carocali (carocali) wrote,

Vapors and Mud Pots and Bison, oh my!


Sorry!  We haven't had internet for a few days... long story (I guess I'm good at that according to my nephew!).  I'm a tad behind, but I figured I'd post this, and I'll try and get yesterday up, too.  I haven't started today, but a very significant thing happened...


It was completely an accident, but I pulled a bunch of the brochures out and in a pocket I hadn't seen.  Of all places, it was in my weight watchers folder.  I picked it up and said 'why is this so thick?'  My jaw dropped and Kathy looked at me.  I didn't have to say a word!  Yeah!  Now we can actually eat again!

I'd like to say thank you for all your thoughts, prayers and unbelievably kind offers of support - especially Phil!  You are incredible!  I really had let it go; it's only money, right? Why let something as beautiful as this be ruined by money?  I didn't - really I didn't, and with all your thoughts, you helped me!  You're all so wonderful!

So, on with the show....


October 5, 2007


Our motel windows were opened this morning to the plump, white flakes of wetness.  Ah yes, snow - another derivative of rain - so it would only make sense that that weather pattern would greet us at some point.  The funny thing though, it actually made things a little better. 


The whole park has a different feeling and look to it, like powdered sugar on Christmas cookies.  It fills in the doldrums of the browns and yellows that we saw the previous day, and adds a sense of mystery to the peaks and valleys.  The pines have a white shade to them now, as the condensation clings to their branches.  This was a heavy snow, certainly a few inches, and once it found roost in the pine needles, it wasn’t going to give up easily.


Before we began our daily adventure, we stopped at the Town Café – a little souvenir shop that also served food.  VERY diner.  The people inside had a different look to them.  I was fascinated by this one older woman with a rugged face and aged features.  Her gray hair had streaks of her youth bunched in a single pony tail to the back.  There were smile lines on her face, showing the emotions of her days, and a comfort about her that I can’t describe.  She obviously enjoyed the color pink since everything she wore was a version of it.   When they were finally ready to leave, she placed her thick sunglasses on her face, topped her head with a camouflage beret and swung her pinkish jacket over her shoulders to enter the elements.


As they walked out, they passed the Gatalin Forest Repel Team that was on the other side of our table.  It turns out these folk actually repel out of helicopters to fight fires!  One of the gentlemen said they were working on a controlled burn somewhere in the forest.   What an interesting job.


Our waitress was obviously from some Slavic country, but I never got a chance to ask where.  Everyone we met today was from somewhere else, looking for a little something different from life.  Seems that transplants come for a season to find themselves and either head back home to Kansas or Minnesota, or move on to their next big adventure.  I guess I never thought of spending a summer that way, but it certainly seems the thing to do here – and they’re happy doing it!


We entered the Roosevelt Arch and continued our journey back through Yellowstone, stopping right away to absorb the beauty of the snow against the brook near the entrance.  The color of the white made the over abundance of yellow seem like a second feature, where yesterday it was the star.  The hues of red and greens made for stunning pictures. 


I also became fascinated with the snow on the brush.  It sat, content, on the small bushes and brought depth to the pictures.  This particular area also had a smell to it that is familiar, but on the tip of your tongue.  Kathy and I decided it almost seemed like Rosemary – and the bushes certainly look like a relative of that herb – and permeated the air with a heavy odor. It was charming, and so natural.


Our next stop was the Mammoth Hot Springs.  The lodge was there, filled with tourists and transplants.  I guess I assumed the hotel actually housed the hot springs for use, but I was wrong.  The Hot Springs are actually thermal events from the platelets of the earth caused by volcanic eruptions thousand and thousands of years ago (wait, let me push my nerd glasses back to the top of my nose).  The vapor just erupts from the earth and pours a constant stream into the air.  The water is filled with minerals that have shaped the landscape into indescribable formations.  The whole thing looks fake, especially the stepping stones near the front by Liberty Cap (near the entrance).  The shape of the hot springs had an almost yellowish translucency to them.  The water rushes past them with a trickle, but it creates a force along the way.  Off to the side, the perfectly white gulleys of salt-like minerals look like sand castles from a sandy beach.  It’s so hard to really explain this look, and as Kathy says “Please see picture.”


We meandered up and down the paths, taking picture after picture, trying to figure out what we were actually looking at.  It’s just weird, and amazing, but Yellowstone is all about strange geological happenings – and they have a ton.


The next leg took us past a lone Bison who nuzzled his way into the snow to find additional food, ripping the grasses from the earth for consumption.  The snow the makes massive, fury beasts really stand out this time around. 


Then we went to Sheepeaters cliff where little rocks are piled on top of each other, and someone decided to make a few snowmen.  You can barely see their outline in the picture, but trust me, they’re there.  We were also chased around by two ravens about two feet tall.  These things have attitude!


More steaming phenomena occurred the further we got into the park.  Rivers were boiling with Yellowstone’s rules of nature; and the wildlife just adjust!  A male elk and his three ladies hung out along one such river and just grazed as we all watched them.  Then, somehow, the buck seemed to be wary of our presence.  We had been eeking closer to get a better look at both the river and the elk, but he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He bugled to his posse, asking them to either be careful or leave (since I don’t speak elk, I can only fathom).  We decided we were bugging him and figured it was time to leave.  The last thing you want is to be charged by an elk (or bear, or bison or moose), and he was giving us the stink eye for quite some time before we packed it in.  We learned that he charged a man earlier, so we figured we’d get out while we could.


