I’m a big fan of roadside attractions. Give me a sign or two teasing about the Thing, the largest wart, the recreation of the last supper in soup cans, or the greatest natural wonder this side of the Grand Canyon and my heart goes a twitter. Imagine my surprise when I saw a sign for Old Faithful Geyser while driving through Napa Valley yesterday.
In just 6 miles, I could witness the amazing natural wonder of the world. Old Faithful, the geyser that pops its top faster than Cindy Lauper’s rubber band adorned manager. Sure it was a bit out of the way, but I was on a mission to experience this wonder.
The parking lot didn’t look much like Yellowstone. It had ample space for buses and loads of tourists, but no warning signs of bears eating your lunch. There were signs for picnics, the geyser, and fainting goats. How could one go wrong?
With picnic lunch in hand, my pal Jim du Nord and I sallied our way through the souvenir shirts, past the hungry goats, and off to the wonder known as Old Faithful…of california.
Imagine a large circle of car-ports with picnic tables. The inner circle held a number of those cheap plastic lawnchairs. In the center sat a shallow puddle about 20 feet in diameter with a clump of strategically placed lava rocks. Perhaps they were natural, but they looked like they were from Geysers-R-Us.
Old Faithful was scheduled to erupt every 40 minutes or so and we were told we had about 10 minutes until show time. Occassionally the rocks would sputter and send a shot of water. It reminded me more of my friend Durward’s tales of recently meeting mr shigella at a local taco shop and the geysers that appeared all over his bathroom for the next few days. But I digress…
The water was warm and full of little pollywog-looking fish. There was an empty hot tub made of lava rock that looked like it was built in the 30’s and off to the side was a wornout collection of pipes that were supplying hot water to the snack shack. The pipes were getting thin and sent their own miniature geysers in various directions.
Finally, Old Faithful woke up and sent a plume that was quite spectacular. I was expecting a 5 second burst, but this girl kept flowing. Everyone had ample time to run in front of the geyser and have their photo taken in front of this spurting wonder.
Naturally, I took a photo with my cellphone for Heidi and then grabbed a few shots of everyone else in my kitsch-loving mood.
Frankly, I got bored of the geyser after a few minutes. How long can you watch water spurt up into the air. So, we packed up our junk, fed the goats, and headed out to the Petrified Forest. The signs said it was only 4 miles down the road…