Yell stone and get Yellowstone

Parents, you can relax, we’re out of bear country. It’s been quite a change of pace here in Los Angeles: Zagy and I have been playing games in the pool, when ninety-six hours earlier we were minding our mileage through endless stretches of Wyoming highway. And after a sixteen hour drive yesterday, of which the latter five were in one-hundred and ten degree desert, we pulled up at night to a stucco mansion under smog and stars and palm trees, an arrival quite unlike our premiere at Yellowstone, in which we stopped at dusk to watch a buffalo kick up dust and demolish a young pine.

This is something that everybody knows, but from a first-time visitor: Yellowstone is amazing. During our three night stay, we went around in circles visiting Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Black Sand Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, and most notably, Fire Hole Canyon. Once again, I suffered from giddiness, and put myself within the dangers of volcanic hot springs and disgruntled megafauna. I could’ve crashed the car too, because simply driving from place to place was awe inspiring and breathtakingly distracting. If we had stopped at every pull-off to take in the view, we’d be there for another month. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves this time as well, at the bottom of the post.

As you may have inferred we decided to skip Red Rocks. The fact that I was the only one interested in going there did not justify a thirty dollar automobile entrance fee, or another night of cold food and bad bedding, i.e., none. So, after the aforementioned hell-drive to LA, we stuffed ourselves generously and slept like we were back at home. Zagy started his day with some laps in the pool, kept at it sporadically until he was thoroughly exhausted, and then, for lack of better things to do, sunk into his bed. Baz and Nani went looking for a salvation army to replace a lost sole, but wound up at a church instead. I swam with Zagy and read about National Parks; Yellowstone is the eighth largest in the States, behind all those ones in Alaska. It’s also, as I learned from Zagy, one big supervolcano, in fact the biggest on the planet, and active. Most of the park is located within the crater.

I feel like Vegas deserves a mention too, as our drive through it served to shock us out of our backcountry haze and into a pedestrian mindset. We had been blasting the heat through Utah and Arizona to keep the engine from overheating, and found some relief at a convenience store near the strip. I walked by a row of slots on my way to the bathroom, and passed a gambler sitting like I do when I play computer games. Zagy bought a pint of chocolate ice cream, and also managed to find four more fluid ounces of water than I did for the same price. Nani bought an Arizona Iced Tea, despite the suffering we had endured from the hot state, and Baz slowly walked around the parking lot, drawling, his face flushed and with a bored expression, in the worst condition I’ve seen him this whole trip. After this slight reprieve from our Toyota oven, we got back in and drove past all the casinos, unsold houses, and billboards for adult entertainment that Vegas had to offer.

For tomorrow, Zagy and I found an ultimate frisbee game in Santa Monica. On Friday its off to Venice Beach. Saturday we’re going to Joshua Tree National Park, and maybe also seeing Warlock (Cory). At some time on Sunday we’ll leave for the Grand Canyon.


We stopped at a trucker bar in the middle of Wyoming. It was classic mid-west style, sleazy, run-down, and empty, except that the owner was playing World of Warcraft. Baz and Nani bring some New England flair to the nation’s least populated state.

Fire Hole Canyon. Here you can ride the rapids down through the canyon.

Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin. It’s the largest hot spring in the U.S. and third largest in the world. Picture a pristine lake of boiling water.

I left my hat in Grand Prismatic. It was really windy! There were four other hats to keep mine company, and more at other sites. Yellowstone volunteers remove up to fifty hats a week during the summer using long grabber tools.

Black Sand Basin

A giant rainbow during our drive across the park. Further down the road we could see it end to end.

Mammoth Hot Springs…

…but we saw no mammoth.

