Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016-08-27 to 29, Yellowstone 2

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places and National Parks we have lived throughout the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-27 to 29, DAYs 24 to 26
Yellowstone National Park
Distance Walked: 13.2 miles / 21.2 Km
Elevation gain: 1,344 feet / 409.7 meters
Distance this trip on Subaru Outback 2,954 miles / 4754 Kilometers
US $. --  Food 109.     Petrol 0.     Lodging 0.     Fees 0.     Misc. 0. 

We have 4 days off in the middle of our 2 week volunteer sting at the Museum of the National Park Ranger in Yellowstone.  Norman’s Step Mother Kathy and her sister Eileen visited during 3 of those days. 
This shot shows one of the areas where the 1988 fires burned through and the new growth since then.  In the background is the remnants of a single lodgepole pine still standing.
Below is a photo of someone who irritated a bison.  The bison was only irritated, not really mad.  How can you tell? Simple, the pick-um-up is stil drivable!
Geyser vent.  At one of the many small hot spots (Mud Volcano) throughout the park
A geyser under a pool of water emitting steam makes the water look like it is boiling.  Again, this is at Mud Volcano.
Three swans feeding in the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley
  The lower falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River as seen from Artist Point.  This photo is from late in the day.
  Looking down the canyon late in the evening
The upper falls on the Yellowstone
Distant hot spot in the lower Hayden Valley is evident from the plume of steam rising to the thermocline in the early morning.  Upper right side, just right of center.  Lower Hayden Valley

Sunrise.  Colorful sunrises and sunsets are often resultant from volcano eruptions, meteor strikes, forest fires, or very turbulent weather.  This one is from forest fires.

One day an old bison walked out into the Yellowstone river, turned around 3 times, layed down and died.  it didn’t take long for this grizzly bear to find the carcass and start feeding.  He would eat for a while, go lay down on the bank and sleep, then get up and eat some more.  At one point he had to fight off two other bears that tried to steal the bison from him.  He fed on that bison for the better part of a week.
A bison swims the Yellowstone River.  For such a big animal, not much sticks above the water!

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in early morning light.

The upper falls in the morning sun.

Browsing Bighorn Sheep in the Lamar Valley north of the Canyon area.

  Forest fire north of the Lamar Valley

Back to work in the museum in the morning.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016-08-21 to 26, Yellowstone 1

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places and National Parks we have lived throughout the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-21 to 26, DAYs 18 to 23
Yellowstone National Park

Distance Walked: 26.3 miles / 42.3 Km
Elevation gain: 1,584 feet / 482.8 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 2638 miles / 4245 Kilometers
US $. --  Food 145.     Petrol 56.     Lodging 0.     Fees 3.     Misc. 0. 

The next two weeks Holly and I are volunteering in Yellowstone.  We will have one day to  move in, one day of orientation, 3 days of work, 4 days off, 4 days of working, and 1 day to move out and clean our dwelling for the next volunteer.

On the way into the park we meet our constant companion for the next two weeks, forest fire smoke.

A light but unmistakable haze was wafting up some of the side valleys to the mountain pass we were enterring from Cody Wyoming.t

At the entrance, we stopped and snapped the obligatory pose with the "Yellowstone" sign next to our trusty Subaru "Tessy"

Bison Jam

We barely bot into the park when we werre stopped by our first animal jam, in this case, a Bison Jam.  I've seen a bison chase a horse down and reduce it to a large number of roast sized chunks. They can hop a six foot (2 meter) fence and run further than a horse.  They aren't easy to agitate, but once irritated, they usually get revenge.

A small part of the Norris Geyser Basin area.  The hazy background is due to the Maple fire.
Nearing sunset looking directly into the sun.  The smoke from the Maple fire is obvious. 
Algal mat on the geyser basin floor
The next morning the smoke is back but blowing due North, past us.

The Museum of the National Park Ranger where we are volunteering for the two weeks around the 100th anniversary of the National Park Seervice

Flock of Canadian Geese from the museum porch

Nothing brings out the color at sunset like a forest fire or volcano eruption.  Of the two, since I am inside the caldera of one of the largest volcanoes in the world, I prefer forest fires!

