Sunday, June 26, 2011

Best Friends

Yesterday we drove from Jackson, Wyoming to Colorful Colorado.
Coming into the state on US287 is a very pretty drive.
This is the welcome sign.

Then arriving in Golden, Colorado.
(Home of Coors Brewing)

Today we visited with my good friend Frank and His Family.
Frank & I go back many years, and no better a friend could one ever hope for.
No matter how long we don't see each other, when we do - it's like we saw each other yesterday.

Today was crammed - starting with Breakfast at Apple Ridge Cafe - one of my old haunts.
Then off to red rocks, park and seeing dinosaur tracks at the geologic formation.

Lots of reminiscing, Kate loved hearing all the stories, and Frank has lots of pictures from the old days...
He even had one of me without a mustache!  I thought I was born with it.

Todays Self Portrait

Our Denver visit was way too short but we have a schedule to keep so tomorrow we head off to Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Till then.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Denver or bust

We hit the road at 0700 this morning and rolled into Golden Colorado around 5pm.
Leaving Jackson Wyoming it was 50 degrees.
Arriving it Golden it was 94.

Have not been back to Denver for about 27 years....
Man the place has changed.

After arriving I got the office up and running and have been busy working on Month-end financials and the company payroll, so there's not much time to blog tonight.

Hopefully more pictures and commentary tomorrow.

Tonight I'm whooped and headed for bed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Hills are Alive

Today started with my preparing a healthy & lo-cal breakfast of Corned Beef Hash & Eggs.

After a walk with the Doodles we hopped in the truck and headed for the hills.
I had scouted out some 4-wheel drive roads before we came out here, and had one road in particular that I wanted to try.  The Shadow Mountain Road takes you about 1,500' up Shadow Mountain and gives you a great view of the valley below and the Tetons beyond.

We found the road with no problems, and climbed up to the top.
We had the whole mountain to ourselves.

We let the Doodles out and they had a ball tearing thru the meadows at 8,100'
Kate did her Maria Von Trapp thing....

This was also the location for todays self portrait...
This time I used the timer.

After spending a couple of hours up in the peace & quiet we headed back down into the valley.

Crossing the valley to the mountains we came across a deserted village.
Turns out it is the remnant of an old Mormon Settlement from the 1800's
There were originally about 33 homes here.
They had dug irrigation canals and used the water from the Gros Ventre River
(which we are camped on)

I shot this one with my telephoto as we were starting across the valley.

The settlement was sheltered by nearby bluffs which would help to cut down on the brutal Wyoming winter winds.

A bathroom with a view!

Several more buildings just a few hundred yards down the creek.

After visiting several more buildings we then headed back on our journey across the valley towards the base of the mountains.
There is a great spot called Jenny Lake where the views are out of this world.
With over 500 photos taken today - I just don't have the energy to try and pick the best of the best.

This photo is taken across Jackson Lake

I think you get the idea...  The place is pretty scenic.

Tomorrow we pack up once more and head south.
It will be a 9+ hr drive to Golden, Colorado just outside of Denver.
This is sort of a homecoming for me, having lived in the area for many years.
While there, we will be visiting a good friend and I need some downtime with good (fast) internet to get some work done so we will likely stay Saturday and Sunday in the area before heading up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good by Yellowstone - Hello Grand Teton

Today we hit the road early and traveled 3hrs south from Yellowstone to Grand Teton.
Since we were camped in Gallatin National Forest just north of West Yellowstone, we had the pleasure of traveling one more time thru the park.

On the way we spotted this classic rig...
A 1956 Airstream Trailer being pulled by a 1956 (i think) Dodge Pickup.
It just can't get any cooler than that!

Seeing this rig just brought back a flood of memories of my own journeys as a child with my family, and our cross-country trips from NJ to the west coast and back, camping all the way.

We had a 1964 Pontiac Catalina, and a 1964 Nimrod Camping trailer.  Back then much of the interstates were not built and lots of time was spent plying the back roads of America.
We used to blow out the overloaded tires almost daily... Seriously.  We went thru them like candy!

I remember getting vapor locks (remember carburetors?) climbing the dirt roads over the passes, the car would overheat then stall, and I would be scared to death that we were never going to get out of there.

Maybe that's why I spend so much time preparing for a trip like this, putting newer heavier tires on a new camper,  planning stops, researching ahead of time where I can find diesel fuel etc etc.

But today, as I travel with my turbo charged computer controlled diesel engine, with hardly a care in the world, I think back fondly of those days long gone by and marvel at just how difficult it had to be for my father to pack up 3 screaming brats and set off on those roads of yesteryear.