We saw lots of bodies of water along the way, and stopped to grab a few pictures of Twin Lakes as the sun snuck out to shine through the eerie, rippled clouds.  We finished up and started to drive when I saw a few bison in a small valley by the road.  I asked Kathy to stop so we could go and snap the creatures.  A parking lot was over the pass, so we pulled in there and I walked back down the road to catch nature up-close.  As I neared the valley, there was a slight hill in front of me.  I was hustling to get over there when I came face-to-face with Mr. Bison!  He was no more than fifteen feet from me and I immediately stopped in my tracks with a slight gasp.  These things are probably six feet tall and weigh a few thousand pounds, so I figured he’d probably win in a fight.  It was like a cartoon; I started to back up slowly so as not to startle him.  I swear, they were in the valley not two minutes earlier and this puppy was in my face in no time!  While they seem a gentle animal, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I turned tail and hiked back to the car, laughing the whole time. 


They decided that my trial was worth following and they meandered over to the parking lot to continue their afternoon feast.  Tourists piled into the area and we watched them saunter through the area, grazing here and there and taking their sweet time.  Good for them – it’s their home.  It was quite a sight though.


Our next stop was along the highway to Artist’s Paintpots.  It was a blip on the map and there was a short paragraph in our guidebook about it.  They mentioned bubbling mud, so I got all giddy and we decided to give it a look. 


It was a short walk back through the Christmas tree sale and up some hills to see more steaming billows.  We weren’t sure what to find, but it certainly wasn’t what we thought.  Rainbows of color on the hills accented the mysterious steam.  Little puddles of boiling water litter the landscape at every pass.  We watched in fascination as a pond the size of $.50 piece gurgled, proud of the product it produced.  A foot away, another strange pool babbled, neighbored by a deeper crevice that seemed almost like a reef.  And the water is really hot!  Kathy dared me to put my finger in, and it came back toasty warm, smelling a bit like sulfur.  It’s the weirdest thing.  And the colors these treasures create are just captivating.  At every turn, there was something more bizarre than where we just were.  Kathy said it reminded her of Mars and I wholeheartedly agree. 


We climbed a little higher and saw more steam as we made our way to the mud.  There, a crest of white-gray muck is just hanging out, burping every few seconds and covering the area in its creation.  It seemed to look like potter’s clay, ready for molding, except that it’s bubbling and gurgling, and probably pretty warm (see above note).  It also reminded me of pancake batter, especially when you have it hot on the griddle and the bottom side is just getting brown enough to flip over.  Really, there is no explanation for this, but I’m doing my best here.


Right next door to that phenomenon is another puddle of mud, but this is way more active than its caged in neighbor.  There are constant splashes from probably twenty little hot spots.  It’s the same consistency as the other mud, except that this looks more like when you open the paint-by-numbers container and the oil is gathering at the top of the little plastic bottle before you mix it all up.  Really cool stuff.


Our visit to the Artist’s paintpot completed as we ventured to the next area.  I was really excited to find a waterfall, and we were granted the beauty a few miles down the road. Gibbon Falls is an eighty-four foot drop that spreads out over the rocks as it cascades down to the Gibbon River.  It ribbons down the sides, leaving spaces in the middle of the rock.  The whooshing sounds are soothing, bringing an additional love to this area.  It is a tourist attraction, however, so people litter the observation area – especially obnoxious patrons with Wild West jackets and women who do their best imitation of Tammy Faye Baker.  Oh, I’m sorry – I digress.  The spot is awe-inspiring and adds a perfect companion to the lush green forest and the deep reddish-brown rock.


There is a picture I’ve seen of Yellowstone that I always thought was fake – a sun-like rainbow with wisps of steam.  It seems a thermo picture so you can see the variance of temperatures, but it’s real.  The rain and the steam veiled our view, but you can see the bright orange tendrils of the basin as you walk over the observation deck.  I can only imagine what this looks like in the sunlight (Kathy’s favorite catch phrase) but this is truly a wonder to behold.  Someday, I hope to see it in its full glory.  These geysers and hot springs are really amazing.


The rain was getting to us and it started to get a little chilly as we got to Old Faithful Inn.  They were sold out for the evening, so we ended up going back the way we’d come, past all the cool things we’d just seen and went to West Yellowstone.  On our way, a herd of Bison stopped us, well they stopped everyone.  There were probably thirty to forty ambling across the road, so we just sat and watched them.  They’re so peaceful and beautiful.


We finally made it to West Yellowstone – a cute little town that reminded us of the Wisconsin Dells.  The couple at the front desk was adorable; transplants from Florida here for the summer.  They checked us in and we headed to the room to call it a night.


  • Happy birthday!

    Hi, stranger!! I hope all is well in your world and that you have a great birthday!! :) Caroline

  • A day at Hobbiton

    Way behind - sorry. This is our day in Glencoe. :D Caroline July 14, 2009 We got to sleep in today. It was amazing. Almost 9 am which was…

  • Whales and sheep and goats, oh my!

    So far behind, sorry! It's been a very busy week, indeed! This was our whale watching tour and subsequent adventures. :D July 13, 2009 Today…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.