Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Yellowstone National Park 2013

I left Alder, Montana at 7:00 AM and arrived in Island Park, Idaho at 9:30 AM. Highway 287 follows the Madison River and meanders through Madison Valley. At an overlook, on top of the mountain, was a display telling about the importance for wildlife to have open spaces to move about. When I came in this beautiful valley I saw a housing development with houses on at least ten acres or more. With fences going, up deer, elk, and other animals lose their feeding grounds. Ranchers are selling their land.
People with a lot of money can buy houses in a magnificent region like this.
We are staying in a former campground behind a burned out office and store. One of our members had negotiated for a $ 5.00 a day fee. A tow truck owner leases the asphalt covered part of the property for his tow trucks. When he saw us he called the owner of the property, who had forgotten to tell the tow truck operator that we were coming. Then he came to me and asked who is in charge of the group. I told him that I am the host. He told me that the owner told him that he should get $ 100.00 from us. This would come out to about $ 5.00 per person for the week.  I gave him a check and hope everything is legitimate.
We are about 25 miles from Yellowstone National Park. I drove to the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center in West Yellowstone and picked up information and did my E mail. Camping in the park with a large group like ours is almost impossible.
At the 4:00 PM circle meeting we laid out a schedule for the coming week. We will be busy.

Today I drove 70 miles to see a dentist. West Yellowstone is a good sized town but has no dentist. A asked a lady in a store to recommend one. She told me she has to drive 88 miles, to Belgrade, Montana for her dental work. She gave me a telephone number. I called and the receptionist referred me to a dentist in Bozeman, which is a little closer to West Yellowstone. They have an office in Gallatin Gateway, which is still a bit closer. So I ended up driving 70 miles. I have had pain in my upper left, last tooth for a week and last night it got to the point where I would have driven a thousand miles to get help. I had a 12:30 PM appointment but arrived a 11:30 to check out whether I had the right place. The name on the building did not agree with the name I was given. I was at the right place though. The dentist had just taken care of a patient and took care of me right away. The x rays and his investigation showed nothing wrong with my tooth. He asked me whether I have a sinus infection. I feel great other than that lousy tooth. He prescribed antibiotics to fight a possible infection.
He told me the pharmacy is just around the corner. In Montana that means a mile or more. That state is large and has a population less than San Diego. If the antibiotics do not improve my condition he will make an appointment for me to see a dentist who will perform a root canal. Then I will have to go to Bozeman.
We will stay here for one week that gives me enough time. In case I need more time I can always stay longer and catch up with the group later. 
Montana does not have many people but has plenty of cattle. Those are our neighbors.

We camp behind a burned out store and campground office. 

Some of the group went kayaking today. A few went to the IMAX theater and saw one or four movies. They show Yellowstone, Alaska, Bears, and Fire. Three WINs investigated Mesa Falls. They came back with a good report. As soon as we done with visiting Yellowstone National Park and our other planned activities we go there.

We left at 8:30 AM and toured the upper loop of the figure 8 in Yellowstone National Park. Our first stop was the Gibbon Waterfalls.

At the Norris Geyser Basin we saw Artists Paintpot and the Porcelain Landscape. The colors of the water and sediments around it were spectacular even with the sky in rain mode.

Yellowstone National Park is now a U.S. Biosphere and a World Heritage Site. 

At the Roaring Mountain we heard only a faint roar. 

We stopped also at the Sheep Eater Cliff. 

Damage of the 1988 fire can be still seen, but young growth of trees and bushes is coming along. 

When we parked on top of Mammoth Hot Springs we could see the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in the beautiful valley. 

The hot springs are not very active now. I remember in 1970 a lot of water was running over the side of the mountain.

While at the hot springs we saw a male elk walking on the ridge of the mountain.

We also saw Judy P drive into the parking lot. She is staying at a campground nearby and will join us in Jackson Hole.
Our last stop was the Undine Falls. 

It rained only a few drops. This was a wonderful day. Everybody enjoyed the scenery. My tooth is still bothering me, but I have less pain now. I have to be careful when I eat or drink something.

