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Sunday, September 5, 2010

YELLOWSTONE

MUD VENTS - NEAR GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE
MUD VENTS - NEAR GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE

GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE


GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE



GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE




GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE





GRAND CANYON - YELLOWSTONE






YELLOWSTONE RIVER TUMBLES DOWN SECOND CATARACK OF GRAND CANYON







YELLOWSTONE RIVER CASCADES DOWN SECOND FALLS OF GRAND CANYON








YELLOWSTONE RIVER GOES OVER SECOND FALLS ONTO GRAND CANYON









YELLOWSTONE RIVER FALLS INTO GRAND CANYON










YELLOWSTONE RIVER FALLS INTO GRAND CANYON











YELLOWSTONE RIVER FALLS INTO GRAND CANYON












1,000 SMOKES AND WALKWAY - YELLOWSTONE













YELLOWSTONE RIVER














YELLOWSTONE RIVER















YELLOWSTONE LAKE - PANORAMA
















YELLOWSTONE LAKE AND STEAM VENTS - YELLOWSTONE

















VERY HOT POOL - YELLOWSTONE


















VERY HOT MINERAL WATER POOL - YELLOWSTONE



















OLD FAITHFUL INN - YELLOWSTONE




















MINERAL RUNOFF - YELLOWSTONE





















LAND OF 1,000 SMOKES - YELLOWSTONE






















OLD FAITHFUL AND OLD FAITHFUL INN - YELLOWSTONE























OLD FAITHFUL INN - YELLOWSTONE
























OLD FAITHFUL - FROM INN PARKING LOT

























I spent a cold uncomfortable night in the Van. Washed up in Old Faithful Inn Men's Room and ate their Breakfast Brunch - a bowl of hot cereal and two French Toast with Crisp Bacon and Coffee ($12.50).

It was cold enough for a sweater at 8,000 feet in the early morning. I strolled out to Old Faithful, only 100 meters from the Inn Front Doors. A small group was receiving a guided tour. I was asked to join them. I wanted to...then remembered..."no walking", so I watched them disappear down the path into the Land of 1,000 Smokes...a vast area surrounding the entire Inn with steam vents rising from the Earth. Old Faithful is only one of these many "Smokes".

It is interesting that the Inn has sat there for over 100 years, the cauldron of one of the World's Great Volcanoes bubbling and smoking all around it. I overheard the guide mention the ...hundreds of earthquakes...open and close the underground vents...Old Faithful used to blow every 60 minutes, but it now takes over 90 minutes between performances.

Reminded me of the two volcanoes of Naples, Italy...yes, two. The Famous One Vesuvius which buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the "Other" volcano, "SOLFATARA" located in POZZOULI (sp?)on the NorthWest Corner of the City. When one is active, the other is quiet, apparently being connected UNDER the City of Naples.

My apartment (lived there 3 years) looked pretty much down on Solfatara, which I visited many times. Solfatara is a small Volcano, resting at nearly Sea Level. It is about 1,000 meters in Diameter, has a "roof" over the bubbling Lava which spurts through small openings into wee lakes random over the sandy floor. The floor is about a meter thick and is HOT when you scrape away an inch or so of sand. Jump on it and the entire 1-meter thick membrane vibrates like the skin of a drum...fascinating !

And yet, it is for hundreds of years, a favorite vacationing spot of Europeans. They (and I) drive their cars / campers right out onto the hot sand, lava bubbling just a few feet away, and set up camp. A 100 - foot rim of lava surrounds Solfatara, which is littered with caves. Favorite among visitors is to set up camp inside the caves and receive constant therapeutic heat.

So, Old Faithful Inn is NOT so unusual in its position after all. We Humans seem to enjoy teasing Mother Nature by cavorting within her boiling innards.

I then started my driving "Tour" of Yellowstone. Yellowstone is primarily the "Cone of the Crater" of one of the Worlds Greatest Volcanos. The "Caldera", or active volcanic portion is roughly a circle some 50 miles across. This circle is pierced by hundreds (if not thousands) of lava, mud, hot water, and steam vents, most of which visitors can drive right into, park, and take a stroll through the belches of a VERY active volcano. It is exciting. Kinda gives you the same stimulus you receive when you see / touch something you are not supposed to.

A large lake Yellowstone Lake, sits partially within the "Caldera". Recent reports have the lake floor rising to volcanic pressure from below. Seems like a good thing to keep an eye on.

Flowing out of Yellowstone Lake is a pristine meandering shallow river. A favorite for fly fisherman, the river has numerous steam vents rising from it's waters. A short distance to the NorthEast, Yellowstone River takes a plunge. Literally, the tranquil river waters fall hundreds of feet into what the maps call the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Visitors can stand on either the North or South precipice of the Grand Canyon, watching Mother Nature carve artistic monoliths hundreds of feet high (deep) as the waters of Yellowstone River plunge and boil below. Must admit it is exciting standing on overhanging outcrops looking DOWN between your feet into the maelstrom below.

Not to be "walking", I held back a bit, but was still able to get some (hopefullly) nice pics.

There are many places along the caldera where one can park and walk among the vents. But, I find that when you seen one, you seen one, not much different from the next one. There is another major feature on the North edge of the Yellowstone...MAMMOUTH HOT SPRINGS

Mammouth Hot Springs sits well away from the Calderas...an example of the extensive area of Yellowstone Basin where the ongoing process of surface water percolating down to the hot magma below, being heated - sometimes to steam - as it rises back to the surface, to endlessly repeat the process.

The real attraction(s) of Yellowstone are the many transformations of the rock and deposits of minerals through the heating - cooling process of this vast Steam Kettle (my term). Because of continuous earthquake activity, the transformations are in nearly constant flux - always a bit different than before that last quake -, making Yellowstone a favorite place to visit and wonder.

I mentioned in an earlier Blog that the North Entrance is the most accessible into / out of Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a BIG place. It sits at about 8,000 feet. It is surrounded by massive / precipitous mountains to the East and South-SouthWest. To the North and West, the land is relatively flat. The North is bordered by I-90 via Billings, Montana and is by far, the most direct - if the LEAST picturesque - route into Yellowstone. The West Entrance (I left Yellowstone through the West Entrance ) is via US 20 at the energetic town of West Yellowstone. The next town, Ashton, is 60 miles to the SouthWest, towards Pocatello, Idaho.

I have not mentioned the abundant wildlife of Yellowstone. That is because the only wildlife I saw was small groups of Buffalo. Upon leaving via the West Entrance, I did see a couple Elk munching grass along the roadside. If I wanted to find the wildlife, I am certain, I could have with little effort.

Noticeable throughout Yellowstone Park is the massive destruction of the fires of the 1980's. I saw Yellowstone shortly after those fires. To see the burned areas now, reminds one of how resilient Mother Nature really is. Burned over areas have re-seeded themselves. Evergreens have grown profusely in a short time. As a visual reminder, the Park has left the burned-out trunks of millions of trees, standing tall over the new nursery brood below.

I have many pics, but must add them from the Mini-Computer (am using my tabletop at the moment). I will up-load them later today.

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