TayloredRVTraveling

Musings and Info about life on the road

Reunion in Yellowstone….

Last Monday morning Kay received a call on her fancy new electronic, magic, iPhone from her elder brother Bob whom neither one of us had seen for 20 years. He informed her that he was in Boise, Idaho. Kay told him to come and visit. And, to our amazement, he pulled into Yellowstone that afternoon. Bob stayed with us until Friday morning when he headed back home to California. Kay and Bob spent the next three days sightseeing in the park and catching up.

Here are sister and brother along the Firehole River with Riverside Geyser erupting in the background:

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A good time was had by all during Bob’s stay. And kudos to our houseguest for sharing the sofa bed with the dogs. Bob, you are a brave man, and you are welcome back any time.

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Miscellanea – Critters, Hot Springs, etc….

We awoke this sunny morn with a temperature of 18 degrees. Dear God….it’s only September 12th! Those pesky Canadians sent the cold down on us.  Anyway…..

About a week or so ago we took a drive through the northern part of the park that included a stop at Mammoth. We we there a couple of years ago about this time of year and the place was loaded with elk. So we thought we would see if they were there this year. Indeed they were. The bulls had their harems were right smack dab in midtown Mammoth:

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There was only one bull that we could spot in town. Unfortunately he was to far off to get a decent picture.

As we continued our odyssey through the northern area we saw a couple of wolves far, far away – a white one and a black one -which was quite a treat for sure. And of course the ubiquitous Bison:

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Last Friday Kay and I, along with Pat and Bill,and Harry and Fiona, piled into our rather then crowded Subaru and went to see Mesa Falls, which lies to the south of West Yellowstonistan and a few miles outside of Ashton, Idaho. It is a pretty and very impressive waterfall with an upper and lower section. Here is a photo of the upper falls:

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If you go to the falls in the morning the sun’s position in relation to the falls, and its mist, guarantees you a delightful rainbow.

Last Saturday, a bit before sundown, I went with Pat and Bill to check out some hot springs nearby that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet. The first was Black Sand Pool which has a neat little surprise for you when you are there:

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The pool sends up large bubbles from the depths of Hades and right before they reach the surface of the surface of the pool they make a very, very low booming sound. But wait! There’s more! If you are sitting, standing, or leaning against the fence that surrounds Black Sand Pool you can feel booms… like a very, very subtle earth tremor. A very neat place for sure.

The runoff from Black Sand Pool with all of its minerals creates a colorfully dramatic landscape as the sun is setting:

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And as it does at Punch Bowl Spring, which is quite close to Black Sand Pool as far as Yellowstone’s vast distances go:

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Only 18 days to go here at the Park, but who’s counting? Me? You Betcha! ;)

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An Announcement….

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Whenever an eruption of Old Faithful (pictured above) is due to take place, which happens every ninety minutes or so, the rangers in the Visitor’s Center make the following announcement :

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Old Faithful Visitor’s and Education Center! We are now entering the window for the eruption of Old Faithful. If you want to see, feel, and hear Old Faithful, please go outside and find yourselves a seat or, if you wish, you may watch from the window here in the Visitor’s Center.

We hear this announcement a number of times during the day. But, the announcement I am waiting for is:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Old Faithful Visitor’s and Education Center! We have exciting news! We have just received word from our geologists that the Yellowstone Super Volcano is going to blow! No need to hurry and find a seat, or go outside to see, feel, or hear the eruption because we are standing on the volcano itself! And, it will erupt in TEN….NINE….EIGHT….SEVEN….

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The Continuing Story of Buffalo Bill…

Thanks Mr. Dylan:

Everybody’s building the big ships and boats
Some are building monuments, others jotting down notes
Everybody’s in despair, every girl and boy
But when Bill the Buffalo gets here everybody’s gonna jump for joy.
Oh come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Bill                                                                      Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Bill.

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After a long absence Bill the Buffalo has made his return to the campgound. The buffalo rut is now over for all intents and purposes. Bill  must have been out chasing the ladies!

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Thermopolis…….

(New Header Photo Courtesy of Pat Gorsuch)

No, it’s not in Greece – but to quote the Wizard of Oz:

You’re out of the woods, You’re out of the dark, You’re out of the night. Step into the sun, Step into the light.

Kay and I and the dogs fled the woods here at Yellowstone for a weekend away to celebrate our XXXII Anniversary, and went to Thermopolis, WY for some R&R last Thursday after work.. Thermopolis is located some 80 miles south of Cody….about five hours or so away from our casa… and, as its name implies, is renowned for its hot springs. The town turned out to be quite a nice place indeed. It’s a very western sort of town situated on the Bighorn River.

IMG_5249The hotel we stayed at was located in the State Park that contains the hot springs. There were vast expanses of lawn, trails along the Bighorn, a pool to swim and lounge in, and a hot tub that was fed with lovely hot water from the springs.

