High And Mighty

Sequoia NP

A Long And Winding Road To Sequoia National Park

We rolled on to the Central Valley of California with a stop at Tule Recreation Area, a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers lake and campground near Porterville. No doubt we are in the agricultural hub now. Great Spring weather greets us but the lake is low. This is primarily an irrigation lake and only secondarily a recreation lake. With rain and snowfall low throughout the west it will be a challenge to meet water needs this summer.

A Long Way Up

A Long Way Up

Porterville proves a good stop for restocking with groceries and supplies after Death Valley. The Hispanic influence in the area is strong and our choice of supermarkets takes us on a trip. With cactus leaves piled high in the produce section along with other fruit we can’t identify, several types of chorizo and hot sausage and a whole aisle devoted to tortillas, it doesn’t take much to imagine you are in Mexico. Steve tries to ask how to cook prickly pear leaves but gives up when he gets five employees trying to tell him different methods all at the same time. We try several sausages and buy a few new ones that turn out to be delicious.

sequoia flower 8

sequoia flower 8 closeupsequoia flower 3 copysequoia flower 6 closeupwildflower 1Our main reason for stopping here is that we are about a half an hour from Sequoia National Park. In a normal year the park would be questionable to visit this early. Not this year. With the snow pack at less than 50% the park was open and quite busy. The only place we couldn’t reach due to snow was Kings Canyon NP that adjoins Sequoia although we could get to the Visitors Center. Not that we need an excuse for returning but we have one. We made two visits with the first one concentrating on the three Visitor Centers, hiking to the General Grant and General Sherman trees and marveling at the size and age of the sequoias despite huge lightening scars or hollow trunks. On our second visit we enjoyed the mountain views, wildflowers, historical photos, Tharp’s log and colorful meadows. You can’t help feeling dwarfed by these giants. They were young trees when Rome dominated the world. From a photography perspective we composed vertical panoramas, black and white landscapes, macro shots and put an artistic twist on others.

Strolling Among The Giants

Strolling Among The Giants

General Grant sign and tree

General Sherman Tree

General Sherman Tree

hollow tree view 3

Hollow Tree View

 

Sequoia Vertical Panorama

Sequoia Vertical Panorama

Steve and Opal at Sequoia 2

Towering Twins

Towering Twins

Steve at Sequoia 1

Sequoia Starburst

Sequoia Starburst

Soft Trees In Fog

Soft Trees In Fog

yellow twig dogwood

Yellow Twig Dogwood

red twig dogwood 2

Red On Red

Impressionist View Of Sequoia

Impressionist View Of Sequoia

sequoia scene 1

sequoia scene 4 B+W

sequoia scene 6

artsy1

We’re Back In Utah!

RV living, state park, Utah

Our Site At East Canyon SP

Our retirement trip in 2010 focused on visiting the five national parks in Utah. We knew then that there would be other trips out here. Now we are back for a week to visit the Salt Lake area. We are staying about a half hour east of Salt Lake City at East Canyon State Park. This is a beautiful park with a full service campground at one end of the lake and a dry camp area at the other end. At this time of year during the week there are only half a dozen RVs here but on weekends it still gets full. The drive through East Canyon was fabulous. We drove through here almost every day and we never tired of the view. Compare that to the west side where the salt flats start. What a difference. Early fall color is everywhere and the higher elevations are at peak intensity.

rock formation, lava, Utah

Devil’s Slide

One of the first things we saw fit our “What else can they do with rock?” category. Just outside East Canyon was a formation known as The Devil’s Slide where rock has been lifted almost vertically and resembles a playground slide.

We joined the weekend crowd and drove through the Wasatch National Forest and along the Alpine Scenic Byway enjoying the colors.  We went through Park City then past ski resorts and along forest roads. We kept going and the road became more and more rocky. We stopped seeing cars and noticed only ATVs and mountain bikes. When we got to the main highway we’d been trying to reach a sign for traffic coming the other way read “Road may be hazardous to cars.” Now they tell us! The scenery was gorgeous and well worth a few bumps.

autumn color, aspen

Pure Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

national forest, fall color

Driving In The Wasatch National Forest

 

 

 

 

 

Just Playing

Just Playing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color Everywhere!

Color Everywhere!

 

 

 

 

When we drove through Park City we stopped at the Utah Olympic Park, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. We inquired about the advertised Bobsled Ride and made plans to go the following day. The sled is on styrofoam wheels during non-snow months and reaches speeds of 80mph and exposes you to up to 3G. Maybe God was watching out for us as it poured rain the next day. We couldn’t reschedule because at this time of year the ride is only offered on weekends. Perhaps we’ll come back some winter and do the real deal! We did return and take the tour. We highly recommend it.

bobsled ride, Olympics

Let’s Do It!

