Our second day in Yellowstone was full of geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots. Geothermal delights, oh my! So much beauty, so much wonder. Don't get me wrong, the place is incredible and I felt privileged to be there. A national park is a very special place, dontchya know, and Yellowstone is extra-special because it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I, for one, hope it's always preserved. #ForeverYellowstone
The only downside was this: Everything smells like sulfur. E. V. E. R. Y. T. H. I. N. G. I have smelled the center of the earth, AND IT STINKS! This is because the the geothermal features are replete with sulfur (duh). It defies logic, but microscopic bacteria actually live in those near-boiling cauldrons of extremely acidic water. And those microbes are hungry! What's a microbe to do? Why, they eat the sulfur, of course. This creates sulfuric acid. Aided by evaporation, the acid becomes hydrogen sulfide gas - and that's the real money-maker (smell-wise, anyway). God Bless you, Mother Nature! You're a beauty *and* a beast!
I had a headache all day yesterday, and again today. At one point, I started sneezing and couldn't stop. I mean, big, husky, unladylike sneezes that emanated from my the depths of my soul, leaving goosebumps on my knees. Yeesh. So, yeah. I might be allergic to sulfur or especially sensitive to hydrogen sulfide gas. File that under "G" for "Good To Know", right? Pepper was not affected. She actually went "nose blind" and didn't even notice the smell after a bit. Lucky duck.
So much of the landscape around the geothermal features looked like the surface of the moon. Star Trek filmed scenes in the area (or so I was told). It's very foreign, like nothing I've ever seen. But in the midst of that seemingly inhospitable lunar landscape, there would be geothermal springs in a literal rainbow of colors. I love looking at my pictures! It was positively captivating.
Pepper made a casual observation that really stuck with me: "These are basically the spots where the earth's crust is thinnest."
Think of that for a moment. Have you ever considered that the earth's crust is thicker in some spots and thinner in others? I had not. Realizing that fumeroles and what not can only occur where the crust is thin blew my mind sky-high, like a geyser (apologies, I couldn't resist).
There are signs all over reminding people not to step off the boardwalks or designated paths because the earth is so fragile inside the caldera (the crater left after the Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted). We only saw one person clowning around - a girl about 15 who hopped off the boardwalk to pick up a branch (which I think she intended as a souvenir). This greatly annoyed Pepper and me because it's so disrespectful. Like I said, a national park is a special place to be. The ground seemed paper-thin, literally a dry, flaky crust that might crumble beneath your feet sending you to your hot, boiling doom. Aside from the risk of death, just don't be an asshole.
I said, "I hope she loses a toe the next time she does that." Pepper deadpanned, "I hope she loses her cell phone. She'd miss it more."
To be honest, I was really overcome by the sulfurous gas the entire time I was there. That, plus the crowds and seasonably high August temperatures - I must confess to not being entirely "present" when I was present. My photographs, as usual, are the only souvenir I need.