Note: When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Day 8. Wednesday Sep 16, 2009. Old Faithful and Other Geysers

When we were camped in Grand Tetons National Park, I met a fellow RV camper with a strong New York accent. He spent the ten minutes we talked describing the devastation and bitterly complaining about the lack of animals in Yellowstone. "The west side was just devastated, and it's like somebody dropped a net over all of Yellowstone and removed all the animals. There's almost nothing left." He went on to say that this is about his fifteenth or twentieth trip to Yellowstone, and he has his grandkids this time. He says they are enjoying it, but it's just the same old thing to him.

I shudder just remembering. I thank him for the "tips" and get away from him as fast as I can. What a wet blanket. But, I know, this is how he has fun, by complaining about things. Also, I know to give his testimony a weighting factor of, oh, let's say .0000001.

We're headed to the west side today, to see the New Yorker's "devastation."

Our route is shown below, as well as what I call the "Figure 8" of the heart of Yellowstone. Actually we're going to about the middle of the letter 'B' in the dark green "pointer" above the words "Old Faithful."

{Oh my God, did you just get an idea of what the planning is like every day for Shirley and me.? Bob and Jerry would pour over the maps every evening, mapping out our routes, "figure eight", "heart of Yellowstone". But I could always just be a "tourist", knowing that Bob would get us to the best things every day, Thank you Bob and Jerry.}

Click on the map for a larger view.

It's about 40 miles from our camp to Old Faithful, and we're off between 8:30 and 9:00. We drive along the edge of Yellowstone Lake for most of the trip, reversing our route into Yellowstone until we get to West Thumb. Here, instead of turning south towards the Tetons from whence we came, we turn west, enjoying new territory, through forests and new scenery. Whence. {LOVE the "new territory"}

We cross the continental divide again, at 8391 feet. A little before ten we arrive at the Kepler Cascades.

The Viewing Point

We click off some nice photos, and get one picture with a geyser going off in the background. Could that be Old Faithful? {Strangely, at this cascade, we could see where people had dropped (thrown?) pennies, quarters, etc., into the stream. Why someone would want to do this. I guess they make wishes, like at a fountain. Later on, we see many signs asking people not to throw things into the geysers, pools, etc. as they then build up mineral deposits and have at time altered the flow of the geysers.}

Finishing up, we pile into the truck again, and are at Old Faithful Lodge about twenty minutes later. This whole area is called Upper Geyser Basin. After finding the nearest parking, we make our way to the ring of benches surrounding the famous geyser. We sit to wait, and as time goes by more and more people come to sit and watch.

Finally Old Faithful goes off, and it's pretty cool.

First it's just puffs of steam.

Then it grows and grows.

After it finishes, Jerry is of the opinion that because of the wind direction, we saw mostly steam but not the water, so we decide to walk around and check out the other geysers, of which there are many, then get Old Faithful from a different angle.

But first, we make use of the benches and have our lunch, which we (Sharon and Shirley) prepared in the trailer this morning. During lunch, another geyser, a little farther away, called Lion Geyser fires off. It's mouth is pretty small and the jet coming out is pretty small at this exit point.

Lion Geyser.

This photo reminds me of the raw onion rings the Japanese chef stacks up on the hot cooking surface. Then he pours sake into the top (it looks like a little volcano), and lights the whole thing. A flame shoots out of it, straight up. Pretty cool.

After lunch Shirley and Sharon go over to Old Faithful Inn, where Sharon has learned that they have tours.

Jerry scouts around for a better location to watch Old Faithful. After a bit S and S come back with glowing reports of the Inn. "We just have to go see it," they say. They give the times of the next tours and we finally decide to see what geysers we can, then zoom over to the Inn for the next tour.

To try and head off the confusion that hit me when I was there, there are two hotels where you can rent rooms and sleep. One is Old Faithful Lodge, nearest Old Faithful, and the other is Old Faithful Inn, a little farther away, which was designed by a famous architect. This is the one S and S want us to tour.

