Sundown at Yellowstone

It’s 8pm at Yellowstone, 3am Irish time and we’re cruising around Yellowstone Lake. The sun is setting as I type and we’ve captured what should turn out to be some brilliant shots of the moon reflecting off the lake.

After drying ourselves off after rafting we headed back into the park. On the drive through that morning we had encountered a couple of small hot springs but the Mammoth Hot Springs stop off allowed us to truly appreciate what these geysers through up. From there it was around via Tower Fall (lives up to it’s name) and Dunraven Pass (think Lord of the Rings style vistas) to Old Faithful. Apparently it erupts every 90 minutes so we were lucky to only have a 15 minute wait. We wondered why there was free seating where we were but soon realised that the wind takes most of the water erupted over us. The video I took with Paddy’s camera should give some idea as to the chaos that ensued. Let me tell you this though, Japanese tourists move fast.

As for wildlife within the park, we saw three or four buffalo, one particularly up close. We also caught a lot of Elk and there might have a Moose in there too. I’ll definitely come back to Yellowstone. The place is awe-inspiring. It’s really hard to get a sense of scale to it but consider this. I drove for 3 hours today and covered about half of the park in an S shape, Dar is now back in the driver’s seat and he’ll have done 2 and a half hours by the time we reach COdy. Now I know why they call it “Big Sky Country”.
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Splashy, splashy

This morning we set out from the town of West Yellowstone. The town is located just before the park entrance and wasn’t too much of a drive up from Twin Falls, Idaho. Dar took the first stint driving in and we headed for the town of Gardiner just outside the North Gate. We’d booked in to go white water rafting and this was an activity we were all eagerly anticipating.

After a few safety announcements and the gear kit out we headed for Yellowstone River. Our boat was just myself, Paddy, Dar, an English couple – Simon and Sandra and our guide/bloke-who-knows-what-to-do, Chris. After an initial quiet period on the river the rapids appeared and we duly got quite wet while trying to stay in the boat. The rapids weren’t as high as they would be earlier in the year but it was really enjoyable none the less and great craic of a Sunday morning.
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San Fran rundown

It’s bloody hilly. Let’s get that out of the way first. We arrived last night to the Donnatello having driven up Highway 1 from LA. Two things high on our list when talking about San Francisco were a Segway Tour and a trip to see Alcatraz. We got to do both today and man were they sweet. First up was the Segwaying. Myself and Paddy has done a Segway tour in Budapest last year and really enjoyed it. These were newer models though so you lean sideways to turn, even better. The tour itself took in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, little Italy, past Lombard Street (twistiest street in SF), the church where Marilyn Monroe and Joe di Maggio married, Coit Tower and a WWII submarine and warship. We also saw Bush Man, a homeless guy who hides behind a bush and scares people for money (pic of him here). I would have tipped the guy had we not been tooling past at a rate of knots.

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From there it was a quick pint in Tiernan’s and off to Pier 33 to catch the ferry out to Alcatraz. The place is jam packed full of history. It was used for a long time by the military as a base of operations before becoming home to some of the US’s most dangerous criminals. The audio tour was all it promised to be and featured former inmates and guards telling their stories of “The Rock”. After almost completing the tour (we missed a room), we were ushered back to the last ferry of the evening. We didn’t get to ride the tram, that’s a regret for me but a small one in the context of what we did.

UPDATE: Well that was different. We woke up to a strobe light and a screaming alarm. The hotel’s fire alarm was wailing so we got dressed quickly and made our way downstairs. The fire department arrived a couple of minutes later and a false alarm declared. Back to bed so.

Inside Alcatraz

Taken whilst on our tour of Alcatraz today. We’ve also thrown up a load of photos from the past few days to Flickr so don’t forget to check there. We’ll post choice ones here.