Saturday, October 24, 2009

A few highlights from my day in Yellowstone with Pamela. I drove us up through Bozeman, over to Livingston, and down to Gardiner to go into the park. As we entered the park, there were two antelope right near the road. I like this first picture even though the antelope's face seems slightly out of focus, it gives the antelope a softer look, I think. I had flipped a "u" turn so that we could take pictures, and flipped another one so that the antelope were on my side of the car and took another couple of shots of them.

We rounded a couple of corners along the Gardiner River, and saw a lady with a long lense pointing up the steep hill across the road. Wow! A large herd of bighorn sheep. I continued up the road until I found a place to turn around, then drove back down the road to pull into a turnout a little down the road from the group of sheep. Pamela said she counted at least 16, and some were probably not visible as she counted.
When I took this shot, I noticed that there was a sheep on a rock beyond the bunch closest to me. The wind was blowing so hard, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get a sharp picture. I was glad I put my coat on before walking up the road to take pictures!

This little one was with the bunch closer to the road. What an adorable little sheep!

This shot catches a little bit of the acrobatics as the sheep climb up the hill. They are much braver than I am. I find that I get more afraid of heights as I age...probably due to the fact that I am more aware of my mortality!

The white fuzz in this pictures is just snow. It was cold here again today, but not as cold as it was two weeks ago. Brrr...I get cold just looking at this picture.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yellowstone October 10, 2009

On Saturday, I needed to run to Bozeman to pick up some things from Costco. It was cold here
in Island Park (7 degrees), but the sun was shining. As I drove across the flats, I thought it might be nice to run over to Livingston and down to Gardiner and go through the park. So, that is what I did. It was freezing cold in the park, also, but I still managed to get out of the car and take some pictures.

My first stop was at Mammoth. Because it was so cold, the steam rose off the Mammoth Terrace and combined with the clouds in the sky. As I was going back to my car after taking a few pictures, a man got out of his truck. He'd been parked in the turnout when I pulled in. He asked me if I had binoculars (which, of course, I didn't) and pointed out where he was watching two black wolves. I looked through my camera lens, and sure enough, I could make out a black wolf. I snapped a picture, even though I knew the wolf would not be clear. It was too far away. In the next picture, the wolf is circled in red.

I got a surprise when I reached the Canyon area. They had changed the way you drive the north rim. It is now exactly opposite. I stopped at the path down to the lower falls and found out that you can now view the upper falls from this stop. The third picture is the upper falls from the brink of the lower falls path. My fingers really froze here, as I stopped a couple of times to look down into the canyon. I didn't bother to grab my coat, which was really stupid of me, but I didn't expect to be out of the car that long. I have no idea what the temperature was, but the wind was icy cold and froze me the minute I stepped out of the car.

Just south of the upper falls, in the deceptively calm water, I spotted two swans. There was not a good place to stop, and the park was suprisingly crowded for how cold it was, so I just grabbed a quick shot of one of the swans before moving on.

When I first entered the park, the ranger at the gate told me that I might not be able to get through to Old Faithful because there was a bad wreck between Fishing Bridge and West Thumb. Sure enough, they were still cleaning up the wreck. I hit the area just right, though, as I only had to slow down to a crawl. I never had to stop completely. BAD wreck. I took this picture of Stephenson Island before coming up on the backed up traffic.

When I got to the Madison I finally saw more elk. I only saw three at Mammoth. Plenty of buffalo along the Hayden Valley, but no elk. This spike was with about seven cows on one side of the river. Not 100 feet away, on the other side of the river was a big bull. He sure was a beauty. I hit the Madison at about 5:30, so the light was fading fast. I actually made it home before dark, so that was pretty good timing. I wanted to see how long it would take because Pamela and I are supposed to be going through the park on the 24th. I hope it warms up a little before then.

Even with how cold it was, the park was still plenty beautiful. I didn't have any problems on the icy patches, even without my snow tires. I'll be getting my snow tires put on this week. Of course, any day is beautiful in the park. I am so lucky to live this close where I can go and enjoy the beauty on a whim. : )

Monday, October 5, 2009

Last Fall Fling (October 3, 2009)

I am so blessed! On Saturday, I decided that instead of staying home and listening to conference I was going to take one last drive to see the fall colors. It was supposed to snow 4 to 6 inches
Saturday night, so I knew the Ashton Flagg Ranch Road would not be accessible for the rest of the winter. So, I packed the car, gathered up my trash, and loaded up Blew. We stopped at Elk Creek gas station, where I put some air in my front tires, then headed on over to the dump. After leaving the dump, I decided to take a picture of Sawtelle with its little skiff of snow on top. Then, I needed to pick up a few groceries, so we went down to Rexburg. I stopped at the bottom of the Ashton hill to take a couple of pictures of the fall colors. They are more vivid than seen here, but wow! they are splendid. Upon leaving Rexburg, I was annoyed by a little shimmy in my front end. I couldn't figure out what it was. That should have been my first clue! We turned out the Ashton Flagg Ranch Road, and I stopped to take a picture of the Tetons about a half mile after we hit the dirt road. What a spectacular view!

