Friday, June 6, 2008

Yellowstone: Day 1

Yellowstone National Park is one of those places where, upon reaching it, you immediately feel bad for having spent all those years of your life without visiting it earlier. It really is a wonderful place- sort of like New Zealand but with scenery a bit more large and wild, and buffalo wandering around instead of sheep. In short, totally awesome.

We spent most of Tuesday driving through Bighorn National Forest (which was stunning, but my camera was out of juice so it's for our memories alone) to Cody, Wyoming where we spent the night. I have visited Wyoming once before when we skied in Jackson Hole when I was in 9th grade or so, and always insisted Wyoming was my favorite skiing locale since and was happy to see the rest of the state lived up to it. Wyoming is just so lovely, so wild...

Anyway, before I wax poetic I will get to the pictures because I'm sure that's why most of you are here, so these are all from Wednesday-

This is the view over Yellowstone Lake from Steamboat Point, which is the highest altitude large lake in the USA. There are two things striking here to the average person- the steam rising up from a vent, and the ice on the lake in early June- but Yellowstone is an incredible sort of place whereby within a few days both of these seems totally normal. You'll see what I mean...
Patrick posing in front of the old-school tourist bus from the 1930s. You can actually do tours on these, which we did for a few hours the first afternoon to get our bearings, and they're pretty cute if I may say so.
A mud volcano. Apparently it irregularly explodes on occasion, which would be alarming until you realize Yellowstone is the world's largest caldera and might be overdue for an eruption that would throw ash over much of the American West, so it's all relative right?
The Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It's twice as tall as Niagara, impressively enough, but it's all the more impressive when you take a look at the rest of the canyon-
The view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in the other direction. The rocks are particularly incredible here: there is red from the rust, of course, but also yellow from all the wonderful-smelling sulfur from all the thermal activity in the park. All in all, a stunning sight!

Anyway, that night we had an interesting bit of adventure actually. It was the last (*sob*) night of the Stanley Cup finals which we obviously had to go watch because of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but televisions are understandably a bit difficult to come by. We ended up asking around (which was a touch embarrassing- "hi, we're amidst all this splendor, but can you tell us where we can find a TV?") and learned the one television in the park was in a place called Mammoth, an hours drive away. So we drove there for dinner, naturally, only to learn that they didn't get NBC in the Park (what?) but a helpful guy at the bar told us and the other Pittsburghers who had shown up by this point to head over to nearby Gardner, Montana just outside the park.

So let the record show, Montana is my 30th state or so, and my experience with the state consists of going to a lovely cowboy saloon called The Rusty Rail to watch a hockey game. It was nice, though, because even though the Penguins didn't do too well all the locals were incredibly cheering for our team, and there are good microbreweries in Montana, so I view the state with favorable light!