Monday, June 30, 2008

A road less traveled or should not have been traveled at all...

I will skip the second day trip to Yellowstone for now and catch up later, I think that makes two Blog’s that I need to fill you in on, but first:

Saturday we moved to another campground, only 16 miles south of where we were at Henry’s Lake state park. We met our wonderful neighbors who live near here and shared two dinners with them. During one of our conversations I mentioned that we had decided to take a long day trip to Teton National park and had found that there was a east-west route that would cut off several hours of driving on already traveled roads. Our neighbor cautioned us that the road is only passable part of the year and is a very bad road. Never being one to shy away from a challenge we decided to get up early (5:00AM-Jackie--5:30 Dick) and get on the road early. Let me insert here that the trip east to west is about 50 miles.

I had Googled “Ashton, Idaho to Flagg Valley Ranch, Wyoming and came up with little information. The route starts just 20 miles south of our camp and ends just south of the south entrance to Yellowstone, between Yellowstone and Teton National Park. I was able to find the route on our GPS, so with a lunch packed and the dog in the back seat, we hit the road Monday morning.
We found the road and headed east out of Ashton and the road took us through some beautiful farm country. We ran across a moose in one of the fields. (Interesting that all the way through Yellowstone we didn't see one moose, yet here in farm country we did!)

We got a chuckle out of a cemetery that we came across. Was this some kind of an omen? (Actually, we came across Squirrel Creek just down the road.)
We finally came to the end of the pavement and continued by the sign wondering what it really meant. We debated it for a while and figured it had something to do with winter snowmobiling. No problem we can make it, we agreed.
I stopped to take some more wildflower pictures but was attacked by the mosquitoes to the point that they blocked the truck door so I had to fight them off to get back in.

As we progressed, the road got worse and worse and worse, but we just put it into 4-wheel drive and were able to get it through some deep ruts.
At 2 hours and about 41 miles on the road and with less than 9 miles to go we came around a corner to find “ROAD CLOSED” sign. After debating the question of what to do, we decided that we have come this far so let’s see what is beyond the sign. Around it we went, and locked in 4-wheel drive headed up the road to come around another corner to find why it was closed.

Not sure how long the Jeep had been high centered on a downed tree, and no one was around, but it sure stopped us from going any further. To make matters worse, I had to back out through the snow and mud.

We finally got turned around and headed back to Ashton. On the way back we took a road marked on the map to a Boy Scout Camp. It was about five miles up, then down to a beautiful site with a lake, a new lodge and some cabins. When we came back to the main road from there, we ran across two bicyclists. They had come through from Flagg Ranch and we one their way to Canada. They said accepting a ride from us would be "cheating", so we went on. Once back to Ashton, we took another long trip to view some of the beauty in eastern Idaho. Arrived back home at 5:30PM after another 11-hour day on the road. This is a picture of part of the Tetons from the "west" side, looking east. Not what we had planned, but still made the best of it and it gave us more fond memories.

Found this old one room school house in the middle of a wheat field.
You can see the sky in this picture. We passed through a couple of thunderstorms, but by the time we got back to camp it was nice again. Another great day. Off tomorrow for more adventures--stay tuned.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yellowstone day 2 (not)

On Thursday (day 2) we decided to take in some other sights and only spend half a day in the truck so after departing the camp we went up a gravel side road and ran across acres of daisy's so had to spend some time and take some pictures for you know who. I will call these "A field for Daisy".

The fields ran on and off for miles. Need to spend some time taking out the pole and lines.

Back on the highway in the high desert area are huge areas of nothing but wildflowers; I would guess this field to be 2 miles square and there are lots of them up and down the road.

We found another forest service road and I hiked out to the outlet of a mostly dry lake to get these pictures of the field of purple larkspur. And yes there are more daisy's in this area.
This is another view of the same area showing some of the small ponds still present in the field. I hiked the dry drainage from the field for about a 100 yards and came to the top of a huge cliff. I could hear water in the distance so figured there had to be a river at the bottom.

Down the road we came to a park that had an upper and lower falls. This is what I had heard from above. There is a boardwalk so you can go out to the top edge of the upper falls and then along the side to get spectacular views. (Mesa Falls)

Another mile down the river we came to the lower falls. Lots of water as the snow is still melting. I have seen so many falls in the last few weeks I came up with a new name for them.
"Waters that change elevation rapidly"
It was a fun trip and we got back home in time to have a campfire. We did spend 15 hours in Yellowstone park on Friday but will post that trip later. We have moved again (Saturday) and are now in a Federal campground in the trees so I am sitting in my lawn chair under the awning in the shade posting this, it's a hard life. (Unfortunately we are also fighting off the mosquitos!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yellowstone day 1...

