Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

from the top

It was a steep and winding path down to the top of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. It was well worth the walk - even though the return walk was in the rain.

I was amazed at the thundering water and the canyon below.

from the top of the Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a lone tree

...standing on the edge of Yellowstone Lake

tree on the edge of Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Monday, August 27, 2012

bellflowers

These small flowers stood close to the edge of Yellowstone Lake, forcing me to crouch low to the ground to capture the beautiful color and shape.

bellflowers, Yellowstone National Park

morning light

...at Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, August 26, 2012

turquoise

The Black Pool, in the West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Black Pool, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

line of color

A line of color flowing with geyser-powered water, surrounded by steam.

a line of color in the steam, Midway Geyser Basin

Saturday, August 25, 2012

a sea of color

From yesterday afternoon's drive through the National Elk Refuge, wildflowers in purple and yellow.

a sea of purple and yellow at the National Elk Refuge, Jackson, Wyoming

Rover's airport thoughts

We landed early so we have a comfortable hour and a half here at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Wow! I could feel the heat outside when we walked from the plane onto the jet bridge. I think it will be warmer at home than it has been in Wyoming - but hopefully it will be cooler than in Texas.

Our plane landed at the far end of concourse C and our next flight leaves at about the mid-point of concourse A. There is "sky train" service here but you know Denise - we walked! She said she needed to stretch her legs, and I was happy to bounce along.

Denise got a bowl of bean soup and some bread for lunch. That was probably as healthy as possible in the airport. Then we passed by a candy shop that sold candy by the pound so I talked her into picking up a treat for later. I picked out raisins and almonds coated with dark chocolate. I know, I know, most dogs can't eat chocolate. I have a special chocolate gene and it's OK for me. Yum!

Oh! We're going to be boarding our plane soon. I'd better shut down the computer for now.

--- Rover

heading home

It's hard to believe that I'm on my way home. I had seven days on the ground in Wyoming, enough to make me very tired, but as expected not enough to satisfy my need to wander in two beautiful parks. I knew before I headed to Wyoming that this would not be a one-time visit. I'll just need to figure out when to sandwich a return trip in with my other dream destinations.

The Jackson Hole airport is small, not too bad but a bit crowded with multiple flights leaving in close proximity to one another. I had a conversation with a woman who lives in Jackson, and she told me that the airport was expanded fairly recently. The expansion plans had to be OKed by the National Park Service; there was some concern about disrupting animal habitat (more than it was already). One of the options that was discussed at the time of the expansion was to move the airport 70 miles to the south. That would have moved it outside of the national park.

We're just under an hour from Dallas right now. I can't remember my connection time there - I think it was about an hour and a half, and we're due in about 20 minutes early. That should give me some time for a reasonable walk in the airport, time to shake out my legs and get ready to sit again.

I wish I had another day in Wyoming, but I know it will be good to have a day at home before I head back to work. It will be a day to play in my home territory, biking, walking, whatever strikes my fancy. It will be a day for laundry and grocery shopping. It will be a day to start sorting through my photos. That always takes longer than I expect!

This trip gave me good memories, good conversations with strangers, photos (I hope!), a good change from my everyday life.

Once I catch up with my after-trip activities it will be time to start dreaming of my next trip, just a short month away. Oops! that's only part of a month...

Friday, August 24, 2012

listen to the wind

Oh! we could hear the wind in the trees all day long. Denise said the wind helped by keeping her cool. Sometimes it felt like we were walking in a windstorm.

Our early morning target was Oxbow Bend. It would be a quick drive on a big highway, but it's a bit slower here. The speed limit on the road we were traveling was mainly 55 miles per hour, 45 mph at night. It was morning when we were traveling, but it was dark when we started so Denise thought the night speed limit was appropriate. We stopped once to try to convince some horses to pose. We drove by two bison resting by a fence on the side of the road. I wanted to stop but Denise thought they were too close to the road. I guess mind photos will need to do.

Then we arrived at Oxbow Bend, a place where the Snake River draws curves across the ground. There were a bunch of people standing partway down the hill looking at something. Oh! there were two moose munching on the plants on the bottom of the river. That was so cool!

It was hard to get good moose photos because they were ducking between trees at the edge of the water. She took some photos anyway, then she walked around to absorb the landscape, beautiful. The moose were still there when we returned so she tried again. I hope that we have one or two reasonable moose pictures.

Next we followed a dirt road to a place called Cattleman's Bridge. There used to be a plank bridge across the river there. It's been gone for a long time so we had to imagine the bridge.

