Yellowstone, as mentioned earlier, lived up to the hype that we had heard about. Since we had driven a route that allowed us to go a second time (plus not having to pay an entrance fee since we have a pass) we had to stop, and actually camp there overnight in Wooty. It was well worth it.
We felt extremely lucky that we were able to see the park in different climates. The first time around, it was very cold, with a lot of snow around. This was great, but it did lead to roads being closed off along with some cool sites that we wished we could've seen. When we came through the entrance this time around, it seemed almost like a new world.
The sun was out, almost no snow was visible, extra roads were open to explore, and we saw some weird new sites. Artists' Paint Pots area was very peculiar. I felt like I was watching some 80s horror movie, because half of these views resembled poor special effects. One in particular was this weird pool of gray gunk. It looked to be very thick, but a tad watery. Every now and then, the pressure would build up and it would spit a glob straight up in the air a foot or two, and slop back down into itself. Each time it spat up it made gross noises, which was somewhat amusing - especially when little kids saw it because of how much they laughed at the noises (well, me too. I guess I'm still a kid). Artists' Paint Pots was a site that was closed off to us earlier in the year, and had more to see than just globs of gunk.
Geysers could also be seen scattered about this area. They weren't to the size of Old Faithful, but had much different colors about them. You couldn't get too close to them, either, since they were extremely hot. I can't recall the exact temperatures it claimed to reach, but I know it was enough to scorch your skin. So, like most warning signs in nature, bright colors looked pretty, but weren't always a good thing to mess with. Speaking of geysers, we had to see Old Faithful again.
This time we had the luxury to film and take pictures without the blasts of cold wind. Since it's an approximation of when Old Faithful will go off, the last time I was filming my hands were freezing because I was holding onto cold, metal, electronic video camera (yeah metal. It's an old camera) for what seemed to be way too long. Now we could goof around without much care. Of course, this meant taking weird pictures. No, seeing Old Faithful didn't get old. We saw it just a few weeks earlier, and it was cool to see it again. Something else that we saw again were the Buffalo.
I accidently saw them up close, as I decided to go for a run. We woke up fairly early, and didn't have much planned for the day, so I went for a run. As I wondered down an ordinary road, I spotted a trail, and figured that'd be way more fun than just a boring road. It was, but it was also a bit intimidating. The trail lead up to a small stream, and a very picturesque mountain scene...with Buffalo. Time and time again we were handed flyers about how Buffalo gored visitors frequently. I kept my distance, but it was a little unnerving. I forgot about the Buffaloes temporarily as a family in a station wagon drove by, stuck a camera out and yelled at me, "this is the best wildlife we've seen all day!" Maybe he thought I was a deer?
Unfortunately, we had to leave Yellowstone. After our favorite National Park, we made our way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. This was pretty much a preview for Badlands National Park, as we saw the Badlands surrounding us. Describing the Badlands is almost like describing the Grand Canyon. You could do a great job, but not as great as a picture. A picture does a decent job, but not as great as seeing it in person. So, I'll just slap a photo in here for ya.
One funny thing we came across was the Prarie Dog towns. Calling it a town is very underrating these creatures. There were hundreds and hundreds of little mounds that Prarie Dogs would jump out of and poke their heads up. If it weren't for a sign, you'd probably just pass these places, because they don't look like much until you get closer. What looks like an open field from a distance with nothing going on is actually a Prarie Dog Rave that never ends. They make weird squeaky noises, and I'm sure Fink would've had a field day with them if she could fit into their tiny tunnels. We weren't about to test that out, though. After reaching our campsite, we decided to just hang out a bit.
As I was on the phone, Kim began to wander around. She found Buffalo not far from us and our bus. I felt pretty safe in the fact that if worse came to worse, I could just jump in the bus and wait for the crushing sounds of Buffalo smashing in our precious Wooty, but Kim wasn't quite that invincible. I guess she's so small that the Buffalo didn't notice her, or she had so little meat on her that they didn't care. Whichever the case, the Buffalo left her alone to take pictures. How nice. Our next stop planned was a site that nobody should ever pass up on a road trip: Mount Rushmore