Flowing through Yellowstone for Ailsa’s Travel Theme.

Ailsa’s new travel theme is “Flow”, and I decided to revisit our road trip to Yellowstone National Park, where in May 2010, I witnessed some amazing examples of flow. There were beautiful flowing rivers surrounded by mountains covered in fir trees,

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and picturesque cascading waterfalls.

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Here is one of the amazing sulphur mounds which have been formed over time by the eruption and flow of hot spring water.

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Liberty Cap is a hot spring cone, 37 feet high, which marks the northern portion of Mammoth Hot Springs. It was so  named, because of its uncanny resemblance to the peaked caps worn during the French Revolution. Its unusual formation was created by a hot spring whose massive internal pressure caused it to flow continuously for hundreds of years, allowing mineral deposits to build up to this great height.

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Icicles had formed from the run-off around the rims of this steaming hot geyser, whilst just a few feet below, the water was 200F.

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On a warmer day, ‘Turquoise Pool’ in the Midway Geyser Basin, may look quite inviting for a swim, but as it has a temperature of between 142 and 160 °F ,  it’s not advisable.

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When we eventually reached Old Faithful, America’s most famous geyser we went to the viewing point to await the promised spectacular flow of steam, which  can shoot from 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons of boiling water into the air. It erupts roughly every 90 minutes, and the steam rises from 106-185 feet, and can last anything from 1-5 minutes.

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We really experienced many amazing examples of ‘flow’ on our trip. If you would like to see what other bloggers have posted for this theme, just click here to go to Ailsa’s post.

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Jake’s Sunday Post: Attraction

Here I am squeaking in at the last minute for Jake’s Sunday Challenge ‘Attraction’.

I’ve shown you many of the places which have attracted me to travel to different places, The most memorable in my mind, being the amazing sight of Machu Picchu. This 15th century Inca site is to be found in the Cusco region of Peru, and is almost 8,000 feet above sea level.

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Egypt had long been on my bucket list, and one of the attractions I really wanted to see, was The Great Sphinx of Giza, situated on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile River. The head of the Great Sphinx is believed to be that of the Pharaoh Khafra.

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The fallen and badly damaged limestone statue of Ramesses The Great, near Memphis, would have stood over 13 metres high. He was the most powerful Pharaoh of them all, and ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC.

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The famous Terracotta Army in X’ian, dates back to 210-209 BC. These soldiers and their horses were buried with the Emporer Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, supposedly to protect him in the afterlife.

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Another attraction in China, is the Li River in Guangxi Zhuang. We did a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, and the scenery was truly breathtaking.

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The USA has many attractions, and the most amazing place I’ve ever visited is Yellowstone National Park. Something we had to see, was the Old Faithful cone geyser, which shoots 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet, and occurs roughly every hour and a half.

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Something else I’d always wanted to see was the huge bronze Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.It was inscribed with the words, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” It dates back to 1752 and in its early years, was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations. It acquired its large crack some time in the early 19th century.

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A well-known attraction in San Francisco, is the iconic trolley bus, or tram. The first ones were pulled by horses, who managed with great difficulty to climb the city’s steep hills, until the electric tram was tested and brought into service in 1873.

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Of course, you can’t go to San Fran without visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, the most popular tourist attraction there.

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I was so excited to see the Statue of Liberty on my first visit to New York. Lady Liberty is located in New York Harbour, and was a gift of international friendship from the people of France, in 1886.

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So many attractions, so little time, but to end off, I just have to include another photo of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This is one of the most photogenic attractions I’ve yet to see.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my pics. To see more attraction, visit Jake’s Sunday Post. He has already posted the next challenge, so why not have a go at it?

Ailsa’s ‘Liquid’ travel theme.


“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
~ Mother Teresa

For Ailsa’s theme, I have a few photos to share, all involving the uses of that most necessary liquid commodity, water. Click on any image to see slideshow.

You can click here to see other bloggers interpretations of Ailsa’s theme.

Old Faithful revisited, icicles and steaming geysers.

 The seventh day of our memorable journey to Yellowstone National Park.


From my journal, May 5th, 2010:

“Last night, (Monday) was very stormy and noisy, with the wind howling  and thunder crashing, way into the small hours. Nevertheless, I had quite a good night’s sleep except for the fact that the people in the room next door, got up at 1am and banged around until they left about 1-45.  Hubby didn’t even stir. He’s a much sounder sleeper than I am. We awake to wonderful sunshine, and -4 degrees C. Slightly on the cool side for my liking.

Hubby decides that we need to go  back to “Old Faithful” to get a pic  of the eruption in the sunshine instead of the snow. At the entrance gate to the Park, we have to open the door to give in our ticket, as the car window won’t wind down; it’s frozen closed for now at least. The road’s really icy but free of snow, and according to the GPS, our journey will take 53 mins.

At breakfast, a guy is showing around some pics he got of a Grizzly and a wolf yesterday. He has been here in the Park for a week though, so ought to have something to show for it. Before we leave the hotel, not to be outdone, I get a pic of me with a wooden Yogi Bear.

