Archive for September, 2012

More Yellowstone

We came upon a sudden gathering crammed at the side of the roadway. It was impossible to say what was going on, cars jammed in crannies, hundreds of people huddled over scopes, cameras pointing and binoculars swapping. It couldn’t have been a class, too scatted. Quick across the road, way back in the clearing…. a grizzly! Happily minding it’s own affairs. I felt grateful she had no idea the mob way yonder was on her account.

I’d seen a a few grizzly bears much closer in Alaska raiding the trash bins. At least the dogs didn’t notice, if they thought a black bear was scary…..

The sun was lowering as we arrived at the spectacular canyons and rivers. I was lucky enough to see the sunset and the crescent moon at Artist Point in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone over the Lower Falls, you have to see it. . . . too tired tonight to tell you why…. you’ll know.

I don’t have the camera or the lenses for such a scene but I took a shot anyway.

Artist Point at the end of sunset

If you haven’t been there, go! It’s open every day of the year. Snow plowed from the North Entrance at Gardiner MT for you winter travelers.

Hot furry greats the cold river

Orange, red, green . . . bacteria, chlorophyll, sunlight

Excelsior Geyser in brilliant blue.
The largest geyser in the world, now dormant.

Bob crossing the boardwalk

Grand Prismatic Spring. . 370 feet in diameter and over 121 feet deep.

Boiling! This stuff ought to do just fine for a sci-fi thriller.

Cold water meets hot brine.
Runs hot and cold.

Mi tse a-da-zi, Yellow Rock River

Yellowstone, the first National Park is primeval and awesome.  I only spent one day there….  I wish, I wish,  I wish  (that’s a triple wish!) that things had been different and I’d had more time. . . time to stare in wonder. I left with a zillion questions, how hot is Yellowstone? What is the earthquake activity? What would our planet be like if Yellowstone hadn’t happened? Is Yellowstone warming faster than other areas of the planet? And if so what does this mean to the climate balance? What are the microorganisms that grow in the hotter than boiling hot springs? What do the bacteria look like under the scope? Why are there so many forms of life here, such diversity in wildlife?  Did life begin here? ….  I could go on, Yellowstone inspires one to think, to contemplate, to want to study. . . at least it does for me.

I was treated to a tour, Bob drove so I could hang my head out the window, and he graciously held onto the dogs so I could wander in-and-out of the buildings and observation trails. It was a great day, one I will remember for a long time. And yes I saw Old Faithful do it’s thing, I saw it twice! Bob also took me to West Yellowstone Montana, a small town I greatly enjoyed where we met a friend of his, a  vigorous 70 yr old fisherman who intends to head to Panama and find a woman and I suppose, do more fishing. Myself I’d like to see more of Montana and more of Wyoming….  some day.

A few shots of Yellowstone

Erupting every 35 min to 2 hours or so from 90 to 184 feet… for how long… two million years? longer? The Yellowstone hotspot has been active for 17 million years.

How many folks are here! The crowd in the middle of the week at the end of Sept.

Can you imagine how many photographs and videos are taken in a (tourist visiting) day?

Looks like a painting

…. It’s getting close to midnight.. more photos of Yellowstone soon, but now it’s time for rest.


From my friend Bob at the Jackson Lodge, actually the Jackson Lake Lodge; quite beautiful but not in Jackson which was a surprise (it’s in the Grand Teton National Park) I learned the difference between the City of Jackson and Jackson Hole. Somehow I thought they were the same, but not really, actually I was confused but cities and regions can have different names, so I thought it was how it was done. I understood that Jackson Hole is like Montecito is to Santa Barbara, which in itself can be confusing since Santa Barbara is both a city and a county, to save a long discussion suffice to say Montecito and Jackson Hole are wealthier more exclusive areas of an already exclusive region. However when I looked up the difference on the Internet it seems that this explanation may not suffice.

I read the following:

Jackson Hole refers to a 48-mile long valley surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and includes the towns of Jackson, Kelly, Moose, Moran, Wilson, and Teton Village. Known to early settlers as Jackson’s Hole, the area has been renowned since its discovery in the early 1800’s for its incredible natural beauty and abundance of wildlife.

Nevertheless I’m going to go with calling Jackson Hole the world famous ski area with high end hotels and restaurants or maybe that’s the Teton Village? Okay, well at least I know what the City of Jackson entails, lots and lots yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay shops, antler arches, cowboy bars, fancy ladies attire and western art sporting a Santa Barbara style eco-consciousness including premium natural foods (among them my new favorite even though they are far away, Smith Foods and The Jackson Whole Grocer) range foods and old west delights along with Santa Barbara prices.

The boundaries of the Parks are equally bewildering…. I’ll save that for another discussion except to say that Bob took me to Dornan’s which is outside the Park gate but apparently not outside the Park, not really…. We went to a hootenanny… the last one of the season! I really enjoyed it, in a quiet way; there was no stomping of feet or yelling but good food and great music. And it was free! I met Bob’s friend, cowboy poet and musician Tom Angle He is the real thing, as Bob says, a real cowboy that is.

The dogs contemplate riding up the ski lift at Jackson Hole

The Mangy Moose at Jackson Hole.Great decor and great view but crummy service and not so good food…

The view from the patio at the Moose

Her face says it all! At the Mangy Moose

Here’s a slideshow from various locations in the Grand Tetons …. to save time so I can catch up a little no titles or captions.

The folks with long curved instruments were playing at Jenny Lake….
Very beautiful, haunting sound filling the senses. Don’t know what the instruments are. . .like a very long didgeridoo with a curved end.

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Dogs and the National Parks

Who said our pets don’t enjoy the spender?