Checking our watches, we position ourselves at the spot Jerry found to watch this Faithful shot. It's outstanding.

Old Faithful, much more impressive from this angle.

We take a bridge over a stream,

up a little grade, and start our walk around the boardwalk loop called Geyser Hill.

[This map doesn't expand)]

The first geyser we come to is Anemone Geyser, which goes off pretty often. There is a plaque on the boardwalk, but Sharon thinks it's pointing to another geyser-like hole, and moves over to it. Shirley has to vote and chooses to go with Sharon. Jerry votes to stay at this one. Ha! Boys against the Girls. It IS a contest, you know!

I have read that Anenome, which appears dry, starts with no water, then just before it erupts, hot water fills it from below, and finally it erupts. I yell to S and S, "It's filling with water! Come quick!" Which they do, just as it erupts. The shape of the hole, far from being simply round, reminds me of, oh I don't know, maybe a sea anenome.

We continue past Plume on our right, then Beehive on our left (see, it looks like a beehive),

ultimately coming to Lion. A docent tells us that Beehive, which doesn't erupt very often may go off in the next hour or so.

Suddenly, Lion goes off again. Fantastic!

The docent says there is another geyser near Beehive that starts having activity, and this is a harbinger of the Beehive going off. Hey, that's the first time I ever used harbinger in a sentence. I wonder what it means.

But it looks like we'll have to take off before it goes, to get to the Inn for the next tour before Beehive goes. We continue on about a minute when the docent comes running. "Hurry, Beehive is about to go off." We hurry over there. I have noticed that if you are close to a geyser, you can't get the whole thing in a photograph, so I go all the way back to Plume to wait, and Jerry comes too. Suddenly Plume Geyser goes off. Awww, it's just a baby.

I see that Shirley and Sharon have plunked down on a bench, but I show them that the spray is going to drench their bench, given the prevailing wind direction, so they move farther away too.

Then suddenly the train comes through, so to speak, as this incredible roar starts up and Beehive goes off. It looks like the jet of water is coming out at 200 miles an hour. And what a sound! We shake as the grounds quake. That's a nice rhyme, but actually I don't remember the ground moving at all. I just remember that screaming sound.

Beehive in a rare display (goes off every few days).

When I was little, we lived next to a railroad track, and when I was sleeping and Mom heard the train coming, I'm told, she'd rush over to the bed and put her hands over my ears. Would somebody put their hands over my ears while I keep shooting?

Well, Beehive finally finishes and I just feel privileged and lucky to have been here. Man!

Looking over at Old Faithful Inn, we light out for it.

Old Faithful Inn from a distance

The tour is extremely interesting, but after a bit both Jerry and I peel off, take adjacent easy chairs and doze off while S and S continue on. But I get a few photos in.

Lucy, the tour guide, out front of the Inn

The front of the Inn. That fellow is standing on the outside balcony.

Lucy elects Shirley to hold the door open so she can point out the features of the door.

The stairs to the second floor.

Looking down into the dining room.

From the outdoor front balcony, you get a fine view of Old Faithful. I go in to find everybody. We get ice cream (who, us?), find seats on the balcony, and wait.

Within one scoop or so, Old Faithful does its reliable thing.

Old Faithful, from the Inn Balcony

Sharon says, "Take my picture."

We head for our truck, but have to get this shot of sister Shirley, making clever feathers with her white plastic spoons.

We head up to Blacksand Basin and Biscuit Basin, but I'll just show the highlights of the geysers and pools there.

This is Cliff Geyser, at Blacksand.

Here, Sharon has just put her index finger into the pretty water, and learned that it doesn't take her long to feel near-boiling water.

We finally head back home, picking up a nice rainbow slice across Yellowstone Lake.

So it's back to the camp for dinner and some Rummikub, plus planning tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will go to Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwest corner of Yellowstone. Dangit, still no bears.

Good night, sleep tight, and may the Good Lord take a liking to ya (that last phrase from the sign off of the Roy Rogers show on TV when I was a kid. Then they'd sing "Happy Trails").

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