Saturday, September 7, 2013

Yellowstone

What can I possibly write about Yellowstone NP that hasn't been written a thousand times before? It's the first National Park in the world, established in 1872, and covers some 9000 km2 of outstanding beauty. It's home to 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish and 6 species of reptiles. The Canada Lynx, Grizzly bear and Gray wolf call it home too, as does a big herd of bisons. The cats seem to like it too, besides the Canada Lynx the Bobcat, Cougar and Lynx can be seen. All these animals feel between 1000 and 3000 earthquakes each year. Some 3.6 million people visit it each year. It's truly a great place.

We were really looking forward to visit Yellowstone National Park, which was a definite highlight of our trip. Just like all National Parks in the US, finding a campsite is difficult, so we basically left our tent at the most north-eastern campground and did day trips for the first couple of days. The campground hosts were lovely people. Lovely people that worked hard too! The first night of our stay they had to dodge a herd of 1500 bisons that decided they liked the grass in the campground too… It started early in the evening when they slowly worked their way up to the campground. What can you do against a herd of 1500 bisons? Our camp hosts put on their high-viz vests and took a shovel and a stop sign (!), selected the leader of the herd and went straight for him. He threw dirt at him with his shovel, while she was waiving the stop sign… it worked! Once they had the leader moving, the rest followed.

Later that night though they were back. I woke up thinking 'Jeanette is snoring very loud now..' but then realised it was coming from the other side…! It's a dark brown almost primal sound that burbles up. At 3 am in the morning we found ourselves surrounded 1500 by Bisons, with nothing but a thin tent fabric between us. If one of them would trip on a guy line we would end up dead, maybe it was time to slowly leave the tent… :-) The camp host was awake too, but apart from managing there was nothing much he could do... Like all the other campers we were already out of bed by 6 in the morning!

On the same campground we met an Amish family, the first ever Amish family I have seen camping. No horse-drawn buggy though, but a massive RV. The woman were wearing traditional clothes, the men were much more modernly clothed. Having seen a documentary on their lifestyle and beliefs I wonder if they have TV and internet in their motorhome…

Yellowstone is beautiful. Not just the herds of bisons that seem to be everywhere, but also the amazing landscapes. We're having lunch at a Lodge where, according to the signs, President Roosevelt also had lunch, although somewhat earlier in time. I wonder if he had to wait as long for his food too… According to the waiters it's best to eat out on the deck as the waitinglist for a table is 45 minutes alone.

The Lodge looks almost original as it was when Roosevelt was here, but I'm pretty sure he didn't get a little electronic gizmo that started beeping when his food was ready to be collected… :-) Just like I'm sure there weren't any teenagers back then that dressed up like raw heavy metal fans, while taking a small pink dressed poodle for a walk! Next stop is the volcanic part that gave Yellowstone it's name. It's a hot day, too hot for our jackets but we keep wearing them because of safety. Speed limits are, justifiably, low so there isn't much airflow going through our jackets either. As soon as we see the volcanic part we're struck again. How unbelievably beautiful can nature be? Water and steam squirts out from the rocks just about everywhere. It's steaming and hissing all around us as geysers drop their enormous amounts of bright coloured minerals on the rocks, creating a real work of art in the process. Probably not that healthy to drink, but beautiful to look at.

Warm sunny weather brings out people in 'sunny' clothes. Including people that shouldn't wear them… Like the person that stops her car with squealing brakes, jumps out of the car and runs to the hot springs to take her photo. What are they thinking? Are they afraid it's closing time and they will turn the geyser off? Just looking at the colour combination she's waering I presume she's colourblind too.
On the way back I feel incredible. Yellowstone was one of the main National Parks on my list that I wanted to see and here I was on a quiet day in glorious sunshine riding my beautiful Triumph Bonneville T100 through this National Park! The engine purring away quietly, riding slowly through this amazing landscape without a snatch. On the way back we ran into roadworks, very muddy roadworks, but the Avon Distanzias simply pushed the mud away and found grip. Never ride to closely behind someone on Distanzias as they kick up a lot of mud!

The day after we backtracked a little bit. One of the roads we took yesterday also has an alternative dirt road. Mike wants to do it, he's a bit of a sand hare! The beginning is a rocky pothole collection where we have to zig-zag to avoid the holes. After that it's quit ok, although the 4wd cars seem to think not :-) Beautiful road with a steep descend at the end of it. Shortly after it begins to rain. My jacket is now leaking at 3 places… while realising I need to revert back to a leather jacket and a simple raincoat, my boot starts to fill up with water too.

We are on our way to Roaring Mountain, which is blowing steam out of every orifice it has. Unfortunately the weather doesn't help much at this stage to give us beautiful images so we decide to call it a day and try again tomorrow. Canyon Hotsprings offers a campground with a shower, at an extra charge. The campground wasn't much, but the weather didn't help much either. At the site we found a collection of neatly cut firewood, left behind by the previous occupants who had even thoughtfully put a plastic sheet over it! Thank you whoever you are!
Why is it that rainy days are often followed by totally clear and star-filled skies at night!

The day after the rain we went back to Roaring Mountain. It was again very much grey but we could see it properly this time. A while later the skies opened up and gave us glorious sunlight. Just in time too as we saw one beautiful lake after another. You'd dive in them if they weren't boiling hot and full of stuff like arsenic etc. The lakes are emerald green, bright orange and lemon yellow! It's almost a gradual build-up to something spectacular, each lake and bubble phenomenon is better than the previous one. There are sure some weird things going on under the surface of this beautiful planet! The finale is Old Faithful; a massive geyser that is so predictable that they can tell you on the minute when it will erupt! Not just a little squirt but on average 40 metres high!
Arriving back at the motorcycles we find the tank bags and Venturabags open… Several items that were in the bags were now on the floor… hmmm. At a first glance nothing seemed to be missing, yet everything was open. A passing motorcyclist told us it were the Ravens, they worked out how to open zippers and went through everything. We laughed, we were robbed by Ravens :-)













We found a good campspot at Madison, asked the host if there were any 'Pakistanis' (or maybe they were people from India, sometimes hard to tell....) camping where they wanted to place us, as we've had enough of them after the racket they produced last night.'That won't happen here as we have 3 campground hosts' was the reply. Ok we said, sounds good. Later-on I wondered why they needed 3 campground hosts to keep the place quiet…



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