S: BOGS Blog 2011 Part II
FC: BOGS Blog 2011 | Part II
1: Water, Water Everywhere | Posted on May 15, 2011 by bogsblog| 3 Comments May 15 What can we say? Niagara Falls is a lot of water! It was interesting to learn that the falls are a New York state park and we could view them and wander around the islands and surrounding park for no charge. There are concessions with a special observation tower, boat ride and movie where you can spend a lot of money, but it was nice to know that the general area is public. | There are three falls – the American, Horseshoe and Bridal Veil – which aren’t as impressive as we expected, but the quantity and color of the water flowing from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario through the Niagara River are quite amazing. There are several islands in the river. On Goat Island, owner John Stedman made a clearing for his livestock to protect them from wolves on the mainland. During a severe winter all his animals died except for one sturdy goat, hence the name. Three Sisters Island was named for the daughters of hotelman Parkhurst Whitney and Green Island housed a paper mill and later a bathhouse. In 1885 New York established the Niagara Falls State Park. Nikola Tesla invented the three phase system of alternating current power transmission and distant transfer of electricity became possible in 1896. Today hydroelectric plants still operate along the powerful Niagara River. Water is plentiful in this area of New York. In addition to the region’s rivers, waterfalls and lakes, rain showers and thunderstorms are expected for the next week. We adjusted our itinerary to include more indoor activities. In Seneca Falls, we visited the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and learned more about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Declaration of Sentiments that were presented at the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Suffrage was a long battle and it wasn’t until 1920 that women finally got the vote. And the struggle continues Onward in the rain, we drove along the Finger Lakes and stopped in at two wineries for some tasting. The region is known for its Rieslings, but we preferred the Chardonnays. Now we are in Ithaca and will soon make our way to the Cornell Lab for Ornithology and the Johnson Museum of Art. Good distractions for another rainy day.
2: Posted on May 23, 2011 by bogsblog| 1 Comment May 21 Barb and I spent the last week in New York beginning at Niagara Falls, traveling east along Highway 20, south to the Finger Lakes, across the rambling Cornell campus in Ithaca and over to Round Lake, a quaint village just north of Albany, where my friend, Elyn, lives with her husband, daughter and menagerie of domestic and wild animals. A large part of our week’s journey was spent on the highway covering the many miles from the west side of the state to the east, but there were definitely some interesting sights along the way. An Amish woman steering a horse carriage down the country road. Another woman in Amish style clothes using a weed-whacker on her lawn. A roadside attraction called Prehistoric Creatures that promotes their talking dinosaur (unfortunately, it was closed when we stopped by for a conversation). A 25 year anniversary of Swedish Hill winery where the local band played Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and women in tie-dyed skirts danced with their children (made us feel right at home!). | Then down the Finger Lakes to Glimmerglass State Park for a couple of days. In his Leatherstocking Tales, James Fenimore Cooper renamed the shimmering Otsego Lake, calling it Glimmerglass instead. The state picked up on this and Glimmerglass State Park was born. Although cold and rainy during our stay, it was a lovely area and we enjoyed our drippy walks to the Hyde Hall covered bridge and Beaver Pond. Next, a crazy, curvy drive and a short stop at Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab. | New York State of Mind
3: By this time, we were ready to see friendly faces and stop driving for a while. We arrived in Round Lake and took a long walk down the lilac-lined rail trail until Elyn arrived home from work. Elyn and I met in Washington, DC in 1982 when we both worked and studied at George Washington University. I had just graduated from college in California and my position in the GW Extended Education department was my first full-time job. Elyn was working as a nutritionist in the health center. During the year I lived in DC, the two of us would walk from Lamont Street down to the university or ride the bus together. | Now, 30 years later, Elyn and I are still friends even though we live on opposite sides of the country and have only seen each other three times since our GW days. It makes me ponder the meaning of friendship. Why do we become friends with certain people and not others? Why do some friendships last a lifetime when others fade away? How much depends on the personalities of the friends and how much on happenstance? | Reconnecting with Elyn was great. She fed us delicious food (including fiddlehead ferns which I had never tried before), made an oil change appointment for Gabby and introduced us to the parks of Saratoga Springs. She also shared fascinating stories from her work as a nutritionist in Public Health and private practice. I recommend her blog, The Nutritionist’s Dilemma. Check it out athttp://lifeseedsnutrition.com/. That evening, Zena taught us about girls’ crew, what a coxswain does and how she deals with the adolescent teasing that goes along with the sport. Elyn and Peter entertained us with tales of squirrels turning on stereos, bats infesting their attic and woodchucks terrorizing their neighbors. And Chico the cat charmed us with his cantaloupe eating. Altogether it was a restful breather before we headed back to the highway and made our way to Acadia National Park in Maine.
