Breakfast and Ticks in the Before-TimeWe got up bright (dark) and early at a cold 4am. We wanted as much time to see the majesty of Yellowstone as we could afford while still progressing our journey westward.
First though, Colleen found a nice gift in her hair. A tick. It hadn't bitten her, so we got it off and plunked it into a bowl to get a good picture of it. It was probably a hitchhiker from the Badlands the night before, likely hanging out her sleeping bag from when they were on the ground during loading the car.
To the old! And the faithful!
Yellowstone - The World's First National ParkThis is our first exposure to Parkitecture. Since the 1900's, architects for National Parks structures have tried to build them from local materials, so they blend in with the surroundings. They are intended to "grow out of the surrounding landscape". The north gate of Yellowstone shows the same style.
Funny thing about this gate - the main road into the park from the north doesn't go through here anymore. Colleen and I had to divert off to the "scenic route" (a few feet over) to see it. The real road is just out of view to the left.
We were blocked for a moment by some bison on the road. Caught off guard, Colleen couldn't get the camera out fast enough, and only got this photo. Her obsession began (though let's be honest, continued, since she was obsessed looking for them in the Badlands too), and she played the buffalo song to attempt to attract them.
Mammoth Hot SpringsThese hot springs are huge. Mammoth, one could say. It's divided up into two terraces, upper and lower. The different springs flow into each other, with springs clogging up and news ones opening, so the landscape is always changing.
Behold the Liberty Cap.This 37 ft formation was caused by a spring staying in the same spot for a very long time. Much like an icicle forms by water dripping down, the spring water constantly flowed up, leaving mineral deposits for perhaps hundreds of years.
And no it doesn't look like that. Quit being childish.
This sign says "stay on the boardwalk" in a better way than words ever could. While everything looks like rock, some of it is very thin. Walking off the path can mean breaking through to a hot steam vent.
Lower TerraceThe lower half was mostly wide open, with a long cascade of springs dominating the area.
There are 5 different named terraces.
The different pools were all different colors. As the water runs from pool to pool, it cools down. Different microorganisms are tailored to different heats, and each one is a different color, and so the terrace was a cool rainbow.
Things have changed.
Just after exiting the Mammoth Hot Spring area is the Roaring Mountain. For many years, this mountain made a rumbling noise that could be heard from across the park miles away. It's quieter now, but we could still hear it from the car where we took this picture.
And finally a picture out across the basin of the many geothermal vents.
Colleen's Bison Obsession
Yes! Found one!
Another handy warning sign given to you when you enter the park.
Andy was fascinated with them and growled a little at them. Fortunately he didn't notice when they walked right by our car. We were very careful to make sure he didn't bark and startle them into ramming our car.
Artists Paint PotsPaint pots are springs that are clogged with mud. Instead of a pool of water, it ends up as a bubbling thick pool of mud. Just like the springs, microorganisms color these pools, making it look like bubbling paint.
Firehole CanyonThere was a short side-track through Firehole Canyon.
Fountain Paint PotsBehold the better pots of paint. These things were everything that a pit of paint-colored boiling mud from the center of the earth could be.
eternal bog of stench) but others were whistling and spitting like they were about to explode. Some seemed so furious and over the top, it almost seemed fake. Like how ninja movies have so much blood it just seems ridiculous.
There's no pictures of Colleen and I here because we ran over to see the pots separately while the other waited with the car and Andy (also why there are no photos of the red pots because Colleen missed them). Parking at that place was a zoo.
Old FaithfulTime to head to the main event. The thing that Yellowstone is know for. Heading further south, we made for our final stop in the park. First though, more bison.
We did it!
Arco apparently has a tradition where the some students from a graduating class will climb up the mountain that looks over the town, and carve the number into the side. If the numbers are to be believed, it's been going on since 1925. One of the people checking in at the same time as us remembered doing it when he was in high school in town, and wasn't sure how often it still gets done.