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

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