4: Posted on May 24, 2011 by bogsblog| 8 Comments May 24 – Barbara It was not until Maine that we learned we are rambling rusticators. Rusticators is the name locals gave (I am sure somewhat derisively) to the hardy rustic campers who started the vacation trend in the Acadia area. We might not be as hardy, but we sure have enjoyed the rustic beauty here and throughout our travels. If our visit to New York was a revelation and a re-conception of that state (so much more than NYC), Maine is exactly what we expected. Rugged coastline, bucolic countryside, many quaint towns, horrible roads, wet, cold, beautiful, amazing. From Elyn and Peter’s house we made a beeline for Acadia. We had planned a scenic route including a ferry over Lake Champlain and some camping in Vermont and New Hampshire state parks. Unfortunately for us, the ferry was down and the state parks do not open until Memorial Day weekend. So, we took the short route with just one stop in Vermont, the Maple Museum, and a Walmart boon-dock and brew-pub visit in New Hampshire. | Our first stop in Maine we learned that while Paul Bunyon may have ended up in Klamath, rumor has it he was born in Rumford Maine. He was so large it took two storks to deliver him! Little Rumford also sported an Ed Musky tribute and several beautiful waterfalls. We made it to “Bah Haubba” in time for A Taste of Bar Harbor: Crab cakes in the harbor, all things blueberry along the historic main street, and a taste of fresh mussels on a side street. Eating on the road again. Did you know Maine was a big producer of blueberries? We didn’t. Acadia National Park has been a treat. We have had some great hikes despite the cold and rain – after all, we are used to the cold and rain. Our hike around Jordan Pond was capped by a wonderful lunch of Lobster (for me) and Haddock (for Gretchen) in the delightful and warm, Jordan Pond House. Gloria will be envious to learn we also had their famous popovers. A popover is an egg rich roll that puffs up like a soufflé and tastes somewhat like a waffle or crepe. Yum. (For those of you who know how we eat, yes we suffered a little for the dairy and eggs but it was worth it.) We particularly enjoyed Acadia’s pink glacier-rounded granite hills, carriage roads, wild blue berry patches in bloom, and dense forests. Here are a few pictures. | Rusticators
5: Note from Gretchen: May 23 was Barb’s 50th birthday and she was happy to spend the day hiking in the Maine woods and enjoying a hot shower afterwards. After three and a half months on the road, it really is the simple pleasures that mean the most to both of us.
6: Westward Ho! | Posted on May 29, 2011 by bogsblog| 2 Comments May 27 Acadia National Park was a magnificent crescendo to our eastward movement. The panorama on Cadillac Mountain was breathtaking and the treacherous creek bed trail we hiked near Parkman Mountain was exhilarating. Our days in Maine included times of being “in the moment” and occasions to reflect on how far we have traveled and to prepare for our change in course as we head back west. Even though we have only completed half of our cross-country journey, this shift in direction made a psychological impact and set a bittersweet tone. | We planned our visit to Acadia with the weather in mind. Spring hadn’t quite taken hold here and it was cold and misty. After a few days the wind picked up, the rain descended and the temperature dropped. Rain and thunderstorms were predicted for the next ten days. We took this as a cue and headed south down the Atlantic coastline. Near Portland, we stopped in at Gilsland Farm, a secluded Audubon sanctuary, where we watched woodchucks feasting in the grass, heard finches serenading in the trees, and viewed a fabulous sunset over Presumpscot River. The wildlife sculptures of Wendy Klemperer were a lovely complement to this natural setting. We drove through the tip of New Hampshire into Massachusetts and took an instant dislike to the bad signage and pot-holed highways. When we were able to finally locate a state park, we found they would not be open until Memorial Day weekend which was still three days away. So we continued on and made our way back into New York, this time a bit further south, but still within shouting distance of the Finger Lakes. We followed the directions we got over the phone from the helpful Chemung County campground staff until we were undeniably lost. Then we dared to ask Carmin for a suggestion. We had not been on speaking terms with her since she directed us to a nonexistent information center and an invisible city park in Massachusetts, but she surprised us by actually being helpful. We were glad, once more, that we hadn’t thrown her out the window. We arrived at the campground mid-afternoon and took a pleasant hike around the lake, just in time to get hit by a rainstorm when we were at the farthest point from our campsite. Then we returned and started two loads of laundry at the comfort station just in time for lighting, thunder, hail the size of small ice cubes and the loss of all electricity. Yes, our two loads of laundry are still floating in rinse water while we wait for the power to return. It was supposed to be back at 7:30 last night, but we are still in the dark after 24 hours.
7: Unwilling to let a power outage rain on our parade, we returned to the lakeside trail this afternoon and discovered some lovely surprises. Ranger O’Neal (aka Barbara) has a keen eye and spotted a gall on the side of the path that she quickly dissected to reveal a prize inside. Next she found a partial bird’s eggshell in a delicate shade of blue. The only drawback to our nature hike was the slippery mud that seeped into our shoes and caused the Ranger to lose her footing and fall butt first into the muck. Fortunately, in addition to being slippery, the sludge was also cushiony so there was no harm done other than spattered pants and a brief loss of dignity. Always a good sport, Barb laughed as I helped pull her up out of the mire. I think she’d be a great park ranger and would enjoy this new career in spite of its occupational hazards. We returned to camp and after a couple more hours decided to wring out the clothes that had been floating in the washer for a day and a half. We hung them around our camp and inside Gabby to dry. And, of course, the minute we filled up our clothesline the power came back on!
8: Posted on June 9, 2011 by bogsblog| 2 Comments June 9 Most people have heard of Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls, but you probably didn’t know that many of my relatives live here. We had a great time with my aunt and cousins – eating, laughing and reminiscing about the summers when I and my siblings came to visit. Aunt Bev had lots of old family reunion pictures so we could watch people grow up, hairstyles change and new babies appear throughout the years. Bev was such a warm and easy hostess; we could have stayed for months. We spent a night at the glamorous new home my cousin Chuck is building. The main house is gorgeous with lots of his fine woodworking and careful attention to detail. Downstairs, he is working on finishing the basement with a curved bar, fireplace and shuffleboard court. Unlike California, in Wisconsin just about everyone has a basement that doubles the square footage of their home and makes storage and indoor recreation easily available. We felt quite envious of the real estate prices and the size of the homes here compared with what we can afford in Humboldt County. Tom grilled up some delicious brats – Italian, Polish, and Jalapeno Cheese – and Julie outdid herself with salads galore. We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in their backyard and getting reconnected. My cousin Dan came over and I got to meet his wife and kids for the first time. The neighborhoods here are all open, no fences separating each yard, which gave the kids plenty of room to play as we sat and chatted. It was fun to watch my consins’ kids play Frisbee and run wild. After catching up on laundry and giving Gabby a much needed carwash, we took off with Chuck to tour and camp in Door County, a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. We enjoyed the cool weather and climbed the 75 foot Eagle Bluff and Potawatomi towers for excellent views of the surrounding islands. We even had the great luck to watch a porcupine and her cub waddling under the trees. The wildflowers were great and we saw the elusive yellow Lady Slipper. The only negatives were the pesky mosquitoes who loved to bite Chuck. | Oshkosh B’Gosh | Thanks to everyone for your generosity and open-heartedness. We love you and Wisconsin!