The rivers and mountains are glistening this morning, such a change from yesterday’s snowy grey mist. The road is very icy and we’re hoping it will be clear by the time we drive back along this route later today. We turn right at Madison Junction, elevation about 2000m and it’s now 25 kms  to “Old Faithful. ” The roads are pure white now, and a snow plough passes us going downhill in the opposite direction, and sprays us with snow. We can see blue sky in the distance, and it’s looking quite promising so far. Now we catch up with a long line of cars going very slowly. There are two Bison sauntering nonchalantly down the other side of the road, and they don’t even glance our way as we pass. I’m sure they are quite disdainful  of these strange metal creatures that whizz past them every day on four wheels instead of four legs.

A bit further down the road, the long procession of cars grinds to a halt on the snowy road. These regular sedans just aren’t coping with the icy roads as well as our huge 4X4 truck, and eventually we manage to overtake them. Now it’s all clear ahead and we might make it just in time for the next eruption. It’s due very soon, so we’re on a mission.  There are odd patches of melted ice on the road and hubby wonders out loud, if this may be an indication of a geyser underneath the tarmac at these points. I sure hope it doesn’t suddenly burst through the tarmac just as we get there. Only 5kms to go and the sun is brilliant in a clear blue sky. I hope it stays this way at least until after the next eruption. We pass more bison trudging along the road. Their coats look really mangy and matted. Not very cuddly at all.

It’s 10 am when we arrive and hubby dashes for the loo before going to the visitors centre to confirm the time of the next eruption. Whilst I’m waiting in the car, a coach pulls up in front of me, and as the door opens I see someone sitting on the front seat, wearing red peep-toe sandals. “Not quite the correct footwear for this weather” I think, looking down at my snug and sturdy snow boots. We have almost an hour to wait, and go into the lovely warm shop to browse and have a hot chocolate. I go to the loo and have just sat down, when there’s a rapping on the door, and a man’s voice calls, “Can I come in?”  Eeeek,! I manage to squeak, “NO, I’m in here!” I suppose he just wanted to come in to clean, but he could have timed it better, and anyway, why do they have men cleaning the women’s loos?

The women at the cash desk says to hubby, “Love yer accent. Where yer from?” She seems fascinated that we’re so far from home. All too soon, it’s time to go outside again and I’m trying to work out how many layers of clothing I can fit under my coat. I have tights under my jeans, a vest under my T shirt, over which is a woolly jacket with a hood, two scarves, a hat, gloves and lastly my coat. That should do it; even my own mother wouldn’t recognise me.

It feels much colder than yesterday and the wind chill factor is serious stuff. Very crisp to say the least. There are icicles still hanging off the car and around the  wheel hubs.

We walk down to the viewing point yet again and join the other frozen viewers. The timing is spot on today and at 10-53am exactly, huge amounts of steam shoot way up into the air. It’s not quite as spectacularly high as yesterday, but at least we can see it better without the snow.

Back in the relative warmth of the car, we head for West Yellowstone to visit the Bear and Wolf park. The snow is melting on the roads and it’s -4 degrees. Someone has obviously put salt on the roads in the last hour or so. Hubby tells me to keep all my layers on as I have to go over the steaming bridge with him today and up the hill where he took the photos yesterday. We see copious clouds of steam rising in the distance and we’re almost at Midway Geyser. The wind chill is unbelievable as we slip and slide our way up the boardwalk. I’m so glad I’m wrapped up well.

It’s really worth braving the cold for as we look down into the icicle-ringed geyser.

It may be cold up here, but it sure looks hot down there.

There are only two loos in the car park; hubby takes one and I the other. Neither of them have locks, and after a couple of minutes, I hear hubby’s door open and his voice saying, “ I’m almost done.” A guy mutters an apology, and before I can get up and grab my door handle, it’s yanked open. This horrified guy, seeing me with my trousers down, hurriedly slams the door shut again. I scuttle out afterwards back to the car, hoping never to see him again. What a scream! I had to laugh, and chuckled for quite a while afterwards. I sincerely hope there won’t be a third such incident today.

I’m thawing out now and am looking forward to getting to the “Grizzly Bear Park.” It will be great to see the real thing. These are rescued bears and some were born in captivity.”

We got some great pics, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. 😉

Have a great day everyone.

Full steam ahead at Yellowstone Park.

Ailsa’s travel theme, ‘Parks’, came at just the right time for my Yellowstone Park post.  Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges, and is thought to have been the first such park in the world. It was established by the U.S.Congress, and signed into law by President Ulysses S Grant, on March 1, 1872, so is 150 years old.

From my journal of May 4th, 2010, this is the sixth day of our journey.

“Today is cold, wet and grey as we head back into the park. As we enter, and just before Mammoth Springs, we see a whole flock of black carrion crows, feeding on the remains of a kill by the river. Hubby asks if I want a pic, but “not really” is my reply. Gruesome stuff, although thinking about it afterwards; we eat meat almost every day, so why shouldn’t they? We pass by a camp ground with hardy folk sitting eating breakfast outside their tents in 4 degrees. Brrr!!

