Please note: The travel described here occurred in the past. Today, I do not recommend that anyone who is, or may possibly be, pregnant travel to this state. A miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy cannot be safely treated under this state’s current laws. Please care for yourself and travel to places where your life and health are valued.
I’ve visited Yellowstone National Park several times during my adulthood. I’ve crisscrossed the park (see Five Routes Coming And Going from February 2015) and even been joined by my favorite travel buddies (see Photo Op from April 2022). When I am not delighting in the visual splendor, I pop onto the Yellowstone webcams and patiently wait for the next eruption of Old Faithful. I receive tweets from @GeyserNPS letting me know when the next scheduled blast is expected so I can watch the next occurrence as if I am anxiously awaiting the view from the semi-circle of benches in the southwest quadrant of the park.
I recall the time I watched online as a couple watched the eruption by themselves. What a treat it must have been for them. I watch in the winter when no one wants to be pummeled by the coldest wind blasting against the trees and hills and wildlife. I hope to be back before long, and often worry that I may never return. A beckoning reaches out to me wherever I am whispering, “We’re all still here. Come see us. Faithfully yours, Yellowstone.” It’s not that I don’t answer, it’s just that my voice isn’t as clear and America’s first national park likely has oodles of distant voices responding with hopeful promise that they will visit in person. Soon. One day. Eventually. What a travesty it must be for all the voices who have never seen its glory and don’t know to answer.
My second visit to Yellowstone wandered through the marvelous middle. My third visit wasn’t even as a delighted tourist, but merely a passer-through. I felt guilty for not stopping, or seeing, or savoring the scenery. I spent a few dollars and a few minutes. I did not gaze on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I didn’t watch the bison graze. I did not witness new rocks being formed by the drippings at Mammoth Springs. I didn’t watch the water fall there, or over there, or especially there. I wish I could have stayed the rest of the day, or a month, but the road ahead also called to me.
On my most recent visit, I choose to make up for lost time. I cross the Continental Divide. I see the spectrum of colors in the pools. I watch Old Faithful blast its water and steam skyward. I see the plunging flow of the river at the far end of the canyon. I watch the sun throw long shadows across the charred forest. I see the yellow rocks sloping towards the floor below me, or perhaps climbing up to greet me. I see the breeze brush against the grass in the meadow. I watch other tourists get too close to the wildlife. I stroll the boardwalks remembering past visits, and hoping for future explorations. I am faithfully yours.