Yellowstone

volcanicrock20160828_004249August 25, 2016 – We drove through the Craters of the Moon on the way to Yellowstone.  Although it sounds romantic, there was really nothing to see at the Craters of the Moon except miles of black stuff.  We weren’t allowed to pick up any of the black bubbly (volcanic) rocks because it was a National Park, of course, but once we left the officially protected area, Tom stopped the RV where I could see some rocky areas and I jumped out and picked one up.  Probably not too bright, because there were what looked like snake-holes all over the place.  Once I got the rock back to the RV, I boiled it in water for a while because I imagine all sorts of critters living in those holes.

August 28 & 29, 2016 – We walked the paths of Yellowstone, where we saw things named “Artist Paint Pots,” “Dragon Mouth,” etc.  We did stay on the paths, too — note the sign:  UNSTABLE GROUND, BOILING WATER.  Another said, “CAUTION:  Thin crust and scalding water.  It is illegal to leave Boardwalk.”  They weren’t kidding. The ground was not inviting; in fact, it frequently looked like it may belong to Mars more than to our own Earth.

Below are some short videos we made:

Dragon’s Mouth was named a long time ago by some unknown person with a gift for seeing the obvious:

Some of the Paint Pots and Geysers seen along the trails (they should load one after another):

Here Gobbon River drops 84 feet, forming the Gibbon Falls. It was discovered in 1872.

Old Faithful, of course, is a big attraction.  There are benches in a huge arc around it where hundreds of people sat and waited … and waited …

… almost ready …

…and there it goes – erupting on schedule!  Wow!

 

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS

mammothdsc_7424At Mammoth Hot Springs, we climbed almost to the top of the Upper Level.  The soft limestone in this area allows travertine formations to grow much faster than in other hot springs.  In some places, it looks like snow has covered the ground, while in others the microbes and/or minerals cause various colors to form.

 

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mammothdsc_7450At Yellowstone each year, the rain and melted snow seeps into the earth where it is warmed by heat radiating from a partially molten magma chamber deep underground — the remnant of a huge volcanic eruption  600,000 years ago.

After moving throughout this underwater “plumbing,”  the heated water rises up through a system of fissures, where it interacts with hot gases and carbon dioxide, forming carbonic acid.   This hot acid dissolves large quantities of limestone on its way up through the rock layers. Above ground and exposed to the air, however, some of the carbon dioxide escapes from the solution. Without it, the dissolved limestone can’t remain in solution, so it settles out as a chalky mineral.called travertine, creating terraces and other formations.

Mammoth Hot Springs is divided into the Upper and Lower terraces, with about 50 hot springs between them.

libertycapdsc_7477Liberty Cap is among the best known of the Upper Terraces features. Rising 37 feet in the air, this hot spring cone was named in 1871 for its resemblance to the peaked caps worn during the French Revolution. The cone shape was created by a continuous flow of hot acidic waters for hundreds of years, with internal pressure high enough to push the water to a great height, allowing the mineral deposits to build up.

 

 

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Minerva Spring has intricate travertine formations and is colorful.  This area was completely dry in the early 1900s, but started flowing again by 1951.

mammothdsc_7465    mammothdsc_7474 mammothdsc_7466    mammothdsc_7471   mammothdsc_7475   Those white expanses are travertine deposits, not snow.  Most of the trees in the travertine areas are dead.

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There were numerous groups of bison peacefully browsing along the rivers. bison-20160830_203456  

Notice the elk on the other side of the water in the picture with the bison group. There are bears, too, and wolves.  Actually the gray wolves which are native to this area were wiped out by 1926 thanks to the government’s predator control program and the US Army.  In 1995, 14 wolves captured in Canada were moved into Yellowstone, and another 17 were brought in the next year.  By 2013, there were 10 packs with a total of 95 wolves.  Since the wolf is what is called a “top predator,” scientists have been studying the changes their reintroduction has made in the flora and fauna (such as coyotes) of the Park.

While leaving that evening, we passed miles of smoke and flames small and large.  Some fires are actually set by the rangers to prevent other fires from spreading.

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Below is a short video made while passing these fires.  I added the musical background because Tom’s comments to the ranger yelling at us were not printable.

Leaving the park, we noticed a truck with a shadow on both sides.  We have never seen this before and were unable to discover any reason for a shadow on each side of the car — especially since this was at about 6:15  pm on August 31, 2016.  There was no full moon at that time.  Anybody have any ideas?shadows-20160831_181751

We stopped at a restaurant advertising bison steaks.  Actually, they didn’t have any available that day.  No, we didn’t actually stay at the Ho-Hum Motel, but with a name like that, who could forget it?

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