Wednesday, June 8, 2011

POV Wednesday – Old Faithful

My Daniel and I (still) live in Billings, MT (for the time being). Yellowstone National Park sits only a couple hours away. Since moving is probably in our near future (please, God), we decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit.

Everything about our 36-hour adventure was perfect, except for some pretty nasty hotel waffles for breakfast. But those are but a fading blip on the radar compared to all the beautiful nature-stuff we saw. Yellowstone is truly all it’s touted to be.

Old Faithful’s a must when visiting Yellowstone, right? Though the famed geyser is almost at the furthest point in the Park away from our residence, we took the trek.

It delivered a majestic display that I’ll never forget. But seeing Old Faithful was not the highlight of the visit. Not by a long shot, actually.

The whole area (I believe most of the Park) sits on what amounts to a volcano. It’s been years (thousands to millions, depending on who’s talking) since any eruption that we’d characterize as a volcano, but the hot springs and geysers, like Old Faithful, are the evidence that rivers of molten magma bubble close beneath the surface.

So, in addition to Old Faithful, countless other geysers and springs sizzle with scalding water, puff billowy white steam into the air, and create colorful yet stinky (because of the sulpher) craters in the earth’s surface. When visiting Old Faithful, you can walk along a series of boardwalks snaking across hundreds of acres to get a closer look at each unique, beautiful crater. Some of them burp up bubbles of gas through muddy holes, some look like refreshing pools but churn with clear boiling water, and others actually shoot streams of water several feet into the air.

Of course, when we first arrived at the Old Faithful grounds, we looked to see when Old Faithful itself was going to blow next. I mean, that’s the attraction, right? Our timing proved perfect, we only had about an hour to wait. We walked around a bit, but claimed front row seats on one of the benches circumnavigating the crater in plenty of time. Steam spews from the vent constantly, but intermediate spits of water built anticipation for the eruption of one of America’s best-known natural landmarks. Hundreds of people gathered, filling the benches, pointing cameras. Eventually, and with no preamble, a towering stream of water lifted out of the crater to touch the cloudless sky. The slight breeze spread the mist into a wall of white. It was truly amazing.

When it was over a few minutes later, I must admit that while thankful that I’d witnessed this natural marvel, I felt like I’d just checked something off the bucket list. Okay. So we’ve seen Old Faithful. That was cool. *shrug*

We took time to walk around the boardwalk then, taking pictures of all the other interesting pockets of hot springs. We’d been most of the way around when several other tourists started hurrying toward a common point on the boardwalk. We heard one of them say, “There’s water in the beehive!” Not understanding the excitement, we meandered in the same direction without much expectation. A Park Ranger stood close by to a small crowd. We asked her some questions about the area, talked for a little bit. After we thanked her and were about to head down the boardwalk, she said, “You aren’t leaving, are you? The Beehive’s going to erupt in about fifteen minutes, and you don’t want to miss it.”

Well, since she’d been so nice, we thought it’d be rude to walk off. So we took our place with the growing crowd to wait for the Beehive, whatever that was.

A short fountain of water, about three feet, spouted from the ground right next to a mound of earth about the same height, sort of squarish, that had steam puffing out. From our perspective, only twenty or so feet away, nothing amazing was happening or even seemed to be getting ready to happen.

For fifteen minutes, we waited, watching the unchanging scene.

The cloudless sky allowed the sun to beat down on us, the wind had a little chill in it raising goose bumps on my warm skin. After seeing Old Faithful, the main event, I wasn’t sure what could warrant the growing crowd, the long fifteen-minute wait, ignoring the growling starting up in my stomach.

The mound of earth burped a couple streams of water to tease us, but then kept puffing away steam. It seemed like the fifteen minutes had come and gone a couple times.

Then, again without warning, water rocketed from the mound, like a fire hydrant on steroids, straight into the sky. The water shot out form the vent for a good five minutes. The plume of white steam blotted out the sun it was so large. After a minute, cooled water droplets rained down – right on top of us, drenching us to the bone! That continued the duration of the eruption. The constant power of the geyser amazed me, and it indeed sounded like a waking swarm of bees racing from their hive.

In decreasing intervals, the water lessened then stopped, returning to a puffing vent of steam.

I felt like I’d been on a roller coaster. To be immersed in the experience of an erupting geyser is exhilarating, a rush unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, an endorphin high causing long-lasting smiles.

One of my first thoughts – ten times better than Old Faithful! How was this Beehive geyser not the main attraction? How would a clueless tourist like me even know it was there? Come to find out, it only erupts every ten hours to five days! Unlike Old Faithful, it’s unpredictable. Our experiencing it was a miraculous case of ‘right time, right place.’ What a gift!

My Daniel and I always learn something on our adventures. God speaks to us through our experiences, especially in nature. Well, immediately following the Beehive thrill ride, my Daniel pinpointed it perfectly.

Patience is a difficult thing to come by. Gaining it only occurs through testing. And often times when we’re waiting for something important (like a job!), panic will set in and the temptation not to wait on the Lord will bite. Bad decisions, depression, complaining, hopelessness, doubt result.

Even though God is as ‘old faithful’ as you can get, His blessings are sometimes unpredictable. But if we practice patience, wait for the Lord’s leading, even if it looks like nothing is happening or even going to happen, without warning, the exact right thing will happen. And most likely, it will be the gift of a lifetime.

"So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom." Luke 12:32

(pictures are Lori originals!!)