It’s Gonna Blow!

I have a slightly morbid desire to witness the apocalypse. I’m not talking about the apocalypse in any religious sense of the term. All that rapture nonsense just makes me roll my eyes. No, I’m talking apocalypse in the sense of the end of civilization. I like a little drama. I love a good story. What could be a better story than witnessing the end of life as we know it? Who cares if there’s nobody left to tell it to? Who cares if I even survive it in order to tell the story? I just want to be there, that’s all.

Don’t get me wrong; the only thing more interesting than witnessing the apocalypse would be surviving it. Can you imagine the post-apocalypse challenges? How adventurous it would be! I bet the skills I’m learning in my outdoor survival class would come in handy.

What will do us in? Well, there are a lot of candidates these days:

  • A super-plague? Sounds gruesome. I don’t like this option because I don’t think I’d have a better chance at surviving than anyone else. I don’t have much control over how my body reacts to killer viruses. If you know of any ways to build-up a tolerance to potential super-bugs, I’m all ears.
  • Zombies? If we encounter undead hoards, I suspect they will be the result of a plague of sorts. As long as it’s not air-borne, however, I might have a shot. I’m pretty well-versed in zombie survival techniques. If you’re not, you might consider checking out Max Brooks’ World War Z — I just finished reading that one recently.
  • An asteroid? As long as it didn’t hit too nearby, I’m pretty sure I’d get to employ survival skills as impact winter set in and blotted out the sun. I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, though.
  • Global climate change? It seems a likely candidate. As we continue to fuck with our planet, we are creating a snowball effect. Pretty soon the quickening pace of global climate change will spiral out of control. This could create a series of natural disaster situations which could make for pretty interesting survival situations.
  • The rapture? I’m afraid I’d be S.O.L. for this one.
  • A Yellowstone super-volcano eruption? Now there’s a solid candidate.

Basically, Yellowstone is one big over-due volcanic eruption waiting to happen. Bill Bryson writes impressively on the subject in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything. What it boils down to is that Yellowstone could blow at any time. As Bryson writes, “the cycle of Yellowstone’s eruptions averaged one massive blow every 600,000 years. The last one was 630,000 years ago. Yellowstone, it appears, is due.”

Maybe, like me, you have some difficulty imagining what an eruption the size of Yellowstone would look like. Helpfully, Bryson gives us a few reference points: “The biggest blast in recent times was that of Krakatoa in Indonesia in August 1883, which made a bang that reverberated around the world for nine days, and made water slosh as far away as the English Channel. But if you imagine the volume of ejected material from Krakatoa as being about the size of a golf ball, then that from the biggest of the Yellowstone blasts would be the size of a sphere you could just about hide behind. On this scale, the Mount St Helen’s eruption would be no more than a pea.”

In some projected scenarios, Phoenix — at 1000 miles away — lies just outside the immediate kill zone. In other words, the blast might not kill me, but the survival scenario would quickly be in full swing. I don’t have a death wish, honestly. I don’t even want most of the population to bite it. I just enjoy a challenge and a chance to test my skills against an extreme situation. The apocalypse set in motion by a mind-blowing Yellowstone eruption would provide an interesting backdrop for future stories featured in blog posts. Just sayin’.

Alas, you’ll have to settle for an ordinary summer vacation post instead of a post-apocalypse journal of devastation and the tenacity of the human race.

Yellowstone hasn’t blown yet.

It sure looks like it could, though.

Mike and I arrived on Day 7 of our roadtrip. We drove in through the West entrance and headed for the Madison campground. Our plan? To spend 3 days biking around the main 100-mile loop of the park. We spent the morning tuning and gearing up our bikes for the mini-tour. Then, we finally set off around 2:00 in the afternoon.

As we biked clockwise around the park, we stopped at nearly every attraction along the way; therefore, we didn’t go far on Biking Day 1. We covered a grand total of 14 miles and gained 720 feet of elevation, ending up at the Norris campsite for the night. Luckily Yellowstone campgrounds reserve sites for bikers, and we didn’t have to make any reservations despite the fact that the campgrounds were otherwise full. Biking Day 1 brought us past Gibbon Falls, Beryl Spring, the Monument Geyser Basin, the Artists’ Paintpots, and other unnamed scenery.

Mike says that Yellowstone is the Galapagos of North America. It truly has an otherworldly feel to it. The terrain is alive with boiling streams, steaming vents, bubbling mud, and other bizarre sights. It seems like a landscape meant for the ends of the earth. It’s awe-inspiring.

So, enough babbling already. Time for some pictures, right?

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One Response to “It’s Gonna Blow!”
  1. Kristen Mott says:

    you are a little sick and twisted… 😉

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