Next stop, Jackson Lake Dam... Denise thought it was still early enough to see reflections of the mountains in Jackson Lake. It's a good thing we saw that earlier in the week because the wind was kicking up waves on the big lake. No reflection today!

Before heading out hiking we stopped at the Jackson Lake Lodge to grab some coffee and a muffin. We sat for just a bit, then headed to Jenny Lake to hike to Hidden Falls. I was really glad that we took the boat across the lake instead of walking both ways. A quick boat ride, a walk up and up to find the falls, and then we walked around (part of) the lake to return to our car.

We ended our wanders today earlier than yesterday; I think Denise is tired! Before we stopped we zipped back into the National Elk Refuge for a bit, came back to our home away from home, then walked to the side of the refuge that's close to our B&B. It was fun watching the ducks with their butts up in the air. I wonder what tempting treats they were finding under the water.

--- Rover

Thursday, August 23, 2012

a long (good) day

Today started before sunrise and ended after the sun dropped behind the mountains. Busy, long, good...

It was still dark when I left the B&B this morning heading for the Moulton barn on Mormon Row. If you've seen photos of a barn in Grand Teton National Park it's probably one of the two Moulton barns. That's one of the places that it's best to see in early morning light. The mountains were a little smoke-obstructed; I guess I'll have to come back when there aren't forest fires in Idaho.

Looking back on it, my early morning was a bit crazy. I started at the barn that sat a little bit past the right turn I took onto Mormon Row. When I finished up there I headed to Schwabacher Landing to see morning reflections of the mountains in the Snake River. And then, I headed back to Mormon Row to play in another set of buildings reached by turning left instead of right. I know, I know, it would have made more sense to visit both barns at once. Sometimes sense doesn't work!

I don't know where the time went. By the time I finished my early morning stops it was 9 AM. I had a banana and an energy bar before I left the B&B - not enough for a full morning of activity. Before heading to the trailhead for my hike I stopped for coffee and more food. Fruit and another energy bar got my energy levels back on track. Phew!

I thought about hiking the Phelps Lake trail. When I first looked at the trail the Moose-Wilson Road was closed between park headquarters and the trail. The closure was because a group of bears was feasting on berries by the side of the road. Rather than have a confrontation between bears and people the park service closed the road. The road was reopened yesterday afternoon. I checked in with a ranger this morning and was told that while the road was opened there are still bears in the vicinity, including near Phelps lake. I asked her about some other trails that I was thinking of and she told me those are clear (as far as she knew). The trails are more heavily traveled by people too making it a little less likely to have a bear encounter. Still possible, but...

I hiked a loop to Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake, adding an out-and-back section along the shore of Bradley Lake. This was relatively short as trails go in this park - but really not short since it was 7 miles in total. It's funny, there were other people on the trail when I started, but there was a long stretch between the two lakes where I didn't see another person for a while. Then I thought I heard something and my imagination ran wild. Ah, good - it was another person that I heard, not an animal.

I stopped for a good half hour on the side of Bradley Lake, sharing stories and conversation with two women from Utah. They confirmed that when I return it is very reasonable to drive to Jackson from Salt Lake City. There are a number of routes, all beautiful, and all about a 5-hour drive. (I know, it's a bit early to start planning a return visit, but you know me, don't you?)

A good hike ended with another snack, more food...

Mid-afternoon, I was tired but not quite ready to stop. I decided to drive the road in the National Elk Refuge. The elk (and other animals) winter there; they are wandering in Grand Teton National Park right now. People are allowed to drive the single road through the refuge but are not allowed to set foot off of the road. The land there belongs to the animals. I'm used to that from my visits to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge so it wasn't a surprise here. I'm glad I drove through - it's a beautiful place. Oops! I keep saying that, don't I?

I had an early dinner then headed back into the park.

There was a bison gathering next to the road about a mile south of the airport. The big animals were on the bike path and the fields next to the path. I guess I wasn't surprised to see people stopping their cars and getting out that close to the big animals. I just don't understand why anyone would stand next to a wild animal that is very large and has the ability to run very fast. Yes, I would have loved some photos but I didn't stop.

As I headed down the road towards Jenny Lake the sun dropped behind the mountains. It was just after 7, with the sunset called for 8:13. That's quite a difference the mountains make! I walked a bit on the shore of Jenny Lake, enjoying the (very) late day light on a quiet lake.

