Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Wonder in Time: Yellowstone National Park

When thinking of Yellowstone National Park all I can think of to describe what this place truly is, is out of this world. It is really like nothing else on this earth. So any descriptions made to this unique wonder will be a stand-alone, breathtaking one. I can only give but a glimpse of the awe this place will inspire in you and nothing more. To experience this place unconditionally, you need to be standing there amongst the tall grasses, swim in the contradictory rivers and watch with wonder all the animals that amble along.

With Mount Rushmore behind us, and Yellowstone National Park slowing approaching, I must admit I never knew what to expect from a place such as this. In South Africa the natural beauty of our landscape is quite riveting. Every tiny corner of the country will offer something different, and satisfy all your curiosities. Living in the craziness of New Jersey, and just a mere hour from the sleepless New York City, where a growing green patch of land is hard to come by, I did have my reserves about this park. What could really compare to the beauty of my home?

The drive in to the park was like a sudden and miraculous epiphany. Amidst the smoke of the cities and buried by the stressed out days we live, was a place that could transform and renew. In this country where politics and economics are the rule of the day, was a place where nature ruled in all her glory. Yellowstone was (almost) untouched by anything human. Forests were left to grow as they pleased, bears roamed wherever they wanted and lay down to rest in any place the need struck regardless of the passerby’s gawking stares. Rivers ran crystal clear through valleys and into a giant lake that sparkled with the diamond water drops that filled it. Wolves were not a great mystery seen only by a few, but their commanding presence in this wilderness demanded our attention and respect. It was a site that made you forget, and at the very same time remember. Gone were the memories of how over-worked you were and bone-tired you felt, and in their place were sweet memories of a childhood spent in the very wake of nature.

Yet the most bewildering aspect of this park was in the geysers that shot water at regular intervals high up into the air, the allure of the hot water springs that captured your imagination at all the colours thrown out and the goofiness of the mud pots as they bubbled away like the unappetizing concoctions of children. These are sights that will rarely be seen anywhere else. And it is a place that captures all your senses; the smell of the rotting sulphur burns your nose as you wonder if the egg salad sandwich you wanted for lunch would be the best choice, the heat from the hot springs wrap a warm blanket around you as you walk along, the sounds of the tiny explosions rivet you, and as you feel your feet pound along the hard earth you come to realise that you are living in this moment and not a dream state of artistic fascination.

John Muir, a man who because of his dedication to preserving the magnificence of all the natural exhibits in America and made it possible for me to be standing here today many years later, said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more then he seeks.” During those long walks in the heart of this park, I did find a lot more then I was looking for. I found the beauty in new friendships, the thrill of experiencing something new and the hope that we could still appreciate the untouched and untainted.

Safe travels!

P.S since this was such an amazing trip, more stories to follow about the shenanigans of four young adults and the stories that made this park real for each of us.

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