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Here is the hot tub. The water at narrow part at the far end of the tub was about 110 degrees.

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The hot springs of Thermopolis were originally used by the indians in the area. When the pale-faces arrived and took things over they made a deal with the natives – the springs were to be open to everyone for ever. Lo and behold, the springs are still free to all; a treaty that was actually kept!  The hot springs proper are along the river and remind one of the springs at Mammoth here in Yellowstone in that they are terraced with multicolored formations. In the picture below the springs are to the left and flow over the edge of the river cut. The park area is in the background. Very nice.

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We had some lovely sunsets too along the Bighorn:

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On our first full day in Thermopolis we went to see the petroglyphs at a site called Legend Rock which is about 30 miles northwest of Thermopolis in the middle of …..nowhere. Legend Rock is a site used by the indians for roughly 11,000 years as they traveled back and forth between the springs in the Yellowstone and Thermopolis areas. It appears to have been a shamanic site judging from the rather strange petroglyphs located there. The petroglyphs are of the Dinwoody style, and were quite different from any others we had seen before. This is what the area looks like: IMG_5235 and the panels of petroglyphs are on the cliff face. Kay searched for petroglyphs while the dogs were on high lizard alert. IMG_5234 In the photo below, in the center of the picture, there is a diagonal crack. Below the crack there is a pair of feet and a line that connects the feet to another figure above the crack. All of this is believed to represent a shaman journeying into the spirit world. There are dozens of these type of figures along the rock faces. IMG_5223 I don’t know if that’s what is really represented here, but is certainly interesting and very strange. Here are a few more: IMG_5215 Thermopolis also has a dinosaur museum called the Wyoming Dinosaur Center & Dig Sites. It is a very interesting and nicely presented museum. It covers the full range of life on this planet and its fossils. For example: IMG_5255 Yup. A dinosaur!  Actually the most interesting fossil in the place had to be the Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird fossil from the late Jurassic. That alone is worth the visit: IMG_5250 It was a great weekend all in all – interesting day trips and hangin’ by the pool. Early Sunday morning we drove back to Yellowstone and were at work by 2:30 in the afternoon (sigh).

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Visitor’s Questions….

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In the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center where we work, there is a large information desk that is generally staffed by three or four Park Rangers whose job is to deal with the park’s visitors who need information, help, or have their questions answered.

The species of Tourist has two sub-species: The Tourons who are those people who are, shall we say, less than the brightest bulbs in the pack and are very prone to asking very foolish or stupid questions, and the Passport Zombies who shuffle into the Visitor’s Center just to have their National Parks Passports stamped and then shuffle away to the next passport station in another park.

The rangers at the info desk have the patience of saints, as do most of the other rangers in the park. Sometimes, on a very busy day, people are lined up in four lines, ten people deep. So far this year over 2 million people have come through the park, and a very large percentage of them stop at Old Faithful.

Fortunately, for posterity, an informal notebook has been kept of some of the more interestingly wacky, and or dumb questions that have been asked of these rangers. Here are some of these beauties asked by the Tourons:

“So, all of the pine trees I see…are they Aspens?”

“Is Old Faithful always in the same place?”

*Visitor: “Can I get a park map?”

Ranger: “Didn’t you get one at the Entrance Gate?”

Visitor: “You rangers are so rude….I can’t wait until Disney takes this place over!”

Do buffalo go into the river and eat fish in the winter?”

“We were up near Slough Creek and we noticed the bison were shaggier in the front than in the back. Do you shave their butts?”

“Teddy Roosevelt created Yellowstone. Not that socialist Roosevelt!”

The notebook goes on and on. The top two questions asked have to be though:

“Where are the bears?”

* “Where are the buffalos?”

There is never any danger in underestimating the Tourons intelligence.

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Bears and Wolves….Oh My!

On Friday we went to West Yellowstonistan, the town with Big Gun Fun, to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. As I am something of a sceptic I went there with not very high hopes and figuring I would come down with FWS – Free Willie Syndrome – but I must say Kay and I were pleasantly surprised by the place. The Center  is a non-profit, accredited, wildlife park for bears, gray wolves, and raptors who are no longer able to survive in the wild on their own. Upon entering the Center we were met by this ex-grizzly in one of the displays. If you have one this close to you in the wild…..KYA Good-bye !!!  Too late for the bear spray.

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The animals that we saw on the outside appeared to be in excellent health and spirits. The wolves and bears seemed to have plenty of things to do to occupy their time. The wolf seen below even gave us a welcoming howl. After seeing the Center’s wolf packs in action it is easy to understand why the “Wolfies” find them so alluring.

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When you look into the eyes of any member of the Canid Family you see a soul in those eyes. When you look into the eyes of a bear you see no soul…..just your own destruction. Behold the Grizzly :

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and Ravens:

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Beartooth Revisited…….

