After leaving the rapids we continued to make our way slowly towards the West Gate of the park.
It was slow going, partially because of the volume of snails-pace moving and continually stopping traffic and partially because we needed to stop frequently ourselves.
There was too much to see.
Around every curve in the road in Yellowstone there are seemingly endless adventures, and even though LC and I were both tired we both also knew that this would likely be our only trip to the park this year.
If it WAS the only trip, we wanted to pack just as many experiences as we could into one rushed afternoon.
I remembered this section of the park clearly from previous trips that we had taken.
We debated briefly whether or not to seek out Old Faithful (a place that we have never seen even though we have been through the park many times) but quickly discounted it.
It was out of our way, although not by much.
Mostly, it seemed like a tedious exercise of slow driving, busy parking and long waiting for one geyser to do its thing.
Quickly we decided to stay on the same path we had been taking since leaving the Fishing Bridge.............
In July of 2011 (while we were living in Cody Wyoming) LC, Jamie and I stopped for a long time at this place for the very first time.
It is an area so completely different from the rest of the park.
Surrounded by grassy hills, pines and river, this particular place seems to live and breathe as though it has its very own life force.
It is almost an ominous place.
A place where barely contained energy (that should live safely below the surface) boils up to the surface, and then bubbles in oily, greasy, muddy pits.
Stinking, sulphur smelling gases blow into the air in thick white clouds and are carried for miles on the winds.
This cauldron of energy - that speaks to the volcanic past, present and future of Yellowstone - and that also speaks to the prehistoric fears of dark life forces that dwell deep in the earths crust - is ugly and grey and nothing grows.
It is ugly and grey and surrounded by thriving and lush growth, and it is an incredibly compelling place..............
Leaving LC and Kory in the Tahoe I hurriedly walked along the paved walkway, wandered slowly up to the stone guard rail and looked down into the steaming and bubbling pits of smelly gases.
I cringed involuntarily at the entire sight that was laid out in front of me.
The smell, the grey pits, the bubbling and breathing mud, the feeling that something was LIVING down there (something evil), the lack of color and growth for multiple acres that suddenly ended, only to be replaced by the welcome and familiar green of the seeming rest-of-the-world.
Yes...........all very surreal and compelling...............
A blog post from a visit to this place a couple of summers ago.
On that particular early summer day I was surprised to look down for the first time and see buffalo.
There were probably 50 in total spread out throughout the barren mud pits.
I didn't know then - and I don't know now - why they were at the mud pits at the end of June, when they were surrounded by lush hills and valleys.
I could understand it through the winter. That made sense.
But not in June.
I spent a few more minutes walking the length of the paved walk way and snapping pictures.
Instead of heading back the way I had come I lazily called LC on my cell phone and asked him to pick me up on the opposite side of the bridge.
Only a few minutes after leaving the cauldrons we hit vast open valleys and endless green fields that were fed by low lying rivers and streams.
I knew from our trip towards the Fishing Bridge that we were close to where we had seen the very large herd of bison.
That, and the long line of traffic was beginning to move from slow to slower.
Up ahead I could see the parking area overflowing with haphazardly parked vehicles and camera holding visitors.
And then I caught a glimpse of some of the herd, standing and grazing close to the river.
God.........they were wonderful................