Much of the places we visit are places we visited then.

Anyway - enough of memory lane.

After leaving that classic rig behind we headed East and South thru Yellowstone and crossed the Continental Divide not once...  but 3 times!

This was also the location for todays self portrait.

We then crossed into Grand Teton National Park and was stopped by another herd of.....
You said it....  Bison!
Looked like one had broken thru a fence and that got the whole herd on the move.

But we came to GTNP for the mountains, and were once again not dissapointed.

Below is how the mountains looked this morning.

This is a picture of Mt Grand Teton (13,770')

This is almost the same shot taken last September.
The seasonal changes are quite striking.

After getting settled into our camp at the Gros Ventre Campground in GTNP, I attended to some business and then we headed off to Jackson, Wy for lunch and shopping.

While Kate went shopping I got a couple of hours of business phone time in.  It was a very productive day.

Once Kate was all shopped out, we had one last goal for the day...

Our dear friends and ex-neighbors Bill & Jean spent their Honeymoon skiing in Jackson Hole way back in 1967.  At that time, Jackson Hole was a tram and a couple of small hotels waiting for the crowds to come.  (remember - if you build it they will come?)

We wanted to find that hotel if it was still standing, and take some pictures and send them to Bill & Jean.
(I have to give Kate credit for the idea...  that's just who she is)
I had done some research on the web and had an idea what the place looked like - but did it still look the same??

When we started to ask people in town...  (it seems like everyone is younger than me all of a sudden)
they seem amazed that someone actually came here in 1967 to honeymoon and was still alive.

Come on people.   We are talking 1967    The year of the "Summer of Love"
Some notable albums:  Cream: Disraeli Gears,  Beetles: Sgt Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour, 
Jimi Hendrix:  Are you Experienced.  Just to name a few. 

We finally found an archeologist who could remember back to those ancient days and point us in the correct direction.  We got the pictures, they were sent to Bill & Jean and we are happy to say Mission Accomplished.

So...  That was an extremely long way of saying:  Here is a picture of Teton Village & The Jackson Hole Tram.

Till next time...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Top of the Food Chain

Our trip into the park today started just like every other day.
With a Bison Jam.
Our plan today was to head over to the Hayden Valley and do some Bear Huntin.
I told Kate if there was anyone who could find her a Bear it was me so the pressure was on.

The Hayden Valley is incredibly green this time of year due to the snow melt and the swollen Yellostone River.

The Hayden Valley  is one of my favorite places in the park.
I would just love to throw on a backpack and head off into that valley and get lost for a week or two.

Here is a similar view of the Hayden Valley taken last September
 (taken a mile or two north of the above photo)
Quite a different scene.

Slowly driving thru the valley I had my eyes peeled and sure enough I spotted a brown dot in a far meadow.  After debating with Kate (she said it was a bison - I said it definitely was a bear) we pulled over to take a closer look. 
As it ambled along, it's lumbering walk told me it definitely was a bear.

As it got closer - there was no doubt that not only was it a bear - but it was a Grizzly!

(Ursus horribilis)  With a latin name like that you know it's just got to be a bad ass.

I've shown Kate previously how in Yellowstone all you need to do is pull over and sure enough others will pull over to see what you are looking at.  It you stay long enough you might cause a traffic jam.

Today we hit the jackpot!  Within about 10 minutes of us pulling over we had a full-fledged traffic jam complete with the park rangers directing traffic and trying to stop the completely insane from getting too close to the bear.

Did you know a Grizzly can run about 35 mph.   That's faster than a quarter horse.

I pointed out a man who had closed to about 150' from the bear, but was about 200' from his car.
The problem being that he was now in a spot where if the bear charged him, the bear would reach him before he reached his car....  not a smart position to be in.

Now that I had acheived my objective for our visit, it was time to move on.

Our next stop was Yellowstone Lake.
It's so scenic this time of year with the snow on the high peaks.

Tomorrow it is time to pack up and head south to Grand Teton.

While it is always sad to leave YNP, the Tetons will be just gorgeous this time of year with the snow cover.  Hope to have some great photos for you from there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bison in the Backyard

Another late post.
Maybe I should just wait and do my post later because it seems no sooner than I get it done, then something happens in the neighborhood.

Last night it was a Moose.
Tonight it was Bison.
A whole herd of them....   many babies too!

40-50 of the big hairy monsters walked 20 feet away from our camper
and right thru the camp across the road from us.
Very Cool indeed.

What's on the agenda for tomorrow?
A flock of penguins?

