‘Blood’ Moon Eclipse

In most parts of the world the ‘Blood’ Moon Eclipse was visible during the wee hours of the AM today. In Anchorage Alaska it was around 2:15 am that the Eclipse was viewable. Being a total insomniac I simply stayed up a little longer to watch. Kathy G practically bounced out of bed when I told her it was nearing the peak and we set up the camera outside. Reuben who is visiting from Seattle, watched on for a little while while Kathy and I fiddled with camera settings and placement. Eventually, everyone who wasn’t completely enamored with the night sky headed inside to watch Kathy and I try to find buttons with slightly numb fingers from the windows. At some point I got around to putting my shoes and a hat on. Kathy and I are known for standing in the cold night to get Moon photos or the iconic Northern Light shot. Most people and the dogs leave us to the frost within a few minutes.

Thanks to the Gardner’s zoom lens, I managed a few decent shots of the various stages and coloring of the Moon during her Eclipse.

Blood Moon Eclipse

Blood Moon Eclipse

Photographing anything at night is difficult. Shooting the Moon makes this even harder as one cannot use a long shutter speed (Moon is too bright). Add in a Eclipse that changes the brightness every few minutes even more so..Using lenses that were not made to take night pictures adds a bit of a challenge as well…

I like to think I made it work. At it’s ‘darkest’ below.

Dark of the Blood Moon

Dark of the Blood Moon

As the light shifted, the colors brightened. The light specks in the black are stars showing through. All the pictures I took I did not edit past some basic cleaning up, no photoshop, no adding colors and such. Looking at it with binoculars it looked just like the photos!

Eclipse Waning

Eclipse Waning

Partial Eclipse and the last of the ‘blood’ coloring that was visible. Once the ‘Full Moon’ brightness came back , capturing the low light of the eclipse at the same time became next to impossible.

Partial Eclipse

Partial Eclipse

It was an awesome night, I hope my pictures give you a small idea of how freaking cool it was! At 24 degrees, my digits got a little cold after close to 2 hours of standing in PJ’s. But it was worth it!

~ J

 

 

Trip to Montreal CAN ~ Element Sisters

As many of you know, I have a group of 3 women whom I often call my ‘Element Sisters’ (but am not related to them in any fashion) that I met at my Philosophy 1 Tracker class in 2012. Between the 4 of us, we live all over North America. Linda (Water Sister) lives in Quebec Canada. She has a beautiful home on Mohawk lands that we converged at for some much-needed Sister time!

I drove to Maine the end of March in the Black Dragon with the River Rat where I stayed with Tracy (Earth Sister) and her husband Carl along with their animals. River charmed everyone – even the Gizzy the stand-offish little cat. After resting for a day or two, Tracy and I repacked the Black Dragon, did everything we could to ensure that River would make it across the Canadian border and off we went! The drive should have only been about 7 hours. We managed to make it well over 10…Our intense conversation kept taking us down the wrong roads – even though Tracy knew the area well. We found Jesus Christ on a very hilly back road in Maine. Scared many a logger and managed to not attract the police. The border took awhile, River passed with flying colors though. My Dragon was taken apart because clearly we are drug dealers… The border guards finally dismissed us and shook their heads with many a french word about our characters.

We made it to Linda’s house late in the night after entirely too much coffee and sugar. The first 24 hours was spent catching up and unwinding. Linda’s impressive man of a son brought us dinner even! River charmed the girls who had yet to meet her and one of Linda’s dogs. The other was not interested in making friends and just glared like a cute gremlin at her.

Moon Hidden in the Blue

Moon Hidden in the Blue

Even though Linda lives outside of Montreal, woods and wetlands surround her with beauty. We headed out for an afternoon walk the next day (or was it day 2..I cannot remember) – fresh air and some actual movement were needed after hours upon hours of talking, laughing, crying, cooking and just plain enjoying each others company.

Linda showing us her Sit Spot

Linda showing us her backyard

Afsoon & Tracy carefully examining a special place in Linda’s woods with much seriousness.

Tracy  & Afsoon in careful consideration of Sit Spot

Tracy & Afsoon in careful consideration of Sit Spot

Walking around enjoying the beautiful day – it was a crisp and bright day. The temperature was perfect for moving around in the snow with the sun shining down. Afsoon was bundled up to keep her California blood warm and more importantly the baby that will be joining us later this summer! The rest of us were dressed similarly to ward off the colds we were fighting.

Tracy, Afsoon & Linda wandering the old railroad trail.

Tracy, Afsoon & Linda wandering the old railroad trail.

Sumac – the Rhus typhina variety – also known as Staghorn Sumac grows everywhere on the land! Many people think of it as a scrub bush – good for nothing. But you can do many tasty and even medicinal things with it. Obviously be sure you know which type of Sumac you have before eating it though – there are a few poisonous types in places.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Closeup of Sumac Berries. Personally I find it a very pretty plant and would like to try some of many drinks made from it someday. I’ve bought it as a ‘spice’ which is used in many ethnic dishes around the world (though the type of Sumac varies) and even salads.

Closeup of Sumac

Closeup of Sumac Berries

Linda has much knowledge of her local botany and shared much of it – which I think most of us have forgotten as no one had a notebook! Though plenty of information was shared over the weekend, the main goal was to relax, soak in each others company and discuss the important parts of our lives and futures.

Tracy and Linda discussing the botany

Tracy and Linda discussing the botany

Ask anyone who has had the misfortune of being in the 4’s presence – we LAUGH. A lot. Like as in most of the students at the classes the 4 of us have attended with, don’t know our names, just ‘the loud laughing women’ – particularly Tracy. In fact I just say ‘the one with the loudest laugh’ and people who cannot pick her out of line up instantly ‘know’ who I am talking about..(We love you Tracy). Linda likes to say she is the ‘quiet’ one…But actually not. In fact, she is more often the instigator… If someone is actually ‘quiet’ in the group, it’s probably me. Afsoon..well she gets shit done. She makes it happen. And gods help you if you think your going to stand in her way (she is a Lawyer after all..). I think I can speak for the group on this one; we love it when Afsoon decides to take matters into her own hands and marches her cute little butt up to the poor unsuspecting soul who is about to have a serious reality check. It’s as Trace would say ‘FREAKING AWESOME MAN’!

As someone who never really had the whole ‘girl’ time thing – most of my female friends are pretty tomboy like myself – I am beyond grateful for these 3 wonderful women in my life. It is as much a mystery to us as it is to the rest of the Tracker community that we meet and how such a powerfully intense, deep and loving friendship sprung from such radically different people. But is exactly what we need.

Carhartt colors! Afsoon borrowed a pair of Carhartts as she hasn’t learned where to find such things in LA – but the rest of us proudly sport the very comfortable and useful pants – the men’s ones no less! We had the rainbow of Carhartt colors almost complete – clearly we should be getting free pants with our advertisements here!

Carhartt Color Wheel

Carhartt Color Wheel

Spring ‘breakup’ was only days away. But for this walk things were still fairly frozen and picturesque.

