Monday, November 1, 2021

Yellowstone Part 4: Realizations

I've not stayed in a log of log cabins, but this is absolutely my favorite one.
The last day and a half was honestly the longest and quickest time I have experienced. But I think that sort of thing happens to time passing when it's during a vacation or leisure filled excursion.

I could already feel a bit of melancholy about that creeping into my head, but I held it off, because there was still a lot I wanted to do and see before getting back on a plane to head back home.
The higher altitude lent a crisp fall feel to the air that morning.
There was a moment after waking and leaving the cabin that the presence of my surroundings really overcame my senses all at once. 

Having grown up with a military family, and been a Boy Scout, travel is nothing new to me, but there are moments when I feel like I see or experience things that will stay with me. Not the over the top moments necessarily, but more like this.

Just waking up on a mountainside, and for a few moments, feeling the weight of all my problems disappear as I live in that moment as fully as I can. That's something that I've become more aware of trying to do with my life. When I travel, when I have any sort of experiences, just so that later, as I am doing now in writing this, I have a good grasp of what I felt like. I soaked it in, and then snapped this photo of the clouds overhead.
Pahaska Tepee was down the road from where the cabins were located.
Pahaska Tepee is William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's old hunting lodge and hotel in the U.S. state of Wyoming. It's located about 50 miles west of the town of Cody, and two miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which is great if you want to fuel up before entering the park.

It had no internet access (which was weird, because the cabins had internet and satellite tv), a pretty robust gift shop, and evidently a great restaurant in it (didn't eat there, I can't hike and drive on a full stomach).
I often wonder if the animals don't just troll us humans from a distance... it takes just one car stopping and the first person swearing they saw SOMETHING like a bear/bison/wolf/duck/jackalope and you have this happen.
There's a lot I want to say about the rest of the time spent there, but I feel that some of the photos may do just as well of a job. Not because I don't know what to say, but because I honestly find it hard to put into words just how compelling, impactive, and regenerating the whole experience had been up to this point, and how there were moments to come that would drive it home even harder for me.

I'm not a religious man, but if nature is a form of faith, something in me rekindled itself, in a way I'd not felt since I was hiking the trails of Philmont Scout reservations when I was sixteen years old. 
The more you take your time to look and explore, the more alive the park becomes.
No photo, no video, no memory will ever take the place of witnessing and being there in these moments. I felt more alive than I had for a very long time.

This was my antithesis to the urban lifestyle so centralized in many of our lives, through corporate jobs, blocked by cubicle views, and pined over when we are beckoned back to "the real world" of repeated actions and mundane tasks. 
This small crossing was off the roadway, down in a small valley. Easily overlooked by 90% of drivers by my guess.
The National Park system allows for so many areas to remain protected for appreciation by us now, and hopefully for future generations to come. 

I know that not everyone who came through enjoyed their visit as much as some others might, and that's alright. The outdoors is not for everyone. 
I lost track of how many waterfalls I saw...
I had been suffering from an intense amount of artist's creative block. For those of you who are not in the creative endeavors, to go through a block so severe that you end up questioning if you want to keep moving forward creating,... can be devastating. Emotionally. Spiritually. 

I had the chance to sit and think, to note, to be in the moment, and twice, meditate for a short while at a few places, to ask myself some honest and scary questions about my life lived, and where I wanted to go next.
and where exactly I saw them.
New and unfamiliar surroundings can be the perfect catalyst to get your thinking going in the right direction. It may not be the EASIEST direction, but for me, it was the pathway of thought I had to traverse.
This little tool has become a daily carry now, for hiking or art shows. I'll review it later in-depth.
Sometimes you witness life through the eyes of your fellow travelers. The good or the bad, and in some instances, both.

Near the rest area where I took the photo of the eating tool kit above, there was a gift shop. I noticed an older woman in distress who was standing by her dog, that was laying on the ground. 

Long story short, it was having issues breathing. It wasn't tired, it was labored breathing, the kind when someone is possibly at the end of life.

I asked if there was anything I could do, the woman who was by the time I'd walked over, now accompanied by another lady, said through teary eyes, "No, he's... I think it's his time, he's quite old. 17. I could not bear to not come here without him, he's always traveled with me. But now..."

At that moment, I felt that I should not have walked over, as I could not hold back my own tears. Another fellow was walking over quickly at that moment. I didn't know what to say in response, what DOES someone say in that moment? "I'm sorry" doesn't seem to carry the truth of heart sentiment I wanted to say.