We moved from Pocatello to Henrys Lake State park in Idaho on Tuesday. Only 152 miles so had lots of time to set up and walk and ride our bikes around the campground area. Mountains all around and some still with lots of snow. We have water and power but have to move to dump tanks. No problem as we can last over the 4 days we plan on being here and can dump on the way out.

We got up early yesterday morning (6:30 AM) had breakfast, fixed a lunch and headed off to “day 1 at Yellowstone”. It took us 11 hours to drive about 170 miles around the North loop, so only saw a very small part of the 2.2 million acre park. Must have got in and out of the truck 100 times to walk the river, trails and boardwalks and take pictures.

What an unbelievable park! The scenery was spectacular, the wild animals abundant and lots and lots of people. We did find some side roads that we kept to ourselves. Seems like most people just get on the road and when they see an animal they stop and stick their cameras out the window and take a quick picture. We even saw a man drive by a hot springs with his video camera stuck out the window. There are times that the road is blocked both ways because people have decided to abandon their cars and walk to the side of the road to see what is in the woods(and take pictures).

The park is so immense and you only get to see a very small portion of that. If we went back every day for a week we might get to see most of what is available via the roads. I had to laugh when a man asked the Ranger “I only have an hour to spend here so what should I see?”. The Ranger did a good job, but I could see she wanted to roll her eyes and chuckle. I wanted to tell him just walk across the road and sit in one spot for an hour and you will be amazed at what you can see. But for a change I kept my mouth shut. (This is Dick speaking.)

Following are just a few of the 70 pictures that were taken and we still have the long loop to go. We got back to a thunderstorm at the camp but there was a bright spot; see the last picture. We are going to go to another area on Thursday and then back to the park on Friday.

These first two pictures are quite interesting. Shortly after arriving at the park, we took a side road to view the river. The first thing I(Dick) noticed was some of the damage from the 1988 fire so I wanted to document and share it. After taking the picture of the river and hillside, Jackie noticed something on the other side of the river. If you blow up the picture you will see 3 elk on the other side. The second picture was taken after Jackie noticed them. Close to the end of this Blog are more pictures of the devastation.

We took another side road and next to the river was this buffalo, so being handy with my camera I got what I thought was a good shot.

We saw lots of these big critters all over the park but on the way out we ran across these two and...
I got a little close to this one to get his close up. Smile please!
When taking the picture of the first Buffalo there was a fisherman standing next to me and he told me to turn around and walking just behind me was this Elk with her baby. Wow what a sight.

This is a picture that is used on the cover of one of the free books about Yellowstone, except they forgot to include Jackie and CC in their copy!

The park is full of falls and we stopped at many but here are pictures of just 2 of them.

The whole park is full of geological abnormalities or geysers. I think the park is leaking all over the place. This is the first one we stopped at, you can see a small portion of the the boardwalk across a large area full of steam vents and sulphur smelling water bubbling out.
Depending on the temperature of the water determines the type of growth that takes place. Here is a small stream with temperatures below boiling and all the growth is very distinct green. Other areas are red or brown.

Another view of the acres of vents.
This is an area called Mammoth hot springs and there must be over a mile of boardwalks with an elevation change of close to 500 feet. It is constantly changing both in size and color.
Another corner of the above area is this build up of deposits that has taken place over the years and continues today . The flow is now close to the top and it's location has changed over the years.

This is just one valley that must extend a hundred miles. It was hazy in the afternoon but this picture still needed to be taken.
This little guy, or gal, was told to stay put and not to move, and she did a good job. I am sure she thought no one could see her off in the woods under a tree. Actually it was only about 15 feet from the boardwalk overlooking the river. As other pointed her/him out to us, we had to do the same for the next folks. What a treat!

As I said earlier that the devastation from the wildfire in 1988 was apparent all over the park, but after climbing to about 9000 feet elevation this is what we could see of the timber loss as the fire raced up the mountainside. I do have to say that all the areas of fire damage are now full of new growth of trees. There is a lot of green but the big old dead trees sure stand out.

On the way back home we ran through a heavy thunder shower but when we got back to the 5th wheel here is what greeted us. See, our Big Sky is really at the end of the rainbow! Of course we had left our chairs outside, so everything was soaked. Hopefully it will dry quickly.
We will be back there Friday so stay tuned... (Oh, and we have some pictures of the scenes we saw today (Thursday), too. More wildflowers and waterfalls to come! And a field for Daisy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who are you?

You are being watched!

