Growing Rich Everyday... My Weblog

Enrich yourself by finding and enjoying the simple and finer things in the daily humdrum of life...

Day 5
Thankfully, it was predicted to be a bright and sunny day. We decided to hike up Mt Washburn. It is at an elevation of 10,243 ft above sea-level. Mt Washburn can be hiked by 2 passes - Chittenden pass from the north or the Dunraven pass from the south. We took almost 4 hours round-trip to hike a gradient of 2500 ft along the Chittenden pass. It was steep for most part of it but a very safe and scenic trek.
After the trek, we stopped for a heavy lunch at Canyon village. We also visited the museum at Canyon village, a must-see stop for the exhibits.

This was the end of our stay at Yellowstone. We then proceeded on to exit the park to now experience the Grand Teton National Park. The drive from the exit of Yellowstone Park to Grand Tetons is simply amazing. The Grand Tetons and their reflection in the Jackson Lake are indescribable. We checked in early at the Colter Bay Village where we had our reservation. Then we went to see the Signal Mountain Summit point. On the way was the Jackson Lake dam. We did not know what was to come or experience at the Signal Mountain Summit. We were taken for a surprise when we saw at least a handful of people crowding at the summit. When we turned around, we were stunned to see the sunset - its rays penetrating from within the mountains into the Jackson Lake. Signal Mountain Summit has to be experienced at sunset. Period !

We called it a day. We were tired after the hike too.

Day 4
By now we had realized that the park was extremely huge than we had expected. There was yet a lot to be seen and secondly today's day was predicted to be full of thunderstorms and snow later in the afternoon.

So we decided that we would make maximum use of the day by starting our "coverage" as early as 6:30-7:00 am, either seeing an attraction or two or driving directly to the next point of interest, and then having our breakfast at about 8:30/9:00 am.
We started off from Tower Falls at about 6:45 pm to go to Mammoth Hot Springs. On the way we saw a moose , coyote and a bunch of antelopes. The drive through the misty road was awesome. We were keen on taking a ranger program at Mammoth Hot Springs. The program was scheduled to start at 9:30 am and that was the last program of the season before most areas of the park started to close for the season. We had our breakfast and then drove up the Upper Terraces of Mammoth Springs. We drove back just in time to catch the 2-hour ranger program at the Lower Terraces.

The ranger was very good and she explained how the limestone/aka travertine terraces were formed at this part of the park.This area of the park has a lot of limestone in the soil as against the rest of the areas which have a lot of rhyolite in the soil. As a result, the hot water springs deposit the limestone sediments as they gush through. The rich orange-ish hues are of course due to the bacteria that thrive in there. We liked the Minerva, Cleopatra and best of all the Canary Terraces. The lifeless trees near the Canary terraces looked spooky, as if directly from some Halloween-special movies.

After Mammoth Hot Springs, we drove further south to the Norris Geyser Basin. This is supposedly the largest geyser basin in the park. It consists of 2 basin loops - the larger Back Basin loop and the smaller Porcelain Basin loop. It also has a nice small and sweet museum explaining the geology of the different hydrothermal features. We liked the Steamboat geyser and the green algae flows the best here. The clouds were looming in and it was already beginning to get chilly while we were at the basin. So we kind of hurried to see all the attractions here. By the time we were done, it was almost 2:30 pm.

We still had a few hours left before we could crash. So we decided to go further south to finish where we left off at the Old Faithful basin area. So we covered the Biscuit Basin and then went to see the Morning Glory pool at the Old Faithful area. It was raining hard and was too chilly at the Old Faithful area, but we nevertheless decided to dodge the rain and still go to the very far Morning Glory pool at the end of the trail. On our way back, we were greeted with hailstorms. Our feet were wet and cold. It was only 5:30 pm but then we decided to call it a day after having a warm early dinner at the Yellowstone inn.

