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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Buffaloed in Yellowstone

Today we made our first venture into Yellowstone NP.  It got off to a rough start.  It is 30 miles from West Yellowstone where we are staying to Old Faithful.  With a 45 mph speed limit, it should take maybe an hour or so.  Would you believe 3 hours plus?

We were in a horrendous 9+ mile bumper to bumper traffic.  Mostly stopped, sometimes moving 5-10mph.  No idea why it was so stopped so while waiting, I called park information on my cell.  (Yes, they do have Verizon cell coverage here and it covers most key areas in the park.)  The girl at the dispatch center said she wasn’t aware of any problem and that it was just probably buffalo (or bison if you prefer) on or near the road.

9 miles and 3 hours later, she was right!

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Our traffic tie-up

There were several areas where bison were either on the shoulder of the road or very close.  Of course, everyone had to stop and take pictures.  So that was the traffic holdup.

We arrived at Old Faithful around 12:30 and had our lunch out near Old Faithful.  We had no idea when it was next expected to erupt, but we only had about 20 minutes to wait.  Since it goes off just about every 90 minutes, that was good timing.  Just as we finished lunch, it erupted.

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Waiting for Old Faithful to be, well, faithful!

After the eruption, we walked on the trail that goes around the geyser.  It is about 3/4 of a mile and takes you out near some other nearby geysers.

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A small geyser wannabe along the path around Old Faithful

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Some small wildflowers growing right next to the geysers

We then went into the education center to check it out.  The exhibits weren’t all that special, but we did watch their movie on Yellowstone NP.  It was pretty good and about what you would expect at a visitor center. 

After that, it was time for the next eruption of Old Faithful.  It was already quite crowded up close on the benches.  However, my parking angel must have brought his brother who does seats, because I was able to get us two prime seats up in the front row ringside.  Again, we didn’t have long to wait for the eruption – maybe 3 minutes.

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The eruption can last anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.  The first one we saw earlier lasted about 4 minutes and was pretty high.  This one lasted maybe two minutes and was maybe 2/3rds as high as the first one.  While OF was erupting, another smaller geyser about 100 yards away started going off too.

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Nearby geyser erupts in tandem with Old Faithful

Turns out there are over 10,000 thermal geysers, mud holes, etc. in the park.  After watching our second eruption, we left the Old Faithful area and made several stops along the way to view geysers and pools.

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Here is a small geyser just waiting to grow up

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When the water is deep, you get some really great colors.

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A great view across the meadow

I wasn’t up to walking on all the trails as I was really starting to feel winded late in the day.  The Old Faithful area is up at about 7,500 feet so it is 1,000 more than West Yellowstone and I can really tell the difference.

Speaking of which, just to update everyone on my oxygen situation.  (If you don’t know what I am talking about, see yesterday’s post.)

I did sleep last night fairly well.  I went to sleep at about 10 and woke up at 3:30.  Rolled over and took my O2 reading and saw it said 84!  That got my attention, but within about 5 seconds it climbed to 89 and soon was at 93.  I’m guessing that I don’t get all that much O2 when sleeping and these readings pretty much confirm it.  I got some sleep in small amounts after 3:30, but enough so that I didn’t feel tired this morning.  We shall see how tonight goes!

2 comments:

Donna K said...

We were buffaloed in Yellowstone too. They were right in the road and no one could move (even if they weren't taking pictures!). The Bison don't care...who's gonna argue with their right of way!! Glad you got a good show at Old Faithful. Great pictures...thanks for posting.

Sue and Doug said...

a 'bison jam' instead of a 'traffic jam'..seems to be the norm in Yellowstone..be it a bear or a buffalo!!