The Diaries: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, colorful serenity
Leave SLC in the morning (after a parking enforcement agent forces me to pay the meter although I was in the car and told him I was leaving). Really wish I’d had more time in Utah.
Idaho: pure farmland, pretty drive on the I-15 North, overlooking the alternatively golden and green fields, mountain ranges in the background. True to the license plate motto “Idaho the Scenic” (also “Famous Potatoes, although have yet to see them).
Stop by in Idaho Falls. Walk around. Cool off and work in a dive bar, some drunk and gruffy farmer gals are downing tequila, whiskey and beer on this lazy Friday afternoon.
“I went to Mike’s funeral, y’know Mike, he was a party animal. So I went to his funeral wearing these high-ass boots.” She point to her thighs.
“My daughter once said: Remember that funeral when you went dressed like a hooker?”
“It was an ass-fucking party though.” The discussion veers to dress codes in the workplace:
“Michelle, on her first day of work, showed up with jeans so tight you could see everything.”
“Camel toe?” says one of the farm-guys present.
Big affirmative eyes. The bartender draws the shape with her hands, about the size of an apple.
Unrelated: “Ball-shaggers make you lose your voice.” Ball-shagging a popular expression around here.
Later: an Idaho man goes to the Internet jukebox and selects Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore.’
Now to Grand Teton (Big Tits) National Park and Yellowstone, I’m excited.
Catastrophe, found out last night there’s been, probably for the last days or so, a speck of dust on the sensor of my camera. This is synonym of damnation for a piece of expensive optical equipment.
Guy at raft store helped as he could, handed my a dusty brush kit. I closely avoided eternal damnation by not using the kit on the sensor, which would’ve surely ruined the camera. But the problem is not solved.
Drive out at dawn, sore-headed. A few pictures of the mountains, don’t have an adapted lens. Fuck.
Later stuck with other cars as cattle drive goes across the river. Meet a photographer, ask him if he has any experience with such things. Sure, happens all the time he says, he doesn’t seem to concerned. But he can tell how sore I am. Luckily, as the line of cars was still at a stop waiting for the cattle drive, the photographer handed me a small air-blower designed to remove dust.
I sat down in the car nervously. Lay on my back, as to turn the camera sensor downwards. I removed the lens carefully. So much fucking pollen and dust everywhere, in the middle of summer. I very cautiously introduce the blower near the sensor and give it a few pumps.
I don’t dare do anything more.
But… but… I think I got rid of it? (happiness)
A man from Nebraska calls over to me as I’m taking shots, verifying that the dust speck has in fact been removed.
“You know the name of that flower you were taking a picture of?
“It’s a mustensil.” I don’t quite catch the name. One of those yellow flowers that blooms pretty much everywhere, a noxious flower, the guy teaches me.
“You know a lot about flora?”
“Nah. Just that one because I always have to take care of it in my yard. It’s non-native. It was brought on a boat.”
“As are many things.”
I tell them about my trip, they tell me about the road up ahead, summing up the worth of entire states to some crops:
“Kansas, wheat. Iowa, corn. Make sure you drive the Needles highway in Dakota. Nebraska, Kansas, they’re all the same.”
At last the cattle has crossed the river, and I drive through the Grand Tetons. Must give praise again to the US National Park system.
Dip into Snake River. Mighty freezing. Revigorating though.
Then into Yellowstone. Stop to cook some of the whole rice I purchased at Walmart. Find out it takes almost forty five minutes to cook.
Old Faitfhul… the beautiful. Colorful springs.
Starry night. I think I see the Milky Way. There’s a young couple from Ohio parked nearby; they sleep on the rooftop of their car.
Drive through the Park: hot springs, geysers, more natural wonders, more tourists. See the lake. Awing vistas. Close encounters with moose, buffalo.
Am concerned by how under-inflated my front tires look. I stop by to re-inflate them, but the pressure on the gauge reads normal. I have a bad feeling.
I drive up the Eastern loop, there is too much to see in so little time, again.
As I tortuously ascend Mount Washburn, the engine heat gauge soars. I stop on the shoulder, overlooking miles and miles of pines and evergreen. The mutant green of the heating fluid spills generously onto the pavement. Cars go by, I am used to this routine, I read peacefully. An older man stops by with concern, gives me gallon of water. Thanks.
I reach the north of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs, just as a thunderstorm lulls above. The rock formations glow mystically under the overcast sky, as the sun sets behind the ridges in the horizon. I run out-of-breath run to reach the top of the viewpoint and catch the sunset, but miss it. Still, the plateau is wreathed in a beautiful light, contrasted by the looming clouds above. The rivulets on the rocky surface, streams of microbes gleam peacefully, stirred imperceptibly by the warmth of the Earth’s entrails.
The first flash of lightning strikes worryingly close. The roll of thunder comes almost immediately. The leaves rustle then swoosh as gusts of wind bustle them to and fro. Thick summer rain drops start falling as I scamper back downwards to the car, but not without pleasure.
I drive into the sinuous night and pattering rain out of Yellowstone, to Livingston, Montana.