Friday, September 23, 2016

More Giant Deer, Corkscrews, Fish, People and Buffalo. Love the Big Things

More Giant Deer, Corkscrews, Fish, People and Buffalo. Love the Big Things

All through our trip we have driven by all kinds of huge animals, statures, dinosaurs, all kinds of things. I love seeing them all and have tried to take pictures of as many as I could. There are really everywhere if you just look for them. Be sure to check out my previous post from July 22 at the beginning of our trip.  Below we have some giant Lewis & Clark from North Dakota, the worlds largest buffalo, flying fish from Lake Superior and a huge cork screw.

Louise standing in front of Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea at the
North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Standing in front of the World's Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota

Running Deer in Deerwood, Minnesota

Bring in a fish along Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconson

Most large road side objects are usually animals of some kind,
but here we have a corkscrew

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 10, 11, 2016, Glendive, Makoshika Dinosours, Frontier Gateway Museum, Theodore Roosevelt NP, and Salem Sue the Cow

September 10, 11, 2016, Glendive Montana, Makoshika Dinosours, Frontier Gateway Museum, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Enchanted Highway and the Flying Geese, and Salem Sue the world largest cow

Because of our wrong turn in Yellowstone we are higher up in Montana than we planned. In fact we hadn't planned to being back in Montana, but here we are. Our plan now is to drive across Montana and then North Dakota and through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Leaving Livingston we drove across Montana to the town of Glendive on the eastern side along Interstate 94. Kind of a nice little railroad town original established by the Northern Pacific Railroad, it is also the agriculture and ranching hub of eastern Montana.  We had two excellent meals at C.C. Family Cafe, best turkey dinner ever.  Glendive is also ground zero for dinosaurs, Makoshika State Park is located here. It is one of the major locations in the world for finding and digging up dinosaurs fossils of all kinds. Glendive also kind of sits on the edge of the Dakota's Badlands geography and has some amazing landscape in the Makoshika park.

The Frontier Gateway Museum is also located here in Glendive. It contains an excellent collection of pioneer farm equipment. The farm equipment all looks so crude now but in their day it was the leading technology. It has been very interesting to see some of the massive farm equipment along the road or in the fields. The museum was closed for the season but a very nice lady let us in to walk around the outdoor exhibits. This is the second time we have had this happen, very cool.

As we left on Sunday we drove east passed the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, visiting the Painted Canyon area in the Southern Unit. Much of this park is also similar to the landscape of the Badlands in South Dakota. Stark and beautiful. I had never really heard of the Theodore Roosevelt NP but he had several large ranches in this area and during his administration he put something like 1/10 of the US land under federal control in parks and forests. Around 230 million acres.

One of the cool things about driving out west that I love are the huge statues you see along the road, mostly giant cows and dinosaurs, but also art. As we drove to Bismarck, ND along Interstate 94 we passed two cool ones, Geese in Flight in appreciation of the Enchanted Highway, one of the worlds largest metal sculptures, and Salem Sue the worlds largest cow.

Entrance to Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana

Rugged landscape in Makoshika State Park

Louise taking a selfie against an amazing landscape

Boulders in Makoshika State Park
A cool dinosaur across from a now closed dino museum
Frontier Gateway Museum, Closed for season, but they let us in to wander
State of the art farm equipment in it day
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, beautiful

Geese in Flight located along the Enchanted Highway, North Dakota and I-94
Salem Sue, worlds largest cow, Salem, ND, along I-94, erected in 1974

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 9, 10, 2016, Yellowstone National Park, Making a Wrong Turn, Driving Across Montana

September 9, 10, 2016, Yellowstone National Park, Making a Wrong Turn, Driving Across Montana

Right above the Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone National Park, One of the crown jewels of the park system. Driving up Route 89 we drive past the Teton fire damage and enter Yellowstone along the Lewis River. It is a beautiful day and we stop along the road to look at the scenery. We have been in the northern end of the park but not in the south. Most of the sites that you have heard of are located more in the southern half of the park. Swinging to the left side we come to Old Faithful. This is a big area with a visitors center, Old Faithful Lodge and the famous Old Faithful Inn.

Yellowstone is a huge national park and gets a lot of visitors. We are here after labor day and the crowd is still huge. There must be between 1,500 and 2,000 people for each eruption of Old Faithful. This is our first time seeing Old Faithful. It erupts about every 94 minutes and sits in an area that actually has somewhere around 500 other geysers and hot springs. There are many grouped right in this area and then as you drive north you pass many others. Old Faithful is the big famous one that erupts on a regular basis but there are many others that are doing something. It is kind of a magical landscape. Steam is coming out all over the place.

