Saturday, August 31, 2013

From Yellowstone to the Grand Teton

August 30th,  2013 and we have now traveled 5,119 miles.

At 8.24 a.m. we left West Yellowstone.  It is to be a short drive to the Grand Teton National Park as it is only about 60 to 70 miles.  We passed by a few of the hot springs we've become so accustomed to seeing.  We said goodbye to Old Faithful until the next time.  We saw the sign and drove on by remembering the lovely time we had there. I am not sure when we will return but we will be back one day.


We also said goodbye to the now familiar 1936 touring buses from the Old Faithful Inn, which I read have been converted to run on ethanol.  It still has its semaphore turn signal on the driver's side, a requirement for buses operating in Wyoming.


At 8.40 a.m. we took yet one more photo of a buffalo lumbering along at a very slow amble, to where I have no clue.  You wouldn't know by looking at them how fast they can move if they need to.  We saw one run across the road in front of a car.  Both driver and beast looked startled as he had just come out of the wood. We were glad the car was sticking to the suggested speed limit as he was able to slow down enough for safe passage.


9.00 a.m.  we saw a Great Blue Heron.   Not a very good photo, too far away but I think I'm going to add another line to the Traveler's Code, "At least it's something!"


10.09 a.m. We are driving by Lewis Lake.  We stopped by to look at it and saw shoes on a log.  Where are those people?  We saw no sign of a family, no sign of a car and it will have to be one of life's puzzles.  Who would go for a walk on that rocky 'beach' without their sneakers and flip flops?  It's interesting that three pairs belonging to children face in one direction and the only adult ones in the other.  Yes I notice these things.


10.22 p.m. and driving by Lewis River having just passed Lewis Falls.  It looked really pretty but all the parking spots were taken and we had to be content looking at the Falls from the road.   


We are out of Yellowstone and now in the Grand Teton National Park, and no it didn't seem to take that long.

10.30 a.m.  We stopped at the first visitor center we came to in the park,  Flagg Ranch.  We were going to have a late breakfast/early lunch but it would be another half an hour before they opened the dining room.  We didn't want to hang around that long.  Gregg is now, however, officially retired he says as at the center he bought a knife.  "Why on earth have you bought that thing?" said I.  "Because I am retired now!" said he.  It is one of those fold-up ones you can take on camping expeditions.  I think he thinks I am going to go camping and sing around a campfire, and we'll need a knife to cut up wood.  Not going to happen but he's smiling.  He never gives up and I might add, thank God I put the first-aid kit in my emergency pile in the boot of the car.  I don't like knives very much but he is after all retired now.   Maybe I should buy an even bigger knife and tell him, "A knife, you call that knife?"  And pull my bigger knife out and say, "Now that's a knife!"  Remember the scene from Crocodile Dundee when someone tried to mug him in New York with a tiddly little knife?  Good old Mick brought one out the size of a machete and the muggers ran in the opposite direction.  But it's not going to happen, I don't like knives, plain and simple.  But then I have knives in my kitchen so I can't say much, though having cut myself on them occasionally I guess that's why I am so wary of them.

We stopped off at a view point overlooking the lake.....


and as we were standing there this chap on a motorbike rolled up.


We met Paul at 11.20 p.m.  He is from Chipping Camden, England.  We detected each other's accent and of course I had to ask where he was from.  Friendly fellow with a big warm smile.  He told us he is with a group of 36 people, all who have hired Harley's for their road trip over here.  He was away on his own for a bit.  Paul has a camera on his helmet and turns it on and off via a switch on the handle bars of his bike.  I have seen several riders with helmet cameras on our trip.  Paul was a very nice chap, Gregg said he's the kind of guy you would enjoy a beer with down at the local pub.  Off he went to join his 36 mates and we wished him a great holiday.


We met a young German couple at another overlook but did not get their names this time.  They must have been in their early 20's, from Borun (?) I thought he said but I must have misheard as I couldn't find it on Google Maps.  He did say it was near Cologne.  We took their photos and they took ours.   The young man said it was his second visit to the States as he went to school a few years ago in Philadelphia and that the Grand Teton reminded them of the Alps.   I asked them if they skied and they said in unison, "Of course!"  Everyone seems to ski in Europe.  

