We headed over to check out Old Faithful. We got a heavy dose of people, congestion and construction. It was like going to the mall the day after Thanksgiving.
The place was mobbed. Tour buses unloading at the Yellowstone Lodge. People everywhere.
Old Faithful was scheduled to do erupt at 11am. We had some time to kill, so I went looking for the visitor center. I wanted a bird checklist. I'd picked up one for each of the parks we'd visited - the Badlands, Custer State Park and Jewel Cave. Nothing fancy - just a list of birds in scientific order. Cost: free.
I found the Visitor Center in a temporary trailer nearby. (The new "green" visitor center is under construction.) I went inside and asked. The Yellowstone Association store employee pointed to the book shelf and said - it's over there. The list of birds, on a 2-sided 11x17 piece of paper. Cost: $1.50 plus tax. Okay fine.
Outside, Old Faithful started steaming. I hurried back to find Tom, who was sitting on the porch of the Lodge nursing a hot chocolate. We were in awe of the hundreds of people standing in the rain, watching - and concerned about what the traffic would be like when it was over.
We timed it just right.
What to do next? The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson. A great rainy day decision.
Four hours later, after way more than the "30-minute construction delay" we were warned about back in Yellowstone, we arrived at the museum and headed to the cafe, relieved to see the "open" sign. We were starving.
As I walked up to the counter, the cafe manager said: "By my watch, it's 3:01. Kitchen closed at 3pm. You want lunch? You'll have to go into town."
I explained what we'd been through. The young manager said: rules are rules. Then he walked away.
So did we.