Today we had a somber experience. We took the self guided auto tour of the Earthquake Lake Geologic Area. On August 17, 1959, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the Rocky Mountains struck the Madison River Canyon.
The earthquake, which measured 7.5 on the Richter scale, triggered a massive landslide, which sent over 80 million tons of rock crashing down into the canyon, blocking the Madison River. The water backed up behind the slide, forming the new Earthquake Lake. High velocity winds and a gigantic wall of water swept through the area.
In a matter of seconds the earth crust had dropped 19 feet. The land under Hebgen Lake tilted upward; cabins on the north shore were immersed in water, while portions of the south shore lay high and dry. Water sloshed back and forth, while huge waves crested over Hebgen Dam at the western end of the lake. Although the dam cracked, it miraculously held. Three section of highway 287 fell into the lake. As a result of the night’s disaster, hundreds of people vacationing in the area were trapped. A total of 28 lives were lost. People were sleeping in their tents and recreational vehicles.

A section of the mountain came down. 

The river became a lake overnight. 

We walked up the hill, opposite the slide, and passed the Memorial Boulder with the memorial plaque. This gigantic boulder had moved in 20 second, a half a mile, to the other side of the river. 

The lake was 190 feet deep but the water is slowly receding. After 53 years the lake is now 125 feet deep. 

The Madison Valley is typical Montana ranch land. It is very beautiful. 

We went from one viewing station to another. 

It was a night of terror for the campers who survived this ordeal. They gathered at high ground but could not get any further. They stayed at what later was called Refuge Point.  Smog Jumpers parachuted in the next day and brought supplies. A helicopter later transported the campers out of the area.

Anglers are enjoying catching trout and the scenery now.

At Hebgen Lake are displays telling of the horror people experienced when their cabins disappeared. They were swallowed by large waves. Grace Miller had left her teeth at the kitchen sink. She was able to survive. 

After this tour I went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Here they take care of grizzly bears and wolfs which cannot be returned to the wild. Some came to the center as babies. 

Both species are in their own open areas. 

Displays educate visitors.

A lot of towns in Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana have painted bison on display. I have not found out yet why they are painted. 

Today we went to the Mesa Falls Scenic Area. The Big Falls Inn is now the Park Visitor Center. It has a little museum. What I found to be cute is this raccoon with eye glasses. 

We went to the Upper Falls first. 

When I saw this view I knew that we were in for a treat. 

Tom and Mary Jane are way down there taking pictures of the falls. 

Pictures are not a fair representation of the view. The rainbow is hardly visible in the picture. 

Because of the micro climate created by the falls, the canyon walls are covered with beautiful vegetation. 

The Henrys Fork of the Snake River carved its way through the canyon. 

We had lunch near the falls. 

The Lower Falls were not as spectacular as the Upper Falls. Besides we did not get very close to the them. 

Our next stop was the Harriman State Park. It was a working 16,000 acre cattle ranch owned by several millionaires. The Harriman family eventually bought out the other owners and deeded the ranch to the State of Idaho.

We were lucky and met a docent who gave two people the tour of the buildings of the ranch. We joined them and we were able to go into the buildings with them. The Harriman’s were roughing it when the spent time here. From a 30,000 square foot mansion they came down to a small farm house. 

The rooms were very simple.
The Joneses had a bigger home. Their living room was large and had a fantastic view. 

A modern ice box was there. Ice was cut in the winter from the lakes and stored, covered in saw dust, in the ice house. 

Part of the ranch is now a Wildlife Refuge.

The last few days it rained at about 5:00 PM, when we have our circle meeting. Today we had the meeting in Mary Jane’s fifth wheel trailer. She had 15 guests. It was a little bit crowded.

This was a free day. Everybody did their own thing. At the 5:00 PM circle meeting, again in Mary Jane’s fifth wheel trailer, we found out what everybody did. A lot of people went to Big Spring and Johnny Sack’s Cabin.
Two people finished the upper loop at the park.
I had a good day. After Hugs and Mugs I went to the RV Park up the road and did my laundry. They had WIFI and they lady in charge of the laundry room gave me the password. When the laundry was in the dryer I checked once in a while whether the dryer was done. The next time I checked I saw the lady folding my shirts. Folding shirts is the job I hate about doing laundry. She said that she is bored.
Since I did my computer work already and did not have to go to McDonalds to do it, and I did not bring a lunch, I drove to West Yellowstone and treated myself to a Chinese lunch. With the lunch came a corn soup which was very good.
After lunch I went to the grocery store and bought a few items. I have to get used to those high prices. We will not come to a large city for the next three weeks. At our next stop it will be even more expensive.
Then I went to the Yellowstone Historic Center – Museum.

