Top row (left to right): Kerry, at the northwest entrance; Lower Falls, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; foyer of the Old Faithful Inn. Middle row (left to right): colours on display at West Thumb; I can't see a damned thing. Bottom row: Mammoth Hot Springs.
I've decided to break down our epic, 8,000-kilometer road trip into bite-sized pieces – this because I worked my camera(s) overtime and have spent much of the past week culling and processing photos (we returned last Saturday night). I don't want to write a marathon, and for those of you not keen on the written word, there is a newly-posted Flickr photo set of snapshots and stitched panoramic photos now available. I've gotten as far as our time spent in Yellowstone National Park. More will follow.
Yellowstone was our first stop. It would end up being nothing like the remainder of our trip, an anomaly in every sense of the word. It was cold, snowy, blustery. It was also insanely eerie, otherworldly and head-scratching. It's a zoo of a park, encapsulating so many unique landscapes, creatures and bizarre geological oddities it made us sometimes laugh. We saw much more of the park in our three days than we ever intended, hoping to tough out a pair of long day hikes. But the temperatures and constant threat of snow kept us close to Bill, our unsuspecting and prairie-spoiled Honda Civic.
Our first two days were spent making the best of less-than-ideal conditions. Luckily the place was so fascinating; the glut of hot springs, fumaroles, steam vents, hissing puddles, gurgling mud pots, teasing half-geysers and neon pools all did their part to distract and temporarily warm us up. We explored Yellowstone's north end: Mammoth, the Lamar Valley and one of its resident grizzly bears, Tower Fall, Norris and the park's namesake canyon. The weather channel was predicting the worst, snow was falling in the higher altitudes and we feared we'd have to scuttle our last day.
But the next morning, we awoke to sunshine and newly-reopened roads to the south, passing through the bison-clogged Hayden Valley, West Thumb and the famous swath of geysers surrounding the even-more-famous Old Faithful itself, capped with a one-night stay at the grand and rickety Old Faithful Inn (meeting up with online friend and Baltimore-based photographic whiz Janet Little, coincidentally shooting in the area). The sun and patches of fresh snow made for an entirely different day than the previous two; even though it was just as crisp, it was decidedly more pleasant. And the new light provided all manner of great photo opportunities.
Onwards and downwards, we'd had enough of this early winter and headed for the heat. Our next night would be spent in the southern fringes of Utah.