Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vacation 2014: Old Faithful: Day 6

Well the night’s sleep was not great. I opted for a cheap sleeping mat, and boy did it suck. I was too cheap to spring for an $80 mattress and my regret-o-meter was up to maximum. I was ready to shell out twice that to make the evil ground stop its uncomfortableness. Sadly there was nothing I could do, but try to get through it. It’s a first world problem, but I’m fucking blogging about it, and you’re reading this on a computer, so whatever.

As we set out for our first destination we encountered big banks of fog. As the geysers and steam vents flow throughout the night, the cold air keeps all that close to the ground and so you get beautiful views of foggy mystery in the morning sun.

Today began and ended at the Mona Lisa of Yellowstone: Old Faithful. There is much more than just this old geezer—I mean, geyser—here. Boardwalks take you all around the area to all sorts of bubbling burbling boiling water spouts. There were a couple of bison wandering cluelessly through the fields. It is quite a large complex with stores, a grill (fast food, counter service), cafeteria (self serve) and dining (a traditional restaurant-style table service). There is a store, gift shop and hotel.

The Yellowstone hotel inspired Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in Disneyland. The lobby has a huge ceiling probably five or six stories. I could look up exactly how high it is, but that would require typing, and looking and thinking. Here I can just type a bunch of garbage and speculate on assumptions. You know, like the news.

Another thing that is interesting about Yellowstone was its diversity. There are people here from all over the world. I heard German, French, Chinese, Japanese, and possibly Korean (I’m not familiar enough with the nuances between Chinese and Korean), Spanish, Portuguese and Indian. I heard British accents, Southern accents, and unitentifiable eastern European accents. Even in the restaurant our waitstaff had listed next to their name where they were from. Our water girl was from Taiwan and our waiter was from Czech Republic. I saw rugged camper types, rich people that were not dressed appropriately, from tourists to locals, and we were right in the middle.

It is amazing to consider this is all volcanic activity at its source. it is also surprising there aren’t more sulfurous vents in the Earth. Besides, seeing a steaming river is entertaining. If only I had my bikini…

It was time to head to a new spot, and so we headed up to Midway Geyser Basin. We ended up spending about five hours here and it had the most spectacular hole. It was hard to see it so Gregory pointed out a hill across the road and figured there would be a really good view from up there.

There was plenty of stuff to see up close. Great orange and brown streaks made up of bacteria and worlds too small for the naked eye to see, thriving in a colorful terrestrial system, radiating in colorful bands from the blue orb was something both otherworldly and yet, more connected to the earth than we are. We simply rely on its location in the solar system, its gravity and the sustenance it provides. Trifle. But this seems like essence of the earth itself. The interesting layers and plant and microbes that live on those small worlds that make up the varying colors, fed by the waters from the vast boiling blue sun.

It’s like, super, mega existential…and stuff.

We walked away from the crowd drawn to this marvel, and sat beneath a super swell pine tree to have lunch.

After a bit of cloud watching, we walked across the road and hiked to the top of the hill for that better view. Wow.

Just wow.

And wow again.

After we had a few moments to enjoyed the vista, and take enough pictures to document it better than Google, we were shortly joined by a group of elderly Asian ladies dressed in their finery, each one seemingly color coded, which it would have been hilarious to see them trying to climb up that hill.

We decided that it would be a good idea to return to the Old Faithful area for dinner and wander around to some of the other things we missed, have dinner and watch the sunset. Gregory ordered an amazing slice of prime. I had some cordon bleu thing that was good, but couldn’t come close to the quality of that prime rib. It was a nearly perfect slice. I didn’t take a picture of it because pictures of food often look gross.

They are either too shiny, which makes it look greasy, or someone takes a picture of soup or chili which almost unfailingly looks like vomit or diahrreah. I’m sorry to kill the mood, but it does. Please stop taking pictures of soup, chili or sauces of any kind. Unless you have studio lighting, and plastic models, please ask yourself, “will this picture make someone gag?” before you take that picture of your plate of slop.

Instead here are pictures of the incredible sunset.

It gets noticeably cold about a half an hour before the sun sets, and even colder once it disappears from view. The cold air does increase the drama of the geysers erupting however. All that hot steam in the cold air made Old Faithful look so dramatic just after sunset. There was enough light for Gregory to get a couple of pictures of it. I watched, contentedly sipping hot cocoa.

And with that, it was time to call it a day, and we returned to our humble campsite near Madison.

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