Category Archives: geysers

Three weeks ago, Day 16

Waiting for things to erupt!

 Actually, three weeks ago yesterday.  Monday got away from me, alas.

Anyway, the weather did a 180 from Sunday night to Monday.  When I woke up the sun was shining and the birds — or were those chipmunks? — were chirping outside my cabin at Old Faithful, and it was positively balmy compared to the day before.

Happily I loaded my backpack with my Kindle, my cross-stitch, a bottle of water, and a notebook, slathered on sunscreen, slapped on my hat, and headed out.

First stop was the lodge, for one of their large, delicious muffins.  Second stop was at the visitor center, to check the eruption predictions and make notes.  Three geysers were predicted for late in the morning — Daisy and Riverside around 10:30, and Castle for just after eleven.  Grand’s prediction wasn’t till the afternoon, at 3:45 (which really meant any time between 1:45 and 5:45 — Grand’s window is always two hours on either side of the predicted time). 

I headed down the paved trail, which used to be the old road before the early 70s when they rerouted automobile traffic out of the geyser basin, only to have a ranger redirect me around a stretch past several bison cows and their calves, and the bull who was apparently keeping an eye on them.  As I made my little detour, I heard the ranger trying — apparently in vain — to keep someone from strolling right up to them who did not realize the danger of getting too close to something that weighs 2000 pounds, can run faster than you can, and has babies to protect.  Yellowstone is not a zoo, folks.  Those animals are wild.

I had been planning to watch Daisy and/or Riverside, but somehow I didn’t get any further than Castle at first.  Castle is great fun to watch, and to listen to.  I hadn’t seen a whole Castle eruption, from the first spout of water through to the steam, which makes a mighty roar, in a long time, so I decided to wait for it.  It was well worth it, as you can see in the photos.  I’m just sorry I can’t reproduce the sound for you. 

I struck up a conversation while I was waiting for it with a lady from Virginia whose first visit to Yellowstone this was.  She queried me about a lot of things, including wanting to know which was my favorite geyser, so I got to tell her about Grand a bit.  Turns out that was my good deed for the day, as I will explain later.

After Castle finished bellowing, she and I walked down to catch the last of Riverside Geyser, and to see Morning Glory Pool.  By that point it was getting to be lunch time, and she and I each went our own way.  I went back to the lunch counter at Lower Ham (one of the two general stores at Old Faithful — the other one being called Upper Ham, short for Hamilton), to grab a quick meal before heading out to stake my bench at Grand.

It really was a glorious day for geyser-gazing.  Other than a few white puffies, the sky was a never ending blue, it was warm without being hot, there was just enough of a breeze to keep things comfortable, and the boardwalks were bone dry.  The flowers were blooming, too — I saw gentians and shooting stars, among others.  And, of course there were red dogs (bison calves).  What more could you ask for?

Well…  I ran into Lisa from the geysers email list and we had a nice conversation.  I’d been at Grand for about an hour when Kristin, the lady from Virginia, showed up, with the comment that she wanted to see the geyser I’d gone on so about.  Less than an hour after that, Turban went and Grand overflowed, and then up, up, up it went. 

It was a terrific eruption.  I will never, ever, ever get tired of watching Grand erupt.  There’s something about geysers that makes them look like they are having way more fun than is good for them.  They’re just exuberant.  Playful.  Whatever.  I know better than to try to anthropomorphize them, but I can’t seem to help it.  And when it was over, people applauded, which always just tickles the heck out of me.

I glanced over at Kristin, who was sitting there with her fingers over her mouth and her eyes wide, and after it finished I said, was it worth the wait?  And she said, oh, yes.  Like I said, my good deed for the day.

What was left of the rest of the day after the stroll back to the cabin, which wasn’t much, was an early supper, then one last viewing of Old Faithful, with an eruption of Lion in the distance.  And early to bed.  Because, whether I wanted to or not, tomorrow I needed to head home.

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If you like my travel writing, you might enjoy my fiction set in Yellowstone:

Repeating History, “A GRAND yarn you can’t put down.” Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures
http://mmjustus.com/fictionrepeatinghistory.html

Three weeks ago, Day 15

Snow, blast it!

So.  Five days before today the temperature was 99F degrees.  Today I woke up to snow.  Not horrendous amounts, but enough that I had to scrape it off of my car before I could set out for the morning.  I won’t tell the story about snow on July 4th in the park when I was small, or mention that I have now been snowed on in the park at some point in every month from May to October, except August.  Which is sort of ironic, because Repeating History‘s hero Charley got snowed on in the park in August.  Very late August, but still.  Anyway, I just won’t mention any of that now.

