"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bear Lake and Ms. Subaru

Bear Lake is famous for its bright turquoise waters, and it lived up to its reputation. Had a hard time wrapping my head around this landscape, with the tropical looking water surrounded by dry, sage covered mountains.

We circumvented the lake, passing out of Idaho, in Utah. Took a drive up Beaver Mountain to get a bird's eye view of the lake and some fall colors. Little orange and red maples I think.  We stopped in Fish Haven for lunch and had the best sandwiches ever at a tiny place along the road side, Gladys'.  I hope you'll all get a chance to try their rueben sandwiches and one of the "Only Raspberry Shakes in Fish Haven."

Just north of Bear Lake is Mud Lake, a wildlife refuge, which was also beautiful in its own way. Lots of ducks and fish in the water.

The next day we went back to Bear Lake for a paddle.  This might be a good time to introduce you to the newest member of our traveling team.

This is the happy Ms. Forester Subaru. She carries all our adventure equipment, except when she forgets something, like the paddles. But she's young and we're patient with her. She'll catch on. But doesn't she look happy there at Bear Lake?

So...we headed back to the campground without taking a paddle after all and passed this other happy place. Someone actually lives in this house!

Happy surprises everywhere we go...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Two Big Parks and We're on Our Way Again - Part Two

We took a down day to recover from the Teton drive, but did do some kayaking on the Henry Fork of the Snake River. It was our first time on a western river with the foldable kayaks, and we did OK. It was a pretty windy day so we didn't kayak for long.

The next day we got an early start and headed up to West Yellowstone. Like the Tetons, we'd both spent time in Yellowstone before, so we didn't feel like we needed to push ourselves to see a lot. We chose to take the southern loop and just stop and get out to look around some when we felt like it. We ended up stopping at several places we hadn't seen before, which was a nice surprise. We didn't see much wildlife (local hunters blame the wolves). In fact the biggest wildlife watching crowd we joined was in the Hayden Valley; everyone had there spotting scopes out looking at nothing. So we moved on.  We did see a herd of bison that had taken over the Bridger campground, which was closed.

Some of the nice places that were new to use were:

The Madison River

The Firehole River

Firehole Falls
And the Black Sand Geyser Basin:

We revisited the West Thumb Geyser Basin:

Looking down into a deep hot spring hole. 

The shore of Yellowstone Lake

Long drive home, and spent the next day getting ready to head south to Montpelier Creek, our last stop in Idaho. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Big Parks and We're on the Road Again - Part One

In just three days we visited two of the most dramatic parks in the US. We'd been to both a couple of times before, so we weren't really trying to see it all in an unrealistic amount of time, but were just touching base to see what they had to offer us today.

Grand Teton National Park: We drove from Idaho to Wyoming over the Flagg Ranch road, a new approach for both of us. The atmosphere has been kind of hazy due to fires in the area. We thought that getting right into the mountains, up close, might be better than looking for the grand views that the Tetons usually offer, but that we couldn't see now.

The Flagg Ranch Rd. is dirt and pretty rough all the way. It starts in the flat wheat fields of Idaho and rises very gradually into the foot hills and then the mountains of the Grand Targhee National Forest, which is between Yellowstone and the Tetons, and west of them both. The road winds its way through the forests, rising in elevation to 7,100 and passing through some beautiful valleys with streams or ponds in them.

We descended the east side into Grand Teton National Park, crossing over Pole Cat Creek, and stopped and watched three otters playing in the creek and drifting downstream.

The drive south along the Teton range was as magnificent as ever, even with reduced visibility. The Tetons are iconic mountains. They are everything you imagine mountains to be, like fairy tale mountains.  The east side is very flat so they rise up very abruptly, making for these dramatic scenes.

We took the drive up Signal Mountain for the views, and along Jenny Lake (below).

We splurged on an overnight in a hostel in Jackson Hole and got up early the next morning to ride the big new tram to the top of the ski mountain there. We barely missed a thunderstorm that was coming over the top, so we couldn't linger there. Got a few pictures going up, at the tops and going back down though.  Some of these pictures will be of interest to skiers.  The view down looks over the valley of Jackson and Jackson Hole.

Jackson is a very a che'che' tourist location, with many very rich people with homes in the surrounding hills. Our favorite places there are Thomas Mangelsen's home town gallery and the National Wildlife Museum.  (It makes you feel like you've seen a lot of wildlife even if you haven't.) Both create a change in your sense of vision so that the whole world looks like a work of art when you emerge. I'm sure my photos will be much improved as a result. We'll see in Part Two.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Getting Back and Getting Ready to Move On

We have been away for about a week attending the wedding of two very good friends. It was a lovely weekend with lots of home cooked food, great people (including many pies!) and contra dancing. We also got to have a brief visit with my son Mark, who is building a yurt.

Now that we're back home, it's time to wrap up our stay here in the Flathead Valley of Montana. Boy have we loved it. Something that will make it a little easier to leave is the smoke in the atmosphere from fires in nearby valleys for the past two weeks. The crisp clean air and terrific clarity of the views is much reduced. But the weather has still been perfect. Cool at night, with warm dry days.

This campground has also been wonderful. If you're ever traveling through here, I'd recommend Eagle Nest RV Resort with no reservations. I'm not sure what makes it a "resort" but it does have a nice pool.

We'll spend the weekend getting ourselves and our vehicles ready for the drive, with a few paddles in the lake to break up the work. On Monday we head south to Dillon, MT for an overnight. Then on to Bear Lake in southwest Idaho for about a week. Then a couple of weeks in northern Utah. We will end up just outside of Zion National Park for a month.  Should be getting some interesting photos along the way.