At the same viewpoint Gregg was asked by a Chinese gentleman to take a photo of a large group from Beijing.  He joked with them that he wouldn't charge much at which they all laughed.  They laughed at another joke of his but neither of us can remember what it was now.  He is very happy that he made a group of Chinese tourists laugh at his jokes!  

These cheery meetings are a fun part of the trip.   


We arrived at our accommodations and we were able to check into our room early.  It has a lovely view of the mountains and some trails we can take later on.  


In the afternoon we took a ride to see the area and one of the places we stopped at was a pretty little church we remembered from our last trip.  It is called the Chapel of the Transfiguration and you can read more about it here.   It's a favorite spot for photographers and sightseers.  Couples also get married here.  


Originally built in 1925 it still functions as an Episcopal church and services are held at the Chapel from late May to early September each year.  If you ever saw an old movie called "Spencer's Mountain", it was filmed in Jackson Hole in 1963, and this little church was featured in the movie.  The stars were Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara.

There is a very pretty print on the wall that I remember from our last visit.


As you can see from where Gregg is sitting, the size of the congregation would be very small.


There is a large window behind the chapel where the full beauty of the Teton Mountain Range can be seen in all its splendor. 


I told Gregg he is getting very artsy as he took this photo of me standing in front of the window as I was reading something on the wall.



This is one of the stained-glass windows as you walk inside.




These yellow flowers grow everywhere.


We left our little church in the hopes that we would also see it again one day.   

On our way back we saw more buffalo but these weren't wild like in Yellowstone and were fenced in, except for one.  This photo only shows a few of them.

On our return we went up to the main building and into their bar.  We ordered two ales and shared a sandwich.  The young man who took care of us was called Javier and he told us he was from Spain.  He was super nice and the three of us talked at some length.  Many of these young people who work in the parks are students who come over here to learn English and also to see America.

From there we came back to our room and watched the sunset go down over the mountains.  It was gorgeous.  Gregg read his book on his iPhone for a while and I checked on e-mails, but it wasn't long before we fell off to sleep, and so ends another day on the road.

TODAY'S FLOWERS #262

Stokes Aster - Peachie's Pick (Mediana altura)
The link to Today's Flowers on the home page opens at 12.15 a.m. every Saturday, Eastern Time (US).  The old link will close the previous Thursday at 11.30 P.M.

To see beautiful blooms from around the world you can click here.

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Over the next two months we have a lot of activities planned with family and friends.  Gregg and I are also presently on a month-long road trip visiting many parts of the U.S.  When we get back home we will be having friends visiting from England, and we need to spend time with them.  I will post my Today's Flower's on our home page ahead of time, and also on my blog here through to the end of October, visiting blogging friends when I can.


With this in mind I won't have the time to put together the usual list of last week's participants but will resume once life starts settling down again.  Thank you for your patience and continued support of Today's Flowers.  I think you are all wonderful for sharing your many beautiful flowers from around the world.  It is a real pleasure to be a part of this meme.



Wishing you all a wonderful summer.



(This message will be repeated every week)



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These are photos I took while we were visiting our local hardware store for something else entirely.  These flowers were on display outside.  I was looking for ideas of what to plant in the garden this year.



Zinnia magellan (Zinnia elegans)



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Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli, Jr.




TF teamPupo - Sandy Carlson - Denise


If anyone would like to be a guest and share photos on our home page, details can be found at the top of Today's Flowers web site, which you will find here.


                     
As time allows I will be linking up with the following blogs.

Tina's Weekend Flowers which you can find here,

   

Mona's Floral Love here,

   Floral Love

and also Laura's I Heart Macro here.

Shine the Divine

Friday, August 30, 2013

CAMERA CRITTERS

Today we drove from Yellowstone National Park to The Grand Teton National Park.  After dropping off our bags at the hotel we went for a ride to explore the surrounding area, and came across these beautiful horses.  
  

Four young ladies had gotten out of a car at the parking spot we stopped at, and we noticed that a horse was following the girls as they walked along the fence, actually trying to touch them gently with his nose.  At first just one horse, and then another joined him.  





