Sunday, 9 October 2011

Tell Me Again How Travel is Fun

Travel usually is fun.

This time I had a comfortable flight out of Helena, made into Minneapolis-St. Paul 20 minutes early and now, at 1410 (local time), I'm sitting here in chairs for my flight home. It was supposed to take off at 1410... now it is scheduled for 1502, but the gate person, a very big, friendly looking guy, said it should begin boarding at 1430. Let's hope!

I can't wait to get home. At the same time, I wish I was still in Helena - or better yet, Yellowstone National Park. That is the first National park in the world. And it is huge - we saw just the tiniest fraction going through it on Sunday. We came in through southern Montana and went to Mammoth Hot Springs, followed along the road to see the Mud Volcano, Yellowstone Lake, the caldera that comprises a large portion of Yellowstone, the Continental Divide, the Yellowstone Rockies, then to the geyser plains, where we got to see Old Faithful erupt at 2055 instead of the 2043 listed. We did look at a couple of the other geysers and bubbling pools but the sun had set and the ambient temperature dropped like a stone from 69 to 52 in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

I put my sweater on but it was Chinese torture to do so - I'm burned to a crisp...

We got up Sunday morning at 0300, left the house at 0420, and drove through the entrance gate to Yellowstone at 0820. We had a great breakfast at the hotel next to the Mammoth Hot Springs start. The restaurant was very good and they bring in people from all over the world on J-1 visas - the whole park does. I wish I could meet the Yellowstone Park Human Resources department - we'd have so much to discuss!

We took pictures all over the Mammoth Hot Springs hill and it was incredible. The hill is all white with reds, oranges and rust colours, mostly from the highly caustic acids in the water. The water bubbled up from various places - some were just little blooping things and others were monstrous holes with violently frothing mud and/or water. The smell of hydrogen sulfides was overwhelming when we got to the Mud Volcano... but was present almost everywhere to one degree or another.

I told David it looked like the pits of Hell. Welcome to the ninth circle of hell... There'd be teeny tufts of grass in the midst of a steaming area of inch-deep water. In other places there were pools of deep emerald or turquoise water that looked like the clearest most inviting pool but were 200 degrees or more and would flay the skin off anything living in seconds. There were areas were the earth's crust was just a thin flaky coating. Other places had solid-looking ground that was anything but. And all around there were bison, elk, mountain goats, squirrels (which look nothing like ours) and a multitude of other animals.

There were enough truly stupid tourists to keep us appalled as well. This is that lowest common denominator I'm always mentioning. People who stepped off the path; people who littered; idiots trying to get within four inches of the heavily armed bison... it was mind-boggling. David and I came up with the idea of putting a one-hundred dollar bill out on the thin crust to see how many tourists would attempt to retrieve it... we were sure we could thin down the heard pretty fast...

This was from my vacation in Montana in June 2009. Trying to finish this would be crazy, but here is what I have.

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