As my parents and I drove south from visiting Helena, Montana and headed toward Yellowstone National Park, my spirits soared. After hours of breathtaking beauty, and even a moose sighting, we reached the Old Faithful Inn, exhausted but happy, and took our bags to our rooms. My room was the front corner of the ground floor with a single bed, sink, and two window seats. Old Faithful was just a couple of hundred yards away. I settled my things, then threw open the swinging windows, breathing deeply of the night air and admiring the bright stars. As it grew later, fewer and fewer people remained outside. Then, a moving shadow caught my eye. My heart caught in my throat as two coyotes slinked through the shadows a dozen feet away.
The next morning, I woke early, refreshed and excited. Once again, I opened the windows to let the breeze into my room. Snatches of conversations drifted to my ears as other tourists ambled by outside. I contentedly curled up on the window seat and opened my paint box. For an hour or so I watched people walk by and painted the hot springs on the hillside. After breakfast in the Inn Restaurant, I took my paints up to the second floor breezeway from which I had a magnificent view of Old Faithful. I watched the geyser erupt several times that morning, awed by its impressive magnificence. I loved the contrast of the steaming water bursting forth into the crisp, cool morning air.
Following lunch at a restaurant next to the Inn, my parents and I set of to spend the afternoon exploring the hot springs, paint pots, and other geysers. We wandered the boardwalks absolutely fascinated by the variety of Yellowstone’s thermal features. The hot springs were the least “exciting” because their lack of movement, but I found that their mysterious stillness made them my favorite to observe. Many of the pools contained not only every color of the rainbow, but the colors were also concentrically arranged in the rainbow’s “ROYGBIV” color sequence. It was impossible to tell how deep the pools were because of the impeccable stillness and clarity of the water. Could I have been looking dozens or maybe even hundreds of feet into the earth? The paint pots were the second feature we visited. While much less colorful than the springs, the “glub-glub” of the mud as it boiled made me laugh. The bubbles, patterns, and swirls of the pots were mesmerizing to watch. Finally, we visited the other geysers. Each one erupts a little differently so that they are all unique. Some of them erupt in a tall, steady stream while others, such as I discovered when I was misted by Spasm Geyser, tend to spew in every direction.
As we drove out of the park, we wound our way through the Grand Tetons. The near-perfection of the landscape was serene and inspiring. I laughed in delight as we pulled off at one point so I could play in the lingering snow. We also took pictures of the myriad of colorful wildflowers that speckled the sides of the road. I have never seen so many different flowers growing naturally together! Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons are astoundingly beautiful with an incredible variety of scenery, flora, and fauna.
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