Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yellowstone: 10-6-10

So, its been a few months since this trip actually occurred.. who's counting? Finally, I'm getting these blogs posted! Two of them I wrote before coming home, the others I've composed since. So if (when) you notice the difference in the voice, that's why. Hope they are all still entertaining!

Wed, October 6, 2010

Today, was a very good day. Well, another one. :-)

It’s 10 o’clock at night, and I’m sitting at one of the small letter-writing desks on the third floor mezzanine here in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn. The piano player is gently playing, a floor below me. I can hear the quiet drone of people’s voices from all three levels filtering up through the open atrium. The whole lobby is quite dark – a feature of the massive amounts of wood paneling, flooring, roofing and timbers in this enormous room. ‘Electric candles’ glow from most every post and frequently along the walls – for we learned today that Old Faithful has always been equipped with electric lighting from the day it opened in 1904, yet the architect deliberately designed those lights to resemble candles so as to add to the rustic atmosphere.

As my eyes drift around the room, they are drawn to the peak of the ceiling high above. The ‘Tree House’ build up into the very top eaves is lit, reminding us of times when the musicians used to climb up the wooden staircases and catwalks, to play up there while guests danced in the lobby below. It must have been magical. They do not allow guests up there anymore. One sign claims it is because of earthquake damage from the big earthquake in the late 50’s, but the tour guide today said that was false and that it was really just due to opening the lodge to spectators that the park service decided the structure wasn’t designed for that volume of gawkers climbing up and down. I guess someone decided that the threat of earthquake damage would carry more weight with guests than just a structural engineer’s recommendation. In any case, flags still fly atop the crow’s nest on the roof of the building, and the bellboys still raise and lower the flags twice daily. And yes, guests can get on the list to accompany them. However…. the list is quite full through the end of the year already and thus we had best not waste our time begging to be included. Poo.

Of course, the lodge is known for it's architecture looking as if it grew right out of the ground. In fact none of these 'branches' are actually branches, but rather are pieced together. Never the less they are all naturally occuring pieces of trees that were painstakingly collected and matched with other specimens.

We've been here 2 days already, having checked in Monday. We have dined here in the lodge twice, and tonight we ventured over to Snow Lodge, across the parking lot, to sample their menu. (Both dining halls have served excellent meals!) Snow Lodge is lovely. It's new and modern. It is also one of only 2 hotels to operate year round in Yellowstone. However, if you desire charm with your lodgings, then hands down the Old Faithful Inn – In the OLD HOUSE – is where you absolutely have to be.

I had not realized that the Inn will be closing for the year in just another week. Old Faithful Inn is not insulated, and I guess not really a match for the minus 30 degree weather that accompanies each winter. So the lodge is buttoned down at the end of October each year until April.

The Old House originally started as 140 rooms – that have today contracted to a mere 90 due to conversion of rooms to extra bathrooms, the gift shop, offices, etc. Of those 90, only 10 actually have private baths. We were somewhat surprised to realize the day before our visit that our room didn’t have a private bath, but what are you going to do? Well, it turns out that our rooms are directly across the hall from the communal baths, and the rooms and the baths are all so wonderful that it really isn’t an inconvenience at all. They even provide robes to wear back and forth when you shower. But the ambiance of the entirely wood paneled structure, with the very cute (and prevalent!!) dormer windows, the giant observation deck looking out over Old Faithful geyser, the close access to the main lobby and the comfortable mezzanines – again, I can’t say enough about what a great stay this lodge is.

(The engineers were justly fascinated by the iron work mechanisms on this original door!)

Anywhoo – quite clearly this first post has been all about the inn. I might as well just wrap it up here. We have little access to the Internet, so if I can get this one up before we leave I’ll be doing good. So here is what may end up being my piece de resistance picture for the trip… And of course it was within the first 6 photos I took. We’ll see.

Note: Indeed, one of the only disappointments we had the whole week was that there was overcast almost the whole time. Getting direct sun turned out to be a rare bonus. Little did I realize my luck when it rose this first morning and was shining on the lodge underneath the layer of clouds.



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