It was two summers ago that we had taken this trip to Yellowstone National Park, home to more than seventy five percent of the world’s geothermal features and sitting smack dab on top of the Yellowstone Caldera, which held enough power in its depths to blast everyone in the northwestern United States into oblivion. We had traveled with other close relatives, and together our eager party numbered almost thirty people. Some of the group stayed in a pleasant, air conditioned hotel, and the others, including my family, stayed at the Birch Bay Campgrounds, where the nearest showers were two miles away and there was absolutely no cell phone reception.
SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
On the sixth day of our trip, it was time to visit the most famous area of Yellowstone: Old Faithful and its surrounding geysers, and our entourage was currently sitting on the concave of benches in front of Grand Geyser. Enclosed on one side by a rocky ridge and on the other by the rows of benches and a boardwalk, it was a wallflower, but the world’s tallest predictable geyser.
Finally, three hours later, it happened. Water shot up five feet in the air. Then ten. Then Grand Geyser erupted in all its glory. Water and steam burst a hundred feet into the sky, just a short distance from where we all stood. People who happened to be passing by on the boardwalk behind us stopped to gape, their hands hastily fumbling for cameras. Those of us who had been waiting all along scrambled on top of the benches to get a better glimpse. Purses and valuables were abandoned as everyone scrambled to film and capture the geyser before it ended.
Five minutes later, the stream of water stopped. Covered in a cool mist that provided a sweet respite from the still-shining sun, people turned to leave. Cameras were turned off; watches were glanced at impatiently.
Just as I was in the midst of turning around to pack up my own things, I heard an explosion behind me, and stopped midstride. Grand Geyser was erupting once more, sending water higher than the tops of the trees that rested on the ridge behind it.
It was astounding and beautiful. The water must have shot at least two hundred feet into the air; it was a coursing ribbon of white against the aquamarine sky. I loved every second of it. To see all that raw power and know that it was a work of nature was humbling. To know that that was just a mere fraction of the power that rested just beneath the earth’s surface was staggering.
When the geyser died down, we all prepared to leave. In the distance, Old Faithful was shooting into the pristine blue sky, not a cloud in sight. Faded boardwalks meandered across basin, cutting through the splatter of deadly acid-filled hot springs that glistened with colors like jewels. The gleaming sun reflected off the colors and gave even the gray terraces a shine. I knew that eventually our vacation would end and we would go back to the developed world: a world where nothing was minded besides the destination and technology was relentlessly used. Where one couldn’t even scan the horizon without seeing the tops of gleaming metal buildings and the bright lights of still-occupied offices at night. When we returned home, I would be glad for the comforts of modern life, because it was the only thing I’d ever known and thus couldn’t live without. But in the meantime, I’d enjoy this magnificent place, for it was full of wonder.
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