A very interesting thing happened after the girls left.  They started to play, running at a fast trot and kicking their heels at each other briefly, and then this.


After nuzzling each other for a minute or so....



they walked slowly back to their herd.



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Thank you Misty for hosting one of my favorite memes, and please click here to visit other interesting critters from all over the world.

Camera Critters

An exciting day in Yellowstone!

I have no idea how many days we've been on the road.  I just know that it is Thursday the 29th 2013 and I have decided to share today as is because it was a pretty special one.   Please enlarge by clicking on the photo for better detail.

It started off simply enough, with me saying jokingly that we are a couple of poor old sods!  Gregg is complaining about the small of his back this morning.  I have also been having problems with a sore knee which I twisted on that last step I told you about, before we had the work done out front and took care of the problem of that incredibly steep step.  I think my other side has over-compensated causing some hip pain and an Achilles tendon flare-up on the opposite side of the knee sprain.  With all the driving and tons of walking we've done, it makes us realize that though we are having the time of our life, we are no longer Spring Chickens, but the Spring Chickens sure are enjoying themselves, minor aches aside.  I suggested maybe we ought to get some Bengay today.  Gregg thought about that for a few seconds and said, "Maybe, but I think we ought to drive down to Florida to try and find that fountain of youth first." 


11.27 a.m. and Gregg is filling up the car with gas and buying bear spray from their store.  He had heard their advertisement this morning and decided to buy a can, as it is recommended at all the Visitor Centers in bear country.  As we were hoping to see sign of bear this morning he thought it prudent.  


Bear attacks may be rare but we have heard how one couple was recently charged and they said their bear spray saved them from serious injury.  Not sure if it was in this park or at another.  I read that 80 percent of attacks are from bears who are protecting cubs, something that all mothers across the species can understand.  


I think the bears are safe however but the further north we go we thought we ought to have some with us just in case.  


11.40 p.m. we stopped by a real pretty river setting.   We watched as a fisherman tossed his line out several times and then left him to his peace and quiet. We also said goodbye to our grasshopper who has been traveling with us for two days.  Darned if we could find him but he finally jumped out of the door when we left them open at the river.   Thankfully a dozen others didn't fly in to join him.  I am wondering if these are actually grasshoppers because they seem to fly rather than jump.  They sure look like grasshoppers.

12.32 p.m. Sitting on a log near another beautiful river setting....


and giving the camera a well deserved rest.  Gregg and I have been giving her quite a work-out.


1.41 p.m. Just stopped at Canyon Village.  We shared a trout dinner with a salad.  I met two ladies in the bathroom, one from Nebraska, the other from South Carolina.  Yes there are even friendly people who even talk to you in the ladies loo!


Not far from Canyon Village we stopped at the north rim of the Grand Canyon overlook at the top of the hill.  Walking on the trail to one of the overlooks I spotted this little chipmunk.  Really cute!  There was also an osprey nest sign but before I saw the sign a lady came up to me and said she had noticed the long lens of my camera and would I mind looking at this nest on top of the pinnacle down below to see what was in it.  


She heard the birds before she saw the nest but wasn't able to make out what was making the noise.  I was very grateful as I had no idea there was a nest there.  I took several photos and loaned her my camera to take a look.  I asked her if she would like me to send her a copy if my photos came out okay.  She said yes and we exchanged e-mails.   They are a bit fuzzy but yes they are ospreys.


Here is the sign I saw later.  It reads: "Ospreys sometimes build nests in the cliffs opposite this overlook.  Though the nests may be five feet in diameter, they are difficult to spot against the vast cliffscape.  Watch for osprey riding updrafts throughout the canyon from May to September."


Here are other photos we took.


I believe this is one of the tour vehicles from Yellowstone Lodge.




You can just make out a river down there and it is the brightest blue color which doesn't really show in the photos.




A nice bench carved out of the rock to sit down for a spell.


Those dark clouds were moving in and we saw some lightning strikes in the distance.  Gregg was hoping to capture one.


