Saturday, June 29, 2013

Yellowstone National Park

Good to be back online.  We had a great stay up in the mountains, but more on that in the next issue. For now, just saying,  no cell or internet for the last few days.

We had a great visit to Yellowstone National Park.We found a great campground ,on recommendation from friends, at Bakers Hole National Forest in West Yellowstone,Montana, outside the park.  Above is our site on the Madison river. We did not even try to find a site in the park, because all of the internet reports we saw indicated that they would be full with reservations a year ahead of time.
That was not necessarily true, but the main campgrounds like Madison were full every day. The grand loop around the park is 142 miles!  That does not include cutting through from Norris to Canyon Village.  A lot of miles and you need to plan on an average speed of about 30mph or less.
In spite of that, we found that we enjoyed setting out each day from outside the west entrance and taking our time for a small segment of the park.

The biggest draw always seems to be the wildlife. We saw deer, elk, and bison.  Other visitors we met saw bear and wolves.   If any were visible you knew immediately, because the traffic would stop or there would be many cars pulled over on the side.  No one minded--so different from traffic snarls in Boston.

For instance, one day headed north by Gibbons Falls we had stopped in traffic.  After a while we saw this herd of bison headed towards us.  They were being corralled by two park rangers in cars.

Not much place for them to go with steep hills on one side and the steep cliffs to the river on the other side.  They seemed okay with the traffic and the push. Sometimes the young calves would wander off, but they would come right back.

It's not often that a very large bison goes by your driver's window!

We did see pronghorn.  This picture was from Grand Tetons.  In Yellowstone, we found it more difficult to just pull off the road for a picture.  It would have been difficult even with a vehicle other than Lady Blue.

One of our favorites was visiting Old Faithful.  A very large area is set apart for Old Faithful, the Lodge, and other visitor buildings and hikes.

We were able to see geyser twice.  Each eruption was about an hour and a half apart. The schedule is posted.

This is the first time we have tried to post a small video.  Hope it works for you--don't forget the sound.  Just click on the arrow.

Yellowstone was the first national park,over 2 million acres!! established in 1872.  One of the amazing things we noticed was that such a large park had so few roads.  There are miles and miles of streams and hiking trails, but few roads except for the main 2 loops and the middle cross road.  It really is a great wilderness park, in spite of the large number of visitors.  You can get away from the crowds fairly easily on a trail.

We didn't think much beyond Old Faithful before arriving here.  We were then rather surprised to learn that Yellowstone has more geysers and hot springs than anywhere in the world.  They come in many colors, depending on the minerals and the heat.  There are many warnings about how dangerously hot some are.  Others are dangerous due to their acidic content.

Except for the steam, many look absolutely inviting.  Crystal clear.
In this one , you could see many feet down into the thermal.

Some would gurgle.  Others would burp. and some would act like small geysers, erupting up a few feet or so.

On some of the walks, you could see many areas of thermal activity.  The walks were organized on board walks for safety.  So many colors!  The minerals would create reds, yellows, greens, and blues depending on the content and the heat.

This should give you a little idea.  don't forget the sound.  Just click on the arrow.

They were all so fascinating.

It was about the third day that old Jan and Bruce realized that they needed that standard, classic shot with the entrance sign.

Big smiles now!

Sometimes, the pictures were not easy to make.

We actually had a good view of the elk.  But, with the cars parked on each side, there was no room to park Lady Blue.   So, here we have one of our famous "Drive by's"

There are many parts to Yellowstone.  Sitting on an active volcano, there are the many thermals.  Then there are all the other wonders.

This is the Lower Falls at the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.

Many good views on longer and shorter walks on the north and south rims.

Couldn't resist adding one more.  Not sure that the entire picture will show on your screen.

Click on the arrow to view


If Uncle Tom could do it, so could we.  Jan and I will freely admit that it was a challenge. 328 steps straight down at 8,000 foot elevation on a metal steep see-through staircase meant a number of stops on the way back up.  But, it was well worth the effort.

We could have stayed here a while, but other visitors were waiting for this great view.

So many reports of very high heat back in New England and out west.

But here we are watching the snow melt.

Ah, to be an RVer.

Out last day takes us out of the park via Yellowstone Lake from West Thumb intersection.

We thought this view was so wonderful, yet strange.
One of a number of thermal pools, right beside the huge Yellowstone lake.

And beyond the lake are snow covered mountains to the east.

Another clear pool.

Looking down, you could see , way below, where the thermal water would be rising.

All this, connected to the intense heat of the inner earth.

If you can get into a picnic mode, there are many, many spots in Yellowstone to unpack a picnic lunch and just enjoy nature.

This was one of many stops along Yellowstone Lake.

One picture we missed was of many fly fishermen all across Yellowstone.  On some days, the clear streams would look like a big ad from LL Bean.

The visitors center at Fishing Bridge was interesting on its own.   One of the older park buildings, the architect used the natural boulder setting and timbers to fit in with the surroundings.  Inside is a great display of birds and antlers.

Lady Blue really enjoyed her visit to Yellowstone.

She performed wonderfully on some nail biting rides up and over and down narrow mountain roads.

Most notably was the road from Norris up to Mammoth Springs.

We leave you with yet another bison traffic stop.

On our way back to camp one night in West Yellowstone.  No rangers involved in this one.

Just some bison and their young ones moving on to a better pasture.

How do you like our satellite radio in the background?  Just happened to have it on and didn't have a chance to turn it down.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Grand Tetons 2

In the Grand Tetons and everywhere you look is a Kodak moment.  Jan went on a hike with Lazy Daze friend Jane.
Seeing some of her favorite Arrowleaf Balsamroot, she took this picture.

The visitor's center at Moose Junction was very informative.  We love watching the videos at the centers.  This one, like some other national parks, was made by Discovery Channel.