By the time I left West Yellowstone and headed into the park it was more sleet than snow, and it was blowing sideways, but the roads remained clear and just a bit wet.  In spite of the weather I decided to get out and walk the boardwalk at the Fountain Paint Pots, where I saw yellow monkeyflowers blooming along the edge of the boardwalk, as well as perpetually spouting Clepsydra Geyser and lots of paint pots and pools.  My jeans were soaked on one side and dry on the other by the time I got back to the car due to the wind, but it could have been worse.

I skipped Midway Geyser Basin, because when you combine two hot springs the size of Excelsior Geyser Crater and Grand Prismatic Spring and weather in the forties, you basically end up with steam thick enough to cut with a knife.  For the entire length of the boardwalk.  Besides, my jeans were still damp.

The weather seemed to be improving slightly by the time I got to Biscuit Basin, however, so I did get out and walk there, in the company of a group of tourists who sounded eastern European of some kind to my ears — Russian, maybe?  One of the young women was wearing a t-shirt, leggings, and sandals, along with a Jayne hat.  I shivered just looking at her.  The snow was beginning to collect on the boardwalks, and I’m not sure there are many surfaces as slippery as jugwalk (planks made out of wood pulp and recycled pop bottles) with snow on it.  But I it was nice to see Sapphire Pool again, especially since every mention of the park during the 1959 earthquake that I’d seen in my research was replete with its magnificent eruptions in the aftermath.  I’d have loved to see that.

So I finally wended my way to the Upper Geyser Basin, aka the home of Old Faithful (the link goes to the live, streaming webcam).  I had been planning to spend this day out in the geyser basin, but I was cold and damp and needed at the very least to warm up and dry out before I went walking outdoors again.  The snow had warmed up just enough to become a cold, penetrating drizzle, but it was still pretty miserable.  So I bought a cookie in the lodge and ate it while gazing wistfully out the big windows, then headed over to the bright shiny new visitor center that opened in August of 2010.

It’s about time that the Upper Geyser Basin acquired a decent visitor center.  And it has a virtual version, too, if you’re interested in checking that out (the introductory video is a hoot).  The old visitor center dated from Mission 66, I think.  At any rate, its amenities included a ranger desk, an auditorium, and a small bookstore.  Not a single exhibit.  The new visitor center has a whole enormous room full of exhibits, many of them interactive, telling all about how thermal features work and why they are where they are and, well, let’s just say that both my museum curator persona and my inner Yellowstone junkie were vastly impressed.

So that gave me time to dry out.  Lot of good it did me.  I went out walking around Geyser Hill, and about half an hour into my stroll, slipped and fell flat on my tuckus, and covered myself in the sleet/dirt/etc., that was on the jugwalk.  At least I didn’t fall off the jugwalk.

I decided enough was enough, and took my cold, wet, dirty self off to the showers at the lodge, then to the laundromat at the Snow Lodge (two different places), and got me and my stuff cleaned up.  That was the first time I had to wash that coat.  I’m glad the manufacturer meant that “machine washable” tag.

After that, I checked into my lodge cabin and holed up, hoping for better weather the next day.  It was my last day in the park, after all.

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If you like my travel writing, you might enjoy my fiction set in Yellowstone:

Repeating History, “A GRAND yarn you can’t put down.” Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures
http://mmjustus.com/fictionrepeatinghistory.html

Three weeks ago, Day 14

First real geysers of the trip

It was chilly but the clouds were not at all ominous when I left West Yellowstone this morning.  I stopped at one of the picnic areas along the Madison River to write, then stopped again at Madison Junction, to find the ranger station/bookstore that I hadn’t visited before.  It has a nice view down the Madison River valley, and some really nice fabric blocks printed with vintage postcard images and such.  If they hadn’t been so expensive, I’d have bought them in spite of the fact that I’d already overrun my fabric budget for the trip.  Well, there’s always next time.  Or the website.

My next destination was the Firehole Lake Drive.  I wanted to see if there was a prediction posted for Great Fountain Geyser.  Great Fountain is the only geyser with regular predictions outside of the Upper Geyser Basin, and it’s well worth the effort it takes to see it (you have to understand, I have a thing about, a fascination with, a passion for geysers, so I may be a bit biased here, but going to Yellowstone without spending time waiting for geysers to erupt is like going to New York City for the first time and not visiting the Statue of Liberty — as one of my favorite fictional characters often says in other contexts, that’s just wrong). 

