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.
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