Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 11, 2008 Back Home

We decided to drive straight through to Mississippi so we took turns sleeping and driving and got home around 1:30 today. It's nice to be home but I could travel all the time if I had unlimited funds. What a great life it must be to get paid to travel and photograph nature. That would be the ultimate lifestyle. I could handle it.
What's next?
Randy has told me he has to go to a school for his work that last 5 days and will be held on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is about 70 miles from home and I usually can only spend a few hours there. I am trying to make arrangements to go with him and while he is in class I will visit some of those places that I would like to photograph. Hmmm...oh yea and the casinos are there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 10, 2008

We had planned on going on to Royal Gorge and Pikes Peak in Colorado next but there is a snow storm coming and they got some snow a few days ago. So, we have decided, for safety sake, not to do them this time. We are going to save them for the next trip which I hope won't be too far off.
We are headed home today and sad this adventure has come to an end.

October 9, 2008 Archs At Night

Went went back to Arches today and walked a couple of the trails and took a lot of photos but the best was going back at night. We actually went to see maybe a few animals but got there and ended up doing what I like most...night photography.

October 7, 2008 Red Rocks

Moab is such a great place to visit. There is so much to do here. You can go biking, or skydiving, or ATV'ing. You can visit all the little shops or try a variety of foods from the many restaurants. There are tours and guided trips, jet boats, rafting or dinner cruises. I can't begin to cover all the things to do here. Today we visited Arches National Park. We were here 2 years ago and it is still just as beautiful now as it was then. There seemed to be a little more traffic in the park than last time but since it is October it is better than summer travel. For some reason the La Sal Mountains seemed a little closer than before but this time there was snow at the top and they had a purple hue. We heard on the news that it snowed 2 1/2 inches in Yellowstone so we are glad we left when we snow tires.

We also went to Dead Horse Point today. This is a place where wild horses were corralled on a high bluff, 2000 feet above the Colorado River, and were forgotten and left to thirst to death. Can you imagine being within site of water and not able to get to it. They all died there and it has been preserved as a state park.
We saw a coyote while we were there.

We also went on a dinner cruise up the Colorado River. Actually we had dinner first then boarded a jet boat and went up the river about an hour then on the way back down were given a light show on the canyon walls about the history of the region. It was especially nice when they turned off the light and had nice music playing and we just floated. The stars seemed so close. It was truly beautiful. No photos or videos of the boat ride.

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6,2008 Made it to Moab

We finally made it to Moab, Utah. We spent the day yesterday driving from Yellowstone to Vernal, Utah on some back country and winding roads. As we were leaving Yellowstone it began to snow in the high country which is where we were. We made it out without incident luckily. The Tetons were covered with clouds so I was a little disappointed but the Aspens were in their fall colors of yellow, cantaloupe and red and that made up for not seeing the Tetons. There was also several herds of elk along the road. The only moose we saw was a fake one in someones pasture. We thought it was real at first and slowed to take photos and realized it was a fake and then started laughing. The old man who put it there was probably sitting in the kitchen window and laughing said "We got another one Erlene..HEHEHE!!! Yep..We got anothern" We felt so silly but it did look real. By the time we got to Vernal, Utah, we were hungry and decided to stay for the night. We stayed in a small motel with a cute little man running the disk who just wanted to talk about my car. He was very sweet.
We arrived in Moab around noon today and got a cabin in the same camping area we stayed in last time we were here: Moab Valley RV Resort . It is located at 1773 N. Hwy 191 and their telephone number is (435)259-4469. It is gated and very clean and well kept, has a pool and playground, cabins, RV sites and tent sites.

We went up to Arches National Park after a short rest. You know us old folks got to rest. The park service was letting everyone in for free because they have been resurfacing the roads. It was sure nice to be back. Arches is just a great place. It is not only beautiful but is expansive and still very mystical for me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

October 4, 2008 Man This Place Is Huge

First let me say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom, Eunice Smith, and my brother in law, Garry Fogle. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
We are in Yellowstone for the 2ND day. It has been pretty cold here today and raining. The weather channel said a high of 52 but I don't think it ever got that high. We drove the Grand Loop today and it took about 8 hours with the stops for photographing animals and a couple of hikes to see thermal gardens and pools. I looked a little more closely at the map they gave us upon entering and saw a purple dashed line indicating the rim of the caldera. This is one huge volcano. There were a lot of elk and the bucks have large racks and are very protective of their harem. When we got to Mammoth Hot Springs there were elk everywhere and the police were very busy trying to keep the elk and the tourists separated. Some people are so stupid. There are signs everywhere telling you not to approach the elk , buffalo or bears and making it clear they are dangerous but there are still those people who push the limit.

