Home Sweet Jellystone

Andy Clarke

Today was our first trip into JellyYellowstone proper Looking For Yogi and it turned out to be a highlight of what’s already an amazing trip.

We’d bought an $80 annual National Park's pass, so drove through the fast lane at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park and within minutes were surrounded by the most spectacular scenery. Rivers, mountains and grassy plains were all around. Our plan was to explore geysers on the way to the biggest of them all (in Yellowstone) — Old Faithful — stopping along the way to watch other bubbling, steaming pools and of course to breath in the sulphur.

The road south down Grand Loop Road through Yellowstone is free from construction and the drive from the gates at West Yellowstone to Old Faithful is only thirty miles. We stopped first in the Lower Geyser Basin, parking the RV in a busses only spot in an already full parking area.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The looped boardwalk out over the thermal areas was busy, but there was more than enough space to stop and take photos. Of course I wasn’t the only one with a camera and it was amazing for to see one Japanese tourist shooting photos of the Fountain Paint Pots with a Rolleiflex and a Leaf digital camera back.

I have a huge fondness for Leaf backs as I used one to take the first ever digital photograph in the UK, back in the mid-nineties. This new Leaf seemed so small as the ones I was used to using back then were as big as a house brick and weighed just about as much. They also weren’t portable, being tethered to a Mac and they couldn’t even shoot moving subjects in colour. So much has changed in twenty years.

From the Lower Geyser Basin we made the drive the rest of the way to Old Faithful, stopping first in the gift shop to pick up new batteries for the Flip video camera. Of course this mean’t we missed the old fella’s next eruption, so we waited in the sun for an hour and a half until he spouted again.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m cutting back on cigarettes so drastically this trip, but I was starving (and my back was hurting). We headed to the nearby restaurant and while debating what makes a burger and not a sandwich, I ate a bison burger. It was good, but every mouthful made me think of Dances With Wolves.

Heading back towards West Yellowstone, we stopped at Midway Geyser Basin, a series of bubbling, steaming pools including Grand Prismatic Spring that were even more dramatic than Old Faithful. Their colours were so intense that they really do take your breath away. Or was that a combination of altitude, sulphur and being so unfit? Let’s say it was the beauty of the place.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Thinking the day couldn’t get any better, we drove slowly back towards West Yellowstone. The road was quiet and in places lined with parked cars where people had stopped to look, first at a wild brown (grizzly) bear, then a lone bison and finally a mother elk and its young, grazing by the river’s edge.

We took a slight detour back along the river to watch the dragon flies buzzing, then half an hour, and a complete change of scene, later we were back among the tourists in West Yellowstone trying on Stetsons. Cowboy hats don’t suit me, but after much deliberation, Alex has a new hat.

Expect photos of that to follow in the next few days.

Feed the bears

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