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.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016-08-16, The National Music Museum

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?)

2016-08-16, DAY 13
National Music Museum, University of South Dakota

Distance Walked: 3.3 miles / 5.3 Km
Elevation gain: 192 feet / 58.5 meters
Distance this trip on new Subaru Outback 1924 miles / 3096 Kilometers
US $. -- Food 26. Petrol 39. Lodging 27. Fees 16. Misc. 0.

I must apologize to any band or orchestra musicians out there, including my brother in law. When we went to this museum, my intent was to sample all the different instruments displayed there and to document the huge diversity of sound producing mechanisms.
Luther tooling and designs
I consider myself to be fairly open minded, even if I do play a fretted instrument, I do not think of myself as a fret bigot. Sometimes I even like to hear a piano! However, as I go through my photos, I find that while I thought I was taking pix of all the wind keyboard and percussion instruments, somehow none of those photos survive.
One of three surviving Stradivarius guitars
I am going to display my fretted instrument photos anyhow. If you play something else, then please imagine that if they have this great a selection of frets, then what do they have in Woodwind, Brass, or drums? A LOT, that’s what! They even had a whole collection of Saxophones made by Sax himself! Some of the instruments here are so exotic that they just don’t look right. Looking at them, you weren’t sure that you wanted to hear the sound they made.

To quote Stan Lee, ‘Nuff Said!

An Oboe player trying to act like she cares about anything with strings on it.  Justt to please her husband!


And you just have to have a room full of guitars owned by Elvis, Hank, Chet, Tommy, Harrison and McCartney
Time to get back on the road and head for the Badlands.
Local weather cells over the Missouri River

We had lots of driving but wanted to camp close so we could get into Badlands to hike before the heat of the day.
Don't eat the blue berries, they leave a funny taste in your mouth



2016-08-15, Pipestone National Monument

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?)

2016-08-15, DAY 12
Pipestone National Monument
Distance Walked: 4.0 miles / 14.8 Km
Elevation gain: 336 feet / 216.8 meters
In US $. --  Food 45.     Petrol 35.     Lodging 22.     Fees 0     Misc. 0. 

Before leaving Onalaska, I needed to get a blood test for one of my doctors at Ohio State University. We went to the local hospital walked in and immediately saw a large aviary with many small, multicolored birds inside. Neither of us had any idea as to the type of bird. While they all looked identical, they were all colored differently. Holly went to the information desk and asked what type of bird they were. No one knew therre either. So she asked them what they were doing at the Information desk if they couldn’t answer easy questions. Ha!

It was a long drive to Pipestone N.M. I never knew where the monument got its name. It comes from a thin, meaning five centimeters to a couple of meters, layer of pressure altered mudstone. Usually red, it has a very fine crystalline structure and is easily worked by tools. It was prized by American Indians as the perfect material for making pipes (for smoking, not plumbing).

Plains Indian pipe made out of Pipestone.  -credit Wikipedia

Though we got there late, there were many trails through the area and we spent several hours enjoying them.

There was a pleasant stream through the outcroppings. All the quarrying areas are closed to all but American Indians.

When we left, we were driving towards the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota. Across the fields we saw some farm buildings with some traditional windmills. As we got closer, we realized that there were scores of windmills. We have no idea what the story was, but it is interesting enough to warrant a video here!

2016-08-13, Onalaska, Wisconsin

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?)

2016-08-13 and 14, DAY 10 - 11
Onalaska, Wisconsin
908  Miles / 1,461 Kilometers
Distance Walked: 9.2 miles / 14.8 Km
Elevation gain: 708 feet / 216.8 meters
In US $. --  Food 41.     Petrol 34.     Lodging 0     Fees 0     Misc. 0. 

The Fish Camp, Isle Royale N.P. 
As we left the Fish Camp headed for Park Headquarters around 07:00 hrs.  We were to catch the 08:00 Ranger III back to the mainland.  Holly snapped one last photo of our "home" for the last several days.  Early in the morning I had gone to the fish house to get water for a very cold bath.  When I walked out on the lake side of the dock, I saw the small mother loon and her offspring just 10 feet (3 meters) off the dock.  I watched while the mother would disappear under the water only to reappear with some morsel she had caught for her offspring.  They slowly drifted by in the currents while I watched.  After they vanished around the next jetty, 
I retrieved my water and had one last freezing cold bath.  Donna and John have a setup for hot showers, but the effort required to collect water, Heat it on the stove, haul it up to the portable enclosure, mix it in the reservoir to the correct temperature, then use a foot pump to pump it through the shower head, did not seem worth it.  I guess I am just lazy.
As we were boating towards Park Headquarters, I again saw the mother loon fishing in the water.
Holly watching a loon bouncing through the boat's wake.
During the five hour trip back on the Ranger III, we listened to the "Loon Rangers" talk about their latest findings and ongoing research. 
After arriving on the mainland, we set off to visit our friends Doug and Rhonda Smiley-Way in Onalaska Wisconsin, arriving very late in the evening.


