Monday, September 27, 2010

Yellowstone Canyon

Our trip to Yellowstone canyon began with a stop at the Canyon Lodge restaurant for a meal and a visit with our friend, Jenny.  Jenny came to Yellowstone a few years ago for a summer job and has returned each summer since.  

After trying to connect through phone or computer for several days, we finally found her working in the restaurant.  Though she is an assistant manager, she had some time to visit with us while we ate.  It was good to see her.
From the canyon restaurant, we drove around the canyon rim, stopping several times for overlook viewing into the canyon.
Yellowstone Canyon is formed by the Yellowstone River cutting through the volcanic deposits that make up its banks. The dramatic cut  is accentuated by the fact that the terrain close by is flat meadow land where the buffalo roam. (Yes, I went ahead and said it.) In fact, one roamed right up the highway in front of us.
Be sure to notice the motorcyclist in the photo.  He seems to be oblivious to the fact that an American Bison is lumbering past his right thigh.
He kept walking toward us, initially  keeping to the line at the edge of the road until he decided to cross the road into our path. 
A car coming in the opposite direction decided it was smart to pull up to the buffalo as it tried to cross over the road. 
This meant that, for a moment, the buffalo  was trapped between our cars, though still in front of ours. We could not move away from the buffalo and the car blocking its path would not move. 
 The buffalo wavered, tried to change directions but was blocked from turning by our car. It seem like a good time to get my video camera out but then the other car moved out of the way and I lost my chance to win ten thousand dollars.

There are two major falls that are part of the Yellowstone River Canyon. Their unoriginal names are the Upper Falls and Lower Falls.  Non-coincidentally, that is also their placement in the river.  The upper falls are smaller than the lower falls, but you can get much closer to the upper.
The overlooks include stone steps down to almost the river level.  From that point we joined a couple dozen other tourists to view and photograph the rushing river.
Jeff and I had been canoeing enough to be able to imagine what it would have been like to be paddling down the river, which moments before was almost placid with a few ripples as it eased over stones on its way. With the warm sun of late summer resting easily on our shoulders we would discuss the slight sound of water we heard in the distance. With little warning the sound would become a roar as we were propelled forward over the falls dropping over three hundred feet onto the boulders below.
A shiver passes through my belly, drawing my innards tight as the thought again runs through my mind.
While looking from above the lower falls, we see far down river to another overlook full of people looking up river toward us. With my camera I zoomed them as close as friends.  We would soon be standing in their place.
Once we reached the overlook on the south rim of the canyon, we climbed down more steps, walked down a knee-friendly ramp and peered up the river at the lower falls.
Once again it was time for the zoom.  I tell you this so that you understand how far away we were and how awesome the falls were.

It was just water but what a force that water was.  It cut through millions of yeas of stone and it attracted thousands of people every year. People who were willing to drive hours or days just to wait in their car in line with other cars for a chance to park and walk with hundreds of other people to stand in a small spot to feel very small against the side of Yellowstone Canyon.

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