At the end of the great video, which gives a very good introduction to the park, the curtains open and the audience gets this view.

Displayed by the great fireplace, these antlers are much larger than they look in the picture.

This is a park for all kinds of outdoor activities. Lots of bike riding opportunities , including a 40 mile or so bike path--fairly level.  Kayaking, horseback riding, easy to extremely difficulty hiking and mountain climbing, river floating ,and white water river rafting.  Also, there is the Jackson Hole skiing in the winter.  They receive an average of 400 inches of snow each year. In 2011 they received over 700 inches of snow. This picture is from our hike around Jenny lake.

This is the Chapel of the Transfiguration, still a functioning Episcopal Church.  It was built in 1925 to save the long buckboard ride into Jackson.  It served the local ranchers and visitors to the dude ranches.  It is also used for weddings--you can see why.

The interior is very warm and welcoming.  We have visited a number of historic churches and chapels and there is a difference between those that are still used and those that are just maintained.

From where Jan is sitting, above, this is the view towards the altar.

Thought you might like this one , Joe.

Nearby was Menor's Ferry.  This creative wooden ferry was used to move people and goods across the Snake River.

Double click the picture for a better look.

Close by the ferry and the river was the old general store.  Inside was still set up like it would have looked in the early 1900's.  Including some nice old antiques from the era.

They were selling some great local jams, so I had to pick up some Wild Huckleberry.  It is absolutely wonderful.

The Snake River is a few yards from the store. This picture is from where the ferry is located during the summer months.

It is attached by lines to the cable you see and then maneuvered across the river in an efficient but unique pattern.

Here is a 1924 picture from an album inside the general store.  The Model T fits easily on the ferry.

Gee, Grandpa Maggs was about 10 years old when this was taken.

Some good examples of wagons used in the days of the early settlers as well as for the dude ranch visitors.

As beautiful as this area is, the ranchers had a hard time making a living. The summers were very short and the soil, though rich, was very porous, making farming very difficult.  Thus they began to work the tourist trade with dude ranches.  Some are still working today.

Early 19th century mountain men used these bullboats to float furs and cargo across the water.

From the Indians they learned to stretch the bison hides over a willow branch frame.

This cabin was built by Miss Maude Noble.

It was here on July 26, 1923, that a group of local citizens including Maude , presented a plan to the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, to create the Grand Tetons National park.

You can imagine the group sitting around the fireplace that day.  They certainly discussed all the positive things about this area and then the importance of preserving it all for future generations.

We need to appreciate the national parks.  Jan and I are always impressed by the care taken by our ancestors to preserve these areas.  Traveling through the Grand Tetons, we are amazed by the natural scenery.  In New England, the lakes and forests would be mostly surrounded by thousands of private homes with all kinds of motorboats and other possessions to detract from the natural scenery.

Here it is just the lake, the forest, and the shoreline.
All of the shoreline is open to all visitors.

Here and there in the park are rangers who will answer questions.  On our hike around Jenny Lake, there was this display with a park ranger.

The skins were from two gray wolves.  Yes, one is almost black and the other was almost white. But, they are both gray wolves.

Again , double click on the picture to enlarge for a better look.

The ranger indicated that they would both have been about 140 pounds each.

In our campground at Gros Ventre, there were sightings of two different adult moose and their young.  But somehow, we kept missing them.

However, we would often catch this herd of buffalo or bison, as the American Buffalo is called.

Big animals, they were currently shedding their winter coats.  Also evident were the young calves.

You could see the herd on this huge meadow in the morning and then there would be no sign of them come evening.   You best keep your eyes open, because they would cross the road at any time or just stand in the road.

We also would see fewer pronghorn across the meadows.

They were hard to photograph. They were in places we couldn't stop. And once they moved, they were extremely fast.

We loved the Grand Tetons.  This picture is from the highway right where Ansel Adams took a famous black and white picture in 1942.  The Snake River winds its way in the foreground.

We plan to return.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grand Tetons

We leave Bear Lake in Utah and head up the eastern shore. Rejoining Route 89 it's a scenic drive all the way to Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons.

This is mountain country, river country(the Snake River), and horseback riding country.

Almost any outdoor activity is featured here.

Jackson is home to some serious mountain and rock climbing schools.

We are in bear, deer, moose, and bison country.

This moose picture was taken from inside our motorhome at Preston Campground NFS

There are 2 families of moose that are making daily appearances here in Gros Ventre campground in Grand Tetons NP.

There are some pretty, but small towns on the scenic route.  Some boast populations of about 100 persons.

This is at the Salt River Pass.

Some beautiful views in all directions

The Oregon Trail was followed by thousands in the 1800's .  This sign mentions a cut-off that was used by tens of thousands between 1857 and 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed.

We remember a software program called Oregon Trail developed in 1971 but became popular in 1981 for Apple II computers.  Developed by a history student teacher to teach students about the push west.

One of the small towns is Afton, Wyoming.

You can see that they are quite proud of this largest elkhorn arch.

There is also a taxidermist in town that has quite a collection of elkhorns

Passing over several sections of the Snake River, we can see a number of rafters enjoying the river--running at a pretty good clip.

Each raft seems to have 8 persons plus a guide in the back.

Sean remembered taking some students on this river, he thought also in Wyoming.

Even Jackson Hole, Wyoming likes its elkhorn arch at the entrance to one of its parks.

That's a lot of elk!

Just north of Jackson we enter the Grand Teton National Park.

From Gros Ventre road, near our campground, is this view of the Tetons.

If you double click to enlarge the picture, you will also see part of the herd of bison that we see daily.

This is the view from our campsite in Gros Ventre Campground.

And this is the view from our bunk window at sunrise.

Please double click to get the full effect.

This has to be one of our favorite campsites!!