Baz: After observing Old Faithful, Nani and I walked over to Zagy and saw a boy standing next to him. This boy started engaging us by mentioning rocks in his shoes, to no response. He then introduced himself as Zack, told us that he was going into high school, and displayed his firm left handshake. When introductions were through he asked Nani for a friendly hug, then asked if she had a cell phone so he could tell her when his birthday was. Nani explained that she had a boyfriend and that he was standing next to her. He said that was okay and we could both go to the party. She told him that we lived in Massachusetts. He responded that he could go to her house and have his birthday there. At this point the lady ran out of words and I apologetically informed his that it was not going to happen. He asked her for one more friendly hug, then his mom called him, and we never saw him again. I know that the trip is not over yet, so this may be premature, but I nominate Zack for the the road-trip award for courage and persistence.

Last but not least, the buffalo:

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13 Responses to Yell stone and get Yellowstone

  1. pat hamilton says:

    Well, hello!!! Yes, I have been anxiously waiting for this blog. And it is well worth the wait!! It brings me back more than 30 years when I visited Yellowstone with Janice. It is amazing going from one natural site to another.The pictures are great I remember that it felt like someone had just taken a large hand and moved everything of beautyfor miles around into one part of the world – namely Yellowstone. So, it is good to hear that the adventures are contuning to be so much fun. How bad was the drive!?!? Oh, and where did everyone sleep at Yellowstone – car or tent?? Ok, have fun.

    Love,

    Pat

    • Glad to bring you back. The drive was moderately miserable, but we got through it. We camped just outside of West Yellowstone in Montana. Funny story, another camper who had been coming to this campground for decades told us about a gruesome bear attack that happened at our campsite fifteen years back, and how she’s always avoided camping at our site. A grizzly ripped open someone’s tent that had a little food in it, dragged the guy fifty feet to the road, and ate half of him…

      • pat hamilton says:

        Well, I am very glad that I am hearing that story after you have left there. But, isn’t it a beautiful place! ai guess it is all about learning to dance carefully with nature. Enjoy the rest of the trip.

        Pat

  2. Irle says:

    Beautiful pictures!
    Don’t forget to go to Topanga Canyon and do the hour long hike (pretty flat) from Topanga Canyon State Park to the coastal overview!

    Griffith Park is neat too.

    Love to Ellen and her family.

    Enjoy the pool. It’s getting hot again back here.

    Irle

    • Thanks Irle, I think we’ve spent more of our waking hours in the pool than outside of it. I’m trying to find ways to sneak in a hike through Topanga. It’s great to meet Zagy’s aunt/your sister.
      -Ben

  3. Catherine says:

    With Buffalo footage! Great pictures, love Grand Prismatic and the Honky Tonk.

  4. Ben's nervous mother says:

    OK, now I’m just utterly jealous. This is the best vicarious adventure ever. The buffalo in particular, was beautifullo.

    The blog has returned…I want a picture of Hollywood Hills….

  5. janet yassen says:

    hi, !!!! i have to say that i’m feeling like my van is the fifth travel companion!!! so glad that you are treating it with loving kindness with all of its climate challenges! you captured the bizarreness of Las Vegas quite well… almost as scary as bears.I do hope that Ben gets to see Red Rocks some day. It’s worth it.
    Maybe you’ll also get to see Eli Katzoff who is in LA as is Pat’s nephew Daniel. I have to give three cheers also to Auntie Ellen, Uncle Richie and family for hosting the LA portion of this adventure.
    love to all….Janet

  6. janet yassen says:

    btw; Check out the website of InsightLA; it’s the westcoast branch of IMS started by Trudy Goodman(who I’ll be on retreat with starting sunday, with Jack Kornfield!!) i believe that they they have sitting meditation on the beach at Santa Monica every morning. also, other stuff.
    janet, again

  7. Yellowstone is fabulous! Your pictures are breathtaking.
    Don’t get giddy at the Grand Canyon.
    Glad to know you survived the heat.
    Can’t wait to read the next installment!

  8. Pat says:

    Hi Zagy,

    so,Daniel is trying to get in touch with you. I spoke with Ellen, and hopefully left her Daniel’s phone #. Or, maybe you can make arrangements through this blog.

    Love you,

    Pat

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