9: Posted on June 13, 2011 by bogsblog| 7 Comments June 13 After a terrific family visit in Wisconsin it was time to hit the road again. We had planned to make a beeline for Utah, but several people told us not to miss the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore so we headed there first. Along the way we were entertained by numerous roadside attractions. Our first stop was the unexpected Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota. We saw the billboard on the highway and had to stop by to learn more about the delicious treat first created at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant in 1937. We learned a lot! Did you know that in the United States three cans of Spam are consumed every second? The museum was well done and quite entertaining. (Although Barb was disappointed there were no free samples.) We sped through Minnesota, thinking of our friend, Catherine, in Minneapolis and how a visit with her would have to wait for another trip. We only took a few minutes to visit the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN, and have a spam sandwich for lunch. | Next stop: the world’s only Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. It was first built in 1892 and decorated with corn to highlight the area’s bounty and attract immigrant farmers. The outside of the building is decorated with corn ears, rye, oat heads and sour dock. Pictures are created in a paint-by-number style. Of course we had to find a souvenir for our own Mitchell while we were in his namesake town. And now for a little parental bragging. Mitchell is doing great! He earned his Masters degree in Math and is continuing on in the PhD program at UC, Santa Cruz. He passed the three exams required to advance to candidacy and is headed for math conferences in Italy and Spain this summer. We are proud and excited for him and looking forward to meeting up in Humboldt in late August to exchange travel stories. Onward toward the west, we continued through the flat landscape of South Dakota watching for the next Wall Drug billboard. There are dozens of them lining the green plains, each eye-catching and amusing. Of course we had to go there, but first a break in the Badlands. | Spam, Corn and Drugs
10: The Badlands speak for themselves – beautiful, dramatic cliffs that are awesome to behold. The National Park is located in the White River Badlands and was called mako sica by the Lakota Sioux Indians. The French named it the badlands because of the rugged terrain and lack of water. We could not imagine getting a wagon through it. The buttes erode at a rate of about 1 inch per year, providing an ever-changing landscape. We enjoyed the wide open vistas and the antics of the prairie dogs, burrowing owls and pronghorns that live here. | Everyone has seen photos of the iconic Mount Rushmore and a visit there only confirms the enormity of the project and its meaning. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, began work on the project in 1927 and supervised, fundraised and fought for the memorial until his death in 1941. The monument is surrounded by ponderosa pine and the pinnacles of the Black Hills national forest. The Black Hills are gorgeous and it was a lovely day to walk around below the sculpture and enjoy it from a variety of perspectives. | Yes, we were enticed by the billboards and made the stop at Wall Drugs. (Our kitsch between the two national icons.) The historic pictures made it worthwhile. Barb even got to ride a jackelope! America – what a country! The gorgeous and the garish. More please.
11: Posted on June 16, 2011 by bogsblog| 7 Comments June 16 The Alpine tundra is a land of contrast and incredible intensity, where the sky is the size of forever and the flowers the size of a millisecond. Ann Zwinger - Land Above the Trees | We headed south through the eastern edge of Wyoming and settled in at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The Rockies run from Mexico to Alaska and hold three ecosystems – the Montane (below 9,000 feet elevation) with pine forests and mountain meadows; the Subalpine (9,000 to 11,400 feet), full of windy and snowy spruce and fir forests; and the Alpine (above 11,400 feet) where low-growing tundra plants survive the harsh climate of bitter cold and intense ultraviolet light. We camped in Moraine Park and enjoyed the area’s variety of animal and bird life – big horn sheep, elk, mule deer, yellow-bellied marmots, squirrels and chipmunks, black-billed magpies, broad-tailed hummingbirds, gray jays, and the ever present robins. The marmots were friendly beggars and came up quite close when we were at overlooks. Their nickname is whistle pig for the sharp chirp they make when frightened. Unfortunately, we never caught a glimpse of the elusive moose during any of our hikes. We rode the shuttle to Bear Lake for a short walk around the icy trail. Hallett Peak might look familiar to you. Take a look and see if you have one of the new Colorado quarters. Hallett Peak appears on the back. The hike up to Alberta Falls was less icy and easier to maneuver. Lots of shimmery Quaking Aspen trees along the path. Sadly, the Rockies, like many parks, have been hit by the Pine Bark Beetle and the devastation here is disheartening. Mountainsides that would normally be completely green are sprinkled with gray and red, dead and dying trees. The devastation is so vast that the park is focusing on removing hazard trees and spraying Carbaryl on “high value trees” located in campgrounds and other high usage areas. The beetle epidemic is dramatically changing parklands throughout the country. | Rocky Mountain High
12: We were lucky to enjoy a sunny day when we ventured up to the alpine tundra at Rock Cut. Where the snow had melted, spring was just beginning. We saw many tiny wildflowers blooming in spite of the frigid wind and intense sunlight. Besides snowy mountains, there are odd mushroom formations here. Created by fire and water, the shapes occur when the granite stems erode faster than the schist caps. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze. In spite of frozen hands and dripping eyes, we were glad to have braved the Tundra Communities Trail. The reward upon our return, was watching some pikas scamper among the rock piles in search of food. We did not get a picture, so you have to look them up to see how cute they are. If you bred a cotton-tail with a mouse and were lucky, you would wind up with an adorable pika.