We got to 700 hits on our blog, it says 800 but I started the counter at 100. From those we have received only about 35 messages and most of them from Debbie, Michell and Deanna, so must have a lot of lurkers out there or people checking the Blog every day to see what's new.

Just to get an idea of who is out there please just leave your name on a reply so we can see who you are.

D, J & CC

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pioneer Historic Byway in southern Idaho...

Yesterday, 6/23, we spent the day on the Pioneer Historic Byway in southeastern Idaho. It was a long day in the truck, but very worthwhile. You can read the information on where the great Bonneville (Salt) lake finally washed away it's dam and rushed across the country to form new rivers and lakes. Sounds a lot like the great Missoula flood to me.

This is Niter Ice Cave. We walked way down inside of the cave, where it was quite cool (compared to the 80 degrees or so outside). We walked deep into the cave until the floor turned to mud or wet clay and we realized that CC was running around in it. We had a small flashlight but it would not help at all. The cave was next to a farmers field, in fact it ran under his field.

Soda Springs Geyser:

It is capped and allowed to spew once an hour, on the hour. The Geyser is in the middle of town and behind some old buildings. The surface of the area around it was very interesting as you could see the ripples from the water running over it building up. Yes, I did bring home a piece of the rock like material.

This is a picture of the build-up of the minerals in the water as it cascades down.

We saw beautiful mountains, lush farmland, lakes, rivers, springs, and old towns with lots of history. I can't believe how beautiful this area of Idaho is. Whereever we went we found green hills, valleys and mountains. You would be going through the hills and come over the top to see another lush green valley surrounded by more green hills. Am I impressed. We would move here in a minute if only it stayed like this all year long.
We also saw the area and learned about the Bear River Massacre, where over 400 Shoshone Indians were massacred in 1863. What I read on a monument at this site, erected by the Daughters of Utah pioneers has bothered me for two days now so I will need to post my feelings in a seperate Blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

In Twin Falls, ID, we rode our bikes along the Snake River canyon (proud of us, Deb?). Here is the Perrine Bridge. We watched a man parachute off the bridge. It was beautiful. Found out later from a fellow cyclist that this is the only bridge in the world where it is legal year round to parachute. Can you see the parachute in the second picture? The local cyclist also told us about a new restaurant on the trail, so we tried it for lunch. Delicious, but way too much food! We had a nice view of the two golf courses on the river. Later we went downtown Twin Falls for their weekly music at the fountain on Wednesday nights. Lucky us. It was the first one of the summer and the band was "Renegade", country. So we got to dance. Even had our picture taken for the local paper, although we don't know if it ever made it into the paper.
The next day we drove to Shoshone Falls (below), the Niagara of the West (although we didn't think it was as pretty as Snoqualmie) Also Twin Falls, but didn't take any pictures there. After a trip to downtown Twin Falls thrift stores for some clothes for Jackie, we loaded CC in the truck and headed for the City of Rocks.

This place is SO incredible! The weather was perfect when we were there -- low 70s.

Can you see the climbers? Evidently this is "the place" to go rock climbing. There were cars from all over there -- Utah, Colorado, Idaho (of course), Nevada, and us. There are beautiful camp sites hidden in the hills, and group sites. We saw tents all over. Thought about Darin and Deanna -- know he would love to be there.

This shot shows you the size of the rock. And they were all over the area -- no wonder they call it city of Rocks! There are two people on the face and one on the top.

That night we didn't get back to the 5th wheel until late, so just had popcorn for dinner (love it).

The next day we drove the Thousand Spring Scenic Byway. It was beautiful with springs coming right out of the hillsides (no pictures). Along the way was this canyon with water coming out of the sides, which flows into the Snake River.

Also along this byway was a portion of the Oregon Trail -- like the California Trail we saw in Nevada. Here is a picture of the ruts from the wagon trains.

We have seen so much history on this trip -- it is great.
Later that night Jackie dragged Dick out to the Montana Steakhouse. They had advertised live music. In spite of the smoking in the lounge, the band was good and dancing great. It was much easier on the legs than the street dancing of a couple of nights earlier. We danced until we couldn't stand the smoke any more and came home.
No pictures of the RV park as it was just an old go-cart track that was all gravel with hook-ups added. Nice people but what a dump. The temp has now gone up to the mid 90s but we hope it will be cooler in Yellowstone. Diesel prices around here range from $4.73 to 4.87 so have spent a lot on fuel.
We are now in Pocatello, Idaho and plan to spend 3 nights and then head up to Yellowstone for a week. We will spread that out at two different parks. We will spend the 4th of July in Montana and then start slowly heading West so will be back in Ephrata some time late July...maybe.