On a recent road trip that found us in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, my long-suffering wife LIsa and I were sitting on benches with hundreds of people from all over the world, waiting for a geyser to erupt. The geyser was “Old Faithful,” so named because it goes off regularly, day after day, year after year. The Park Rangers set up a bulletin board that tells you when the next eruption will occur. Typically, Old Faithful spouts off every 90 minutes, more or less. The “more or less” part is ten minutes either side.
So there we were, waiting. Patiently waiting. Idly waiting. Waiting in anticipation. Then, as the time drew near, there was a faint rumbling and finally the eruption, which did not draw gasps and shouts from the bystanders. It was, in a word, “Underwhelming.” No big deal. A man near me said, “I came all the way from Finland to see that?” It wasn’t much, for sure.
Everyone grumbled or laughed and the group split up and drifted off into different directions to be mangled by a bear or trod under by a bull bison, or to buy souvenirs. Lisa and I headed for the nearby Visitors’ Center to be educated at various displays telling us we were standing on a volcano that could erupt horrifically any time. While Lisa was learning things at various displays, I noted that the Ranger Station had posted the time for the next eruption, which by that time, was close. The time came and went. The “more or less” ten minutes passed, and then some more. Old Faithful was late. The crowds waiting for the next eruption grew and grew. I watched from the vantage point of the Ranger Station at the Visitors’ Center.
Then it happened. A distant rumbling followed by an eruption of the first magnitude as the geyser shot nearly 200 feet into the air and continued to do so for 10 minutes, thrusting thousands of gallons of water into the sky. When Old Faithful stopped, there was applause and satisfied people moving on. I don’t know where Old Faithful was hanging out when it should have been performing, and I guess we’ll never know. Let’s just say it was worth waiting around for the real thing.
Hope the guy from Finland saw it.