Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Days in the Tetons

We have been out of touch for the last 5 days as we wandered around Teton National Parks. Two days we had snow and the other 3 were bright sunshine.  It made for two completely different experiences.

Day one the Tetons in the sun.
5 days later the Tetons covered in the first snow of the year.
This morning we got up and had to spend the first hour clearing snow from the RV and car before we could head south to Utah.  We only had 2 inches in our campground but as we drove south out of the park it continued to snow and at one spot there was 3 or 4 inches.  By the time we got to Jackson, Wyoming we had out run most of the snow and we only had occasional snow flurries after getting further South.

Our 5 days were full of more wildlife and great scenery.  We drove many small roads and a few dirt roads as we wandered.

Moose in the tall grass.

Brown Bear eating berries standing in a bush about 8 feet off the ground.
The wildlife was only outdone by the scenery.  Rivers, lakes, mountains, all were amazing.

This morning along the Snake River.
The Tetons from our campground on Jackson Lake at sunset.
Lower Slide Lake.  One of many mountain lakes we visited.
String Lake with Grand Teton mountain in the background.  My personal favorite lake.
Tonight we are at a state park on Bear Lake in Northeastern Utah.  It's freezing outside but a least there is no snow.  We are headed for Ogden, Utah.  Terri's friend Collette is picking up a rental car to head back to Boise after spending 23 days traveling with us.  We will miss her but mostly we will miss her dog.  The dog has been the perfect traveling companion.

We are headed toward Arches National Park in Southeastern Utah next. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Way North & Way East & finally to the Southwest

Today we traveled to the Northeast corner of Yellowstone.  This is the least used entrance to the park and the road goes over the highest pass in the park at 8,859 feet.  It was a great road to view the mountains in that corner of the park.

So the big question is.....was my lense on the camera really that dirty?  Yes.  I cleaned it tonight.

The next day we were off to the "Paint Pot" area.  Colors to die for.  Hundreds of picture were shot, I'll only make you look at a few.

What's under all that steam?
Turquoise pools.
Sometimes boiling water.
Sometimes calm

Some you could look down into the depths.
And at some point it flows to the river.
And the fly fisherman are there hoping for that big one.
And where there is a river, there is a waterfall.
And in calmer parts of the river may be Trumpeter Swans.

After you've preened and cleaned you go for a swim. 
And the last photo for the day is not a dead tree but a bull Elk with a rack as big as a tree.

We are off to the Tetons in the morning.  We'll have to come back to see the other million acres that we missed in our 11 days here.  We saw 80 degree days, rain and sleet, awoke to a couple inches of snow. 

We saw Grizzly and Black bears, Mountain goats, Pronghorns, Swans, Bald and Golden eagles, Osprey and Pelicans.  We saw Bison by the hundreds, Elk alone and in groups, a Moose in the river. I've watch 4 wolves eat their pray,  we've seen where the Antelope play.

I didn't see Big Horn Sheep so I'll have to come back and look harder.

It has been a very good 11 days.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Snow in the Morning / Sunny at Mammoth

We woke up to a light covering of frozen snow this morning.  The day was predicted to warm-up and be sunny.  So we packed up the snow covered Fit and headed to the Northwest corner of Yellowstone.  We would be traveling through  the area that hundreds of bison graze and I'd hope to see how they looked with a snowy background.

Grazing in the snowy valley.
It helps to have a buffalo skin coat on a cold morning.

We were headed toward Mammoth Hot Springs area which would be at a lower altitude so as we drove, the snow was replaced by a bright sunny morning. 

Never wanting to miss a good waterfall, we made a detour on a small back road to see Virginia Cascade. It was a very wide falls, that starts from a fast flowing creek that is about 6 feet wide.  The falls spread to 50-60 feet wide and falls about 150 feet.  Not bad for a 6 foot creek.

Our afternoon was a warm and sunny walk around Mammoth Hot Springs. The white stair stepped flows looked like ice but the steam coming from them told a different story.

That's not ice, it's mineral deposits that formed pools as they cascaded down.

I don't know the story here, but as we drove through the Mammoth Village a large male elk was resting on the front lawn of the medical clinic.  Perhaps he was waiting for his doctor's appointment. If I had antlers like that I wouldn't have to sit around waiting.

If the elk don't have a doctor's appointment, they may visit your RV.
The North entrance was built long before tour busses and big RV's came to be.  Two small cars have to be careful if passing through at the same time.

Only two more full days in Yellowstone.  We have not made it to everything I wanted to see and we will have to pick carefully as we plan the next two days.  11 days seems like enough time to see a National Park.  It isn't. 

But we must move along because most of the campgrounds in Yellowstone have already closed for the season and ours closes Sunday morning at 11:00am.

We're off to the Grand Tetons for 5 days.  We will be staying at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake inside Teton National Park.  It will be our new home base to explore the Tetons and the Jackson Hole area.  We'll lose a couple thousand feet of altitude and that will be good for breathing.

At least I know where I am now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grizzly Bear Over There

Well, I added the Grizzly Bear to my list yesterday.  These are both edited and enlarged photos.  I did not get anywhere this close to a Grizzly.  I'm really not that dumb.  He was impressively large and he would absolutely win in a confrontation.  Score: Grizzly 1 - Ranger 0.

