Today is Cody’s birthday (one of the forest ecology researchers from Wisconsin). He’s turning the big 1-9! Honestly, I don’t even remember what nineteen feels like. I must have been starting veterinary technology school and meeting my best friend Emily when I was that age. Those were good times. Ahhhh…. Okay back to the here and now. After spending the morning catching up on writing, Cody, Brooke and I jumped in Ling Ling’s car and headed out to view the Grand Prismatic hot spring located in the Midway Geyser Basin (this is where geysers go to die, my friends). It’s the largest hot spring in the Park, measuring 370 feet in diameter and it‘s vibrant colors come from the various thermophiles living in and around the spring. There are two ways you can view Grand Prismatic. You can take the boardwalk around the spring, which is level with it, or you can hike up a nearby mountain to get the birds-eye view of the entire landscape. We chose to see it from above. Hopefully, my photos will convince you that we made the right choice. We parked at the Fairy Falls trailhead (which coincidentally would be the best place to play the license plate game–there were about twelve different states represented just in that tiny parking lot alone), hiked in about 10 minutes and then started climbing up a visitor-made trail. The views were amazing! What a great place to spend a birthday! We took a bunch of pictures and tried not to fall on the sleep climb down (which I didn’t, so there!).
Then we headed off to Firehole Drive, which is one of the best places to swim in Yellowstone. Brooke knew a secret spot to swim where you can avoid the overcrowded touristy spot just up the Firehole River. The water was so nice and warm. There was a strong current in some areas which was fun to jump into and let it sweep you downstream. I caught four rainbow trout with my bare hands (two were dead and the other two were near death so I guess I lose some points for that). I kept giving them to Cody as birthday gifts. He was impressed with the first one but after four the magic was gone. Then we hit up the Canyon general store for some ice cream. The ice cream girl was digging Cody and it was fun to watch his obliviousness. When I tried to look over the store’s beer selection, a worker approached me and said that I was not allowed to go into that section of the store because of a “bear spray incident.” Oh you gotta love people with their bear spray. I guess just a few days ago, a woman saw a mouse in her hotel room so she freaked and sprayed it with bear spray (probably instantly vaporizing the poor thing). They had to evacuate all four floors of the wing from 7 pm to 11:30 pm. I hope that she was punished in some way shape or form–mouse sensitivity classes perhaps? I would have smacked her upside the head and told her to get a grip. In fact, there should be some sort of sign in all public areas here in the Park that state something to the effect of if you deploy your pepper spray, unnecessarily, you will be subject to public ridicule and perhaps beatings. That way people will think twice before turning it on a mouse or spritzing the beer section of a store.
We returned to the dorm to Brian, the Wisconsin crew leader, slaving away at making us an authentic Mexican meal in honor of Cody’s birthday. Brian married into a Mexican family so he’s been taught most of their delicious tips and tricks. He even handmade margaritas for us older folk (not that yucky pre-mixed stuff). Yum! For dessert, Patsy put nineteen candles into a bunch of double chocolate muffins. We all sang Cody Happy Birthday and gave him a hard time when his young lungs couldn’t blow out the candles all at once. The muffins were portioned out amongst us and served with a scoop of even more ice cream. You will never hear me complain about there being too much ice cream. It’s the best stuff on earth. We stuffed ourselves, laughed and swapped stories for most of the night. Then it was back to reading the third book in Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. Sooooo good!