Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Road Trip: A Spectacle of Spectators at Old Faithful

What Our Arrival Should
Have Looked Like 
We arrived in the mountains of Yellowstone National Park in complete darkness. Again. You would think we'd have learned our lesson about arriving at campsites in the dark, but clearly, we had not.

We drove through 45 minutes of winding darkness passed deer and elk, and got barricaded by 4 large bison before reaching camp. It was a cool 30° F outside (or -1° C for more dramatic effect) and way too cold and late to set up camp so we camped in the car near to all of the food so that the bears would have an easier time finding us. No, not very smart.

Luckily, the bears decided to spare our lives, and I started my morning with a 2 minute shower at the cost of 4 quarters. The coin operated cleansing was just a reminder that I was very, very far away from anything I had ever done before. I had also acquired a plague somewhere between Mt. Rushmore and panning for gold in the Wild Wild West, so my energy level and penchant for camping was very low. I was ready to see this geyser, check out the Tetons, and move on with life.

Pure Excitement
At least it was a beautiful day. We took a bike ride to Old Faithful and sat down to wait. Watching the pure excitement on people's faces as they waited for water to come out of the ground provided much amusement as we waited for the fairly timely geyser to erupt. A crowd of at least 100 ooh'd and aah'd in unison as little trickles of water spouted up every few minutes, tantalizing them. With each spurt, the onlookers jumped to their feet with cameras in hand, gasping in anticipation. And the geyser didn't erupt.

More spurts, more poised cameras, and still the geyser didn't erupt.

It was almost like Old Faithful was playing tricks on all of its over-eager spectators. Almost as though it were tired of being old and faithful. "Ooh, here I am! Psych! Okay, okay, here I am. Ha! Got you again out-of-towners! Fine, fine, I won't be the geyser who cried 'wolf' so here it is. For real this time." I imagined Old Faithful snickering from deep within its hot, bubbling underground center.

Grand Tetons
Finally, Old Faithful came through, much to the delight of the crowd of gaspers. Watching water come out of the ground was actually kind of cool, you know, natural wonder and all that. We wrapped up the day with a peaceful (peaceful mostly because I was asleep) drive to the Grand Tetons and a visit to the hot springs before heading back for yet another night at camp, this time in the tent. Yay.

I must admit though, that aside from the late night arrival, the below freezing temperatures, and the frightening encounter with bison larger than our vehicle, Yellowstone was truly gorgeous. Even for the not-very-outdoorsy types such as myself, there is so much to be appreciated in such natural beauty.

And the shower machine wasn't that bad. 

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