2017 Western Spring Fling travel blog

Big Dipper lost among the stars

Milky Way over Yellowstone Lake

The other end of the Milky Way

Inside of the Old Faithful Inn

We toured the Inn

A guest enjoying a white wine in the Old Faithful Inn

Collage of Old Faithful erupting

Old Faithful at rest

Wildflowers are in bloom all over Yellowstone

Double rainbow visible while driving back to Fishing Bridge

Rainbow over Kepler Cascades

Rainbow continued over Yellowstone Lake

Sunset at West Thumb Geyser Basin

The end of the day at Yellowstone Lake


I got up early to photograph the night sky. I drove to a point along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. It was completely dark, darker than you can imagine. It was also quiet. The only sounds I could hear were the waves lapping on the shore about 50 yards away. I was also apprehensive because there were bear warnings around, but I figured I could hear them coming and get into the Fit that was tight next to me. I probably should have gotten up earlier because the Milky Way was positioned nearly directly overhead stretching from horizon to horizon making it difficult to capture the whole thing in one image. It was spectacular though. I got a few good images of either end of the Milky Way. I took a picture of the Big Dipper which was low in the sky, but when I looked at it on the computer it got lost in all of the other stars. You'll have to see if you can pick it out on the image I posted.

After taking a nap, we headed up to Old Faithful to see the geyser and have dinner in the Old Faithful Inn. Before the geyser erupted, we took a short tour of some of the inside areas of the Inn and learned a little of the history. The Inn is only open between May and October because the walls are logs with no insulation. Real 19th Century technology. The rooms in the wing that we toured were cozy, but most if not all had no bathroom requiring you to use the facilities down the hall, again 19th Century boarding house arrangements. The cost of the room in the 21st Century is $119/night, the cheapest in the Inn. Main lobby area has intricate natural wood posts for railings and floor supports that required the carpenters to search the forests for just the right shaped trees and branches. The whole Inn has undergone a complete reconstruction to meet current earthquake standards after an earthquake in the park in the mid-2000's. All the seismic strengthening took place during winter and behind the scenes. The work was recently completed.

It turns out that today (July 2) there was an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale, the largest in 34 years. It's epicenter was the northwest corner near the Norris Geyser Basin. It happened at 6:34 AM, just after I went to bed from the night photography session. I didn't feel a thing. I guess I was tired and sound asleep. Yellowstone is in the center of a 30 miles wide caldera, an ancient super volcano. There has been a recent spike in earthquake activity at Yellowstone. According to geologists it's linked to a ground uplift in the area caused by the upward movement of molten rock beneath the Earth's crust. Fortunately, there was no indication that the recent seismic activity signaled an impending eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera. I've read stories that another eruption of the super volcano would be catastrophic for the this part of the US as well as the rest of the world from the debris sent into the air.

After the tour, we watched Old Faithful erupt from the porch of the Inn. We had dinner reservations for 5:30 so we went to the dinning room after Old Faithful settled down for another 90 minutes or so. We had the buffet dinner in the Old Faithful Inn restaurant. It was okay, good prime rib, and as with all buffets you wind up stuffing yourself to make sure you get your money's worth. Sue shopped and I went teaching for the Snow Lodge which had internet service, one of the few places in Yellowstone. I bought 24 hours and posted my journal entries up until July 1. Visiting National Parks is enjoyable, but you are certainly off the grid.

A storm system moved through the Old Faithful area just before we left. Not too exciting, but we noticed a rainbow in the eastern sky. The light from the setting sun was being refracted through the rain the was still in the sky. I stopped for a shot of the rainbow and didn't realize until I processed the image that it was a double rainbow. We moved on and the rainbow was still hanging in the sky so we stopped at Kepler Cascades, a waterfall on the Firehole River. I was able to frame a shot with the rainbow over the falls. The third rainbow shot was near West Thumb and it was hanging over Yellowstone Lake with a reflection in the lake. Great day for rainbows.

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