yellowstone musings – 4

Our next stop would be the most fascinating yet. Given the source of what we were witnessing, I repeatedly wondered how Dante Alighieri would have described it. We saw multitudes of hydrothermal land features: geysers, vents, fumaroles, boiling ponds, paint pots. Ridiculous. Colorful.

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All the result of the fact that thousands of feet below was a lake of boiling magma – one of the largest active supervolcanoes in the world. And all these features are the means by which it let off steam – literally – instead of building up more pressure. The geysers, especially are the result of water reaching a temperature where it expands enough to blow with pressure through a small hole.  Like Old Faithful, which blows every 94 minutes lately, for about 3 minutes each time.

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When we saw yellow, it was sulfur; reddish was iron and arsenic; emerald green was chlorophyll, and dark green was algae. These features are much more common than I expected, and the buffalo and coyote, who obviously own this territory and know it, roam freely through all the spots where man’s government has made it illegal to walk, for our own safety.img_2435

Because in some of these places, the ground is only a few inches thick. That’s why there are signs EVERYWHERE that say not to walk off the designated areas. I guess the bison know where not to step, for the most part, but we have heard of some falling through the eggshell ground. This would be why we saw and heard a Park Ranger erupt shortly after Old Faithful:

“Hey! HEY! YOU! GET BACK ON THE BOARDWALK!”

It wasn’t me or mine in trouble, so “Wilderness Family Hogue” chuckled at the ignorance and wandered off to the next feature.  Shortly after the offending parties were out of site, we heard the siren of an ambulance.  All I could think of was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Once we left the area of Norris Basin and Old Faithful, we found ourselves in stand still traffic for a full 45 minutes.  No one knew what the hold up was because the line went on for over a mile.  Finally, the jam cleared up just after we passed a small herd of bison in a nearby field.  Noobs. We lost 45 precious minutes of vacation wonderland time because of noobs who stopped in the road for every stinkin’ buffalo.  And I do mean “stinking.” Pew.

As usual, we had our fill of strangers by about 4:00, so we retire to some place quiet. The kids (all of us, actually) have been having withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of internet access – I can only publish these posts on the rare occasion of a restaurant or visitor center with wifi. At the time of writing this, the DTs are fading into quality family time due to the lack of internet. Wonder of wonders.

The four of us played cards this evening because there was no tv, cell service, or internet. We talked. We laughed. M and I watched the sunset over the Tetons. THAT is worth every penny.

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