Yellowstone (Part 2)

- 07 September 2004 -

West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.

Closer to the road, an exhibit says that the West Thumb might be a volcanic caldera (much like Crater Lake, only without the crater).

West Thumb, otra vez.

Behold the thumby goodness.

A bit further down the road.

Buffalo, lake. Lake, buffalo.
BUFFALO: Grunt, grunt.
LAKE: Slosh, slosh.


Since I happen to think the buffalo are cute (and, also, since "Yansa" means "buffalo" in Cherokee), I'm glad there were plenty of them in the region. 

I *told* you that buffalo are everywhere at Yellowstone! But did you believe me? No! You continued blathering on about wildebeests, llamas, and ostriches, none of which can be found anywhere within the park. Hah! ... What? ... oh. That *wasn't* you, after all! That was just all the happy little voices in my head. Well, then. My countenance now sports a suitably abashed look. Carry on, then. Carry on.

THE CREATURE FROM THE LAGOON [... except that there is no creature involved]

This is the funky little lagoon thing near the parking lot for the Mud Volcano area walkway.

Note for intrepid travelers following in the footsteps of Miss Kick and myself: The Mud Volcano area isn't just the Mud Volcano, y'know. There's a lot more there.


We're coming up to the Mud Volcano! But if you're expecting something like what you see on this board -- or if you, like me, were expecting some sort of Hood-Fujiyama thing made of mud -- you may be disappointed.


Does the Mud Volcano have Volcano-Nature? Mu.

More of the Mud Volcano! Whee!

This is Dragon's Mouth Spring.

So named because of the dragon that lives in the spr-- no. It was named after Jean-Jacques Dragôn, a fur trader from Trois-Rivières, Québec, an-- no, no. A formation nearby looks like the scales of a dr-- 

No, no, no. Dragon's Mouth Spring was named because there's an area (just outside of this picture) that looks like the mouth of a dragon, sorta, and that's where the spring's steam comes from.

Dragon's Mouth Spring! Hiss, smoke, etc. 

Check out the next picture to learn something EDUCATIONAL! Or something.

Behold: The Dragon's Mouth Story. Learn ye from whence the name hath come. Or something.

Unidentified Lake. A lake, with steam, &c., &c.

It's Sour Lake!

Ding ding ding ding...
ding ding ding *ding*...
wh-whock-whock-whock whocka-whocka whock whock-whock...

I can't get Portishead out of my head, now. I bet it would be even worse if I had been there on Halloween or something.

The MacAdam Principle has been dealt a serious blow today, my friends.  

Mere pavement cannot withstand the MIGHTY FIRE OF NATURE!

Mud Geyser: It's muddy! And, as you will see soon, it has geysers! Yay!

Mud Geyser (more thereof).

Behold: Geyserness alongside the shore of Mud Geyser!

... it wasn't them *or* me, honest!

Remember: It was rising soil temperatures -- not [insert your favorite evil political party here] -- that killed the trees on this hillside. It also has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was born in 1978. Really! Honest! No, indeed, the two circumstances are utterly unrelated, and, thus, they are not linked in a cause-and-effect manner. The earth did not quake -- and curtains in the temples of the land did not rend themselves in two -- to herald my arrival. 

I guess that's a good thing?

Aww, it's such a li'l geothermal feature...

A little lake, with little indicators of geothermality spread out beneath its surface.

Behold the officially-named Churning Cauldron (which must be differentiated from the zillions of other lower-case churning cauldrons in the park).

More churning. 

Churn, baby, churn -- cauldron inferno!

Churning Cauldron, Jr.

And I shake my little toosh on the boardwalk, yeah, on the boardwalk...

Boardwalk through the forest.

Dead trees and the dirty ground. 

(Or something else that doesn't involve a White Stripes reference.)

The Mighty Hillside of Justice! Or, just another hillside. You be the judge!

Grizzly Fumarole: Named, presumably, from the resemblance of the li'l fumaroles to the paw-print of an ursine creature.

What Not To Do:

1. Do not use the very rim of the Scalds Like Satan's Fire Geyser boardwalk as a place to practice your pirouette. Little Sally found out the hard way that this may cause some pain. 