Grizzly bear cleaning himself close to the river, from a safe distance

Bison in the Hayden Valley in the early morning

Ravens turning buffalo chips over to find grubs outside the Museum of the National Park Ranger

Elk in the late afternoon North of Madison

Another bright and colorful sunset!

Noational Park sites visited so far on this trip:     1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 2. Isle Royale National Park, 3. Pipestone National Monument, 4. Badlands National Park, 5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 6. Jewel Cave National Monument, 7. Devils Tower National Monument, 8. Yellowstone National Park,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

2016-08-19, Jewel Cave National Monument

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places we have lived through the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-19, DAY 16
Jewel Cave National Hole-in-the-Ground (Ok, ok, it’s a National Monument)

Devils Tower National Monument

Distance Walked: 4.2 miles / 6.8 Km - Only 32 steps different from yesterday.
Elevation gain: 444 feet / 135 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 2278 miles / 3666 KilometersUS $. --  Food 15.     Petrol 0.     Lodging 0.     Fees 0.     Misc. 0. 

Jewel cave is the fourth longest cave in the world in surveyed passages.  It is a little different formations from the common cave you envision. 

Unlike Mammoth cave, the longest cave in the world, Jewel Cave does not have much in the way of stalagmites and stalactites.  Instead it contains layers of crystals and some flowstone.  The crystals give the cave its name due to their appearance.

The tourist routes on this cave was cleverly designed with hidden lighting, no visible wiring, and metal scaffolding for walkways with filters to capture clothing lint and debris off of shoes.  This reduces the contamination within the cave by over 100 pounds (45 kilograms) a year!

The worse part of visiting Devils Tower is listening to the lame jokes about Close Encounters of the Third Demonsion... Oops, see what I mean!  It is impressive that you first see this behemoth from 20 miles away.  You spend the next 45 minutes watching it slowly get bigger and bigger.

There is a nice trail that circumnavigates the entire mountain.  There are lots of visitors at the bottom watching rock climbers above, almost like Roman Citizens at the Coliseum waiting to give a thumbs down to those they do not favor.

Foreshortening from the camera being so close makes the Tower look shorter in the photos.  In person this thing is incredibly large.

Constructed of subterranean basalt that has been columnized by the environment and exposed through the erosion of the overlaying rock.  The site has religious significance for American Indians.  Unfortunately, is is also a prized rock climbing site which compromises the site in the eyes of the aforementioned Indians.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016-08-20, Drive to Cody

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places we have lived through the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-20, DAY 17
Drive to Cody Wyoming

Distance Walked: 2.7 miles / 4.3 Km
Elevation gain: 72 feet / 22 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 2,518 miles / 3666 Kilometers
US $. --  Food 28.     Petrol 9.     Lodging 25.     Fees 0.     Misc. 0. 

The drive to Cody from Gillette Wyoming was long, scenic, and uneventful.  We stayed at the "Green Tree's Crazy Woman Campground" in Gillette.  It was a good, clean, and well maintained campground within the city proper.  It had several negative reviews on the internet, obviously left by relatives of its chief competitor.

We took all back roads to Cody, probably costing us half an hour in time, but giving us some beautiful views in exchange.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016-08-18, Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places we have lived through the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-18, DAY 15
Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial
Distance Walked: 4.2 miles / 6.8 Km  
Elevation gain: 444 feet / 135 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 2109 miles / 3394 Kilometers
US $. --  Food 88.     Petrol 0.     Lodging 33.     Fees 0.     Misc. 0. 

This day included a famous U.S. National Memorial and an American Indian memorial still being carved out of the mountain.

Everyone has seen better pictures of Mt. Rushmore than I can take, so I will not bore you with too many of mine.
One minor point first.  When you think you know what some text is saying, it is easy to read it and substitute what you think it says to what it really is.  I always thought Mt. Rushmore was a National Monument.  When I visited and read through all their Interpretive displays, I always read them as National Monument.  I am sitting in a Starbucks in Benicia California composing this blog.  I JUST found out that Rushmore is a National Memorial!  While going through my pictures I found the above benchmark photo.  It clearly reads "Mount Rushmore National Monument, 2010".

