Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 7 Grand Luxe Rail Journey - Yellowstone National Park

video

Yellowstone was the highlight of our trip and we almost didn't get there! Unlike the Grand Canyon, we couldn't literally drive up to the park in a train. We had to take a bus. After another gourmet breakfast in the dining car, we set out for Yellowstone, while our luggage was being transferred to Lake Jackson Lodge at the base of the Grand Teton Mountains. As it happened, our bus acquired a bolt in the tire en route and a savvy driver was able to stop us at a roadside station where we could visit the restrooms and buy some pretty good local junk food. Across the road was trout stream cutting through an emerald field of grass, littered with large, brilliant yellow flowers. In the background stood some snow-capped peaks, and to tell you the truth, it looked a lot like Switzerland. Still the time passed slowly, as we all experienced our one day at Yellowstone painfully dissipating.

After an hour and a half a guy in a pick up shows up. Oh great we're thinking, this guy doesn't even have the quipment needed to fix our flat. Not to worry, we were off an running in about 20 minutes.

The first place we stopped was the Fountain Paint Pot area, and to our great joy, 5 geysers were going off. Our guide said we were very lucky, as he hadn't seen this happen in about five years. I stood there in elation as I basked in the steamy wonder of Fountain Geyser.

But the big show of course was Old Faithful and the exquisitely beautiful Old Faithful Inn. What seemed like thousands of people, were lined up waiting in anticipation as the Geyser teased us with about five mini flare ups before it really blasted off. It goes off every 90 minutes approximately but can vary from 40 to 126 minutes. This is a show of a lifetime!

Yellowstone Lodge was designed by architect Robert Reamer for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and was completed in 1903. As one of the finest and oldest park structures standing it features a six-story lobby with native lodgepole pine balconies. Reamer placed windows to mimic light filtering through a canopy of pine trees. The pitched roof, echoing the shape of surrounding mountains, is covered in yard-long redwood shingles Some of the original furniture provided by the Old Hickory Furniture Co. of Indiana is still in use today.

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