13: Greetings from the Archangels | Posted on June 19, 2011 by bogsblog| 3 Comments June 18 From the snowy peaks of the Colorado Rockies we descended into the fiery red desert of Arches National Park in Utah. As we traveled along the overflowing, muddy and sometime stinky Colorado River, we reflected on the odd weather of the last few months – flooding, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, just to name a few. Our hearts went out to everyone who suffered and we thanked our lucky stars to have missed it all. We were thinking about weather because my brother, sister in-law and nephew had tickets to fly from Australia to California this week and their flights were delayed several days due to ash from the volcano in Chile. Thankfully they all arrived in Humboldt safely. Meanwhile, our good weather karma continued. In Utah, we had mild days in the low 80s instead of the average June temperature of 95. | Maybe it was the dramatic colors and shapes of the land formations, the dry desert air or something we ate, but for some reason, we felt like kids in Arches. We played word games and tried to think of all the arch expressions we knew: fallen arches, arch support, Archie Bunker, Archie & Jughead, Archibald Cox, Golden Arches, arch villain, arch enemy, archangel, anarchists, time arches on | We played Hidden Pictures, the game in Highlights for Children where you have to find specific items hidden in a scene. We discovered all kinds of things in the sandstone arches, spires, and towers including a woman carrying a bag of wool on her head, a gold miner in need of a shave, a fizzing alka seltzer tablet melting on a night stand, an upside down India and a right side up South America, a mitt, a mitten, teeth, a pacifier, a skeleton key, the Sphinx, a puppy, bloomers, a casket, two sock puppets kissing, a wedding cake, cinnamon rolls, two-tone cupcakes and ice cream cones. (I think we were hungry when we found those food images.)
14: We had fun eavesdropping on our fellow park visitors and catching snippets of conversations as we passed on the trails. It was harder to eavesdrop on the French and German speakers, but we enjoyed hearing the foreign languages. Barb witnessed the meltdown of a German toddler and decided that, like music, childhood meltdowns were a universal language! One day, a thirty something man was explaining to his hiking pals how he had carefully barbecued filet mignon and steamed asparagus on his camp stove for his young nephew, but as soon as the younger man saw the plate of food, instead of being impressed with the fare, he grumbled that he didn’t like asparagus (even though he had never eaten it before)! Eventually, the nephew agreed to try the green stalks and ended up liking asparagus after all. | At the end of our hike through Devils Garden that same day, we stopped at the restroom where we heard a bored looking boy whine to his overheated mother, “How many more arches do we have to see today?” Family vacations can definitely be a challenge! We were happy to see kids frolicking and laughing under Sand Dune arch the next day. It was like playing in a big sandbox! Finally, a short hike with a kid-sized reward at the end. Other entertaining observations: A government employee moving around surveying equipment and taking copious notes while wearing a neon orange safety vest, a plaid kilt and hiking boots with a gray ponytail flowing down his back. A caution sign in the visitors center about the importance of drinking plenty of water – a gravestone that read “Here lies Peter, he only drank one liter.” And a sign at a small market along the highway near a dam – Dam Store, Best Store by a Dam Site.
15: We had a good time at Arches and loved the campground, but the interstate was beckoning. We had seen too many older women with prematurely red hair, too many magenta tee shirts (we are guessing it is the “in” color this summer – the magenta, not the red hair), and too many phallic spires. It was definitely time to move on!
16: Posted on June 23, 2011 by bogsblog| 5 Comments June 20 No, we’re not smoking Humboldt Gold here! We’re touring Capitol Reef National Park, where a 100-mile-long buckle in the earth’s crust was formed 50 to 70 million years ago. This warp is also called a monocline or Waterpocket Fold. Basically, a major geologic shift moved an ancient fault which lifted, bent and draped the rock layers. The climate of the area changed dramatically and shallow oceans, arid deserts, and muddy swamps covered the land at different times. All of these geologic changes are captured in the textures and colors of the park’s canyons, cliffs and domes. In addition to the amazing handiwork of Mother Nature, there is also evidence of interesting human activity in Capitol Reef. Indians lived here around 700 to 1250. Besides hunting and gathering, they grew their own corn, beans and squash. Little is known about the Fremont Indians (named for the region’s river), but they did leave paintings (pictographs) and etchings (petroglyphs) on the canyon walls. In the late 1800’s Mormon pioneers settled in the Fremont River valley and planted apple, pear, cherry and peach trees. The farm families named their community Fruita and became known for their hard work and productive orchards. Modern day visitors can tour the one room schoolhouse, the Gifford homestead and the blacksmith shop. Tourists can also pick fruit free of charge while in the orchards. Unfortunately, our timing was off and none of the fruit was ripe, but we picked up a homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie from the gift shop. Here are more photos from our time in Capitol Reef and one from our stop at Anasazi State Park. We bent over to walk into the replica of an Ancient Puebloan village and the experience made us appreciate how roomy Gabby is! Now onto Bryce Canyon. | Capitol Reefers
18: Have a Bryce Day! | Posted on June 26, 2011 by bogsblog| 7 Comments June 26 We just spent five incredible days at Bryce Canyon and it is definitely one of my favorite national parks. Barb and I don’t always agree about which parks are on our top ten list, but we do agree that there are many elements that affect your park experience – the scenic beauty, the weather, the number and condition of trails, the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facilities, the quality of interpretation, services and programs, the behavior of fellow campers, accessibility of plants and animals, and the quality of road and trail signage. Of course, the park itself isn’t responsible for all of these factors, but the staff at Bryce was a caliber above most and helped make our visit exceptional. | We started out with a Rim Trail walk led by Ranger Sean who was lively and informative. He explained that Bryce isn’t technically a canyon because it doesn’t have a river running through and eroding it. Here erosion is caused by water from rain and snow that gathers in fractures along the rock walls and then freezes and expands, causing pieces of rock to crack off and fall below, creating hoodoos, pinnacles and other formations. Sean also had us sniff the Ponderosa Pine to inhale the butterscotch-vanilla scent produced by fungi that lives in its bark. One night we stargazed through five huge telescopes (brought by park volunteers!) and saw Saturn, twin stars, the Hercules Star Cluster and, 22 million light years away, “the faint fuzzies, lumpy darkness” and a supernova in the Whirlpool Galaxy. Closer to earth, our Rainbow Point bus driver, Spike, shared info about local plants and provided the name of the strange casings we had seen earlier – the Great Bladdery Milk Vetch. Alien pods!
