Monday, November 9, 2009

Old Faithful

As North American National Parks go, Yellowstone is pretty high in the popularity stakes - everyone has heard of it, so everyone comes - the hard-travelling, long hiking nature advocate rubs shoulders with the clueless nose picker who's only here 'cos they followed the dog into the car.
I fall somewhere betrween those two : to be surrounded by the uninterupted grace and serenity of nature is pretty much my favorite place to be. On the other hand, I'm only here because I'm on my way back from a gig in Montana.

Within Yellowstone, Old Faithful is the star performer, delivering to sell out crowds numerous times a day for about a century.

We sat waiting for the next appearance by the volcanic phenomenon, along with 250 or so nature enthusiast, nose pickers and their families and significant others.
About twenty minutes into our wait, from our place in the circled seating, we heard and saw from the circle's center the first gurglings from beneath the earth.
I have to admit, after spending about a day and a half in Yellowstone I had started to feel like this place was my own and that the droves of people were eating into the solitude and quiet that I value in these natural oases; "How dare they," the devil on my shoulder would whisper "don't they know you need your space?" .
My selfish surliness, however, was soon quashed as Old Faithful steadily rose into a shimmering plume of water and vapor, over a hundred feet into the air, flanked on all sides by open blue prairie sky, distant mountains and proud, towering pines. In an abstract way, the most famous geyser in the world does resemble a stage performer, like Lily Langtry in a shimmering gown of pearly white sequins, shoulders broad and held high as she sways seductively. And there I sat - her Judge Roy Bean, slack jawed and bug-eyed like a foolish school boy, transfixed by her unadorned beauty.
After about 5 minutes, she slowly brought the show to a close , retreating to her underground dressing room. No encores, and the kids, dogs, families and loners dispersed, making room for the next audience, and finding the occasional pearly white sequin in their hair.

Incidentally, if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, pack a lunch - the food available within the park is over priced and terrible. Pity, but the stunning diversity of the scenery and wildlife more than makes up for it, and although a lot of folks focus on the volcanic splendor of the parks west side , do not leave without experiencing the north east corridor - wide open grassland that the bison call home.