Hello Summer

Ah summertime...  The best time of the year.
June 21 is my favorite day of that year.  It's the longest day of the year...
It's the start of Summer and all that it entails.
To me, the start of Summer is the renewal of hope.
A blank page just waiting to be written upon.
So many things to do, so many places to go, so many stories to be written.
And the whole summer to write them.
Today it stretches before us...  just beginning...  just waiting.
Happy Summer to all of you.
May your stories be as great as I hope mine are.

My Summer started as my Spring ended....
In a Bison Jam.
A bison on the road....  How Rare!
Notice how it's winter coat is falling off.

Today was the start of summer and to celebrate, the National Park Service opens up the National Parks free to the public.  The normal entry fee is $25.00.
We have our $80.00 annual pass so we've already made that back 10 times over.

Anyway - the park was very busy with all the people taking advantage of the free day.

Where do they come from??  Yellowstone is not exactly close to anywhere.

Our first stop for the day was Old Faithful again.  I checked the web and we knew when to show up.
Today the weather was more conducive to a halfway decent photo.

I bet I've seen it go off 30 or more times and I never get tired of it....

We then headed north then east across to the Canyon area of the park.

On the way we pass several geyser basins.
If you look closely at this picture you will notice that the steam has colors of red, blue, orange and ??
The picture only does it a little justice.

I've passes this basin countless times and this is the first time that I've noticed this.
I'm guessing that the colors of the water and soil are reflected in the steam.
Another Yellowstone surprise!

Crossing over to the East side we next visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  I haven't been to this side in many years and forgot how pretty it is.

The view of the Lower Falls from Artist Point is breathtaking.  Remember these falls are 308' tall or almost twice as high as Niagara Falls.

Artist Point was also the setting for todays self portrait.

Little did I know in the morning, but we both put on our new long sleeve Yellowstone T-shirts.
We had the same shirts on.... yuck.  I might as well been wearing the one that says "stupid"

After the Canyon, we headed back over the pass to the West side.
On the way we took another side road to Virginia Cascades... a one-way trip thru a canyon along a beautiful stream.

This is a picture of the mountains headed west over the pass.

We are camped near the base of those mountains.

Tomorrow we spend our last day in the park.

We will head back over to the east side and visit one of my favorite places in the park:
The Hayden Valley.  
The valley was named after a sailing bud of mine.  
It is one of the best wildlife viewing areas, very remote, and super beautiful.

In closing, I want to send out a special Thank You to Tom, Jackie, Bob, and Margie.
When we heard that there had been a bad storm at home and that our yard was a disaster, we were naturally concerned about just how bad the damage was.
Being so far away and helpless to do anything about it compounds the worry.

Thanks for checking things out and telling us all was ok and thank you for cleaning up the yard.
That was so kind and thoughtful of you.
It's great to know you have our backs.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who let the Moose out?.... Who let the Moose out?....

Another late post here.

After dinner we were just getting ready to take the Doodles for the evening walk.
As Kate was getting them leashed up - I went outside to clean up and "Bear Proof" the Camp.  
We are in Grizzly Country and keeping the camp clean and food free is essential.

I glanced into the bush...  I always look around just to make sure there's nothing out there that might want me for dinner...

And this guy was about 30 feet away chomping on the greenery.

His head stood about 10-12' off the ground.

He is growing his new antlers - by fall they will be a new full Bullwinkle Moose Rack.

I'm guessing that he is a youngster...  perhaps a couple years old.

It pays to keep your eyes open.

Another Yellowstone Day

It's hard to believe that we were here about 9 months ago....  just before the winter snows fell.  An now that they are clearing here we are again.

Today we concentrated on the Old Faithful Area of the park.  This time around we did some of the less traveled drives and hikes that we did not get last year on our "highlights" tour thru the park.

After a relaxing start to the day, some office work, and a late breakfast, we headed into the park.

It did not take long to hit our first "Bison Jam"
We got this  shot of one wading in the water.

We did a trip down Firehole Canyon road, then made it to Old Faithful just in time to see it blow its top.
Last year I forgot to turn the video camera on - this time I didn't.  
I'm not going to post any pix of it just yet since it was cloudy and the contrast of the steam against the clouds is not all that great.  Tomorrow we will try again and I expect better conditions.

After Old Faithful, we took a couple of the basin hikes, one leading up the mountain side with a great vantage point of the lodge below.

This is a shot of the lodge from across the geyser basin.

This is a stream we crossed on the way up the mountain.

