Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oregon Bound: pt.9

The second day at Yellowstone started with much promise, as the sun decided it was going to cooperate that day. As it turned out, this would be one of the best days that we had on the trip, and I'm glad that we had it at Yellowstone. We had saved many of the major things we wanted to see for this day, since we had hoped the weather would be better. After some breakfast with a great view from the Lake Lodge, we headed to Old Faithful.

the view from the parking lot of the Lake Lodge, where we ate meals
It would be safe to say that Old Faithful is easily one of the most popular destinations in Yellowstone, and it's easy to see why. See water squirt hundreds of feet into the air? For sure! It's the most famous and easily recognizable geyser in the park. That said, I actually found it less than impressive for all the hype. I've included a photo of what it looks like normally (the first one) and then some shots as the geyser started going off:

at rest


As it turns out, you just don't realize how actually big it is. My dad opted to stand far behind the crowds, and here is the view from where he was:

That kinda puts it in perspective eh? So note to any future visitors of Old Faithful: the best view is actually farther away. There is a much bigger wow factor back there! I was sitting somewhere right around where that guy with the umbrella was. Also, another tip: If it's raining, wait in your car until you see crowds of people returning to their cars. Give it about ten minutes, and then mosey on out there. The geyser only goes off every 13-20 minutes or something like that! Ask the rangers and they'll give you an estimated time of when the next shoot will be.

Around Old Faithful there are other geysers along with volcanic activity, and also a lodge (which was probably one of the prettiest ones in the park). One of the highlights of the afternoon, though, was when a bison decided to wander right into the middle of all of this infrastructure. That patch of grass must have been awful good for it to walk right in amongst everything! Naturally, rangers immediately caught sight of it and made sure people stayed clear.

other activity around Old Faithful
the lodge 
blue lake or bottomless steam puddle?

bison chillin "I do what I want"
We cruised around a bit more, moving past more geothermal activity. Fact is, there's a lot of that stuff in Yellowstone and you can really find it everywhere. Unfortunately, this means that after you've seen so much it starts to wear off a little bit... but that didn't stop us from taking pictures of course! There is still always something new to see and appreciate.

a little steam here...
... and a little steam there...
and a little steam over hereeeee.
Some of the greatest sights were just the clouds, hovering over the plains like a fluffy blanket while the sun broke through. Out here, there are no lights, no telephone poles, no neon signs, no advertisements or billboards. It is nature in its purest form, and damn, is it beautiful. We found this little road off the main drag around the park and decided to pull off for a photo. With the river flowing through, it was a prime opportunity for a picture, and even had a few bison chilling nearby.

sleeping it up

The day is still far from over, but I think that's probably as good a place as any to take a break. More to come tomorrow!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oregon Bound: pt.8

Hey Blog World, it has been quite a long time! Since my trip out to Oregon I have made it through the first term of grad school at UO. Needless to say... it kept me pretty damn busy. That means that I didn't really have time to blog... and it would probably be safe to say that I didn't really have time to blink either! Anyways, here I am on Christmas break and finally getting back to blogging. So without further ado, the journey continues...

We pick back up in Yellowstone Park, probably the greatest national park in the entirety of this country. Around every corner lay a new exciting view, around every bend lay a new vista.

As I think I may have mentioned before, Yellowstone truly has it all: the mountains, the valleys, the forests, the plains. Even on a cloudy day, it's beautiful.

Dad with camera at the ready... sporting that America jacket
At one point we saw a small dirt road in passing along the main road, and I seem to remember it had Blackhawk somewhere in the name. I looked at my Dad and said, "Wanna try it?" There was a sign that warned that certain vehicles shouldn't traverse this terrain. But shit, this was the reason I got a truck with four wheel drive, right? We went for it. Unlike the main paved roads, this one was dirt, with more potholes from erosion that you could count. But the views that you got were pretty cool. We may have hit a lot of bumps and blown a lot of gas, but shit, when you're driving across the country, why not? Check it out:

out here, you're truly on your own... no traffic, no cars, just silence and nature

the infamous one-way dirt road
 On our way across the country, we had been trying to hit as many states as we could on the way, and since Yellowstone's borders spill over into Montana, naturally we had to go out the northern exit to check it out. We found a huge gate there that my Dad had seen once before when he traveled west after his college days had ended, and this was by far the coolest entrance to the park. The Xterra parked off the road on the right side was our chariot for the journey!

Upon reentering the park, the daylight was beginning to get sparse and we didn't have much time left. However, as we passed back through the gates to Yellowstone, passing through the main headquarters, there was one more thing yet to see before daylight ran out: Mammoth Hot Springs. The pictures here truly do not do it justice, as it is the largest hot springs in the country. Normally, there are many vibrant colors all around the springs, but since there was less water during this time (it was fall instead of spring) the effect was lessened, and also the sun was absent more or less, contributing to a (slightly) less spectacular sight. From the top of the hot springs, you can see down the valley into the depths of Montana, mountain ranges flanking both sides, the town of Gardiner, MT, basically the gateway "city" to the park.

the view from the top -- you can see the buildings of headquarters of the park in the distance

you can see some colors, but normally this is much more colorful and active because of the melted snow in the spring!

yours truly standing on one of the boardwalks around mammoth hot springs
On the way back to our cabin we stopped on a whim to see a geyser basin before we ran out of sunlight. It was so spectacular that we decided that we would definitely come back here the next day. It's so amazing that Yellowstone contains such geothermally active areas, and this is one of the biggest! Steam, constantly exploding out of the earth, with a roar and a putrid stench. Ah yes, the sights of Yellowstone. More to come!

dad admiring the geyser basin

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