I'll sleep tonight dreaming of my last day at Grand Teton.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

(first) Grand Teton day

Hey... it's my turn to write!

We started our day later than usual today - Denise decided to sleep in a bit and enjoy breakfast and conversation at our B&B. I told her that was a good idea; she really needed some extra sleep.

Breakfast started with what our hosts called a smoothie. I always though a smoothie was a drink, and this wasn't. It was a blended concoction in what looked like an ice cream dish. It had a little bit of ice cream as a base, milk, protein powder, bananas, and lots of berries, topped with some granola. Oh! that was really good.

Even though Denise likes B&B breakfasts she's going to skip breakfast tomorrow (and probably the next day too). Why? The early morning light is the best light here, best before 9 or 10. That means that Denise's camera is telling her to be outside and in place in one of the interesting photo locations by around sunrise.

Denise just told me that she thinks some of you might be interested in where we're staying. She meant to tell you yesterday but it flew out of her mind before she wrote the words. We're at the Grand Victorian Lodge in Jackson. I like our room, and we've already had some good visits with Nancy & Brad (our hosts).

We started our day with a bit of driving, stopping, capturing images, driving, stopping, capturing images... We drove the road closer to the mountains. I'm sure must have a name, I just can't find it on the map. The road further away is Route 89. That road goes by the airport, and continues to the northeast before looping around to join the road that we took. I was going to say that route 89 wasn't in the park, but it is. It's funny - the map makes it look like the Jackson Hole Airport is inside of the national park. Oh! I just checked the airport's web site and it is inside of the park. That's interesting, isn't it?

It's easier to see the mountains in the morning. I think it's because of the direction of the sunlight; they seem to get hazy-looking later in the day. The mountains are so tall, rising suddenly from flat land. It's almost as if they just pop up, high and jagged. According to the Grand Teton National Park statistics page, the highest of the mountain is 13,770 feet high, and the Jackson Hole mountain valley has an average elevation of 6800 feet. Oh! The mountains really do just pop up.

Teton Range
An active fault-block mountain range, 40 miles long (65 km), 7-9 miles wide (11-14.5 km). Highest peak: Grand Teton, elevation 13,770 feet (4,198 m). Eight peaks over 12,000 ft (3,658 m) in elevation.

Jackson Hole
Mountain valley, 55 miles long (89 km), 13 miles wide (21 km), average elevation 6,800 feet (2,073 m). Lowest elevation: Fish Creek at south boundary, 6,320 feet (1,926 m). The lowest elevation in Jackson Hole outside the park boundaries is 5,975 feet (1,821 m) near Hoback Junction.
Courtesy of the Grand Teton National Park statistics page

We stopped lots of places between the Moose entrance to the park and the Jackson Lake Dam. We stopped at the dam, walked across it, then sat for a while, spending time enjoying the view of the mountains and the lake.

Next we drove up a narrow dirt road that curved from side to side and climbed a bit too before it ended at Two Ocean Lake. Denise found the drive frustrating; there were tempting views in places with no place to pull off of the road. She doesn't think stopping and blocking one lane of a two-lane road is very smart so we didn't stop. It was a pretty drive though - and it turned out that it helped us see two moose!

When we passed through Oxbox Bend we saw quite a few cars stopped at the edge of the road. Hmm... we pulled off the road too to see what everyone else was looking at. We stayed for a while too, watching two moose standing in the Snake River. I wonder what they were eating. One of the two moose walked a bit, the other had his head in the water almost the entire time we were watching. He would lift his head up (I guess to get a breath of air) then put it under water again. Oh! that was fun!

Hiking time... we turned at the North Jenny Lake Junction and headed to the parking lot next to a small lake named String Lake. We walked along the edge of the lake, then followed a trail just inland from the lake. There was a narrow band of trees between us and the water most of the time with occasional paths to the water. You probably guessed that we walked down those paths most of the time. We walked to the beginning of Leigh Lake, walked a bit more, then reversed direction. It was a good walk. We even caught some reflections of the mountains in the water.

It was another good day.

--- Rover

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yellowstone morning

In spite of being up and out early it was after noon before I headed to the south to today's destination of Jackson.

My first stop today was a bit backwards from a direction standpoint, north just a bit to visit the Midway Geyser Basin once more. I thought I'd see if the light was different this morning. Old Faithful's eruption this morning was quite visible; I'm not sure if that was true of the rest of the upper geyser basin. As I pulled out of the Old Faithful area and turned north the fog descended. My lights were on, my speed lower than the posted 45 miles per hour. Luckily my destination was just 5 miles away. If yesterday morning had been like today I'd bet my wander for the day would have been very different!