Frozen Marshland

Frozen Marshland

Nothing like trying to take ‘selfies’ of 4 people at once…It was pretty painful, and many less than ideal shots had. This was one of the ‘better’ ones. All of us were sporting Smartwool hats! Another place we should be getting free gear from me thinks…

Four Elements!

Four Elements!

Air, Water & Earth! Looking adorable together.

Afsoon, Linda & Tracy

Afsoon, Linda & Tracy

Beautiful even with the goofy grins!

Air & Earth (Afsoon & Tracy)

Air & Earth (Afsoon & Tracy)

Tracy was the photographer here – she said something rather funny and got this ridiculous shot!

Water & Fire in Hysterics

Water & Fire in Hysterics

Without even trying, Linda and I had the opposite color combo going on.

Water & Fire (Linda & Joannie)

Water & Fire (Linda & Joannie)

Probably my favorite shot of the landscape. The whimsical Phragmites in the breeze against the ever-blue sky.

Beautiful Phragmites

Beautiful Phragmites

We had towel fights in the kitchen. Revelations over pancakes. Shopping spree in Montreal at the Market. Amazing Chocolate at Coaco 70 – also in Montreal. Tea 2 and 3 times a day. Delicious food that we all whipped up. And of course, much laughter.

I wrote this post for you 3 – Tracy, Linda & Afsoon! Hope you enjoy ♥

You find your people on the Journey ~ J

Back from Belize – an update

To say that I have been busy is, well… an understatement to say the least. I arrived back to the states from Belize a week ago today (Fri 21st). In many ways it feels like the Belize trip itself was much longer than a week, and that I am still ‘adjusting’ to being stateside. I surprised even myself with how quickly I adjusted to ‘not being in the states’. It was almost too easy. I no sooner hit American turf than I was already plotting another overseas trips this Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I love being back and with some of my people… but a part of me seems to be ceaselessly wanting to wander, never satisfied unless another adventure is on the horizon.

squinting in the Belize brightness

Squinting in the Belize brightness

Belize was amazing. The class with WildernessFusion was amazing. The People are simply beyond amazing (both many locals I met and my classmates). I can’t say I ever thought I would visit Belize; it’s not that I didn’t want to, it simply wasn’t on the top 10 list, or even top 20. But man did I have a great time. I’m ready to go back and explore all the things I didn’t get to see. We stayed at a wonderful eco-lodge called Cotton Tree Lodge: what a great way to rest between adventures, and for those who are a little less inclined to ‘just go’ on their own, a fun and safe way to see the sights and experience some of the local flavor. I’m not going to get into the details of the trip, class or even attempt pictures of everything yet – I have 980 to sort through first…! I’m not purposely being a tease, I just want to update and forewarn. I only have bad iPhone photos for this post!

After my serene trip to Belize, I arrived in DC late in the evening, Shaun picked me up from the airport and we headed to the hotel where Kathy & Dave Gardner were waiting along with my River!

River waiting for me at the hotel...

River waiting for me at the hotel…

Kathy & Dave were in town for some work related things, and to join in on the fun of the ‘Shamrock Festival’. We had no idea what to expect, but it looked fun! River got to come last-minute since her and I were missing each other terribly. Saturday we dropped River off (much to her chagrin) at a Petsmart to day-board – possibly overnight so she was safe and cared for while the 4 of us were at Shamrock Fest.

To say the festival was… interesting is probably not doing it justice. It was a little more party and a little less festival than I was hoping for. But we still had fun. The noise and crowds were a little over stimulating after Belize, but I managed well enough! The 4 of us wandered about, often splitting up and then finding each other. It was very cool to be share the crazy with Kathy and Dave and see them have fun regardless of the years that separate us.

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest!

They even had an EDM dance tent which is where Shaun and I spent most of our time after the draw of the bands wore off (and Shaun had enough to drink to tell the “tall people” to get in the back’ so he could see…)

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun headed back to Ocean City, MD on Sunday, while River and I stayed with Kathy and Dave that evening. The next day Dave, River and I toured around DC while Kathy took care of some work stuff. It was a lot of fun to walk around Monument Mall with Dave, talking about history of the various sites, the government system (which I will readily admit, I know very little about even though I’ve been told/read books about it). River earned many an ‘ohhh!’ and ‘look at the cute puppy!’ For the areas posted ‘no dogs’ I put her in my backpack (this is after all the best view point for her to see the various national parks I take her to).

She was also really into the squirrels…I made this image macro of the picture I took of her in the car right after yet another furry tailed-rat had dashed right in front of her (but due to her being leashed – no chase ensured). She wore this grin for quite a while!

River Meme

River Meme

For a late lunch/early dinner we met at McCormick’s which is just a damn tasty place to eat! After much-needed catching up, it was time for me to do last-minute car stuff with Dave’s help before hitting the road with River in the Black Dragon.

Dinner at McCormick's!

Dinner at McCormick’s with my Alaska family!

As you can see from our color pallet and choice of patterns..we look rather family like here. Kathy LOVES teal (I do too, maybe just not quite as much as she) and Dave often sports a plaid shirt (they are undeniably comfortable and dashing), so me in plaid teal pretty much tied everyone together in this picture (clearly I should have been in the middle to get the optimum effect). I always have a great time with these guys, and for some reason they do with me as well ♥

River totally zonked

River totally zonked

The last few days River and I have been chilling in Ocean City MD at my family’s rental. Shaun hangs out with us after work and often feeds me and buys me coffee (coffee is the important detail here..). I am mostly just adjusting to not being on ‘Belize Time’ which is something that doesn’t exist in this country. Also the weather changes from hot and humid Belize jungle to blustery Northeasters on the coastline has been a couple of days of uncomfortable. A few days from now I head north to Maine to meet up with Tracy and then we head to Quebec, Canada to Linda’s place where Afsoon will meet us. Element Sisters reunited! The plan is that River goes with me every step of the way.

I head back towards DC with a few stops along the way in early April, and then back to Alaska by April 14th. River too. Once back in AK we stay put for a while as I have work to attended to, Dogs to train, money to be made if I think I want to go on another trip any time soon.

Dave took this great pic with his phone of River & I in DC right outside the Lincoln Memorial! It was a windy and chilly day – my leather cap is all I could find instead of my warm wool knit, so I kept my hair down to help keep me warm (which is why the rather dramatic style going on there..). But it made for a very photogenic picture with my black leather jacket and little black & tan dog – whose ‘tan’ markings are such a shade of red that they just about match my red hair 😉

River & I in DC

River & I in DC

~ Always on a Journey  – Joannie & River.

 

Shaun’s Visit to Alaska

As some of you know, I’ve a guy in Maryland – Shaun, whom I’ve been spending time with whenever I am on the East Coast. I met him during my short living stint in Princess Anne, MD in the Summer of 2013. I had major doubts that I’d see more of him when I ended up moving on from Maryland. Due to my WildernessFusion classes however, I would be on the East Coast every 3 months for the next year. Deciding to see where it might go, I made my trips a little long so I could stay in Maryland before/after class.

