Yellowstone (Day 6)

I was skeptical. The lineup to get in was huge, RVs with whole suburban homes packed into them hogged the road, and, well, it was Yellowstone, the oldest (most patriotic?) of the parks. The Disneyland of the national parks.

It was our first time and so where to first? The bathroom, naturally. And where are the best johns? The mega-complex at Old Faithful. The blowhole goes off every 70-100 minutes and, wouldn't you know it, we arrive just on time. And here she blows! Stupefying, for sure. You can gauge the magnitude of the blast by the size of the pine beside it. And the smell of egg, aghhggewww. Not really for the vegans.

Equally stupefying was the mob.

Turns out, we didn't have an itinerary for the day. No prob, there are these nice boardwalks and it feels like it's time to go for a walk. Hmm, we pass this alien Jacuzzi bubbling up sulfur tetrafluoride. Whatever you do, warn numerous signs, do not step off the boardwalk. What looks like solid ground is actually a thin crust of crystal, beneath which roils great depths of boiling acid. Cool. I touch a toe to it but the girls scream and grab me.

This geyser, like a chain smoker's lung turned inside out, got me excited.

People had been waiting hours to see Grand Geyser but we somehow arrived to see it too just as it was erupting. And it lasted longer and more dramatically than O.F. We clapped and clapped. A standing ovation.

Then, driving around in other parts, this beaut. It's only a photo, so rubbish. In real life, what gets you is how they look like bodybuilders in the front and teenage runway models behind. And their heads! Maybe as big as yoga balls.

Lost in another steamy geyser zone. I was getting a headache at this point. Can all that poison gas be good to smell?

It was easy to spot wildlife. Wherever a car was stopped, we stopped behind it. This black bear was safely deep in a valley - I used all of the 10x zoom of my point-and-shoot camera to get this close, so don't worry, I'm not Grizzly Man. But getting there, we had to maneuvre a minefield of bison dumps. Thankfully, we managed to do it and only detonate one mine, well, two if you count the post-reaction. Stepping in doggy do-do is one thing; in bison, I learned, even galoshes won't do.

And finally, these bighorn sheep. A herd of them like ninjas dropped down out of the hills onto the road in front of us and kept on going down what I swear was a cliff.

In the end, Yellowstone: four thumbs up.

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