Day 8 / by Hannah Harley

May 13, 2015   We began the day by traveling through Grand Tetons National Park, headed to Yellowstone. Despite my research, we didn't really have a plan for our travels. As it turns out, that wasn't too bad.

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Grand Tetons is a beautiful park, and we had (a little unknowningly) traveled through it the night before. We photographed the mountains, and I admittedly overphotographed them. Do you ever see something so beautiful that you can't help yourself and you take so many photos.. You realize later that it is an obnoxious amount and curse yourself a little for your foolishness? I did in front of the Eiffel Tower the first time I visited, and the Grand Tetons inspired the same type of overphotographing. All of the images look the same, more or less, but I was taken with how stunning the mountains were that I lost track of myself.

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HannahHarley -20150513-2466EDITED We traveled from Grand Tetons to Yellowstone, soaking in the overwhelming beauty.

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We were going to go to Old Faithful, but we were quite surprised to find that some of the roads were closed (including the one that saved us 79 miles of driving with a short 17 mile trip to the same place....). Did you know that Yellowstone opens the southern roads on May 10th? Well, some of the southern roads. We got there the 13th, thank goodness. We would have spent the entire day trying to get into the park if we had arrived just a few days earlier. So much for preplanning.

HannahHarley -20150513-2446EDITED So we decided to wander. We wandered into Bison herds, onto thermal grounds, onto scenic overlooks of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and into a restaurant, among other things. It was a care free day filled with such beauty and winding, stunning roads and even some snow.

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I've explained earlier in this journey that I've struggled with the conflicting love of nature and love of city. Standing in Yellowstone, emerged in nature... How could any city compete? But then I remembered Paris and Pittsburgh and became yet again completely conflicted.

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But you have to admit.. Nature feels right. I know some people that don't like dirt and can't handle being outdoors for longer than a barbeque. But to me, it feels like a reconnect to a need that I've been ignoring by being in a city. I grew up surrounded by trees and immersed in creeks, more so than television. While that has lead to some awkward conversations in which I explain that I did not have a favorite Disney channel show, which has become a personality test for my generation, I wouldn't change anything for it. Besides, I had favorite chickens and some of my hopes and dreams

consisted of raising certain exotic chickens. Silkies still allude me, but hopefully, one day....

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While I love living in a concrete jungle, there are so often consequective days in which I don't see grass. Being surrounded by the natural beauty of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone seems to fulfill a primal need.

I love each moment in these parks. It was a breath of beautiful fresh air, even when the air was filled with sulfur from the outpouring of the mud geyers. It reminded of the darkroom at Point Park, which was such a sweet and welcome smell.

HannahHarley -20150513-3684EDITED The bisons inspired very mixed reactions from our party. Karen and Haley were extremely excited to be so near bison, and they got way closer than I would've ever dared get near a wild animal. I stood back, trying not to be a mother with the feeble cries of "KAREN! HALEY! GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW" despite my intense desire to scream just that. Turns out, they were fine, and I should've been worrying about the car.

 

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I had gone up a particularly lovely hill to see these mud geyers, and Haley and Karen remained near the bison and the parking lot. When the bisons decided to cross the street, one got a little hung up on the MINI. He was apparently walking across the parking lot and saw her beside him... He then stood in front of her, staring her down. Karen and Haley said that they were begging him (quite softly) to not head butt the car since it looked like that was exactly what he wanted to do.. We were lucky, I guess, since he decided not to head butt our car, but if you told me that I would be thrilled that a bison didn't head butt my parked car, I would've definitely done the quizzical eyebrow.

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We later had other animal and car troubles when Haley saw a moose. She was driving and got so excited to photograph him that when she was pulling the car onto the shoulder, she drove the car over the paved edge of the road. Noises, including my panicked shrieks, scared off the moose, but we got Roxanne back onto the road. We saw no more moose though, but we were able to keep the car on the road (mostly... there were some unpaved 'roads').

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We returned to our hostel, got dinner, met a couple people, and went to bed. I was absolutely exhausted and completely consumed with the photographs of the day.

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