My September visit went well, along with December’s. I extended an invitation to Shaun to visit me in Alaska in late December after I got back from my West Coast trip over the Holidays. Flights in late winter/early spring are cheap (not many people want to see Alaska in the messy month of January…). I truly didn’t think he would take me up on it — not soon at least, more like next year or even more likely ~never. Imagine my surprise when I booked a mid January flight for him! He was able to get 10 days off work and experience Alaska in the winter – complete with the Chinook Winds that brought the temps up to a balmy 36 degrees most of the time. Shaun was a little nervous of freezing to death initially, and thought it humorous that the Eastern Seaboard was having a mini ice age while we were above freezing most of his stay.

I picked him up from the airport and promptly bombarded him with the dogs. Kathy & Dave wonderfully opened their home to him and everyone enjoyed getting to know each other. There was however an adjustment period for Shaun for the trials of living with Beagles – he missed lunch a few times due to leaving his sandwich where the four-leggeds could reach. I helped him find a decent pair of boots at REI — on sale even — the second day. I don’t think he took the damn things off the whole 10 days.

Within the first 24 hours we had a nice sunset – albeit around 4pm but still beautiful.

Golden Sunset

Golden Sunset

Dave took us shooting at the range in Chugiak. Shaun thoroughly enjoyed the automatics and the bird rifles where you shoot the clay targets launched into the air.

Shaun geared up for shooting

Shaun geared up for shooting

Dave is a wonderful teacher and very knowledgeable about most anything gun related (or just most anything). Both he and Shaun had a good time going over the different guns. I took photos mostly.

Shaun trying out a Revolver

Shaun trying out a revolver

I did shoot a few rounds, but the AR-15 was way too long for me and I couldn’t hold proper form with it… According to Shaun, it’s ‘fucking awesome’ that I shoot guns. Bows are more my style, but guns are good too once in a while.

Dave overseeing me using an auto-rifle

Dave overseeing me using an AR-15

Back to the automatic! Note how much better his form is than mine… Damn hard being a small person sometimes.

Shaun with the AR 15

Shaun with the AR-15

While the guys were getting the skeet-shooting thing set up, I was taking pictures (surprise ,surprise). The mountains came out for a few minutes while the sun set. Great view and a good day.

Sun on the Mountains

Sun on the Mountains

By the end we were a tad cold as it was around 20 with a wind chill. Shaun managed to actually hit the freaking clay targets. Never even shot this type of gun before, but hits the moving targets more times than not. I hit nothing…

Dave giving Shaun a rundown on the skeet shooting rife

Dave giving Shaun a rundown on the skeet shooting rife

The next few days were mostly cloudy and not particularly pretty. One afternoon Shaun and I took a few dogs to Powerline Trail which is at the base of Flattop. The setting sun lit up our grey snowy world for a few glorious minutes.

Sunset view from Flattop Base

Sunset view from Flattop Base

With the Sun below the mountain peaks the world became every shade of grey with black and white as the ‘colors’.

Back & White peaks

Black & White peaks

With the warmer temps from the Chinook Winds, the snow was slushy and one would sink beyond the knee if one stepped off the packed trail. It was a good workout, made pretty by the Moon showing her light now and then.

Moon over Powerline Rd trail

Moon over Powerline Rd trail

Even more crappy weather a few days later meant very little hiking was had. The warmer winds melted all the snow and it turned everything into a slick, ice-coated mess. Even going into town was more than we wanted to deal with some days. Dave’s company had some Aces Hockey tickets that weren’t claimed. Shaun and I experienced our first Hockey game – with Alaskan Amber Beer. It was more fun than I thought I’d have, they really do slam each other against the walls and get into fistfights!

I introduced Shaun to Anchorage Sushi – lets just say we ate a lot, A LOT —  along with some of the bars in downtown. Bars in Anchorage are a tad different from what they are in Maryland, particularly the run-of-the-mill tourist ones. Shaun had a great time and I enjoyed getting back to some of my old haunts. Sadly, the scene in Anchorage for dancing has greatly deteriorated and not much was found.

The wildlife was showing up in style for Shaun’s visit. Moose, Eagles, Owls hooting and of course the Lynx. We saw 4(!!!) crossing the road — Kathy was green with envy. Before everything turned completely slushy, Shaun and I took a couple of dogs to the Conner’s Bog dog park. Shaun was pretty close to decent sized moose. River collected snowballs in her fur – poor thing could barely walk by the end.

The weather often concealed the views, but beautiful Sunsets were still happening.

Breath taking Sunset from the driveway!

Breathtaking Sunset from the driveway!

We made big plans to go to Fairbanks – and more importantly the Chena Hot springs outside of Fairbanks. Originally, Kathy & Dave were coming along with all the dogs. I’m not sure who was more horrified by the prospect of 4 adults and 4 dogs in the same 4-Runner for 800 miles of driving – Dave or Shaun. The weather turned nasty and plans had to be cancelled, much to their dismay. Later in the week, Shaun and I decided to drive up without the dogs for two nights. River was not pleased…

Headed to Fairbanks!

Headed to Fairbanks!

We started out in rain that lasted up until the Valley. Then the skies cleared in places and sunlight was had!

Sunlight on Snowy peaks

Sunlight on Snowy peaks

The road to Fairbanks is a pretty quiet place, only a few stops along the way to gas up or get snacks. In the winter, the number of people out gets close to zero for most of the drive. Sadly I had forgotten the cable to plug in a phone for music… no CDs this day and age in the 4-Runner, and you lose the radio stations (the ones worth listening to anyway) pretty quick. It was a rather quiet drive. Probably a testament to our early-stage relationship that after 800 miles (round trip) in silence or conversation, we weren’t sick of each other!

Pines in the snow

Pines in the snow

The clouds came back, creating a black and white view of the landscape.

Right outside of Cantwell, we spotted a small group of Caribou! I was driving, leaving Shaun to scramble for the camera or phone or whatever might capture the Caribou as they trotted away.

Caribou!

Caribou!

One young buck got separated from the group and went back the way he came, snorting and tail up in the air.

Caribou Tail

Caribou Tail

Shaun had a great time snapping photos, including candid shots of me driving…

Me driving

Me driving

Winding through the snowy hills.

Winding through Hills

Winding through Hills

We stopped at a few lookout areas to get photos and stretch our legs. Shaun’s plaid shirt camos him right in with the hills.

Shaun blending in

Shaun blending in

It was still Chinook weather, a balmy 30 degrees with a breeze.

Joannie looking out

Joannie looking out

King of the selfies took this ‘acceptable’ shot of us – as I think of it!

Together on the AK Hwy

Together on the AK Hwy

Being a solar energy type of guy, Shaun really enjoyed seeing the various Wind Turbines and other green energy that Alaska has and continues to grow.

Wind Mills

Wind Mills

About an hour from Fairbanks, the sun was officially setting, lighting up our otherwise grey world with bright colors.