I was hoping for a glimpse of the color of the Grand Prismatic Spring. That didn't happen - fog covered the entire geyser basin. Occasionally I saw a glimpse of color. My favorite was the bright rusty line standing out from white on the slope down to the river. Even with the fog it stood out, beautiful.

Turning south, I passed Old Faithful. The road tilted up, crossing the continental divide three times between Old Faithful and West Thumb. Jackson wasn't calling to me yet, too early...

I visited the West Thumb Geyser Basin again. The two visits were at different times of day, one late, one early. It was worth a second visit, and it was early enough that there weren't tons of people walking the boardwalks. This geyser basin is on the edge of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Lakeshore Glacier is actually underwater in the spring and early summer. Today the outlet was visible (on the edge of the lake). It wasn't active when I was there though.

I continued north for a bit, following the edge of Yellowstone Lake then following the road through the woods for a bit. I stopped in Lake Village where a chipmunk agreed to pose for a photo. Oh, not really - when he figured out I was there he decided it was time to move on!

Lake Village was the northernmost point of today's wander. I headed south, stopping several times as narrow spits of land cutting the water caught my eye. Did you know that Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation in North America? From the Yellowstone National Park Lake area highlights page:

With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft. above sea level. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year. It freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.

I made one more stop in Yellowstone, at Lewis Falls. It wasn't the falls that pulled me in - my eye was drawn to the Lewis River winding its way through bright green grass decorated with patches of yellow.

Heading south, I passed through the southern entrance to Yellowstone, soon entering Grand Teton National Park. At first I was surprised there was no (park) entrance station, but then I realized it made perfect sense. The same entrance fee covers both parks, and there is no way to enter Grand Teton on Route 89 without coming from Yellowstone and paying a fee there. I don't need to worry about it anyway since I have an annual parks pass. I think I'm getting my money's worth this year! So far I've visited Joshua Tree, Acadia, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. I'm planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park next month, and I'll b returning to Acadia too. Oh, and maybe somewhere else later in the year!

I stopped a few times as I drove through Grand Teton heading for my home for the night, for lake views, and for a stare at the mountains. The peaks of the Teton Mountains are just amazing.

Tomorrow starts my Grand Teton wanders.

Monday, August 20, 2012

an evening walk, and...

Oh! I like this park! There are so many things to see (and so much to learn!).

There are a lot of people here so it's hard to wander alone during the day, but Denise has found good places for us to wander even then. Early in the morning and in the evening it's so much quieter though, a good special time for wandering.

I was afraid we wouldn't get to walk this evening. It was raining really hard when we walked over to the Snow Lodge to get something to eat in the place that has sandwiches. Afterwards we sat in the lobby so Denise could write and then get web access. We popped back to our room to put the computer away, and then, oh good! Denise grabbed a light jacket so we could go for a walk.

We headed into the geyser basin to see if any of the geysers were awake. The sky still wore some clouds but the setting sun did peak through for a few minutes. There always steaming features, some with flying water. I think we stood and watched Sawmill Geyser throw water around for about 15 minutes. Yesterday when we went by there it was empty - it's so interesting that when the geyser isn't erupting it totally empties out.

The nice thing about walking in the geyser basin when the air is chilly is that there is always warm air available - you just need to walk into the steam!

This is an interesting place to stay. The Old Faithful Inn is the original lodging (structure) here, a very old building. The rooms are very simple - in fact most of the rooms in the old part of the inn (where we are staying) have the bathroom down the hall. Denise said it's pretty funny to see everyone walking around at night and in the early morning in bathrobes, that's just not expected in most hotels!

The middle part of the lobby is open to the roof. There's a big fireplace on the first floor, and it's chilly enough outside at night that there is even a fire each night. There are comfortable places to sit on the second and third floor balconies, and there are always people around in the late afternoon and evening.

Right now we're sitting on the balcony listening to music. There is a woman who alternates between playing the piano and playing a cello. She just finished playing a tune on the cello and now she's switching back to piano. It's very relaxing.

I wonder when I should start bugging Denise to come back to Yellowstone again. Oh, I know, we still have part of tomorrow to wander here. I also know it won't be enough. I like finding places that we like so much we need to return again (and again!).

