Yellowstone has always left me with the impression of a carnival midway and I haven’t been able to shake that in the 20 years I have been visiting the park and surrounding areas. This feeling has created a love/hate relationship I haven’t been able to shake no matter how often I visit.

I have visited it during every season and time of year and the feeling I leave with is always the same. The poorly maintained narrow roads with bus loads of people careening around curves, faces pressed to the windows stopping at pullouts or hint of wildlife, disgorging herds of people who wander about with cameras or cell phone at their face. The traffic jams of buses and cars full of families along side the roads at the hint of wildlife or something out of the ordinary. This desperate atmosphere of ‘we don’t want to miss anything so hurry to the next wonder’ is huge in creating this sense of dread in me when I visit. I am reminded of The Bradbury novel Something Wicked This Way Comes or the HBO series of Carnivale, an overwhelming sense of desperation to experience a wonder or life they only see on TV emanates from the crowds.

Families who traveled many miles, people who have traveled across the sea spending hours on a cramped bus, hikers who want to escape the cubicle they spend the majority of their year, all converge in the open spaces and lodges. There is a sense of hurry and want, a desire to experience, to find something that isn’t a minor disappointmentWhat they find isn’t quite what they saw in the advertisement or on the TV special.  They will wait for hours to see a geyser and once over wander to the souvenir shop to prove they were there. All the while thinking “ seen water go higher from a broken hydrant in Brooklyn”. There is a puzzled and minor disappointment in their movements and expressions but all make the best of it knowing the story will change by the time they get home.