Sunday, September 30, 2012

Catching Up on Summer, Version Yellowstone

It has been a whirlwind at work, home and everywhere these days.  I have no idea how life gets so busy -- curse of my generation, I think. For sanity's sake, I have to believe that simpler existed somewhere, somehow, back in the days of my youth. My parents may beg to differ, I don't know, but it takes a minor miracle simply to get a blog post together these days, and that is just wrong.

Anyway, I am determined to try and post some events from our summer over the next few days.  First up -- a mad-dash getaway to Yellowstone over Labor Day weekend.  Inexplicably, I had forgotten the wonder of this place. After establishing camp at the Madison River Campground on Wednesday night, we drove on into the park on Thursday morning, and the kids just burst out with Wows, Oohs and Aahs the second we saw Lower Geyser Basin.

The highlights continued from there -- Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hotsprings and the Yellowstone high country, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls, the Hayden River Valley, Firehole River, Grand Prismatic Springs, Firehole Lake Drive -- I could go on. But if you ever need to really understand how truly special this place is, and the impact it has as our best idea -- the birthplace of national parks -- then just try spotting license plates from different places and counting all the different languages, as we did.  Yellowstone is special for the whole world.  And that is something.

Words really fail here -- all I can hope to do is show the kaleidoscope of geo-color and sky splitting spouts that makes this such an amazing place.

Old Faithful

Chromatic Pool

Beehive Geyser

Morning Glory Pool

Old Faithful Lodge from Geyser Hill

Unnamed Pool and Geyser Hill

Plume Geyser

Beauty Pool

A bacterial trail near Beauty Pool

Kids at the Firehole River

Which is quite aptly named.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Pool detail

Kate loved every minute of our hike around the Upper Geyser Basin. Of course, it was not all geysers and pools. There were:

Bison and Elk and towering peaks,

And even Sandhill Cranes.

Devastation and regeneration

make for trees sized to please

With waterfalls galore

And geology and rainbows

(who could ask for more?)

But of course there was -- Hayden Valley highlights

And stumps to climb

Moonlit Madison River night hikes

And plenty of family time.  

Yet the fact that you sit atop the caldera of the largest volcano in the history of the planet--and that it is still hot after 680,000 years!--never really leaves you. The still bubbling hole it left is roughly the size of Rhode Island, I think. Seems bigger in fact. Imagine that eruption, and the devastation it wrought.  

But who knew that such massive destruction could create this?

And so there is a hope promised everywhere here, that out of the darkness of ash and smoke and burning flame, there will come the light of another day, with color and blue skies and white puffy clouds, and all the beauty that brings. Maybe this is why Yellowstone really is the world's park, a special place, reminding us all of the wonder to be found in the crust over-topping a burning abyss.