Day 8. Yellowstone - Disneyland of the natural world
by Hope Windle
Start/End: Yellowstone WY / Yellowstone WY
Itinerary: Sightee. Camp in Yellowstone, Madison Junction Campground.
Trail Surface: -
Riders: Lisa, Cori, Hope, Maya, Bob & Dee, Lana, Galen + [Ginny, guide] =9
Miles rode: 0
We’re in. We are here, experiencing the 21st century Yellowstone Park.
Today, we see the sights. A-Number one on the list, is Old Faithful. We find her schedule. We find a seat and we watch Old Faithful be faithful. She has been erupting approximately every 44-125 minutes since probably earlier than 1870, but that is when it was discovered on the Washburn-Langford- Doane Expedition.
And here, just for us, at 10:05 am, in front of a cozy 3,000 people, curled around her steam beds in a gigantic semi-circle, Old Faithful gurgles and teases the crowd as she gets ready. And then it happens. She puts on the dog. A huge steamy geyser blows straight up 125 feet, right on schedule, to the delight and cheers of lots and lots of people, sitting on three tiers of bleachers with me and the 4 ½ ft gang.I wonder how many hashtags are being typed as photos flash and videos take this all in, watching #OldFaithfulGeyser, #YellowStonelive, @YellowstoneNPS, #yellowstone blow her top, every two hours, every day. I imagine it never gets old, watching Old Faithful do this steamy act, daily, for the people. It’s wonderful that so many want to see the Yellowstone version of nature. Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire comes to mind...this need to shoot a picture of that gurgling something and then move on to the next bubbling object, without stopping for a while to commune with nature or sit here by Old Faithful for a spell without running off to the next ___ (fill in the blank). With all the roads in Yellowstone, we don’t need to exert ourselves by hiking into an area. Abbey would lead us to believe we would appreciate the wonder a bit more if we did.
I focus on mud bubbles, dawdling along the geyser boardwalk. Here’s one that is turquoise and another mud bubble blowing my mind.
Lana and I lackadaisically shoot tiny videos and talk about our lives while kettle- sized holes gurgle and spew the way they have been gurgling and spewing for 10 years to thousands of years old. In the account for Yellowstone, Wikipedia notes that people who told of what they saw at Yellowstone were not believed. It was beyond comprehension. It is a magical place.
I particularly liked this bit of research ...In the early days of the park, Old Faithful was often used as a laundry:
“Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan's men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds."
Here we are in the most outrageous theatrics of nature as we snap casually trying to pick which spewing pot is worth a picture. I guess any scenario can get normalized.
Once all pictures were taken, we settle in for a second night at the Madison Junction Campground, the New York City of campgrounds. The photo with the 4 ½ ft gang flanking the beautiful cut was right around the corner from where we put up our tents. Madison Junction Campground was a tent city of campers and giant pull-toy sleeping boxes, old-school campers, teardrop campers, new aerodynamic RVs with roll-out grass carpets, flower pots, quaint curtains, awnings, outdoor cook stove set ups...the works!
We had an extra parking space that a group of college-aged Japanese women asked to use. They arrived after dark and set about erecting their new still-in-the-box multi-person tent. We watched, next-door-neighbor style, around the campfire, sipping tea. After multiple failed attempts, we could tell they clearly had no idea how to erect the tent. Maya and Lana helped them figure it out. In the process, these women, perhaps nervous of bears or taking too much space...the reason was not clear but they were absolutely convinced that their tent needed to almost touch Maya’s tent. There was much back and forth. Maya discussing a need for space, The women nodding. Finally, when they, en masse, went to the washroom, I watched Maya gently move their tent a few feet away.
The show over, I crawl into my tent, ready for bed. I hear a mom calling her boys to walk around our campsite,
"Eli... Eli…(now yelling) ELI! Don't walk THROUGH, go AROUND!"
In response, a tent nearby, yells back,
“Would you shut the fuck up!? It's after 10 o'clock.” ?!?!?
We are just here for one night. I must be such a princess. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this every night. What do refugees do?