An unexpected extra was to watch the Women’s Olympic Acrobatic Ski Jump Team practice. Until snow falls they ski down a wet plastic coated surface and land in a pool. The surface of the water would be too hard a landing so as they soar over the pool an attendant in a booth at the end of the jump hits a switch. Air is forced upward breaking the surface tension and allowing them to land safely on a surface similar to snow. Then they swim to the side with their skis still on, remove the skis and climb out. They wear wet suits too. While we were on the tour someone remarked at how small the competitors were. Our guide said their motto is “Fat don’t fly”.

acrobatic ski jump

In Position

 

 

 

 

ski jump

Look Mom, No Hands!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Was That, Coach?

How Was That, Coach?

 

 

 

 

The guided tour takes you to the bottom of the ski jump where you can get a feeling for the spectators view. Where we were standing there were bleachers for 21,000 people during the Olympics. Then the van drives you to the top of the ski jump and you get a feeling for the athlete’s view. They can’t see the landing zone as they rush down and leap into the air. The landing zone has a red line marking the distance they need to reach for a “good” jump. If they go further they are awarded extra points. However the further they go the flatter the hill and the more dangerous the landing. Prior to the event the judges need to have a test jump done to determine the starting line and wind effect. A young jumper usually a 13-15 year old makes this jump. Our guide said with all the human interest stories done during the Olympics no one has ever interviewed these kids or their parents and he doesn’t know why.  While the view from the bottom was impressive, the view from the top just made you say “They’re nuts”. We also got to see the bobsled run we’d have sped down. No second thoughts for us. Our guide said it is the scariest minute of your life and a ride for those who enjoy peeing in their pants!

View From The Bottom

View From The Bottom

 

 

 

That's A Long Way Down!

That’s A Long Way Down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Of Bobsled Run

View Of Bobsled Run

Following the tour we went through the museum showcasing skiing legends, ski fashion and memorabilia from the 2002 Winter Games. There was an interactive ride and film you could take that gave you a feeling for the bobsled ride, a downhill ski race and an aerial ski event. You sit on a chairlift seat and it moves in response to the film. The bobsled gives you a sense of the speed and curves but not the gravitational pull. We laughed and whooped through the whole thing. We decided we are definitely coming back! We enjoyed seeing the displays of the puppets used during the Opening ceremony, photos of Olympic medalists and and hamming it up at places where you could put yourself in the picture. Lots of fun!

Skiwear Fashion Exhibit

Skiwear Fashion Exhibit

ski museum

Steve Tries The Interactive Slalom Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Carries The Torch

Steve Carries The Torch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Torch Comes Through Arches NP

The Real Torch Comes Through Arches NP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

speed skating

The Need For Speed

 

 

 

 

Pair Skating

Pair Skating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downhill Racer 2002

Downhill Racer 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

women's ice hockey

Ice Hockey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puma Mask From Opening Ceremony

Puma Mask From Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony Deer

Opening Ceremony Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaver From Opening Ceremony

Beaver From Opening Ceremony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Puppet

Horse Puppet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Medal From The 2014 Olympics

A Medal From The 2014 Olympics

My Tongue Is Stuck

My Tongue Is Stuck

Real Women Snowboard

Real Women Snowboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a day of sightseeing we were really hungry so we located a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant that was close to camp called Ruth’s Diner. It has been in business since the 1930s but has long since outgrown the original diner that serves as the front of the building. We were famished and had a “soup to nuts” meal which was delicious if not cheap.

Ruth's Diner, A Salt Lake City Favorite

Ruth’s Diner, A Salt Lake City Favorite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner Al Fresco At Ruth's Diner

Dinner Al Fresco At Ruth’s Diner

A visit to Salt Lake City isn’t complete without a visit to Temple Square if you’ve never been there. It is the most visited place in Utah. We took a short tour which included some history of the Mormon emmigration to Utah and a visit to the chapel where the Mormon choir performs. Had we known that you could attend a rehearsal on Thursday we would have come then. We did listen to a recording and even that made me break out in goose bumps. My eyes teared. For lack of any other word, it was a heavenly sound. The acoustics are amazing. You can hear a pin drop and newspaper being torn without a microphone at 200′ away. The fabulous acoustics owe it all to the designer who was a bridge builder and had never built a building before this. The chapel roof is designed as a series of seven bridges. We decided that when we return for our bobsled adventure we will schedule it so that we can attend a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Mormon Temple

The Mormon Temple

Organ Mormon Choir Hall

Organ Mormon Choir Hall

Reflection Of The Temple

Reflection Of The Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LDS Headquarters

LDS Headquarters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another stop in the area was at Golden Spike National Historic Site. This was where the rail lines of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met and provided a means to go from coast to coast by rail for the first time. It was a huge engineering feat and the first event ever sent instantaneously around the world by telegraph. The trains on display are live steam reproductions that roll out each morning and back to the garage each evening. During the day they are kept live puffing steam to give you a sense of the moment. The actual gold spike is in the Stanford University Museum. This is the first we’ve seen of the Chinese immigration and the almost slave like conditions under which they labored. The term “Hell On Wheels” came from the bar cars, prostitutes and gambling that followed the railroad construction crews. These were sanctioned by the companies as means to keep the workers at the camps and prevent them from quitting. The museum is very interesting and has several films available for viewing. We had Opal in the truck and it was too warm to leave for long. Perhaps another time.

