Monday, August 29, 2005

Yellowstone Travelogue

After such an epic bus ride, by a twist of fate, I ended up leaving Bozeman after one toasty but lovely afternoon and a mere 12 hours, arriving in "West" for a very good dinner (yes, in elk meat country, but surprisingly, the Chinese in "West" is better than even the best bison burger in the state of Montana).

Sunday was "Heritage Days" in El Parko Grande, and so I got to ride in a 1937 White Motor Co. touring car, yep, the kind with the canvas roof that folds back and the rows of seats for about 20 passengers to see the park, including Old Faithful, the old-fashioned way. Also: it was a shame to go indoors at all on such a sunny day in the Upper Geyser Basin, but I'm glad friend Judy convinced me to catch two great slide shows, one on the architectural career of the Robert Reamer, architect of the Old Faithful Inn, and one called "Yellowstone Then, Yellowstone Now," with before and after pictures of all sorts of sites in the park, buildings and bridges and roads and a few geologic formations long gone, replaced, for better or worse, by other structures and conditions. This, the world's first national park, makes for a great case study of how we choose to build on, develope, display and value our wondrous wild and scenic places. Development continues, and the buildings tend to be less descript fortresses to meet modern codes, but it's interesting to note that there are fewer buildings in the park now than there were in 1930. Our ecological thinking has, in many ways, become more logical and "sensitive," but human egos continue to march onward, wanting so to put their stamp on the land, even as they say they want the land itself (and it's "natural, wild" inhabitants, from beaver to bear) to be the stars of the show.

After that, it was time for the sparkling wine (aka "champagne") welcome in the parking lot with views of Old Faithful to the right and grand old Castle Geyser to the left. A few park rangers passed by our tailgate party, but we were subtle, respectful, and the rangers were cool. There are few finer places in nature to enjoy an ironic and toasty happy hour toast. Here's to geothermal activity!

So now, on Monday, I'm cruising my beloved boardwalks again, feeling the ground gurgle and churn, smelling the sulphur scent of minerals bubbling up from down below. It is an amazing place, definitely, along with Yosemite, one of my most significant and rehabilitative churches.

Then there are the friends, the park personnel and the throngs of tourists who populate this scene. I'm noticing that my most anxious and miserable friends are those who can't separate themselves at all from the daily discourse of sour headlines, those really addicted to getting their media fixes, 'having to stay connected to what's going on.' Even the wonders of the wild have a hard time helping give solace to these anxious types. Then there are those who can go with the flow of travel's unknowns, its inherently unpredictable and unexpected and adventurous nature. Like life. Just like life, really.

I'm strolling among rare geysers still thinking of my friends stuck in the detritus of the modern world, some needing better friends, some needing solace of some sort, some needing meds. I guess I don't fear or are currently angry enough at 'the world as it is' to let it sour me every day. I am learning yet again that "love is letting go of fear." And certainly, love is letting go of anger.

We can't be angry at beavers or bears or geysers. To me, they - those sorts of wild treasures of all sorts - are really easy to love. Whether dangerous or not. Nothing in the wild is angry at humans, unless provoked eye to eye, way too up close and personal. Yet so many of us humans take our petty grievances and chips on our shoulders and fears and even angers all over town, down the highway, across the globe and even into the wild with us.

No, I'm feeling the sunshine and the steam. I'm finding lots to smile about. Solace, genuine friends and solace. The yearning to be in Yellowstone is working pretty darn well for me today.

I just got back from watching Grand go off, Grand Geyser, "the world's highest predictable geyser," well worth a two hour wait on this fine day.


At 8/29/2005 3:57 PM, Anonymous rq said...

Welcome to my world! Bask in the sunlight and let your cares melt away! It's Robert Reimer (the architect of the Inn). Great slide shows! Now on to Great Fountain!

At 9/01/2005 5:21 AM, Anonymous rq said...

Okay, a spell check for me--Robert Reamer. Here's a toast to sunshiine!


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