This is another short hike we took in the afternoon just north of the Midway Geyser Basin.

Where does a bison walk?

Any damn place he wants to.

This is actually a common site in the park.

Todays self portrait.

The above was taken with my 35mm SLR.  I'm going to try and use it more for the self portraits.  Its a bunch heavier than Kates point and shoot but does take nicer pix.

Tomorrow:  Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden valley.

In search of Bear, Wolves, Elk, and wild Doodles.

For wild kingdom - Greg & Kate signing off for now.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bakers Hole

A quick update to my post earlier this morning.

We made the long long drive (48miles) down US 191 and are now at Bakers Hole NF Campground just north of West Yellowstone Montana.

What a nice campground it is!  We have a view of the mountains (partially obscured by clouds) are right along the Madison River which flows out of Yellowstone.  We have electric, a great view of the Satellites for TV and are only about 5 miles from the Entrance to Yellowstone.

A few quick pics of our new home.

Behind our campsite

We had reservations at a different campground as backup since this one was first come - first served.
Luckily we planned our arrival for a Sunday when people are departing, and our short drive allowed us a pick of the litter as far as sites go.

I've since cancelled our other reservations and here we'll stay for the next 4 nights.

Today we are going to take it easy, perhaps do a little sightseeing, and have a nice spaghetti dinner (Grandma Kerlins special recipe).

Along the Galatin

Yesterday we drove about 4hrs South from Missoula, Mt to our current camp along the banks of the Gallatin River.  It is a national forest campground and the spot is quite scenic.  
As I sit here and type, outside the window the snow (and rain) swollen Gallatin River rushes by on its journey to the sea.  It is somewhat mesmerizing just to sit and watch the water flow by as it breaks and dances over the unseen boulders below the surface.

Every so often some river rafters float by on their journey downstream.  It would be great to come back some time and do a river trip.

In front of the camper rises red stone cliffs.   Hence the name of the campground - "Red Cliff".  This campground is popular with rock climbers who come to take a shot at ascending the cliff face.

Meanwhile Kate is sitting on the couch teaching Lucy to scratch her back.   She is actually having pretty good luck with it.   It's quite a scene.

Back outside - unfortunately (after a very brief respite)  the rain has returned.  It is of the on and off intermittent variety however and we will deal with it.  The forecast is calling for some sun while we are at Yellowstone so we will keep our fingers crossed.

We are in a fairly narrow canyon and my internet connection is extremely slow here so I will not be able to upload any pictures this post.  I have a feeling that tonights should be better as we will just be a few miles outside of West Yellowstone, Mt.  A small town but still civilization...

See you there.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And the winner is....

OK...  So I was surprised that someone out there who had already been to Glacier didn't write to me screaming  "just where is that supposed Tram and Magical Town up on the hill??"

The short answer is that all of yesterdays pictures ("Rainy day in Glacier" Post) were taken a few years ago when we were in Switzerland.  (Go back and look at the town - you will see the Swiss Flag Flying) 

Honorable mention however goes to Bill, Rose, and Theressa who all said how it looked like Switzerland.

The lake is Lake Como on the Swiss Italian Border.  The rest was the Tram ride up from Steckelburg to Murren.

It might have been Glacier however.  The weather has been the same and the view was the same.  Lots of clouds, rain, and missing views.  Not that we are complaining however.  It still is beautiful, remote, and we found plenty to do.

First we drove the part of Going to the Sun Road (GTTSR) that was open.

It was open to Lake McDonald Lodge.

The lodge was built in 1913 by a private individual at a time when the great Railroads were building other lodges in the park.  It was part of a "if you build it they will come strategy"

The strategy worked and next year the lodge will celebrate its 100th birthday!

Inside the lodge - it displays the typical log, post construction found in so many of the Great National Park Lodges.

Kate finds another "Lodge Buddy"

Outside the lodge some of the "Big Red Busses" are ready for their summer run.

These particular busses are part of a group of 18 of the 1932 Fleet that the Ford Motor Company spent several years refurbishing and now provide daily tours over the GTTSR.  (when it is open)

We then headed into higher territory along the Camas Road - a dirt road that you can take all the way into Canada.  We had the road to ourselves for miles and miles.  It was a beautiful Drive.

Along the road

Parked along the road.

Yesterday (Friday) we drove South To Missoula, Mt where we spent the night in a private RV Park.

Today we drive 4hrs further south towards Yellowstone and will camp in a National Forest Campground along the Gallatin River near Big Sky Montana.  
Sunday we then drive another hour south to our next home for 4 days, and begin our assault on Yellowstone.