Day 3
It was predicted to be rainy/foggy for the earlier part of the day, and sure it was ! After a heavy breakfast at the Grant Village Lakeside Cafeteria, (the restaurant has a very good location-of course on the lake, by the way) we then went to West Thumb Geyser Basin. The amazing thing about this geyser basin is that it is right on the shore of the placid Yellowstone Lake and a few of the geysers are inside the waters of the lake. West Thumb basin has 2 loops - outer and inner with the outer loop having more hydrothermal features. All these features pour in thousands of gallons of water in the lake. I liked the Fishing Cone Geyser and the SeismoGraph & Bluebell Pools the best here. As we saw in the video program next day, it seems in the earlier days (like in the 1900s), visitors would fish standing atop this cone and then drop their fish inside the steaming cone for it to cook. :)

The drive from West Thumb to our next stop "Mud Volcano/Sulphur Caldron" is very scenic as it runs along the Yellowstone Lake. The lake is the largest lake at high elevation in North America. It is so huge that it can form its own weather patterns aside from the entire rest of the park. The lake meets or rather drains itself at the Yellowstone River which is the scenic spot of Fishing Bridge. Across the parking lot from Fishing Bridge, there's a small knoll with dirt kind of some-what steep steps to climb up to the top. We enjoyed breath-taking views of the lake merging with the river.

Mud Volcano and Sulfur Caldron areas are in the most actively acidic part of Yellowstone caldera. Here the boiling water is so acidic that it dissolves the rock around it churning it into boiling mud. Here all you smell is the strong hydrogen sulfide odor that's emitted from the ground. Check out a video here to see how it looks like. Other good features here are Black Dragon's Caldron and the Dragon's Mouth thermal spring which roars vigorously sounding like a Dragon's mouth as the water boils. Just north of this area the roads and woods open up to a beautiful Hayden Valley. We spotted a bison up close there.

We finally reached the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone area. We first went to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. The Artist's point at the end of the road over the Chittenden Bridge,is indeed a picture-perfect inspiration for artists- it is an awesome view of the Lower Falls of YellowStone River. After a couple of photo shoots, we then headed to Uncle Tom's Trail. This is steep but well-guarded 328-step trail down to the bottom of the Falls. A heavenly experience down there! Just on the other side was a view-point for Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River. The upper falls is shorter in height than the lower falls. We then went to see the brink of the Upper Falls along the Northern Rim area. Unfortunately, the rest of the Northern Rim was closed for the season due to landslides. So a quick late lunch and some wandering around, this was the end of our Grand Canyon Area of Yellowstone. But we were proved wrong the next day by some visitors. They were touting a lot about the Visitor Center of Grand Canyon area, which we eventually saw on the final day of our trip. This is a great visitor center-cum-geology/historical museum with animated exhibits.

Since we had saved time on account of the closed North Rim, the proposition was to head north and either do a good hike up Mount Washburn or go straight ahead crossing the Dunraven Pass to Lamar Valley. But then Mount Washburn trail requires atleast 4-5 hours round trip and it was beginning to get very cold and windy in the evening. We could see signs of the impending snowfall prediction for later that night. So we dropped Mount Washburn plan and decided to go to Lamar Valley instead. Enroute was a quick stop at Tower Falls.

Lamar Valley is said to be best seen during twilight hours- either before sunrise or after sunset. This is the time when the wildlife comes out to graze. We spotted a herd of bison and some antelopes. We went all the way until Pebble Creek campground and then on our way back hiked up to Trout Lake. It is a steep 30-40 min hike at the end of which is this serene Trout Lake. The woods here are dense and you can smell the pine and spruce here. I loved that fragrance.

This was the end of our 3rd Day at Yellowstone. We had a warm dinner at the Roosevelt Restaurant and cuddled warm into our "Rough-Rider" cabins at the Roosevelt Lodge.

About 2 weeks ago, we just returned from our much awaited Yellowstone vacation planned for the last long weekend of the summer, Labor Day Weekend. It was well worth the wait.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are situated in north-west Wyoming. With Idaho and Montana bordering Yellowstone National Park, one can enter the park from the west via West Yellowstone, MT or from the north via Gardiner, MT, from the east via Cody,WY or Cooke City, WY and from the south via Jackson. They are a part of the Targhee National Forest area.

Day 1
We flew to Salt Lake City on Aug 29th after work and crashed in a nearby airport hotel for the night.