Our next stop was at Indian Lake. There were some aspen leaves right where I parked that have my favorite tint. An orange/peach color. The ones across the road were just as pretty, and with the dark green of the pine trees surrounding them, they looked especially luminous. Again, not captured very well with the camera.

After leaving Indian Lake, we drove for quite a ways, Blew hanging out the window to catch every scent. When we crossed South Boone Creek, I caught a glimpse of the Grand in the distance. So, I pulled over and walked with Blew back to take a picture. When we got back to the car I noticed that my left front tire was very low.
That scotched the idea of going clear to Flagg Ranch and then back home through Yellowstone Park. I turned around, started driving, then decided I had better put on my donut. I got everything out of the trunk--no lug wrench. I searched under the seats of my car, but couldn't find it. Saying a prayer, I drove the fourteen miles of dirt road back out on a low tire, plus twelve more miles of pavement before we reached the Shell station in Ashton where I could put more air in my tire. I then prayed all the way up the hill that I would be able to make it home. As I drove, I wondered why the Lord would bless me when I purposely set out on this trip, knowing I wouldn't be able to listen to conference. I asked myself the same question three times, and then the answer came to me. I am blessed because my Heavenly Father loves me. Even when I am doing something He wishes I wouldn't, He loves me. I made it home, although the tire was really low by the time I got there. After three searches, I found my lug wrench (under my seat) and changed the tire after the afternoon session of conference. I then watched the morning session (thank heavens for the internet) after going for a short drive with Dion that evening. I am truly blessed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cliff Lake Pictures from August 22, 2009

The two mature bald eagles Amanda and I saw on our trip in the canoe at Cliff Lake.
One of the many ducks we saw.

The island in Cliff Lake is the rounded mound of land at the left and going into the center of the picture. Amanda and I went all the way around it to make sure it was really an island. :)

This cliff with its clinging trees is to the east of the island, and a cove goes back behind it. Next time I go up there with the canoe, I am going to explore! (This Wednesday, hopefully.)

Look at the color of this water. It is deeper than it looks.

I loved this rock with the fleabane growing on it.

Still trying to get a good picture of the color of the water. These trees add a little bit of interst with their scraggly branches and reflections.

Looking out to the first bend in the lake, and watching Amanda come ashore.
The view from the road going up to Hilltop Campground. I'll definitely be going back!

Cliff and Wade Lake Campout

The truck is loaded and we are ready to head for our campout. It has been so long since we've taken the canoe anywhere, that we forgot the end with the two ropes goes in front. We did fine until we were somewhere near Wild Rose Ranch when a wind gust blew the canoe to the side. What's a campout without a little excitement? Amanda got out of the truck and shoved the canoe back, and I drove a little slower up the road. Yes, those are the dog kennels you see in the back. We took them for the dogs to sleep in at night. They are pretty handy for putting equipment in, also, on the drive up. We didn't have to worry about anything blowing out of the truck!

We had to camp at Hilltop Campground because neither Cliff Lake nor Wade Lake campgrounds had any openings. There were quite a few up at the top, though, so we got to chose which one we wanted.

After we set up the tent, we took the dogs on a walk. There is a nature trail that goes from the Hilltop campground down to Wade Lake, so we decided to walk down. The 2nd photo shows a glimpse of Wade Lake when we were about half way down the mountain.

The third photo is Wade Lake at an overlook on the nature trail. It is looking further north, so it actually looks more of a distance to the lake than the last picture.

It is also a deeper part of the lake, so it is more blue than the green of the 2nd picture. The last part of the hike down to the lake was pretty steep.

The fourth picture is of Amanda and Carma hiking down the steep path in front of me.

Look at the color of the lake in the 5th picture. What an amazing color for a mountain lake! My next blog will have pictures from Cliff Lake.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Moose in the Morning

What's that? Something is over there...Blew seems to be saying. She loves seeing moose in the morning. Of course, a scurrying mole is just as fun!

