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Yellowstone, Part II

Yellowstone, Part II

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Gallery, Montana, National Parks, Wyoming | 10 comments

That last Yellowstone post was too long. So I’m making this one brief. The subtitle is “Jams: Various Varieties.”

Day 5: Woke up to a couple of inches of snow. Tried to drive to the Canyon area, but halfway there, got stuck in a huge traffic jam; walked a half-mile to find a truck and trailer jack-knifed across the road (their pride was the only thing hurt).

No hope of getting through for hours, so we drove back to Lamar Valley, where we encountered a bear jam of people stopping to watch a two-year old grizzly napping on a tree.

Then stuck in a bison jam, one of many. They do exactly as they please, when they please. It’s fun to hear them trotting alongside the truck, kind of like being in a Western movie.

Day 6: Cold and icy, so we stayed close to home and drove just inside the park for a nearby hike on the Lava Creek Trail (open territory, no bears). Antelope jam on the way home. Rutting season is in full swing, and they were oblivious to us as they leapt and chased each other in a field about 25 feet away. Nearby, a bull elk tried to close down the road leaving the park, claiming the territory as his own.

Day 7: Moved to West Yellowstone for several more days of exploration. Got trapped in a huge traffic jam; this was the same road we were stuck on trying to drive to Canyon a couple of days previous. This time, no possibility of turning around because we were towing the trailer.

Turned out to be a grizzly jam, created by an enormous grizzly just off the side of the road. It was the exact spot where we had stopped two days prior to walk around a little hot pool area. Which is exactly why you’re warned to always carry bear spray.

Day 8: Freezing cold, sleeting, raining, crazy winds. We went out anyway to explore the iconic Old Faithful Area and the Fountain Paint Pots along the way. No jams of any kind; the weather was too awful for much of anything or anyone to be out. Lots of geyser activity, and Old Faithful still doing its thing, every 90 minutes, after all these years. Old Faithful was kind of a snore (being predictable and on time is overrated) but witnessing the explosions of other geysers along the 4 miles of boardwalks was exciting.

Day 9: Woke up to find out that our government shut down the park. Time to move on.

Yellowstone Part II

Attempting To Drive To Canyon Area

Oops!

In No Hurry

Road From Mammoth To West Yellowstone

Lamar Valley With Snow

Bison Jam

Young Grizzly

Rolling In The Mud

Crazed

Crossing The Gardiner River

On The Lava Creek Trail

Staking His Claim Near The North Entrance

Pronghorn

Pronghorn Does

Relentless Pursuit

Town Of West Yellowstone

Grizzly Bear Jam

Big Grizzly

Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms

On The Boardwalk

That Glove Is A Gonner

Umbrellas In The Steam

Geysers Spouting

Heart Spring

Opal Pool

Punch Bowl Spring

Morning Glory Pool

Riverside Geyser Erupting

Riverside Geyser Audience

Soaking Wet, Freezing Cold

Yellowstone Part II
Attempting To Drive To Canyon Area
Oops!
In No Hurry
Road From Mammoth To West Yellowstone
Lamar Valley With Snow
Bison Jam
Young Grizzly
Rolling In The Mud
Crazed
Crossing The Gardiner River
On The Lava Creek Trail
Staking His Claim Near The North Entrance
Pronghorn
Pronghorn Does
Relentless Pursuit
Town Of West Yellowstone
Grizzly Bear Jam
Big Grizzly
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms
On The Boardwalk
That Glove Is A Gonner
Umbrellas In The Steam
Geysers Spouting
Heart Spring
Opal Pool
Punch Bowl Spring
Morning Glory Pool
Riverside Geyser Erupting
Riverside Geyser Audience
Soaking Wet, Freezing Cold
Yellowstone Part II  thumbnail
Attempting To Drive To Canyon Area thumbnail
Oops!  thumbnail
In No Hurry  thumbnail
Road From Mammoth To West Yellowstone  thumbnail
Lamar Valley With Snow thumbnail
Bison Jam thumbnail
Young Grizzly  thumbnail
Rolling In The Mud  thumbnail
Crazed  thumbnail
Crossing The Gardiner River  thumbnail
On The Lava Creek Trail  thumbnail
Staking His Claim Near The North Entrance  thumbnail
Pronghorn  thumbnail
Pronghorn Does  thumbnail
Relentless Pursuit  thumbnail
Town Of West Yellowstone  thumbnail
Grizzly Bear Jam  thumbnail
Big Grizzly  thumbnail
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms  thumbnail
On The Boardwalk  thumbnail
That Glove Is A Gonner  thumbnail
Umbrellas In The Steam  thumbnail
Geysers Spouting  thumbnail
Heart Spring  thumbnail
Opal Pool  thumbnail
Punch Bowl Spring  thumbnail
Morning Glory Pool thumbnail
Riverside Geyser Erupting  thumbnail
Riverside Geyser Audience  thumbnail
Soaking Wet, Freezing Cold  thumbnail