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 3, 2008 Lions, Tigers and Bears

We have finally made it to Yellowstone National Park and spent the day driving approximately 50 miles of it. We stopped to look at the Thermal Gardens which are vents in the earth crust. The are filled with boiling water in beautiful shades of blue and green. You can see into the vents in many of these and feel their extreme heat. We also got to see Old Faithful. The park is full of geothermal activity and at times it seems a little spooky as you really never know when this large underground hotspot may decide to blow. We saw 3 coyotes , many buffalo and several elk but no Grizzley bears yet. We are returning tomorrow for more but for tonight we are staying in a cabin in a little town just outside of the west gate in Idaho.

October 3, 2008 Lions, Tigers and Bears

We have finally made it to Yellowstone National Park and spent the day driving part of the Grand Loop. WOW WOW WOW !!

Yellowstone has got to be one of the most spectacular places on earth. If I lived nearby I believe I would spend every spare minute there. Animals are everywhere and are of primary concern for the park service. It's nice to see there is a place, so large, that benefits both animals and humans.

October 2, 2008 Miles and Miles

Yellowstone is nearly 400 miles away from Moorcroft so we got an early start. Wyoming is a large and sparsely populated state. Much of the land is prairie until you get into the mountains in the western part of the state. As we were riding I was thinking how desolate it must be but actually it's not at all. There is all kind of life there. The first thing we noticed was the number of Pronghorn Antelope. They graze in small herds and are everywhere. They are not hard to find and they don't seem to be afraid as they do not run when approached. I shot them with my camera but yesterday was the first day of hunting season here. I don't see the sport in hunting these creatures since they just stand there and look at you. There are other animals as well: rabbits, mice, birds, coyotes, snakes, deer. The coyotes are probably the largest predator out there.

We had to use Interstate 90 for a short time then turned onto Highway 16 also called Red Cloud Scenic Byway. It cuts across Wyoming on a path toward Yellowstone. There is more variety in the landscape here.There are deep canyons, rivers, jagged rock faces, more hairpin turns and historical markers along the way telling stories of the old west and things that had occurred in the past. One marker told the story of a hunter gone missing and when they found him a week later it was discovered he had tried to get a mountain goat and had fallen to his death. Today there is a memorial on top of the canyon rim placed there years ago by his friends.
We made it to Cody, Wyo. and stopped to have my camera cards put on Cd's. It took so long we decided to spend the night here and go the last 50 miles to Yellowstone in the morning. We got a room at the Kings Inn on Hwy 16. This is the only smoking motel/hotel in Cody. It is nice but expensive, more than $80 after taxes. They love their rooms here and all of the rooms here are high. Location, location, location.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October 1,2008 Very Presidential

When we left Custer State Park we followed Iron Mountain Road because you are suppose to be able to see Mt. Rushmore from a distance, and you can. The road is a narrow 2 lane scenic byway with hairpin turns twisting and spiraling through the Black Hills. You eventually end up at an overlook where you can not only enjoy the spectacular view but can see Mt. Rushmore some 10 miles away. Mornings in the Black Hills are cool and crisp this time of year but as the sun gets higher so do the temperatures. By 9 AM we had the top down on the car with the wind blowing through our hair and chapping my lips.
We Stopped for breakfast in a little place called the Sugar Shack. Man, this place had the best food we'd had since we left Mississippi. The food was good the coffee was good and the people that work there were very nice, friendly and made us feel very welcome. The atmosphere is comfortable as well. The other customers seemed to be mostly local folks but they seemed very pleased with their food too. They chatted with the 2 employees, Daryl Kunzi and Hope Prostrollo, as if they had known them for years. They may have but they talked to us the same way. It was a very home like place in a foreign place.

