Anthony's Wild West 2007 travel blog

Bald Eagle - VERY American, and was considered endangered until June 2007

Grand Prismatic Spring

Buffalo (more properly Bison) looking for grass under the snow

The Old Faithful Geyser blowing

One of the Pools in the Old Faithful area

Grotto Geyser

Snow tires? Chains? ..defensively?

Shore of West Thumb, Lake Yellowstone

Churning Cauldron, Mud Volcano area

Buffalo traffic jam

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(AVI - 8.38 MB)

Spitting hot spring

(AVI - 6.28 MB)

Boiling hot!

(AVI - 5.55 MB)

Old Faithful

(AVI - 7.75 MB)

Angry water!

So I got up and scraped the ice off my car and set off for another day of driving and exploring Yellowstone in the snow. My car is doing me proud, rallying across the desert, sliding through the snow, cruising through the cities, even though it is probably the smallest car there is between Canada and Mexico. Sometimes when the road is icey and/or the snow is deep and I have to drive slowly, I cruise along through the snowy forest with trippy ambient music playing...very enjoyable.

So today I drove the lower half of the figure of eight of roads in Yellowstone, trying to visit as many places on the way as I could, never mind opportunistic sightings of wildlife. Still no wolves or bears, but I did see an American Bald eagle, which I was rather chuffed about.

First I worked my way down towards the Old Faithful area, stopping at several geysers and volcanic springs on the way, including the fabulous Grand Prismatic Spring. It was seeing a photo of this when I was in Iceland with Shea that got me thinking about the USA's natural wonders. It wasn't as good as the aerial photo I saw, but it was still good.

Old Faithful is famous as it is both a large geyser, and unlike most of them, predictable as to when it erupts. It blows up to 8,000 gallons of boiling water up to 180 feet in the air, and big crowds gather to see it, even in weather like this. I have to say I was slightly dissapointed, and I think the problem was that people have to stay so far away from it, partly for safety, but partly so that thousands can see at the same time. As a result it did not have the impact of the much smaller Geysir in Iceland, after which all geysers are named. I saw numerous other geysers today, none blowing more than twenty feet, but some still impressive in their ferocity.

Then I drove round to the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the edge of the very large Yellowstone Lake. Part of this lake is the remains of the caldera of a huge volcano, some 40 miles in diameter, that blew half a million years ago. This is due a repeat at some point in the next half a million years and will have catastrophic effects, certainly in the US. What with that and the San Andreas Fault pitching the West into the sea there won't be much left.

From there I drove up to Canyon Village, though I didn't have time to look at anything there, I will do that tomorrow when hopefully the weather has improved. On the way I visited the Mud Volcano area, which did smell truly terrible, like the stuff in Iceland did. The key issue is the sulphuric acid that makes up much of the boiling mud, probably why the smell is so bad it hurts. There was lots of very sinister looking boiling and roiling mud and acid, like a vision of hell, though the pretty snow everywhere slightly undermined that particular image.

Not long after leaving my nostrils burning in the Mud Volcano/Sulphur Cauldron area I ran into a buffalo traffic jam. There was a car in front of me already stopped, and this little herd of buffalo just stood there, and looked like they were going to stay there. In the end I got the other driver to work with me on sort of herding them gently along and off the road with our cars, in a very careful non-offensive sort of way, as there are signs everywhere saying how dangerous buffal can be, and how many people are mashed by them every year. And then back home just before dark again after another full day.

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