Anyway.  Great Fountain did indeed have a prediction written on the plastic sign at the entrance to its boardwalk.  It was for later that afternoon.  So I got back in my car and decided to drive down to West Thumb, saving the rest of the geyser basins for Sunday and Monday.  Except that Cliff Geyser was going off as I drove by, and how was I supposed to keep going without stopping at least for a while to watch one of my two favorite small geysers? (the other is Sawmill, in the Upper Geyser Basin)

As I drove over the Continental Divide on my way to West Thumb, one of the most scenic spots in the park in my humble opinion, I noticed that there was still snow along the road at the highest elevations.  I wondered if the lake would still be frozen.  I have seen it frozen before, except for the spots where there are hot springs on the floor of the lake which keep those parts open all winter, even in below 0F temperatures.

As it turned out, the lake was thawed.  As it also turned out, the weather was beginning to turn, spitting cold rain and wind.  I searched under my car seat and lo and behold, discovered that the canvas sack I keep my knit cap and mittens in was still there!  There are some advantages to being too lazy to completely clear out the car before heading out on a long trip.  Between that and the coat I had had the sense to bring with me, I was just fine.  I spent the better part of several hours wandering happily along the boardwalks admiring the beautiful hot springs, the spectacular lake, and the gorgeous Absaroka Mountains on the other side of the lake, until it dawned on me that if I wanted to attempt to catch Great Fountain, I had better hit the road.

The drive back to Great Fountain was uneventful, except for the ice pellet shower I ducked through over the Continental Divide.  The pellets themselves were tiny, about the size of the head of a quilting pin, but plentiful enough that I had to use the windshield wipers.  By the time I got back to Great Fountain, they’d stopped, though.  Good timing.

Even better was Great Fountain’s.  The pool was already beginning to overflow, and I only had to wait about half an hour, watching the center begin to bubble and boil, until all of a sudden there it went!  It was a good, one-burst eruption.  I’m not into the scientific part of the whole geyser thing, all the if it does that now when it’s already doing this it’ll go off in the next event cycle (a process Grand Geyser watchers in particular elevate to a fine art); for me it’s more just a very strong aesthetic appreciation.  But oh, I do aesthetically appreciate a good geyser eruption.  It’s one of my favorite things on the planet.

After Great Fountain did its thing, I drove on around the Firehole Lake Drive.  I had stopped to walk another boardwalk when the ice pellets struck again.  When an ice pellet hits you in the face, I am here to tell you it can sting.  So that was the end of that.  By the time I got back to West, the sun was out.  But it had been a long day, so I found some supper and holed up at the hostel for the night. 

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If you like my travel writing, you might enjoy my fiction set in Yellowstone:

Repeating History, “A GRAND yarn you can’t put down.” Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures
http://mmjustus.com/fictionrepeatinghistory.html

Three weeks ago, Day 13

 Morning to research and afternoon to explore.

The elk were gone from the campground in the morning, apparently having moved to the Gardiner school’s athletic field.  And the pronghorns were grazing on the hillside, too.  I drove back down to Gardiner, bought milk and ice — the Gardiner supermarket is sensible enough to carry block ice, thank you very much — and went back to the Heritage Center to finish this trip’s round of research.  They let me leave bookmarks behind in their rack, too, which was nice of them.

After that, I headed back into the park, and down towards the Norris Geyser Basin.  Norris has two basins, actually, the Porcelain Basin and the Back Basin (geysers always occur in low spots, which is why they’re called basins).  I wanted to walk the Porcelain Basin, called that because the sinter looks rather like it from a distance.  All smooth and pale and with very little in the way of plants in the basin proper.  The main thing I like about Porcelain Basin is the little spring/spouters that make this really nifty spitting/sizzling sound.  I grin every time I walk by them.

After that, I decided to drive over to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, to see all that high water I’d been seeing in the Yellowstone River for the last couple of days go over those spectacular falls.  The falls were about as full as I’d ever seen them, which is saying a fair amount.  And I discovered a new-to-me place, which is not something I can say very often anymore about my park.  Somehow, in all of my visits, I had missed a little sign along the road between Canyon Village and the Chittenden Bridge saying temptingly “brink of upper falls.”  This time I didn’t.  I turned off down the short road and came to a parking area and a path, which ended in a staircase.  At the bottom of the staircase, it was almost like standing at the railing at Niagara.  Not anywhere near as enormous, obviously, but every bit as loud and misty.  Complete with a rainbow.  Just lovely.  And I saw some veronica along the way.

