A stout man in khaki cargo shorts and a red t-shirt emerged from his group and approached me on the boardwalk at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. His nametag said, “Jason.”
“Anything good up there?” he asked.
I stopped, noticing the reflected mix of thermal pools and forest in his tinted Oakley sunglasses.
Anything good up there? You mean like this? Like everything around you? Like the fact that you’re walking on top of a super volcano right now? Do you mean in this eternally changing cauldron of travertine, with bubbling waters, broad, blue skies overhead and a breeze blowing from snow-capped peaks in the distance? Anything good in these 2 million acres that Ulysses S. Grant designated as the first national park in the world?
“Anything good up there?” is something you ask a store clerk stocking the top shelf.
Have you seen the bison roaming on the plains? The black bears and grizzlies in the forests? Have you felt the prick of pine needles from trees that Native Americans once used to build teepees? Christ, there were elk in the parking lot. Unless you drove here from Narnia, I’d say it doesn’t get better than this
I took a breath, put on a smile.
“Yeah. Everything’s great up there.”
And I got as far away from the place as I could.