Here they show the history of the development of the tourist and ranching industry of Yellowstone and the surrounding area. In the winter it is difficult to get around. Vehicles built for snow are on display. 

There are displays of the railroad bringing tourists to Yellowstone. What was interesting for me was the air travel. Frontier Airlines flew Convair CV-580 planes. When I was the Manufacturing Engineer for spares I was involved with that airplane. 

One of the first snowmobiles is on display.

They look different now. 

On the way home I decided to drive to Big Spring. Big Spring produces over 120 million gallons of water a day. It creates the headwater of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. 

Johnny Sack, a German Emigrant, build his cabin next to the spring. He also built a pump house with a water wheel, to generate electricity, and to pump water to a higher elevation, so he had water pressure in his cabin.

Johnny built the cabin with hand tools. It took him three years. He also built all the furniture. The door frames and the furniture are built with wood which has the bark on. Normally the bark falls off when the wood is dry.
Johnny developed a way to make the bark stay on the wood. It looks really nice.
The kitchen is small but functional. 

The house has two bedrooms upstairs.

Johnny was only 4 foot 11 inches tall. 

His tools are also on display.

He built several cabins for other people.
After he died his two sisters sold the cabin and the new owners made it possible for the building to be opened as an interpretive center.

Today we did the lower loop in Yellowstone National Park. Most of us have been several times, over the years, in the park. I had Bertie as a passenger. She is leaving us tomorrow and we will not see her for a few months. We started at the Lower Geyser Basin. 

The geyser activity in the park changes from time to time. Old geysers disappear and new ones appear. Earthquakes cause changes. Red Spouter was created during the big earthquake in 1959. 

The colors on the side of the river are strange and beautiful. 

The Excelsior Geyser is dormant. 

The colors around the geysers are bacteria which grow in the hot water. 

Some of the colors cannot be seen because of the steam. 

In some areas are a concentration of small geysers and the ground is a palette of colors. 

We were waiting for Old Faithful. The geyser is not that faithful anymore. It was seventeen minutes late. The cloudy sky did not help with taking pictures. A blue sky would have been perfect. But we cannot complain; it could have rained any minute. 

The wind did not make it any better. The steam came down as very light rain on our side.
We spent a few minutes in the lodge. 

We stopped at the Kepler Cascades. 

At the West Thumb geyser basin we saw some beautiful blue pools.

There is no more fishing at the Fishing Bridge. It became too dangerous with all the anglers crowded on the bridge. 

I wish we did have more sun at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The sun would have shown the yellow sides of the canyon. It is an amazing sight looking down on the river and seeing the waterfall in the distance. 

A young lady was sitting on a bench facing the waterfall. A young man was kneeling in front of her. He held a little box in his hands. After his little speech there was a big hug, some tears and some more hugs. The two belonged to a British tourist group. They came in a big bus. There were a lot of pictures taken and lot of congratulations. The young man had chosen one of the most magnificent spots on this earth to propose to his sweetheart.
While walking along the river we saw an osprey dive in the water and come up with a fish.
On the way home we saw elks between the river and the side of the road. A buffalo was walking in the middle of the road. We had to slowly sneak by this big animal.
We just made it back to the 5:00 PM circle meeting. After the meeting we had cake and ice cream. Tom served it. Mary Jane celebrated her birthday today. She is now a senior and she bought her Golden Age Pass at the park this morning.

In the morning I get to enjoy the sun coming over the mountains.

This is the last day that our motorhomes are surrounded by rangeland. Tomorrow morning we will leave the cattle behind. 

Some members of the group left already. We had fun in the Yellowstone National Park area. My tooth ache is almost gone. I will not have to go to Bozeman for a root canal treatment. I do not know whether the antibiotics helped. I still take them though. 


Donna Huffer said...
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Donna Huffer said...
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Donna Huffer said...
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Barbara and Ron said...

There sure are a lot of different things to see in Yellowstone. Great pictures.