Day 2
Being 2 hours behind EST, we were up way earlier the next day than we expected to be which turned out to be good. We started driving to West Yellowstone at about 7:30 am, enjoying the hilly terrains and vast vast fields of Utah and Idaho, which we so miss in Florida. The air was crisp at 59 F. We reached West Yellowstone around 12:30-1:00 pm and spent about an hour there walking around the town and having lunch.

At about 2:00 pm we started heading towards the park. The entire park is in the shape of an 8. We had planned our itinerary to cover the 8 in an anti-clock wise direction starting from West-Yellowstone/Madison junction going southward towards Old Faithful area and calling it a day at Grant Village. However the drive from Madison Junction to Old Faithful has a number for detour scenic loops not worth missing and can easily take about 2-3 hours before one can reach the Old Faithful area.The road from West Yellowstone to Madison and further south runs parallel to the Firehole River, a scenic experience. We took our first detour along the Firehole Canyon drive which had breath-taking Firehole Falls as one of its highlights.We then stopped at the Fountain Flats drive before moving on to our first experience of geyser basins at the Fountain Paint Pots trail.

Fountain Paint Pots trail is a kids-friendly trail and covers almost all the 4 hydrothermal features - Hot springs, Steam vents(a.k.a. Fumaroles), Mud Pots and Geysers - that Yellowstone is known for. I vividly remember the Celestine Pool, Bacteria, Fountain Paint Pot (which is a mud pot), Red Spouter and one more geyser along the farther corner of the trail. The temperatures of these hydrothermal features range from 120 - 200 F and they contain lots of acidic chemicals, typically hydrogen sulphides in them. Legend has it (as told by one of the park rangers) that one of the visitors and his dog succumbed to their life as they jumped into the Celestine Pool.

We then went to Firehole Lake drive which has 3 good thermal features - Firehole Spring, Great Fountain Geyser and White Dome geyser. We could see Firehole Spring constantly bubbling, a striking contrast to the cool blue color it possessed. The name Firehole is interesting, a number of natural artifacts are named Firehole in Yellowstone . The park ranger explained that "hole" is the native-Indian-speak for the word "valley". So in effect Firehole means Valley of Fire, which Yellowstone indeed is.
A little further ahead, there was no activity at Great Fountain Geyser which the park rangers had predicted to be erupting later that night between 10:00 pm - 12:00 pm. We were very lucky to arrive just in time for White Dome Geyser to erupt. It was our first ever geyser in the park showing off its scheduled eruption, which was a lot overwhelming for us. White Dome Geyser is a cone geyser.
White Dome Geyser Erupting
After this, we went to the Midway Geyser Basin. Now the entire Old Faithful area comprises of 4 geyser basins - the northernmost being Midway Geyser Basin followed by Biscuit and Black Sand Basins and then of course Old Faithful's Upper Geyser Basin. Midway Geyser Basin is home to the largest hot spring in the park- the Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser. Excelsior Geyser, now a very large thermal spring, has beautiful intricate siliceous sinter patterns that lined on its inner walls. It is very active and pours a large amount of water in the Firehole river by way of minor streams and falls.

By the time we were done with Midway Geyser Basin, we were extremely thirsty. So we decided to skip Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin for the moment and head straight on to Old Faithful area which has many cafeterias - big and small. The visitor center at Old Faithful has a chart of various "predictable" geysers and their next expected eruption times.When we first went in there, one of the park rangers was announcing that Bee-hive geyser would be erupting in the next 15 minutes. So we rushed to the nearest viewing vantage point to see the geyser erupting. It went as high over 100-150 feet. Mind-blowing !!

Old Faithful was going to erupt in the next half hour as per the predictions, so we casually strolled around near the benches waiting to see one of the most touted attractions of the park. We had already spent 45 min waiting for Old Faithful and it was taking longer than that to erupt :(. Finally we decided to move on, but just as we were about to enter the visitor center again, there it was. By this time it was already 6:30 pm. We just had a max of an hour and a half before sun-down to see the rest of this geyser basin. But we had no idea how big it was. The Upper Geyser basin itself can take half-a-day to be covered in its entirety along with an hour of Ranger Program worth taking here.