The first time we saw this bull moose was on the 4th of July. He was in the river cooling off, obvious to the gathering crowd that was watching him. Last week, he and another smaller bull, met up with the two cows that have wandered through the complex. The larger pair seem to be sticking around. I've seen them almost every morning. I didn't expect to see them today, after doing our round and not spotting them. But, we were only two houses from home when Blew indicated that there was a moose somewhere nearby. Mr. Moose was between Robert's house and garage. That was close enough to go home and get my camera! Poor Blew was upset because I didn't take her back with me. That is the most I have ever heard her bark in her entire life!
As I walked back, I caught a glimpse of the cow behind Robert's garage. I would not have seen her if I had't decided to go and take the bull's picture. When I went into the house to get my camera, it was about seven in the morning. Hopefully these two will stick around and not wander too close to the highway.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blair Lake Trailhead

Tonight was another example of listening to the spirit. ChaRee (my clerk at work) had told me that she and her family hiked in to Blair Lake last week and that the flowers were spectacular. I've always wanted to do that hike, but haven't had time. Gary (ChaRee's husband) called me after she had left for the day and told me that I needed to take my camera and go up the Blair Lake trailhead road and take pictures of the flowers. He told me that if I didn't want to take my car I could borrow his truck. Of course, last week, Anne Marie Miller had come in and told me the flowers up there were absolutely gorgeous and that she managed to drive up the road in her little car. I wanted to drive up there this evening, but I had done some extra things for work and it was getting late. At about 7:15 I decided I would go up anyway. It was cloudy and I knew it wouldn't be great for taking pictures, especially since I had gotten started so late. As I was driving up the road I watched the multitude of flowers blowing in the wind, and knew I would never be able to get a good picture. There were fields of indian paintbrush, from light orange to bright crimson. The segoe lilies were still in bloom and tons of other flowers that I don't know the names of. The road was rough (that is putting it mildly). I was heading down this really steep part and scraped bottom. My first thought was that I should just turn around and head back home. Impossible on that slope, so I just kept going. I stopped a couple of times, wondering just how far it was to the trailhead. For some reason I headed on, even when I passed two or three good places to turn around. I finally saw the trailhead about 1/4 mile ahead. I drove down to a good place to turn around and got Blew out so that she could run around a bit. I took several pictures (none turned out very good) and walked to where the signs were planted that tell you vehicles can go no further. As I turned around, I saw people walking down the hill. Now, I hadn't passed anyone on the drive in, so my heart accelerated a little bit. When I got closer, I saw it was a couple of hikers. They looked dirty and tired. They told me that there was supposed to be water there and that it was at a galvanized cistern. I hadn't seen anything, but was sure wishing I had thrown some water in the car so that I could give it to them. They started searching the area for the cistern, and Blew and I headed back to the car and started back up the hill. About an 1/8th of a mile away from the trailhead, I looked out across the valley at Island Park Reservoir. As my eyes traveled back to the flowers alongside the car, I noticed a pipe sticking up out of some grass. I stopped the car, pulled on the parking break and took Blew over to explore. Sure enough, it was the galvanized cistern. I tried calling to the couple, but the wind just blew my words away. I backed down the hill and walked to where the girl was setting up their tent. The guy was off down the hill, still searching for the water. I showed the girl where the cistern was located and talked to her a little more. She said the last water they had was 11 miles back. That made me feel doubly bad about not throwing any water in my car, but I am so glad that I listened to the spirit and continued on up to the trailhead even when I thought I should turn back. If I hadn't, who knows if that couple would have found the water before dark.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

This guy looks like he had a bad hair day. What a cutie! I took this on the float with Becca, Mike, Sienna, and Kathey. They had never done the float from the Big Springs boat launch on the Henry's Fork of the Snake down to Macks Inn. It was a beautiful day. I have never seen so many king fishers and herons as we saw today. Plus, this is only the second time I've actually seen a black crowned heron. Becca said she and Mike looked like lobsters when they got home, but honestly, Becca, you only looked barely pink when we climbed out of the boat! It was a nice float although we missed seeing a momma moose and her calf by just minutes. Some people in a canoe told us to watch for her, but she had faded back into the willows.

Blew is missing her playmates (Mike and Sienna).

I didn't get a picture of Kathey because she was sitting right in front of me. I didn't get a picture of the bald eagle we saw, either. Mike took the one of Sienna and I, and Becca cropped it to make it more pleasing to the eye.

Blew and I saw a bull moose on our walk this morning. Dion (my neighbor) just got back with some of her relatives from an evening walk and said he was over in the boneyards this evening. I wonder if Blew and I will see him tomorrow. Maybe I should take my camera...not...I couldn't hold on to Blew and try to take a picture of a moose at the same time. : )