02.08.2010 - 02.08.2010 28 °C
Rise time: 5.20am.
You'll remember that the other day I raced up to Yellowstone from Grand Teton and missed some fantastic morning sunrise opportunities. This morning I put myself at a brilliant Lake Yellowstone overlook that directly faced the sun rise. As the sun broke the cool morning the sky changed from dark blue to a brilliant warm orange. I dutifully photographed the scene and before too long was ready to jump back in my car to warm up. As I was packing my tripod up I turned to open the boot and stood about 10m away from the on the opposite side of the road was a bull elk grazing on the low shrubs. His incredible antlers were spotlit by the rising sun and it was a great moment.
From my spot photographing the lake I drove the hour or so up to Canyon campground, the most popular site in the Park. The road to Canyon Country cuts across Hayden Valley, renouned for being a popular location for wildlife, and it was no differnet of the time I was there. There were a number of occasions when I had to stop driving because one or two bison decided to straddle the road and prevent an onward journey. That was obviously incredible, but it left me totally unprepared for what was to come. At one stage I, in my car, got separated from the cars in front and behind me because of one or two bison blocking the road ahead and behind. I thought they would soon move on. Then out of nowhere I could see, at least 75-100 bison emerged from one side of the valley to cross the road to the other side. All of these bison passed within metres of me in my car. My window was down (it was hot) and I didn't dear raise it incase the animals were spooked. This left me eyeballing a hundred bison and the walked around me, with nothing between me and them and, even with the protection of my car, I was left feeling very small and powerless.
I later got up to Canyon Village. After checking into my campsite I went over to the Canyon Vistor Center to get advice on what to do whilst here, and to transfer some photos from my SD card onto my external hard drive. I was in the Visitor Center for roughly ten minutes when a sour faced woman approached me and instructed me to take my power cable out of the socket. I was surprised by this request, mostly because I had had no issues anywhere else. I asked her why I needed to do it, believe it or not more because I was curious as opposed to wishing to cause any trouble. Well of course, I did also know that Americans don't like being asked why. Deference is a state of mind habitually found amongst the population here. But, I'm not American, so I'm not so inclined. She then, in a tone as agressive as her face was haggered by the passage of time, told me to take it out. Well now as well as my question not being answered she was being rude to me, and as a paying member of the public, let along just a member of the public, this wasn't OK. I asked her again why. She responded by saying that it was probited to plug a laptop in since 9/11. "What?!" I found this an utter insult of my intelligence, let alone the an offensive use of that tragic occasion, as I was confident that no such prohibition existed. She then repeated her demand and I now wanted to know what law prohibited the conduct in a Federal building. She had no answer, so I said I wanted to speak with her supervisor, mostly because of the astonising way she was speaking to me, simply because I dared to question what I was being demanded of me. Conveniently, her supervisor wasn't available. I said to her that I was sure she was mistake in her demand, this based on my experience in the Parks so far and simple common sense, so declined her persistence. We came to the conclusion that a US Park Ranger would be required. Rangers are Federal Agents and the police officers of the National Parks. So, off she went around the corner, dialed 911 and within a minute or two a police car with ligts flashing and siren blaring turned up. I was not shaken by this as I was resolute that, even if I was wrong, I was not mistaken in wanting to question what was being asked and it wasn't unfair of me to want more information. Once the Ranger pulled up she swiftly trotted outside, even before he was out the car, to talk to him. This reassured me - if she was confident in what she was saying why could she not simply rely on that rather than need to get a word in first? A few minutes later I went outside to introduce myself, explain what had happened and reasserted my understanding that there was no such prohibition in Federal law that she was insisting. He had been looking through his book of regulations and confirmed that I was right. However, he said that whilst I wasn't breaking any law, he would appreciate if I went to a different location because otherwise there would be a proliferation of people using power sockets and blocking the center. Well this sounded about right and sounded like common sense. "Not a problem then." He had spoken to me politely, explained why I was being asked to do something (even though it wasn't against the law) and gave me an alternative. This was not a demand, as I had had before. I explained to him that if 'Ellen' had just done the same, he wouldn't need to be here now. He gave me a Ranger complaint form to report Ellen's conduct and let me know where I could deliver it to the Park's Superintendent.
Later in the afternnon I went to the north rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - a scarred golden ryolite canyon, which has breathetakingly inspiring waterfalls. I spent the sunset at Inspiration Point on the north rim until the sun was down. After watching the sunset it was back to the campsite for today's highlight - a shower! Canyon campsite had pay showers and after many days without properly washing I wasn't going to miss the opportunity. The water was utterly refreshing and I felt completey new and rejuventated to have showered. I was certainly glad to have picked up complimentary soap and shampoo at some of the place's I've been staying.