Mason and Olympia taking in the Grand Teton from the parking lot

There are sound reasons from predation to disease, to general nuisance, to exclude canine (and human) exposure from the protected domain of wildlife and equally good reasons to restrict untrained and disrespectful “owners” from bad supervision of their pets. But the National Parks seem determined to alienate visitors with pets from recreational and esthetic enjoyment of the Parks. It seems an unnecessary irritation, perhaps the federal rule is to impose the hope that pet and owner will depart and never return. For example in the Grand Teton leashed dogs are allowed at the parking lots and on paved roads, but at overlooks there tends to be a very short paved path nicely marked with a dog symbol with a red line diagonally slashed through it. Lots of observers said, go ahead, no one’s watching but I choose to respect the little red slash. Dog and owner can watch buses packed with gum chewing, food spitting, foot tramping hordes, cameras in hand racing for the treat. The pet cannot by regulation remain within the vehicle, nor be tied or penned for even a moment in a safe and neutral location unattended, so one cannot enter that precious piece of tarred black surface to actually obtain the view or to go into a building. Oh look at all the nice cars and RVs, wow isn’t that an interesting pair of shoes along with a plethora of gear popping.

The Park kindly provides a map of “pet exercise” areas, i.e. parking lots and roads which if they ever existed no longer exist. I spent hours chasing down the designed roads without success…. Must have been one of those without a sign and nicely boarded and closed to traffic.

Dear National Park how about some compromise? Would it hurt to allow pets on paved and asphalted walkways around the bend to see the view? How about requiring vaccinations and canine good citizen certificates for dogs entering the park? Special leash and halter? How about providing one or two nice walks for visitors with pets? How about available (by the hour) pet sitting at the Lodge or at an easy access point as opposed to a list of distant kennels with the notes that these may have changed or no longer be in service.

Not all pets should visit National Parks, however there are increasing numbers of traveling dogs and cats too. . . some full-time, some part-time, oh yes and they come with their inquisitive humans.

My two canine visitors were widely photographed by happy tourists.

On another note we were walking on a paved road alone (no one walks on those except pet owners) and I was thinking, what if there was a bear around here….. I turned to look behind me pretending that there might be such a creature and there he was! My dogs freaked, they’d never seen a bear; they decided running fast in the direction of the LT where we’d parked was a good idea. I held tight and made myself look big, waving my arms with clamped leashes attached and banged my water bottle on my thigh further disturbing the dogs for good effect. The bear didn’t think much of the commotion and ambled back into the brush. It took much longer for my two to calm down.

A moment when the smoke lifted!

Yellow and Gold

What Wyoming tree has white bark and black knots with twittering leaves that deepen into yellow, gold and a rich red? Yes, it’s the beautiful Aspen. As the days shorten and chill, the trees retreat from feeding and filling their roots. Yellow and gold blazes the hills as the chlorophyll departs and the green falls away. Sugar finishes the dance in red until the snow comes and the Aspen drops it’s leaves.

Okay here’s a close up of the leaves in yellow, you can still see the green in the veins.


The day I arrived in Wyoming was gorgeous! My friend working front desk at the Jackson Lake Lodge at the Grand Teton National Park gave good advice to approach the city of Jackson via Hwy 26 through the town of Alpine. The Teton Pass is more direct from Idaho but steep and twisty. He would meet me the following day. . .5:30 pm in Jackson’s Town Square.

The Hwy 26 canyon radiated and glowed with the kind of deep blue sky that you dream of with drama clouds and hills blazing amid the green with yellow and red fall foliage. . .perfect!

I didn’t like the RV parking lot at Alpine so took in the canyon again as I backtracked to a camp I’d passed along the highway and once more the following morning on my way to Jackson. I didn’t know it was the end of eye dropping pleasure. I arrived in a red-eyed, wheeze inducing flotilla of powered haze. Smoke!!!! I believe there were something like 15 + fires in the region including neighboring states any of which could be sending signals into the ether where one wanted to enjoy the view. Smoke, it turns out likes to drift and gather as it pleases.

I stopped to see the Elk Refuge in Jakson. Wrong time of year for Elk but the nature interpreter was a full timer (an RVer) so we had a nice chat. Had to drive through the firefighting staging area…. No stopping allowed but I gabbed a few quick shots

Fire Update: Smoke of a distant fire
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By Jake Nichols
JACKSON HOLE, WY – Firefighters made steady progress yesterday strengthening containment lines on the Horsethief Canyon Fire. Some individual tree torching persists but crews were able to clean up debris along the north and east lines of the wildfire.
Steep, rugged terrain has hampered efforts securing perimeter line breaks around the entire fire. Full containment could be achieved by the weekend when it is possible the affected areas could be reopened to the public. Fire managers say smoke will persist in the valley for the next few days.
This will be JH Weekly’s final daily update on the Horsethief Canyon Fire.
574 personnel
3,373 acres burned
58% containment
$6.5 million cost of suppression to date
9 helicopters, 15 crews, 21 engines, 1 dozer

Smoke never left!!!! Fires still burning but perhpas the snow will douse them?

The Elk Refugue in the smoke

After Walnut Creek…. drove up and down some snarky mountains; the LT huffed and puffed and refused to climb HWY 50 with the air conditioner and I refused to broil so had to backtrack to I-80 where the incline is bit less intense…. over the Donner Pass and into the wide wide desert. Not as scenic but the little LT made the grade!

Here’s a few photos…. this was the week before last, the crushing heat and ennui a distant memory after the shivering magic of Wyoming.

Takes all day to drive the desert. Flat, hot and straight even if the camera is not!


It was exciting to see hills!

I saw someone base jumping off this base jumping bridge (Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls) everyone one else was looking the other way when I gasped, by the time they turned around he was down.

What everyone else was looking at! The Snake River at Twin Falls

Play time at camp in Idaho


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