After that it was back to Norris (it’s only twelve miles one way between Canyon and Norris, across the center of the figure eight that is the Grand Loop Road), which is named after the second superintendent of the park, back in the 1870s, Philetus W. Norris, who had a penchant for naming things after himself.  He has a bit part in Repeating History, and was an interesting fellow.

This time I wanted to walk the Back Basin trail, a mile and a half through the woods and along the boardwalks past geysers and springs and fumaroles.  This trail goes past Steamboat Geyser, the world’s largest but also one of its most erratic geysers (its recorded intervals between eruptions range from two days to over fifty years).  I would give my eyeteeth to see Steamboat erupt someday, but the chances are slim to none.  Still, this is one of the best walks in the park, and there’s lots of interesting things to see.  Including, today, a flower I’ve never seen before, bog laurel or Kalmia microphylla.  It’s the same genus as back-east mountain laurel, which is one of my favorite plants.

By the time I made it back to my car, it was late enough in the afternoon that I needed to head to West Yellowstone (known locally as just plain West), where I had a reservation for a bed in the hostel at the Madison Hotel, the oldest hotel in town, which is, as I know from personal experience, haunted [g].

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If you like my travel writing, you might enjoy my fiction set in Yellowstone:

Repeating History, “A GRAND yarn you can’t put down.” Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures
http://mmjustus.com/fictionrepeatinghistory.html

Three weeks ago, Day 3

 Helena, Montana, is a nice town.  If I could stand the climate, which is hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and very dry all year round, it wouldn’t be a half-bad place to live.  Granted, it’s a bit isolated out there in the eastern foothills of the northern Rockies, but no more so than anywhere else in Montana.  It’s an hour from Butte, a couple of hours from Great Falls, and only four hours from Yellowstone, after all.

But I was heading in the opposite direction from Yellowstone.  At least for the time being.

I had two research stops planned on this trip, and Helena was the first.  The Montana Historical Society is headquartered in Helena, with a terrific museum and a research library staffed by some extremely helpful librarians.  I spent the morning there poking through clipping files and microfilm, looking for anecdotes written by people who had been in Yellowstone during the days after the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake since I am going to be placing another character in the park during that event.  The Hebgen Lake Earthquake was the largest (7.2-7.5 on the Richter scale — the 1906 San Francisco quake was a 7.9, for a basis of comparison) earthquake in the Rocky Mountain region in recorded history, and, in the area immediately west of the park, it caused a landslide that killed almost thirty people and created an entirely new lake. 

Inside the park, no one was killed, but a great many buildings (including the Old Faithful Inn) and quite a few miles of road were severely damaged, and what the earthquake did to the thermal features (geysers, hot springs, etc.) apparently put on quite the show.  Some of the changes were permanent, some temporary, but it is safe to say that the Hebgen Lake Earthquake profoundly changed Yellowstone, and the stories people told about it are a novel begging to be written.

From research to what I’ve been calling shilling, for lack of a better term.  After lunch, I went to the Lewis and Clark County Library, where I spoke with one of the librarians and left bookmarks, then I strolled on down Last Chance Gulch, which is a) what Helena was called back when it was a mining camp in the 1860s before it became Helena, and b) the name of the main drag downtown, which is now a tree-shaded, lilac-lined pedestrian mall.  I stopped at the city hall’s historic preservation department, the chamber of commerce, a local bookstore, and at the Lewis and Clark County Historical Society along the way, trailing bookmarks as I went.  I also found a new-to-me quilt shop, and, of course, left with fabric.  Ahem.  My name is M.M. Justus, and I am a fabricoholic.  There.  That’s out of the way.

By that time it was late, and I went back to my motel to get ready to head on the next morning.  I do like Helena.  It was a good place to set part of a novel.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of today.  But there will be more tomorrow.

Repeating History, “A GRAND yarn you can’t put down.” Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures
http://mmjustus.com/fictionrepeatinghistory.html

a new cover

I have a confession to make. When I first published Repeating History last summer, I really had no idea of how to make a cover, very rudimentary knowledge of Adobe InDesign, and not much else. Since then I’ve learned just a little more, and this is the result:

The pocketwatch is a public domain image. The geyser is a photo of Grand Geyser that I took the day I had the inspiration for the book in question (it’s the same photo that’s on the old cover, but I lightened the photo for the old cover to make the title stand out). The banner is because the colors in the geyser photo run the gamut from almost black to almost white, and make it impossible (at least with the skills I have at my disposal) to keep it from washing out almost any letter color or pattern I chose. The banner colors are chosen from the photo.

