Monique and I leave Yellowstone National Park today. How do I explain where we’ve been? It’s like marriage in some ways...we simply know that Yellowstone will be with us forever. The earth is hot beneath this paradise and geysers, mudpots and bark turned white from acid reveal a language first spoken two to six miles beneath the earth. We've seen Old Faithful, have been to Firehole Lake and Waterfall We've passed over the Dunraven Pass at Mt. Washburn, and we've been to the Fishing Bridge. We've seen Artist Point and been to the Upper and Lower falls. We've been to the Mud Volcano Area, To Mammoth Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Canyon Junction and we've driven Gull Point Drive. We've hiked for miles, up small mountains, into valleys and even hiked into our own little niche where no one had seem to have been. We've seen wolves, two grizzlies, a black bear, Elk, Prong Horn, Mule Deer, Fox, Coyote, Beaver, Blue Heron, White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine, Bison, Big Horn Sheep, Moose, Ground Squirrel, and more. We've seen the sun rise and set over the mountains...even our quaint little cabin sets pristinely surrounded by mountains. We've touched river, and drove along the 148 mile Yellowstone Lake. We even saw a mound made of travertine material--the hardened make-up of material from a used up geyser...explorers named it "Soda Butte" because it nostalgically reminds visitors of the foamy top of an old-time grape soda.
We found two radio stations inside the park. This week we’re completely wild. I can see why God said it was good. So very good.
I told Monique that she could do and go wherever she wanted..she found the usual tourist spots, and she found the little, beautiful places no one had seemed to have found. We're tuckered but she's become and expert Yellowstone guide--a natural. My one request? We rented a high powered telescope Thursday morning and spent almost 2 hours watching wolves in their habitat, playing, hunting, running, leaping and taunting bison and elk. Exhilarating. While the wolves tracked, we watched buffalo protect themselves. They gather themselves into one large group and create an unbreakable circle--eyes, horns and two-thousand pound bodies pointed in every direction, formidably banded around the young and the weak ... incredible and Holy.
A coyote pooped on our Yellowstone road the other day...at least I thought it was our road. Then I realized that I can't observe nature in the sense that my pleasure should be derived in controlled settings. Roads are simply everything in between. The road spread into the park and we rolled in. But nature obeyed their own orders. Yellowstone doesn't suck you in, plug you in, then spit you out...you enter as God wills and leave in the same manner. Yellowstone doesn't leave a mint on your pillow and doesn't lay a welcome card at the door. Weather, wind, rain, snow, animals in their habitat and coyotes pooping on their own road, dictate time and we squeeze between them, in some place on one side of eternal life.
I'm not sure that pictures are worth a thousand words...I'm not sure we're capable of any. Instead, we capped off these last 4 days with some Huckleberry Truffle Hot Chocolate. I - and we - often find peace amongst words. Last night we found peace in an experience without them. The best thing to do with four days like these are to sip and think.
There are few people here now and I think it's the perfect time to see Yellowstone. The weather has been cool, sometimes blue and perfect -- and sometimes rainy, snowy and perfect.
What I do know is that the sixth sense doesn't have anything to do with seeing dead people. I think the sixth sense allows you to move from trying to soak in all that is, to actually living with it...to pursue experience. The sixth sense is to assemble taste, touch, sound, smell and sight and understand what happened to you as your senses went to work.
She’s got wry wit, Yellowstone does. She stops you in your tracks. She’s pleasant enough, opening her curtains enabling you to experience everything indescribable. It’s true; I don’t know what words I can use to describe Yellowstone. If you’re going forward, she’ll make you double back. If you’re moving, she’ll stop you. I’ve seen lazy rivers...don’t we often say, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”? I’ve said it. But it’s not true. I’ve never seen rivers decorated with what were Lodge Pole Pines, but have now been turned into used match sticks. At first you believe that this landscape has been wrought with fire...until you remember that fire was good for this forest. Fire removed diseased trees and annoying brush. It replenished nutrients in the ground and allowed pine cones to open that would never have opened without the heat of fire, and spread their new, young, fresh and healthy seed over the land and plant themselves. The seed will eventually grow stumps, branches and leaves. And they'll replenish and invigorate what was a dying forest. It turned out that Grizzlies preferred the burned areas because the ground and the new plants contain more nutrients...a chemical reaction borne by fire. Ironically, forest preservation means that the forest had to change...a paradox maybe? I believe that God simply gave the forest a shower of fire.
You’ve never seen a lazy river like that.
Frost covered trees cover the hills like a white belt, and one that ties me to them. Morning crisps cackle underneath my feet. It seems like the perfect day to leave...the sun is shining. The park that has smiled on us for 4 days grins again, and again, grins wryly. We thought we’d leave peacefully, escaping but with the clothes on our backs and an occasional exhale. I'd think it a shame to add more than a sigh to this perfect place. We tried a quiet exit, we did. A final day, a final road and Yellowstone opened up a tiny meadow amongst the giants and revealed three young Big Horn Sheep nestled inside. We stopped. She presented a mighty bull moose colored in the richest brown, reticent but unrestrained amongst the pines and the river. We stopped. Awe drummed us like sledge hammers. The Yellowstone road escorted us to a small pasture where Elk roamed. We stopped. Mighty movements couple by our fevered ones. We closed on them.
Quiet exit? Another paradox. Monique prayed and hoped she'd see two more things before we left... Mountain Sheep and Moose. I don’t believe in chance. "I Am" says God.
The last three miles, fog rolled in. Ghostly bison found the road--we waited until they disappeared in the mist on the other side, their path a mystery.
Like a stage curtain, fog fell behind us. No final bow. We made it to the south exit--finally. All I have left is Alleluia. I think at the cusp of the South Exit my heart mourned a little... she finally allowed us to leave her.
If you can find a thousand words I'll be impressed. If you ask me, today I'd rather be still and know.