What is a must to see if you visit here is the Old Faithful Inn. It is generally considered the largest log structure in the world. Built in 1903-4 with 327 rooms. The lobby is amazing going up like 4 floors. The ceilings are made of logs. It is an amazing structure and a must see.

Leaving Old Faithful we intended to drive up and over to the eastern side (Yellowstone Map) and visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone but missed the turn off. When we finally stopped and looked at the map we found that we were actually up near Mammoth Hot Springs and 5 miles from Montana. Whoops! By now it was getting to the end of the day and we were getting tired. Oh well new direction. We decided to drive out of the park and up to Livingston, MT for the night and head east from there. Livingston is about 50 miles outside the park, a short distance when driving in the west.  At Mammoth Hot Springs we did get to see a herd of elk that often come right into the visitor area every day. they are all over the place. Pretty amazing.

On a personal note I have found that I like the smaller parks and sites like Grand Teton better than the super parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. It is nice with less people. I would put Mt. Rainier and Glacier in the super park popular group but because they kind of limit the number of people that can actually move around in them they don't feel crazy. Yellowstone is huge and crowded. We did enter the northern side a couple of years ago and that was excellent but the southern side is packed with people. But don't let that stop you for seeing the parks, they are all amazing and beautiful. I find a big key for the parks is go early in the day and during the week. Avoid the weekends and holidays if possible. 

We stayed in Livingston, MT for the night and then the next day drove across Montana to a town called Glendive. Montana is huge and it was fun to be back in the state. It is one of the most geologically diverse states that we have been to. Desert, mountains, huge wheat fields, Badlands environments, national parks, the landscape is all over the place and beautiful everywhere.

Standing at the South Western Entrance to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser erupting, every 94 minutes forever

One of the amazing canyon views on the road north

Elk gazing at Mammoth Hot Springs, unseen is a large herd to the left

On the way to Glendive, Go Have An Adventure, the theme of our trip

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 7-9, 2016 Camped in Grand Teton National Park, Spectular Views, Herd of Antelope

September 7-9, 2016 Camped in Grand Teton National Park, Spectular Views, Herd of Antelope

We got back to camping in one of the most spectacular places we have been, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Grand Teton sits right below Yellowstone and above Jackson Hole and is often overpowered by its neighbor. But this is a fantastic park. It is smaller but the views are amazing.

We stayed in the Colter Bay Camp Ground which is about in the middle of the park. From here we moved around to view the different lakes, meadows and mountains. We caught a beautiful sunset on Thursday and saw a herd Prong Horned Antelope.  We also had much cooler nights with temps dropping down into the 30s. Camping went well and a little easier than at Mt. Rainier. We are learning all the time.

I also had time to do a watercolor which was fun.

Hunt Camp Boundary, Watercolor from Grand Teton National Park

This summer Grand Teton has been dealing with fires on the northern top part of the camp. We could see the results along Route 89 when we drove up to Yellowstone, see picture below. We could also see fires burning on one of the Teton mountains during the day. They continue to deal with fire, opening and closing Route 89.

I would put Grand Teton on your list of National Parks to visit. It is easy to get around and a beautiful place to visit.

Bruce and Louise standing at the Grand Teton entrance.

The Grand Teton Mountains give spectacular views

Camping in Grand Teton, Louise in front of our tent

Making breakfast at our Teton campsite, including pancakes. Temp in the 40s

We had campfires both nights.

On Thursday we watch a fantastic sunset over the Tetons

National Parks give you great opportunities to explore

Taking a walk on the Taggart Lake trail
Fire services were being stages near our camp ground.

Some of the fire damage we saw as we drove north to Yellowstone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 5th and 6th, 2016 Driving to Elko, NV and Idaho Falls, ID. Western Museum

September 5th and 6th, 2016 Driving to Elko, NV and Idaho Falls, ID. Western Museum

Leaving Yosemite we headed east across Nevada along Route 208, 95A and then to Interstate 80. We ended up in a town called Elko, Nevada. We picked it because it had a lot of hotels but ended up being an ok place. The country side along the drive is pretty cool. Mostly desert or small bushes but really, really dry. We passed very small towns, mining operations, cows and occasionally horses but mostly just emptiness. Elko was the largest town in the northeastern section of Nevada and was the railroad, mining and ranching center from the 1850s on. The California Trail ran through here as well as the Central Pacific Railroad.

On Tuesday morning we visited the Northeastern Nevada Museum here in Elko. It is an excellent regional museum with a huge collection of stuffed animals from the Jack Wanamaker Wildlife collection of big game and western animals. Plus lots of local Nevada history.

Leaving the museum we headed east along Route 84 and headed to Idaho Falls. Along the way we crossed the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho over the Perrine Bridge. in 1974 Evil Knievel tried and failed to jump the Snake River. Seeing the river is seems just crazy.

