Firehole Lake and Virginia City

Earlier this week after work I traveled scenic Firehole Lake Drive on a whim, a little one-way road between Madison and Old Faithful, about nine miles from where I’m living.

Not knowing what's around the next bend: one benefit of travel

Not knowing what’s around the next bend: one exciting benefit of travel

I wasn’t sure what to expect…. that’s really one of the best parts of full-timing – the excitement of something new. I crave new experiences and Yellowstone sure delivers. I feel like in the month I’ve been here I’ve done a good job of getting out and seeing the park, and yet I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. There are still roads and pullouts close to home that I haven’t laid eyes on yet, and it’s always a treat to see where the next fork in the road will take me.



Springs like Surprise pool here are very, very hot. You can actually see the water boiling on the lower-right side near the edge, which means the temp must be at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water decreases at higher elevations). Definitely not a good place for a soak. I wonder how it got it’s name, I hope someone didn’t fall in…

The sky is overcast, but despite a few sprinkles on the way over the rain is holding off. I drive past a pullout jam packed with people, but can’t see anything obvious going on, hmm. The next pullout is empty so I park there and get out to photograph a beautiful white geyser cone with rusty streaks running down the side, how unique. As I snap a picture a whooshing sounds starts from underground – that sure sounds familiar! A moment later, water spews from the cone.

White Dome Geyser in action!

White Dome Geyser in action!

Another woman has just walked up with her camera, and we exchange looks. “Talk about timing!” I say. “Yeah, it’s like winning the lottery.” After catching the whole eruption of White Dome, I walk up the road to where all the cars are parked. Great Fountain Geyser is predicted to go off sometime within the next hour and a half, that’s what the crowd is waiting for. I feel bad for them, they just missed a pretty fantastic show down the road.

Great Fountain Geyser, which everyone is waiting for

Great Fountain Geyser sits inactive

The next stop is Firehole Lake, a large pond of thermal heated water, with several small springs and geysers along its shore.

Young Hopeful Geyser bubbles from three openings, Firehole Lake is behind

Young Hopeful Geyser bubbles from three openings, Firehole Lake is behind

The yellow flowers next to the geyser are called monkey flowers, they love the warm ground near hydrothermal features and started blooming a couple weeks earlier than everything else. Farther out from the lake, three marmot-looking animals play in the grassy field. I point them out to the next couple who comes down the boardwalk so they can get a photo.

On the way back home I make one other impromptu stop at Whiskey Flat picnic area. It has picnic tables, pit toilets, and even a few fire rings. The tables are all set in the pines next to the area’s namesake, a lush grassy field bright with new growth. A ground squirrel sits on a stump chewing on a nut or seed of some sort. When it finishes, it scampers into a hole under the stump and comes out with another, it must have a cache stored under there.

Whiskey Flat

Whiskey Flat

And that’s not all I’ve been up to. Last Friday I drove out to Virginia City, MT, about 120 miles from Old Faithful to visit a fellow blogger who’s working out there for first part of the summer.

Historic Virginia City

Historic Virginia City, a lot of the shops have mini museums inside giving an idea what life would have been like in the late 1800’s.

Jaclyn full-times in a tiny teardrop pulled by her motorcycle. It’s the smallest rig I’ve seen yet on the road, and as I suspected from reading her blog she’s a pretty awesome person. You can check her out at BlueRoad. I explore Virginia City until she finishes work, then we go for a grocery run and out to dinner.

Jackie's Little Guy teardrop, named Tic-Tac

Jackie’s Little Guy teardrop, named Tic-Tac

Back at her place afterward, I meet her charming new traveling companion, a Chihuahua mix named Yoska (Yohs-ka). While the three of us take a brief walk behind her camp, heavy clouds rumbling with distant thunder cap the otherwise endless skies of Montanta’s rolling hills. This country is so much more open than the mountains and high plateau Yellowstone occupies.

Rolling Montana hills

Rolling Montana hills

Ever get that feeling like you’re being watched? Let me zoom in on part of the above photo.

firehole-lake-drive6Apparently these guys are frequent visitors to Jackie’s extended backyard. I sure wouldn’t mind having them for neighbors (Neighbors? Heh.).

I can’t stay for long, as the drive back to Old Faithful is a good two and a half hours. I arrive after dark in a thick fog that luckily doesn’t conceal any animals on the road.

Today, my neighbors and I drove the 17 miles east to Yellowstone Lake finally, because the bridge at Craig Pass finally opened! More about that coming up.

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The mini museum replica of a sundries store in Virginia City

The mini museum replica of a sundries store in Virginia City

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Janett on June 18, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Still playing IO catchup here…water pump replaced on Jeep ugg!

    From the horses to the Geysers…perfect timing and awesome pics as always! So how close were you to both White Dome and Surprise pool? It appears as though you’re right up on it. Love Jackie’s teardrop too. OK, cliché time…“great post”! 🙂

    • Becky on June 18, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Aww, sorry to hear that Janett, hope it’s all better now!
      Maybe 25-30 feet away? Not right on top of them but not real far either. 🙂

  2. Richard on June 14, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Becky, Were you working behind the register yesterday (Sat) around 3PM. My wife and I were in the store and thought that might be you.

    • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Yep I was working then Richard. 🙂

  3. Terri on June 14, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I love all the photos, as always!! And thanks so much for mentioning Jackie’s website. I also found her youtube channel and she seems like such a cool lady! I love how she is living in something so small… she definitely has me thinking of everything that is possible.

    Oh and I sent you a message on facebook – it probably went to your “other” folder.

    Just 8 days til I head for Utah! And 10 days until I start my working interview with Best Friends!! 🙂
    Terri recently posted..Just Take It One Step at a TimeMy Profile

    • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:24 am

      You’re welcome Terri, best of luck and I’ll peek at Facebook later!