We saw a flock of American White Pelicans.  About a dozen were feeding along a spit in Yellowstone Lake.  Unfortunately, they were to far away to photograph until I learn how to walk on water. Not soon.

In the next few days we are going to the Lamar Valley in the Northeast corner of Yellowstone to look for Big Horn Sheep. 

Grizzly Bear out for a walk in the woods.

He was walking up a log.

Yellowstone Lake is big.  When you look out over the lake it is more like Puget Sound than a lake.   When the wind blows it has waves and white-caps that seem too big for a lake. There are islands and rugged shores that make it look like home.

The lake is the largest high altitude lake in the USA.  It has 141 miles of shoreline, it is 20 mile long and 14 miles wide. We are camped at the Northern tip of the lake where Yellowstone River flows into the lake.
Yellowstone Lake and a dead tree.
Well that was a dead tree shot so we are at the end of another blog. 

As I sit here writing at 4:15pm, we are having a sleet storm. The ice pellets collect in center of the fir branches turning them white.  It is predicted to be 29 degrees tonight.  Maybe snow?  It would be pretty and we're here till the 22nd so that would be interesting to see.  It will warm up the next three days and be sunny. 

Looking out the window there are now snow flakes coming down.  Think I'll go make a snowman if it sticks.

OK it 4:40pm as I write.  We are hunkered down in a nice warm motorhome and it's really starting to snow hard. Here's a picture out the door.

How much snow through the night???
It was sunny and 80 degrees yesterday, in Cody, WY.  Huh.  It's 4:55pm and it's turning white.  Cool.

Yep, it's real snow.
It's 5:30pm and it's here for real.....let it snow.  Maybe we are spending our Winter in Yellowstone and not Mazatlan.

Lazy Russ & Terri in warmer times.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cody Wyoming - Buffalo Bill's Town

We had a beautiful drive into Cody.  We went out the East side of Yellowstone and entered the Shoshone National Forest.  It was an almost immediate change in terrain with huge rock formations on both sides of the road.  There were dozens of arches, there is something about bright blue sky coming through solid rock.

The highway followed a winding river in the bottom of the canyon.  Terri enjoyed driving the curves and twists for miles.  Every turn provided a stunning new view.

It was a sunny, 80 degree day in downtown Cody.  It is only a mile high there which is better for breathing than the mile and a half (7,800) where we are camped on Yellowstone Lake.  The air really thins out when we go visit places at 8,800 feet.

Downtown Cody

We had lunch at the Silver Dollar Bar.  It was nice sitting out in the sun and having a good burger.  Their menu is printed right on the wall.  I didn't have to worry about small print.

After we finished visiting town, we made a stop at Walmart and stocked up on groceries for the next week.

The 80 mile drive back to our campground was in a whole different lighting so it seemed like an all new road.

Last night we had a big lightening and thunder storm roll through.  It is continuing today as I write.  We decided to have a down day of sitting around, laundry and house cleaning.  Not very exciting, but this isn't vacation, it's real life which includes laundry and other chores.

More excitement to come following our chores

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Driving the North Loop - Yellowstone

We had another very good day of wildlife viewing.  We added to our list today.  We saw a Gray Wolf, a Mountain Goat, Mule Deer and a Golden Eagle.  Today we also were able to view two at one time.  The Bison and Trumpeter Swans decided to hang out together.

Bison headed for Yellowstone River to hang-out with the swans.
Four Swans a singing.
He should move about 3 feet to where the grass is taller.

The wolf was in a meadow not far from the Bison.  He was walking slowly away from us and looked fat enough that he was going to be ready for a long winter.  It snows 100 inches per year here in Yellowstone.

There is always a light snow in September, we're hoping that it comes after we have headed South.  Nights here are in the high 30's so it could happen anytime.

This was at full zoom on my digital camera.  Luckily he turned back to look my direction.
OK, here comes one of my best shots ever.  The big butt of a Mountain Goat.  It's hard to get this kind of a shot, I guess I'm just lucky.  (He would not turn around and face me, stubborn as a goat.)

Stubborn Old Goat - Him not Me.
The Black Bear was across a small pond and to far away to photograph so I just watched him with the binoculars for a few minutes until he crawled up the bank into the tall grass.

A Mule Deer that knew how to pose correctly, not like the dumb Mountain Goat.
We can add to the list a Golden Eagle, but I was nowhere fast enough to get a photo of  him.

We started our trek today by finishing up the North Side of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.  It took us part of two different days to see the small portion that we could get to.  There is another twenty miles of canyon out there for great hikers to see.

North Rim down stream from two large Falls.
A lot of water flows over that edge.
Looking over the edge....Straight down....1,200 feet.....Watch your balance.
Note the spires....they don't last forever.
One of the view points we walked to had a slight accident a few years ago. The spire it was located on disappeared in an earthquake.  Because most of Yellowstone is over the top of a volcano they have frequent earthquakes in the park.  Thankfully not today.

One of a dozen or so waterfall we saw today.

Picnic lunch at Sheepeater Canyon.
We are off to Cody, Wyoming tomorrow morning.  It is 60 miles East of Yellowstone.  We're going to spend the day in the big city.  We need more fruit and veggies so it's the perfect excuse to go to town.

Thank you to all that take the time to read my blog.  I hope you are enjoying the photos and my ramblings.  So far there have been 3,145 page views.  Again "Thanks You" whoever you are.