I'm reading a book called Lost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill, which is a little book of stories/descriptions about the author's experiences in Yellowstone Park.
It's a fascinating book, especially for me because my all-time favorite vacation was the one I took with my family to Yellowstone in, I believe, June of 1989.
It was one year after wildfires ravaged much of the park, and I still have photos of mountaintops and meadows full of burned out trees.
Reading this book brought back so many amazing memories of the trip.
I remember on our first night in the park, we camped at Norris Campground (if memory serves) near the Norris Geyser Basin.
My family and I had been camping every summer since I was little and I considered myself an "outdoorsy" person, so I walked off by myself around sunset to find some kindling for the campfire.
I found a little stand of woods a few campsites over and wandered around, not really paying attention to my surroundings until my feet suddenly sank into the ground and cold water filled my shoes.
I looked up to see that I was at the edge of an enormous swampy meadow and was virtually surrounded by ankle depth water- I actually don't know how I had avoided sinking in for so long.
A few hundred yards away from me, several enormous bison were grazing in the meadow, ignoring me, and behind them, the silhouette of a nearby mountain hulked over the whole scene.
I was afraid and exhilarated- I kind of felt like the ground had dropped out beneath me (which in actuality it had).
I realized that camping in Yellowstone was not going to be anything like camping in Northern Wisconsin or Michigan- for this place was truly wild.
I stood there in the water and watched the sun get lower- I tried to memorize the scene because I knew I'd never want to forget it.
Over the next week, we saw many of the park's famous attractions- Old Faithful geyser (which we had to view from a distance because there was a nut holding hostages at the visitor's center that day), Morning Glory pool, the Paint Pots, the gorgeous Minerva Terrace.
What was almost more fascinating to me than the active pools, hot springs and fumeroles were the ancient rock formations left by hot springs that no longer exist- I'll never forget the hulking sight of White Elephant Back Terrace, an enormous white sculpture made of mineral deposits that once bubbled and steamed with superheated water.
There's something so creepy and cool about driving away from the main attractions and seeing ancient burned out holes that were once just as beautiful as the attractions themselves.
It really makes you appreciate how much natural wonder Yellowstone has to offer.
I can't wait to go back someday.