Yellowstone National Park | 29/59

Yellowstone for me means family time.  Growing up, I spent most of my summers in Island Park, Idaho at my grandparents’ cabin. Going into the park was always a family activity.  Whenever someone came to visit for the first time, we would take them into the park and give them the classic tour.  It was only appropriate that most of my family met us here.

We loaded up the RV, and took off.  I was a little nervous that the RV was going to struggle up some of the mountain passes, but it handled like a champion.

Fall is a great time to visit the park.  The elk rut usually begins in September and runs until sometime in October.  It is quite the experience to listen to a bull elk bugle with his harem all around.

My parents had a good time explaining to the younger kids what was going on.  The birds, the bees, the elk, the trees!  Fun fun.

After the family-fun show the elk put on for us, we drove on to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  The falls there are so impressive.  We hiked together to the upper falls lookout and stood on the platform just above the falls looking down the canyon.

With a family this size (and can you believe that this isn’t all of us!), squeezing into one selfie is not an option.  Everyone has to take their own!

Luckily there was a kind soul nearby who was able to take our picture.

My grandma’s cabin is a very special place for me.  As a kid, I spent countless summers (and winter weekends!) in the old hunting lodge.  It is the place that really introduced me to the outdoors.

Along with the cabin, I hold Mary Jo responsible for instilling in me my love for nature.  In a time when video games were taking over the attention of my friends, Mary Jo built me a teepee out of PVC pipes (you can see the top of it in the corner of the photo below).  She took me to many mountain man rendezvous and helped me trade for arrow heads.  She and my grandpa took me fishing in the nearby Snake River.  She bought me a Ranger Rick subscription and told me all about the magical places called National Parks.  She told me bear stories (and we lived through a few of them together!).  On our way to the park, my grandma would drive the car so my grandpa and I could focus on shooting all the bad guys out of the window (the bandits would always be hiding behind those blasted hay bales!).

She did all of these things to help me learn about and appreciate the wonders of the outdoors.  I think that this is becoming more and more essential; we need to make sure that our kids are taught about the beauty of the outside.  Thank you, grandma, for introducing me to the natural world.

I never feel like I have spent “enough” time at the cabin.  Every trip I have ever taken I always wish I could stay longer.  There is something about this place that will always pull me back.

The Hofman family (well about half of it!) Left to Right: Ryan, Madison, Cees, Vladimir, Cornelius (my father), Francisca, Stacey (my mother), and Halle.  My brother Mario and his wife Julissa has already left and Arianne, Austin, their baby Addison, and Coleson, my long lost brother, couldn’t show up for the cabin party.  Boo.

Old Faithful is the main attraction in Yellowstone.  Every 45-60 minutes it shoots boiling water 150 feet into the air.  It’s quite the impressive feat.  There are benches all the way around the famous geyser, and they DO fill up.  Don’t you just love sharing this magical experience with one million other humans? Classic.  I think it is cool that there are so many people who come from all around the world to see some water shoot into the air.  But, I do wonder what it was like for the native people and early explorers to stumble upon such a mystery all on their own.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Unfortunately, the clouds made it hard to take in the true height of Old Faithful.

Just around the corner is Old Faithful’s long lost brother – Old Tardy.  Well, his sign is there, but no geyser to be seen.

The boardwalk at Upper Geyser Basin is a fun family stroll.  There is so much to see and learn.

This geyser only erupts every 3-5 hours, so we kept walking by, thinking we didn’t have a chance to see it. Right as we turned our backs, it exploded about 30 feet in the air! We were so startled, but it was awesome. It even sprayed us as we stood “safely” on the deck. Haha.

Chromatic Pool is one of the more colorful pools in the Upper Basin due to the different bacteria that grow in the varying temperatures.

The cool part about the NPS building the boardwalks over the hydrothermal areas is that they are all wheelchair accessible.  That is one the my favorite parts about the National Parks – they are built for everyone to enjoy!

Some of the pools we walked by couldn’t care less about putting on a show – while others we witnessed seemed to love the attention!  They would erupt and blow water all over the place, leaving the air sticky with the smell of sulfur.

A trip to Yellowstone is not complete with a stop at the famous Old Faithful Inn for some ice cream.  Tip – the huckleberry ice cream is to die for.

We met up with Madison’s sister, Paige, and her best friend Katie.  These two chuckleheads were hilarious to hang with.  The rule was: if you want a hot dog, you have to paddle out to the nearest island and back.

The girls set off and Madison, the Kitty, and I stayed on the beach and grilled the dogs.  The kitty always loves to help get the food ready.  He was also pretty concerned that the girls were going to capsize themselves and never return.

They made it back and we feasted as we watched the sunset change the colors of the entire sky.

There is nothing more beautiful than sharing the sunset on the lake with the love of your life.  Isn’t that right, Paige?

The next morning we woke to a torrential downpour and some yummy oatmeal.  It wasn’t a big deal though – we weren’t about to let it get in the way of our party.

Toward the end of the afternoon things cleared up.  We were able to enjoy a hike to Mystic Falls without getting rained on.

It is said that if you rub the foam of Mystic Falls on your face, that you will inherit mystic powers.  I figured it would be fun to try out a foam beard anyways, so I gave it a try.

Being the first national park in the United States (and really in the entire world), Yellowstone holds a special message.  The Roosevelt Arch in the north end of the park gives that secret away – “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”  These places are created for PEOPLE.  We are supposed to visit them!  Learn from them!  Love and protect them.  So, all I have to say is, “Get out and ENJOY them, people!”

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