This is Yellowstone Lake. Altitude 8,000 feet. It sits in the caldera of this supervolcano that is Yellowstone. Half of the world's geothermic activity is to be found here. It is classed as an active volcano, as several eruptions of tremendous force have happened over the last 2 million years......let's hope they're not due another just yet!

This is Yellowstone Lake. Altitude 8,000 feet.

Yellowstone Lake sits in the caldera of this super-volcano that is Yellowstone Park. Half of the world’s geothermic activity is to be found here. It is classed as an active volcano, as several eruptions of tremendous force have happened over the last 2 million years……let’s hope they’re not due another just yet!

 



Our campsite at Bay Bridge. A buffalo strolled through at dusk with not a care in the world.

This is our campsite at Bay Bridge. A buffalo strolled through at dusk with not a care in the world.

The first evening we did the ‘loop’ that took us up to Tower Falls. On the way we saw a constantly changing environment, from fast flowing rivers to grassland with meandering streams and from turgid mud pools to rapids and waterfalls.

A stop at Hardy Rapids to reconnect with water!

A stop at Hardy Rapids to reconnect with water!

The tranquil Hayden's Valley.......

The tranquil Hayden’s Valley…….

......and our first view of a herd of buffalo. Very exciting!

……and our first view of a herd of buffalo. Very exciting!

......even more exciting when they stroll across the road infront of you.....for the first time. Thereafter it can get very hot and tedious as there's only one road and a lot of tourists. We were all very respectful of the buffalo and waited patiently for them to make their way to wherever they were going. The Park Rangers are more proactive and shoo them off by waving their 'hi vis' jackets at them from their drivers window!!

……even more exciting when they stroll across the road in front of you…..for the first time!!!…..

…..Thereafter it can get very hot and tedious, as there’s only one road and a lot of tourists. We were all very respectful of the buffalo and waited patiently for them to make their way to wherever they were going. The Park Rangers are more proactive and shoo them off by waving their ‘hi vis’ jackets at them from their driver’s window!!

Just along the way we came upon a mud volcano.

Just along the way we came upon a mud volcano.

Me in front of The Dragon's Mouth.

The Old Dragon, in front of The Dragon’s Mouth.

 

The highest point of our evening's trip up to Tower Falls. Again the scenery changed and the grandeur of this unspoiled natural masterpiece took our breath away.

The highest point of our evening’s trip up to Tower Falls. Again the scenery changed and the grandeur of this unspoiled natural masterpiece took our breath away.

The sun setting on the canyon wall above Tower Falls. Spectacular!

The sun setting on the canyon wall above Tower Falls. Spectacular!

The return trip from the falls was a little unnerving. Apart from the hairpin bends and unprotected edges, the constant braking caused the brake pads to smoke and smell pretty acrid.

The following morning we set off early for a day packed full of sightseeing, which included Old Faithful. We were driving along the edge of the lake and took a turning, that was modestly signed to West Thumb…..not on our day’s itinerary, but we thought we’d take a peek. For a nation that invented advertising it is surprising how little signage there is for the opportunist traveler. With no internet reception in the park, researching attractions wasn’t an option, so we decided to explore any track leading off the main drag…….it had to lead to something!!

West Thumb thermal pools.

West Thumb thermal pools.

Not too many other tourists found West Thumb either!

Not too many other tourists found West Thumb either!

The 'Abyss'

The ‘Abyss’

Selfie on the edge of the Abyss.

Selfie on the edge of the Abyss.

Mineral coloured pool.

Mineral coloured pool.

Hot thermal pool at the edge of the lake,.......

Hot thermal pool in the shallows of the lake,…….

........teeming with fish!

……..teeming with tiny fish!

At West Thumb we found we could park and walk right next to a bubbling pool!

At West Thumb we found we could park and walk right next to a bubbling pool!

Health and safety??

Health and safety??

We have come to the conclusion that, just as the French gave us the word and concept of bureaucracy, the USA have gifted us the fearful term ‘Health and Safety’……..both of which we British seem to have managed to refine to the ‘nth degree and both of which seem to demand little respect in their native countries!!.

Onward and upward on the map, we made our way to the obligatory viewing of Old Faithful. This has been a tourist attraction since the park was founded and boasts the largest of the very few hotels actually situated in the park. It is very grand and dates back to the 1920s, when the rich and famous used it as a hunting lodge. We had an overpriced sandwich between us, as we waited for Old Faithful’s next performance.

The Lodge at Old Faithful.

The very grand fireplace in the lounge of the Lodge at Old Faithful.

The Lodge's corridor to the toilets.

The lighting in the Lodge’s corridor to the toilets.

 

Thousands of us sat expectantly for the old boy to perform.

Thousands of us sat waiting expectantly for the old boy to perform.

Old Faithful preparing himself......

Old Faithful preparing himself……

.....There he blows!

…..There he blows!

......'That's all Folks!'.

……’That’s all Folks!’.