All around us, others not aware of this sad moment unwinding in a small area of the parking lot, were heading into the shop, and talking and milling about. I chose to head inside to the gift shop. I don't know if it was because of the weight of what I just was part of, but then I realized I also needed my wallet, which in my haste, I had left in the car. 

As it turns out, I saw the woman from just moments ago, carrying her dog, and the man I'd seen quickly running up to them was talking to her about something and she had a look of what I took to be relief on her face. The dog's tail was wagging, and he looked far more alert. They were standing near where I had parked and the man as it turns out was a vet or a vet tech of some sort. Regardless, he was telling her that the higher altitude was hard on the elderly from an oxygen and hydration standpoint, that domestic animals especially were no exception, being smaller than us.

He assured her that so long as she didn't go hiking or do anything strenuous with the old pooch that he should be fine.

I'd really like to think that if the dog did pass, that it was back home, and that his loving owner would have gotten one more finished adventure with her companion. I guess I was in the mood to believe in the idea that good things could happen.
I know people rely on phones to get places, but I will always prefer my GPS, and not just because I can make my car look like an X-Wing fighter on screen.
For some reason, I had totally missed the fact that there was a lake in Yellowstone. A massive lake complete with one or two little islands that looked like they wanted no visitors on. 
This areas was a bit creepy to drive through as there had been a fire a while back, and the still standing burned out, bleached remains of the trees looked a bit alien.
There was an overlook along the main driving route that the phone navigation app had noted "If you've got time, you might want to take a moment to stop and appreciate the majesty of the lake from this point just off the roadway. You might even get to see some of Yellowstone's more rare residents, if they don't see you first!"
I am a sucker for wildflowers.
I'm glad there's an app for that. And "that", would be seeing something once again, that I've only seen a few times before, but each time is memorable beyond belief for me.
This is what could be seen from the side roadway...
I think I held my breath and rubbed my eyes when I saw what was down below in the valley.
And this was through a HUGE CAMERA LENS...a Mama bear and cub sharing a moment.
As this moment went on, more people quietly came up the road and saw the pair below, and so many various camera lenses and tripods came out to silently chronicle and observe these two majestic creatures playing, interacting, and eating on what was left of a deer carcass, all the while very much aware of the line of humans watching from a short distance away.
So, SO aware... that there were some people up above on the ridge overlooking them.
I saw my first bear when I was in a tent, in a bleary eyed zoned out moment that I barely remember because I was so exhausted from hiking at Philmont in New Mexico, that was a black bear that had some into our campsite looking for things we'd left out and about.

The second one I saw, was in Colorado when I went looking for a spare tire that... it's a long story for another time... got violently ripped off my trailer by the wind, and bounced a LONG distance at high speed down into a streambed. I managed to find the wheel, but forgetting that I was in a pretty remote area of Colorado, I also found a bear. I didn't look at it long and thankfully, it wasn't interested in me.
It's moments like this, that will live in my head forever.
This now third time, fully seeing TWO bears, was emotional. In all the best ways. I didn't want this to end. I would have sat there just watching them for hours if I could have.

I'm sure more than a few of the others did, especially the one fellow I saw pull out a Hasselblad 100 Megapixel camera. It was his moment, and judging by others that knew what his camera was, they gave him a choice spot.

Seriously, go look that camera up. I'm not even a decent amateur photographer, and I would die to have a chance to use a Hasselblad for just one day. I can only imagine the images he got with that thing.
If this photo was any more "American West", Sam Elliot would be standing in it
So as the day went on, and the sun finally started to set. I felt that pang of this all closing up as an experience. or so I thought. I mean life is what we make of it, even the muted moments right?
Another late day bear in a far off corner of the park.
So I'm not lying when I say that there was no way in heck I thought another bear sighting would be lined up in the evening hours. This one was just off by itself in another remote area of the park.
Take your time looking around...
After getting back in town, I noticed this building off over to the side of the main roadway, and that it had an information display in front of it.
Some great overlooked things are hiding in plain sight.
This was the only US mail carrier post in this area. I don't know how much of it is original, when you take away the rest of the town that is around it, you really can get a scope of how remote it must have been living and working out of this cabin so many years ago.
An evening meal.
Dinner in Cody can be found at a few different places, and this buffalo burger was one heck of a way to end a day's wandering around. I don't always like to post food pictures, but this was part of the experience, so here it is. 

Like any tourist area, try to get to dinner early, and beat the crowds as best you can.

After dinner, it was back to the hotel, to get an early rise to get maybe a few more things seen before heading home.