Dignitaries At Promontory Point May 10, 1869

Dignitaries At Promontory Point May 10, 1869

 

 

 

Railroad Workers Painting

Railroad Workers Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying Rail By Assembly Line

Laying Rail By Assembly Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction Train 1868 At Bear River, WY

Construction Train 1868 At Bear River, WY

 

 

 

 

Photo Showing A Stir Cut At Weber Canyon, UT

Photo Showing A Stair Cut At Weber Canyon, UT

 

 

 

 

 

Replica Trains Meet

Replica Trains Meet

Our last stop in the area was Timpanogos Cave National Monument. This was our fourth cave this year and while we were a bit “caved out” it was still interesting and different from others. The Monument is really three separate caves that have been joined by man. The two distinguishing features are the Heart of Timpanogos, a drapery formation joined so it resembles a heart and the abundance of a formation called helictites. Another “feature” of the visit was the 1.5 mile walk with a 1,100 foot elevation gain to reach the entrance. There’s a reason all of the souvenirs have “I survived the walk to Timpanogos Cave” on them!

Time to pack up and head for Colorado.

Timpanagos Panorama

Timpanagos Panorama

Thumbs Up. Halfway There!

Thumbs Up. Halfway There!

Ugh! 75% Done!

Ugh! 75% Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wahoo!!!

Wahoo!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart Of Timpanogos

Heart Of Timpanogos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cave Spaghetti

Cave Spaghetti

Rest Break With A View

Rest Break With A View

 

 

What Else Can They Do With Rock #1? City of Rocks National Reserve

City of Rocks National Reserve, rock climbing, scenery, hiking

One Of The Less Well Known NPS Sites

When we took our retirement trip in 2010 to Utah we were amazed at how many varieties and shapes of rock we saw. The phrase “what else can they do with rock?” became a common question. We are continuing to find ourselves saying this as we travel through other parts of the west. Our last stop in Idaho for this year is just one example.

We left Boise and headed south and east to the small town of Almo, Idaho and Castle Rock State Park which is adjacent to City of Rocks National Reserve. We’ve been to a national preserve but didn’t know the definition of a reserve. It was explained to us that the National Park Service oversees the area administratively and participates in decisions but the Idaho State Parks supply manpower and management.

A Panorama Of The Area

A Panorama Of The Area

When we arrived at Castle Rock SP we headed for our reserved site but ran into a new glitch. The site was still occupied. Steve checked and there was no car and no occupants. So we pulled off the road and went in search of the Camp Host. She offered us another site in the equestrian portion of the campground but if we really wanted the reserved site the park would arrange to tow the other trailer away. The alternative site was lovely so we took that one. We never did find out why the people hadn’t vacated on time. Our Camp Host, Dottie, was a very interesting woman. She is a solo RVer and rock climber who was one of the first woman blackjack dealers in Las Vegas. Each winter she goes to Mexico where she and two other woman (a retired professor from Columbia University and a native New Zealander)  have built an animal rescue and spay facility called Fiona Animal Rescue of Hidalgo to deal with the severe overpopulation and mistreatment of domestic animals in the area. To read more about this worthy effort go to http://www.potreropups.org.

fall color

Fall Color At City Of Rocks

City of Rocks National Reserve is one of the newer National Park sites offering stunning granite formations, overlapping biological regions for 750 plants and animals, world class rock climbing, 22 miles of hiking trails, photography sites and one of the best preserved locations on the California Trail. The park offers training in basic rock climbing with their Rock Climbing Ranger. Nearby is the Sawtooth National Forest with more beautiful scenery, lakes and campgrounds. We spent the first two days driving and walking among the spires and formations. Dogs are allowed on the trails so Opal enjoyed seeking out trails of pioneer dogs.

Replicas Of Pioneer Wagons

Replicas Of Pioneer Wagons

 

 

A "Cityscape" In Granite

A “Cityscape” In Granite

 

 

 

 

 

 

architecture, homestead

1890s Homestead Ruins

 

 

 

rock climbing

Rock Climbers Love This Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man In The Rock

Old Man In The Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rock formations

Steve Standing By Rock Formation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latter in the week we had an opportunity to go on a two hour tour with the park archeologist, Kristin. The tour is listed in the park brochure but must be scheduled ahead. She is an excellent guide and provided many stories about the history of the California Trail and people who had left their signatures on Camp Rock and Register Rock. The park is working on a booklet about these people. Hopefully it will be available next year. Most of the signatures were written in axle grease but a few were carved into the rock. We learned that axle grease had come in many colors; red, green and even yellow so that at one time these rocks were very colorful. Now time and weather has made them uniform and in some cases difficult to read. Some 200,000 settlers passed through City of Rocks along the California Trail making this the largest emigrant movement in the world. One of the best known formations is The Twin Sisters because it could be easily spotted by the pioneers at a distance.

