Thursday, July 12, 2007

Around Every Turn A New Wonder

It is almost too much magnificence to take in, this Yellowstone National Park. The things I read and heard about its size, weather, and beauty are all true. It lives up to the hype, like so few things in life. As Hannah pointed out, in the first hour we were in the park we experienced: a grizzly bear calmly munching, uh, something by the side of the road, a fire in the back of some poor shlub's van, bright sun, overcast skies, a sun shower, heavy rainfall, temperatures ranging from 62-87 F, mountains, huge Lake Yellowstone, ravines, open meadows, forest. The place is indescribably complex and wonderful.

We spent a few too many hours in the car, which made the Old Faithful experience late in the afternoon not quite as thrilling as it might have been. This was partly due to my driving malfunction early in the day; somehow we left Worland this morning going in the wrong direction. The mistake cost us an hour or so of driving time, but we did get to drive through a canyon that knocked us all out which we would have otherwise missed. Since Yellowstone is so huge, there is a lot of driving just getting from an entrance to anywhere. We entered the park on the east side, through Cody, Wyoming. We drove around the eastern half of the lake then turned west to Geyser Country. Between the sheer distance, the wacky weather and the folks who like to stop dead in the middle of the road to observe wildlife it took a good long time to get to Old Faithful. Of course we got there just minutes after an eruption so we had to cool it for 90 minutes waiting for the next one. The dude is punctual, though. Quite a performer.

Then we drove to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, checked into the lovely and very reasonable City Center Motel, ordered in some mediocre pizza (yes, being from Chicago we are pizza snobs) and generally fell out. We have requests to return to Geyserland tomorrow to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, the "paint pots" and the baby geysers surrounding Big Daddy O.F.