Museum find: The Railroad Museum

I love anytime I can find a museum. The fact is that the United States has them all over the place, museums about the Old West, Military History, Toys, Art, Technology, I mean you name it, it's out there. 

When I was young, I became obsessed with them, because I tend to have a penchant for hyper fixation on things, so finding a museum that has catered and ordered sections of information and physical presentation of things, is a literal nirvana of the mind for me.
Having some time before the flight and finding a niche railroad and movie history museum was so great!
This museum had one very informative fellow explaining all sorts of great things about the history of the local railways. But it also had two other sections included. A small film history section upstairs, and traveling temporary exhibit dealing with animal herd migration, history, and preservation efforts across Yellowstone.

The last part was a nice little quick injection of Yellowstone before heading off to the airport.
I took SO many photos. Reference like this isn't always easy to come by!
Finally, it was time to head to the airport. I learned two things on the two flights home. I hate flying in the tail of the plane. And next time if it kills me, I WILL sit in first class. Evidently those are the only seats sized for humans.
At least the inflight movie on the second flight was more than great. I love The Last Crusade!
So you know that feeling after a vacation, or after attending/working a comic convention?

Pretty sure these people felt the same way.
Coming home means more than just that late night drive back to the house, means more than sitting down in my office chair and greeting my animals and being happy to be home. 

It means time to reflect, time to enjoy what I saw, what I experienced, and what I will miss.

Yellowstone is a geographical and historical icon, of immeasurable environmental wealth. It is a location that resides in a particular area in the map, but moves into that part of your heart filled with adventure, amazement, love, and appreciation for the natural world. 

I went from being someone who never thought they'd ever get to go to Yellowstone, to someone who can't imagine what it would have been like to have missed out on it.
The first road picture at a stop in the park, and the last one I took before leaving the park.
Will I go back? I can't predict the future, but if I had my way, I'd have already gone back. There is still a lot more to see. It got me to pick up my spirit from a pretty low place, and see the sun in a new way.

Even if I never make it back to this park, there are a lot of others, and my sense of adventure really ignited again in ways I never expected, and to be honest, never had thought would have happened as they did. 

It reminded me of how important it is to stop and focus on where one is in life, to take the moments to breathe in, to observe exactly where you are, and to want more out of life. 

It did make me realize that I waited too long to want to see more of the world, and frankly, even if I had 300 years of life, I'd probably never see all of the world. 

But I'm sure as hell going to try.

Until next time, support artists and local businesses! Always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days! Keep being awesome you glorious people.

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Monday, July 5, 2021

Yellowstone Part 3: Mindfulness

Seeing sunrises like this, reminds me of how few I take the time to watch when I'm at home.
The next morning was early rising, packing things up, and getting fuel for the day's driving. The towns around Yellowstone all seem to work on similar hours. Nothing in town is open until after 9am, and the majority of people don't seem to get up and around until then. I'm not sure which came first to make it that way.
Rush hour in the mountains...
But there will always be like minded people that also get up early to get in line on the roads leading back into the park, in an effort to get to areas before crowds start to gather and parking spaces become more scarce.
Nothing like lining up a shot to have your subjects suddenly look the other way.
It could also be that some bison are milling about, so traffic slows to a slower pace for safety and photo opportunities. Once again, as a side note, if you are planning to come to Yellowstone, you WILL see bison. Everywhere. At practically anytime.
No picture really captures how absolutely majestic Old Faithful is in person.
I believe Old Faithful goes off every hour and a half or so, and because of that, there is a circle of seats that encircle the geyser so people can sit and wait. The biggest thing that struck me was, I can remember moments from 1st grade where my teacher spoke about US landmarks and showed pictures of places like Old Faithful. Maybe because it's one of those things most people grow up hearing about, or just being referenced in media, it hits differently when you finally get to see it in person. It felt like stepping into one of the history books or posters I saw in my youth.

The time that Old Faithful took to run through it's release was about 5 to 10 minutes. I have video of it which I'll post up in the last update. The funny part was all of the false starts that the geyser would do. As a group you could watch a line of cameras and phones rise and fall in unison, all in anticipation of catching the eruption when it begins.

After watching the majestic actions of Old Faithful, the next nearby area you can walk to is the Upper Geyser Basin, with more geothermal activity on display. 
The creeks and rivers all around, are some of the most scenic I've ever witnessed.
The walk to the basin, goes over a wooden bridge with a ridiculously photogenic creek underneath it. I couldn't help myself, I kept stopping to get just a bit more video, or just a few more shots of anything I saw that was inspirational, beautiful, or just great reference for future art projects.
Fire up the Toy Story feels...
I don't know how long this little lost toy had been on this fence post on just the other side of the creek. But in my mind, some little kid may have been missing it, or this little toy was dropped and forgotten.

