Yellowstone, still

Or: scream, too.

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freezing.jpg (25827 bytes)While I overslept again (till 7am that is), the temperature was below freezing and the fog along the road was still at times so dense that it was hard to see the bison, or the idiot tourist parked in the middle of the road without lights. I still managed to get some nice shots of elk in the morning, joining a friendly German wildlife photographer. He told me about his frustration with Nikon and loved my 300L/IS lens, and asked for help about where to get a new 80-200 lens which he just crashed. Later the day the temperatures surprisingly reached a new record high with 25c (90F) and the whole climate turned rather unsuitable for photography, due to the strong sun. Some Park Ranger divers apparently took advantage of this and took a dive in Lake Yellowstone, very much to the pleasure of tourists such as myself who could not get enough pictures of this water species.

The night was pleasurably quiet, except for the screaming elk and the car horn that went off at close to midnight - for about five minutes. Five minutes, in the middle of the night and in a campground, that's like eternity, you see. And once the horn went off the whole campground applauded to the unknown good spirit who saved the night. Which was not that long for me, anyway, as at 5:35 my alarm went off so that I got at least THIS sunrise. The plan was to shoot the Grand Teton, which I missed due to extreme rainfall during my visit past week. After about an hour's drive, the sunrise was almost as perfect as seen on the "typical" pictures - there were no clouds whatsoever, and that was slightly lacking.

These days, you can find a chip in everything: your watch, dishwasher, and of course the computer. On my way back to Yellowstone I unfortunately could also find a chip in my windshield. Just as I was trying to pass this ugly pickup truck, it threw a rock on me and left a minor crater in my windshield, just barely off the main vision field. Alright, change of plans: where can I get a windshield fixed, before the crack spreads too much? West Yellowstone was the answer. So just after lunch I visited the guys at the local body shop, which turned into quite an experience. Very friendly and professional, when writing up the bill soon the question emerged: "How do you spell Audi"? My folding car key was also cause for bemusement and interest, with all the stares from all employees and the UPS guy who was there at the moment. His feedback was that he'd never seen such a thing before, and his father was a locksmith. The idea of heated seats and 4WD in this small package was also taken with awe; the information that we pay $1800 for rent was however taken with bewilderment. "I visited SF once and I still wonder why and how people can live there", said Craig, who was doing my windshield, talking on the phone with customers most of the time. And indeed, I do wonder about that at times, too.

On the way back to the campground I hung out with some photographers - some from Germany, some from the US - and one of them was actually a Yellowstone Park Ranger on vacation. He had a lot of insight into what and where, and it wasn't till after 9pm that we dispersed to the respective campgrounds. I had new neighbors all around again (seems that people are coming just for one day these days), and was entertained till midnite by the loud voices of my Swiss neighbors who were talking as if they were in a noisy subway station (oops, no subway in Switzerland). The thus delayed rest was soon interrupted at 4:35am when the other neighbor's baby started screaming. And I mean, SCREAMING. I'd scream too if I were 1yr old and in a tent and it was below freezing. It took the parents till 5:30 to realize that it may be a good idea to get into the car and leave the campground. But at that point I was already wrapping up my things as well.

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