Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
I traveled through Yellowstone NP in the mid 60's on a weekend jaunt from Denver, Colorado; a very fast trip in a small 'bug eyed' Austin Healey Sprite.  I was lucky enough see it again on a motorcycle in the mid 70's.  Both trips were fast and the motorcycle trip was in snow, so when  Dorothy said she really wanted to see this park,  we decided to make this our turning point.  We basically drove westerly from Florida until we enjoyed the park, then we would head north to Canada.
The little sports car/top down, was a fabulous way to see the park.  So too was a motorcycle, breathing the different fragrances and sensing the temperature and moisture conditions-being so aware of your surroundings!  However, I add as an equal, traveling in a motor home.  The comforts we now enjoyed in our vehicle allowed us to relax.  We could now travel at any pace we wished as food, bathroom, sleeping accommodations were all present in our vehicle.  So relax we did and we took our time to view this amazing national treasure.
Leaving Cody Wyoming mid day, we continued west towards the Park as we knew there were a good number of government parks just off the road before entering Yellowstone.  We choose Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Corps. of Engineer  campgrounds whenever possible as these are usually the most natural.  Built up to a hundred years ago, they had options for the best sites and were done in a primitive manner, leaving 'nature' as their focal point, not some man made accommodation like putt putt golf, swimming pools,  snack store, etc.  Also, since they were paid for so long ago, they are paid for and cost little to maintain.  Volunteers often are caretakers during seasons they are open.  This keeps the cost to visit or stay overnight at one of these park campgrounds very reasonable.  We checked out a couple of these campgrounds leading west into the NP and the third one we chose looked ideal.

 We were parked alongside a large stream with gentle rapids.  The setting sun illuminated a rugged ridge across the valley  in a pallet of color.  Not yet in Yellowstone, but life was good.

Dorothy noticed quickly the wild yellow roses growing all around our campsite so took many photos of them as well as other flowers we were not familiar with.   This purple one starts out as the one in the lower right and then open up in a big way to become the large purple ball in full bloom.

One of the first things you will encounter in the park are buffalo.  There are many. 

Streams and rivers abound and of course that means rapids and water falls.  We stopped often, camera in hand to capture the scene and to just relax and enjoy what we were apart of.

  Since we live in Florida, powerful streams and waterfalls are unfamiliar sites and we spent quite a bit of time in silence absorbing the experience.

Stopping often at the offered 'pull off's' we found several wonderful thermal areas with pools of clear water, most quite hot, and some showing signs of chemical and biological action coloring the water with beauty and possible danger.

Yellowstone NP made geysers famous.  Old Faithful is probably the most know.  It seems to erupt about every hour to hour and a half, continuously.
 Other geysers in the park do not keep such a precise schedule.  They may vary their schedule by hours and spout only once or twice a day.  We were lucky enough to get to Old Faithful at a fortunate time for us.  Another 'bigger' geyser was going to erupt a half mile away across a field, in 15 minutes; so we walked there first.
Then a ranger told us another one half way in between, a 'rare one', was going to erupt in only a few minutes if we could get there.  Off we went, with a crowd in front and behind.  We got there and positioned ourselves on a boardwalk prepared for viewing this field of geysers.
Well, might I add, the wind was up and our position too close.  When it spouted, it threw up a huge volume of water  a hundred feet or more, then the wind brought it down on us. The stunned crowd stood in panic.  No one moved and we were getting soaked.  I hollered "MOVE!" several times and then the thought caught on and the mass of viewers began to escape the shower.  Too late actually.  We were all soaked to the bone in COLD water.  No, geysers do not all contain nice warm showers.

Beyond a mountain near Old Faithful we could see a large thunderstorm heading our way.  In the opposite direction we saw the smoke from a forest fire that had just started.  Things were getting interesting.

 Well, true to form, we got soaked by the rain before we could get back to the motor home and so did a thousand others.  I stopped to help an old guy in a wheel chair struggling a bit. He laughed and said he was fine and was actually enjoying the rain!  Lesson learned!  Enjoy life!
We dried off inside the motor home and donned dry clothes before heading off.  As we drove south, we noticed the fire increase in size and a few days later, returning to the park from Jackson Hole we came across the damage done.  The fire seemed to start at a picnic area on the north side of a large lake.
A marina on the lake made for a good stop.  None of the boats were particularly large but some were classic.
 A few from the 50's or early 60's stood out.  Real beauties, this one a TOLLYCRAFT.

Note too, the next fire off behind the mountain.... sigh.

All in all, it was an exhausting day.......................

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mt. Ranier, Washington

Having marked our map in a squiggly line, traveling south to north in Washington; we decided to go to Mt. Ranier after Mt. St. Helen's.

The drive in was white knuckled some times as the roads going in were tight.  No railings to save us from our mistakes and huge drop offs if we screwed up.  We were blessed tho to have clear skies and low humidity and clear blue skies.  The day before and the day after/actually just hours after our visit, the mountain was wrapped tightly in it's own cloud and not seen for days, even up close and personal, from it's visitor's parking lot.

Dorothy got to 'enjoy....' this portion of the drive and narrated to me, as I would not take my eyes off the road.  Below: a bed of rocks, some the size of an automobile, washed down from the Glacier (I'll add a shot later that shows it the next morning in the 'mountains weather'.  The mountain actually creates it's own weather and it often wraps itself in fog or snow.)

Once there, we were lucky enough to get a campsite within their park, late in the day and yet only a hundred yards from their shuttle bus that takes you around the park and up to the best views and the lodge. We have often been just plain lucky!  IT help tho to travel after prime know/kids 'in' school?

In 15 minutes we were at the bus stop and on our way up to see the top of the mountain.

The view was fabulous.

It was possible to walk all the way to the glacier on it as well as hike up to the top I guess...  They did have guides working there.  However, we walked a half hour or so UP, then enjoyed the view.  90% of tourists viewed from below at the parking lot/lodge.

The bluish ice is the actual Glacier...the white is snow.

SPIRITS of IRON, by Dan Klennert

STEEL ART.  The sign came up fast as we drove down a highway, but we looked quickly and decided to turn around.  Pulling up to the driveway, our eyes opened wider.....THIS, was a "Find"!

We had just stumbled upon a wonderland of sculptures awaiting public view.

The Artist (and I must capitalize this) is Dan Klennert, of Elbe, Washington, 360-569-2280.                               This gents work is amazing.

The gate was open, allowing for public viewing, but he was not present on the property this day.  A well kept field of his work lay before us and later we found there was more in his acre or two of additional work behind his premises/workshop.

From elk and moose, to biker;

 tractor to guitarist, Christ to urinals etc. etc. etc. his art pieces never ceased to make us study them and smile with appreciation for his work.

Everywhere in view an artistic approach to life was evident.  Classy, thoughtful, playful.

Not just an old truck, but viewed as a 'glimpse of its life'

Hope you enjoy......and thanks Dan, Hope you are well and happy.  Your work is a blessing.
Dan's Website for more of this artists work!