Mt. Rushmore is one of our nations symbols of democracy and is located in Keystone, South Dakota. The 4 faces are: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln and were carved out of granite They can be seen for miles as they gaze out over the valley and the Black Hills. The monument is quite large with each head being taller than a 6 story building. This monument is truly inspirational and a site to see. There is a very nice visitors center a museum and sculptors studio where original models can be viewed. It is easily accessed from Rapid City and from Custer State Park. If you get a chance to see Mt. Rushmore...go, you won't be disappointed.

Our next destination was Deadwood. I have been watching cowboy movies all my life and Deadwood has frequently been the town these movies were about or made in. Legends were made there and lie there Mt. Moriah Cemetery...aka...Boot Hill. We did a walking tour of the graveyard and I got so many photos I lost count. The best ones were of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. They are buried side by side, together for eternity. People leave all kinds of things on Wild Bills Grave: whiskey bottles, rocks,pennies,casino chips, cigars. It really is kind of weird seeing graves of people that legends are made of.

There were a lot of other graves there, as well. There was a mass grave for some 13 people who had died in a fire and an area where victims of small pox, I think, are buried. Only 1/3 of the graves are marked. The terrain is very steep and I kept thinking about how difficult it must have been 100 years ago to bury someone up there, but, the graveyard overlooks Deadwood and a beautiful valley and is peaceful, shaded and well cared for.
Devils Tower, Wyoming is only about 60 miles from Deadwood. We arrived there in time to see mountain climbers attempting to reach the summit. This monolith is more than 1200 feet tall and more than just a big rock. It is a spiritual place. There is magic there. It looms over you and makes you feel so small. You can't get to the top unless you climb so that leaves me out. The eagles, hawks and vultures fly around the top ...around and around and around. One of the park rangers said they seem to especially fly around when there are climbers up there. Wonder why ? We sat there in amazement with binoculars and camera in hand and watched as 3 climbers slowly made their way closer to the top. They still had a long way to go when we left.

We drove on to a small town, Moorcroft, Wyo. to spend the night.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30,2008 Buffalo Chips

Man the phone signal is terrible here at Custer State park and I have a ton of photos to share. There are animals everywhere. There is so much to do it's ridiculous. We got here yesterday at the tail end of the Buffalo Roundup which is a yearly event. The park service rounds up some 1400 head of buffalo for vaccination and auction off all but about 950. These 950 are released back into the park and with the new calves will have a roundup next year. We went to the corrals where the buffalo were being held. Don't ever believe these beasts are slow because you will be mistaken. They are large, short tempered and fast. One of the females with a calf charged me twice as I approached the fence. She meant business. Also there was a very large bull that had no intentions of going in the pin and he gave em hell. They, the workers, chased him all over those hills in trucks and finally hemmed him up and escorted him up into the wilderness. All that after they quickly made us, the tourists, get back in our vehicles for safety. The bull ran right past us and he was some kind of pissed off. He was snorting and grunting and thundered past the car with 6 pickup trucks hot on his heels. Later, we saw him slowly walking down a hill with a truck following him. I think they wanted to make sure he had calmed down and went where he and humans would be safe.
Today we took a road trip on Needles Highway. There are these great spires as the road twists along a winding mountain road. The trees are orange, red and yellow as fall is here. Traffic is minimal. There are many areas to pull off of the road for photographic opportunities. If you have the chance to take the tour allow yourself at least 3 hours. The road is only about 14 miles long but frequent stops for the views will definitely slow you down.
Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Awesome place. This monument has been in the making for more than 50 years and will probably not be completed in my lifetime. Crazy Horse was a Lakota Indian who was stabbed and killed by an American soldier while under a flag of truce. He was a defender of his people and the Indian way of life. The memorial is a tribute to American Indians of all tribes and represented by this inspiring work of art. The memorial is being carved out of an entire granite mountain and is entirely funded by visitors to the memorial and donations. It is quite a site to see. Later that night we attended a laser light show at the first light show. Very cool indeed. Randy also got to take the helicopter tour around the mountain which he said also included a fly over a herd of buffalo. He loves helicopters.

We stayed in a little one room cabin in the park. It was very comfortable except for showers and bathroom facilities we had to go to a main bath house. It's cold as hell in South Dakota at 3 AM but man the stars are big, bright, look close to the ground and there has to be a million of them.