Not wanting to take it with me in the event that a parent or child would come back looking for it, I just chronicled the little stuffed toy laying there, seemingly patiently waiting for it's owner to come back. Maybe I was feeling my imagination fire up, but as I walked the Upper Geyser Basin I had a very Toy Story like narrative that developed about this little baby bison toy, whom I named Bisley. It involved him traveling around the park until he finally ended up near a gift shop and reunited with his owner, a small boy named Tony.

I think I was still a bit dehydrated and the hiking around was tiring me out, but I'd also like to think I was feeling my creative rut starting to fade away.  
I was worn out enough that I could not figure out why the walking path was just one way. Was I breaking a law? Which way was... and then I realized it was just saying that it was 1/2 a mile that ONE WAY, and another 1/2 mile and back.
All of the geothermal activity areas had burned out trees in them. It was kind of wild to see these stark almost ethereal looking ghost like trees that still stood. They reminded me for some reason of a modern art installation, similar to the 60 foot stainless steel tree on the south lawn of the Nelson Atkins Museum. In particular how that metal tree looked on the security monitors when it was turning dusk.

The monitors security would watch are in color, but have night vision to some degree, and as the evening came on, the screens would switch to grayscale video. But the one camera that watched Ferment, would have this very odd, almost surreal look to how it displayed. It made the tree look like it could have once been alive, it's hard to really put it into words, but it was the camera I liked to have up on my monitor to watch the half hour or so as the sun went down to see that effect play out
I didn't wander off the path, but I was interested to see how the bark or apparent lack thereof on these white trees felt.
Some of the springs look very alien in coloration. Truly like nothing I'd ever seen before. It is a shame though that signs have to be placed up near them to remind visitors to not throw coins or other things into the centers of these fragile natural creations.
The reason from what I understand that there is such an intense blue is from the way that sunlight is reflected back out. 
Along the walkway, there was this little guy just chilling out and staying out of the way of people walking about. He was pretty tame, and more curious than really weirded out it seemed.
He probably appreciates the long walkways with the shaded undersides that allow him to go anywhere, but in a pinch allow him to gain higher ground to get away from a predator if need be.
I wanted to give him a name, just to imprint this moment more in my head. Which then led to a new idea that I have to learn embroidery for to pull off. In the wider shot of this area around where he is looking up at the camera, were the hoofprints of bison and some other fauna. Something about seeing his little paws, as he sat surrounded by all the rest got me thinking about something I will add to my hat soon.
You are fluffy, and I shall name you Captain Fluffy Nibbles the Brave.
There are many other geysers around Old Faithful that are in some ways more spectacular, but not as well known. Take this one for example, I can't remember the name, but I believe it was the tallest erupting one in the park.
Someday I hope a camera lens is invented that can actually come somewhat close to what the human eye observes.
After getting done with the walking trail, I was walking up past the area near Old Faithful and evidently there were a handful of EMTs and Park Rangers that were milling about attempting to keep park attendees from wandering over too close to an area where some Bison had randomly decided to come and rest at. 

I think it's all too easy for people to get lulled into this idea that the bison will be serene and gentle all the time. It's a wild animal, a BIG wild animal, and it's far too easy for them to decide that your approximate range from them is making them feel trapped or having their personal space invaded.
The park rangers were losing their minds trying to get the attention of this EMT that was just casually walking past two huge bison.
One of the last things to see for the day was Mystic Falls, which is a bit of a hike to get to. Not even kidding, my legs were already wanting to get out. I had clearly not prepared myself adequately for the amount of hiking I was going to be doing.

This area in particular is pretty remote, and amazingly beautiful. It felt like being in a Grizzly Adams film or some modern western. Mystic Falls itself is this great gem hidden back some ways. The path does sort of lead up to the side of the falls, but the best view was from where I sat to rest a bit and took the photo below. 
REALLY thought I was going to run into a bear in this area, sure enough some of the upper paths were closed due to bear activity, but alas no bear sightings.
By that afternoon, it was time to get to the next set of lodgings, which if I remember right, were about a mile or so outside of one of the entrances to Yellowstone.
The Shoshone Lodge and Guest Ranch and the friendly pooch there to greet people.
I used to play this game on an old iPhone I had, called "Campers!", and while the gameplay was a bit flawed, it was still a great old school campsite building game that had buildings just like these in it. They also reminded me of a lot of the buildings I would see at Bartle Scout Camp from my younger days in Scouting.
This cabin is so damn awesome.
The cabins are really comfy, clean, and relaxing. No central air or window units of any kind, but to be honest, they weren't needed.