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Yellowstone, Part I

Yellowstone, Part I

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, Montana, National Parks, Travel |

We arrived in Yellowstone National Park with the intention of spending about three days. Eight days later, we weren’t quite ready to leave. However, the government sent us on our way when they shut the gates to the park on October 1st. According to the stone arch that we drove through every day to enter the park, Yellowstone was created “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” But we won’t dwell on the insane shenanigans of our government officials here. Instead, we’re going to focus on how absolutely spectacular Yellowstone is, and we’re going to do our best to share our experience with you.

Which is impossible. I just want to say at the outset that trying to capture Yellowstone in photographs is challenging, to say the least. There’s just so much that doesn’t fit into the photo frame. Nothing quite prepares one for the vastness that is Yellowstone. And the diversity of landscape. And the wildlife. And the crazy weather. We learned that we definitely could not trust the weather forecasts for Yellowstone. They are always wrong. It’s not their fault. Yellowstone is just not to be tamed.

We experienced rain, sun, snow, sleet, hail, and torrential winds, sometimes all in one day. But we decided to not let any of it stop us.

The main park road is laid out somewhat like a figure eight, with a main entrance at the north (near the town of Gardiner, Montana) and another main entrance at the west (near the town of West Yellowstone, Montana). We started our adventure at the north entrance, choosing to stay in an RV park in Gardiner because a snowstorm was forecast, and we didn’t want to be stuck in a park campground with no electricity or water. It was a good decision. The nearest campground in the park (Mammoth) was crowded and sandwiched between two busy roads. In contrast, our RV park campsite was right on the river, peaceful, and convenient. We ended up staying six nights, extending our stay every afternoon when we returned from exploring and realized that we weren’t done yet.

After setting up camp, we took off for our first exploration of Yellowstone. The helpful volunteers at the Yellowstone Information Center in Gardiner advised us to drive the Lamar Valley before the impending snowstorm. The Lamar Valley is known for wildlife sightings: We put bison, elk, pronghorn, grizzly bears, and wolves on our wish list. Heeding the advice of the rangers, we also bought an enormous canister of bear spray. And we were tutored in exactly how to use it: If a bear makes a threatening move, aim the spray toward the ground and give the bear a warning blast (make sure you’re not downwind of the spray). If the bear keeps coming, unleash the remainder of the pepper spray into his face. Other instructions—don’t run, and don’t scream. Which is exactly the opposite of what every cell of your being is programmed to do.

Things have changed dramatically in Yellowstone since the last time I visited. It was 1961, I was 7 years old, and our family was on a cross-country road trip in our VW bug. My most vivid memory from that trip is of feeding the bears. We rolled up slices of bread in the windows of our VW, and the black bears would lumber up to the car and snatch the bread from the window. It was thrilling! The rangers at that time displayed a laissez-faire attitude toward the interaction of people and wildlife. But at some point in the ensuing decades, it became obvious that feeding the bears wasn’t such a great idea. I think it was when the bears figured out that they could just break into cars and tents and take whatever they wanted.

Since that time, grizzly bears have also made a comeback in Yellowstone. That, combined with stories of more aggressive black bear behavior, and the fact that fall is the time when bears are ravenously foraging for food before they go into hibernation, encouraged us to fork over $45 for the bear spray.

