Monday, April 21, 2008

Yellowstone 2007: A Photographic Adventure - Additional Pics and Stories

Apr 21, 2008
From the Archives

Current mood:satisfied

Almost a year has passed, and we are actually planning another trip to Yellowstone in May. We're hoping to see more animals this time, less with the geothermal features.

I will start with the additional pictures.

In day 1 and 2 I mentioned the forest fires of Yellowstone which burned thousands of acres of land. My previous post mentioned an upcoming photo. including original text for reference.

Thursday morning we woke up and headed towards the lower loop of Yellowstone. Passed through the newly growing forest of Madison. In 1988 there was a huge fire that devastated much of Yellowstone. Last time I was there, there were solid hills, mountain sides, and fields of nothing but black earth. 5 years later all the new trees have started coming in, and yes, it is actually very fascinating to see the re-growth of the forest. Some places the trees are 2 feet tall, some they have gotten as high as 10 feet. I have no explanation for the difference of height. Yellowstone being the great experiment of determining how best to let nature do it's thing, while letting humans roam about as well, decided in 1970 to let fires put themselves out. Well, the great fire of 88 they had to step in because it was out of control. Anyway, long story short, it really is fascinating to see such a large portion of forests start from scratch. My mom is really upsetthey let this fire go as long as it did, I feel they did the right thing of letting mother nature do what it does best. The fire was naturally caused, and actually one of the species of trees cannot reproduce without fire. (really cool useless fact) I think it is a perfectly natural process of a forest to burn, recycle the materials and start over.

As you can see this forest is rapidly... well it seems that way, really slowly, recovering from the fire. Here the trees are about 6 feet tall, and you can make out a few of the trees that remain standing after the original fire. Not black earth anymore, in fact a vibrant beautiful landscape of young lodgepole pines.

Also in the day 1 and 2 blog, for the life of me I could not get my darn photo of Fishing Bridge to post, I don't know what the deal was so here is the original picture I tempted...

and, one from my dads camera.

Really cool bridge isn't it?

The infamous Moose story (with better pictures)

We we're mostly through Dunraven pass when we got stuck in one of the all too common animal jams along Yellowstones roads. Due to the area, and the size of the jam we all thought it was a bear of some sort. So we pulled over, I hopped out with my camera, and walked down the road quite a ways to find this moose.

I snapped a few pictures and went back towards the car. Almost there My mom is ambling down the hill with my dads camera. She hollers down the road (we are about 50-100 feet apart at this point)

"WAS IT A BEAR???" (She’s shouting so the caps is appropriate.)
"NO, MOOSE!" I shout back
"TWO BEAR?!?!?"
"NO! MOOSE!!!" I put my thumbs against my head fingers up to represent the antlers of a moose "MOOSE!!! MOOSE!!!!"
"THERES TWO OF EM!???!?!?!" At this point we're about 10-15 feet apart, I shake my head and keep walking.
"Moose mom. Its a moose. Big rack though"
"OOOOH,” she exclaims. “I thought you said two of em. Big rack you say?" Handing me the camera "Dad wants a picture of a Moose with a rack, last moose we saw didn't have one." Great. So I grab the camera and head back DOWN the hill to snap more pictures of a moose chewing its cud. This is where I managed to get the rangers ear for a minute to ask about Fossil Ridge so that at least was good. Upon returning to the car I look at my mom, put my thumbs against my head and say:
"Mom. MOOOOOOOOOSEEEEE" while waiving my fingers wildly back and forth.
"Well I can't see you that far away!" We have a good laugh the rest of the way down Dunraven Pass. My mom has since had the at the time unknown cataracts fixed and can see quite clearly now. In fact no longer requires the glasses. All the better to give her grief about the (thumbs against head, fingers in the air) MOOOOOSEEE story. hehe. I love my Mom.

And here are a few pictures of us infront of some of the sites.

Landis, Mom, Myself, and some random kid in front of Dragons Cauldron


Landis and I at Mammoth Hot Springs

Mom, Myself and Landis again at Mammoth Hot Springs.


Large Buffalo on the road.

Towards the end of my vacation I was starting to think this was the same buffalo every time. This is where we passed the First buffalo ambling down the road, like it is his own personal path. Then there was the one we almost hit, heading strait down the road. Then there was one crossing fishing bridge, and of course the one in mammoth. All 4 instances the buffalo was heading down the road, not across it. The above picture my dad leaned out the window and snapped as he idled by. Seriously I don't think the car stopped moving, luckily neither had traffic.