It was a nice change of pace to go from the large crowds of people to the quiet in a small cabin at this lodge. The area around the site is not very large, but it does have modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, laundry machines, a few ice and vending machines
It was so quiet and beautiful all around, I regret not having walked about to have gotten more photos.
As the afternoon shadows began to draw out, dark clouds began to move in, leading to an early evening of rain. Even though rain isn't really something most people want on trips, it gave me a chance to think, to write, and to sink into the moment more. I could easily have spent more days at this location.

Be sure to come back for the next installment, and a chance encounter or two that really ramped up the attachment for me to this incredible National Park.
Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Yellowstone Part 2: Happiness

The Roosevelt Arch is located at the north entrance of Yellowstone, in Gardiner, Montana.
I don't even remember what hour I got up, I think around 5:30 am or so, to get out before the crowds would start to gather. A lot of the businesses don't open until 9am, and most people get started around 9:30. So if there's any advice here to be had, get up. Early. And you'll have a much more full day and more things done before noon than you can shake a stick at.

The first bit of historical coolness that was on the way into the park, was the Roosevelt Arch. The arch was constructed after Theodore Roosevelt laid down the cornerstone, in 1903. There's a quote at the top of it, that is from the Organic Act of 1872, that reads, "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People".

If you've never been to Yellowstone, just about every aspect is large and expansive, so this arch was a nice preview metaphor for the day to follow.

The first place I started warming up my camera finger at was Mammoth Springs' Hot Springs area. At first, it looks a bit odd, bleached white, a little unfriendly, and not seemingly too photogenic. Even the warnings which are in a few languages, but rounded out by the international language of surrealist tinged artwork meant to serve as a warning, but is absolutely meme worthy fodder, were weird.
I love that NO ONE in the background is reacting to this bizarre tragedy in the foreground.
The springs are very alien in appearance to me. Maybe this is from years of science fiction, but each in my head, especially as I filmed them, felt like I was on a locations scouting hike for the next Star Wars movie.
Through the lens of the camera phone, all of the springs looked like something out of an alien landscape.
What you're seeing in these photos came into existence over thousands of years. When hot water from the spring outlets would cool and leave deposits of calcium carbonate (it's also called travertine, which is a form of limestone), they form these fibrous looking wild patterns in the rocks. It's an amazing observational study of erosion, additive sediment action, and geothermal process, unlike anything I'd ever seen before.
Geologically, interesting and beautiful, from an art influence perspective, incredibly inspiring!
Terrace Mountain in particular is the largest of these sort of spring carved natural formations, followed by Minerva, which from what I understand, was rendered dry because of some minor earthquake activity. 

Evidently, earthquake activity is per the norm, as a LOT of geological activity is consistently hashing out it's earthly issues, far below.
[Left] Liberty Cap. [Right] An accidental shot of my shadow as I tried to photograph Liberty Cap.
Liberty Cap is an odd relic, with a colorful history. So it stands at around 37 feet tall, marks the norther portion of Mammoth Springs, and got it's name in 1871, by the Hayden Survey group, because it resembled the peaked caps worn during the French Revolution.

The spring that created it was pretty consistent when it was flowing, and what you see is a few hundred years of deposit formation. It's pretty unique in that it just sticks out distinctly. I always try to fathom what was going through the minds of the first European based travelers as they came across not only Liberty Cap, but the springs in general.
The mineral deposit colors from the overflows and run offs are so stark!
After spending a few hours walking and appreciating the springs, I wanted to get out of the sun, and see what sort of little collectibles I could find for myself. Yeah, I'm totally that guy, not the one that always gets the t-shirts anymore, but I have my own physical earmarks of memorabilia I like to look for and discover. 
Hobbies of any kind can be a wonderful ice breaker. While at a park gift store, I discovered National Park tokens (which are collected in folios similar to pressed pennies, but with no pressing involved), and as I spoke to the lady at the register, it only took a few "testing the geek waters of conversation" and it led to full on conversations about comic conventions, the 501st stormtroopers group (she was an Imperial Officer cosplayer), and random comments about what fandoms and hobbies we liked. All in like a 4 minute window of conversation, that ended in both of us agreeing we missed attending comic conventions something terrible!
Pressed Penny collecting addiction.
Onwards into mid day, a road side rest stop that brought out the kid in me was this area of large climbing rocks. Now under the best of circumstances, I'm not always a fan of heights, but I was a kid that would climb some trees, and always crawled around and under big rocks. I think it's why I love canyons so much when I can get a chance to go to them.

