Thursday, August 30, 2012

Colors at Yellowstone

Wednesday, Aug 15 2012

I got up to pee and had just gotten back into bed when the neighbor's alarm clock went off.

"What time is it?" asked a female voice.

"5:15" said a male voice. Then what followed sounded like one elderly deaf person asking another elderly deaf person how to work the shower

After listening to them while I dozed, I finally decided I wasn't going to get any rest and that I might as well get up a look at the geysers along the Fire River.

I dressed, collected various photography tools, and wandered off to Old Faithful. The lobby of the Inn had one or two people in it. When red double doors were closed, and went I went through them, the cold air wrapped around me. The sky was turning lighter shades of pearl. A sliver of a crescent moon hung below a bright planet which I thought was Mars the other morning, but turned out to be Venus--I want to blame the haze for making Venus look redder the other day.

There were a few other early-bird geyser gazers at the bleachers around Old Faithful. I wanted to get a photograph of the moon in the geyser's plume to complement the one I had taken of the sun the other day. Something about the geyser made me think an eruption wasn't too far off, so I waited.

Video of the geysers seems to come out better than the stills I take, so I pulled out my iPad and managed a few shorts of Old Faithful before and during the eruption. In some ways recording events this way works better because I can watch both the equipment and what I'm videoing without feeling like a Borg or a technophile two times removed from the event that is happening. On the other hand, I aways think about how Mark says to experience the moment and not live it through the filter of devices.

After Old Faithful was finished, I went out into the geyser area on the other side of the river to pretend to be David Attenbourough. There were a couple of times when I was facing away from geysers and watching me talk in front of them that struck me as kind of odd--but I was having fun, and I'd appreciated the geysers directly earlier in the week.

At 7:30 we all met for breakfast. I was starving and had a big one.
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We went to thermal features near the lodge, working our way to the Artists Paint Pots and then back toward Old Faithful. The most interesting thing about the paint pots are the way that mud piled up around the mud-hole, and the cracked mounds surrounding the gurgling mud. I expected more colors in the mud, but it was mostly cream and sepia. Some times a dried out hole might have a dusting of mustard yellow, presumably from sulphur, which we smelled. Drier holes made a hushing and whistling noise as steam rose over crazed mud tiles; wetter holes sputtered like oatmeal.

The Firehole area had more color. Steam rose from broad pools of deep turquoise rimmed with greens and browns, and made a rainbow in the early morning sun. Actually, our sunglasses contributed greatly to the rainbow effect.

Mark got into timing Jewel Geyser. While we were there, it had a period of about six minutes. The most fun we had was with a visiting family--they sounded British--waiting for the next eruption. They were suitibly impressed, and told Mark that he should sell tickets predicting the geyser; Mark said something about visiting Stonehenge and our woo-woo tour guide; Larry said that Mark should make up something like, "Oh! I can hear the crickets! Can you hear them? They're telling me the geyser is about to go off." Hearing the crickets then became the joke of the hour.

We crossed the highway and took a short hike to [sage brush] geyser. We were hoping that it would go off, because the blue waters in it appeared to be rising and bubbling. But a local geyser gazer stopped by and told us it would be several hours at least before it went off.

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Mark and Larry went off for another Birthday Hike. The farther they got into the back country, the fewer other hikers they saw. They did not see any bears.

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As I drifted off to sleep, I heard the old man next door ask, "Did I take my pills?"

The old woman asked, "Which pills are you supposed to take?"

"Well.. I think I'm supposed to take a either an aspirin or a pain pill..."
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