Saturday, June 22, 2013

Marveling at Yellowstone National Park, WY

With the government shutdown affecting thousands of travelers' vacation plans to see our great national parks, I can't help but feel incredibly lucky to have witnessed the beauty of Yellowstone National Park.

Although the brazen tourists who photograph bison from less than two feet away are burdensome and annoying (the camera does zoom), as well as those who capture the entire geyser eruption of Old Faithful with their iPads (often it's the same person), Yellowstone certainly does not deserve the "overrated" label that some travelers bestow upon it. 

You could set your watch to Old Faithful's eruption.
It's no coincidence that around 3.5 million people visit the park each year. (Yellowstone isn't the nation's most visited park, though. Can you guess what is? Find out here.) Centuries before President Ulysses Grant commissioned Yellowstone into America's first national park in 1872, Native Americans spoke of its wonder. Yellowstone in one word: Marvelous. 

With its unique ecosystems, volcanic activity, and geothermal features, Yellowstone doesn't seem to belong to this planet, let alone spanning Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

These travertine terraces look like an elaborate pool design. 

Even if you're not a believer in the supernatural or the divine, Yellowstone is likely to move something inside you. If not, you are cold, hard and made of tin. Please watch Forrest Gump until you develop a soul or until the Wizard of Oz gives you a heart, whichever comes first.

Meanwhile, Spencer and I stuffed our beast of an RV into a campground at Yellowstone for the first week we visited. It was like being LeBron James at a toddler beauty pageant. We stuck out. (But by gosh, we were going win that tiara!)

We quickly realized that we were without cell service, Internet and even electricity from the quiet hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. For two retirees enjoying life off the grid, that would have been simply amazing. For us, two people funding their journey with "normal" day jobs, that was a problem. We remedied the problem by visiting West Yellowstone, the tourist town just outside the park's gates to do our work. This gave us the chance to focus on the majesty of Yellowstone when we were there. 

Not to mention, there are few backdrops that make QuickBooks and loan management more beautiful than the valleys, streams, forests and canyons in this park when we worked offline. 

Staying inside Yellowstone was a huge plus when we found bison meandering over to our campsite in the morning to pay us a friendly greeting. 

Just like its friendly neighbor to the south, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone is also teeming of wildlife. 

This mama bear climbed a tree with her cinnamon cubs to hide from the growing crowd.
During our visit, Spencer and I learned so much about all of Yellowstone's interesting features, from bubbling basins to prismatic pools to unexpected geysers that leave you soaked. 

All of the science was fascinating, but sometimes the colorless facts take away the impressiveness of it all. So we took a few moments to step back, look and marvel. 

There really is so much beauty in this world. 

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