Sunday, October 18, 2015

September 2015: Hot Water with Friends

The Hot Chick with our Boise State Friends at Firehole Falls

When I was in College, the guys in the apartment next to mine were my buddies.  We were all a little older than my roommates, so we hung out.  My roommates were all pretty juvenile, and that's a lot coming from me.

Somewhere along the line, my friends hooked up with an apartment of girls across the way and they started dating a couple of the girls in that group.  In a long and convoluted story that belongs on a different blog, I hooked up with the Hot Chick who was also one of the girls in that apartment.

The Hot Chick and I were married and our Grant and Cheryl were married.  We moved on to BYU and Grant and Cheryl moved on to Boise State.  We both became great football fans of our respective teams.  Time and distance being what they are, we lost contact for many years.  But then, because of social media, we found each other again on Facebook.

It just so happened that their son is attending the University I teach at, so they came from Boise over to East Idaho to drop him off.  We got together and did the most natural thing in the world.  We went to Yellowstone.  The Hot Chick and I love to take friends to Yellowstone.  It's my favorite place to be.

In the old days, we'd plan ahead for what we wanted to go see on a particular day.  When we lived in West Yellowstone, our work schedule didn't allow for long, protracted days in the park, so when we'd drive by a trailhead, or some feature you had to work a bit to get to, we'd always say, "Someday we'll go there."  We moved away for about twelve years, then I got a job teaching in a university in southeastern Idaho and we moved back.  About ten years ago, we headed up to the park without an agenda.  As we were passing Seven Mile Bridge, The Hot Chick said to me, "I think it's someday."  I told her I thought she was right and we just stopped at things we'd always talked about but never had done.  It was so enjoyable that it has been 'someday' ever since.

Our friends picked us up and we headed up to Yellowstone.  We found out Grant had only been to Yellowstone once and Cheryl had never been.  We decided to take them up on the scenic route.  We love to drive through Bear Gulch and see upper and lower Mesa Falls, so we took them there.  We stopped at Warm River and fed the fish.  We had just been that way a week earlier so I didn't get the camera out at the fish feeding spot and Mesa Falls.  Big mistake.  There was a brilliant double rainbow at Upper Mesa Falls.  Conditions were just right for the brightest rainbow I'd ever seen there.  So now I just have to remember it.

As we headed up, we asked our friends what they wanted to see.  They both said, "Waterfalls."  The only condition on our Yellowstone trip on that day was that we had to be back home in time to watch Boise State play BYU in football.  We took them to Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, then we took them on the Firehole River Drive and saw Firehole Falls.  Our original plan was to hike either to Mystic Falls or Fairy Falls to show them those ones, but when the Hot Chick found out that Cheryl had never been to Yellowstone, she insisted on showing them the hot water.  You have to see Old Faithful at least once, right?

So our first stop was Fountain Paint Pots.  I like the trail at Fountain Paint Pots, but I have been on it about a hundred times in my life.  I find it very cool to take people who have never experienced the park on these boardwalk trails through the geyser basins.  I get to see the park for the first time, vicariously through their eyes.

Silex Spring at Fountain Paint Pots

Sinter edge of pool

Bacterial mats

More sinter, even cooler

Fountain Paint Pots, the mud pots for which it is named.  In the spring, this will be far more active

Leather Pool

I believe this is either Twig Geyser or Fountain Geyser

I believe this to be Spasm Geyser and Clepsydra Geyser erupting simultaneously

Celestine Pool

Tree branches and other obstacles get in the way and create terracing in the geyser basins.  I've been watching this terrace form for a few years.

We headed next to Old Faithful to see the most famous geyser in the world erupt.  We were waylaid, however by a herd of bison.  They think they own the place.  They walked leisurely across the road, oblivious to the fact that we had places to be.

We took Grant and Cheryl to Old Faithful, where we got the obligatory ice cream, then we went out to Old Faithful.  For the second time in my life, while we were watching Old Faithful erupt, we looked across the Upper Geyser Basin and witnessed Beehive erupt.  Simultaneous eruptions of Old Faithful and Beehive are uncommon and I have witnessed it twice now.

After the eruptions, we headed back into the Inn and showed them around.  I always try to see something I have never seen before when I go to Yellowstone.  It doesn't matter if it's big or small, I just want to see or do something unique each time.  So far, on this particular day, I hadn't seen anything new.  While we were in the Inn, I looked up at a lighting fixture I had never looked at before and lo, there was a bat.  Not a real one, mind you (although I'm sure there are plenty of bats living in the inn) but a lighting fixture of cast iron formed in the shape of a bat.  Too cool.

Bison think they own the place

Then there was this guy

Old chrome

I miss the old style.  Wouldn't trade the modern ride though

This is the only evidence I was on the trip


This is either the largest geyser in the world or it's a forest fire.  (fire)

Old Faithful

Die Fledermaus


We had time for one more thing before we had to head back.  We chose Black Sands Basin.  It's a shorty and the Hot Chick and I haven't stopped at it much.  It's not a particularly flashy geyser basin, but there are a few very active but small geysers there as well as some nice pools.  As I looked around, I noticed a small horsetail waterfall coming down from the Madison Plateau.  I had never noticed it before.  I got to add another notch to my waterfall book!  Life is good.

Cliff Geyser

This might be Handkerchief Pool.  Not sure.  It's been renamed to keep people from throwing handkerchiefs in.  In the early days of the park, you could throw a handkerchief in the pool and it would be sucked in and ejected in an adjacent pool a few moments later.  We don't do that anymore.  Vandalism may have destroyed that feature.

Cool texture

You know I like texture

I always love seeing the hot water empty into the Firehole River.  Some of my favorite places to skinnydip (in my youth) were where the hot water from a geyser emptied into the Firehole.

A couple of small fellers erupting simultaneously

I believe this to be Emerald Pool

And lo, there's a small waterfall

Might be Handkerchief, I just don't know

Rainbow Pool

It was a fun day to hang out with old friends.  You know you have a true friend when you haven't seen each other for twenty or thirty years and when you get together it's as if no time had passed.  It was like that for me, seeing Grant and Cheryl again.

We made it back home in time to watch the BYU/Boise State football game at the local movie theatre.  They show BYU games on a big movie screen.  They can't exactly charge admission, but they do require you to purchase a slice of pizza and a soda if you want to hang out in their theatre during the game.

BYU won!