Sunset outside of Fairbanks

Sunset outside of Fairbanks

Every few minutes the detail of the colors changed — Nature’s slide show.

Pink Clouds

Pink Clouds

Another random photo of me – the setting sunlight giving my rather pasty face color!

Candid Driver

Candid Driver

Sunset selfie on a smartphone.

Sunset Selfie!

Sunset Selfie!

After getting a quick dinner in Fairbanks, we made it to Chena that evening, more than ready for a hot soak. I cannot describe the feeling of being in a large outdoor hot-spring pool in Alaska during winter, other than ‘blissful’. We soaked for a good hour or so before stumbling out in a daze of overheated goodness. The hot springs tend to really take it out of you. Sadly there was too much low cloud cover to see the Northern Lights in the valley where the Chena resort is, but our time spent wasn’t hindered in the least. We had gingerale and hard cider to kick back with while watching Game of Thrones.  The next day – after sleeping in, another long soak!

Chena Hot Springs

Chena Hot Springs

Even with the low clouds it is a beautiful way to soak the aches out.

Shaun disappearing into the Steam

Shaun disappearing into the steam

The large outdoor pool is more like a large pond. When the steam blows over it, you cannot see the rock walls or even the buildings sometimes; it leaves one feeling like they are in another world.

Soaking

Soaking

Shaun had never been in such a place and was pretty enchanted with it.

Happy Smile

Happy Smile

He had a pretty hard time not smiling the entire soak.

Selfie attempt 1

Selfie Attempt 1

We had my Olympus Tough Camera — which is apparently hot-spring proof and not just water-proof!

Selfie attempt 2

Selfie Attempt 2

A better self shot picture! Having the whole place to ourselves most of the time was awesome, but also meant that any couple shots were left up to us to take…

Contrast Shot

Contrast Shot

The camera has a few different settings, including a high contrast one. I gave Shaun the camera, and like most boys with a new toy – he got a little carried away…

Underwater Selfie

Underwater Selfie

Of course when you give your guy the camera – the random shots of you happen…

Underwater shot of me..

Underwater shot of me..

My response of course was this.

Classic Joannie

Classic Joannie

Shaun had a LOT of fun with the whole underwater photographing thing.

Getting Hot

Getting Hot

He got this rather interesting one of me out of the water but as seen from underwater.

J on the rocks

J on the rocks

Towards the end, we were pinking up quite well. Not wanting to be too hot spring-drunk (its a thing, trust me) for the drive back, we decided to do the geothermal tour before driving. Chena Hot Springs is run only on their geothermal and generator energy. No power lines or anything of the sort go out to the Chena Valley. All the food has to be trucked in unless they can grow it. The history of the place is pretty interesting – having had many types of owners and managers – including the State at one point. The owners hope to one day run the resort completely on green energy and be able to supply most of the food they serve themselves. For now, it is a smaller supplemental project with promise.

Being the only two people on the current tour of the geothermal energy, Shaun got to ask many detailed questions of the operations and how the various steps worked. He got a few photos with his phone, like the one below. It was very interesting to me, but sadly I understood very little of the way the various machines worked. I also enjoyed seeing Shaun light up at the different types of green energy and how it works.

Greenhouse at Chena

Greenhouse at Chena

After the tour, we meandered around the resort, checking out the various tourist attractions – which include an ice museum, sled dog kennels, a small Reindeer herd and cross-country ski trails!

Then it was back on the road, bad weather was supposed to move in that night. Shaun helped drive the first leg as the roads were still in good condition. Around the halfway point the clouds had caught up and were dumping snow/sleet. When the 4-Runner hit ice and slid all the way across the highway it became my turn to drive. Shaun handled the ice impressively and we escaped without damaging the Gardners’ car! The rest of the drive was slow, very slow going. What radio we did have in places reported the highway being shut down behind us and ordered all none-essential personnel to get off the road.

Made it back in the wee hours of the morning — in one piece but strung out. Most of the snow was gone in Anchorage, but ice was coating the roads and driveways. The rain/sleet washed all the gravel and sand from the driveway and I had a heck of time getting all the way to the house. Shaun enjoys telling this story – I seem to have made an impression on him while handling the 4-Runner sliding backwards down the steep driveway and road, once resulting in doing a 180 spin – controlled I might add. Two bags of sand and 4 attempts had us parked in the driveway. We basically slept the next day away and only went out to get this photo during a small cloud break.

Sunset Rainbow

Sunset Rainbow

A day or two to recover and to let the roads clear; I took Shaun, Pete & River out to Portage Glacier with stops along the beautiful Seward Highway. It was very windy along the Turnagain Arm, but sunny in spots. The Sun was beyond bright and beams of light danced on the choppy water.Sun on the Water

Sun on the Water

The Seward highway is a beautiful drive – summer or winter. Mountains, water, jagged rock face, big sky feel that makes any sort of sun/moon activity even more enhanced. The wind often whips through, funneled by the mountains on both sites. This particular day it was blowing at around 50mph and brought the temps to about zero in windchill terms.

Sun-kissed landscape

Sun-kissed landscape

Beluga Point is one of my favorite spots.

Shaun on Beluga Point

Shaun on Beluga Point

At Beluga point we climbed about on the rocks, almost got blown off a few times during the process but the view was well worth it! It was a interesting challenge to keep the camera steady enough while maintaining my balance to get a nice shot.

Braced and taking shots

Braced on Beluga Point

Within the valley where Portage Glacier is, the air was calm. We were the only people around which meant Pete & River got to run free. The Glacier is receding and not terribly impressive – but still a gorgeous area.

Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier Entry

Portage Glacier has been receding for the last 20+ years, you can barely make it out in between the mountains, and chunks of it float out into the water. It is still a pretty stop along Seward.

Mossy Carpet

Mossy Carpet

After Pete almost fell in the water, we went for a short walk around the park. Mossy carpets and trees were everywhere – only visible in January since all the snow had melted. The dogs had a great time romping about and the silence of the park was wonderful.

River on the trail

River on the trail

Shaun had a great time seeing what Alaska looks like without snow.

Shaun looking more like a woodsman

Shaun looking more like a woodsman

Green gems hidden in the woods.

Moss Evergreen

Moss Evergreen

We walked to the Freestone ponds, which are gravel pits that Girdwood uses. The icy blue water turns ordinary gravel pits into blue enchanted ponds…

Freestone Ponds

Freestone Ponds

I looked for pretty rocks (something I am sorta known for) and snapped pictures. Shaun was a good sport and posed for me.

Shaun by the Pond

Shaun by the Pond

Pete quickly had Shaun throwing a stick for him, even though we tried to keep him out of the frigid water, Pete insisted on swimming for his stick. I love this shot of the them – a man and his 4-legged friend.

Pete retrieving

Pete retrieving

River was not to be left behind, and splashed through many of the shallows.

River exploring

River exploring

I love the blues and teals of the water here. I could stare at it – possibly forever.

