If Julia Roberts filmed a movie in Yellowstone National Park, they would call it Eat, Sleep and Poop. Because that's how you feel when you're this close to nature; it's very basic. Of course, you can't touch anything or you'd burn off your hands. Many of the attractions have a warning sign of a kid jumping up startled because he fell into a scorching and boiling ground pit while his sister looks on horrified, hand clasped over her mouth.
We got up at 5:30, threw on some semblance of layering and teetered out into the darkness. Scraped frost from the windshield with a credit card. Shivering, pulled out onto the dark road. There was no traffic anywhere. Stopped to shoot a few mule deer (photo above) and again to catch an Elk running across a field and bugling.
All of your senses are engaged in Yellowstone. Your eyes behold thermal pools shimmering in golds, greens, orange and red. The sky is a brilliant blue, so blue that if your eyes were that shade, nobody could ever stop staring at you because they are that hypnotic. There are hundreds of shades of white.
The air smells like a mix of fresh asphalt, pine and sulfur. Decomposed granite crushes under your feet. You can hear the boards in the boardwalks creek. Water gurgles, bubbles, splashes and roars. Ravens caw; you can hear chickadee-dee-dee-dee. Bugling elk can wake you at night.
Many treats are available made with a local favorite, huckleberry: ice cream, jam and lollipops. Bison short ribs are tender, the meat falls from the bone, and it's delicious as long as you don't think about where it comes from.
We arrived at Artist Point in the Canyon at 8:30, and there was not a soul in the parking lot. It was 33 degrees. Of course, I had left my down jacket back at Old Faithful Inn. But I had my 3 layers on, plus my husband's hat. He says a hat keeps you 30% warmer. I think he made up that number. We had intended to catch a rainbow across the falls. But there was no rainbow. I hopped about in circles with my hands stuck in my pockets for about 10 minutes. Just as a busload of Japanese visitors screamed into the parking lot, I headed back to the car. I came out every 15 minutes to see if a rainbow had appeared. By 11 AM we left in search of more photo opportunities.
Below you will see photos of Artist Point, Yellowstone River, the Canyon, and a bugling elk.
Photos: Elizabeth Weintraub