Most mornings, when Emelie wakes up, she asks the same questions: Is it morning? Did the sun come up today? Where are we? Where are we going today?
On the day we were leaving Billings to drive to Yellowstone, she was very excited by the answer to that last question. “Yellowstone! Yay! That sounds very, very fun!” We thought it was because of her book about the national parks. She has often looked at the picture of Old Faithful at Yellowstone and been excited about going there.
But as we drove through Yellowstone National Park on our way to our campground, pointing out interesting things to see as we drove, she was disappointed. She did not see a single yellow stone, and she had been waiting all day to go to a park with yellow stones that she could climb on. Steaming hot springs were not impressing her. The buffalo that literally brushed up against her window as it walked down the middle of the road did, at least, make an impression though.
Objects beside mirror are exactly as close as they appear!
Honest. No zoom here.
But as we spent the whole next day exploring the park, Yellowstone seemed to grow on her as we drove from one amazing geological feature to another. Hot springs, prismatic pools, mud pots, and colorful bacteria mats all captured her imagination and left us all in awe of what an amazing and diverse creation we live in.
She’s saying, “Look at all the hot water and steam!”
Family photo thanks to the tripod
We decided to head to Old Faithful and have a picnic lunch beside it while we waited for it to do its geyser thing. It is fairly regular, but if you time it badly, you can end up waiting up to about 90 minutes to see it. Not bad for an adult, but a really long time with kids. So as we were in the parking lot packing our lunch, suddenly we see a geyser starting to erupt. Oh no! We’re missing it! We took off running and got as close as we could before quickly staging a picture (just me and the kids – no time for the tripod and a full family photo). We didn’t get it at its full height but it was enough to get the idea. No way were we going to wait around another 90 minutes to see it again.
So as the crowd cleared, we found a bench where we could sit down and eat our picnic. Then we happened to notice a sign: Beehive Geyser. This was not Old Faithful? So… where is Old Faithful? We finished eating and started walking a loop through the geyser area. There are many more active geysers than I was expecting. Suddenly, as we were walking, another geyser went off right in front of us. “Hey look, there’s another one,” we said, snapped a couple of pictures of it, and kept walking. When we got around to the other side of it, we realized that that one had been Old Faithful. So we have a whole lot of pictures of a geyser no one’s ever heard of, and just a couple of the famous one. They look about the same, though, and if I hadn’t told you, you probably wouldn’t have know the difference.
Ranger presentation at Old Faithful. Someone made herself comfortable!
But no matter how many beautiful and amazing things we’ve seen on this trip, some of our favorite memories will involve the people that we meet along the way. The new friends we met at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone that afternoon are a good example. We’d hiked a short trail down to the brink of the lower falls, and as we were taking pictures, a nice man offered to take a family photo for us. His wife was nearby and asked us the kids’ names so she could call them and get them to look at the camera. He took a really good picture for us!
For Emelie, though, anyone who calls her by name qualifies as her friend. So as we started walking up, she insisted on going to her “friend” and eventually walking with her and holding her hand. While our new friends patiently talked to and played with Emelie, we started talking with them and another couple that they were traveling with. They noticed that Staffan was wearing a Young Life shirt and asked if we are Christians. They are too, and that led to a much longer conversation about faith and church, Christianity in Sweden and Staffan’s call to ordained ministry. We hiked back to the parking lot with them and before we went our separate ways they asked if they could pray for us. They were such a blessing and an encouragement to us!
And to our new friends from Arkansas, if you happen to have found our blog from the address scribbled down on a scrap of paper we found in the car, thank you. We found the gift you left hidden in Emelie’s car seat. We still don’t know quite how you managed to hide it there without us seeing, but what a surprise we got later! Since we have no way to contact you directly, we will just publicly thank you here on the blog and hope that you have occasion to read it. Thank you.