Yellowstone, part 2

More pictures from Yellowstone!

Here’s a kid passed out or in the grip of existential malaise, in a restaurant next to Old Faithful. Walker Percy talked about this (directly in Lost in the Cosmos; by narrative means in his novels): the difference between an organism in an environment, and a self in a world. The organism’s “happiness” is dependent on the presence of a good environment. The self’s happiness, however, is not always, and perhaps not often, contingent on the quality of its environment. We can find ourselves sitting on a beach in paradise, depressed half to death. Or at the most amazing party, and feel utterly lonely. Why do we get depressed at Christmas, with gifts and incredible food flying everywhere? Because our happiness depends on something beyond our environment, and sometimes our unhappiness can even be increased by a good environment—the contrast seems to mock us. This kid is in a really nice building, with a gift shop selling 5,000 different Yellowstone souvenirs . . . in a restaurant that offers 23 different burgers and sandwiches, not to mention many more sides and breakfast items (and only $3.75 to turn any one of them into a combo meal) . . . and he’s racked out in apparent despair.

So much for the kid. I hope he feels better now. But if he’d rather be locked in his room playing Call of Duty than checking out Yellowstone, he deserves to feel terrible.

Mammoth Hot Springs got some attention in my previous Yellowstone post, but the place is so cool it needs more space here.

This closed trail is a reminder, if any additional were needed, that the landscape in Yellowstone is constantly changing. In my shot of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, scree is clearly descending over the remaining snow packs—erosion never sleeps. What I find interesting is that even in the midst of all this change, many features look exactly the same as they did to 19th-century painters like Thomas Moran.

Other features haven’t fared as well. Take the Mud Volcano, for example. Today (or, at least on the day I was there last month), it looks like a small, bubbling crater at the base of a hillside. But when explorers gave it the name Mud Volcano, they did so because it used to spit out mud with much greater force. One reads online that earthquakes in 1979 caused the Mud Volcano to go a little crazy and then settle down to the bubbling state we see at present. Pictured here (though not in the thumbnail) is Kim, looking out onto this neat sight.

Right next to the Mud Volcano is the Dragon’s Mouth. Same old thing: belch steam and boiling water, day after day . . . yawn.





More hot spring action:

I didn’t take notes, but recall that this last spring had signs reading “Temperature: 178º . . . No Swimming.” At the same time I saw a woman tourist walk by wearing hot pants that were a few sizes too small, and a big parka. She was almost dressed for swimming.

The deposits left by these springs take on some beautiful colors and shapes:

That’s it for hot springs for the moment. Now, some generally beautiful scenery.

I’ll post separately about the Grand Prismatic Spring area. It’s that great.

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