We did the ranger program next which was very informative. She walked us along the upper bridge/loop area explaining a bit of history, geology, animal life, science and contemporary issues of Yellowstone, particularly wrt to the geysers and thermal springs in the upper loop - the Anemone Geyser that erupts every 15 - 20 min and flushes down its own water like a toilet bowl :), Plume Geyser that luckily erupted while we were around in repeatable 5-7 gushes. The upper loop also contained the Bee-hive geyser- it would have been amazing to be soaked into Bee-hive's erupted water from here, Lion Club geyser, Giantess geyser, Doublet pool and Aurum Geyser. Castle Geyser far across, on the other side of this loop was erupting as she continued her talk. Since Castle Geyser eruption lasts for almost 40-45 min, we hurried to see the last glimpses of its gushes.

This was almost the end of our site-seeing day. It was a long day from 5:30 am up until then. We decided to have dinner at Old Faithful Cafeteria and then head on to our our Grant Village accomodation.

Whole Foods has a very good food court and they make an attempt to promote healthy eating by actually having innovative recipes made from commonplace health foods. Quite often we know of a lot of health/vegetarian foods and their nutritional values, but to concoct a palatable recipe out of them is not so trivial.
So as I was just browsing around in their food court, I quickly jotted down (on the backside of one of the numerous receipts in my handbag) some of the ingredients they put together (which of course they had displayed) for the dishes. Of course the recipes are their trade secret. But knowing atleast the ingredients is fair enough of a good start for us.

Southwestern Vegetarian Stew
Celery, Onion, Red and Green peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Chipotle peppers, Tomato juice, Corn, Blackbeans, Cilantro, Lime juice, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kosher Salt.

Quinoa Cranberry Salad
Quinoa, Dried sweet cranberries, Bell peppers, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cane sugar, Parsley, salt, pepper.

Cabbage crunch
Cabbage, carrots, sesame seeds, scallions, almonds, canola oil, apple cider, vinegar, honey, salt

Greek Salad
Tomatoes, Red and green peppers, Red onions, Feta cheese, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, oregano, Lemon-herb dressing ( Dijon mustard, lemon juice, pineapple juice, basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, apple cider vinegar)

Being in the software world, I have finally realized something about programming - it's an art and can only be perfected via a constant practice that should also involve experimenting with different techniques to achieve something better than what already exists. I try to draw comparison with the way professional artists, chefs , musicians are able to become maestros by inventing new concoctions. It is what makes them professional as against anyone of us who can sing a little, dance a little and cook a little here and there. But what differentiates them is their curiosity and enterprising nature to constantly try something new and different. Similarly, as I look around, I see that while anyone can whisk up a software program to get things done, writing the program in the best possible way, while avoiding a couple of design pitfalls, requires a great deal of thought and an artful eye.

HyperTextMarkupLanguage - if you go to a zillion websites, all have the more or less similar definition - It is a language used for marking up documents. But what is marking up?

Get any clue?

Imagine you were writing up a document in Microsoft Word to be printed later. To emphasize the headers, you would select one of the Header options in menubar. To emphasize on particular words or definitions in the document, you would either make them bold or italicize them. To change the paragraphs, you might indent your new paragraphs by a few tab spaces and adjust the scale.
Obviously you have visual cues on the menubar to help you achieve all such functions. As you print the document, the headers, the paragraphs, the italicized words are rendered on the paper as you expected them to be.

Now comes the browser ... the browser cannot understand what's a header or what's a new paragraph in the document by itself. It cannot distinguish between an italicized word versus a bold word. It needs explicit information to be able to do so. Without that information, all the different parts of the document mean the same to the browser. Thus, we have to explicitly tell the browser what's what. And how do we do that? We "mark up" the document effectively telling the browser - here's a header, here's a new paragraph and so on...And this is what HTML does.

eXtensibleMarkupLanguage (XML) - Now this language also does markup.
But while HTML specifically marks up the different parts of the document with a view to rendering its structure exactly as needed, XML marks up a document semantically.

Now the semantics of one document can be totally different than that of the other - one document may talk about physics while the other may talk about history. But the formatting of both the documents will never change ! This is why we have a standard set of elements in the HTML language, but XML can never have a standard set of elements - hence the eXtensibility.
XML's primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of structured data (data that is systematically marked up) across different information systems.

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