Great Plains – Day 9

(We have just learned of the tornado that‎ hit Ottawa area yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured, those whose property was damaged and those still without power. This storm made the weather channel news down here.)

We head west‎ out of Cody and climb up through the Shoshone River canyon. It is a thousand feet down and beautiful. We pass through the Eastern gate of Yellowstone Park. Established in 1872, it is one of the most bucket list places in the world.

We descend through lodgepole pine forests to a Yellowstone Lake. It is huge and reminds Marie of the Newfoundland shore – gravel, driftwood and windy. We soon turn down the Yellowstone River valley. The park gets its name from this river which flows north into the Missouri in Montana. Deposits of elemental sulfur‎ coloured the shore line leading to it being so named by natives many years ago.

We turn into the South RIM drive and stop at Artist’s Point. There are hundreds of cars and people so we know we are in for a treat. We look up river and see some magnificent falls tumbling to the river thousands of feet below. We hike downstream and gaze at the magnificent canyon walls all coloured in yellow, red and golden hews from the seeping water over the years. The river is thousands of feet below us – one of the most beautiful sites we have ever seen. Better than the Grand Canyon in our view!!

Continuing on‎ the road we lament the fact that apart from a few deer, we have not seen much wildlife. Suddenly on our right we spot a wolf 200 yards away. He seems to be eating something, perhaps a rabbit or prairie dog (gopher). Wow. Continuing on we suddenly see a bison walking towards us in the other lane with a procession of cars following! We snap a picture when he passes our window less than 10 feet away!! We stop and see a heard of about 75 and take photos up close. There are some 4300 wild bison (buffalo) foraging in the park we learn.

We stay the night at The Old Faithful Snow Lodge‎. It is a 2 minute walk to Old Faithful Geyser. We hear and see it blow and hiss as do hundreds of others, every 90 mins or so. We are in a huge cauldron, the centre of an ancient volcano. The cauldron cooled and sunk and cracks formed deep into the earth’s crust. Ground water seeps down over hundreds of years and comes in contact with hot rock floating above molten lava. The water superheats and rises. The pressure rise overcomes the weight of the ground water above. The superheated water flashes to steam and blows out the vent. The pressure drops again and the geyser seals until the cycle repeats. What a fantastic glimpse of what is going on in the earth’s crust!

We wander around all the steam holes and marvel at their beauty. There are aquamarine pools of hot boiling water and the gurgling sound is amazing. Listen to Yellowstone.

Stay safe.

Dave and Marie

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