Friday, September 09, 2016

Yellowstone rocks!

Apparently, Yellowstone can't help being a place that rocks, as it's home to over half of the world's geysers. I learned that from a fabulous piece in the May 2016 issue of National Geographic -- an issue that's worth getting your hands on -- almost as good as a visit. [Note: Okay, that's a huge exaggeration, but perhaps the NG might offer consolation if you can't go.]

And just as I was taken aback by the power of seeing the Grand Canyon 'in person', I had a similar experience with the geysers and steaming pools at Yellowstone.

For one thing, scent isn't part of any visual presentation, not even in an IMAX theatre. And scent is definitely part of the Yellowstone adventure. Although there were variations, the smell was primarily of sulphur. Stinky, I suppose, though -- along with the steaminess -- it enhanced the reality of being there.

Another thing about Yellowstone is that the geysers are just about everywhere. Looking out over a field of grass where elk were grazing, I'd see whiffs of smoke here and there, as if a raft of careless campers had failed to put out their fires.

While 'being there' is much different than any vicarious experience, 'being there' in 2016 is one that has clearly been affected by social media.

I was amazed (and frankly, horrified) by the number of people who seemed interested only in doing a selfie with whatever monumental phenomenon might be behind them. It was as if the park were only scenery for a fashion shoot --Sports Illustrated used the park for one of its swimsuit issues -- but the people taking selfies were definitely not in the league of professional models.

The most astounding example of this was in evidence at the eruption of Old Faithful, the giant geyser that since the earthquakes of 1959 and 1983 is not quite as 'faithful' as it once was. We saw two 'performances' of this geyser, and oddly, in both instances -- even though people had waited around for the eruption to begin -- as soon as people had taken their photo, they left, without waiting for the explosive waters to subside. It was if they were merely checking off items on a 'been there, done that' list.

There are plenty of videos of Old Faithful on line, and while they're not as good as the real thing, they give you a small idea of just how impressive this testament to the power of nature is.

But there's more to Yellowstone than geysers. Click here for some of the wildlife we encountered.

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