--- Rover

almost around

Another nonstop day, full of explorations...

I headed out a 7 this morning considering a big loop - from Old Faithful north through Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs, east to Tower, south to Yellowstone Lake, west and north through West Thumb and back to Old Faithful. I didn't have enough hours or enough energy so today I headed north, looped the upper part of the circle on top of circle, then headed back to Old Faithful.

There were two places just a bit north of Old Faithful that I tried to visit yesterday. Mid-day wasn't a good place to look for a parking spot in either location so I passed them by yesterday. That meant I was able to visit both spots early in the morning today, during the magic hour.

Midway Geyser Basin was my first stop. I noticed it yesterday when I saw bright rust and yellow strands of color against white, water flowing through the colors. I saw steam rising from the geyser basin before I arrived; it continued to billow across the geyser basin the entire time I was there. This place was pure magic. The steam obscured the color of Grand Prismatic Spring - which I understand is supposed to be a beautiful blue - but it moved enough for me to see the color of other bits of water. There were wonderful splashes of bright rust and yellow across pure white, with patterns drawn through each color.

Next stop was the Fountain Paint Pot trail. My first view was of skeletons of trees standing in a pool of water, the bottoms of the trunks covered in white. When I asked about the white yesterday I was told that it's silica that leaches out of the water. It makes for a very interesting look.

As I started around the boardwalk I heard what I thought was a very loud engine. Nope, no engine - that sound was a feature named the Red Spouter. It originated with the Hebgen Lake Earthquake, and according to the Fountain Paint Pot Area Trail Guide it

...exhibits the behavior of all four thermal features. in the spring and early summer it is a muddy hot spring that may seem like a geyser as it splashes reddish water several feet high. As the water table lowers in late summer and fall, Red Spouter seems more like a big mudpot, and then a hissing fumarole.

I'd say it was acting more like a fumarole today. Blasts of steam issued from it, accompanied by its odd motor-like noise.

Back to driving for a bit... I headed further north, to Mammoth Hot Springs. I stopped at the parking lot near Upper Terrace drive and started walking, following the boardwalk trail to Canary Spring - another absolutely amazing spot. I looped around the top of the main terrace, then saw that there were a large number of stairs leading down, down, down. Rather than need to walk back up all of those stairs at the end of my walk, I reversed direction and headed back to the car. That turned out to be a lucky decision because my arrival at the lower terraces coincided with a very interesting ranger talk at Palette Spring.

The dominant underlying rock in the Mammoth Hot Springs area is limestone, different from the rhyolite found in the other hydrothermal areas of the park. Limestone changes and builds rapidly; the ranger told us that it is expected that the limestone at Palette Springs will grow by three feet this year. That's a lot of change. There was what almost looked like a decoration at the very top of the "cliff", pieces of rock that resembled stalactites. There were patterns of shape and color, and there were absolutely flat terraces. The flats were formed by water and minerals pooling, eventually hardening into a flat surface.

In case you haven't guessed, my two favorite features at Mammoth Hot Springs were Canary Spring and Palette Spring. It would be interesting to come back in a year or two to see how they've changed.

Time to head east... driving, driving. The road from Mammoth to Tower was beautiful and oh so different from the places I've seen so far. There were mountains in the distance, rolling hills covered in shades of green and yellow, open land. There were stands of lodgepole pines, less here than in other parts of the park, but still present. The road was a bit narrower, no shoulder here. It rolled, climbed, up, down. There were long sections of 6 to 8% grade. Luckily there were still a reasonable number of pullouts so I could look around (safely). If I had more time here I can see myself doing some hikes in this area.

Turning south, I drove to the Canyon area with plans of viewing (and walking to) the Lower and Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I walked down the very switchbacked trail to the top of the Lower Falls. I loved the color and the smoothness of the water as it coursed over the top, falling. There was a wonderful view into the valley from the top of the falls, with a rainbow hanging above the falling water.

I had intended to walk to the Upper Falls viewpoint, but as I was walking up from Lower Falls I started to feel drops of cold water. Rain... It was light at first, increasing in intensity as I walked. I stashed my camera in my bag and headed back to the car.

It was 3:30 in the afternoon. With the rain increasing I decided it was time to head back to Old Faithful. It rained, it stopped, rained again, stopped again. I ran into the Old Faithful Inn in light rain. Just a few minutes later it started pouring. It's funny, even when it was pouring I could see spots of blue in the sky.