Glacier Blue Water

Glacier Blue Water

I looked over at one point and saw Pete as he appeared to be standing on the water – he was perched on a rock just under the surface.

Pete walking on water

Pete walking on water

Closeup of Shaun.

Portrait

Portrait

The Sunset on our way back was absolutely breathtaking! The high peaks are volcanoes that aren’t always visible from the Turnagain Arm.

Mountains & Volcanoes in fading light

Mountains & Volcanoes in fading light

I drove up along Potter Marsh Rd so as to get the best view. As the Sun sunk lower, we had a few minutes of intense orange and yellow light, looking like a streak of fire.

Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky

Overall, the trip was fantastic. I never did get tired of having Shaun stay – something I tend to have a problem with in terms of people in my personal space. I wish the weather had been a little less messy – more clear skies and Northern Lights – but I figure if Shaun can have an awesome time during terrible Chinook Winds weather, he’ll love it if he comes in the Summer! Hopefully he will experience the Midnight Sun soon.

Smiles

Smiles

Having a long distance relationship that spans 4 times zones isn’t easy, but while its working – we have fun. Strangely enough, Shaun is only the second person who has come out to see me in Alaska – even though I offer it to many people. His willingness to just ‘do it’ was a pretty big turning point in how I viewed our relationship (fun when I am in town – to ‘real’). I don’t get to have very many people who like me grumpy first thing in the morning – let lone find it endearing while giving me coffee.

It’s all about the People you meet along the Journey, and if you never go, you’ll never meet them ~ J

How does River survive the cold?

So upon my FB status of ‘negative temps’ in Anchorage and how River and I arrived back in the state, a few people were curious as to just how River is able to join me in the outdoor adventures of cold and occasionally sub-zero Alaska. Well, see, her being a Long-Haired Dachshund really, really helps! Her Short-Haired cousins DO NOT LIKE THE COLD. If you end up with a ‘naked’ Dachshund as I tend to call them, for the love of all, get it a SWEATER, a heating pad too if you live somewhere cold. And be warned, they will steal your blankets.

Due to her coat, River is able to handle temps down into the teens without much help from me for a quick potty walk – I usually only bundle her up for weather 20+ if we are going to be outside for a long time/romping in the snow. She gets a jacket if it’s a cold/freezing rain as well – which was common in Seattle’s winters.  The jacket also helps with the snowball clumps that stick to her fur. If it is below say 15 degrees F, She will get ‘layers’ if we are going to be out for a while.

The Evolution of ‘Bundling River Up’.

River had a basic ‘winter coat’ that I brought with me from Tennessee in the winter of 2011 when she finally joined me in Alaska – Below you can see how short her fur-coat was the first few months!

River's 1st 'warm coat' 2011

River’s first ‘warm coat’ – 2011

Below: River in the early days of ‘layers’ with one of her training – demo dog shirts.

River in Layers 2011

River in layers – 2011

By the next year, I had found a new jacket and coat on sale for her- the coat was a bit too big so I improvised with safety pins. It was quite eye-catching, if I say so myself! River had also grown a much thicker fur coat – which helped immensely

River in her new and improved 'layers' 2012

River in her new and improved ‘layers’ – 2012

Her jacket hoody up – makes me think of a gnome.

River in her jacket 'hoody' 2012

River in her jacket ‘hoodie’ – 2012

When it isn’t cold enough to warrant both layers, she sports her hoodie.

River in just her Jacket 2012

River in just her jacket – 2012

River’s newest jacket/base layer is the best fitting one yet – probably because it cost the most… Roughwear is well worth it if you have need of such things. Finding jackets long enough in the torso, deep enough in the chest and short enough in the leg cuffs for a Dachshund is no laughing matter. River wore just this one while we were in Taos, NM with temps of -4 F. She did just fine during our hikes as did the late Rosie who also had one.

River's newest jacket - 2013

River’s newest jacket – 2013

River has a great time adventuring with me regardless of the weather; this summer it looks like I will have to find her a life jacket for the boat we are going to be on in the Gulf of Alaska. My baby seal 🙂

Below: an epic shot of my Super Rat flying over the snow. Ears up, tail out, paws stretched!

River flying over the snow - 2011

River flying over the snow – 2011

Hey, if my Mini Dachshund can tough out the cold, you can too!

~ J

Cross-Country Road Trip Vol III ~ Hot Springs & Grand Tetons

We headed towards the South entrance of Yellowstone – The Grand Teton’s were part of the planned trip and once finished we would loop back up into Yellowstone to see the north parts. I was just as excited as Jackie for the Tetons – as I had never seen them before either. But First – the Hot Springs.

I remember this spot very clearly (but likely only because of the pictures I took) from when I drove through with Reuben the year before; the colors and even geysers had changed a lot. Instead of an orange hue, this time it was green.

Bacteria Flow

Bacteria Flow

Contrasting greens. Maybe due to the time of year or other factors unbeknownst to me – the bacteria was many shades of greens and yellows with only a little orange here and there.

Contrasting Greens of the Bacteria flow

Contrasting Greens of the Bacteria flow.

Jackie & Rosie – with it being hot in the sun (made only hotter by the Black Dragon’s dark skin) the dogs couldn’t be left in the car for more than a few minutes. Yellowstone has a strict ‘no dog’ policy on most board-walks and trail areas (excluding service dogs of course). To keep both dogs safe and the Rangers happy – the girls toured in style – in the backpacks. Rosie took a few minutes to adjust to Jackie’s backpack – which wasn’t quite as dog friendly as mine; if your thinking of hauling a small dog in a backpack – get the kind that has a flap that buckles over the top instead of the traditional side zippers. Much safer and is more effective for keeping the dog where you want him.

Jackie & Rosie next to Silex Spring

Jackie & Rosie next to Silex Spring

Below: Teal Waters. One of my favorite things about the Hot Springs in Yellowstone is the abundance of bright blue and teal ones!

Silex Spring

Silex Spring

Close up of the deep teal. Absolutely mesmerizing!

Closeup of Silex Spring

Closeup of Silex Spring

Silex Spring Runoff

Silex Spring Runoff

Silex Spring Runoff

Another Silex Spring Closeup! If it wouldn’t boil me on the spot, I would love nothing more than to float in a spring just like this.

Another Silex Closeup

Another Silex Closeup

Paint Pots. The bubbling mud always makes me think of Sci-fi movies.

Paint Pots

Paint Pots

Red Spouter – huge holes that spout boiling mud.Red Spouter

Closeup of spouting hot mud – My old e-20 Olympus Camera still has it (in the right light and when it feels like it)!

Closeup of Red Spouter

Closeup of Red Spouter

Further down the boardwalk: Spasm Geyser.

Spasm Geyser in the Paint Pots area

Spasm Geyser in the Paint Pots area

River & I cruising the boardwalk to the Geysers.

Joannie & River

Joannie & River

Jackie & Rosie looking adorable.

Jackie & Rosie near Geysers

Jackie & Rosie near Geysers

Back in the Black Dragon, we did the Firehole Lake road which I hadn’t done my last visit to Yellowstone. With very few people around, it was very timeless feeling.

