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Friday August 19- East Yellowstone

We left the motor home at about 9:30 heading to Yellowstone. Most of the area that we will travel in today is within the Yellowstone ‘caldera boundary’. A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. The Yellowstone volcano erupted 64,000 years ago. What this means, is when the volcano erupts and spews the rock from inside, there is nothing to support the mountain so it falls in upon itself, creating this valley/plateau.

At the Madison Junction, we turned left and headed up to the Norris Junction and turned right. We had bypassed the Virginia Cascades a couple of times, but pulled into the short drive this time. We saw these beautiful cascades. The water flowing gracefully over the rocks only measured about 1-2 inches deep. There was no one else around, and the sound of the water flowing was magical! 084

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We continued on to the Mud Volcano

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This area had been a smaller volcano, which eventually blew, then fell in upon itself in the 1870’s. This mud was extremely hot, and bubbling. This is the Dragon’s Tongue.092 There is a cave in the back, where the steam is coming out. In the past, the area would ‘spew’ hot mud and water over where the current boardwalk is located. The ferociousness of the steam grew, then puffed, the grew again. There was a strong odor of sulfur in this area. The water was boiling and the movement of the water sent waves of hot water below the boardwalk that we were standing on…

We continued south on the loop road, heading south. We spotted this coyote in a field an087d stopped to take a picture.

Our next stop was at the Fishing Bridge Recreational Vehicle Park. This is on the east entrance road to the park. We drove through the RV park, taking a look. They have full hook-ups, for $69 per night. The sites are really right on top of each other. We saw many 5th wheels, trailers and motor homes who were backed up right to the person behind’s awning. We have found with our Interagency Pass, that we are able to get a discount at the park. We are keeping it in mind for our next trip to this area, as this park is really closer to the Haden Valley area, which is known as the placed to see the wildlife. That is where we saw all the bears and bison. One major disadvantage is that there is no town close to the east entrance, like West Yellowstone, where we can get gas and groceries. Gas in the park is $3.99 a gallon vs. 3.84 in West Yellowstone. Plus groceries are limited.

Back on the main loop, we continued south to Lake Village. We stopped in and bought tickets to the Yellowstone Lake boat tour for tomorrow morning at 10:45. The ranger said that this is the most popular tour time, so we went ahead and bought our tickets.

We pulled off the road several times to take pictures of the lake.095

We had seen this ‘sand bridge’ and wanted to get a closer look. 097

This natural bridge is made of black, volcanic sand. The water was cold, but not frigid.

On this part of the loop, we cross the Continental Divide two times. At the second crossing, we had seen a lot of people stopped at this point, looking at a small lake. So we pulled in to take a look. This small lake, named Isa Lake, which straddles Craig Pass, is unique.

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First it has lily pads, the only ones that we have seen in the park. Isa Lake is believed to be the only lake in the world which drains to two different oceans, backwards. The east side of the lake drains by way of the Lewis River to the Pacific Ocean and the west side of the lake drains by way of the Firehole River to the Atlantic Ocean. This is the opposite of what one would expect since the Atlantic Ocean is to the east and the Pacific to the west. Remember your geography, the continental divide is where the rivers drain in opposite directions. The eastern side to the east and the western side to the west. One interesting fact that we have found is that the continental divide is not a straight line! It zig-zags all over the place. Today, we will have crossed the divide 4 times. We pass the divide when we leave Idaho to go to West Yellowstone Montana, then again two times on the southern loop road, @ 8391 ft, then again a few miles later at Craig Pass, at 8262 ft. Then of course we passed it again on our way back to the motor home, when we enter Idaho!

We continued on to Old Faithful. We pulled into the parking lot at the Hawthorne General Store. We only have limited cell service in the park, and we needed to call Tom and Debbie to let them know that the Ranger had told us that the Scenic Yellowstone Lake boat tour sells out, so that they could get their tickets. After the call, we walked into the store. The items in this store seemed a little nicer than the items in the other general stores. We stopped at the counter for ice cream. They had the flavor we really like, Buffalo Chips. It is a really nice chocolate based ice cream, made by Wilcoxson of Livingston MT. This is a famous local ice cream maker, who does not even have a website. They have been selling ice cream to Yellowstone since the 1940’s! We had this flavor at the Towers store a few days ago, and they did not have this flavor at the Old Faithful Inn.

After ice cream we headed back to the motor home, after a quick stop at the grocery store in West Yellow stone for bread and milk.

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