August 08, 2010

Caldera

The pot where they make the clouds


I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The landscape was bursting with great clouds of steam. We kept seeing pools of boiling water, sometimes clear and blue, sometimes streaked with orange. Streams of hot water shot into the sky and came falling down in a sizzling rain that smelled like sulphur.

I could feel the adrenaline in my blood rising. I’m not the kind of person who stays inside a building when the fire alarm is going off.

Boardwalks were set up near the most active geysers, and tourists walked about, taking photos and eating ice cream cones and chatting happily, as if oblivious to the active volcano churning below them. It seemed crazy really.

“This is where they got their set designs for Star Trek,” I said to my husband as we gazed at strange rock formations and oddly-shaped pools cut into sizzling grey rock.

We came around a curve and saw spirals of steam rising from a meadow, as if a bunch of fires were smoldering. “Another village has been plundered,” my husband said in an ominous voice.

The thermal area was a fascinating, surreal landscape of boiling mud, scalding pools, and dragon-like steam. I kept taking photos, but I couldn’t relax. That night I had anxiety dreams.

I kept trying to imagine living in the landscape hundreds of years ago, before the national park had been established and the parking lots built. I could see how the pools of boiling water could come in handy for cooking. Even now, I was tempted to toss a handful of pasta into the nearest geyser because it would make for such a cool picnic. I don’t know if I could have settled down near a landscape that kept churning and spitting and sending such violent signals. But still, I'd like to go back some day. 

Steamy


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you see Old Faithful?

Cindy

jo(e) said...

We did. But I thought walking around and looking at all the other geysers and hot springs and mudboils was far more impressive.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

There are a lot of hot springs where I live. I've never been to one, which everyone seems to find shocking -- it's kind of a rite of passage for teenagers, since it's usually nude bathing -- but you know what? Every so often, people get horribly burned in those things. Untrustworthy, if you ask me!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

PS Welcome home : )

jo(e) said...

Jennifer: We did find a place where hot springs flowed into a local river, and we went swimming. I can see how people could get burned -- I had to keep moving every time the current changed. But still, it was fun.

I can totally see how skinny dipping in a hot springs would be a rite of passage for teenagers.

Songbird said...

What great pictures! Pure Luck hiked in Wyoming today (Table Mountain) and posted some pictures and videos on Facebook.

Kyla said...

Wow! Very cool.

YourFireAnt said...

Where are the people? More to the point, where are the naked people?

;-)

jo(e) said...

FireAnt: I tend to avoid people when I'm in a national park. I did just add a photo of my husband. He's wearing clothes though -- sorry to disappoint you!

BrightenedBoy said...

Beautiful photos.

Your husband sounds like an imaginative and interesting man.

I really enjoyed your vivid description of this landscape.

You know that there was a scene where that caldera erupted in "2012," right?

julieunplugged said...

You have such a gift! I feel like I spent this week in Yellowstone with you.