Elaine and I arrived at Yellowstone Park after a harrowing yet beautiful trip over Beartooth Pass (see blog entry for 12-01-10). Yellowstone is a wonderful place to visit. We were on a tight schedule that did not leave us a lot of time in the park so we had to condense our sight seeing and pick out what was important.
Among the sights that were deemed important were geysers. Geysers fascinate me. They look to me like little volcanic eruptions that must have given plenty of surprises to the first people who stumbled across the area. Imagine walking along a landscape that looks like it belongs on another planet. There are areas where steam hisses out of crack and hole in the ground. As you are walking along one of these little plumes of steam suddenly gushes forth with hundreds of gallons of water shooting fifty feet into the air or higher. I think if it was me caught in that situation I would run like the devil that just met Danial Webster and not stop until another geyser came shooting up right in front of my face. In my mind it would make people think twice about walking across that land and probably think it was cursed by Satan himself.
We saw lots of geysers that day. Of course we sat and waited for Old Faithful to do it's thing. During that wait Elaine was terrorized by a four year old girl sitting behind us in the bleachers. That is a whole story in and of itself though and will be documented at a future date. We saw big geysers and little tiny ones. Geysers that sat below mud holes making them bubble like a witches brew coming to fruition. There weren't many geysers that had seating available around them but when we came across one we took the opportunity to sit and rest while the monster beneath the ground prepared for a show for hundreds of people.
I wish I could remember the name of this particular geyser but I can not. It was a fairly large one and had seating down on ground level just a few hundred feet from the geyser itself. There also was a viewing area up on top of a hill that bordered the geyser from which most of the people were situated. We got there in time to grab a couple of places on the benches down at ground level. They were good seats but on the second row. Taking up two spaces in front of us on the first row were two little girls around the age nine or ten.
I am always interested in the the way children's minds work. Sometimes they will believe anything and at other times they will confront you with questions of whether you are telling the truth or not. I had plenty of practice testing the thinking of children with my nieces and nephews. Everyone of them believed anything I would say for many years. sometimes they would feel silly for buying into my tales and at other times it would agitate them. What is important is that it was great fun for me to sit and tell them about something that happened and watch their eyes as they fell into total belief or a questioning curiosity. The end result was always the same though with those kids. Now that they are grown up they question almost everything I tell them. In the end the experiment was fun in the early years and even more fun now that they don't know what to believe when I tell them a story.
I decided to experiment on these two girls sitting in front of Elaine and myself. This would be interesting because neither of these girls had a clue as to who I was or what I was capable of doing. I was simply a stranger who happened to be in Yellowstone at the same time as they were and happened to be waiting to see the same geyser. the experiment would be to see if Elaine and I could get a better seat for viewing the event that was about to happen.
Without looking at Elaine I spoke with deadpan emotion and loud enough so that the girls could hear me clearly. I told Elaine that I didn't know how big this geyser was going to be. Then I brought up the fact that the soft breeze was blowing directly at us from where the center of the geyser was situated. I then pulled out the line intended to close the deal. I wondered aloud how hot the water was that came out of the geysers. I knew it looked pretty hot because it looked like steam at that time. I worried aloud about whether the water that was surely hot would blow over and hit us. Then looking up at the people on the hill I suggested that maybe it would be safer up there insted of down where we were at ground level.
The girls looked at each other and whispered. Then sat back straight and looked at the steam coming out of the ground just in front of them. Again they whispered and suddenly they jumped up and hurried out of the seating area. I told Elaine that our seats just opened up and we moved a row down to have an unobstructed view of what turned out to be a fantastic geyser. Elaine did her usual stint about how mean I was to those girls and how it wasn't nice to trick kids. Rhetoric that I had heard many times before and a few times since.
As the geyser settled down and the eruption came to a close I looked up at the crowd in the viewing area on the hill. There stood the two girls in front of a man with his arms resting on their shoulders and a woman who appeared to be the mother of the small family. As we got up to leave I looked up one more time. Both of the girls were giving me a hard stare from up on the hill with their mother and father.
They had figured me out. I am sure they were thinking to themselves that if they ever saw me again or heard me talking they would not take it seriously. They would challenge what I was saying until I could convince them that what I was saying was true. The experiment was over. They had believed my somewhat logical discourse on the hazards of sitting too close to the geyser. I like to think of it as a time in which I had an opportunity to teach a couple of kids a lesson in life and that made me feel good. The lesson they learned was never trust a stranger and that is a very important lesson to be learned. I always enjoy teaching and making kids better thinkers.