The entire time we were in Yellowstone, we didn’t leave the truck without Eric strapping on the big red canister of bear spray (the rangers cautioned us to wear the canister at all times on a belt or shoulder harness). We also talked and sang on every hike, because bears don’t like to be surprised. I like to converse while we’re hiking, admiring the beauty of the landscape, naming the plants, spotting birds and animals along the way. But it was exhausting even for me to keep up constant chatter. As for Eric, after a hike to Beaver Ponds just above the Mammoth area (where bears had been spotted and so we talked and sang the entire way), I told him he talked more on that hike than in 16 years of our previous hiking together. We decided then that we weren’t doing any more hiking in forested areas where we couldn’t see what was around us.

Here, the first half of our adventure in Yellowstone:

Day 1: Drove through golden Lamar Valley along the winding Lamar River with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. It was a gorgeous drive, and almost right away we saw bison. In fact, as we attempted a short hike to Wraith Falls, we were blocked by bison on the trail, and decided to turn around and give them the right-of-way. We also saw an enormous herd of elk in the little enclave of Mammoth Springs—one bull, and at least 15 females. He was busy the entire time we were at Yellowstone bugling and charging vehicles and people. There were several rangers on duty at all times trying to keep insane people from getting too close. When I mentioned to one ranger that it must be a pain trying to keep people from doing stupid things, he remarked, “If I had my way, I’d let people do what they want. If they want to be nominated for a Darwin Award, let ‘em at it!”

Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs is just a few miles inside the north entrance to Yellowstone. It’s a 300-foot brilliant white travertine mound, encircled in clouds of steam from the various pools that cascade down the sides. A couple of miles of boardwalks, connected by steep stairs, meander around the pools. We walked the boardwalks, enjoying the cascading springs and the views from high above of the lodge below.

Late in the afternoon, we hiked a half-mile trail in heavy fog to soak in natural hot pools, at the sweet spot where the Boiling River meets the ice-cold Gardiner River (just inside the park boundary). We lucked out in that most people were apparently deterred by the weather, and there was only one other couple at the pools. Wading about 50-feet over slippery rocks in the knee-deep, swirling, freezing river to reach the hot pools was challenging, but soaking in the pools, mist rising around us, was magical.

Day 3: Stormy and cold! In the afternoon it cleared enough for us to hike the Beaver Ponds trail, a 5-mile hike above Mammoth Hot Springs. This was the hike that convinced us we weren’t going to hike any more trails at Yellowstone that involved densely forested areas (and potential encounters with bears).

Day 4: We drove about 20 miles to Norris Geyser Basin, one of the most active geyser areas in the park. I browsed the little museum at the entrance to the boardwalk, and saw an image of the molten lava that bubbles beneath all of Yellowstone. It’s a bit unsettling to realize that Yellowstone is one of the largest super volcanoes in the world, and that at some point, it’s going to erupt again (the last time was about 650,000 years ago). But I was relieved to find out that officials have an evacuation plan just in case things heat up. (I’m sure that’s going to go smoothly.)

A better plan is to just not think about the fact that you’re walking above an active volcano. Norris Geyser Basin was our favorite of the geyser areas—dozens of varied hot pools, geysers, mud pots, and steam vents; all simultaneously bubbling, gurgling, popping, and whistling. Great clouds of sulfurous steam surrounded us as we walked the couple of miles of boardwalks. It was like strolling through a beautiful version of hell.

Yellowstone, Part I

Gateway To North Yellowstone

Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner

Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner

Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs

With His Harem In Mammoth Village

Lamar Valley Drive

The Wolf Watchers

Bison On The Trail

Enormous And Shaggy

More Wolf Watchers

Sunset Lamar Valley

Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk

The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs

On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs Village

Palette Spring

Canary Spring

Do Not Approach If Hungry

On The Trail To The Soaking Pools

First View Of The Soaking Pools

The Boiling River

To The Soaking Pools

Fleece Vest And A Towel

Packing Bear Spray

How Things Used To Be

Approaching Norris Geyser Basin

Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure

Norris Geyser Basin

On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin

Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin

Geyser Spouting

Porcelain Springs

Bubbling Hot Spring

Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere

Gorgeous Colloidal Pool

Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms

Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!

Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak

Yellowstone, Part I
Gateway To North Yellowstone
Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner
Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner
Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs
With His Harem In Mammoth Village
Lamar Valley Drive
The Wolf Watchers
Bison On The Trail
Enormous And Shaggy
More Wolf Watchers
Sunset Lamar Valley
Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk
The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs
On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs Village
Palette Spring
Canary Spring
Do Not Approach If Hungry
On The Trail To The Soaking Pools
First View Of The Soaking Pools
The Boiling River
To The Soaking Pools
Fleece Vest And A Towel
Packing Bear Spray
How Things Used To Be
Approaching Norris Geyser Basin
Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure
Norris Geyser Basin
On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin
Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin
Geyser Spouting
Porcelain Springs
Bubbling Hot Spring
Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere
Gorgeous Colloidal Pool
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms
Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!
Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak
Yellowstone, Part I  thumbnail
Gateway To North Yellowstone  thumbnail
Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner thumbnail
Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner thumbnail
Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
With His Harem In Mammoth Village thumbnail
Lamar Valley Drive  thumbnail
The Wolf Watchers  thumbnail
Bison On The Trail  thumbnail
Enormous And Shaggy thumbnail
More Wolf Watchers  thumbnail
Sunset Lamar Valley  thumbnail
Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk  thumbnail
The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
Mammoth Hot Springs Village  thumbnail
Palette Spring  thumbnail
Canary Spring  thumbnail
Do Not Approach If Hungry   thumbnail
On The Trail To The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
First View Of The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
The Boiling River  thumbnail
To The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
Fleece Vest And A Towel  thumbnail
Packing Bear Spray  thumbnail
How Things Used To Be thumbnail
Approaching Norris Geyser Basin thumbnail
Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure  thumbnail
Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
Geyser Spouting  thumbnail
Porcelain Springs  thumbnail
Bubbling Hot Spring  thumbnail
Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere  thumbnail
Gorgeous Colloidal Pool  thumbnail
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms  thumbnail
Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!  thumbnail
Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak  thumbnail

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Heading East, Into The West

Heading East, Into The West

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Art, Gallery, Idaho, Montana, Washington | 4 comments

We’ve been traveling pretty slowly the past month, finding our way again into the traveling groove. When we set out on this lengthy adventure, we initially thought, “Let’s go cross country, up to New England, into Nova Scotia, then down along the East coast, and then to Florida, and…” at that point, I think I had an anxiety attack.

When we were still in the midst of trying to pack up our home and get on the road, what sounded most appealing was to take a familiar route. Thus, we headed back to Lopez for the summer. It was a great decision. Being there was wonderful, as always, and allowed us to regain some sense of balance before heading off into unknown territory.

Our plan was always to head for Yellowstone after leaving Lopez. We weren’t exactly sure of the route we would take, but heading straight east seemed like the logical thing to do. It’s interesting how the further east you go, the more western the towns and landscape become (at least for a while). Our route took us from the farming communities of the Skagit Valley, over the Cascade Mountains, through the rolling plains of eastern Washington, along the Spokane River, through the panhandle of Idaho and into Montana. We spent just a day or two in each place, knowing that the weather was changing and that our window of opportunity for Yellowstone was narrowing.

A few highlights of our journey:

Edison, Washington: This tiny town—really, more of a wide spot in the road—offers a handful of unique cafes, art galleries, and honest-to-goodness curio shops. It’s not too far from Anacortes (the ferry port where we return to the mainland from Lopez), and we always try to time our travels so that we can enjoy breakfast at Tweet’s (a former filling station turned local foods cafe) and wander the streets for a bit.

Riverside State Park, WA: A pretty state park with camping on the banks of the Spokane River; we hiked along the river and listened to the calls of osprey coaxing their fledglings out of the nest.

Heyburn State Park, ID: A great place to bike the Coeur d’Alene trail, a repurposed rails-to-trails 75-mile trail that runs from Plummer, Idaho to Mullen, Montana. We stayed two days and didn’t even unhitch the truck—we were able to pick up the bike trail from the park, which meanders along beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene and over the Chacolet Bridge to the tiny town of Plummer.

