Day 7: 4th of July

Summer, to me, doesn’t officially start until the annual 4th of July picnic at my uncle’s beautiful home on top of a hill overlooking the valley. That, to me, is the epitome of summer. Sadly, last year was the first year without a cookout. I’m sad that we are not at home to celebrate with my family for the holiday. And there’s not a cookout this year either. My last 4th of July as a “normal” person and not a med student, so in a way it feels like the beginning of the end, and I’m missing out on something from my childhood. Oh well. Life goes on.

How cool is it to spend the holiday in the world’s first National Park?

We had spent the night in a “free” campsite that wasn’t even listed on the map–thanks to another night of scrambling to find a place to sleep, thanks to our brilliant idea to just go with the flow. We were, in reality, “off the grid”, without any phone or internet service, on an unmarked section of the wilderness, across a creek, in a campsite not even monitored by Rangers in Grand Teton. We slept in the car, due to the “Grizzly Usage Area” signs, and it being well after dark by the time we arrived. When we awoke, it was 46 degrees outside. The silver lining to this was that there was no time wasted on packing up the tent before we headed out on the road.

Teton Point Turnout, with a great view of the Glaciers
Teton Point Turnout, with a great view of the Glaciers

One of our “must do” items on the trip list was Snake River Bend turnout, where Ansel Adams took one of his famous photos of the national parks.

The famous Ansel Adams photograph
The famous Ansel Adams photograph
Our shot, many years later
Our shot, many years later

We then headed north, back into Yellowstone. At the south entrance, a golden eagle soared above the American flag. Quite fitting for the holiday. After the previous day, a leisurely drive through the parks was exactly what we needed, if nothing else but to give our feet a break.

The Yellowstone Welcome Wagon at the South Entrance
The Yellowstone Welcome Wagon at the South Entrance

At the start of the day, we’d driven 2,265 miles, hiked 15 miles, I’d only gotten 3 blisters, and was a lovely shade of golden brown.

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed this vacation. This is exactly what I had hoped it would be: adventurous, relaxing, having the ability to reconnect with my husband, awe-inspiring and eye-opening. And, I’m so very, very happy. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to take our time in semi-planning this trip, preparing, and saving for it, and actually having the ability to take a full two weeks to experience it all without feeling rushed. I don’t know when, if ever, we’ll get to do something like this again.

We took advantage of the wonders of Yellowstone for the holiday. This place makes me believe in magic. Yes, I know about geothermal activity and all of that, but this place is magical. Disney, who? This is so much better.

For today, we visited Norris Geyser Basin, the Artist Paintpots, Firehole Canyon Drive, and the Prismatic Springs. All of which are much better described in pictures:

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I just love that color!
I just love that color!

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Excelsior Spring is huge, and pumps out over 4,000 gallons of water each minute!
Excelsior Spring is huge, and pumps out over 4,000 gallons of water each minute!

Grand Prismatic Spring has been on my Bucket List since the 3rd grade. I absolutely love this spring. Even the mist coming off of it has color to it. It is magical, even from eye-level. When we left, I was so bummed–there is a trail, not really marked for it, that will give hikers an aerial view of the spring, and we didn’t get to do it. I was a bit heartbroken, to be so close but so far, when we left. But, I didn’t want to say anything. I’d already botched Avalanche Peak and Jenny Lake trails, so I didn’t want to get my third strike halfway through our trip.

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Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

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Once again, we had no where to camp for the night, to the point of having to leave the park in search for a place to bed down. Probably not one of our better ideas, but we made it work. This was an exceptional 4th of July, even if it was a lot different from my usual holiday. Being in a national park during the summer, there were no fireworks allowed due to threat of wildfires, but that was okay: we had a wonderful Montana sunset (new state number… I forget…), made a fire and ate some s’mores, and did some stargazing. This was probably one of my favorite days ever.

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See? Magical, I tell you...
See? Magical, I tell you…
The North Entrance, or Roosevelt Entrance... doesn't it feel like Jurassic Park?
The North Entrance, or Roosevelt Entrance… doesn’t it feel like Jurassic Park?
Beautiful Montana sunset--didn't really miss the fireworks.
Beautiful Montana sunset–didn’t really miss the fireworks.

Side note: How is it that, only a few days after getting my first bit of a suntan in years, someone asks me, in Spanish, if I speak Spanish? (Solo’ un poco, porque no necessitas usarlo mucho.)

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