We went to a UUC church meeting with Doug, Rhonda, and their son Truman Sunday morning.  Something different for this old Anglican.  Then Sunday afternoon they had a jam session planned with several friends that played various instruments.  I wish that I had my bass with me, but at least I had a guitar.
Central musicians shown are: Doug, Bill(?), Norman, and Truman sitting with his back to the camera.
After the jam session, Doug Rhonda, Truman, Holly, and Norman headed for a scenic overlook to view the City of Onalaska.
The three Madonnas

One view off the overlook

Holly, Doug, Rhonda, Truman, Norman

Truman explains the fluid dynamics of the river below to Holly and Rhonda


2016-08-12, Loons

Isle Royale National Park
908  Miles / 1,461 Kilometers (no car travel)

In US $. --  Food 40.     Petrol 0.     Lodging 0.     Fees 0.     Misc. 0. 

Distance Walked: 4.7 mi / 7.6 Km Elevation gain:  300 feet / 91.4 meters
We went "out" for lunch today!

Donna and Holly on the trail

We started the day with a short hike across to the lighthouse.  We explored several short side trails, picked and ate native berries, and climbed around on the rocks by the lake shore

A hand carved wood grave marker
After breakfast we went "out" for lunch!  This entailed boating to Rock Harbor and going to the Green Stone Grill for hamburgers.  After a big lunch, we took a hike to burn excess calories.  We watched a water plane load some passengers and their luggage at one of the remote docks and then take off.  Later Norman took off separately from the others to walk back to the docks in order to take a little nap.  Everyone else continued their walk around the trails.

Loon family, captured at dusk from a large distance without a telephoto, but at 36 megapixel enabling this blowup.
On the way back to camp, in the diminishing light John spotted a group of Loons in the distance.  We stopped and watched for a while before continuing our trip "home".

Sunday, September 4, 2016

2016-08-11, Isle Royale- Loons, Wolves, & Moose

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?)

PLEASE NOTE:  We have been without AMY phone or interrnet access for almost 3 weeks!  We are not expecting to get reliable access for another two weeks, but are working to get the blog up to date.  Please bear with us.  Thanks!


Isle Royale National Park
908  Miles / 1,461 Kilometers (no car travel)
Distance Walked: 2.2 mi / 3.5 Km Elevation gain: 84 ft / 25.6 mtrs
In US $.  Food 0     Petrol 0.     Lodging 0     Fees 0     Misc. 0. 

Holly getting water to wash breakfast dishes

Lazy day today. In the morning, we took the “loon rangers” ocean side to check on several loon habitats including Conglomerate Bay. We found nothing until we returned to the bay where we found a small mother with it's chick. It was a known pair and Bill said it was the smallest loon on the island currently. 
Looking for Loons

It rained most of the day and there were sizable waves on the lake. Holly enjoyed quality time catching up with Donna. In the afternoon, we went to Rolf and Candy Peterson’s. Rolf has been researching wolf/moose relationships through Michigan Tech University since 1970 and Candy is his lifelong cheerleader. She gives weekly talks at a campground and invites visitors to their camp. They can be found on Facebook “Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale”. 
Rolf and Candy Peterson in their research cabin on Isle Royale

The wolves, isolated on the island, have been weakened through interbreeding. Their numbers have reduced to two non reproducing wolves. Behind the house is a growing "museum" of moose skulls and other bones used in Rolf's research.  This research, in conjunction with other science conducted by the National Park Service is slowly moving the Service towards a resource management decision on how to handle the situation.
Moose skulls and bones used in research to determine, among other things, the cause of death

Unfortunately, that decision will be too late for the current wolves on the island, but maybe it can be put into action before the inevitable moose population growth followed by a crash that could potentially wipe out the entire herd.  I saw this happen once in an area close to Lander Wyoming about 40 years ago to deer.  It was startling that years later their numbers had not recovered.  The wolves on Isle Royale are important to control moose numbers and maintain the health of the herd

This is a lesson that could be to human populations as well!  No, I am not suggesting we train wolves to hunt down humans

We passed this curious enclosure which we guessed might be a grave.