Firehole Spring along Firehole Lake Drive

Firehole Spring along Firehole Lake Drive

Closeup of Firehole Spring bubbling.

Firehole Spring closeup

Firehole Spring closeup

Next was the ancient White Dome Geyser.

White Dome Geyser

White Dome Geyser

The Actual White Dome Geyser – very impressive with the amount sediment built up. We didn’t get to see it go off but I imagine it is quite a sight.

White Dome Geyser

White Dome Geyser

First time I had seen a lake that really looked like it was on fire! Just imagine trying to tell ‘your people’ hundreds of years ago about the hot shimmering lake you had found that seem to be on fire – they probably would have forever thought you insane.

Firehole Lake

Firehole Lake

The colors made me think more of a Dr. Seuss world then our own.

Firehole Lake runoff

Firehole Lake runoff

Firehole Lake sediment formations – almost whimsical.

Firehole Lake formations

Firehole Lake formations

The picture of the famous Old Faithful Lodge we took this trip wasn’t very good (Jackie..) so I used the one from my previous trip for the full effect!

Old Faithful Inn - From 2012 trip

Old Faithful Inn – From 2012 trip

The Old Faithful Inn (I keep trying to call it ‘Lodge’) is a pretty impressive place to visit – not sure I would stay with the amount of traffic it sees though.

Jackie in Old Faithful Inn

Jackie in Old Faithful Inn

Jackie was quite taken with it – he is a die hard fan of all things western and log cabin. A Cowboy at heart my brother is.

Inside of Old Faithful Inn

Inside of Old Faithful Inn

Standing 7 stories and with a roofline of 65 ft, the main room is pretty cool. The detail of the wood is pretty awesome.

Floor Detail of Old Faithful Inn

Floor Detail of Old Faithful Inn

Good timing had us out to the Old Faithful boardwalk right after checking out the Inn. She started pretty quick.

Old Faithful Starts

Old Faithful Starts

Almost to full strength!

Old Faithful!

Old Faithful!

And there she is!

Closeup of Old Faithful

Closeup of Old Faithful

Soon as Old Faithful had finished, we got back on the road to avoid the increasing traffic (both on foot and cars). As we winded our way to the south entrance, I spotted an Elk cow and her new fawn in the trees.

Female Elk on the Road

Elk on the Road

The fawn disappeared deeper into the pines when Momma Elk crossed the road with out it, realizing that the baby hadn’t followed she quickly came back to find her fawn – which is how I got this nice shot.

After the Elk excitement, we left the park and cruised south to the Teton’s. Our first sighting had us both on the edge of our seats with the magnificence of the Mountains.

Tetons in the Distance

Tetons in the Distance

The closer we got, the more enthralled we became. I have seen a few mountains ranges in my short life, but none quite as distinctive thus far as the Tetons.

Grand Tetons & Jackson Lake

Grand Tetons & Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake being in front of the range just made it that much more exquisite.

Closeup of Tetons & Jackson Lake

Closeup of Tetons & Jackson Lake

I’m sure people will be bored long before either of us were with taking pictures (and then looking at them later) of the peaks.

Sagelands & Tetons

Sage lands & Tetons

Personally I really enjoyed the sage lands scattered through the valley.

Teton Range

Teton Range

Makes me think of the ‘Spirit of the West’ postcards that I would see in history books.

Left to right - Teton Peak

Breath taking Teton Peaks

Above: One of my favorite shots of the higher peaks. Almost a painting in a photo.

Jackie thrilled to be in the Tetons!

Jackie thrilled to be in the Tetons!

I have another shot of Jackie that doesn’t have the car in the background..but he isn’t smiling in that one as he was asking something..so I used this one with his happy smile to be ing the park.

Joannie & Tetons

Joannie & Tetons

Above: A great shot by Jackie of me – using the new Tough Camera!

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Early June meant many of the wildflowers were out!

Little Larkspur

Little Larkspur – Purple

Jackie and the dogs weren’t as into the plants as I was, so I kept my plant pictures to a minimum.

Vast Teton Range

Vast Teton Range

Meditation in a picture.

View from the Cabin,Grand Tetons WY, June 2013, Jackie road trip, Tough Camera,

View from the Cabin

Kathy Gardner had called me to inform us that she had gotten a cabin on the Lake for two nights in the Tetons at Signal Mountain Lodge – that took dogs. Greatly humbled by her gift we had a beautiful stay and rested up. We had dinner that night at the Lodge’s grill – yummy burgers and beer! Watched a stunning sunset over the range (I of course forgot the camera for that sunset..). The next day was spent exploring and picture-taking with the girls.

Jackie in front of Lake Jenny

Jackie in front of Lake Jenny

Above: I purposely took this photo in a high contrast with the Tough Camera. We liked the different effect. We drove south towards Jackson Hole and meandered through some of the ski resort towns – I know where I am going if I ever have the money!

Joannie in front of Lake Jenny

Joannie in front of Lake Jenny

A high contrast shot of me! Thanks to Jackie for his pictures of me – who would have thought my big fingered brother could take such nice shots?!

Dramatic Tetons

Dramatic Teton

Above: Teton Peak shot in high contrast – really highlighted the drama of the land.

Below: We went to String Lake for a picnic lunch with the dogs – who were drooling over every squirrel and chipmunk in the vicinity.

String Lake

String Lake

A truly amazing spot for lunch! I took another high contrast shot of lake. The water was quite teal naturally, but didn’t show much in the original picture.

Dramatic Shot of String Lake

Dramatic Shot of String Lake

There was a ‘beach’ at String Lake – more like a pebble area really. I parked the Black Dragon in the shade for the doxies since no dogs on the beach and we dipped our toes in. It was COLD!!!

Jackie trying to adjust to frigid water

Jackie trying to adjust to frigid water

The water was glass clear, and absolutely frigid. My bones hurt and I found myself wishing my limbs would just go numb…

Rocky Bottom of String Lake

Rocky Bottom of String Lake

We saw a person paddle boarding – which after being in the water for five minutes made so much more sense than swimming it – I would dearly love to paddle board the clear cold lakes of the Tetons one day.

Joannie in Lake String

Joannie in Lake String

No need for bathing suits – you won’t stay in long enough for them! It was nice to cool down after being in the sun though.

Jackie in Lake String

Jackie in Lake String

Jackie posing in the lake.

Clouds passing over the Sun

Clouds passing over the Sun

Above: A normal setting of the clouds passing over the sun above the peaks.

Below: The high contrast setting – Both with the Tough Camera.

Dramatic filter of the clouds passing over the Sun

Dramatic filter of the clouds passing over the Sun

We started back towards the Lodge – windows rolled down of course! The girls really like the 45mph breeze they got with their snouts out the window.

Rosie gazing

Rosie gazing

At some point during the day – they had gotten water dumped on their heads for barking. The breeze dried them of nicely – but left rather rumpled looking doxies…

Wet Rosie & River

Wind ruffled Rosie & River

Our next stop was Signal Mountain. A ‘small’ rise roughly in the middle of the valley standing around 7200ft above sea level.