A Homesteader's Signature

A Homesteader’s Signature

One Of The Women Who Passed This Way

One Of The Women Who Passed This Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Traveler's Sketch

A Traveler’s Sketch

The Twin Sisters

The Twin Sisters

Today the town of Almo remains a very small ranching community where the general store still serves as the post office just as it has since the 1890s. If you come here, plan on bringing all your groceries with you as the nearest large grocery is an hour plus away. For non-campers there is a resort and motel and a few local restaurants.

Idaho, old photo, general store

Old Photo Of Almo General Store

Our drive into the Sawtooth National Forest turned up a few more interesting rock formations and great Fall scenery. We found two NFS campgrounds with good accessibility and suitable for our trailer so we added them to our GPS database. Even though they are dry camp areas we would enjoy a few days of fishing and hiking here. There is a wonderful scenic overlook at the top of Cache Peak. The Raft River below and the peak were named by Peter Skeen Ogden, a fur trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1826. The river was so named because beavers had it dammed and it could only be crossed by raft. Cache Peak got it’s name because it served as a landmark for trappers as to where they had cached their pelts. There is one overlook where you can see the location of a WWII aircraft training flight wreck. If you look closely you can still see a tire lying there.

fall foliage, Sawtooth NF

Sawtooth NF Early Fall Foliage

lichen

Painted With Lichen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photography

A Landscape That Looks Like A Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rainbow in rock

A Rainbow Of Color In Rock

 

 

Can You See The Elephant?

Can You See The Elephant?

 

View From Cache Peak

View From Cache Peak

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two other National Park sites were within an hour’s drive; Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and Minidoka National Historic Site. When we put them into the GPS we didn’t realize they shared the same Visitor Center. so when we looked at the directions from one location to the other the GPS said “Drive six feet”. Who says machines don’t have a sense of humor. The Hagerman Fossil Beds are an extensive area of fossils along the Snake River Plain near Twin Falls, Idaho. The most famous are those of a herd of the earliest known horses called the Hagerman horse (Equus Simpicidens). They are more closely related to the Grevy’s zebra of Kenya and Ethiopia than the modern horse. Other fossils found here include mastodon and saber-toothed tigers. The small visitor center has good displays however the actual fossil sites are closed to the public. You can also see original wagon ruts of the California Trail passing close to the fossil beds.

fossil

Meet The Hagerman Horse

 

 

Snake River Canyon From Twin Falls Bridge

Snake River Canyon From Twin Falls Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Minidoka NHS was established in 2001 and tells the story about internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. I found the story and site to be moving, disturbing and educational. To realize that an entire segment of our population could be rounded up, deprived of their Civil Rights and freedom and imprisoned is shocking. It just shows what fear can do. Racial prejustice was already known to the immigrant Japanese (Issei) because as resident aliens they were prevented from owning land or obtaining citizenship. Their American born children (Nisei) were citizens. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor hostility increased and all people of Japanese ancestry were treated as spies and saboteurs. The impetus for internment was Executive Order 9066  in February 1942 which gave military commanders the power to exclude any persons from designated areas to secure national defense objectives. While the order could have been applied to anyone it was primarily used to remove 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific coast. Within five months ten relocation centers were built with 7,100 people being relocated to Minidoka. Here they faced barbed wire fences, armed guards and restricted movement. Faced with poorly constructed barracks and sanitation they had to endure temperatures from -21 to 104. However this was a resourceful group who went on to create gardens, publish a newspaper and create musical groups. Minidoka became almost a self sustaining community. By the time the camp closed in 1945 the residents had cleared and cultivated 950 acres of land. A questionnaire was used to determine loyal internees from dissenters. If they answered No to willingness to serve in the US Armed Forces in combat and to foreswear allegiance to Japan they were shipped to Tule Lake Camp in California. Minidoka became the camp for loyal internees. Minidoka had the largest number of men volunteering for military service. The 442nd combat unit served in France and Italy and had two Medal of Honor recipients. When the camp closed the newly reclaimed land was sold by lottery. Most of the former camp land remains privately owned today. A few structures from the original camp remain hopefully to keep this from ever happening again.

One Of The Remaining Structures At Minidoka NHS

One Of The Remaining Structures At Minidoka NHS

Minidoka Camp 1942-1945

Minidoka Camp 1942-1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replica Of Guard Tower

Replica Of Guard Tower

Turning The Desert Into A Garden

Turning The Desert Into A Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 442nd In Europe

The 442nd In Europe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this we leave Idaho for this trip and head for Utah. There is so much more to see we will definitely be back!

 

Glacier National Park – Sculpted By Ice

Montana, Glacier National Park, waterfalls

Arrowhead Fal

We settled in for a long drive of about six hours from east of Butte, Montana to Big Creek Campground in the Flathead National Forest near the west entrance to Glacier National Park. Montana is a big state and distances on a map can be very deceiving. We chose to stay at the National Forest rather than at a campground in the park as we are on the upper limit for the park campgrounds. After looking at the sites later we were very glad we made that decision. Our site at Big Creek was large, wooded, private and offered lots of free firewood. The only downside was a two mile stretch of very rough road. Later we found another way in that while longer only had a short stretch of rough road. We are still dry camping but came in with a full tank of water. Good thing as the water connection was a long way from the trailer. The campground is along Big Creek, a major tributary of the Flathead River. The Flathead is a National Wild and Scenic River. The whole area is a fisherman’s and rafter’s dream.