19: Saturday was Utah Prairie Dog Day celebrating the state rodent. It is the rarest prairie dog in the US and protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Prairie dogs are considered a keystone species and perform a variety of important ecological functions including soil aeration. Local golfers hate them, but it makes it easy to get a hole in one! Bryce Canyon is one of the smallest national parks with just under 36,000 acres, but we found plenty of room to hike. One of the most popular trails is Queens Garden to Navajo Trail and up Wall Street. A less traveled path is the Tower Bridge trail where we hiked for two hours without running into a soul. Two more positive things about Bryce – their excellent shuttle service with buses that run every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day and make it easy to enjoy the park without driving, and their comprehensive recycling program. Many parks don’t accept anything, others only take aluminum cans, but Bryce accepts all standard materials and offers a Take it or Leave it box where you can exchange camping gear, books, and other items you no longer need. All in all, Bryce gets high marks and lands on my cream of the crop list of parks. If you visit, I’m sure you will, as the sign in the entrance booth invites, Have a Bryce Day!
20: Zionized | Posted on June 29, 2011 by bogsblog| 7 Comments June 29 After a fabulous time at Bryce, we headed over to Zion National Park. We were looking forward to hiking by the Virgin River and seeing the waterfalls and weeping rocks. We had been away from water too long and our Pacific Coast roots were crying for moisture. We started out on the west side of the park at the Kolob Canyons entrance and enjoyed hiking in and out of Taylor Creek as we made our way up to the Lewis Cabin. It felt great to get our feet wet and it was fun to watch gaggles of tadpoles in various stages of frogdom. The next day we started out early and settled into our site at Watchman campground before walking over to the Visitor Center to check out the exhibits and movie. A ranger invited us to her presentation on the California Condor so we stuck around and learned about these endangered birds and the people who have worked hard to bring them back from the brink of extinction. There are only about 300 condors alive today and half of them are in captivity. Zion is home to 66 of these unusual looking birds. Since she had commented on the ugliness of the manatees when we were in Florida, I wondered what Suzi Hendry would think of the condors. Which do you think is uglier? Condor or Manatee? Uglier than a pug? | The main canyon in Zion is accessible by foot and park shuttle only. The joint was jumping so every shuttle was full. We rode to the end of the line to the Temple of Sinawava for the Riverside Walk along the Virgin River. The water here was much colder and you couldn't keep your feet in for long before they grew numb. We had hoped to hike up into The Narrows as well, but the trail was closed due to high water. Like the Rockies, they had record snow-pack this year, along with a cold spring and late summer, so the rivers and streams were brimming. We enjoyed the wildflowers along the way – including columbine, monkey flowers and shooting stars. Next we made a stop at Zion Lodge and waited in line along with dozens of other visitors for a cold drink. Then we rode the packed shuttle back to Watchman and happily returned to the comfort and privacy of our air-conditioned camper. It was 101 degrees at 5:00 pm that day! We stayed inside to play cards, eat cold salad for dinner and wait out the heat. At 9:00 we ventured out to buy ice for our stressed refrigerator and popsicles for ourselves.
21: Maybe it was the heat. Maybe we had seen too many canyons. Maybe it was notseeing a condor. Maybe there were just too many people around. Whatever the reason, we were dyin’ in Zion. We were Zionized. The park just didn’t touch me the way Bryce had and, while Barb liked the park more than I did, she was more than ready to stay inside with the air conditioning. So, we broke camp the next morning and headed north on I-15 in search of less heat and more water. A p.s. in defense of the condor. Gretchen picked a particularly ugly picture of the condor. That bulge under the beak and down the neck is a full crop – an ingenious food storage space. Condors are scavengers and they never know when they will find the next meal, thus the neck pack. A featherless head and neck is hygienic for scavengers, despite the creepy uncle look it creates. I usually say I watch birds because they are beautiful, and while this guy is not so beautiful, he is amazing. The Condor is one of the few species that were alive in prehistoric times, they are huge (with a wing span up to 9 feet), and they are a stunning sight of soaring mastery.
22: Dear Gabby | Posted on July 5, 2011 by bogsblog| 3 Comments July 5 Happy belated 4th of July! We hope everyone had a sunny holiday weekend. Our last week has been very Gabby focused. We spent a few days in Pocatello, Idaho, having her corroded gas burner vacuumed out so her refrigerator is once again operating 3-ways. She also got a new belt, tension arm and water pump so she is not squealing anymore. Our friend, Barbara Peters, spent many years in Pocatello and she was a fount of information about what to see in this thriving metropolis, however, without wheels, we were limited in what we could do. I took a trip to the Circle C used bookstore for a new book on tape and Barb got a haircut. Not real exciting. While in Pocatello, we surveyed maps and checked weather reports again. (One of our favorite pastimes!) Our next major destination was Glacier National Park in Montana, but due to heavy snow and cold temperatures, they still have 15 feet of snow along Going to the Sun Road. This essentially eliminated any hope we had of hiking the alpine trails unless we delayed our visit for several weeks. Taking the high road, we decided to return to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where we had camped four years ago with our pals, Libby and Constance. That was our first foray into RVing. We rented a 24-foot CruiseAmerica in Salt Lake City and toured Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier together for three weeks. We had a marvelous time and that experience planted the seed for our current road trip adventure. | The road to Jackson, Wyoming, just outside the national park, is a challenge. You drive along the Snake River and up and over Teton Pass. Gabby struggled to make it up the steep grade and we gave her a rest on the top where we were warmly welcomed to Jackson Hole. On the way down the other side Gabby became even more distressed. She screeched and scratched and ground her way down the pass. She was crying out for more attention. We knew her brakes were getting low, but we foolishly thought she had a few more miles to go. We had to find a mechanic and quick. Why is it that major automobile catastrophes always occur on holiday weekends? Must be one of Murphy’s laws. We crawled into Jackson and, after several failed attempts, found the one auto repair shop still open. They took a look and said they would have to order parts for Gabby which wouldn’t be in until Wednesday after the 4th of July weekend. Things were not looking good for us. Fortunately, the roads in Grand Teton National Park are flat and the mechanic said our brakes could handle it as long as we avoided those 10% grades.
