We went into to park a couple of half-days. We worked Saturday morning and drove in to the park after lunch. Sunday, we drove in after church (the church is 1/4 mile from the west entrance gate). The nice thing about living only 15 miles from the park entrance is that driving to the park does not need to be an all-day event.
On our Saturday drive, we encountered yet another Bison Jam. This time it was about a 10-15 minute wait.
After the wait, we finally got to the front of the line and realized it was a lone bison walking down the road making all the cars wait for him. Here he is walking away from his roadway path towards the river. Trey is thinking this fella would make a really good bison burger.
Speaking of Bison, many are shedding their winter coats. There is bison hair all over the place. Here is one we saw on a path we walked later that day.
Once past the bison jam, we drove on to Norris Geyser Basin. A few weeks ago we walked Back Basin. Today we decided to walk Porcelain Basin, named for its color.
The geyser areas have miles of boardwalks to protect visitors and the fragile basins.
Whenever we come to a boardwalk, we are a bit wary. July is a very busy time for Yellowstone and when there are many people, there are many frustrations issues to deal with. While we realize that most visitors are on vacation or living with different cultural values, it is often difficult to understand some of the things they do. Here are just a few of the things we have experienced on boardwalks here.
- People like to walk side by side. That is great - we do too! But these boardwalks are only 6-8 feet wide, it cannot accommodate mor than two people across. We can't count the number of times we have encountered two approaching people walking side by side and had to stop and move to the boardwalk edge to let them pass. They move on, totally oblivious to any inconvenience they have caused others.
- We have often joked that doorways need to be renamed "standing areas" or "conversation centers". This happens on boardwalks too. Folks stop to talk, one standing on one side of the boardwalk and one standing on the other. By-passers are left with the uncomfortable choice of standing there, listening to the conversation until it ends or walking right through it. We have gotten into the habit of waiting 5-10 seconds to see if they become aware of our presence, then just plowing through with a quick "Excuse me." Note to self: It is probably best to figure out when you are going to eat lunch without blocking traffic.
- Photo opportunities are numerous in these geyser and spring basins. We like to take photos as we walk past. We understand that sometimes we need to wait or walk around other photographers. Many times, we get photo ideas by looking at what others are photographing. But often times, photographers block the entire boardwalk while they compose their picture, adjust every possible setting on their camera, or give precise detailed instructions to their wife and kid on how to stand or where to put their hands. Again, we are left either deciding to wait until these gyrations are complete or rudely walk through their shot. Waiting a few seconds isn't a problem, but when it gets close to a minute of standing there with folks piling up behind, the urge to photobomb increases. People jams, Bison jams; both cause unnecessary delays.
- While the above examples happen all the time, or so it seems, the following example has happened only once, but is worthy of note. In between the two pictures above, a distance of about 1,000 feet, We were walking single file because the area was crowded. A man jumped in between us cutting Susan, he then off walked about ten paces, then passed Trey cutting him off, stopped short in front of Trey, turned, and prepared to take a picture of something on the right. We both had to abruptly stop so that we did not run into him. We pondered for a bit what he must be thinking, but then our heads began to hurt so we had to stop.
We feel we should include a disclaimer at this point: We are well aware that we have done things without thinking and I'm sure at the time others have wondered what was going through our heads. When you are in vacation mode, you can be pretty self-absorbed. But we also realize that, as believers, we are not our own first priority and try to show deference to others. It is easy to get frustrated when people are oblivious to their surroundings and act in a seemingly discourteous manner. It is also just as easy to realize that we all live with a fallen nature and must confess our weaknesses to a loving God who has made provision for sin.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.
And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
1 John 2:1–2
Continuing around the boardwalk, we encountered colorful streams of water. Thermophiles are bacteria which adapted to hot environments and the temperature of the water is revealed in the color of these microorganisms. In person, the colors were even more amazing.
Toward the end of our journey, we encountered a small bird who had just caught lunch. That cricket looked mighty tasty!
Sunday, we visited some of the geyser basins near Old Faithful. In the morning we stopped by Mid Geyser Basin to look at the Grand Prismatic Spring. The steam meeting the cool morning air made it beautiful, but difficult to see. You can barely see the blue center of the Spring, but it is still mesmerizing to view.
We stopped by on our trip home and the steam had lessened in the warm, summer air. You can more clearly see the blue reflected in the steam here.
They are currently buiding a trail along the ridge behind the spring and we look forward to walking that to see the spring from a higher vantage point. That trail is supposed to open any day. Check out this page to see the view from above. Stunning, right? This is our favorite spring.
Grand Prismatic and a couple of other springs drain into the Firehole river in an unique waterfall.
Next, we drove to Old Faithful to see if we could see an eruption. It was just a 30 minute wait. We pulled out our picnic lunch and waited.
We are never disappointed by this one! On our Teton trip, we saw it erupt at a distance from the road as we crossed the Firehole River bridge. That was cool timing! After this visit, we learned we could walk up the hill to the right (out of the camera's view) to see the eruption from above. We will try that next time.
Trey's favorite Geyser is the White Dome Geyser. We had seen it erupt from the road once on one of our early drives through the park. This time we took the side road that goes right past it. We thought we might hang around a few minutes to see if anything happened. As we drove toward the geyser, we saw the last moments of the eruption. Cool!
It is not a predictable geyser: erputions occur every 15 minutes to 3 hours with frequent periods of dormancy. We think it is cool that we have seen it twice.
Can you imagine what early explorers must have thought as they traveled through this area? How could you explain this to Mom back home who has only ever know the small towns and fields of Pennsylvania where she has lived all her life. Such a rare and unique landscape hidden in the mountains! We've seen color pictures, videos, watched documentaries on it, and have even viewed it with out own eyes and it still doesn't seem real. God's world is truly amazing!