The lettering is two variations of woodgrain, via Photoshop. The font is akaPosse, from dafont.com.

I would love to know what you think of it. Please tell me.

aw, shucks

According to this article and some scientists in Hong Kong, time travel isn’t possible.  Nobody’d better try to tell that to Chuck McManis, though.  Who is Chuck McManis?  He’s the hero of Repeating History, my new novel now out on Amazon and Smashwords.

Maybe they should have tried using a geyser.  Or an earthquake.  Or maybe both? [g]

11 years ago today, Day 12

I was in another national park, Yosemite, on the September 11th.  I woke up in a tent cabin at Camp Curry to a bunch of schoolkids outside yelling about how someone had bombed New York.  I briefly wondered what movie they’d been watching the night before, then went for an all-day hike up the Mist Trail.  It wasn’t until I got back that evening that I found out the tragedy was for real.

Of course, two years earlier September 11th was just another day.  A three-ring-circus of a day, but just a day.

My then-friend H was a whirlwind.  There’s really no other word to describe her.  We’d been email friends for a year or so at that point, but we’d never met in person before.  In retrospect, I should have known she’d be as hyperactive as the science fiction hero she’d introduced me to (Miles Vorkosigan, whose author is Lois McMaster Bujold) who is still my alltime favorite fictional character, but how was I to know?

And she was determined to give her friend V, who’d never been to Yellowstone before, the, well, whirlwind tour.  So we climbed in the car and during the course of that day “did” Mammoth again, and Norris, and Lower, Middle, and Upper Geyser Basins, before heading down to the Tetons for a dinner cruise on Jackson Lake. 

The cruise was wonderful, and something I’d not have thought to do on my own.  It was a beautiful cloudless evening, and several dozen of us piled into the large motor launch that took us over to an island in the middle of Jackson Lake for a cookout.  The scenery was spectacular, of course:

The Tetons from the boat
And from the island.
My friend (on the left) and her friend, the one time I was able to get her to stand still long enough to have their photo taken
The food was good, too, a choice of steak or trout.  Since H hadn’t let us stop long enough to eat all day, hunger sauce probably made it even better.
After supper, watching sunset
Those barely visible specks in the sky are a flock of sandhill cranes, according to our guide

We drove back into Yellowstone in the dark, arriving at Canyon to check into a cabin just before midnight.  The drive along the shore of Lake Yellowstone by starlight was beautiful, but unfortunately my camera wouldn’t do it justice. 

Not to mention that I was half asleep by the time we staggered to our beds.  Whirlwinds are something to behold, but as traveling companions?  Well…

11 years ago today, Day 10 — waiting for things to go off

My third full day at Yellowstone was spent entirely in the Upper Geyser Basin, waiting for things to go off.  In order to really get to see the geysers properly, you need a couple of things, plenty of patience, and plenty of time.  I had the latter, or at least a whole day, and I helped myself out with the former by loading my daypack up with a picnic, a book, my journal, and my camera, and then stopping by the visitor center to collect eruption predictions.

Oh, and good walking shoes.  I must have walked at least six miles that day.

The first thing I did was walk down to Morning Glory Pool:

Morning Glory Pool isn’t as blue as it used to be because of vandals throwing stuff in it.  How can people be that stupid?
Riverside Geyser was due to go off next, so I stopped there and waited:
Riverside erupts out over the Firehole River, and afternoon eruptions (which this wasn’t), often have rainbows in the steam.
Next was Grotto Geyser.  Ahem.  Okay, this is a G-rated blog, so I’m not going to make the obvious comment, but honestly.
Grotto Geyser.  ‘Nuff said.
Those are supposedly trees that have been coated with sinter over the last few thousand years.
Next was a geyser I’d wanted to see ever since my ex absolutely refused to wait through its four-hour eruption window thirteen years before.  I’ve talked about Grand Geyser here before, how it’s the tallest predictable geyser on the planet, and how it was part of the inspiration for my novel Repeating History, and just generally how amazing it is.  So I won’t go on and on and on, even though I could, quite easily.  But I will tell you that my first-ever eruption of the Grand was a five burst eruption, which is quite rare, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  I do remember the gazers with their walkie-talkies going practically ballistic, though.  Anyway, here’s one of the first photos I ever took of Charley’s geyser:
Isn’t it Grand? (sorry)
After that, well, everything else, while wonderful, was something of an anticlimax.  Still, I also saw Giant Geyser’s crater, which looks like an enormous hollow tree stump:
Giant is not a regular eruptor, and while I saw an eruption on a later trip, it was not cooperating today.
I saw Sawmill Geyser, which erupts much of the time.  It’s one of my favorite smaller geysers, mostly because of its sheer exuberance.  But I could say that about most geysers — I’ve never seen an eruption where the geyser in question didn’t look like it was having one heck of a good time.
Sawmill in the distance.  Grand’s pool is just in front of the hillside to the left.
And Castle Geyser, which is, of course, named after its cone, which from many angles does look kind of like a ruined castle.
This is Castle’s steam phase, which is incredibly noisy.
All in all, my best, if most footsore, day in the park.  Not least because of my epiphany while gazing raptly at Grand, when I suddenly thought, wow!  Wouldn’t that make a terrific time travel device!

