Constant State of Transition – A Quick Note

I am on a plane yet again flying north back to Alaska (River too). Work – the doggies are in need of me. While I am not thrilled to be leaving Shaun, I am ready to see mountains, my ‘Alaska family’ as I refer to the Gardners and a couple of other very close people I am lucky enough to have in my life. This year started off in a state of transition and shows no signs of stopping that trend. My name as a ‘Dog Trainer’ has spread and I continue to be able to make travel and work..well, work. In only a few weeks, I will be flying back to the East Coast for more dogs and to spend time with Shaun.

My time is rather largely shared between Alaska and the East Coast. This is both awesome and exhausting depending on how much sleep I’ve had. I continue to find people in all sorts of places to share things like rock climbing, a festival or just a cup of coffee. Occasionally the stars (I mean schedules here..) align for people whom are very dear to me and we can get together. Recently I had a very short but still sweet visit with Lorien. Sadly my siblings and I have been unable to make it work – but I am hoping in the coming months that will be rectified.

The main thing I’ve come to realize is the difficulty of writing on the blog, returning phone calls, emails and such when one is in a constant state of transition. If I haven’t been quick to respond or you feel ignored, I am sorry and hope that one might understand that is it quite unlikely a personal thing. I will say for those who may need to get a hold of me for whatever reason – a text saying ‘Need to talk’ will get you a callback faster than an email or voicemail will.

The constant change of time zones, climate, driving style (east coast verses Alaska is a VERY different set of challenges), personalities of the people I’m around (in the Gardner house I can say fuck anytime of the day, in my relatives space not so much), and even worse – food option challenges, tends to leave me a little discombobulated. I wouldn’t trade it for staying in one place in the least, but I cannot say it is easy or leaves energy for other things at times. All in the trials of being a Wanderer.

I hope to add more content soon (but I’ve said that a few times before..).

~J

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End of Summer Schedule

Mid July has already arrived. The Fireweed is blooming here in Anchorage and throughout Alaska – a possible sign that our Summer may end early. The days blur together – as my life tends towards – and the moments are marked in experiences and feelings rather dates and times. Nevertheless, dates help keep thing from being too hectic! So here are the next couple of months to the best of my knowledge.

For the rest of July into August I’ll be in Anchorage. August 8th is the current date I fly east, there is still a small possibility that it could change, but not likely. River stays in Alaska with Gardners. From the 8th of August until Sept 9th I will be in various locations along the east coast, Maryland, New Jersey and New York for sure. By Sept 10th I will be working my way back to Alaska for work. Around mid October I’ll be flying to Europe with Kathy & Dave for a bit of adventure, visit Kathy’s family there and even some dog training!

The dates are as follows:

August 8th – current fly to DC date.

August 8th – 15th Ocean City MD – hopefully see some of my TN family before they start school.

Possible classes in NY from the 16th till the 25th of August.

August 25th – Sept 5th Maryland/New Jersey.

Sept 5th – 9th WildernessFusion class in NY.

Around Sept 10-12th fly back to Alaska for work and such.

October 11th – 22nd ish – Europe!

As always, things shift. If it works to meet up with me – get in touch and we’ll try to make it happen.  ~J

 

 

 

March & Schedule Update

Last day of February is here, I sit in Bangor Maine at Tracy & Carl’s house staving off the 5 degree chill by the wood stove. The last few weeks have gone by rather quickly, as I bounced from state to state along my travels. Early February found me at the DC airport 4pm in the afternoon after 14 hours of flying through the night and running around Anchorage doing last minutes things the day before. My Aunt Cathie and Family was out-of-town, so I picked up the Black Dragon and begun battling the DC 5:30 traffic towards Tennessee. It took a few hours to clear the city’s traffic in Northern VA, at which point I stopped for food and provisions. By 8pm I had been awake already for 32 hours and just wanted a bath. But Winter Storm Pax was crawling up from the southern states, threats of 5+ inches to feet of snow and I needed to not be on the highway once it started. I made it to Best Friend – Lorien’s dorm in Johnson City TN, around 2am. The roads were still clear and I could try to rest. I snoozed through the bustle of college kids and woke up to a world of white. I stayed 2 nights and just about 3 days catching up with Lorien and watching the city shut down from 8 inches of snow. I also got dinner with Jackie and Jeremy in Bristol to catch up. Friday I made the 3 hour trek to the Farm in Madisonville, passing overturned trucks, broken down cars and jack-knifed tractor-trailers. For the first 20-30 miles, I saw at least one every mile marker.