  4. Norm H. on June 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Loved your surprise geyser while everyone was waiting elsewhere! My armchair and I are enjoying your summer of Yellowstone fun. Thanks for inviting us along. Happy Trails.

    • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:22 am

      You’re welcome Norm, glad you’re enjoying IO and thanks for reading.

  5. Andy on June 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Something to put on your calendar if you want to plan a return trip. In August 2017 there will be a full solar eclipse that will be fully visible right just a little bit south of where you are now. We’re already planning our visit to Jackson Hole.
    Andy recently posted..Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park–Jacksonville FloridaMy Profile

    • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Interesting Andy, I think I had heard of that before but promptly forgot. Not sure where I’ll be next summer yet but I’ll keep it in mind.

  6. Jeff on June 13, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Becky,
    Thanks for posting your trip to Firehole Lake. Three things that were on our list to do last year when we were at Yellowstone were Firehole Lake, Firehole Canyon drive and Blacktail Plateau drive. We didn’t get to do them because we travel in a 24′ motorhome and motorhomes are prohibited in these areas. Thinking of renting an SUV next time just to be able to see these attractions.

    • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Yeah, most of the little one way side roads are for passenger vehicles only, no buses, trailers, or RV’s – it’s because they get so much traffic in the summer there isn’t enough room. Sorry you weren’t able to make it through.

      Leaving my RV parked in the campground and exploring in the truck definitely has it’s advantages compared to those just driving through.

  7. Bon on June 13, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Another great one. Thanks Becky! What are the high and low temperatures where your rig is set up? Thinking of escaping the Texas heat next summer and Yellowstone is looking mighty attractive… Keep up the great writing!
    Bon recently posted..An Unfortunate Coincidence?My Profile

    • Becky on June 13, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Old Faithful is at 7,350 feet, and the elevation makes a big difference. The hottest it gets here is about 85 they say, and it’s a dry heat when it happens. Right now we’re seeing highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 40’s. When I got here in mid May it was still getting below freezing every night and there was some snow, by the time I leave at the end of September it’ll probably be getting below freezing at nights again.

      • Bon on June 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

        Sounds absolutely heavenly, considering we can’t even get south of 75 degrees at night right now. HIghs already in the 90s and summer hasn’t even gotten into full swing yet;-) Gotta love Texas;-)

        • Becky on June 15, 2015 at 11:18 am


  8. Jim at Growing Faith on June 12, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I love how you sneak some humor in sometimes!

    The more you post about Yellowstone, the more time I think someone needs to take it in. I was hoping to stop for a visit in August or September, but I guess I need to consider how much time I need to see what should be seen. I’m sure it costs money to park at Yellowstone overnight. Do you think there are any free spots to park nearby?

    Thank you for pointing us to BlueRoad. A couple people have told me I should get a dog. I always think that living in my tiny car, it would not be feasible. Maybe I am wrong!

    Thank you for another wonderful post 🙂
    Jim at Growing Faith recently posted..Freely GiveMy Profile

    • Becky on June 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

      At one point, Jackie had two dogs and a cat with her on the road, I’d say anything is possible as long as you’ll have the time and space to exercise the dog. 🙂

      You cannot park in Yellowstone overnight unless you’re camping in a designated area, and the camping is pretty expensive. However, the park is surrounded by 5 national forests, and I bet if you do a little digging you can find much cheaper camping solutions in one of them. I know several people who boondock down near Jackson, WY and stage trips into Grand Teton and Yellowstone from there.

  9. Jodee Gravel on June 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Nice that White Dome rewarded your decision not to follow the crowd 🙂 I love the look of it bursting from the little dome. I can’t imagine having all that beauty to explore for several weeks, even in the rain it’s got to be heavenly. Now I can’t imagine full timing in a teardrop and motorcycle but for those who can it would certainly open up a lot of possibilities for exploring! Horses in the backyard would be lovely!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Leave It to a Computer to Screw Up Our Launch Day!My Profile

    • Becky on June 13, 2015 at 9:57 am

      I just love it when the timing works out and I get a show without having to wait. It’s even more magical when it’s the first time I’ve seen something and I’m not sure what to expect.

      You’ll be experiencing that magic for yourselves soon enough. 🙂

  10. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on June 12, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Well, good morning to you! I woke up this morning dreaming about geysers. Oh no, it’s not a dream. It’s another IO post. Woohoo! Morning coffee at “Becky’s Place”. As big as Yellewstone is, you DO seem to be getting around. Good on you ( I just love saying that 🙂 )
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Retirement…finallyMy Profile

    • Becky on June 13, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Yep! C’mon down, there’s virtual seating for everyone. 😉

      The past two mornings have been quite lovely here, sunny and warming quickly. A nice change after the weeks of wet weather we had.

  11. Rhonda on June 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Wish I could leave something a bit more creative than the usual “great post! love your photos and informative commentary about the day to day life of a nomad”…but that is what I want to say, in a nutshell. Very much enjoy your blog, Becky. Thanks for making the effort to share a life worth living, especially to those of us who, for whatever reason, find ourselves hanging out at home admiring tales of adventures from others.

    • Becky on June 11, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      It’s all good Rhonda, thank you for reading, commenting, and being part of the community!

  12. Ron on June 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Quoting Becky
    “I feel like in the month I’ve been here I’ve done a good job of getting out and seeing the park, and yet I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. There are still roads and pullouts close to home that I haven’t laid eyes on yet ”

    And when you think you have seen most of the park it is just overwhelming what is nearby outside of the park. You won’t have enough time to thoroughly explore the area this season.
    But then there is always next time.

    • Becky on June 11, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Yep, there always is Ron. 🙂

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