Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 18

“These beautiful days must enrich all my life. They do not exist as mere pictures – maps hung upon the walls of memory – but they saturate themselves into every part of the body – and live always.”   ~John Muir

We do feel fortunate, indeed, to be able to spend several days in Yellowstone National Park. During a whole day of being saturated with its beauty, one can begin to feel a little overwhelmed with the sights as it all starts to run together in the old noggin. But then, there's another buffalo sighting and we are finding a place to pull over so we can hop out (as fast as old buzzards can hop, that is) to shoot some still photos and maybe some videos.

After our two days of being on bus tours the old buzzards and their Fannie took off in Wilma to hit some spots they had not yet visited in Yellowstone. Wilma's navigation system continues to be very fickle just like Maybellene in the old Chuck Berry song. However, John's phone (when we can get signal) will track our position (GPS) on a map. Works pretty well.

We entered at the west entrance to the park and visited parts of the south loop that we hadn't gotten to see on the tour yesterday. The bus tours have to pick places that buses are permitted to park and there are some roads that do not permit buses or RVs. Three great drives that we took off the regular roads were Riverside Drive, Fountain Flat Drive and Firehole Drive. We also stopped at Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin. For those of you playing Mileage Madness, we left West Yellowstone went to Madison, then to Old Faithful, then to West Thumb and halfway to Lake Village. This took us counterclockwise around the lower loop. Our return trip was exactly the reverse, but we didn't take any side roads on the return trip.

Animals that we got to photograph today were buffalo, elk and coyotes. John got some great action shots on video. Today he was using a real tripod instead of a monopod. And, other people attempting to take photos are sometimes as much fun to watch as the animals. It is truly a herd mentality. After a few cars stop and people are obviously taking photos, a multiplier effect kicks in fast. There are limits on how near you are supposed to the animals, but you see people inching closer and closer. And once someone takes several steps past the limit, there are others there right behind them. Sometimes at a big jam, a ranger will show up and start enforcing the limits. We learned from our tour guides that the sudden traffic slowdowns caused by people stopping for animal photos are called by the name of the animals plus the word jam. So far we have been in buffalo jams, a bear jam, elk jams and coyote jams. Another rule we like to see enforces is that if you pull over, you MUST be to the right of the white line at the edge of the road. Believe it or not, some people abandon their vehicles leaving them sitting and taking up a fourth or third of the lane. Ranger's will really get you for that.

Visited many, many thermal features today. Boiling pools with sulfur filledfumes coming off them are the norm. Lakes with bubbles coming up in one or two spots on a pool. In these areas, the earth's crust is much thinner so the molten magma core is closer to the surface. Remember, Yellowstone is in a caldera.

We ended up going a little more than halfway around the south loop today. After West Thumb we went about halfway to Lake Village before turning around and following our route of the morning back to our lodging at The Pony Express by about 5:00 pm.

It was an excellent day for photos and video. Today's photo gallery contains 174 images. That's a record for the two buzzards for any one day on any road trip....ever! Not saying that's a good thing....just a fact. Hope you aren't too disappointed with the couple of dozen shots of Wiley Coyote hunting for his lunch, probably in the form of a field mouse, or mole. You can almost tell what mode he's in by looking at his ears....forward (ready to pounce), back (on the scent). You'll for sure want to look at the video when we get it up and linked. John got a really good shot of Wiley pouncing on his prey. Anyway, to while away your time, you can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

Today's video includes bison (in the Madison River), bull elk entering the Madison River, elk cow grazing and our favorite, Wiley Coyote catching his lunch. Also lots of waterfalls, rivers, creeks and thermal features. This video runs about 9:49. The music is by one of John's favorite electric guitar virtuosos, Eric Johnson. The first track is titled Righteous and the second is Eric's well-know Cliffs of Dover.

Following the old adage that you should eat what you shoot, we decided to have buffalo chili for dinner.  We returned to the Geyser Grill where we ate last night. John had heard the fellow at the next table rave about the buffalo chili. We also had Moose Drool brown ale and shared a Caesar salad. Delicious!

And as the sun sunk speedily in the West, it was again time for the old buzzards to put their heads under their wings and bid the day adieu.

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Hi John and Linda;

    Beautiful Pictures!!!!! What a wonderful place to visit. I can see by the pictures you guys are having a grand time together.

    Thank you for taking all of us along on your journey and sharing your discoveries. You guys are an inspiration for Wayne and I.

    Big hugs,

    Elizabeth & Wayne Perrier and kiddos