Earlier this week after work I traveled scenic Firehole Lake Drive on a whim, a little one-way road between Madison and Old Faithful, about nine miles from where I’m living.
I wasn’t sure what to expect…. that’s really one of the best parts of full-timing – the excitement of something new. I crave new experiences and Yellowstone sure delivers. I feel like in the month I’ve been here I’ve done a good job of getting out and seeing the park, and yet I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. There are still roads and pullouts close to home that I haven’t laid eyes on yet, and it’s always a treat to see where the next fork in the road will take me.
Springs like Surprise pool here are very, very hot. You can actually see the water boiling on the lower-right side near the edge, which means the temp must be at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water decreases at higher elevations). Definitely not a good place for a soak. I wonder how it got it’s name, I hope someone didn’t fall in…
The sky is overcast, but despite a few sprinkles on the way over the rain is holding off. I drive past a pullout jam packed with people, but can’t see anything obvious going on, hmm. The next pullout is empty so I park there and get out to photograph a beautiful white geyser cone with rusty streaks running down the side, how unique. As I snap a picture a whooshing sounds starts from underground – that sure sounds familiar! A moment later, water spews from the cone.
Another woman has just walked up with her camera, and we exchange looks. “Talk about timing!” I say. “Yeah, it’s like winning the lottery.” After catching the whole eruption of White Dome, I walk up the road to where all the cars are parked. Great Fountain Geyser is predicted to go off sometime within the next hour and a half, that’s what the crowd is waiting for. I feel bad for them, they just missed a pretty fantastic show down the road.
The next stop is Firehole Lake, a large pond of thermal heated water, with several small springs and geysers along its shore.
The yellow flowers next to the geyser are called monkey flowers, they love the warm ground near hydrothermal features and started blooming a couple weeks earlier than everything else. Farther out from the lake, three marmot-looking animals play in the grassy field. I point them out to the next couple who comes down the boardwalk so they can get a photo.
On the way back home I make one other impromptu stop at Whiskey Flat picnic area. It has picnic tables, pit toilets, and even a few fire rings. The tables are all set in the pines next to the area’s namesake, a lush grassy field bright with new growth. A ground squirrel sits on a stump chewing on a nut or seed of some sort. When it finishes, it scampers into a hole under the stump and comes out with another, it must have a cache stored under there.
And that’s not all I’ve been up to. Last Friday I drove out to Virginia City, MT, about 120 miles from Old Faithful to visit a fellow blogger who’s working out there for first part of the summer.
Jaclyn full-times in a tiny teardrop pulled by her motorcycle. It’s the smallest rig I’ve seen yet on the road, and as I suspected from reading her blog she’s a pretty awesome person. You can check her out at BlueRoad. I explore Virginia City until she finishes work, then we go for a grocery run and out to dinner.
Back at her place afterward, I meet her charming new traveling companion, a Chihuahua mix named Yoska (Yohs-ka). While the three of us take a brief walk behind her camp, heavy clouds rumbling with distant thunder cap the otherwise endless skies of Montanta’s rolling hills. This country is so much more open than the mountains and high plateau Yellowstone occupies.
Ever get that feeling like you’re being watched? Let me zoom in on part of the above photo.
I can’t stay for long, as the drive back to Old Faithful is a good two and a half hours. I arrive after dark in a thick fog that luckily doesn’t conceal any animals on the road.
Today, my neighbors and I drove the 17 miles east to Yellowstone Lake finally, because the bridge at Craig Pass finally opened! More about that coming up.
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