Glacier National Park, Going-To-The -Sun Road

Along The Going-To-The-Sun Road

Glacier NP is half of what is called the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. This is the only park in the world dedicated to long standing peace between two countries. We didn’t get to Waterton this time but “when we come back… Glacier NP has been on my bucket list longer than I care to admit. I wasn’t disappointed. While I haven’t been to Machu Pichu (not yet anyway!) this is what I imagine it will look like. At over a million acres this is a huge park. There is only one road running through the park from east to west, The Going-To-The-Sun Road. It is 50 miles of the most gorgeous scenery we’ve seen since the Beartooth Highway. Completed in 1932 it is considered an engineering marvel and is a Civil Engineering National Landmark. On average it opens about mid June and is passable until mid or late September. This year it had opened only to be closed again by 2′ of snow, the same snow storm on June 17 that gave us a dusting at Red Rock Lakes NWR. The park averages 25′ of snow a year so plowing the GTTS is difficult and dangerous. Just east of the high point at Logan Pass drifts can be 80′ deep!

The drive , if you don’t stop, would take about an hour and a half. So for us, it was an all day trip on day one and about 3 hours on subsequent drives. From an area called The Loop to Rising Sun the road is cut into overhanging rock on one side and a low (18″) guardrail overlooking a steep (1,000-2,000′) valley on the other. I felt so small and insignificant in this vast wilderness. So you tend to crowd the middle line. We didn’t think about pulling in our mirrors and there was no warning sign. On the way back to camp we clipped mirrors with another truck and the driver’s side mirror shattered. From then on we pulled mirrors in! A bit like closing the barn door after the horse is out! Fortunately we were able to get repairs made in Whitefish about 20 miles away.

forest fire, black and white photography, Glacier NP

Silent Sentinels From Fires In 2003

wildflowers

Fireweed In Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

glaciers, lakes, Montana

Glacier Blue

mountain stream, photography

Soft Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wildflowers

Late Summer Wildflowers At Glacier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bear

Our Only Bear

View Looking Up Lunch Creek

View Looking Up Lunch Creek

We’d expected gorgeous scenery but we weren’t expecting so many fabulous waterfalls. Lunch Creek is a favorite stopping spot both for a hike uphill to the falls and for sitting, wading and picnicking. Day two we had planned to take a boat ride on St. Mary’s Lake to other falls and go on a Ranger led hike. I say planned because after we got there and got unpacked, Steve couldn’t find the car keys. He tore the truck apart. Realizing we were not going to make the trip today, I changed reservations to the next day. He was going crazy and still not finding the keys when I returned. I started looking too. I went through my purse and…you guessed it, there they were. I don’t remember picking them up but obviously I did thinking they were my set. You know your husband loves you if ……. I do love her EVEN when she does things like this!

waterfalls

Swiftcurrent Falls

So what to do the rest of the day? We drove over to another area that is not on the GTTS Road called Many Glacier. Glacier NP is not named for the glaciers that used to be there but for the action of the glaciers on the landscape. As of now, it is expected that all of the glaciers will have melted by 2030. A glacier by definition must be 25 acres in area, 100 feet deep and be moving. We spent time along rushing streams, took photos along Swiftcurrent Creek and walked part of the Ptarmigan Trail. We’d started too late to get all the way to Iceberg Lake but met several people who were on their way back. All said it was well worth the hike. Another thing for when we come back. By the time we got to the truck it was dinner time and we still had a two hour drive back. It was getting dark and rainy. So we grabbed pizza to go and took the “long” way around rather than drive the GTTS in the dark and fog. We kept saying “bet this is beautiful if we could see it!” Opal was very glad to see us after 12 hours in the trailer. They keep telling me how beautiful it is but all I see is the inside of the trailer.”

Scenery In Many Glacier Area

Scenery In Many Glacier Area

Steve On The Ptarmigan Trail

Steve On The Ptarmigan Trail

 

Glacier National Park, photography

Against The Wind

We made the drive back to St. Mary’s Lake on Friday and took the 2pm boat trip. A ranger was on board and explained a lot of park history. We especially liked learning about the early period when the railroad had built an exclusive resort on the lake.  We cruised by Little Goose Island. There is an overlook for the island on the GTTS that is the most photographed place in Glacier NP. We tried to get sunset pictures after the cruise but Mother Nature only gave us thick clouds and no sun. After docking we took a 3 mile hike to two waterfalls; Barring Falls and St. Mary’s Falls. The scenery from the trail was spectacular! On the ride back we saw Triple Divide Peak. This is only one of two places in North America where water flows in three directions: to the Mississippi on the east, to the Pacific via the Columbia River on the west and to Hudson’s Bay to the north.

boat, St. Mary's Lake

Cruise Aboard The Little Chief

cruise, St. Mary's Lake

Beautiful Day On The Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barring Falls

Barring Falls

waterfall

St. Mary’s Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glacier NP, boat ride, St. Mary's Lake