The Farm still had about 5 inches of snow, however was getting slushy. The kids were thrilled to see me. Jackie came down from College to see me. I spent the weekend hanging out, playing cards, sitting by the fire, and of course – snow play with the kids. Everyone packed into the van and off to the mountains we went. Sadly due to the feet of snow, not as much sledding happened as time was spent on getting the van’s chains to stay on, unstuck, pulled out..and other less thrilling activities. The kids were out of school Monday, Jesse and I took them to Citico Creek to fish. Upon the realization that fish weren’t biting, we went for a hike. Was a good day. Tuesday the kids were back in school, I had many things to take care of with Barbara and long chats to catch up. I was also officially sick.

I was on the road late Wednesday afternoon, stopped in Johnson city briefly to say goodbye to Lorien. Sadly Jeremy and Jackie were at wrestling practice and I already had a very late start to get to New Jersey that night. I ended up staying another night in Jersey with my good friend Amy and her husband, due to the stresses of traveling while sick. I actually went to a walk in clinic due a strange rash that had surfaced along with my cold. Turns out that I have horrible luck (those would be the exact words of the Doctor to describe my situation) . Once on the road again, my GPS acted strange around NYC, so I got to get rerouted in the city. Was exciting. The drive through Maine was beautiful and peaceful, till something shattered the little moon roof of my Subie. At that point I pulled over and laughed like a crazy person. It was a clear day, no cars in front of me, no bridges, nothing around but trees. Something just happen to shatter the glass… Carl is going with ‘Space Poo’, Tracy has picked ‘God tried to strike you down’ and I.. well this sorta my life. So I’m going with that. I finally arrived in Maine with my tapped up window to Tracy and Carl’s where Linda was as well, Saturday afternoon to a warm house full of animals and wonderful people. Last few days have been spent recuperating and healing. I have new glass for the Black Dragon, but due to costs it isn’t actually installed yet..More Duct tape!

Today, I leave for my Wilderness Fusion class in NY. Can’t wait to see what will pop out of the wood work for this. I’ll stay at friend and fellow classmate – Justin’s tonight. Class will be starting late due to having to move location to better deal with the frigid temps and..yes more snow. Should be a killer of a class spiritually. I may not survive it though! Monday once class ends, I make a dash for Maryland where I hope to arrive in a timely manner so I can actually spend time with Shaun, before driving to DC the on Tues. Turns out that I need to go back to Alaska for a few days for work (which with the extra bills, is really for the best at this point). If I get in early enough to Ocean City, MD I’ll actually eat dinner, see Shaun. If not, well I’ll stop by my Aunt Terry’s, pick up the gear that needs to go to Alaska, sleep for a few hours. And then battle the snowstorm to DC where hopefully I’ll still be flying out Tuesday afternoon..I mean what couldn’t go wrong with this schedule?

March 9th will find me back in DC (weather permitting) and I will have the rest of the original ‘Maryland stay’ I was planning on before heading out to Belize. Whew. That brings up to March 15th… Next month overview looks something like this:

Feb 28th – Drive from Maine to NY for class.

March 1-3 – Wilderness Fusion Class in NY.

Late March 3rd – Arrive in Ocean City MD.

March 4th – Drive to DC, fly out for AK in the afternoon.

March 5-9th – Anchorage.

March 9th-14th – Maryland.

March 15th – Fly to Belize from DC.

March 16th-21st – Class in Belize.

March 21st-23rd DC with Shaun, Kathy & Dave!

March 24th-April 2nd – Unsure/East Coast.

April 3rd – Drive to Maine to meet up with Tracy.