A few flakes of snow are falling as we arrive at the town, and the only sign of the buffalo we’d seen on the lawn yesterday, are their sizeable droppings on the grass.  We stop to fill up the tank yet again. This huge vehicle is a very thirsty animal, but great nevertheless, especially on these icy roads. Snow has fallen overnight and it looks colder than yesterday. I am so glad we did the Mammoth Hot Springs yesterday afternoon when the weather was much brighter.

We’re aiming for ‘Old Faithful’, 50 miles away. A snow plough heads towards the town, and I hope he’s been busy clearing the road we’ll be travelling on later. The mountains look beautiful with their snowy blanket, and once again, hardy hubby, obligingly gets out of the car to take a pic.

The road is icy as we pass ‘Swan Lake Flat’ and we are in 4 wheel drive as we get to ‘Sheep-eater Cliff’. I love these names. The temperature has dropped to 0 degrees now and the road is rougher, with more snow and ice. We’ve only seen a couple of other vehicles so far, but further up the road, we see two parked cars, and stop to see what they’re looking at with their tripod all set up just inside the woods. I thought it might be Yogi Bear, so my intrepid driver goes to investigate.  Suddenly there is a tapping on the window, and a ranger asks if I can move the car as we’re not allowed to park here. I wouldn’t even like to try, so send him off to find hubby, who returns, saying, “There’s a grizzly bear up there, but you can barely see him.” So no Yogi Bear pic today.  We’re staying near the Bear Park tonight, so should have more luck there.

We pass “Grizzly Lake’ with not a Grizzly in sight. Along the way are pools and lakes of steaming water. “ What lies beneath?” I wonder.

The hills look misty, but I realise that it’s because of the steam coming off them. They must be jolly hot inside. We stop at ‘Nymph’s Lake’ and think it’s worth a pic. It’s seriously bubbling down there. A sign says, “Hazardous Thermal Area. Boiling water and unstable ground.” Hubby takes a pic from a safe distance. Don’t want him falling into the cauldron; I need him to drive the car. 😉

We see a red RAV4  bogged down in a ditch, and park rangers are directing traffic. He was obviously going too fast on the icy road, and is really lucky that he didn’t land in a cauldron of boiling water. “That would teach him a lesson,” I think to myself, “Oh misery, to have an accident in this weather!” We turn off to Norris and “Yay,” there are loos there. It’s a long-drop, but exceptionally clean and even sweet smelling. We stop off at the Norris Geyser Basin and hubby gets out again. I sit debating whether to brave the cold and snow and finally decide it’s worth it, so I put on an extra jersey under my coat, snow boots, scarf, hat and gloves and set off. It’s quite a walk and I’m hoping to meet up with hubby before too long. I’ve never felt so cold in my whole life. I see him at the main viewing site. It’s all on raised walkways around the geysers, and steam is coming out of all orifices. It sounds like a huge washing machine churning away and smells of sulphur. Scary stuff!

From there, we drive on towards the Caldera boundary. The steepness of the incline tells us that we‘re driving across the edge of it. There’s nothing further of interest along this route, so we head back to the main road and on towards “Old Faithful.”  Thirty miles still to go, as we drive over a bridge with steam rising up on both sides.

We’re stopped for about 15 minutes because of road works, and hungrily devour the leftover chicken pizza from last night’s dinner. It tastes delicious even though it’s cold. Finally we’re allowed through and there are 16 miles still to go. All along the way, the wind is howling and the ground either side is steaming.It feels somewhat surreal. Quite different from normal everyday life.

When we eventually arrive at the Old Faithful visitor centre, we’re told it’s an hour till the next eruption, so we warm ourselves with a hot chocolate, and ten minutes before time, wrap ourselves warmly and head out to the viewing area. It’s snowing a lot now, and there are maybe seventy people all standing in icy anticipation for about twenty minutes. Puffs of steam keep popping out and then disappearing again, and we think that might be all we are going to get. Ah well.

Just when I’ve almost given up hope, the steam goes berserk and shoots maybe 50 meters into the air.

Apparently 30,000 liters of water are expelled per eruption and the water temperature at the vent is 96C. It’s all white sky, white snow and white steam, so didn’t look as spectacular as on the video we saw in the gift shop, which showed beautiful colours against a clear blue sky. Well we’ve at least been there, done that. Another thing to tick off my “Bucket List.”

Next stop is our hotel in West Yellowstone. There are a few sites of interest along the way and one in particular which hubby decides is worth braving the snow for. I stay in the car whilst he disappears across a bridge into the steamy mist. Twenty minutes later, he’s still not back. This is my man who moans about the couple of degrees drop in temperature between Umhlanga and Kloof when we visit my sister. Unbelievable that he stays out there for so long! I strain my eyes to see if he’s coming back, but now even the bridge has disappeared. Suddenly the steam clears and I see a lone figure coming across the bridge, stopping to take more photos. “Where have you been?” I ask as he shivers into the car. “Right to the top of the hill. It’s amazing up there,” he replies. I can’t wait to see these amazing pics.

We leave the park and drive to our hotel for the night, looking forward to a hot bath, a good dinner and a warm bed.”

Tomorrow we’ll revisit Old Faithful, and go to see some BIG Teddy bears.