Today we drove to Yellowstone, which is more than the first National Park. It's also a supervolcano (yes, that's one word).
It's really hard to wrap your brain around the idea that you're standing on an active volcano - let alone a supervolcano. I imagine volcanoes being inside a pointy, cone-shaped mountain. Even though Yellowstone is at 8,000 feet, it doesn't feel like you've scaled a great summit. This is because the last time Yellowstone erupted - a scant 640,000 years back, give or take 10,00 years - the entire "eruption area collapsed upon itself, creating a sunken giant crater or caldera." The crater is 35 miles by 40 miles - way too big for me to imagine with my mind's eye.
Don't worry about the next eruption: the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory monitors seismic activity 24 x 7 x 365. There are lots of tiny earthquakes every year, but it's unlikely that there will be an eruption during the next 10,000 years (unless they start fracking, ha). Waaaay more likely that Donald Trump and North Korea will destroy the earth before Yellowstone's supervolcano has the chance, so go see it!
The Greatest Hits from our first day in Yellowstone National Park. All of these were taken inside the caldera, the giant crater that was left after the last eruption. It's not your grandmother's volcano!
We stayed at the Old Faithful Inn - totally lucked out getting a room. Typically, you have to book a room at least a year in advance, but Pepper called in June and her timing was perfect as someone else had just canceled. Our room was in the Old House on the first floor of the lodge, looking right upon Old Faithful herself.
The Inn is an amazing architectural structure. It's made entirely of timber and stone and feels like a giant log cabin. The lobby is six or seven stories tall, with what looks like dozens of entire trunks from very, very tall, slender lodgepole pines supporting the roof. I'm guessing the vertical beams are actually comprised of several beams joined together, but I couldn't see how it was done. I only had my cell phone camera with me and it was impossible to get a decent picture, which is why I took this one from the internet:
See? This is extraordinary enough to warrant using someone else's picture! I wanted you to see how special this place is. More pix in the slideshow below (and those, I did take).
The Old House was built 115 years ago during an entirely different era. Our room was small, but it just felt *cozy*, and it was all the space we needed for one night. It had a sink and mirror, but the bathroom and shower were across the hall. Pepper and I shared the bed (not the first time we've curled up like kittens for the night, although perhaps the first time we've done so sober). Before hitting the hay, Pepper surprised me with cocktail kits - a Moscow Mule for her and an Old Fashioned for me! Just add liquor!
The Inn was quite magical, really. We left one window cracked open all night, and it felt like a grand adventure, with the log cabin styling and the crisp air.
And then, in the morning....
Seriously. How did we get this lucky? We watched Old Faithful do its thang from bed! See that cloud of water and steam rising behind the trees? That's Old Faithful!