Hello Yellow

July 27, Wednesday

Today I drive into Yellowstone National Park to meet up with a friend from Amazon and Quartzsite.

It’s a bit of a drive from Island Park, ID where I’m currently boondocking. I’ll be camping in Yellowstone from August 1st until the 6th for a family reunion, but as I’ll be busy with family those days I’m making plans with my RVing friends now to ensure I get the chance to see them.

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In my four summers on the road, this is the first time I’ve gone back to a park I’ve worked at. For newer readers, I worked at the park store inside the Visitor’s Center in Old Faithful last summer from mid-May until the end of September.

My excitement level rises as I pass through the west entrance, retracing the route I took when I left last year.

When you live somewhere, you start to take it for granted. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the place is, over the course of months (and years) the novelty of a location wears off and it all too easily fades into the background, hardly noticed as a person goes about the routine of living their life. Making a conscious effort to stop and be present in the moment and appreciate what you have and where you are helps, but nothing can replace the ease with which the wonders of a location leap out at you like when you’ve been gone for a while. This is just one of the many benefits of travel.

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Coming back to Yellowstone feels great. The last time I was here I was working, and even though it was only 30 hours a week, my job shaped everything I did in the park. I had more free time than the average employed American, but still always needed to be aware of that work schedule. In a way, this trip into Yellowstone feels even better than when I rolled in last May, because my time is my own. I’m essentially on vacation.

Details about the park that I’d put on a shelf in some dusty corner of my mind when I’d left are suddenly relevant again, and just like that they pop back into the foreground. No bison near Old Faithful right now, they’ll all be gathering in Hayden and Lamar valleys for the breeding season. It’s getting late enough in the summer that some of the marshier hikes will be dried out and accessible now, the mosquitoes will be pretty much gone. We’ll want to choose a less popular one since this is the busiest month of the year…

I pick up my friend and we motor over to West Thumb thermal basin, one of my favorites.

Abyss Pool is one of the deepest in the park at 53 feet

Abyss Pool is one of the deepest in the park at 53 feet

Thermal features are just plain neat, there’s nothing else quite like them. The mix of water and color and earth demands attention. To be honest, compared to the splendor of most national parks, Yellowstone doesn’t rate very high on the “scenic” scale. Oh, it’s got pretty areas for sure, but a lot of its 2.2 million acres is scraggly lodgepole pine with sparse grass that struggle in the thin soil, not all that impressive. For being in the Rockies much of it is remarkably flat, the result of ancient volcanic eruptions, so you don’t get great mountain views. It’s the thermal features that make Yellowstone unique, and they’re the main draw of the park. Well, that and the plentiful (and often quite visible) wildlife.

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Travelers frequently argue over whether Grand Teton or Yellowstone is “prettier”. To my mind it’s like trying to compare apples and oranges. You go to Grand Teton for the mountains. You come to Yellowstone for the thermal features. For the best of both worlds, you’ll want to work both in your travel schedule.

It’s delightful how when you visit a thermal area, you never get the same show twice. The features change from month to month and year to year. On some days they’re more active than others. The ring of yellow around Bluebell Pool is more pronounced than it was last year.

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After touring West Thumb we hike Storm Point, which was one of my favorite hikes from last year, despite the rain. I’ve linked the original post about it below so I won’t bore everyone with the same details again.

This spot looks different too, mostly because the weather is so different from last time. It’s warm and sunny instead of overcast and raining.

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Once out on the point proper, the sun disappears. Oh, don’t tell me…

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Looks like we’re going to get a storm at Storm Point again. This time I don’t even have my rain coat. The clouds release their burden as we’re almost within sight of the truck. We get wet. Luckily we’re out west, where low relative humidity means that things don’t stay wet long.

By the time we pull into Lake village for a mountain lion seminar, we’re practically dry. The researcher giving the presentation has a lot of footage of mountain lions in the park, it’s pretty neat! After it ends I drop my friend back off and make the long drive back to Island Park. All in all a good reintroduction to Yellowstone.

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July 28, Thursday

A glance out my RV window in the afternoon reveals a pair of ears twitching in the tall grass. Huh, there must be a deer bedded down. I keep an eye on it while I read.

About a half-hour passes, and I look out again to see that the animal is standing up, and it’s HUGE. Way bigger than a deer, it’s shoulders are taller than my head. Phone cameras were not meant for wildlife photography, but I zoom in and do what I can. What you can’t see in the pictures is that the animal has a hump over it’s shoulders, no antlers, a broad snout, short tail, and is a uniform dark brown color, no white over the rump or on the belly.

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The video I take turns out the best and I post it to Instagram, where it is automatically shared to IO’s Facebook page and my Twitter feed. I ask for opinions and response is pretty much unanimous – I’m looking at a female, or juvenile male moose.

A moose! That was one animal I didn’t see all last year in Yellowstone and it made me sad. But this year one came right up to my camper! Woohoo!

Related links from Yellowstone last year:

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Yellowstone lake is lower later in the season

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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. Don Matthews on August 4, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    The first moose I ever saw in the wild was at Yellowstone many years ago. He was a big bull. Since then we have seen them in Maine and just last week at Rocky Mountain National Park.

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Nice Don! This was only the second time I’d seen one.

  2. Jodee Gravel on August 3, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Saw a corner of Yellowstone last month and was wow’ed by its beauty. Didn’t get to the thermal areas, will do that during less busy times in the future. Beautiful photos – so glad you were able to come back and enjoy as a “tourist.” And you’ll be back for the reunion!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..We Find Our Jeep, Visit a Sacred Lodge, and Catch Up With Good FriendsMy Profile

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Glad you had the chance to see at least a piece of it Jodee. My advice for visiting the thermal areas (always the busiest places in the park) is visiting them in the morning or the evening, afternoon is always the hardest to find parking during.

