Solitary in Yellowstone: Karen N.

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In 1999 I took a solitary road trip from my home in Seattle to Yellowstone Park in a 1985 yellow Volvo station wagon. I camped in the back of the wagon and followed the schedule of the plants and animals instead of the rest of the vacationers. I got up at 3:00-4:00am and walked alongside meadows that, because of the coolness of the air, had thousands of tiny steam fumeroles wafting up among the grasses. They were gone as soon as the sun warmed the air, by 7:00am. I sat quietly and watched a badger toddle across the grass; he saw me, but because I didn’t move and didn’t face him, he waddled by without comment or fear. I sat with my feet in a small creek and could feel the water’s temperature rise and fall with each eddy. Sometimes it wound between my toes like a warm caress, and then it would change and be cool and refreshing. I listened to the wind move in the trees and the grasses. A coyote watched me watching him as he ambled across on the other side of the creek. I thought maybe I had been there 20 minutes or a half hour. When I finally looked at a watch, I had been sitting there silently for over three hours, doing nothing but breathing and letting the water move between my toes. I have never been so alert, or so relaxed, since.

Karen N.