Approaching Little Goose Island

Ranger Talks About Medicinal Use Of Plants

Ranger Talks About Medicinal Use Of Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

triple divide

Triple Divide Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hike

View From Waterfall Hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally got to Logan Pass for the much heralded hike to Hidden Lake. Believe them when they say that the parking lot fills early. When we arrived at 9:45 we got one of the last parking spots. After that, getting a spot is like going to the mall the week before Christmas. Logan Pass is the highest point on the GTTs road. If you do no other hike, plan on this one. It’s about 3 miles to the Hidden Lake Overlook and 7 to the lake roundtrip. The scenery, the wildflowers and most of all the symbol of Glacier itself, the mountain goats make it very special. I only wish the guy that made the boardwalk had thought about people with short legs when he built the steps! At about 8,000 feet it was much colder. I was glad I had a pair of fingerless mittens in my camera bag.  Just when we reached Hidden Lake a few raindrops fell. We didn’t stay long as we could see the storm coming. About halfway down it really began raining and sleeting. Sleet doesn’t feel good on a bald head! Steve cut a black plastic trash bag and slid it over himself and his camera. Fine except that it was so tight he couldn’t move his arms. If he’d fallen he’d probably kept bouncing all the way to the bottom! My jacket was water resistant but by the time I got to the Visitor Center I was soaked through to the skin and very, very cold. I made a quick stop at the bathroom and when I came out the sun was shinning. People just arriving looked at me like I’d just gone overboard and been rescued. It was a long, cold ride back to the trailer.

Logan Pass, wildflowers

Wildflowers At Logan Pass

 

 

hiking, Glacier NP, landscape

Hiking To Hidden Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mountain goat

Ahhhhhhh!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbian ground squirrel, wildlife, Montana

Time For A Snack

nature, mountain goats, Logan Pass

Three Mountain Goats Along A stream

hike, Logan Pass, Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake Overlook

We’d hoped to do some kayaking but by the time we finished sightseeing and hiking the weather had become overcast and rainy with a “winter comes early” feel to the air. Guess we will just have to come back! We did drive up to one of the smaller lakes on the west side called Bowman Lake. The access is good until you start up toward the campground. This is suitable only for tents and truck campers. A rough, narrow dirt road but worth the effort as the lake is gorgeous. The rocks just below the water at the lake’s edge have so many colors. On the way back we stopped at the Polebridge Mercantile, a general store/bakery. We loaded up with cinnamon huckleberry bread (made great french toast), huckleberry bear claws and eclairs. Polebridge was one of the first commercial enterprises near Glacier NP. It still has cabins and a bar/restaurant with local musicians. A few buildings are from the original homestead.

Bowman Lake, Glacier NP

Bowman Lake

Color Under The Surface

Color Under The Surface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious Bakery!

Delicious Bakery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures barely do this park justice. You really need to come see for yourself. Have we just found a new favorite national park?

A River Of Grass – Everglades National Park

Everglades, national park

A Prairie On Water

sunset, clouds

Everglades Sunset

After all of our problems in Key West, it was wonderful to pull into a wide open, drive through electric site at Flamingo campground in Everglades National Park. Flamingo CG is located at the southernmost area of the Everglades (about 35 miles from the entrance near Florida City) on Florida Bay. Most of the sites are unserviced and available on a first come – first served basis.  Electric sites (tank water) must be reserved on Recreation.gov. Even in late January which is high season, there were plenty of unserviced sites available. Don’t let the statement that only cold water showers are available deter you. While our loop had only cold showers we learned after two days that solar powered hot water showers were available in Loop A just a quick walk or bike ride away. Plan ahead when you come here and have a full tank of gas and all of your groceries. It’s a long way back out although we drove the road many times. However watch your speed on this long drive as rangers patrol and are quick to pull you over (voice of experience.)

Flowering Tree In Everglades NP

Flowering Tree In Everglades NP

Neither of us had been to the Everglades before and didn’t know what to expect. I was so apprehensive about another bout with biting bugs, snakes and other swamp creatures that I’d made overlapping reservations in case we needed to get out.  Nothing could have prepared us for how beautiful this area is. We absolutely loved it! So much so that we cancelled our other reservations and extended our stay from 7 days to 11 days. That meant moving from the electric site to an unserviced one but with our generators it was no problem. We already had mosquito hats. When we saw mosquito net jackets for sale at the marina store we bought them, just in case. Winter is definitely the time to go to avoid the bug problem. We heard that some evenings at the amphitheater were bad for bugs but the nights we went it was breezy and no problem at all.

mangrove tree

Mangroves Along Florida Bay

There are many free Ranger led activities and talks so be sure to pick up a schedule at the Flamingo Visitor Center. We were lucky enough to start our stay off with a talk about manatees. Even though they are nicknamed sea cows their closest relative is the elephant. We joined a 5 hour bird walk during which we saw 41 different species and thanks to a huge flock of coots, an estimated 5,200 birds. We started at the Anhinga Trail. If you do nothing else, do visit this boardwalk trail along Taylor Slough. Take care and follow the directions to vulture-proof your vehicle and cover it with a free tarp. The black vultures in this area attack the rubber around windshields and have been known to pull mirrors off cars. We saw herons, a bittern, a phoebe, purple gallinule, anhinga, wood storks, alligators, a crocodile, spider lilies and even a glimpse of a white crowned pigeon.

