While I still get up early during vacations, my wife and children usually like to sleep late – especially if they stayed up late the night before. This vacation routine was interrupted by housekeeping at Old Faithful Snow Lodge, who decided to bang on the door repeatedly at 8:30 a.m. Considering how far down the hallway we were from either entrance, I am reasonably certain we were not even close to being the first room they visited. If you plan to sleep late, better put up the Do Not Disturb sign.
After loading everything into the car, we went to the Obsidian Dining Room at Old Faithful Snow Lodge to eat breakfast. This was a mistake. While the restaurant itself was beautiful, the breakfast buffet was entirely unimpressive. The scrambled eggs were that cheap kind made from a powdered mix which had been overcooked and allowed to dry out. The bacon and sausage were fine, but the breads and pastries were dry too. Yogurt was available, but the fruit bowl had been emptied of anything worth putting on top of it. I added some granola cereal as a topping but it tasted like it was stale. There was also some rather bland French toast, biscuits and gravy (that I did not try), and breakfast potatoes cooked until they were the texture of little rocks.
After breakfast, we explored further into the geyser area before moving on to our next location. The geyser experience is amazing during the daylight, but could not compete with the previous day’s experience of seeing it at sunset. However, going during the day enabled us to see many more geysers than we did the previous evening. It seemed that everyone’s favorite was Castle Geyser.
Our next destination was Grant Village, which we knew was nearby because we passed it on the way to Old Faithful Snow Lodge. In the Grant Village area, we went to the Grant Village Visitor’s Center and watched an interesting presentation by a park ranger. The ranger discussed handling encounters with wildlife in the park and how to watch wild animals responsibly. His explanation of how to deal with a bear attack was the best I’ve heard on the topic, and he gave a demonstration of the correct way to use bear spray too. The Visitor’s Center also showed an old documentary about the Yellowstone wildfires of 1988 that discussed how the park had recovered from the fires after a year and then ten years later. Although it was an old film, it provided a good explanation of the rationale of the park’s policy towards wildfires. The damage from the 1988 fires is still visible in many areas of the park.
At the registration center, we obtained our keys for a room in the Deer building. The design was reminiscent of a college dormitory (if dorm rooms had their own bathrooms), but certainly much quieter. The building was peaceful most of the time. The room had a refrigerator that was already plugged in and cool when we arrived, but no microwave oven.
We ate dinner at the Grant Village Lake House Restaurant, which was only a short drive away in a tranquil location that would seem perfect for a relaxing dinner on the water. The restaurant serves Vietnamese-style noodle soups, so we expected the typical big bowl of noodles and soup with large pieces of sliced beef or pork in it. While they did serve it in big bowls, the bowls were less than half full and barely contained any meat. The meal turned out to be a big disappointment. Apart from the view, the best part of dinner there was when a coyote ran across the road in front of our car on the way back to the room.
From the restaurant, we drove a couple of miles up the road to the West Thumb area and walked through another geyser park. We saw elk wandering through the geysers, including some very young ones. We managed to time our walk through this geyser park for sunset, which enhanced the scenery like it did back at the geysers near Old Faithful. Rain began to fall just as we were walking to our car, so our timing could not have been better.
Back at our room for the night, our room had two double sized beds rather than two queens. This made for a cramped sleeping experience that was made even worse by the condition of the mattresses. I don’t know whether the mattresses were worn out, cheap, or both, but they sank to an uncomfortable level under body weight. The pillows were terrible too. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Grant Village Lodge are owned and operated by the same company, so I guess it should have come as no surprise. However, at least the room was very quiet, so I slept pretty well despite the cramped bed and useless pillow.