Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yellowstone

Went to Yellowstone yesterday. Been there, what, 50 times? Maybe 75? Would gladly have gone back today, raw weather, sore car-butt and all. Maybe next weekend. Anyone who says, "Been there, done that," about Yellowstone gets it, at best, half right.

It's the world's first national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Big deal. WORLD'S FIRST NATIONAL PARK! Americans actually invented the concept (unlike democracy, capitalism, political corruption or Italian food).

We saw the usual -- geysers, mudpots, waterfalls and canyons, elk, bison, elk, cranes, a loon. Nope, no bears. It rained, sleeted, hailed, snowed and then the sun shone. Wind blew. Food at the Canyon Village diner was average. Trinkets still at pre-season prices. Met nice folks from Santa Barbara in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn. Huckleberry ice cream was good.

Two-thirds of all the geysers on Planet Earth are in Yellowstone, many along a 15-mile strip of the Firehole River between Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin and Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Gesyer Basin. They spew hot water, some in predictable intervals. Big deal. THEY SPEW HOT WATER!

Yellowstone is a super-volcano measuring 3,400 square miles, bigger than some northeastern states. If it blows, we're in big, big trouble. Once, I scrambled up a hillside about a dozen years after the Big Fire of 1988 had left it barren and scorched. Not only were the trees and undergrowth coming back, but the view below of Grand Prismatic Spring cannot be adequately captured words or a camera.

There are places so remote in "The Park" that only thousands, maybe even hundreds, of people have ever laid eyes on them. There's a 102-year-old inn made entirely of logs. The lobby is eight-stories tall and smells of a century of wood fires in the giant hearth. There's a 308-foot waterfall that scours a canyon of golden rock, and a river called Firehole. There are places that gurgle and blurp so loudly that they can heard a quarter-mile or more away.

Consider some of the place names in The Park: Mud Volcano, Dragon's Mouth, Black Dragon's Cauldron, Fairy Falls, Fountain Paint Pots, Celestine Spring, Grand Prismatic Spring, Porcelain Basin, Biscuit Basin, Minerva Terraces, Tower Fall, Chromatic Spring, Punch Bowl Spring, Comet Geyser, Mustard Spring, Emerald Pool, Mystic Falls, Orange Spring Mound, Pork Chop Geyser, Witches Cauldron, Sheepeater Canyon,Osprey Falls, Whirligig Geyser, Electric Peak, Liberty Cap, Opal Terrace, White Elephant Back Terrace. Seen 'em all -- words don't do them justice.

I could go on.

My dad said Old Faithful was "wimpy" this time -- went off on schedule but it was a short eruption. (Insert sex joke here.)

That's my report. As we used to say in the news biz: More TK.

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