View from Signal Mt

View from Signal Mt

It was beautiful! Able to see in almost every direction – Jackie declared it one of the best spots yet.

Jackie atop Signal Mt

Jackie atop Signal Mt

Rolling landscape behind me, sun on my face, wind in my hair – was wonderful (as long as I had my hat on for the sun).

Joannie atop Signal Mt

Joannie atop Signal Mt

The flowers were in full bloom on the mountainside – even Jackie wanted a picture of it!

Wildflower Mountainside

Wildflower Mountainside

The fields of yellow had smaller treasures hidden amongst the larger flowers.

Spring Beauty ~ Claytonia lancelolata

Spring Beauty ~ Claytonia lancelolata

I believe this is Claytonia lancelolata or ‘Spring Beauty’ – I certainly hope it is with the amount of time I spent researching it!

Arrowleaf Balsamroot atop Signal Mt

Arrowleaf Balsamroot atop Signal Mt

Swaying in the breeze – the Arrowleafs seemed to me to be the ‘West’s’ sunflowers!

Overlooking the view

Overlooking the view

It was pretty thrilling to stand on the railing and look out over the valley.

Mountains in the distance

Mountains in the distance

The formation of the mountains was endlessly fascinating to me.

The Teton Range from Signal Mountain

The Teton Range from Signal Mountain

Above: High contrast shot of the Tetons as seen from Signal Mt. It had gotten a little hazy with the afternoon sun, I don’t have a polarizer for my e-20 but the high contrast with the Tough Camera handled the haze well.

We headed back to the Lodge for our final meal in the Tetons and to watch the sun set. Sadly it wasn’t nearly as colorful and stunning as the evening before – but still pretty.

Sunset from the lodge

Sunset from the lodge

Jackie and I ate in the ‘fine dining’ restaurant of the Signal Mountain Lodge – it was a very nice meal of Bison and Elk, our waiter great and the view amazing!Mountain Sunset from Lodge

Mountain Sunset from Lodge

The walk back to our cabin the last light glowed from behind the peaks, the first stars came out and the sounds of the wilderness settling in for the night (or waking up) was like a dream. Such a perfect day with my two dogs and big little brother.

Last Light

Last Light

To say that Jackie and I are grateful for Kathy’s thoughtful gift of a cabin is a huge understatement. We have memories, stories and pictures of this trip that are beyond priceless! So thank-you Kathy G – your one of the best and most caring people I know♥

I mentioned the Tough Camera – an Olympus point & shoot I got right before Jackie came to Seattle – throughout the post as I do with my others – along with my original Olympus model – an e-20.

Closeup on Signal Mountain

Closeup on Signal Mountain

Journey long & hard – but with good people! ~ J

 

Cross-country Road Trip Vol II ~ The Road to Yellowstone June 2013

An early afternoon start out of Seattle afforded us the time to stop a little along the way to see the changing landscape. Once outside Seattle, clear streams and mountain views were to be had. We pulled off for a quick doggie break and pictures.

Light Rays on the Cascades

Light Rays on the Cascades

The drive through the Cascades was clear (shockingly so) and the clouds were doing all sorts of strange formations.

Evergreen Hills & Strange clouds

Evergreen Hills & Strange clouds

The higher peaks still had plenty of snow and the air was crisp.

A Peak

A Peak

Narrow waterfalls lined the mountains with snow-melt coursing down.

Snow Melt Waterfalls

Snow Melt Waterfalls

River and Rosie were pretty excited at first, wanting to be up front, on our laps and ready to spring out if we stopped, but they were banished to the back to ‘their spot’ on all my crap we’d stuffed the Black Dragon with. All in all, the girls had a good deal, with a comfy bed and blankets stacked to window-viewing level (this is highly important as any Doxie owner can attest to…). It took them a few hours to realize their good fortune.

The Girls resigned to their back-seat fate

The Girls resigned to their back-seat fate

Weaving through the mountains, I noticed odd-shaped cloud-like things in the distance. Closer inspection revealed it was indeed an actual cloud but looked more like a UFO. I can see how the flying saucer theme is easily run wild with.

UFO Cloud

UFO Cloud

I believe this is Easton Lake in Washington along Rt 90. The other possibility would be Keechelus Lake, which is near Lake Easton and on the same side of the highway, but bigger.

Easton Lake, WA

Easton Lake, WA

The blues and greens were incredible in the sunlight. The Tough Camera captured it very well.

Mountains over the lake

Mountains over the lake

Once out of the mountains, Jackie took over driving and I caught up on some much-needed sleep. The result was no pictures except this one of Eastern Washington – which is noticeably different from Western Washington. Due to our late spring departure, things were still a nice green even in the drier side of the state.

Eastern WA

Eastern WA

We entered Idaho as the Sun set, driving through mountains almost entirely made up of Sempervirens (evergreen) trees. It was only within two hours that Montana was on the horizon since the part of Idaho we drove through was the northern, narrow part of the state.

Entering Idaho

Entering Idaho

Last of the setting Sun as we cruised down the mountains into Montana.

Sunset in Idaho

Sunset in Idaho

A rather poor quality picture as we entered into Montana, with the low light and high speed of the car – but Jackie was simply so excited to be back in Montana again, he needed a picture!

 Montana in the last light

Montana in the last light

We drove until it was fully dark, found dinner at a random diner along the way and made camp at a pull-off on the highway. The plan was to get a few hours of shuteye and start as early as we could so as to make the most of the daylight. As everyone knows, I am not a morning person. But strangely enough, I sometimes can get moving before 7am when on road trips (still not a guarantee though). The car being packed meant shuffling around some stuff just to squeeze myself into the back seat; Jackie took the front passenger seat which reclines fairly well. Both girls had to vie for space and one ended up sleeping perched above dashboard level on a crate of books. Jackie ignored my ‘you’ll be cold’ warnings and forewent the sleeping bag. He was cold, and barely slept…

River and I were horribly cramped, but warm. Other than my left leg going numb from sciatic pain after driving in a car all day and my back doing its own form of bone jarring pain (remember, I’ve major back & hips problems), I slept well. 

Snow Capped Mountains that are the iconic sight of Montana made waking up – stiff from sleeping in the Black Dragon (Subaru), without any coffee – worth the early hour. Jackie was a tad grumpy to start from the uncomfortable seat and cold, but cheered up when food and coffee was on the horizon.

Montana Morning

Montana Morning

We had breakfast somewhere in Montana at a quaint town with a tasty and cheap diner. Jackie was ready to stay. My encouraging descriptions of what Yellowstone would be like helped move him along.

Layered Hills

Layered Hills

The sun was bright and quickly warming the day. Jackie perked up after enough coffee to kill a horse (or at least a dog). The low haze from the dew/frost cleared and every song and quote of ‘God’s Country’ came to mind.