kayaking, paddling, Nine Mile Pond

Paddling With A Ranger On Nine Mile Pond

vultures, Everglades

Take Time To Tarp

vulture, Everglades

Vulture Visiting An Unprotected Car

birds, Florida, Everglades, Anhinga Trail

Purple Gallinule “Walking” On Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ducks, photography

Three Mottled Ducks

birds, Anhinga Trail

Night Heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

 

 

 

 

 

cormorant, breeding plummage

Cormorant With Breeding Season Blue Eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bird watching, Everglades, bittern

Spotting A Bittern On The Anhinga Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron Looking For Dinner

 

 

 

 

phoebe

Phoebe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Heron Sporting Breeding Plumage

The Flamingo area is all about water. If you don’t have a boat or kayak/canoe they can be rented at the marina. We did paddle trips on Coot Bay, Florida Bay and Nine Mile Pond. Our first time on Nine Mile Pond was with a Ranger. Later in the week we went with some new RV friends, Donna and Jack from Buffalo, NY. There is a marked water trail through mangrove thickets and marsh areas. On trip #1 I was desperate for a bathroom break as I landed when someone called from shore “I don’t think you want to get out there.” My boat was about 4′ from a large gator tail! I said “thanks” and found another spot. When I returned after driving 5 miles to the nearest toilet, Steve was sitting on a picnic table. We put the boats up and headed home. The next day he said “Did you pick up my camera yesterday?” It was nowhere to be found. PANIC! We checked Lost and Found. No camera. We went back to the pond. No camera. We asked a few people if they’d seen it. NO CAMERA. Then we spotted an outfitter’s van. We asked him. YES! He had picked it up and taken it to his office until he had time to turn it in at the Visitors Center. So we followed him back and retrieved not only Steve’s camera but our paddles and our life jackets. How do you spell relief???? With all the bad news in the world it is really nice to know that good, honest people are not an extinct species. We certainly keep our guardian angel busy!

On one of our trips out of the park we stopped at a local market called Robert Is Here. As the story goes, when Robert (owner) was about five years old he set up a stand on the street corner to sell some veggies from his family’s garden. Cars came and went but no one stopped. He was too small to be easily seen. The next day his Dad made a sign and placed it above the stand, ROBERT IS HERE with an arrow pointing down. Robert sold all the veggies that day. The name stuck and the stand has been a busy place ever since. You can get huge milk shakes in many flavors (we had key lime), buy tropical fruits and fresh veggies or shop for gourmet items.

While kayaking on Florida Bay, Steve took some great pictures of a pelican colony and shorebirds. We also took a short boardwalk hike through Mahogany Hammock where we found some interesting lichen and wood patterns we’ve turned into orbs. We’ll end now with our favorite photo of the whole trip. A too cute for words tree frog.

white, brownpelicans and cormorants copy

White And Brown Pelicans With Cormorants

pelican, photography

Pelican Mom With Chick

osprey, Florida Bay

Osprey In Flight Over Florida Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palmetto Palm

Palmetto Palm Fan

Mahogany Hammock Boardwalk

Mahogany Hammock Boardwalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orb Of Everglades Lichen

Orb Of Everglades Lichen

 

Orb Of Decayed Wood

Orb Of Decayed Wood

tree frog

Too Cute For Words

 

 

 

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

McAdenville composite

Wishing everyone who reads our blog the best holiday season ever, however you choose to celebrate.

Decorating for the holidays is a challenge with limited space and storage. Steve made our “tree” so it is easy to take apart on moving day. He thinks it came out too skinny and is already planning a redo for next year. We’re calling it our “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”. 

While we were killing time during our recent roof repair we returned to our former home town of Charlotte, NC.  Just west of Charlotte off of I-85 is the small town of McAdenville.  A former mill town for Pharr Yarns, McAdenville now serves as a bedroom community for commuters.  Once a year, from the Monday after Thanksgiving until the first week of January, McAdenville becomes CHRISTMAS TOWN USA.  At one time I was told that anyone buying property in McAdenville had to sign an agreement that they would decorate for this event. I don’t know if this is true but in the five times I’ve gone to this event I’ve never seen an undecorated property.

Usually, we’d drive over via I-85 and sit for an hour or more in traffic waiting our turn to meander slowly through town and enjoy the spectacle. This year we took a backroad in early enough to beat the barricade and found parking in town. Arriving early gave us the opportunity to walk and photograph the lights. Many times Steve and I are shooting side by side and when we get home we have very similar pictures.   Of course, all of the good ones are mine! This time we separated and had a great assortment. Enjoy the slide show that follows.