23: We headed into the park and set up camp at Colter Bay where Gabby could rest, Barb could nurse a bum knee and I could hike around Jackson Lake. No one in their right mind can complain about spending four days in this mountain paradise, even if you do have a hefty repair bill in your immediate future. The Tetons define the word awesome. There are no foothills so their rise from the valley floor is very dramatic. The valley lakes reflect the craggy peaks and dramatic sky. The piney woods smell and look inviting and the wildflowers are putting on a marvelous show. Barbara cannot stop photographing them. (She is finding it very satisfying because, unlike the birds, the flowers hold still.)
24: Posted on July 10, 2011 by bogsblog| 2 Comments July 10 In Jackson, Gabby got new brakes and a clean bill of health and we happily retraced our steps to Teton and made camp at Lizard Creek. On our final day in this beautiful park we saw a black bear lumbering through a meadow, a mother grizzly with two playful cubs and a moose meandering along the lakeshore. A great end to a lovely stop despite the vehicular bump in the road. We again noted the heavy amount of snow on the Tetons and how it compared with our last visit four years ago at the same time of year. The high snow levels and the extensive flooding along the Colorado, Snake and Yellowstone Rivers and their tributaries are a cause for concern and one can’t help thinking about global warming. In many parks, we saw damage from the increased water flow – eroded banks, downed trees, numerous caution signs, and closed trails, campgrounds and swimming areas. We worried about the safety of water enthusiasts when we saw rafts putting in on the roaring rivers. Even experienced boaters told us it was tempting fate to enter the water at this time. Along with the torrents of water, there were huge swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes just waiting to suck us dry. We killed and were stung by more buzzing vampires in Teton and Yellowstone than anywhere else we traveled this year. These pesky insects were unrelenting and reminded us of a road trip Barb’s Aunt Marnie took with Barb’s brothers to the Everglades many years ago. It was a particularly bad mosquito spell in Florida and the swarms were so thick they basically imprisoned the travelers inside Marnie’s blood and guts streaked van. Every relative on that trip retold the horrid story in gory detail and rabidly cursed the Everglades when they heard about our plans to visit. (On a side note, we heard the news of Marnie’s death a few months after we visited her in Corpus Christi and Barb thinks of her fondly as we continue our travels. Rest in peace, Marn.) | Water, Mosquitoes and Bears – Oh My!
25: Our wildlife sightings continued as we entered Yellowstone National Park. There were bison aplenty along the main road, a snowshoe hare in the midst of changing from winter white to summer brown, a beaver swimming to deliver a fresh branch to her young’uns back at the lodge, a pair of prairie falcons and several more black bears. Some of the trails were closed due to bear activity and fellow campers told us of a tragic incident that occurred just the day before we arrived. A couple was hiking the Wapati Lake trail when they came between a grizzly and her three cubs. The protective mother bear attacked and fatally mauled the husband. According to park authorities, attacks by bears are extremely rare. No visitors were injured by bears in the park in 2010 and this was the first bear-caused human fatality in Yellowstone since 1986. We thought back to one of the Bryce Canyon presentations we attended where Ranger Sean explained how bears and cougars respond differently to humans. Neither like the smell or company of humans and will normally withdraw quickly from confrontations. With mountain lions and other wild cats, the most effective defense is to get big, make noise and appear threatening. If you run, cats will chase you. With bears, on the other hand, the best defense is to retreat slowly and if the bear approaches you drop down, curl up like a turtle and play dead. We wondered if we would remember Sean’s advice and react appropriately when faced by a ferocious grizzly or angry cougar. Hopefully, we will never have to find out. As a side note, several rangers told us that squirrel bites are the most frequent medical issues treated at their clinics, making the squirrel the most dangerous animal in the national parks.
26: Snow Job | Posted on July 12, 2011 by bogsblog| 1 Comment July 11 Last night we camped at Beavertail Hill State Park in Montana, along with a few hundred mosquitoes. The seeds of the cottonwood trees were popping and snowing all over the park. Tonight we’re at Big Arm State Park on the shores of Flathead Lake. Tomorrow we’re headed for Glacier National Park for a few days. Sadly, after reviewing the park website one more time, we had to bow to Mother Nature and give up our plan to hike the alpine trails of this incredible park. There is still 15 feet of snow on the ground and the plows haven’t even cleared the middle stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road yet. No one will be visiting Logan Pass visitor center or hiking Hidden Lake trail for quite some time. Here’s a photo from our July 2007 visit to Glacier. I am standing at the beginning of Hidden Lake trail just past the Logan Pass visitors center. We thought we were tough to tromp through the snow that year. Check out the snow situation this year. Here is Logan Pass on July 7, 2011 . What a difference four years make! | Glacier is one of my all-time favorite parks, up there with Bryce Canyon and Smoky Mountains. Here is one reason why, as explained by the National Park Service. “In 1932, international cooperation between the Rotary Club members of Montana and Alberta convinced the United States and Canada to join Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks as a symbol of their longtime friendship. In recognition of this historic agreement, the parks were designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first international, transboundary park or preserve Although administered by two different countries, the parks share a common boundary and many shared resources.” The International Peace Park Hike, held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, leads 8.4 miles from Waterton Park to Goat Haunt in the United States. Hikers return by boat to the Canadian side. It is one of my dreams to make this hike, but it won’t be happening this year. Some dreams just take longer than others to come true. Barb and I are already scheming on our next road trip – an international Canada-US tour through Jasper, Banff, Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks. For now, a short visit in Glacier’s lower elevations will have to do.
