Friday, July 15, 2011

Yellowstone Some More - Part 3

 As we drove into the parking lot of Mud Volcano we could immediately tell that we were in the vicinity of thermal activity.
The smell was overwhelming and awful, the air filled strongly like rotten eggs.
LC elected to stay in the truck with James while I quickly walked through the area to take some pictures.
I spent longer than planned there however because the area was hugely interesting.
I had seen a couple of smaller pools of bubbling volcanic mud on our last trip to Yellowstone.
Those pools were usually among areas that included large ponds of water, large green pastures and pine trees.
This area was very different.
Very little grew here.
Instead of the green and blue and life of the area before Mud Volcano this place was grey and lifeless and hot and stinking and the area was owned by the huge and invisible pressures underneath the earth.
This was prehistoric.  
It was other wordly.
It was a throwback in time that was a million miles away from anything I had ever seen before in my life.........
 More information about Mud Volcano:
 Click on the picture to blow it up.
Click on the picture a second time and it will take up the entire screen..........
 While I was exploring the bubbling and smoking and stinking mud pits (which were way more exciting than that description makes it sound) LC kept this raven occupied beside the truck.
Another one of those things I miss about Alaska.
Ravens are everywhere in Juneau - fat and happy and sassy and arrogant and hopping around the cruise ship filled downtown in addition to all of the shopping center parking lots in the area.
I once saw one lone and very determined raven pull an entire white trash bag filled with raven-treats across a two lane road.
While in Alaska I was constantly struck by their intelligence, their apparently strong problem solving and critical thinking skills.  
They always seemed more like small animals than birds to me.
Fascinating creatures.
I have seen a few in Cody but many in Yellowstone.
A welcome sight the other day.................
 Less than five minutes later we pulled into yet one more thermal area called Sulphar Caldron.
LC told me a second time that he would stay in the truck with Jamie.
He was getting warm and so was my dog.
And so was I.
So I planned to have only a quick look and stay for only a minute.
The river directly in front of us in the parking lot.......... 
 As I approached the large viewing area I quickly turned around, hurried back to the truck and told my Mountain Boy that he needed to come see this.
We had both expected only more boiling mud pits.
Instead what we found was a very large herd of buffalo sitting in the dirt right beside the boiling pits.
Both of us were stunned to see them............
 I would have assumed that the bison would seek out the hot springs and bubbling mud pits during the long and freezing cold winter - both for warmth and the potential for food.
But with all of the snow now gone and with lush green pastures to be found in every direction, neither of us could figure out why they were there at this time of year.............
 Gases from the boiling and bubbling mud pits..........
 Leaving the caldron we quickly found ourselves overlooking a vast and beautiful valley.
I love Yellowstone Park.
It is an amazing place...................
 We spontaneously turned down a paved side road.
There are very few paved side roads in Yellowstone and the again fast flowing river could be seen through the trees.
All three of us needed to really walk and wander and relax after working our way in and out of parking lots, fighting sometimes heavy traffic, and quickly taking pictures before moving on.
We needed to walk for a while somewhere with shade and water.
So we turned down one of the few paved side roads looking for a place to park the truck.
As we made our way closer to the parking lot I looked to my right and saw these two beautiful male elk.............
 LC dropped me off along the side of the road so that I could take pictures of these beautiful animals before they disappeared.
I stood looking at them - big and healthy and beautiful and completely indifferent to my presence.
One stood moving slowly and intent on grazing.
The second sat in the same place the entire time I was there, and as with the pelican simply looked out over his domain.
Sat there almost as if deliberately posing.  Incredibly beautiful............

I took some pictures of these elk and then walked down to the parking lot looking for LC and Jamie.
We switched off the dog - I took her while LC could go enjoy these wonderful animals.
By the time we left the parking lot 15 minutes later they were both gone..............
 The waterfall and fast flowing river - and the coolness and walk we had been looking for were also in this place.
It was turning into a long day but we were loving every minute of it..........

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