Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scenes from day 4 of Summer Vacation 2010

August 2, otherwise known as THE.BEST.DAY.EVER on our vacation. We sure packed a lot into this day, which started at 8:15 AM as we climbed into Dad's rig and headed to North Yellowstone. We had to get an early start because traffic moves really slow due to road construction and even slower when we have to wait for a buffalo to lumber along the roadway, like we did on this morning. This big guy didn't care that we had a plans, a schedule, things to do, places to go... he just lumbered along for 15-20 minutes blocking traffic. I had plenty of time for lots of pics as I hung out the side window. Also, please note the pic of the narrow road with absolutely no shoulder. If I haven't mentioned it before, please let me say how grateful I am for my Dad driving and us not having to take our rental Rolling Turd on these skinny streets.

The buffalo made us a little short on time, so we had to do just a quick run through at Mammoth Hot Springs for a few photos. Our ultimate goal was to get to Gardiner, MT by 10:20 AM, where we had booked a 2 hour white water rafting trip with the Flying Pig Rafting Adventure Co.

Emotions were high and we were so pumped about our first time rafting experience. We arrived just in time to get geared up with our super-tight vests, water shoes and paddles. There was a pretty steep decent to get to the rafts and then we had a debrief on how to paddle, what to do if you fall out, how to pull someone back into the raft and how to flip the raft back over if it capsized, blah, blah, blah. I never once thought I would REALLY have to know that stuff.

Our raft guide was Anna from Australia and there were two other couples from England with us in our raft, which brought the total to 11 people {or mates as guide like to call us}. I thought it was pretty amazing that there were three generations of Sells/German's in the raft. Kippy was asked if she wanted to ride up front and she immediately handed over her paddle and perched herself on the edge with her legs hanging over the front.

Once we started we hit some rapids right away and Kippy was knocked back into the raft with water rushing over her so fast she could hardly catch her breath as I clung to the back of her vest holding her head up. The water was INCREDIBLY cold and we were all soaked in the first 30 seconds. Kippy got herself situated at the front of the raft again only this time when we hit some rapids, she was swept over-board. I can not exactly remember what happened, except I know that I lunged over the edge and grabbed on to her life vest for dear life and I could feel her getting sucked under the raft as we continued down the river. It was pure adrenaline when I hoisted her back in the raft with my heart racing out of fear. Kippy was fine and still wanted to sit on the front edge, only for the rest of the trip, she hung only one leg over instead of both so she could balance better.

In two hours, we traveled 8 miles and went through some amazing class II and III rapids (Man-eater, Rock Garden, & Sleeping Giant). We also floated past scenic views of Yellowstone National Park including 11,000ft Electric Peak and Devil's Slide. Further downstream we got to stop and put our hands and feet in hot-springs water. And compared to the freezing river, it felt burning hot.
I brought a disposable water camera with us, but the pictures were really disappointing. Thankfully, the Flying Pig Adventure Co had a strategically placed photographer who took action photos of our raft going through some rapids. Talk about an excellent keepsake (thanks Mom for buying the CD)!

In one of the calm sections, we played RODEO, which involved having someone stand up on the edge of the raft in the front while the rest of us spun the raft in circles. If you made it 8 seconds, then you won, if not, you basically took a swim in the freezing water. Guess who played RODEO first? It was Kippy, she made it 8 seconds before she fell into the river; next up was Abby, who also made it 8 seconds before her trip into the river; I got talked into it next and I made it 22 seconds before I got back down in the boat - no river swim for me; Steve was the last one and he didn't quite do 8 seconds but he did get a little extra help from me into the river (ALLEGEDLY).

The only thing that would have made the rafting trip better is if we would have done the 1/2 day trip and gone the full 18 miles. It was definitely the highlight of our vacation and I would do it again in a nano-second.
With rafting done, we still have 1/2 of our day left. After a picnic lunch in Mammoth, we drove the YNP loop and stopped to see many of the popular waterfalls including Undine Falls, Tower Fall, as well as the Upper and Lower Falls.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is breathtaking. Some of the sights had challenging hikes to get up close, but well worth it. The girls and I took so many pictures, but it is impossible to capture the real beauty of the area. It was after 8:00 PM before we got back to our campsite, completely fatigued and happy. Truly THE.BEST.DAY.EVER!


Lori said...

What amazing pictures! It really looks like the best day ever. And thank the heavens you are a muscular Mama. That saved the day for sure...that and your quick thinking. I love hearing about your adventures. What an awesome trip!

Mikey said...

Very nice Nae, need to go see the lower falls again someday..

thanks for the post.


Kathy said...

I struggle to come up with anything better to say then WOW and I know I keep using that word. The pictures of the rafting is amazing!!!! I am sure my "scared of nothing friend" loved it. I was on pins and needles reading your story about Kip's. I thought...no, don't put your feet outside the raft you might go under. I am SO conservative, my poor kids.

I love your story and I know the book you will buy will be another priceless memento for you to have in 2010. I have to admit I am just a bit jealous of your amazing talent. I just wish I had the desire and patience to "futs" like you because it would be cool to look back on these great memories.