While in West Yellowstone, I did a lot of gift shopping. I picked up several unique shot glasses.

these are the ones I picked up during my trip.

I also got some beer steins I picked up one for me, and a few for friends. Apparently a berry named Huckleberry only grows in this area so after trying the huckleberry ice cream (awesome try it) I picked up some Huckleberry Honey/Jam and Huckleberry Vinaigrette. The honey/jam is awesome on an English muffin. The vinaigrette... not so much on a salad.

Lastly to summarize the vacation it probably rates the highest on my list for several reasons. The nostalgia, and finding those spots I so vaguely, or so strongly remember as a child. The reconnecting with my parents, and my parents connecting with Landis. The awesome luck we had with the geysers, and the all around relaxing good vacation. I'll say it again, everyone should see Yellowstone during their lifetime. There is so much to see and do, you can go several times and still not see everything. I bet there are people who have lived there for years and have not seen everything.

Coming Up: Andrews Guide to the Yellowstone vacation and... Do You Really need to spend 6 hours in the car to view geothermal features?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yellowstone 2007 A Photo Diary: Day 4

Apr 11, 2008

From The Archives

Current mood:accomplished

I finally managed to get the rest of my pictures from my dad. Unfortunately, the batteries died in my camera the last day as we left the cabin so I had to use my dad's camera for the rest of the day. My dad is not as tech savvy as he used to be, so unfortunately he was unable to send me the picture's despite my unrelenting requests. So I took advantage of easter and just put the pictures onto mu USB drive myself. hehe. So I apologize for the delay, which unfortunately will result in some trip loss. :( but better late than never right?

If you need the refresher: Day 1&2, Day 3

The long awaited, Much anticipated day 4: Saturday

This was checkout day for the cabin. We had a choice of heading down to Jackson Hole, and taking the longer route home, or doing a few more park things and going back home the way we came. I really wanted Landis to get the full Yellowstone experience so I wanted to do more geysers. Well we get up and it is raining again. So we don't think we are going to get to do anything. While we were still in town we decide to take advantage of the 2 day pass we have to the Bear and Grizzly center. Its not much but it's something.

I am very glad we went. Apparently, an unfortunate squirrel had wondered into the wolf pen. So I got to watch the wolves tear apart and eat a squirrel. Not only that, but, I believe, because of the rain I got to watch the entire pack howl. That was astounding.




We then met back up with my parents and spent quality family time shamelessly riding a bear.


I know it should be illegal. After an hour there the rain let up, so we decided to check out the Lower Geyser Basin back in the park.

As we were driving we passed a herd of elk. A very common sighting in Yellowstone, and not all that fascinating, considering you can see these about everywhere you look. However here is a picture. w00t.


24 miles later we arrive at firehole lake drive. This is an awesome one way road that allows you to drive right up to some really cool geysers.  You can park, and walk less than 20 feet, or even watch them from your car. Its really neat. I don't remember if I mentioned this in one of the other posts but Landis, is like the good luck charm of Yellowstone I swear. Not only did we have amazing luck with the weather, but we saw tons of geysers and it was seriously like we would walk up to it, and it would go off.


Firehole Spring - This is a really cool spring that is constantly gushing out of the earth and every oh 1-2 mins would release a giant bubble that would make a big splash. Really pretty color patterns too.

This set of geysers doesn't really have a name, rather a number. I believe it is in the White Creek Group. This one erupts every 3 minutes or so (at the time anyway). It went probably 10-15 feet high.



I finally got to see Great Fountain Geyser erupt, and it was just spectacular. I have wanted to see this geyser go off for some time and it was definitely a sight. I didn't even have to wait, we walked up and it started to go. This geyser, like Grand as its namesake hints at, it is a fountain type geyser. It is named Great Fountain because it has a large pool surrounding it on a raised terrace, and it erupts from the center of this for up to 3 hours! And it is HUGE (100 feet across!!). An added bonus I noticed that I am certain they didn't think about when originally naming it, they way it erupts it is reminiscent of Vegas style fountains. It just goes every which way when it erupted it didn't go up, it swirled up and outwards like the fountains in Vegas. While all the run off washed down the multiple terraced rims. Absolutely amazing.


White Dome Geyser - Even my parents had never seen this one erupt before. This was my first time as well. This geyser, even when not erupting is cool because the cone is so big the biggest I am aware of. Yet the opening for the water is so small. Pretty nifty little guy.



