Yellowstone, Episode Two, in which Your Faithful Blogger and her Equally Faithful Spouse view a Really Great Geyser!
It was obvious that we would have to follow up the incredible Ursine Encounter with an adventure at least equally exciting. So where else could we go except to Old Faithful?
Ergo, we followed the signs to the eponymous geothermal phenomenon, and the first thing we encountered was…a mass of vehicles. Hundreds of them: everything from compact cars to RV’s the size of hotels. There was lots of parking, but nothing close in, so we parked – somewhere; I’m not sure where! – and walked over to the site, where we encountered… a mass of people. Hundreds of them. From all over the U.S., all over the world, really. A Tower of Babel patiently awaiting the Eruption.
As it turned out, we had to wait about twenty minutes for the main attraction. Old Faithful would get up a goodly head of steam, only to subside a moment later. (Another first: being teased by a geyser!)
Meanwhile, it was amusing to listen to the conversations around us. Here’s one commentary that demonstrated an interesting attitude toward causality:
“Every time you hit the ‘record’ button, that thing calms down again. Next time, say you’re going to hit the button, but don’t actually do it.
Of course, there were lots of children. This did my heart good. Let’s get those kids away from their video games and text messaging devices and into the open air – even if that air smells faintly sulphurous! Of course, on occasions like this one, children are invariably the source of lively and provocative questions. To wit:
“Mom, if you lie down on top of that thing, will your head burn up?”
There were also some well-informed spectators in the crowd. A mother busily supervising a large brood still found time to provide a lively commentary on the what and why of Old Faithful. She then asked me if I had ever before been to Yellowstone. I lowered my lashes demurely and replied, “No – this is my first geyser.”
And then, suddenly – at least, it seemed sudden:
So, was it faintly corny to be standing amid a mass of humanity gazing out at Old Faithful? Yes. Was it at the same time thrilling and exhilarating? Absolutely! This was something I had been hearing about since I was a kid – and seeing pictures of, and even reading parodies of. But standing there, at that moment, I felt downright patriotic: we really know how to put on a geothermal spectacular, right here in the U.S. of A.!
Our Yellowstone excursion began with a couple of surprises. First, as we drove north through the Tetons, it began to rain. Oh, grand, thought I, it probably rains about twice a year in these parts and of course, today…But wait! Shortly before we reached the Park’s South Entrance, the rain abated, then stopped altogether. A good omen, we concluded, though at the time we didn’t know just how good!
We had been inside the Park for about twenty minutes when we encountered a traffic jam. Numerous cars and camper vans were pulled over onto the verge. Not knowing the ways of genus touristus in this extraordinary place, we feared there had been accident. As we got closer, I was able to make out a large, dark shape moving beyond a stand of trees close to the road. About a minute later, I realized what I, along with dozens of other excited shutterbugs, was seeing:
A bear! No – a bear and two cubs. Let’s see – that makes three bears…yes..THREE GRIZZLY BEARS!! IN THE WILD!!
Well, that was it for Your Faithful Blogger. All discretion and caution were flung to the winds. My heart started to pound; my eyelids stung. As he maneuvered cautiously through the welter of vehicles, Ron said, “Sweetie, now I don’t know if it’s really a good idea to -.” Too late. I was out of the car, dashing into the woods, trusty little Nikon in hand, clicking, clicking:
Surely this was a Benevolent God’s way of saying, “Welcome to Yellowstone, Roberta. I told you it would knock your socks off!”
And there was more to come, so much more…