Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Big Road Trip: Inside the Jaguar

In case you were wondering if it was a wee bit crowded with four people and all of our camping gear in the luxurious Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas Supercharged Saloon, here is the photographic answer:

The Big Road Trip: Day Seven, Yellowstone Afternoon

After we watched Old Faithful, then took our walk along the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin, we met up with my sister-in-law Cathy and my nieces Zoe and Amelia for lunch at the Old Faithful Lodge. One nice thing about lunch there is that it comes with a show, Old Faithful itself:

After lunch Cathy and the girls headed up to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, while we loaded up the car and headed off to see the Artist's Paint Pots. What are the Artist's Paint Pots? As I said when I woke Malcolm and Henry once we parked, "Wake up, boys. We're going to look at some bubbling mud."

Monique surveys the Artist's Paint Pots thermal area.

Monique, how does it smell?

As promised, bubbling mud.

Monique tells us what she was expecting.

A thermal pool.

Another stand of dead trees, killed off by shifts in geothermal activity.

After we left the paint-pot area, we caught up with Cathy and the girls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone:

It's a little hard to grasp how big and deep this canyon is until you see the little people standing on this observation platform at the bottom of the stairway. You'll probably need to click on this photo to enlarge it if you want to see them. This is really a big canyon.

So, what do we do when there's a great piece of natural scenery? Put ourselves in front of it and take some pictures, of course!

Malcolm and Henry.

Zoe, Cathy, and Amelia.

Zoe, Monique, Amelia, Henry, Malcolm, and Cathy.

After the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, we headed back towards our campground via the Hayden Valley. We had been assured by a park ranger earlier in the morning that this was the place to see wildlife. Even more excitingly, she said that she almost always saw at least one grizzly bear when she drove through. With keen eyes, we proceeded into the valley....

These bison were certainly closer and more numerous than the far-off pair we saw at Hot Springs State Park, but the herd was still pretty far away this afternoon.

Henry and Malcolm.


John and Monique.


Speaking of exotic wildlife ... look, a Jaguar! I didn't know they lived this far north!

We even spotted a bald eagle on one of the river bends. It's on the branch in the middle of this photo. But we were pretty much through the valley and still no grizzly bears.

Wait, what's that over there by the edge of the trees?

A grizzly bear!

Goodbye, Mr. Grizzly. (Or Mrs. Grizzly, I really have no idea how to tell from afar and certainly had no intentions of getting close enough to find out!) You were truly a grand sight!

Next stop down the road, Yellowstone Lake:

Hello, Mrs. Elk. (This time I'm sure!)

We ended our big Saturday in Yellowstone with a weenie-and-s'mores roast back at the campsite.

All in all, a great day at Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Big Road Trip: Yellowstone - A Walk along the Upper Geyser Basin

After we watched the prompt eruption of Old Faithful, we headed out for a walk along the Firehole River and the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin. Come join me, Monique, Malcolm, and Henry for a stroll on a cool, cloudy August day.

Here's a map for reference. We started at Old Faithful Geyser (in the bottom right) and walked northwest along the Firehole River towards Morning Glory Pool (about two-thirds of the way towards the upper left.)

Geysers, geysers, geysers.

Castle Geyser.

Henry and Malcolm take in Crested Pool.

Crested Pool.

The Firehole River.

South Scalloped Spring.

Scalloped Spring.

Spasmodic Geyser.

Belgian Pool.

Dead trees on the hill above Grand Geyser. The shifting geothermal heat and chemicals occasionally kill off stands of trees, leaving them as bleached guardians all about the basin.

Next we came to Grand Geyser, which is the largest predictably erupting geyser in the world with a height of 150-200 feet during a typical eruption. Grand Geyser erupts once every 10 to 12 hours as part of a complicated sequence involving nearby Vent and Turban Geysers. It's a bit difficult to predict in the field, but it usually coincides with an eruption of Turban Geyser, which is a small geyser that erupts once every 18-20 minutes. So, if you see a full pool of water in Grand Geyser, it's worth sitting and waiting to see what happens. We joined the gathering crowd....

... and we got to see a tiny bubbling eruption of Turban Geyser. Cool, but hardly the largest eruption in the world. We rose to our feet and trundled on....

Economic Geyser.

A spring and pool, name unknown.

Wave Spring.

Beauty Pool.

Chromatic Pool.

Back across the Firehole River.

Oblong Geyser.

We then came up to the Giant Geyser Platform. When Giant Geyser erupts it goes for up to with an hour with a stream shooting more than 250 feet into the air. Unfortunately, it's erratic and alternates between erupting as often as once every few days to going dormant for years at a time. Giant Geyser's most recent eruption was in January 2010, but even in its dormant periods it's still an active geothermal feature that often spurts forth a small bit of burbling water.

Giant Geyser.

Bijou and Giant Geysers.

Giant Geyser.

Another pretty little hot spring, name unknown.

Then, looming out of the steam and mist we came upon an active eruption from Grotto Geyser:

Monique and John at Grotto Geyser.

The woman to our right was a fixture for us on this walk. We nicknamed her "Bear-Bell Lady" because she wore a pair of the little bells that hikers wear in the backcountry to try to keep from being eaten by grizzly bears. I have doubts about their effectiveness, though, because after a few hundred yards walking along with the constant jingling I developed the urge to feed her to a grizzly bear.

On the bright side she kept us moving along briskly because we tried to be far enough ahead of her to mute the jingle. Unbelievably enough, we ran into her again the next day at Mammoth Hot Springs!

Spa Geyser ... this one looks like it would make a wonderfully comfy hot tub ... except that the boiling-hot water might be a wee bit warm for lounging about.

This is a little group of multicolored hot springs called Chain Lakes.

Another pool whose name I don't know.

Spiteful Geyser.

The main Upper Geyser Basin walk ends at Morning Glory Pool. It's worth the walk!

The colors of Morning Glory Pool come from thermophilic bacteria that grow in the waters. The hottest waters attract the lightest blue colors, while the cooler waters at the edge grow the yellows, oranges and darker reds. I could stare into this pool for hours....

Thanks for joining us on our stroll along the Upper Geyser Basin! Here are your fellow walkers in front of Morning Glory Pool....

Monique and John.

Henry, Malcolm, and John.

Henry and Monique.


Next post: the rest of our Saturday afternoon in Yellowstone.