We then arrived at Firehole Lake, which is adjacent to Hot Lake, Hot Rapids, and constant Geyser. Firehole lake is fed by a few Geysers, and has a terra cota/rust color throughout. It fairly large, at least 100 feet across and as my mom randomly decided to check is very hot. Constant geyser is on the edge of a small ledge above hot lake, below firehole lake. I didn't notice if this lake was named. And yes, this Geyser is aptly named it is constantly erupting. Not very tall though, 5 feet max. All of this constant water supply feeds hot rapids which feeds hot lake, again aptly named It was not cold today, but look at all the steam coming off of it. And it is a good sized lake. I'm not sure, but my guess would be probably a good 300 feet across. There is something magical about this area. I don't know what it is, the beauty of the woods, and the creeks and streams, with all the mist completely enveloping, embracing you as you walk.

Of course it could have been because Landis and my mom were completely nerding out and talking about a children's book they want to write together. My mom talking all animated and mysterious like she was reading it to an imaginary audience of children. She is a school teacher after all so I can cut her some slack. This alone was worth the trip, watching the love of my life bond with my mother, my mother bonding with my boyfriend. This is a new experience for me. Since I am writing this almost a year later I can also add that ever since then, they have been really close. We always joke about the moose experience (see next blog) with my mom and have a good laugh. This trip with my parents was a blessing. I know they don't fully understand or necessarily like that I am gay, however they are accepting it, and welcoming my boyfriend into their lives. But I digress.

After Firehole Lake drive we hop across the main road to Fountain Paint pots. (I recommend doing this is the same order as Firehole Lake drive is a one way road, and it lets out right at the entrance for Fountain Paint Pots.


Fountain Paint Pot - The feature this trail was named for. Considering how early in the year it was, and how rainy it had been this weekend I was disappointed. I thought it would be more bubbly. Meh.

Red Spouter - I am unsure if both of these holes are Red Spouter, or if the only one is and the other has a different name. Either way, they are pretty cool, they make a lot of noise as they hiss and spew.


Dead earth. a bunch of geysers spreading out forever. This part of the rail looks like the end of the world. Nothing grows here. Steam and smoke spew out in all directions. It is humbling. One of the great reminders of staying on the boardwalk.



Cledsydra Geyser. This geyser is constantly going and actually pretty high for a constantly erupting geyser. In fact we passed a smaller geysers eruption to see this. After I realized this one was going to keep going I turned back to the other one to see it had stopped. Oh well. Clepsydra is Greek for water clock named so because it used to erupt every 3 minutes or so until an earthquake in 1959 changed its pattern. I really liked this one because it has several openings and is constantly changing how it comes out, again I reference a Vegas style fountain for the way this looked. Really neat.

The boardwalk eventually looped back to the parking lot. Not much to see after clepsydra, just more dead earth. This trail is still worth going down. It probably takes 30 - 45 minutes and there are a lot of cool things to see.
Another 10 miles or so down the loop we arrived at Midway Geyser Basin.



Midway is a series of very large hot springs all surrounding Excelsior Geyser. Which currently in it's inactive state is also a large hot spring. When Excelsior was active, in the 1800's it was the tallest geyser in the world at over 300 feet. It went through a long dormant period until 1985 when it hit a 45 hour active period again, though not as spectacular, only achieving 30-75 feet during eruptions every 5-90 seconds. Now it is a large spring gushing 4,000 - 4,500 thousands of gallons a minute into the firehole river, sitting in an extraordinarily large crater it must have blasted out when it first erupted.


Runoff of Excelsior

Above Excelsior sit several springs including Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the park. (3rd largest in the world) It is over 300 feet across releasing 560 gallons per minute.



Grand Prismatic Spring

Runoff of Grand Prismatic Spring which has some really cool growth in it, and unfortunately a few drawings and signatures. why do humans feel the need to leave their mark on historical objects, ruining them? There were also 2 hats sitting in the very large runoff path due to the particularly gusty day it was.

It started getting late, so we decided to head home after our wonderful vacation. Of course there was a very nasty electrical storm the whole way back. I thought I was going to die several times, particularly when it started raining in sheets, and my dad couldn't see anything... I distinctly remember veering across three lanes of traffic as he tried to get his bearings within the lanes... luckily we made it home safe and sound. The animals survived, my house survived. Ultimately it was a wonderful vacation. Can't wait to go again. If you have not yet, I highly recommend planning a Yellowstone vacation. There is so much to see and do in such a condensed area it is definitely a worthwhile vacation. And nowadays you have your choice, of roughing it in the wilderness with a tent, or staying in a high class hotel still with plenty to do all around you.

Coming up in the next post:

Additional Photos and stories Including the infamous MOOSE story!

My guide to the short Yellowstone Vacation.