I went to Bozeman for an astronomical conference in early July. Bozeman is a wonderful town, in my opinion. Also, it was nice being in the west again, where all the iced tea is automatically un-sweet and comes with a lemon wedge. Bozeman is pleasant and abundant and boasts the largest population of Himalayan mountain climbers in the US, they say. Prayer flags were everywhere and I wondered if I was back in Yuksom. There was a local art walk one evening, and the food at the restaurants was delicious. A group of us ate dinner served by the restaurant out on the lawn and the food, wine and weather was perfect (read: no Old Bay, no humidity). To really put the cherry on the sundae, I was not too far away from Yellowstone National Park. I haven’t been there since I was little, maybe five years old. Anytime you’re near a National Park, and especially one as auspicious as Yellowstone, I believe that you need to take at least a day to see it if you can. After asking permission from the company, I took an extra day on the weekend, on my own nickel, to drive down and tour the place. It was a lot to do in one day, but for Yellowstone, I had to try.
The guys at the rental counter had given me a car upgrade to the largest consumer vehicle that GM makes. At least I think it’s their biggest – it was huge. It fit right in with the locals, but I wasn’t sure how well I was going to do with driving it. It turned out all right in the end. It was a good vehicle to drive in a place with bears and bison. Both of which I saw, I might add. I got a late start but eventually got to the park and its amazing geological features. I’d been here before, about 40 years earlier, when Old Faithful was an hourly geyser, but I didn’t remember all that much. Specifically, I remembered Old Faithful erupting, that squirrels like Fritos, and that the sulfur fumes hurt my nose. I began planning my visit, mainly trying to avoid the worst of the crowds and to just enjoy myself (after all, it was summer and it was busy). I mean, you could try to jam everything in but really, it would have been stressful and I would not have been able to photograph things the way I wanted to. It would have been a push. Instead, I walked and walked, and hiked, and walked some more and drove a bit. It was pleasant without a big agenda. I know I might have missed a few things. In fact it was a long wait for Old Faithful, so I didn’t stay for the eruption. I just went where I wished and didn’t get ambitious. On my wander, I found the vertebrae of what looked like bison in a meadow and saw some very strange fungus in a warm pool (I found this fascinating). After a long day in the park, photographing here and there, it was time to get back. But the traffic was blocked up. Why? A mama bear and her two cubs were out looking for dinner near the road! What a thing to see. Shortly afterward I watched a bison grazing in a field. What a beautiful end to the day.
I admit, I didn’t see Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, but I still couldn’t believe how many wonderful things I had seen in such a short time.