Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hot Hot Hot

Woke up early today, still running on Eastern Time. But that just gives me time to get more into the day! I woke up so early Beth wasn't up yet, so I killed time by working on the computer and getting ready. By the time I was out of the shower, Beth was up and we were ready to go. Found a really good breakfast spot, filled our bellies and hit the road.

Our first stop would be Bozeman, Montana. For no other reason than there's an REI there :) Couldn't resist the urge to go visit when it was a mere 90 miles away. It was a little weird being in civilization again (there are about 40,000 people there, mostly from the university). But it was the cheapest gas we'd seen, so we fueled up and began the trek back. Instead of going back the way we came, we took another route so we could enter via the North gate.

Not far inside the gate, we made it to Mammoth Hot Springs. This is one of the more famous features in Yellowstone, a series of travertine terraces with hot springs flowing down them. It was really impressive. Not the kind of hot springs you'd want to get into though. There were lots of signs warning you not to step off the walkway, lest you fall through the thin top layer and scald yourself to death. There was a faint smell of sulfur, but not as overpowering as I'd expected. We walked up to one of the terraces, then headed back into town for a bite to eat.

Palette Spring
Minerva Terrace
We took off, expecting to stop at the Painters Pots on the way home. Instead, we got stuck in construction (I can't even escape it here!) which took us right through the turn-off. We realized what had happened about 10 miles later. I was kind of bummed we couldn't see it, but there's so much else we have to see that I knew it wouldn't matter. We decided to head back to town and pick up some food to keep in the condo. Right before we got to the gate, we saw a lot of cars pulled over. Beth said "I hope it's not more buffalo." To which I replied "I know! I'd like to see more elks." I got my wish. There was a small herd in a field with the finally-appearing sunshine bathing them in late-day light. It was beautiful. There was one buck just laying down chilling, and a bunch of females walking around eating. There were several "real" photographers down in the field with their monster lenses getting what I'm sure are spectacular shots. Up on our end, there were several Asian tourists getting uncomfortably close to the elk. Like, they could pet them and almost did. It bothered me that they showed so little respect to the animals, like they only existed for a photo op.

I'd like to see those tourists get that close to this guy!

Side note: While we were taking our pictures, I noticed a man with a massive zoom lens on his Nikon. I asked what lens it was, and it was the very lens I had thought about renting for this trip! I asked how he liked it, to which he replied "I'm really disappointed." Uh oh. Then he went on with a litany of things he didn't like about it, including how Nikon didn't give you a real case for it, only a sock. He let me look through the viewfinder, and I agreed, it wasn't as crystal-clear as I'd expect a $2500 lens to be. I was glad I didn't bother renting it, but sad that my dream lens wasn't what I thought it'd be.

I don't need a fancy zoom!
We got back into town and did some souvenir shopping. I got a really cool Native American bear figurine and some more patches for my backpack. We skipped dinner and went back to the room to have a beer and some of the snacks we'd bought. I think it'll be an early night for me, I'm pretty beat. Tomorrow the plan is to head to all of the geysers and see what's what over in that end of the park. The funny thing is that all day today I kept thinking of the places I wanted to go to when I came back here some time in the future. I'm already planning a return! It's so beautiful here, and it's so vast I know we're only going to scratch the surface this week. It also makes me wonder what other parks I need to go visit. Maybe I should visit one every year, build my vacations around going to National Parks. This country is so big and has so much to see and amaze me with.

Photos from Day 2

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