Hearing that the wildflowers were putting on their annual show in the high country we took a trip once again up to Beartooth Pass (10947 ft.), which is outside of the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. On the way to the pass, in the Lamar Valley inside the park, we saw a few thousand bison, and a big grizzly bear being harassed by a very large coyote or a wolf. The bear was trying to get some breakfast from carcase meat and so too was the pestering canid.

However, this not very wordy post is about flowers. I’ll let them do all of the talking:

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Off to Fairy Falls….

 

Lately life here at Yellowstone has been work, work, and more work now that the summer hordes have arrived. The bookstore has been doing between $9,000 to $13,000 per day, and is packed with people from all over the world and across the country. Foreign visitors arrive by the bus loads and rented car fulls. They are comprised of mostly Asians (spelled Chinese) and Europeans, and are easy to pick out in that they are thin mostly thin and fit, while our countrymen are very large for the most part (spelled really fat). It’s rather appalling actually.

Last week I waited on a gentleman from my old stomping grounds in Turkey. I hit him with a formal greeting in Turkish and he was quite surprised and tickled to say the least. I think it helped to reassure him that everyone here in the U.S was not from the tribal areas of our country – such as West Yellowstonistan, Montana.

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Later on in the week I was able to do the same for a young woman from Istanbul. It’s amazing what the Old Mind still remembers after 45 or so years.

If you want to get away from the crowds of people in the park, it is best to get out early in the morning if you have the desire to see any of the popular sites that are easily accessed by vehicle. The touristas it seems do not get up very early in the morning. Kay and I did just that and took a hike to see Fairy Falls via the Midway Geyser Basin at about 7:30 in the morning. The going early strategy proved to be successful. We were pretty much alone.

The geyser basin where we started our five mile jaunt is about 5 miles north from where we live, and lies besides the Fire Hole River which stays ice free during Yellowstone’s arctic winters because of all of the runoff from the hot springs and geysers along it’s banks. Here are some views of the basin:

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The Midway Basin is home to the Grand Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone’s largest hot springs at 370 feet across. If you are on the Basin’s boardwalk you can walk right up to the spring, but to gaze on its real splendiferousness you must climb one of the nearby hillsides to really appreciate its glory. The colors around the perimeter are caused by bacteria that grow in the pool, and are specialized to live at a certain range of hot temperatures in the water. Here are some views of Grand Prismatic:

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Carrying bear spray and bear bells and whistling a happy tune, we hit the trail to Fairy Falls past the far side of Midway Basin

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through the dog-hair woods of lodgepole pine

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where you wouldn’t see anything lurking in the wood until you were right upon it. In the time it took us to get to Fairy Falls we only saw two women walking back from the falls. Our early morning strategy was working! The forest was awash in flora. We saw, amongst many other types of wild flowers:

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Monkshood

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Fringed Gentian

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Common Fireweed

It was a fairly easy morning’s ramble, and Fairy Falls was well worth the hike. The falls are one of Yellowstones’s tallest measuring in at 197 feet. Fairy Creek flows off of the edge of the Madison Plateau there and then continues on to the Firehole River. Fairy Falls was quite lovely and we were there alone. A difficult situation to achieve if you want to be alone at the popular sights in the park.

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We returned to the trailhead the way that we came in passing many people who were heading to the falls solo or in groups – some with cranky children in tow. The trailhead was packed with cars as we headed home to continue our day.

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About Wolves….or the Lack Thereof


Fast Tube by Casper

Many of the people who come to Yellowstone are serious wolf fanciers. Some bordering on fanatical. Whenever you pass through the Hayden or Lamar Valleys you can spot them in all types of weather in the roadside pull-offs manning their big lensed cameras and spotting scopes hoping to get a glimpse of a wolf. They are called Wolfies.

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Yellowstone was home to about a dozen wolf  packs in 2012….the latest data that I could find. Since they were taken off of the Endangered Species List in 2012 their numbers have declined as they were hit with disease, wolf hunting was allowed again in Wyoming and neighboring states, and mostly natural pack attrition. The latest number of wolves I have come up with for the Park is 82. Down from 171 in 2007. Here is where they live in the Park:

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I, however, am not a Wolfie. I have yet to see a wolf in our travels about the Park. This past Sunday we were in the Hayden Valley and spotted some people with spotting scopes so we stopped to see what they were watching. They said that it was a wolf. I took a look at what was a spot of white, not moving on a hillside, about a thousand yards away. Hmmm.  I figure that if it was a wolf it really didn’t count. Besides, I’m not really sure if they were true wolfies. If they were they would have known its official I.D. number, nickname, pack identity, and what it had for breakfast that day. You have to know those details to be a true wolfie.

As of the writing of this post, the only wolf I am familiar with is Huff n’ Puff of the Little Piggy Pack:

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