2. Do not touch the mud. It contains Legionnaire's Disease, meningitis, elephantiasis, Tourette's Syndrome, dropsy, HIV, cholera, bubonic plague, hydrofluoric acid, LSD, crack cocaine, and the common cold, and you will almost certainly die a slow, woozy, miserable death, like little Timmy here. Also, the mud contains a puce skin dye that is an unflattering but quite permanent step-cousin of henna. You will die and look horribly ugly at the same time. 

3. Do not stick your leg in the geyser. It may hurt. 

4. Don't be a middle-aged couple in out-of-style clothing. But if you are, don't subject your dog to it, too. 

5. If you insist on dancing through the springs in your stripey shirt, please don't bring your friend from the past along with you. 

Thank you, The Management, Norris Geyser Basin visitor's center.

Porcelain Basin, a subset of Norris Geyser Basin.

Contemplate and ponder, if you will, the Porcelain Basin.

I think the Porcelain Basin is one of the prettiest parts of Yellowstone's geothermal areas. I enjoyed walking around out there.


The gist of the sign's message to the world is that the area is made of brittle, brittle, crunchy stuff and it's not too smart to walk on it, because it might be a thin crust over STEAMY BOILING DOOM.

Another view of the Porcelain Basin area.


Congress Pool was named after a get-together of the International Geological Congress, who decided to meet in Yellowstone in 1891. The pool popped up that year, too, which led to the name.

This is Li'l Spouty Spring!

Well, it has no name -- at least as far as I can discern from the visitor's pamphlet and the signage hereabouts. However, I volunteer the name for this one. It has such a gutsy can-do attitude! You can't help but be charmed by Li'l Spouty!™ 

The Porcelain Springs area (not to be confused with the Porcelain Basin, which includes Porcelain Springs and many other features) is a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a hanky wrapped in water and forced through the earth by geothermal energy. By this, I mean that things just kinda pop up in through there -- at different times, you see various new and different features just spoutin' away. Or you might not see anything spoutin' away. Y'know. It's kinda like that. Porcelain Springs is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're gonna get. Or something.

Behold the Carnegie Drill Hole!

The 50¢ guide to the area (which I purchased from the little box near the parking lot) didn't even mention the Carnegie Drill Hole. Perhaps that was because it was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Look: hole in ground. Amazing. I am so intensely excited that I may fall over in a mad narcoleptic frenzy! 

However, the mystery, the moneyed surname attached to the feature, as well as the seemingly-naughty existence of a "drill hole" in a U.S. National Park, gives it a certain panache, zest, and mystique. I recommend that you invite yourself, your beloved, your parents, and two buses full of Chinese tourists to see the Carnegie Drill Hole. Yes.

The north side of the Porcelain Springs area.

South side of Porcelain Springs.

Seen from the Porcelain Springs area.

All the little pools on the basin plain below Porcelain Springs.

Aorta Springs. 

Well, no. I don't see a name for this one, but it looks vaguely coronary.

"Hurricane Vent".

I don't see any hurricanes coming out of this vent, though. That's probably a good thing for the residents of West Yellowstone, Montana, and Jackson, Wyoming.

Colloidal Pool.

Como un Parque Zoológico...

I kept expecting a polar bear or a tiger or something to walk out of the distance and flop down on the flat spot near the pool. Y'know what I mean?

I think we may have missed this one by a couple of days.

Observe the Black Growler Steam Vent, along with its associated hillside.

La-dee-da... just taking some pictures and walking along... gee, it's kind of windy out today... 


There went my head-hanky. Foo. I can't do anything to get it back, either, because they said not to try retrieving anything that fell in. :/

The next few features are unnamed, so I shall give them names. Yes. And I shall make up stories, too.

This is Richard Simmons Pool, named after exercise king Sir Richard Simmons by Queen Elizabeth II on her third voyage to Yellowstone in 1979. 

These two lakes have names that are unpronounceable in English and which refer to things which hominid minds cannot understand. They were named by an employee who was later revealed -- by a KPMG audit -- to be an exchange student from Charon, a moon of Pluto.

This is Angus McMucksteen Lake, named by an early Park staffer after the fourth Canadian prime minister, Sir Angus McMucksteen II (1764-1955). 

This is Wilford Brimley Pool, named by a park staffer because it is the color of soggy oatmeal. 

This is The Wiggles Lake, named by your four-year-old third cousin twice removed. 

Goodbye, Porcelain Geyser Basin. 

Text written at times in 2004, and on 28 December 2005.
Last updated 20 January 2006.

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