27: Posted on July 16, 2011 by bogsblog| 1 Comment July 16 Yes, there was still a lot of snow at Glacier, but we took some lovely hikes in the lower elevations. The reflection of the mountains in Johns Lake was beautiful and the roaring McDonald Creek was impressive. We found a primo campsite at Sprague Creek and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres at our picnic table in the evening. We encountered some odd, gooey things while we hiked and here are just a few. We didn’t know their names so we made them up. We also saw a gorgeous moth perched on a poster just outside the Apgar visitors center. We went back the next day and it was still in the same spot! The second day we were in the park, Going-to-the-Sun road was opened so we caught the shuttle and headed to Logan Pass. Unfortunately, many other people had the same idea and there was a massive traffic jam on the mountain highway. Not only were there gawkers like us riding in the vans, there were also individual cars, motorcycles, historic red Glacier buses and construction crews working on the side of the road. The second day we were in the park, Going-to-the-Sun road was opened so we caught the shuttle and headed to Logan Pass. Unfortunately, many other people had the same idea and there was a massive traffic jam on the mountain highway. Not only were there gawkers like us riding in the vans, there were also individual cars, motorcycles, historic red Glacier buses and construction crews working on the side of the road. After an hour and a half we finally arrived at the top. Diehard folks were trekking up into the snow with their hiking poles and some were even skiing the slopes. The rest of us were taking in the snowy scene and then waiting in line for an hour to catch the shuttle back down the hill! On our way out of Glacier we stopped in Kalispell and read in the free weekly newspaper about Libby, Montana, a town we had considered stopping in next. Known as “death town” in the 1990’s due to extensive asbestos poisoning that killed hundreds and sickened thousands, Libby was declared a Superfund site and received a $370 million cleanup. Recently, toxicology reports found that health dangers still persist. Instead of stopping, we decided to speed right on through Libby (like this flying car) with our van windows shut tight and head toward the Idaho border. We put down at the Kootenai River Campground with friendly hosts, Sue and Larry Coleman. We’re hoping to get a taste of Sue’s homemade rhubarb and zucchini muffins later this morning. | Glacier Peaktorial
30: Into the Washington Woods | Posted on July 21, 2011 by bogsblog| 2 Comments July 19 We picked up a couple of Sue’s rhubarb muffins as we were leaving Kootenai River and enjoyed them on the road with our morning coffee. Then we continued on Highway 2 through Idaho and onto Highway 20 in Washington, zigzagging through the northern part of the state. We passed through the deserted town of Republic and, on a lark, camped in the Ferry County Fairgrounds. After a walk around the carousel and racetrack, a summer thunderstorm sent us inside for the night. In the morning we were entertained by a pair of American Kestrels hunting in the field behind us. We made our way up into the North Cascades, also known as the American Alps. There are three different units that make up the North Cascades National Park Service Complex – North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. We stayed in the lowlands along the highway, but enjoyed views of the snowy Cascade Range and felt respect for the mountaineers who test themselves on the jagged peaks. | We took a break at Diablo Lake Overlook to catch a glimpse of the turquoise-green water. As glaciers in the high country wear down the mountains, fine silt called rock flour, is carried into the lake. The suspended flour reacts with light and gives the water its blue-green hue. The color was spectacular but seeing massive power line rigs and the Diablo dam, one of three on the Skagit River, was disconcerting. Seattle City Light built the dams before the national park was established and today, the dams generate about a quarter of Seattle’s peak-time electricity. Balancing conservation and appropriate use of resources continues to be a challenge for the national park system and the struggle is apparent to visitors here. As we hiked along the creeks and rivers of the Cascades, the trails felt strangely familiar. We were in temperate rain forest, walking in misty air, under tall evergreens, next to ferns, salal, currants, foxglove and huckleberry bushes. It was almost like being home in Humboldt County! We did not expect it at our elevation and inland. For the last couple of days, both Barb and I have been hit with West Coast re-entry stress. While we love the Pacific Coast and miss our friends and family, it is a letdown to acknowledge that our road trip will soon be coming to an end. Fortunately, we also saw some comical and beautiful sights along the forest trails that helped us keep our senses of humor. Hope you enjoy them too.