  3. Karen on August 3, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for sharing lovely pictures, which brought back equally lovely memories. Have been to Yellowstone twice, both times as a child. The last time, when I was 11 or so, my dad and I got up before everyone else, just after dawn. We quietly left our Starcraft popup so as not to awaken mom and my sisters. With Dad armed with camera and me with curiosity, we trudged silently through knee-high grass until my legs were soaked and chilly with heavy dew. We were rewarded by the sight of a moose and her calf! My dad got a few great photos. My gift was a lasting memory of rare one-on-one time with my dad. Thanks for sparking that memory this morning. My dad just turned 80 and suffers with a host of ailments including dementia. Next time I talk with him, I’ll bring this up as I’m pretty sure it’s one he will also remember.

    Peace and Adventure!

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      What a nice story Karen, I treasure memories like that that I have of my parents too. I first visited the park as a kid and the experience stuck with me.

      I wish you and your father all the best. Take care!

  4. Shelly on August 3, 2016 at 3:13 am

    Beautiful photos, thanks for the post.

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      You’re welcome Shelly, thanks for reading.

  5. Sarah Shillinger on August 2, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Great pictures as always. I want to see a moose too

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      I hope you get the chance to see one Sarah, they’re very cool animals.

  6. James on August 2, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Wow !!! What beee-yoooo-teee-full pics!!!!
    Thank you so much for the email.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your trips.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      You’re welcome James and I’m glad you enjoyed this, thanks for reading!

  7. Dawn from Camano Island on August 2, 2016 at 11:22 am

    It’s not a cow, huh? Well, it’s very cool that this moose came to visit you! Gorgeous photos–we love Yellowstone. Taking the grandkids theres definitely on our list!

    Happy reunioning!

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Well it could be a cow because a female moose is called a cow, but it’s not a cattle cow, no. There was no mistaking viewing it in person, the picture isn’t great I know.

      I bet your grandkids will love Yellowstone Dawn, take care.

  8. Jim on August 2, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Another great story and excellent pictures. I have got to make a trip back to Yellowstone, haven’t been there in years.

    I had my memory jogged in a good way when you showed the moose. Up in Fairbanks, Alaska a few years ago I was sitting on my couch in my RV when a moose walked by. We were eye to eye and my eyes were 6 feet off the ground! Grabbed my camera and got a few shots. This was only 2 & 1/2 miles from downtown Fairbanks.

    Moose link: http://chaos.goblinbox.com/2007/08/22/moose/
    Jim recently posted..Settled in at Fairview…My Profile

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Wow, it’s great you got to see one that close Jim, they tend to be quite elusive.

      Glad you enjoyed these pictures, thanks for reading.

  9. Reine in Plano on August 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

    We were in Yellowstone early last month. We really loved it but hated all the crowds. Although we didn’t go on any of the hikes as such, I got over 16000 steps at least two days just going on the boardwalks and walking around the various features. Norris geyser basin was one of my favorite areas and we really enjoyed visiting the the Park Ranger Museum. Sometime I’d like to go again maybe in September when there are fewer folks and the traffic is less of a problem. Glad you get to go back and just have fun.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Yes Reine, sadly Yellowstone is a very busy place. July is the busiest followed closely by August. June and September are better.

      Norris is one of my favorite places too, it’s so different from the other hydrothermal areas. And it’s the hottest basin in the park.

  10. ](~ from MT on August 2, 2016 at 6:32 am

    You’re from Idaho, & you don’t know what a moose looks like?!? Shame on YOU!😋

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      I’m from Wisconsin, we don’t have moose there. 🙂

  11. MB from VA on August 2, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Hi Becky. You are right….Yellowstone is just plain awesome in a way that nowhere else I’ve seen is. There are places as beautiful in their own right..like Jenny Lake in The Grand Tetons…but Yellowstone is special. I have been several times but always with at least one other person (who was not physically able to hike) or a group (that was not interested in hiking). I long to go back by myself and go on those hikes or simply just sit and look at something till I want to move on. And you are also right about needing to be away from a place for awhile so that you truly “see” it. I live in a beautiful area of the country too. I remind myself that people come here to take pictures too. And I am lucky enough to have a job where I am outside most of the time. But, as much as I try and remind myself to appreciate the beauty around me…..it has gotten old……which is sad really. I long to travel. And I long to return home for a visit and be in awe again. I keep telling myself that if I just keep “walking” in that direction, the path will reveal itself. And I won’t hesitate for a moment before setting foot on it. Till then, I do so enjoy your blog. Thank you.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      So much of the park can’t be seen unless you get onto the trails MB, I hope you get the chance to make that hiking trip – it’s so worth it.

      And yes. If you’re a traveler with a home base, coming back from a trip makes home feel like new again. Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into this which greatly increases you chances of things working out. Best of luck to you.

  12. Debbie Granger on August 2, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Some very exceptional photos on your visit to Yellowstone.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks Debbie, glad you enjoyed this.

  13. RGupnorth on August 1, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    I get your blog updates on Facebook.

    Nice visit to Yellowstone.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Sounds good RG, thanks for following along!

  14. Norm H. on August 1, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Nice to see Yellowstone again. Hope you have a wonderful time there with your family.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks Norm I shall.

  15. Judith Blinkenberg on August 1, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I’m so excited to go to Yellowstone next year! We have reservations for the second week in June. Thank you for all the great pictures. Enjoy your family!!

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      It’s such a beautiful place Judith, I hope you have a great time! June is a good month to go, not as busy as July and August. Thanks and take care.

  16. Mark Watson on August 1, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Great pics and hope it starts to cool off up there for you.

    • Becky on August 2, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Mark, I’m hoping it cools down too. 😉

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