M   E   R   R   Y        C   H   R   I   S   T   M   A   S

F   R   O   M

S   T   E   V   E      A    N   D     C   H   A   R   I

Just Call Me Keji

Having mentioned our stay at Kejimkujik National Park in the previous post this seemed a good time to tell you about our time there. With a tongue twister name like  Kejimkujik it’s no wonder that most everyone refers to this park simply as Keji. This was the third and last Canadian National Park we’d visit on this trip. Keji is also a National Historic Site because of a Mi’kmaw heritage site and the only Parks Canada site to be dually designated. The area where the park is located is known for old growth forest, lakes and a designated dark sky area. The park provides the core of the second largest biosphere in Canada. Keep in mind that at no time in Nova Scotia are you more than 50 miles from any coast. No wonder the Nova Scotia license plate has the slogan Canada’s Ocean Playground. There are two sites which make up the park: the main park in the center of the southwestern part of the island and the Seaside adjunct on the southern shore.  See the green areas on the map below.

Map of southwest Nova Scotia

We were in the RV camping area at Jeremy’s Bay in the main park where we had electric hookups and tank water. Water supply points are located frequently throughout the campground so refilling was not a problem. We carry 200′ of hose and rarely find ourselves further away from a water supply. When we do we use collapsable water containers (2 and 5 gallon size) for cooking and personal use thus saving the tank water as much as possible. The sites at Kejimkujik are large, wooded and private just the way we like it.

Kejimkujik National Park

A Walk In The Keji Woods

lichen

Lichen Drying On A Tree

The park is great for bike riding. There is access to the water for paddling near the campground and at a day use area. The Kejimkujik area boasts 46 lakes and ponds formed during the last glacial period which amount to 15% of the park acreage. The Mersey River flows through the park and its watershed is the largest in Nova Scotia.  While we were there it was quite windy and we chose to paddle the river. Lake Kejimkujik was too rough for us. The river was wide and calm for about two miles. Then we hit some rapids. We were able to paddle through the first three but pooped out after giving the fourth one a good try. We didn’t feel so bad when a group of 20-somethings were working hard to make it. They just had a bit more endurance. The float back was great fun. This is definitely a When We Come Back Spot.

Start Of Our Mersey River Paddle

Start Of Our Mersey River Paddle

kayaking, Kejimkujik

Beautiful Day For A Paddle

We took a few short hikes as well along the river to Mill Falls and drove to the far end of the park to see remnants of Mi’kmaq eel weir on the Mersey River. Keji was established as a national park in 1974 to preserve the dwindling old growth forest. It is estimated that less than 1% of all forests in Nova Scotia are over 100 years old. Under the protection of dense hemlocks in Spring a collection of wild orchids, mosses, lichen and mushrooms grow. Bogs are another of the protected environments in the park and can be accessed by hiking or paddling. Peak wildflower bloom is May-June. Do I smell another trip here? 

HDR photography

Mill Falls In HDR

Steve At Mill Falls In Keji

Steve At Mill Falls In Keji

waterfall, hike

Mill Falls

waterfall

Closeup of waterfall

Orb Made From Pattern In River Water

Orb Made From Pattern In River Water

Keji was designated a Dark Sky Preserve in 2010 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  During the summer, Rangers provide Dark Sky presentations in an open amphitheater located at Jeremy’s Bay campground. The one we attended lasted about an hour and several constellations were pointed out. Unfortunately the presenters didn’t know how to operate their new computer assisted telescope and couldn’t get it to focus so we had to use our binoculars. With our new interest in nighttime photography we need to return and do star trails.

The Mi’kmaw Indians inhabited this area for 2,500-4,000 years before European contact. They built stone and wooden weir to catch fish from the river then dried and smoked them. There is a protected heritage site accessible only with a ranger. Guided site visits are lead once a week and you must sign up at the Visitors Center well in advance as group size is limited. We weren’t able to go this time but we know we’ll be back.

Mi'kmaw, American Indian

Example Of Mi’kmaw Artwork

Eel Weir On Mersey River

Eel Weir On Mersey River

As if all of this isn’t enough there is the Seaside Adjunct located on Nova Scotia’s  southern shore.  This section provides excellent hiking trails and access to some of the finest white sand beaches in the Maritimes.

From our base in Keji we also drove over to Annapolis Royal, another Parks Canada site. We’d hoped to tour the fort but our timing was off. The town is also very interesting with lots of old buildings from the 1700-1800s. There is a beautiful garden there well worth touring however by the time we were there it was well past prime. You’d think with 2.5 months we’d have seen everything. Not so. That’s good. As if we needed an excuse to come back! We did spend about an hour at the Tidal Power Generating Station. This was an experimental station built to research using the power of Bay of Fundy tides for electric power generation. While this station worked well they discovered that other areas in the Bay were too full of silt. The silt quickly ground the turbines apart in as little as ten weeks. So for now this huge potential power source must wait for technology to catch up. We’d worked up an appetite by then so we stopped for lunch at a small German restaurant just across from the fort. Can’t remember now what we had but I do know it was very good.

We Were The Only Visitors

We Were The Only Visitors

View From The Tidal Generating Station

View From The Tidal Generating Station

Tidal Power Plant

Tidal Power Plant