Our first day in Yellowstone welcomed us with temperatures around zero. Don't you think David looks a peach in all his gear for breakfast. Our first stop after about 3 minutes on the road, was Firehole Falls. This was an indication that David planned on stopping at every splash of water, puff of steam and four-legged wanderer so we could take the customary photo. In fact I think we took over 400 photos whilst in Yellowstone. We won't bore you with them all just a small selection to provide a flavour as best we can. But you really do need a high powered all singing and dancing camera to really convey the drama of it all. After Firehole we headed off to see Fountain Paint Pot with a gentle reminder to stay on designated paths due to unstable ground-wouldn't want to be boiled alive now would we! It's not a great photo but believe me you could see and hear the mud boiling and popping as steam forced its way to the surface. All around were hot springs and geysers with the accompanying sulphur pong, and evidence of earlier volcanic activity.
Here's Great Fountain Geyser if you are able to, double click on the photo to zoom in and have a look at the texture and colours. Without much ado David strode on planning our next stop.
Here's White Dome Geyser And Firehole Lake. And the Hot Cascades the colours of the various bacteria which thrive in the different temperatures between the centre and the edges of the geysers were unbelievably vibrant.
One of the most stunning was the Grand Prismatic Spring. We both got completely carried away taking photos. Here are a couple and a close up of the wonderfully iridescent bacteria. And the pools look deep enough that you can dive into the centre of the earth. But of course the most famous geyser of them all is Old Faithful. Named not because it is the largest but because it is very predictable, about every 90 minutes, so much so there are seats all around it for the audience, but it is quite spectacular because just before it blows you can see and hear the pressure building up beneath the ground.
And just so that David felt at home there is even and it looked depressed. But just to raise our spirits the warm glow of Heart Spring.
Just as we were taking in the splendour of nature, our mobile phone rang. We purchased a disposable mobile from Wal-Mart when the bike wheel split back in July/Aug, so we could organise the repair. We hadn't had service in Canada, but back in the US we were able to get a signal and were hoping to get a call from Kay, a friend from the UK who was due to arrive in Yellowstone for a reunion with some hiking friends, on the 19th Sept. The call was from Kay to say she was at Old Faithful! How serendipitous was that. She had been to our camp ground that morning, left a message to say where she was going with a view to meeting up, but we didn't receive it before we left. Nevertheless there we were in the wilderness, and we turn around and there is Kay! Marvellous!! Here we are reunited with Kay and Jill a friend from Colorado and Mary Kay's sister from Sydney. Finally a quick visit to the Old Faithful Inn constructed entirely of local timber, to check out Old Faithful's Eruption Predictor (yes you have read it correctly!) (I hope my apostrophe's are properly located Kay!).
After a full day we each left for our respective lodging-Kay to a warm Motel, comfy bed, hot shower and restaurant; David and Me, the tent, one ring ricotta and spinach filled pasta, beefed up with a courgette and Campbell's roasted garlic and mushroom soup (never tasted so good!), followed by a few verses of Ging Gang Gooly by the camp fire (I think David fell asleep mid chorus!).
We arose to -2C on the thermometer but our new sleeping bags were doing themselves proud by keeping us toastie. After our breakfast of porridge and Tea/coffee, Kay turned up bearing muffins and a farewell as she and her party were heading off to Jackson to go on a boat ride. We set off north-east back to Norris and then north up to Mammoth Hot Springs stopping on the way at Roaring Mountain and Sheepeater Cliff. A Herd of Elk had taken over the main square keeping the rangers busy stopping a huge 'elk jam'. We then turned east passing buffalo on our way over Blacktail Plateau stopping at the Petrified tree safely guarded so that souvenir hunters couldn't remove it like they had done with 2 others that were there. At Tower Falls we were told that the 'managed fire' of Saturday had become 'unmanaged' and the road was closed due to the fire now being out of control and less than a mile away over the ridge. They were preparing to cover the General Stores in foam and had brought up the reserve fire engine to help. Not having seen a good foaming for a while we hung around but the action didn't start so we headed back towards Mammoth watching helicopters fly past with buckets of water, and stopping to look at the Yellowstone river. Stopped at Mammoth to make a brew where the elk were still keeping the rangers busy. On the way home we met Bill on his evening walk.
A quiet day was in order for today so we went for a walk along the river before heading off to West Yellowstone just outside the Park on the west side for some provisions. Went past an 'elk jam' and said 'Hi' to Bill again before we even got to the shops (Can't say that about a lot of places!) West Yellowstone is a quaint place with lots of Motels and coffee shops. We got what we needed and drove back past Bill and Elkie, lit a fire to keep out the night chill, watched the full moon for a while before retiring to a talking book at 2030 as it had already been dark for 45 minutes.