April 4th-6-7th – Canada with the Element Sisters!!!

Early April – I should probably be heading back to Alaska soon so I can continue to eat…

 

Journey On ~ J

December Fun

Arrghh! Once again I look up and time has gotten away from me. December 20th!? WHAT. November was a great month, Thanksgiving nice with Kathy, Dave & friends! I spent about 10 days in Maryland visiting with family & friends before flying out to Alaska for work and the Holiday.

Early December found me in Seattle for a lay over with Reuben. We had a great time seeing some of our old haunts and taking in Seattle’s sushi & coffee. Early the next morning I was supposed to be off to D.C to meet up with a classmate from WildernessFusion and to pickup my car, but I was delayed getting checked in and missed my flight. 8 hours later of sitting at the airport I was *finally* on my way. DC was shockingly warm compared to Alaska and even Seattle. My wonderful Aunt Cathie picked me up along with classmate B, and we stayed the night in Arlington, VA before heading out for NY state. The drive was an adventure itself, but we made it in one piece to another classmate’s house near the park where the class is held. Quite a few people from the class were already there staying the night as well, so much fun was had.

My class itself was an intense – but amazing – and also freaking cold (and damp) time. Wouldn’t have changed a thing. The last night of the class the snow turned to ‘freezing rain’ (my favorite…) and everything was covered in ice. Breakfast was late that morning. By midday, things had warmed up but the skies were not promising to play nice. A few of us met back at J’s house (classmate we stayed with before class) where B was staying till his flight the next morning. Being tired, it wasn’t hard for them to convince me to stay the night (I had planned on staying with Amy in NJ). By the next morning snow was everywhere and no one was leaving… I ended up being snowed in for 2 nights, during which we all had a blast of archery (with hand-made bows), snow tracking while wandering through the storm, venison steaks, even a bit of dog training, and great conversation. Best ‘stuck in NY’ yet!

Snow on the Lake in NY

Snow on the Lake in NY

Once the roads cleared I made it back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Took some time to myself, hung out with Shaun and basically let my brain stop for a day or two (class was very intense, it needed a break). Food, movies, the rest of the Walking Dead episodes that I hadn’t seen yet; I enjoyed being lazy and Shaun was happy to partake. Then the dreaded Christmas shopping began. Everyone to whom I have sent gifts (or will, since I’m always late with this sort of thing) I love dearly, and even like giving them things. But I HATE HOLIDAY SHOPPING. People are crazy. The music is horrid. The lines ridiculous. And the children… Don’t even get me started on the freaking brats in the store. Crying. Wailing. WHINING. Ugh. And I’m not even done…

This weekend I am going to get to see the semi-famous Baltimore Aquarium and go dancing with Shaun. I just hope I don’t kill anyway who is out shopping with their kids…

I then fly out to Seattle to stay with Reuben, where Linda (Element Sister from Tracker) will meet me and we will be adventuring around the West Coast (literally) for the Holiday. The plan is to see the Redwoods in CA, drive along the Oregon coast, hit up the Olympic Peninsula in WA and see a show in Vancouver, BC, Canada. While in Seattle, I will also get to see my Aunt Michele and Uncle Dave!

On the 31st I will be back in Alaska to kick off the New Year with Kathy, Dave and of course – River. I’ve plenty of work to keep me busy for most of January in Anchorage.

Hope your Holidays are fun!

~ Joannie

Updated End of Summer Plans!

I’ve gotten dates nailed down, plane tickets confirmed and such! Here is the most updated ‘where the heck is Joannie’ list.

 

August

18th to 20-21st – Drive down to Tennessee to put some boxes into storage, see the family.

23rd to 25th – Dog Training in New Jersey.

26th – Fly out to Alaska till Sept 3-4th.

 

September

3-4th – Back in Maryland from Alaska.

7th to 9th – Class in New York.

22nd to Oct 1st – Tracker Class.

 

First week of October is still up in the air with final dates, by the second week I will mostly likely be back in Alaska to pick up Miss Rivers and do more work with my AK dogs!

~ Joannie

 

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