I have a light jacket with me that is water resistant but not up to a downpour. I meant to bring an umbrella with me; somehow it didn't make it into my bag. Hmm.... I guess I'd better do better the next time!

I thought about sitting still until the rain stopped. Nope, not yet. I discovered that the gift shop sold "plastic bag" ponchos for 2 dollars - so I now have a sort of a raincoat. Funny, I wasn't the only person walking around in a hooded plastic bag!

Tomorrow is another 2-park day. I plan (hope) to do a bit more wandering in Yellowstone before I head back to Jackson.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old Faithful to Norris Geyser Basin

I wish I could capture the sounds of Yellowstone, the sound of the rush of water, of mud pots bubbling, crackling sounds, sounds to delight the senses.

Somehow I managed to cover much less distance today than I planned. The road through the center of the park is a figure 8, or two squares stacked on one another. I thought I would get around the lower loop today but I wasn't even close! Not to worry, it was another good day.

I walked park of the Old Faithful geyser basin last night. This morning started with a full exploration. Most was covered on foot, but when I looked at the map I decided to head back to the inn to pick up the car. I'm glad I made that decision since I discovered later that it was 4 miles back to the inn from the farthest point at Biscuit Basin. I walked as far as Morning Glory Pool before I turned back; I think it would have been 1+ miles to Biscuit Basin, a loop there, and 4 more to the inn. Nope, I don't know how many miles my feet have on them from today!

I stopped at many places between Old Faithful and my 30 miles away end point of Norris Geyser Basin. If something caught my eye, I stopped. That shouldn't surprise anyone; it's pretty normal for me.

There were two loops at Norris Geyser Basin, the larger Back Basin, and Porcelain Basin. I'm glad I walked both although of the two Porcelain Basin was by far my favorite. Back Basin had geysers and wet areas scattered through forest. It felt like a pretty long walk; when I finished there I was tempted to stop. Luckily t, a very different look in comparison with the places I've walked so far. The trail finished at the top of Porcelain Basin. As soon as I saw the exquisite turquoise of some of the water below I knew I needed to keep walking. It was a walking loop, but it was also a loop for me to stand and soak in my surroundings, enthralled by the colors.

I have an idea of where I'll be wandering tomorrow but I don't think I should tell you. This appears to be a holiday of not following plans!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

one day, two parks

I think I'd better write today; Denise said she is really tired. I guess the time change caught up with her - even though last night was a good sleep night. Or maybe she's tired because our day today was full of nonstop motion.

Instead of turning into the Grand Tetons National Park entrance just north of Jackson, we kept driving north on the main road. We were in the park anyway, and there was a stop Denise wanted to make on that road.

We didn't try to make an early start today so it was about 8:30 or 9 by the time we got to Schwabacher Landing. I was really surprised that it turned into a really good stop. When we looked at the mountains from the road the light looked flat. Once we followed the dirt road down to the level of the water everything looked very different. Wow! There was still water to reflect the mountains and the trees, and the grass was really green. That was a good stop!

Somehow it took all day for us to drive from Jackson to the Old Faithful area in Yellowstone. It's really not that many miles between the two places. We drove a bit, then we stopped. Sometimes we stayed only for a few minutes, sometimes we went for a longer walk.

I remember seeing some of the places when we were here in 2002. A lot of the places were new to me though; that's so cool! One of the new places was the West Thumb geyser basin. That's right next to the shore of Yellowstone Lake. From one spot I could see the milky blue of a hot springs in front of the crisper blue of the lake.

We saw Old Faithful erupt early in the evening, then we walked around part of the Old Faithful geyser basin. We saw Sawmill Geyser erupting and erupting and erupting. Old Faithful is much taller when it erupts, but Sawmill was more fun to watch. Sometimes the water pumped straight up, sometimes it came in spurts. The spurts made it more interesting to watch.

Tomorrow will be another day of wandering, of seeing new things.

--- Rover

disconnected?

This is a "no worrying allowed" warning.

I may not have web access for the next few days. As far as I can tell there is web access available at only one of the hotels in the Old Faithful area, and it's not my home for the next few nights. If access is available in the lobby there I may be able to post my blog entries - but it's also possible that I may not be able to post them until I return to Jackson in a few days.

Remember, no worries!

Friday, August 17, 2012

feet on the ground

Feet on the ground, we're in Jackson for the night. Tomorrow we head into Yellowstone for the start of our wanders. I thought we might drive there tonight, but Denise thought it would be better to stay put overnight. I don't think she wanted to drive on dark roads, and she knew she would be tired after flying all day. I don't really understand how sitting on a plane for a lot of hours makes her tired, but it does.