Wallace, ID: We discovered the pretty little mining town of Wallace en route to Missoula, Montana—it was lunchtime, and we had excellent tapas (tapas! in a dinky mining town!) at the Fainting Goat, a family enterprise launched just a few months ago in the old bank building (the vault is now the wine cellar). The food was excellent and the atmosphere stellar.

Bozeman, MT: We camped at a KOA just outside of town, thinking it would be perfect because it’s located right next door to Bozeman Hot Springs. We happily walked over to the hot springs on Friday night anticipating a relaxed soak. Instead, we encountered hundreds of people stuffed into the pools—barely room for two more bodies—and a noise level equivalent to a raucous basketball game in an indoor stadium.

We did enjoy exploring Bozeman, however. It’s an attractive town with a definite Western vibe—bison (bronzes, neon, and taxidermied), cowboys, and mills turned galleries. The highlight of our time there was a visit with our friend Kimberly in her beautiful studio/home.

Next stop, Yellowstone!

Heading East, Into The West

Tweets In Edison

Inside Tweets

Edison Bakery

Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies

Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery

Curio Shop In Edison

Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery

Lincoln Rock State Park, WA

Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park

Riverside State Park, WA

Hike Along The Spokane River

Spokane River Hike

Rock Wren On The Trail

Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID

Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset

Overlooking The Marsh

Cattails In The Marsh

Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail

Chatcolet Bridge

Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene

Downtown Wallace, ID

Old Mining Town

The Fainting Goat, Wallace

Inside The Fainting Goat

Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders

Beavertail Hill State Park, MT

Downtown Bozeman

Checking Out Downtown Bozeman

On The Street In Bozeman

Hotel Lobby Bozeman

Neon Bison

Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery

Bozeman Food Co-Op

Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop

Bozeman Gallery

Bozeman Brewery

With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home

Heading East, Into The West
Tweets In Edison
Inside Tweets
Edison Bakery
Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies
Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery
Curio Shop In Edison
Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery
Lincoln Rock State Park, WA
Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park
Riverside State Park, WA
Hike Along The Spokane River
Spokane River Hike
Rock Wren On The Trail
Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID
Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset
Overlooking The Marsh
Cattails In The Marsh
Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail
Chatcolet Bridge
Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene
Downtown Wallace, ID
Old Mining Town
The Fainting Goat, Wallace
Inside The Fainting Goat
Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders
Beavertail Hill State Park, MT
Downtown Bozeman
Checking Out Downtown Bozeman
On The Street In Bozeman
Hotel Lobby Bozeman
Neon Bison
Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery
Bozeman Food Co-Op
Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop
Bozeman Gallery
Bozeman Brewery
With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home
Heading East, Into The West  thumbnail
Tweets In Edison  thumbnail
Inside Tweets  thumbnail
Edison Bakery  thumbnail
Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies  thumbnail
Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery  thumbnail
Curio Shop In Edison  thumbnail
Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery  thumbnail
Lincoln Rock State Park, WA  thumbnail
Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park  thumbnail
Riverside State Park, WA  thumbnail
Hike Along The Spokane River  thumbnail
Spokane River Hike thumbnail
Rock Wren On The Trail thumbnail
Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID  thumbnail
Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset  thumbnail
Overlooking The Marsh  thumbnail
Cattails In The Marsh  thumbnail
Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail  thumbnail
Chatcolet Bridge thumbnail
Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene  thumbnail
Downtown Wallace, ID thumbnail
Old Mining Town  thumbnail
The Fainting Goat, Wallace  thumbnail
Inside The Fainting Goat  thumbnail
Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders  thumbnail
Beavertail Hill State Park, MT  thumbnail
Downtown Bozeman  thumbnail
Checking Out Downtown Bozeman  thumbnail
On The Street In Bozeman  thumbnail
Hotel Lobby Bozeman  thumbnail
Neon Bison thumbnail
Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery  thumbnail
Bozeman Food Co-Op thumbnail
Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop  thumbnail
Bozeman Gallery  thumbnail
Bozeman Brewery  thumbnail
With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home  thumbnail

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