 

We have to say that we found Old Faithful to be a bit of a damp squib, but as we looked to our right, we caught site of a much more impressive head of steam, just down in the next valley…….so we headed towards it.

Old Faithful's more spirited rival!

Old Faithful’s more spirited rival!

Again, a detour from the main track brought us to another set of thermal pools with a geyser called ‘Fire Hole’.  During our travels we have found that Americans on the water tend to be less intrepid than their European counterparts……….we now think this tendency may be a cultural one and extends to ‘dirt dwellers’ and ‘rubber burners’ too!!  With minimal fencing and no other tourists to be seen, we had an unspoiled view of the pools.

Fire Hole pools. The colours were amazing, but illusive to capture on camera.

Fire Hole pools. The colours were amazing, but illusive to capture on camera.

Fire Hole geyser from the road.

Fire Hole geyser from the road.

....nearly got his finger burnt!

….nearly got his finger burnt!

In full swing.

In full swing. A true ‘sensorama’ of sulphorous smells, hissing sounds and steamy heat.

 

On our way to Fire Hole Canyon we saw this buffalo holding up the pedestrian traffic1

On our way to Fire Hole Canyon, we saw this buffalo holding up the pedestrian traffic!

I’ll take a moment to explain my fascination with buffaloes, which have been part of my life for the past 27 years……………..

We were attending the christening of a friend’s daughter: at the family gathering, back at the house, our two year old daughter, Jenni, spent the entire afternoon, in her pretty pink smocked ‘best dress’, on all fours buffeting people and snorting. At the end of the afternoon I quizzed her as to why she hadn’t spoken to anyone all afternoon. With hands on hips, a shake of her head and an indulgent sigh, she replied, as if explaining the obvious……….

‘Buffaloes don’t talk!’

So these buffaloes are especially for Jenni, our own wonderfully imaginative and creative little Buffalo xxx

I got as close as was safe and we had a moment of understanding............B: I'm bigger than you and you're disturbing my drinking. M: I fully understand. My apologies.Please carry on.

I got as close as was safe and we had a moment of understanding…………                                      B: I’m bigger than you and you’re disturbing my drinking.
M: I fully understand. My apologies.Please carry on.

 

My passing shot!

My passing shot……Very pleased with this one!

 

From the tranquil waters of the Fire Hole plain, we once again climbed up to Fire Hole Canyon. The road was narrow, very steep and with no guard rails…..not favourite driving conditions for Marcus, whose hands sweat at the mere thought of unprotected heights!

At the summit of Fire Hole gorge.

At the summit of Fire Hole gorge.

 

The following morning we struck camp early and headed north to take the road that lead out by Mammoth Springs. By this time we were getting rather blase about hot springs and geysers and felt we had seen it all, so this trip was more about making miles north towards Seattle and my flight back to Blighty.

Little did we know what lay in store for us!

On our way to Mammoth Springs.

On our way to Mammoth Springs.

Another deserted detour from the main drag. Note the outdoorsy look!

Another deserted detour from the main drag. Note the outdoorsy look!

On the detour, we passed this formation with mineral salts flowing down it.

On the detour, we passed this formation glistening with the mineral laden water flowing down it.

Round the corner we stopped to explore and came across this tenacious tree!

Round the corner we stopped to explore and came across this tenacious little tree!

Rejoining the road we were descending constantly and nearing Mammoth Springs, but were still at 6,700 feet above sea level. Our first glimpses of Mammoth looked like we were heading towards snow……impossible at this time of year!

As we got closer we had a wonderful view of one of the turquoise infinity pools that cascade mineral encrusted ‘waterfalls’ down the side of the mountain, leaving glistening terraces of gleaming white deposits.

One of the steaming infinity pools that o'er brim to cascade down the mountainside.

One of the steaming infinity pools that o’er brim to cascade down the mountainside.

Our first sight of The Mammoth from the bottom.

Our first sight of The Mammoth from the bottom.

'We woz ere'

‘We woz ere’

Strange shaped mineral mounds at Mammoth.

Strange shaped mineral mounds at Mammoth.

!!!

!!!

Me capturing an artist, capturing the hot springs.

Me capturing an artist, capturing the hot springs.

Incredible to think of the forces that created this piece of rock that marked the edge of the car park!

Nature’s own piece of discarded art! Incredible to think of the forces that created this piece of rock that marked the edge of the car park.

After being dazzled by Mammoth Springs, it was time to move on and leave Yellowstone. We felt very fortunate that we had made the trip from south to north…….If we had seen Mammoth first, then the rest of the park would have been a bit of an anticlimax!

The North Gate and back to civilization and wifi signal to find out how my Mum was faring  in Livingston.

The North Gate and back to civilization and wifi signal to find out how my Mum was faring.

With good news from home about my Mum’s recovery, we decided to make our way to Seattle via Glacier Park, which straddles the border with Canada, and then travel on to Bellingham to visit our sailing friends, Chris and Khara and their very new baby, Sunny Bowline.