The weather was very windy, but warm. One thing I didn't realize at that time was that although I knew enough that air gets a bit thinner at higher altitudes, I wasn't keeping as well hydrated as I should have been.
An area by the wayside of the road that's handy for climbing...
Getting a chance to just be out and look around and feel like I was a little kid again, was priceless. I didn't think about the extra little exertion I was doing in climbing in and around, because I got a pretty good dosage of happiness that washed over me like a fond memory.

Yellowstone was beginning to let me lose a lot of my own self doubt, worry, and pulled me into focusing the living world around me. How far this was from a corporate cubicle. How rough and varied the textures of the surroundings were around me. For a lot of years, this was something I knew from my years camping, and just being in Boy Scouts. 
...but also for crawling around underneath within the shady large rocks.
Running my hand over the rough bark, lines of sticky sap, now across my palm. The cool shaded areas underneath the larger rocks... feeling the wind blow hard around me, made me think of a lot of the parts of myself I'd locked away, if only because I didn't feel a connection to those times as strongly as I once did. 

But right there, I did. It was gottdamn wonderful.
Bison are everywhere. LITERALLY. EVERYWHERE. I half expected to find one in the men's room at the hotel.
I remember thinking, I wonder how many bison I'd see. If you have not been to Yellowstone, and you will be there for more than a day, put that worry to rest. They are there. They are there so often, you'd think they were there to talk to you about a limited time offer to extend your car's warranty.

All kidding aside, if time had been on my side, I would have sat and watched, sketched and just chilled out at a "park recommended safety distance, because in NO reality can you hope to outrun a bison", and been freaking happy. 

What's not to love about these guys?! They are big and hairy, have legit beards, horns, and they grunt a lot.

The day would now lead into going to see more springs and mini fountains. One thing that is a reason to get up early, is that parking can be highly challenging to get into, especially during the peak hours of human interaction and mobility, which in this park is from the hours of 9am till 4pm. The park does not close, so it always got to me that people were not more spread out in how they went to see things.

Onto the Norris Geyser Basin area. It's a massive area of walkways that encompasses the Back and Porcelain Basins. From a geothermal aspect, the area has been active for well over 100,000 years.

Two things I should note, there are walkways. Do NOT leave them, and don't bring your pets. Seriously.

Oh an one more additional thing, if you have a hat. Tie it down, or put in in your pocket. Seeing a hat half submerged in a spring is both depressing, and just annoying. The rangers and caretakers of this park have enough to worry about in a pretty unique and fragile ecosystem.
I am a sucker for informational kiosks. Because I know some graphic designer and copywriter somewhere spent TIME on this. A lot of time.
So this cool informational area is the entrance to the Norris Geyser Basin walkway. It's the last bit of shade you will feel for a while if you take the long walk across the boardwalks.
Something that I can't state enough is how varied the areas of Yellowstone really are. You can go from lush grassy areas, to burned out forests, to wide plains, to partially barren hot springs and everything in between.

It's a good idea to bring some bottled water with you. I, did not. The boardwalk views are great, and it is something to see, just how many and how big the area is. Compared to other places in Yellowstone, it's not the most traditionally scenic area to be in, but bear in mind, you won't see places like this anywhere else in the United States.
I'm glad it was breezy, because it was warming up fast this day.
Evidently because areas like this were so isolated when westward expansion was happening, many early settlers regarded most of Yellowstone to be mythic or rumor at best. Areas like this were described as being not unlike a version of hell, with brimstone and steam inspiration coloring the tales.
The walk is over quite a long distance, make sure you've got good shoes.
As the day went on, I started to wear out. It was a combination of the hiking, the lack of prep on my part to stay effectively hydrated. Another bit of advice? If you are planning on going somewhere like this, start working on your walking and hiking game.  
Sunset on the second day at Yellowstone.
I had to call it for an early night, I was pretty sure between a headache and some muscle soreness, I had a bit of heat exhaustion. There were still some days to go, so drinking a bunch of gatorade and water and getting to bed right around 7pm was all I could muster. I still had some days to go, so I wanted to get better quick!

Even though I was not feeling that great, I still had happiness in me. Join me next week, when I'll be back with part 3!

Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist