Day 15--Sunday, June 22, 2003
I was awakened by the voice of a man at a nearby campsite. I wormed my way deeper into my sleeping bag and tried to go back to sleep. I do not deal well with not getting enough sleep, and this made two days in a row. I never did manage to get back to sleep, though, because Ben managed to force me into consciousness three times in quick succession: first, by dropping one of my shoes on my back while bringing extra clothes into the tent; two, by striking up a conversation with the man at the next campsite; and three, by sitting on my as he attempted to climb back into the tent after all of this.
I was not a happy camper when I woke up. I was tired and COLD. Ben apparently suffered from none of the same exhaustion problems, but the cold was pretty much universal. He told me that there had been snow on our picnic table when he got up.
I managed to rouse myself enough to demand a shower, so we got into the car without breakfast and drove to the shower area, which was just past the check-in area. By the time I finished my nice, long, warm shower, it was snowing again. We're not talking about little flurries here. It was an out-and-out snowstorm. The temperature was at 34 degrees and the snow was flying everywhere in a bitter breeze. I would definitely not have gone outside in weather like that at home, but here in the Rocky Mountains I was left with no protection but a 7-year-old sweatshirt.
After Ben finished his shower, we began our drive toward the Geyser Basin. During this drive, we laughed at the silly park ranger that had told us the weather would get up to 60 that day. We joked about the possibility of catching hypothermia and dying. Ha ha.
At the Geyser Basin, we got out to explore the wooden walkway and the views it offered. Ben especially liked the "paint pots," small bubbling bodies of water of all different colors. They were definitely cool, and it was so strange to see smoke rising from the ground as snow obscured all other views. But I have to admit that my favorite part was when we headed back to the car. We tried to job the last bit to the car, but Ben slipped on the slick path, completely wiping out while also managing to kick my leg and create a big bruise and also toss the camera a few yards. Neither of us was in quite as good of spirits when we returned to the car.
I took a 20-minute nap during our next drive, and I awoke soggy from the melted snow on my sweatshirt. It was now down to 32, and the snow was still coming down hard. This was the point when I introduced the idea of checking out of the camp and getting a hotel for the night. Even if we could somehow make it through the day, I just couldn't imagine sitting around at our campsite for hours in weather like that, nor sleeping in it again.
Our next stop was Old Faithful. We missed the eruption by minutes, so we made ourselves comfortable in the nearby lodge. We got our requisite postcards and magnet, I tried unsuccessfully to call Dad, Ben bought us hot chocolate, we admired cute babies (okay, that was more me than him), and I sank closer and closer to the table, thinking how nice it would be to curl up and go to sleep. When the snow let up a bit, we walked over to the Visitors' Center so Ben could get a stamp in his book. While we were there, a lone buffalo wandered past the building, so Ben dashed outside to get some pictures. After it had meandered off toward the parking lot, we returned to the lodge.
With about 10 minutes left until the eruption, we went to stand outside to watch Old Faithful, along with several hundred other idiots who were braving the weather. I have to admit that I was pretty miserable at this point. I was absolutely freezing, not to mention exhausted. Not a good combo for anyone, especially me, who doesn't handle either of those extremes very well. The eruption itself was pretty cool, seeing the geyser just start bubbling all of a sudden and then shoot water and steam upward. However, I will say that I didn't like it as much as the smaller, less predictable geysers.
I then drove the 17 miles back to our campsite, where we checked out for the night and received a refund. We then broke camp and got back in the car. We had to drive past Old Faithful again on our way out, and just when I was sure I was going to fall over asleep on the steering wheel, we arrived at the Finger Paint Pots, which Ben wanted to see.
I'm going to leave most of the description here up to him [Ben also kept a journal of our trip, but I'm not posting it here], as I was basically trying to prop my eyes open at the time. There were many which were bright colors, and some which smelled pretty strongly of sulfur, and all were bubbling and smoking and showing off for us. Ben took pictures of everything.
When I finally got to crawl back into the car, I promptly fell asleep and remained unconscious for about the next three hours. When I awoke, I felt like a whole new person. We were within an hour of Butte, Montana, our destination for the night.
7 / 40