Montana - God's Country

Montana – God’s Country

Old barbed wire, cattle gates and never-ending pastures.

The Range

The Range

Lowland scrub brush, I believe Sage is in there too, dotting the hills.

Lowland Brush

Lowland Brush

The layered land and brilliantly blue sky was perfection as only nature can do.

Layers of Perfection

Layers of Perfection

By this point we were off the main highway and on a much smaller, no-quick-stop type road. Below are snow drift fences for winter winds.

Getting further off the beaten path

Getting further off the beaten path

The girls had settled into comfortable contentment of the drive. Rosie in particular was in her own idea of Heaven with her favorite bed at window level and direct sunlight.

Rosie Lounging in the Sun

Rosie lounging in the Sun

We stopped off an unmarked road to get some fresh air (of course potty break for the dogs) and snap some pictures. The Sun was almost blinding, the air still had a hint of the morning chill.

Unmarked Road
Unmarked Road

Jackie looking particularly bright with his pink shirt ♡

Jackie in Montana

Jackie in Montana

One of my favorite pictures of my handsome brother!

Jackie looking epic

Jackie looking epic

Jackie took a great photo of me with the new Tough Camera, if he can use it like this, its a good camera!

Joannie in MT

Joannie in MT

Staring off into the mountains, with no power lines, roads or fences marring the view. You could believe it was hundreds of years ago – no people, just the land as it used to be…

The Lost Country

The Lost Country

Approaching a lake, I noticed some level of scarring on the mountainside, I pointed it out to Jackie and we contemplated what may have caused it; landslide? Avalanche? Erosion from logging? Blasting for rock? Maybe even an Earthquake?!

We pulled off to investigate (and dog potty break). There were a few signs describing what had happened here. Earthquake it was indeed!

Earthquake Lake

Quake Lake

We walked around, noticing how far out the trees went into the lake and how recent everything felt from this Earthquake. I began to think that maybe even the Lake itself was made in the Earthquake. One of the info signs had the answers – the lake was where a valley used to be, an 80-million ton landslide caused a dam on the Madison River. The Earthquake happen in 1959 in the summer camping season, killing 28 people and causing exorbitant amounts of damage to surrounding areas. At 7.3 (USGS) it is the largest quake to hit Montana in recorded history.

Tree Root Skeleton

Tree Root Skeleton

The water was a clear green, trees practically growing out of the water on some banks.

Earthquake Lake

Earthquake Lake’s Sparkling Waters

While it was born out of destruction, the lake today is beautiful; but I think, also a stark reminder of how quickly things can change and how quick death can come.

Beauty out of Destruction

Beauty out of Destruction

Everywhere the eye could see was picturesque.  We continued on through the valleys towards Yellowstone’s West entrance. The plan was to be at the Grand Tetons, south of Yellowstone Park where my amazing friend Kathy had gotten us a cabin for 2 nights! After the Tetons, we would drive back up to Yellowstone and continue the loop. That way we would cover as many sights as possible.

More of Montana

More of Montana

I was napping as Jackie neared Yellowstone, the girls sleeping, Jackie’s music playing in the background – everything was quiet and peaceful. When suddenly, I hear”oh OH SHIT!” and the Black Dragon jerks to the left than to the right, tires squeal, dogs go flying, stuff in the back comes forward. I jump up with the faint thought of ‘if this hadn’t been a low center of gravity car – we’d be rolled!’. Yelling “WTF JACKIE!!!!” Fully expecting that we had just dodged a runway Semi Truck or a herd of Elk had dashed across the road, barely hitting our bumper or at the very least, a wolf. I turned to my insane-driving brother as he slammed the brakes to demand what the hell was happening. He whipped the car around and swerved back the way we had came. Folks, he sighted a Buffalo.. And no, it didn’t even cross the damn road. Thankfully no one was around to witness that, ah… episode.

'The Buffalo"

‘The Buffalo”

The Buffalo did have a little cute calf with her. Even so, I was a second away from a heart attack and trying not to yell. The girls were growling (clearly something was out there) and Jackie was scrambling for the camera like a mad man. I calmly said “there will be more Buffalo…”. But we went bouncing along (not on) the road  and after the Buffalo. I managed a few shots to appease my possessed brother and took over driving so he could ‘look’ for the animals… I seriously thought we were about to die for a second.

Entering Yellowstone

Entering Yellowstone

After a quick stop for more batteries, some water and coffee in the little town before the park, we entered Yellowstone! I thought Jackie was excited to see Montana, Yellowstone was a whole new creature. Practically on the edge of his seat, snapping pictures with the Tough Camera as his smartphone was acting up, and exclaiming in barely contained glee at the sights.

Flat Mountain

Flat Mountain

Not too far into the park proper, in the near distance we saw:

Buffalo

Buffalo

Yep. You guessed it. More Buffalo. The exact same thing (only a lot more of them) that I had almost died for about 20 miles back… The cars lined the road. The Buffalo were about 1/2 a mile out across the river. Jackie was so hyped I couldn’t really say no to walking over to the river’s edge. ‘Course we had to take the Dachshunds since they were barking at all the people and weird cows around them.

Jackie & Rosie Shooting Buffalo

Jackie & Rosie Shooting Buffalo

Rosie being patient as Jackie shoots.

Sleeping by the River

Sleeping by the River

With the river in-between to give us a safety net, we cruised up and down the banks to get the best shots.

Mom & Calf

Mom & Calf

Early June meant quite a few young calves out with the herd.

Geese Family

Geese Family

Along with Geese and other critters. Rosie was quite interested in the goslings…

By the River

By the River

The calves frolicked about, the young bulls butting and chasing one another.

Cooling off

Cooling off

A few stepped into the river, eyed our little dogs. One even rolled in the mud. The Buffalo clearly owned the place. We were the guests.

The Sun was hot, even for June. The girls were happy to splash in the river. After taking numerous pictures, we got back on the road. Only a few miles into the drive, and oh look – more buffalo!

More Buffalo

More Buffalo

And even more Buffalo towards the Hot Springs in the distance.

Buffalo & Hot Springs

Buffalo & Hot Springs

Up ahead. What’s this? Even MORE Buffalo. On the ROAD. The only sort of traffic I’ve ever experienced in Wyoming has been animals…

Yellowstone Traffica Jam

Yellowstone Traffic Jam

It was at this point, being so close we could practically touch them, that Jackie finally understood what I meant by ‘there will be more Buffalo’.

Closeup

Closeup

The little calves were particularly cute.

Little Guy

Little Guy

We drove the Fire Hole Canyon road as we made our way to the Hot Springs in the southern part of the park.

Fire Hole Canyon

Fire Hole Canyon

Next up is the various Hot Springs on the way to the South entrance – to see the Grand Tetons.

This post got long quick with the pictures, so the Hot Springs will be in the next installment. We took hundreds of pictures during just this one day, the photos posted I feel reflect what we saw and liked best.

A lifetime’s worth of memories in only a few days thus far- back on the road we go. Hopefully stay on the road this time (Jackie).

~ J