Megan here. Just out side Yellowstone was an old roadside shop, with the weathered wood siding, narrow cluttered shelves, low ceilings and yellow florescent lighting. It was one of those stores you could get cake mix, fire wood or a fishing lure. In other words, it was any other small mountain store, and it was my heaven.
A low porch wrapped the front and side of it, ending at a small garage set back from the main building a little. Wandering, I enjoyed the sound of the boardwalks under my feet, and the low sun cutting across the open field framed in pine trees. And then I saw a guy breaking down a recently deceased deer in the garage, and my moment of serenity was officially done (sorry Alicia, I never told you this bit).
Now, I don’t have anything against hunting, however I am not used to being surprised by a deer skull, and I was pretty sure Alicia the vegetarian wouldn’t be keen on the situation. Swinging around, I caught the unknowing A shuffling through an expansive postcard rack, made sure to distract her with Oreo’s, and got us on our way toward Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is without a doubt one of the more special places on the planet. For one, there are bison. I alerted Alicia to their presence by screaming “BIIIIISSSSON” at such a volume and pitch as to almost make her go off the road. Pulling the car over I snapped almost as many a photos of the tourists walking up to the bison as the bison themselves.
A word to the potentially unwise: do not walk up to bison. They cannot see, are dumber than dirt and meaner then honey badgers. They will run after you. They will stomp you. You will end up on YouTube. I will laugh at you. Elk will also do this. I stayed back and utilized my zoom lens.
After a few more (dozen) stops for various wildlife, streams, pretty clouds, interesting signs, and various hot springs, I think even Alicia was getting a little anxious at my delays. See we had a date, a date with Old Faithful. And geysers wait for no girl.
I am not quite sure what I was expecting the area around Old Faithful to look like, but I was not expecting an amphitheater. Six rows of yellow benches stretch in a 3/4 circle around the spout. Thousands of people can watch at one time, with room for more to stand at the back. As we were early, I quickly seized two rows of space and promptly filled them with every piece of camera gear I could carry from the car in one go. As I was so excited I was practically skipping, it turns out I could carry quite a lot.
Beast (our Big Boy), two Panasonic’s and a GoPro were soon up on there various tripods and sliders, and all promptly ran out of battery at once. Horrified, I sprinted back to the car and returned with all the batteries (I may have gone to far the other way). Much to the amusement of the 15 or so Australians sharing our section and Alicia, I sped through four battery changes, card checks, and final adjustments, ready to hit all the on switches the moment the water went.
Hovering at the edge of my toes, I waited. And waited. And, sat down. And checked my phone. And waited. Old Faithful was late. The twenty minute window for the launch came, and it went. The sun was rapidly tilting away from the Earth, and within minutes we were going to lose our light. Now, truly nervous I willed for things to move it along, hopping up and pacing before returning to my seat. Finally the steam from the vent stopped, which was our cue. Leaping to my feet I hit all the on switches as water began to pour from Old Faithful, before suddenly leaping a few hundred feet into the air, dancing to the “oh’s” and “aw’s” of the tourists in attendance.
As the water slowed and then stopped, I packed up the gear, and started the haul back to the car. The gear that had felt so light an hour earlier suddenly weighed a ton. I pawned the slider and two tripods off on Alicia, and at least managed to keep myself upright on the way back.
We had initially decided to camp both nights in Yellowstone, but made the decision to spend our own money to try out staying in one of Park’s lodges for a night. We ended up deciding on Canyon because it was the side of the Park we need to be on the next day. Plus, I had a friend who once had worked a summer there and I wanted to see the place I had heard so much about.
We headed out from Old Faithful and decided to use our hour of twilight to go the long way round to Canyon. This meant we got to see a blood red full moon rise itself over Lake Yellowstone, the elk with the largest antlers I had ever seen not ten feet from the car and the Continental Divide. We definitely yelled and pointed at the Divide sign. Yes, Alicia and I may be geeks.
Canyon was built in the ’60s and therefor does not look like what you would expect a pricey lodge to look like. Mainly, it looks like it was built in the ’60s, and is not in a style in keeping with the woods around it. I’m not going to sugar coat it: The main building is butt ugly. But, the little cabins you actually stay in are so darling you want to live there forever. Add to that the fact that the whole complex is a ten minute walk from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and we thought we had a pretty good deal.
When Alicia and I arrived, we got ourselves the last room at the inn. It was late, and we were starving. Even Alicia, which is saying a mighty big thing (that girl’s appetite is bizarre). We made a fast pit-stop at our cabin to drop off gear and darted back to the main lodge.
And that’s when I smelled it: Wildfire.
I ran up to the front desk, where I was told there were currently no less then three fires in the park, one not to far from us in fact. As mentioned before, I am not good with wildfire, but as everyone else acted about as worked up as if I had asked the weather report, I tried to be calm and headed into dinner. The food reminded me strongly of what I ate at Girl Scout camps many years ago, but improved by the fact I was now allowed wine with it.
The food and wine did the trick, and with the aid of a wind blowing the smoke away and clean air into our cabin and I got the first good night of sleep on the trip.