we were in the Tetons before we had wanted to paddle on the lakes, but it was raining. So, with a break in the weather on this day, we decided to go for it. We paddled String Lake and portaged to Leigh Lake where we continued paddling until the winds started to pick up. The water was crystal clear and cold. John and Isla were the only ones brave enough to jump in this water. Ellie and I stayed dry and watched from our boards as they took off from a big boulder to jump into the water.
Arriving in Yellowstone that evening we realized at check-in that we were a day late for our reservation - Oops! Luckily the campground wasn't full, so we were able to stay for the rest of the time we had booked (our reservation had been cancelled when we didn't show up the day before).
Yellowstone is beautiful! There is so much to see....geysers, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, mud pots, and more. We spent four days exploring by car, by bike and on foot. We learned about Yellowstone's geology and biology. We learned about the Yellowstone Wolf Project and the regeneration of Yellowstone as a whole since the 1988 fire. The girls completed their Junior Ranger books and they spent several hours one day exploring Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin to earn their "Young Scientist" badges. They checked out a "Young Scientist Toolkit" to help them complete their booklet and answer the questions. Here are the girls measuring the temperature of some of the hot springs with a thermal thermometer.
Of course, we were all looking forward to seeing lots of wildlife and we were energized by seeing buffalo on our first day! Watching from the car as the rain poured down we sat on the side of the road in a pull-out marveling at the size of these animals. We couldn't get over the scruff around their necks, their big shoulders and their "tiny" hind legs! While we were there we saw elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, tons of ospreys, a big brown bird John and I could not identify, and finally on our last day we saw a black bear and her cub on the side of the road. We drove out of the park through the Lamar Valley (which is a great place to see wildlife) scanning the valley and hillsides hoping to see more bears from the car, but unfortunately we didn't. However, we stopped at a pull-out along the way and we were treated to seeing a mama grizzly and her cub frolicking on the hillside through someone's scope. The bears were about 3 miles from our location, but it was amazing to see the bears so clearly from so far away. We all got in the car afterwards and said we felt "complete".