It started to sprinkle but by this time we were in the car and ready to move on.  We have been very lucky with the weather.  There have been some showers but we seem to move through those dark clouds quickly.


So, we have stopped  at Grand View and later Inspiration Point, all beautiful places to rest for a while. We are stopping a lot today and getting out to stretch more often.  


2.58 p.m. We just saw the biggest bull elk we have ever seen.  We watched as it ambled along in the woods until it eventually made its way into a clearing.  We heard its bellow, a surreal sound, first at high pitch and then in a deep low tone.  We had seen its mate also in the wood, a fleeting glimpse. And that's why I love Yellowstone, you just never know what the day will bring.  


We have a fellow traveler and his family to thank for this wondrous experience.  If we hadn't seen their car pulled off the road we would probably have driven by.  I rolled my window down and asked what they were all looking at.  They pointed into the trees and told us they had spotted a bull elk, a really big one.  We pulled in just ahead of them and strained our eyes.  There was definitely a big animal in there but the trees were thick and it was hard to see. 

(This is a short video I took, stopped because a car eventually got in our line of view and I only wish I had kept the video going because you'll read what happened immediately afterwards.  You might hear some chuntering on my part.)



It wasn't long before we were joined by a dozen cars who totally blocked us in.  We could't move backwards or forwards but in the end, on this narrow one-way road with woods on each side, and thankfully a clearing we saw the elk moving toward, well, those cars did us a big favor by blocking us in, as when they moved to get away from the oncoming animal, we had front row seats to nature at its best.  


I am in complete and total awe of this magnificent animal.  I was halfway out of the passenger side of the car to try to get a better look because of the car blocking our view, and at that time the elk seemed a good distance away.  But all of a sudden that car suddenly got out of there and we saw why.  That beautiful beast was heading straight towards us.  I was so shocked I may have said a rude word as I quickly jumped back in the car and shut the door fast.  We had no time to move.  


When that car had the sense to get away, it gave us a full view of the elk heading toward us, he was next to us in moments.
  

As Gregg was taking the photos and he suddenly realized how fast the elk was coming.....


and literally thought he was going to stick his head in our window, he wound it up fast but the back window was still open, as I had been trying to get a better look by straining my neck trying to see beyond the car blocking our view, and I kept saying, "Back window's still open, back window's still open!"  I thought that elk was going to stick his head right in.....   


antlers and all



The elk's head was so close at one point that I couldn't see anything beyond him, but thankfully he suddenly turned and went behind our car, filling up the whole rear window with his bulk.  He couldn't have been more than two inches away from our rear bumper.  


Other people who had stopped to get out of their cars for a better look, scattered in all directions as the bull approached.  Gregg handed me the camera to take pictures from my side, but wouldn't you know it as I saw him retreating into the woods  the camera's memory started flashing "full"!!!   Ah well, Gregg got these great photos of him coming towards us, but not a photo of his retreating behind.   It was an amazing experience.   When those big guys want to cross the road they are going to cross the road.  

We wondered afterwards what we might have done differently as the situation was precarious.  We stayed in our car which is always recommended, we were at the recommended distance from the animal but it came towards us at a full trot, we didn't go towards him.  

I'm glad we didn't see any bears today.  This was enough excitement of a close encounter, and one we never expected.  You just never know what is going to happen in Yellowstone.  It's always best to be aware that the unexpected can happen.

Heart-stopping excitement over with, we happily chatted about what had just happened until we stopped at Virginia Cascades.  Again, real pretty down by the water.


Not too far from where we exit the park we came across another elk who appeared to be bathing.  If you see a line of cars with people pointing cameras, it's a sure bet that there is another treat in store. This elk was a younger one but he was giving everyone a show.   He seemed to have an itch on his back and nonchalantly twisted his head to give himself a scratch.


I didn't know elk liked water so much but he looked very comfortable and kept company with several Canada Geese who were swimming nearby.


Today we got to look at a waterfall, a river, a glacial rock, the Yellowstone Canyon, ospreys on a nest, a tiny chipmunk and a huge bull elk, and another smaller one cooling itself in a river.

This is our last night in West Yellowstone.  We are heading for the Grand Tetons tomorrow.