Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Still Kicking

Mammoth Hot Springs 1 (EM1, 2154)

It’s a little amazing that we actually managed to get here (“here” being Yellowstone NP).  A couple of days before we left last week I managed to come in contact with a nasty summer cold that had both my nose and eyes running like a broken faucet.  Since trips like this require reservations made well in advance, however, there was no choice but to head out.  Needless to say, my wife was soon suffering with the same disease.  We made a good pair, especially in restaurants.  Coughing, hacking, nose blowing – the works.  I figured sooner or later someone would decide we’d contracted the Ebola virus and shoot us where we stood.  Or sat.

But we survived.  It wasn’t the easiest 2,000 mile drive I’ve ever done, but we made it.  Of course, one wonders how many poor souls we infected along the way……..

This image is from the Mammoth Hot Springs area in the northern part of Yellowstone.  The terrace-like structures you see here are created by dissolved limestone that calcifies as it flows down hill.  Eventually it forms these amazing structures.  After a few years the springs tend to dry up, but new ones are always forming.  The area is constantly changing.

I still find it hard to believe how big this place is.  It covers more than 3,000 square miles with roughly 340 miles of paved roads.  I don’t think it’s possible to see more than a small fraction of the park in one day (which, of course, is why we returned).

Unfortunately, a fairly long section of road heading up to Mammoth is under repair (significant waits!).  I think, but I’m not sure, that it’s the section of road that partially melted earlier this year.  That’s right – melted.  In some places the temperature just below ground here is about 450 degrees F.  If it gets real close to the surface, things “melt”.  Even asphalt.  People have actually died here by walking where they shouldn’t and stepping into some serious heat.


8 Responses to “Still Kicking”

    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, definitely more interesting than western NY, Tom. Talk about “geologically active”. Yesterday we walked along the edge of the caldera that defines the boundary of the last major eruption. Kind of scary, actually……

  1. Markus Spring

    Wow, Paul – 2000 miles is quite a distance, especially with a bad cold. I’ll immediately stop complaining about my 700km (430 miles) drive to Florence, Italy…

    And you brought a wonderful photograph! If I’ll ever make it to the U.S., the National Parks will be very high on my bucket list.

    • Paul Maxim

      You probably already know this, Markus, but there are always an enormous number of Europeans here. If I had to guess, I’d say that most are from Germany and eastern Europe. Lots of French, too, but definitely more Germans. If you ask them why they’ve traveled so far they say that there is simply nothing like it back home. Although personally I’ve always wanted to visit Florence………Maybe someday.

  2. Cedric Canard

    I’ve always thought Yellowstone to be the most diverse of the parks I have visited in the US. Truly a place of wonder if ever there was one.

    Sorry to hear you were sick. I’ve had my fair share of illnesses while travelling—including some weird ones which have left their mark with regular recurrences—and it is never fun and can seriously impact one’s impression of a place. Usually in a negative manner. But it sounds like you made the most of it all the same so good for you.

    • Paul Maxim

      “Diverse” is certainly the word for it. You can find just about anything here (in a geologic sense).

      That’s interesting – we’ve had some similarly weird ailments during our travels. A couple of years ago I thought I had some kind of strange allergy that kind of followed me around. It didn’t go away until we got home. Must be something roughly analagous to altitude sickness…….

  3. Earl Moore

    I would guess you’d get well as quick, maybe quicker, on this trip as you would if you’d stayed home. Glad to hear it didn’t spoil things. I’ve been close to Yellowstone but never in it…It’s certainly in my bucket! Lovely photo!

    • Paul Maxim

      Yeah, I recovered pretty quickly, Earl, but poor Barbara is still fighting it. With her, colds seem to hang on forever.

      We spent 4 1/2 days in Yellowstone and it wasn’t enough. But again it’s so damn big. I’m utterly fascinated by the geyser basins – the steam, the boiling water, the eruptions, the smell of sulphur. Scary stuff.

      I have read your last few posts, by the way. The last one was positively great. I’ll comment when I get a little extra time (when we settle in in Moab, UT).


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