Wow, it was bouncy flying into Jackson Hole. We were flying parallel to the mountains, bouncing around in the air. Those mountains are really impressive.

Those big mountains were on our right as we drove south into Jackson, highlighted by the sun as it dropped closer to the horizon.

--- Rover

flying high

Starting a wander is always good, and this one has started. I wish there was a fast way to jump from home to my destination for the day. There isn't, and I am on my first flight of two. I'm sitting on a plane flying above a layer of white clouds, bouncing a bit as the wind currents toss us around.

The plane pushed back from the terminal exactly on time; I imagine we're headed to the southwest since this flight takes me from Boston to Dallas. Two hours will elapse there before I board plane number two for a flight to Jackson, Wyoming. It will be a bit of a long travel day before I step into my wandering spot for the next week.

It's funny, I'm flying on an airline with assigned seats and the gate area and boarding process was less pleasant than that on Southwest flights with no assigned seating. Southwest wasn't an option since they don't fly into Jackson, and the closest major airport that jumped out at me was Salt Lake City. I ruled that out since it looked to be about a 5-hour drive from there to Jackson; next time I might consider the drive instead of two airplanes. I don't know if Southwest flies there, but I do know that I can get a nonstop flight from Boston. Maybe next time... What? Of course there will be a next time. You know me, a single visit to a beautiful place doesn't usually work for me. I haven't even arrived and yet I'm sure this will not be my last visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

The weather forecast for both parks shows smoke for today and I think tomorrow, then blue skies with clouds and a chance of thunderstorms. Given that there are fires in the area I imagine the smoke forecast will move forward into the week. The evenings and early mornings may be a bit of a shock to my system since the temperatures drop into the 30s and 40s depending on which park I am in. I have layers of clothes, and yes, I did bring a fleece hat and gloves with me. Many thanks to Rover for reminding me!

...posted from the air somewhere between Boston & Dallas, currently at an altitude of 35058 feet
in flight, map

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wyoming, soon...

Oh! Denise and I are leaving for Wyoming really soon. I'm so excited!

I've been bouncing around the house trying to help Denise get organized. I think I've convinced her she needs to bring some (clothing) layers. I checked the forecasts for Jackson and Yellowstone - the nights in both places are going to be quite a bit cooler than home. The forecast show daytime highs in Jackson in the low 80s with lows in the 40s. Yellowstone is higher and cooler with highs in the high 60s or low 70s and lows in the 30s. Oh yikes! I think I'd better tell Denise to bring gloves and a hat too.

Rover high on Gorham Mountain, Acadia National Park

Here I am perched on the sign at the top of Gorham Mountain in Acadia National Park. In comparison with the mountains we'll be visiting in Wyoming, this mountain is tiny - 525 feet high. The elevation of Jackson, Wyoming is 6450 feet, and Yellowstone is even higher. The elevation of Yellowstone Lake is 7835 feet; it looks like there are much higher and much lower places in the park too. Oh! And we live at pretty close to sea level. The town we live in is at 151 feet. Hmmm...

Can you tell I'm ready to travel?

--- Rover

Sunday, August 12, 2012

chasing butterflies

After yesterday's Fuller Gardens visit I drove north and east along the coast, thinking that I'd stop somewhere and walk along the water. I didn't stop until I reached Portsmouth; as it turned out I was quite happy with my choice.

I left my car on Peirce Island and walked back across the bridge to Prescott Park. The garden in the park was in full bloom, highlighting many types of flowers in a rainbow of colors. Even better were the butterflies flitting, lighting on flowers, showing their highly decorated wings.

butterfly posing

More photos of butterflies and flowers in Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH (along with a couple of ocean shots) can be found in the gallery New Hampshire coast - 2012 starting with this photo and ending here.

Gear review :: f-stop Kenti

A couple of weeks ago I grabbed one of my old camera packs for a wander close to home with my camera + one lens and a couple of other small items. And yikes! it just wasn't comfortable to wear.

I haven't used it since I received my f-stop Loka late in April, preferring to give the newer larger pack a good test, to give myself a chance to be very familiar and comfortable with it. As I headed out wearing the old pack it was clear to me that it was time for a replacement for my smaller pack.

Just to be clear, the f-stop Loka remains my choice both for travel with my camera and for wandering near home with a good amount of photo gear. It was a new "wandering with less gear days" pack that was needed.