32: Posted on July 25, 2011 by bogsblog| 4 Comments July 25 One sure cure for near-the-end-of-the-trip blues is getting spoiled rotten by old friends, so it was fortuitous that our destination after the Cascades was Bellingham where our dear friends, Belle and Marjorie live. Transplants from Humboldt long ago, we had not seen them for over 15 years, but the minute we stepped into their home it was like no time had passed and we felt welcome and comfortable immediately. We shopped at Farmers Market and feasted our eyes on the bright green and orange veggies and sampled “medicinal” chocolate mixed with lemongrass, lavender and cottonwood seeds. Marjorie cut my hair while Belle and Barbara perused the local bookstore for our new book club selection, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. We picked up fresh veggies for dinner and talked late into the night. We caught them up on Humboldt friends and happenings, shared old memories and got up to date on their lives. Some of our blog readers will remember them – Marjorie is still cutting hair in her own studio, cooking delicious food (she served us homemade spanakopita the day we arrived and fresh salmon our last night there) and designing incredibly beautiful quilts. Belle has her same sharp observations, voracious appetite for reading and quirky sense of humor. We strolled the boardwalk along Bellingham Bay and explored assorted neighborhoods while they campaigned persuasively for the benefits of living in Washington, including two female senators, a woman governor, no income tax, an active university and gorgeous views of Lake Chelan. It was easy to catch their enthusiasm, but high real estate prices (similar to Arcata housing) and cooler, darker winters can put a damper on anyone’s relocation daydreams. | Friends and Vampires
33: Our heads, hearts and bellies full, we kissed and hugged our friends goodbye and headed for the Olympic Peninsula. After a short ferry ride to Port Townsend, we drove into the national park and ended up at Heart O’ the Hills campground for the night. The next day we passed through Forks, a small town that has reaped big profits from the popularity of the Twilight vampire romance novels. Author Stephanie Meyer chose the small seacoast village for the setting of her books and thousands of Twilight fans have come to Forks for a visit. You can even take a Dazzled by Twilight tour or buy some Twilight firewood! Imagine that, Twilight firewood. The Olympic rainforests feel very familiar and our first dip in the Pacific Ocean after a six-month absence was refreshing. We spent a couple of days camping along Quinault River and were tempted to highjack Relaxation Station when we passed by it on the trail. We could envision ourselves sipping cosmopolitans and gossiping with friends while drifting along the lakeshore. On a side note, Mitchell has made his way from Italy to Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona where his final math conference starts today. His 23rd birthday is Thursday. What a way to celebrate! We’re hoping he’ll find time to see some of Gaudi’s surreal architecture while he’s in Spain. We’re looking forward to meeting up with him in Humboldt near the end of August. Thanks to Marjorie and Belle for nudging us out of our end-of-the-trip gloom. You (and Mitchell) are in our hearts as we head down the coast.
34: Déj vu All Over Again | Posted on July 31, 2011 by bogsblog| 3 Comments July 29 Mt. Rainier brought back memories of our earlier trips to Yellowstone and Glacier. We visited the museum at Longmire and toured the green, bubbling hot springs on the Trail of the Shadows. We camped at Cougar Rock and hiked the steep path along a forested canyon to Carter Falls. At these lower elevations the weather was warm and the trails were clear, but when we drove up to Jackson Visitor Center at 5,400 feet, everything was covered with snow. All but the hardiest and well equipped mountaineers were prevented from hiking for a closer view of the glaciers. Heavier than usual snowfall this winter has kept the mountain locked away from most visitors. Sound familiar? | Mt. Rainier is 14,400 feet high with 25 glaciers encircling its cap, the largest collection of permanent ice on a single U.S. peak south of Alaska. There is so much moisture on the mountain that if it heats up or begins to erupt again (the last time was over 1,000 years ago) it could create a catastrophic lahar, a powerful mudslide formed as melted ice and snow move down the mountain, picking up debris and creating paths of destruction many miles from the summit. Evidence of glaciation, and regular flooding and rockslides is already visible throughout the park – gravel moraines, huge boulders at the bottoms of cliffs and gigantic tree trunks that have floated downriver and settled along the banks. Although the rough landscape can rouse fear and demand respect, there is also a gentleness here. Meadows of delicate, colorful wildflowers. Tame deer resting in the forest. Mushrooms poking out of the damp earth and trees. Proud grouse calling and strutting just a few feet away. As always, Mother Nature amazes and delights us even as her power and fury is barely held in check.
35: We finally got a clear picture of Mt. Rainier as we were leaving the east side of the park on our way to Yakima and the Columbia River. The fields along highway 12 are lined with miles of apple, peach and apricot orchards, a few vineyards and lines of wind turbines. We stopped to pick up fresh fruit from the roadside stands as we made our way south. Last night we landed at Peach Beach on the Columbia River Gorge and this morning we made a visit to Stonehenge Memorial, a replica of England’s ancient landmark. Samuel Hill, a Quaker pacifist, created the memorial to honor military personnel who died in WWI. It was once believed the original Stonehenge altar (in the middle of the standing stone formations) was used for human sacrifice, but this was later discredited and it is now commonly believed that astronomers designed the structure to measure time and mark the seasons of the year by observing the positions of the sun and moon. Can you tell this photo was taken at 10:26 am on July 29, 2011?
36: Crater Lake and Clio | Posted on August 10, 2011 by bogsblog| 7 Comments August 10 Crater Lake, at a depth of 1,943 feet, is the deepest lake in the United States. The lake rests inside a caldera formed 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama volcano erupted and collapsed. A snowy place with an average of 450 inches a year, the national park had a record 673 inches of snow in the 2010-2011 season! Fed by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams), the lake is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world. | This was our second visit to Crater Lake and we enjoyed it more than the first. The weather was a pleasant 76 degrees with a gentle breeze coming off the lake and snow. Last time we were melting in 90+ degree heat. We did numerous day hikes along the south rim, through Annie Creek canyon, along the Pinnacles and over the new trail to Plaikni Falls. The lake water is an amazing combination of blues, purples, and whites and we can personally attest to its delicious flavor. And the campground is one of the best we have visited in the national park system! After a few days at the park, we continued south into California, through Lava Beds National Monument, down to Susanville, and around to Clio where my brother and his family live. We had visited Randy and Sabrina and their girls, Corrina and Brianna six months ago in Yosemite where Sabrina works for the National Park Service. The girls had grown so much since February!
37: We had a great time playing bocce ball, hiking and swimming, and watching them act like monkeys on their rope swing. Randy got a lot of work done on their new greenhouse and we enjoyed tasting their fresh zucchini and cucumbers. Now we’re headed back to Humboldt after a final shop at Trader Joe’s in Redding and a stop in the mountains a little closer to home. Hope to see you all soon!
38: Posted on August 13, 2011 by bogsblog| 8 Comments August 13 Back in Arcata, re-entering Humboldt County life. So many great memories from a fantastic trip! | Home Again