U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln

It is interesting to note that I have seen pictures of this site before work started on carving out "The Heads".   In that photo, the area below where The Heads are now was just forest.  As you can see, the forests have been over run by the tons of rocks carved off the mountain to sculpt the busts.

Holly playing a game showing the un-completed busts,   To play, you select the spot where you want to set off dynamite, and it plays a video of the actual blast!

Looking at the picts, you can almost hear the kid to her right saying "Git out of the way Grandmaw, and let a professional show you how to do it!

One last view as we leave The Heads.  I don't even think they noticed that we were leaving!

Onward to Crazy Horse Memorial just down the road.  This is a project by a group of American Indians with no blessings or money from the United States government.

This thing is HUGE!  All the busts of Mt. Rushmore can fit in the outstretched hand.  Or at least they will be able to when they finish caring the hand!

Unfortunately, American Indians do not have the huge income advantages based on taxing the minerals and oil U.S. companies extract from land stolen from them.  So all the work is being done by one family!  It would be nice if they had more funding so that it could be completed before the projected completion date of 2476.


After leaving Crazy Horse, we traveled to our next overnight stop where Holly found this nice idea for a fire pit.  It looks easy to construct, inexpensive, and effective at controlling the flame.

Monday, September 19, 2016

2016-08-17, Badlands National Park

Holly A. Rife / Norman E. Gibat   -USA

2016 - The Big Trip West

-To visit all the places we have lived through the western USA and all the friends that have scattered. For under US $50. per day? (Average?)

2016-08-17, DAY 14
Badlands N.P.

Distance Walked: 5.9 miles / 9.5 . 
Elevation gain: 516 feet / 157.3 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 2029 miles / 3265 Kilometers
US $. --  Food 51.     Petrol 28.     Lodging 25.     Fees 16.     Misc. 9. 

We stopped at a campground 20 miles from Badlands National Park.  It was very windy as we put up the tent attachment on "Tessie", our Subaru Outback.  We had never had a chance to test this tenting attachment in bad weather.  This night will be it's first test.  Soon after retiring the winds picked up velocity and it started raining in fits, coming down in a deluge one minute and then dropping to a light sprinkle the next.  Through it all the attachment kept the rain and wind completely out! 
I had worried that the tent/metal interface would leak water in rain, especially wind driven rain.  This would not be a big problem as the rear hatch seals would direct the water around the opening and spill it over the bumper.  We got no water anywhere.  Upon inspection the next morning I realized that the first few drops of water wicked in between the Subaru roof and the tent nylon and stuck the nylon firmly in place, preventing any water or wind from penetrating!

The Badlands reportedly got their name from the phrase "Those are Bad Lands to cross".   I have 2.7 million pics of Badlands scenes that all look exactly like this one.  I will NOT inflict them on you.  This landscape is crazy weird.  When hiking down trails, you see some new scene like you've never seen before and take a picture.  When you get home, they all look the same, twisted!

Unusual survey marker.  The letters stand for United States Department of Interior, National Park Service, Station X?

Hiking one of the trails at the foot of a high bluff.  In the morning the temps were in the 60s (F), but were pushing 100 by mid afternoon.


Holly at the top of a bluff

 The sign means what it says. 

 At the top of the bluffs. 

Alison on the ledge with Norman trying to be the hero
On our last hike in the early afternoon, we gave up at the half way point due to the rising temperatures.  As we worked our way back, we spotted a scene where there was a woman (Alison) ledged out on an area with very sketchy footing.

We went to assist.  I climbed up to an area two feet to her left and helped her stabilize her situation, but was unable to assist more without ropes, so we waited until the Rangers arrived with rescue gear.

Big Horn sheep next to the Subaru on a dirt back road
One quick note on Badlands.  Consider doing the Badlands loop road west, then take the Badlands Loop Road west to the all dirt Sage Creek Rim Road out the west end of the park.   This takes you through areas that are much more about the wildlife than the wild geology!

Some bison survived the slaughter imposed by the U.S. Army in order to starve the American Indian out of existence in the nineteenth and twentieth  centuries.  Now they are starting to come back in some reserves.