Since I was so happy with my Loka, the first (and last) place I looked for another bag was the f-stop site. I knew there was a smaller pack in the same category as the Loka; lucky for me there were two smaller bags so I even had a choice!

The bag that caught my eye was the Kenti. Unlike the Loka which loads from the back, the Kenti camera / lens compartments open from the side. Additional space is available above the camera compartment, an organizer pocket is located on the front, and it's apparently possible to slip a hydration bladder in the back. The description indicated that it is possible to fit two pro bodies in the bag with the equivalent of a 70-200mm lens attached to each. That sounded big enough, but since I usually have an L-bracket on my camera body to attach it to a tripod or monopod I picked up the phone to ask if the camera would still fit. I was assured that it would, and I ordered my Kenti that evening.

I've used it twice in the past week; it's everything that was promised. It easily carries my camera with lens mounted, plus additional lenses and filters. The hip belt allows me to shift the weight from shoulders to hips, making the loaded back very comfortable to carry. Since there the only external attachment points are on the hip belt, I also picked up a pair of Gatekeeper straps in the event that I am carrying a tripod / monopod and want to attach it to the bag.

There is a noticeable difference in the size of the two bags. The Loka is 8 inches deep, 12 inches wide, and 22 inches tall. The Kenti is also 8 inches deep, but smaller in the other dimensions - 11 inches wide and 17 inches tall. Both are comfortable to carry.

For me, the bags serve slightly different purposes. I'm sure that the Loka will continue to be my choice when I'm traveling. I'm also sure that I will use both bags when I'm wandering close to home; I'll pick the bag that best meets my needs for the day.

I'm happy!

f-stop Kenti f-stop Kenti

Saturday, August 11, 2012

calm

ocean and sky, blended, soft

morning roses

Even though the forecast was for heavy rain early, I woke up to find a gray but non-threatening sky. I decided to take advantage of the dry morning for a visit to the roses of Fuller Gardens.

So many roses, so much color, beautiful as always...

roses, petals in soft yellow touched with raindrops

More photos from today can be viewed in the gallery Fuller Gardens - 2012 starting with this photo and ending here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

rain

The forecast calls for heavy rain tonight and tomorrow. I walked earlier this evening carrying a bright pink umbrella to shield myself from the wet. It was a steady rain.

Right now? I'm inside, dry, listening to heavy rain hitting the windows and the ground.

Here's a bit of sunshine from yesterday, the back side of a sunflower...

a sunflower, as detailed from behind

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

look!

You're not coming any closer, are you?

attentive rabbit

Monday, August 06, 2012

so much love

This is Bailey, the dachshund who lives with my folks. I'm not sure who gives more love, Bailey to "his people", or "his people" to Bailey.

He looks contented, doesn't he?

Bailey, resting

More photos of chipmunks, a bird, and (of course) Bailey can be viewed in the gallery Portraits of... starting with this photo and ending here.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

highway farm stand

What a wonderful idea!

I discovered farm stands on limited access highways last year. I was quite happy to see a sign announcing the presence of a farm stand at the first (eastbound) rest area on the Mass Pike this afternoon as I returned home from a visit in upstate New York. I stopped and stocked up, saving myself a market stop between the highway and home.

What did I buy? A wonderful stash of vegetables & fruit... tomatoes, squash, green beans, donut peaches, a musk melon, and blueberries. Yum!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

looking forward

Another month of the calendar just flipped by. It's August; that means that my trip to Wyoming is a little over two weeks away. I'm dreaming of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

I've been to both parks before, but only a very small piece of each. My first trip to Yellowstone was a long time ago. A visit during a winter late in the 70's found me in the Old Faithful area of the park to do some cross-country skiing. Oops! my age is showing, isn't it? It's been 10 years since my last visit, 10 years since my epic cross-country bike trip allowed me to explore a very narrow path in both parks. I rode north through Grand Teton, into Yellowstone, spending an afternoon, evening, and morning in the Old Faithful area, then curving to the north and west to West Yellowstone, Montana.

I'm looking forward to exploring parts of both parks that I haven't seen before.

In Yellowstone, I plan to see more geyser basins (than just Old Faithful) - following the circling road, seeking color and forms. I hope to get to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, seeking waterfalls.

Grand Teton promises mountain views and lake views, good places to wander. I'm wishing for calm water to allow me to see reflections of those magnificent mountains.

I'm looking forward...