11 years ago, Day 8 — geysers and mudpots and history, oh, my

It’s hard for me to think about Yellowstone as anywhere but one of my favorite places on earth anymore, but on my first full day in the park on my Long Trip, it was just somewhere I’d always wanted to come back and spend more time after one visit I wasn’t old enough to remember, one day when I was nineteen, and two days with my ex who wouldn’t sit around and wait for anything to erupt.

That was the one thing I wanted to do more than anything.  Spend an entire day in the geyser basins waiting for things to erupt. 

It was cold that morning.  I had to scrape frost off Owl’s windshield — I never did explain Owl’s name, did I?  My first car was a 1966 Ford Falcon, painted the green equivalent of navy blue.  I inherited it from my father when it was fourteen years old.  I’d owned three vehicles between that one and the 1998 Chevy Cavalier I drove eleven years ago, but the Chevy was the first green (my favorite color) car since the Falcon.  I toyed with the idea of calling it Falcon II (doesn’t everyone name their cars?) but that was a bit pretentious.  So, I thought, what other birds of prey are out there?  And that’s how Owl got his name.

So.  Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Scraping frost in my heavy coat.  In early September.  Anyway, I headed into the park and promptly saw a pair of sandhill cranes along the Madison River, who flew away before I had a chance to take their picture, then headed north towards Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs.  On the way, I stopped to walk the trail to Artist Paintpots, which I remembered from the “ex” visit as being these beautiful pools plopping in the trees, but which had been hit by the 1988 fires, and now were in an open meadow with dead snags scattered about.  The paintpots themselves were still beautiful, though.

My goal for the day was Mammoth Hot Springs, and Fort Yellowstone:

Old and new terraces at Mammoth
The red-roofed buildings are old Fort Yellowstone, and the others to their left are the Mammoth village.  This is taken from the road that goes up above the springs.
Fort Yellowstone has an interesting history.  Yellowstone, as everyone knows, was the first national park in the world.  But when Congress set the land aside back in 1871, it didn’t provide any money to take care of it, or even to protect it from poachers and vandals.  The first civilian superintendents were alternately severely hampered in their work or incredibly incompetent, and by the 1880s, things were in such a mess that the Army had to be called in to take up the slack, temporarily, or so they thought at the time.  Fort Yellowstone’s beautiful stone buildings:
Elk grazing on the lawn at Fort Yellowstone
Are the legacy of the Army’s thirty-year tenure in the park, which ended with the creation of the National Park Service in 1917.
After lunch at the hot springs village, I headed back south, stopping to drive the little byway that goes above the springs, and to see
Cthulhu, otherwise known as Orange Mound Spring [g]
My last stop for the day was the Norris Geyser Basin, named after Philetus Norris, the second civilian superintendent of the park who during his tenure back in the late 1870s, had a penchant for naming everything he saw after himself, and was otherwise quite the character. 
I was there, as I said before, to watch for something to erupt, and I was lucky enough to see Echinus Geyser
It’s a lot more impressive in person — the boardwalk viewing area is actually on the hillside above the geyser, and the water you’re seeing there is about 40 feet tall.
When the ex and I had been here in 1985, Echinus was erupting regularly enough to be predicted.  This was no longer the case in 1999, so I was extremely fortunate to see it again.  But not fortunate enough to witness the most memorable part of what we saw in 85, which was just after the eruption, when the water drained, sounding just like a bathtub emptying.  It was still pretty darned cool, though, and a great way to end my first full day in Yellowstone.