I’ve finally seen Old Faithful! Like, four or five times! I spent two days exploring the beautiful alien landscape of geysers, pools, foreign accents, and sulfur.
After saying goodbye to Jackson, I headed north from Bridger-Teton National Forest (free) into Grand Teton National Park (not free). I tried to buy a year-long Park Pass, good for all National Parks, for $80 at the entrance, but they were out. They just waved me through and told me to buy it as I went into Yellowstone.
The drive was an amazing wonderland of unspoiled mountains, plains, prairies and distant forests. The scale is impossible to describe in words, and it gives a powerful, gut-level understanding of what the US was like before the coming of Europeans. I was immediately proud to live in a country that prioritized keeping such wide-open spaces, and I felt good giving my money to the park system once I reached Yellowstone. The scenery was fabulous through the huge panoramic windows of Junior instead of the cramped, headroom-free Metro.
When I arrived at the Old Faithful area at dusk, hoping to see the geyser blow at least once before dark. There weren’t that many people, and I was still out of data range on both phones. I later discovered I had turned off the data access on my Tracfone, which uses Verizon. I *did* have the Yellowstone App on my phone, which said that Old Faithful goes roughly every 90 minutes. I had brought my full hiking setup anticipating a wait, so I settled in as the crowd gathered.
The eruption itself was impressive and fun, but the best part was the multi-lingual Banter of Impatience as people from across the globe sat on benches pointed at a hole in the ground and waiting for something to happen. Naturally there are a few false starts in the minutes before the Big Spooge, and I enjoyed the suffering of others as they repeatedly experienced disappointment and annoyance. I met some fellow Texans sitting next to me, and we discussed homebrew RVs while we waited.
I tried to get video of the eruption, but a variety of camera problems prevented it this time. I did get some with a brief Scott Cameo during a later eruption.
There is a large, sturdy walkway that winds for miles among a huge variety of fuming geysers and gurgling pools, all with different colors, personalities, and timings. It’s a full day just to see those within walking distance of Old Faithful.
The Old Faithful area is a small town, with The Visitor Center, Old Faithful Inn, Ski Lodge, Ranger Station, and a Post Office. There’s a huge amount of parking, even during this busiest time of the year, and I had zero problems staying in Junior. Getting local accommodations is expensive and requires booking months in advance, but an off-grid RV could conceivably stay here for months, simply moving every day or two to blend in. I’m once again blown away at the freedom bestowed by having a fully self-sufficient living space, and full of pride for having created it myself from an empty, run-down cargo van.
Both the Inn and the Ski Lodge have a nice but expensive restaurant, and a bar, which are open until midnight. The Inn also features posh public showers, $4 if you bring your own towel, $5 without. There is some kind of Early Christmas event happening, and my super-orgasmic shower, only the second I’d taken since leaving Hurst over a week earlier, was free! “Merry Christmas!”
After the Main Event, I huffed and puffed my way up the scenic overlook, informing the cute couple at the top that “I had been sent by the Governor to ruin their private romantic interlude!”
I then left them alone to take pictures higher up the trail. Afterward we walked down together and *barely* saw this family of ptarmigans as they blended into the rock. The mama was up high, and as we watched, we realized she was teaching her chicks to learn to fly by climbing to an area they couldn’t reach. They were adorably incompetent as they reluctantly took wing across a small gap so as not to lose site of Mom. It was one of the more magical moments, and it was fun to share it with Bailey, also from Texas, and her friend.
I took hundreds of pictures, which you can see by clicking on any shot in this post.
Wifi is for-pay, and only at the Ski Lodge. I was too unfocused to try to get all my onlining done in one hour for $5, so I decided against it. The area was quite busy, and if I had been more social I could have had many conversations with people from around the world. I did try to talk to a German couple out on the walkways around the geysers, but they seemed a bit taken aback and clearly weren’t interested in continuing the discussion. I heard German at least three times while I was there.
After an expensive meal in the Inn restaurant, I bedded down early, wanting to see Old Faithful with the dawn the next day.