The sign says the geyser may perform sometime between 1230 and 4pm. I check my watch, it's 2pm. I've just seen Old Faithful erupt, I've been walking a lot and need to take a rest. A maximum of two hours I need to wait, and I'll have a front row seat when the thing goes off ... I figure I'll give it a shot. Here in the middle of Yellowstone Park, the sun blazes and there's no shade, but it won't kill me. Plus I have my "Song of the Dodo" by David Quammen. I can read while I wait for Grand Geyser, the "world's tallest predictable geyser", to put on a show.
So I sit. And sit. Read. Read some more.
At some point, a large family arrives and arranges itself on the bench I'm on and the one behind. Parents and six kids, all at least in their late teens. As soon as they are settled, one of the boys, behind me, embarks on a story of a time that he was working at the front desk in a hotel.
"So I was on duty one evening, and a couple came in the door, and at the same time her phone rings? And she answers it and she's like 'Oh really?' and she grabs her husband and she's like 'There's a black eagle on the roof!' and they both run outside.
"I was going, 'A black eagle? A black eagle? There's no such thing!' So I went out to see, and it's a crow."
The family erupts in laughter.
"Then the couple came back in? And she's like, in this awed voice, 'Oh, that was soooo beautiful!'
"And I'm going, 'Yeah right. Beautiful as it flies to the trash dump.'"
The mother says, "America is such a boring country." Nobody pays attention.
On my bench, one of the girls says to another: "OK, so your blue bra strap is showing. And your top is black. How uncool is that?"
The father says, "They're going on about bras again."
The same girl goes on: "You're supposed to wear like two tank tops, OK? Then there'll be three straps on your shoulders, and nobody'll be able to tell which one's the bra strap."
The mother says, again, "America is such a boring country." Nobody pays attention.
In front of us, and mercifully, the Grand Geyser suddenly bubbles and then erupts. It is almost exactly 330 pm. Like a gushing fountain, it spews water and steam high into the air for several minutes, subsides, erupts again to cheers, subsides, and erupts still again to more cheers.
The family leaves. I leave. The sign now says Grand Geyser may erupt between 1030 pm and 2 am tonight.