Driving along Route 208 in Nevada, entering a really cool canyon

Much of the country side looked just like this

Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, Nevada

Having fun with a bear from the Wanamaker Wildlife Collection

Driving across lower Idaho, still pretty barren

Standing by the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho

September 4, 2016, Visit Yosemite National Park, Amazing Sites, No Place to Sleep

September 4, 2016, Visit Yosemite National Park, Amazing Sites, No Place to Sleep

Today we visited Yosemite National Park, one of the premier national parks in the entire system. We had a beautiful visit with great weather except for one thing, it is Labor Day weekend. The park is jammed with thousands of people and zillions of cars. We came in the southern entrance by the Mariposa Groves, unfortunately they are closed. We then drove to the main loop in Yosemite Valley. We were lucky, we found a parking spot and were able to walk around, see the valley, do the Lower Falls Trail and get lunch. The cars were wall to wall, standing still everywhere.

We left the valley area and headed out and east along the Tioga Road to Lee Vining on the CA and NV border, which is also Route 120. I have been through much of the popular parts of Yosemite but never this road. It is very picturesque with some spectacular views. One of them being the Olmsted Point which is just granite, granite, granite. It is amazing. We also drove through the Tuolumne Meadows which we will have to leave for a future visit.

One of the things we noticed driving in through the Sierra National Forest and throughout Yosemite are all the dying and weak trees. The drought has hit this area hard and the fire danger is extremely high. Sometimes it seems like almost 20% of the trees are fully brown. It is like one giant match just ready to ignite.

Dead trees in the Sierra National Forest, ready to burn

We tried to get a room outside of the park but it being Labor Day weekend there was nothing. We tried calling or visiting half of the hotels in Mammoth Lake and everything was sold out. So we turned around and headed north finally finding a hotel near Topaz Lake, NV.

Bruce and Louise at Yosemite's Entrance
Merced River running through Yosemite Valley

Trees along the Tioga Road, beautiful views of the mountains

Yosemite Valley, spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs

Driving in Yosemite on Labor Day Weekend, bumper to bumper

Bruce having fun at Olmsted Point, amazing granite

Louise looking at the valley in the Inyo National Forest, just outside Yosemite

September 3, 2016, Beginning the Big Turn Back to New England, Heading Towards Yosemite National Park

September 3, 2016, Beginning The Big Turn Back to New England

Saturday we got back on the road and began the big turn back to home. We have come to the end of the western travel and it is time to start heading home. Our plans are to head up to Yosemite National Park, then up through Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and then back to the East Coast.

Today was another long hot ride through the California farm country. It is so strange to see all these trees in barren dirt. Without water there would be nothing here, it is just a giant desert. We ended up in Oakhurst, CA, outside of Yosemite National Park for the night.

Driving across Southern California up towards Yosemite

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sept 1-3, Traveling South, Central Valley, Los Angles, Rudolf Schindler House, Driving, Driving, Driving

Sept 1-3, Traveling South, Central Valley, Los Angles, Rudolf Schindler House, Driving, Driving, Driving

September 1, off to Los Angles to visit our daughter Isabelle. We drove from San Francisco, leaving about 8:30 and heading south down Interstate 5 to Los Angles. We arrived about 4:30 to the Santa Monica area of LA. A hot long drive. Southern California is really barren except for where they irrigate. The landscape is just golden brown everywhere or almost nothing. There is no water here. Where they irrigate they are growing Almonds, Almond trees by the miles.

We had fun hanging out with Izz on Thursday and Friday. Friday she took us to visit two houses by the Los Angles architect Rudolf Schindler. We visited his main home built in 1922, also known as the Kings Road house, and then an apartment building he designed in 1939. Schindler's home set the model for the Southern California look. Flat and integrated into the landscape. It is known as the birthplace of California modernism that we talk about today. It was cool to see. The homes are now run by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in LA.

We had lunch at Urth Caffe, one of those trendy sidewalk cafes with lots of beautiful people. It was fun. Lots of tall women. And dinner was at an excellent Japanese Ramen Noodle shop called Shin Sen Gumi just off Santa Monica. It is fun to say just hanging out on Santa Monica. We even did a KANPAI toast to the entire restaurant

LA roof tops with the 405 in the middle

Hanging with Isabelle, great to see her on the West Coast

Rudolf Schindler designed apartment building, 1939

Rudolf Schindler's Kings Row House, 1922

Lunch at Urth Caffe in LA. Food excellent, sites pretty good also

Shin Sen Gumi, Ramen Noodle Restaurant, excellent, in Santa Monica

KANPAI or bottoms up in Japanese, excellent dinner