Trip to Yellowstone

Trip to Yellowstone

January 27, 2019 Month of Writing 0


This past fall I had a really awesome opportunity to take a road trip with my dear friend John to Yellowstone National Park.

John and I had met years back while acting in Taming of the Shrew together at a Vancouver theatre. We became friends, then we became close friends. I grew to love John dearly. We would spend our time often consumed in conversation, it just poured into the environment on any topic. We constantly switched topics, and eventually came to the decision that our hangouts were one large ADHD fire that we just compulsively threw gasoline over top of. He brought me into his larger group of friends, and we went off to Tofino each summer. He even came and visited me on the farm in Lillooet. So many fond, fond memories.

John is from Australia, and it was in the early summer that he let me know he’d be heading back home indefinitely in the fall. I knew this had been on his mind for a while, so it wasn’t a shock, but I admitted I was bummed, but positive minded for his journey. Plus I knew we’d have a last romp in Tofino, and he’d be joining in the regional Burning Man event I participated in that happens in BC every year.

At some time he brought up the idea of us going on a road trip to Yellowstone before he left. I went starry eyed at the idea immediately. Then I got a little sad since I knew cost wise I couldn’t make it work in time. I had already planned on Burning Man the end of the summer, and I would be fresh out of funds. One day he suggested we drive in my car, and he would cover gas and accommodation. He said he’d be going anyway and would’ve rented a car, but wanted me to come. I nearly cried. I booked the time off work and we planned it out.

Flash forward to day of the trip, I had only two weeks prior put a good 3000Km on my car to Burning Man and back. I was comfortable and used to being in the vehicle for a long time. We set off bright eyed around 6:00am for the border. Driving in America is such a trip. The environment changes so drastically, so quickly, and there are long and endless stretches of open road forever and ever.

We hit Boise Idaho on the first day before dinner time and set up in our hotel. Boise is the biggest city for miles and miles in any direction. It’s a small city, a University town. From this point on we’d be tenting the whole trip, but for tonight, it was party time. So we hit the city, and had a good time. It was a sweet town in the early fall. Warm outside at night, and lots of young party people, tons of bars and cheap places. We both got two  huge slices of pizza and a Pabst for under $5 and I secretly cried at the price difference.

Next morning it was back on the road, and we decided on a different route than we originally intended. John had read up about Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, and we decided to change routes to check it out on the way. We were driving along through a sea of the same peach-grey plains and hills. Nothing else in every direction. When in the distance we saw a juxtaposing colour in the ground, dark jet black. At first it was just patches here and there. They were close to roadside, dark, jagged edge large black rocks, solo and in piles all scattered over the landscape.

As we went along they became more dense, filling the land until all you could see was black, and the faint edge of the grey plains in the horizon. We came to the monument and saw a large black mountain of sorts, which we would later learn was a huge cinder cone. A rift in the crust of the earth vomited lava up from the mantle between 15,000-2,000 years ago. Over this time the lava spewed up and cooled in a vast ocean of hard volcanic rock formations.

We climbed the mountainous cone and looked out into the distance. There was so much space. We could see all of the fields of rock formation, and with our binoculars just make out in the distance the line where the lava stopped and bare land began again. I imagined the intensity and activity of the area when these events occurred. In the tourist centre there was some information on the importance and sacredness of this land to the indigenous people. I imagined them 1,500 years ago walking a pilgrimage to this site. I wondered what that was like.

We spent a long time here. It really surprised me how unreal and different it was. So naturally beautiful. We checked out some of the huge lava tube caves and tunnels. I went into a smaller one alone, just far enough around a corner where there was almost no light. I turned off my flashlight and experienced a deep and confronting silence. I felt very connected to the earth. Like it was revealing a secret to me.

We made some more distance that night and pitched our tent at a little campground in a small town. That is a great thing about road tripping in the states. There are campgrounds and RV lots everywhere! We got up bright and early, made some coffee and hit the road yet again, determined to make it to the Grand Tetons.

More tomorrow.

Create Every Day!
-Mark

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