Thursday, September 30, 2010

Season ends

Here are a few photos from the end of the season and a couple of bear shots that got forgotten earlier.

For friends Nan and Rochelle, who think moose only exist in the form of a chocolate dessert, this handsome fellow was below the bridge on the Snake River in the town of, yes, really, Moose, WY.

Grey Jay

This grizzly was along Mary Bay on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake during my friend, Rochelle's, visit.

Grizzly cubs wrestling. This was on Dunraven Pass, also while Rochelle was visiting.

I finally rode the boat across Jenny Lake in the Tetons. Bit of smoke in the air, but the peaks are still magnificent.

Aspens in the Fall in the Tetons. There are aspens in Yellowstone, but not nearly as many as in the nearby National Park.

Fire is part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and plays an important role in keeping grasslands for grazing animals like elk, bison, deer and regenerating the lodge pole pine forests,and keeping pine bark beetles at bay. Still, they are frightening to watch. This fire began as a lightening strike. My cousins, Sharon, Bonnie, Glende watched with me as huge towers of flame shot up as the fire reached new fuel. This was taken on Dunraven Pass on the day we all headed over the Beartooth Hwy for a day in the high elevations and a night in Red Lodge. A couple days later the park service closed this road to through traffic due to smoke and fire equipment.

The next post will be from somewhere on the road.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall in Yellowstone

Fall means mist rising on Yellowstone River and Lake, elk bugling, icy cold mornings and sunny days with a brisk feel. It can also mean snow. This morning scene is at Fishing Bridge, just a mile or so from where I live in the park. Some mist is visible in the very background. From this spot I have seen beaver, river otters, muskrat, white pelicans, osprey, bald eagles, and cutthroat trout. I have had to make a hasty exit when bison chose to cross on the bridge rather than swim the river. I've seen weasel, elk, mule deer, and grizzly bears in and around the bridge area.
My last week in the park included exceptionally beautiful Fall weather. A little nip, but generally shirt sleeves during the day, a final night BBQ with some of my friends who live in the dorms. I spent a day and a half in the Tetons where Fall color was at its peak. Ana Maria and Ted and sister, Suzy, shared their motel room with me. I would have stayed a full two days but got a call that another driver had called in sick the day before and they weren't' sure she would be there for the evening tour on Sunday. I hurried back, only to find out she had come to work....that is the breaks, and I did get two hours call out pay, but I left a Black Bear feeding on berries which I hoped would soon move out of the shrubs and into the open. I got plenty of grizzly photos this summer but few Black Bears.

Beartooths and Chico, MT.


The first week of September included visits from three people I met this spring at the Elks Lodge in Petaluma, Ca where I parked my motorhome while doing all the things I normally do while I am in town.

Don Peterson was a friend of friends. We had been in email contact for a while as I searched for classes in computer photo editing in the Tucson area. A fellow photographer, we went out on a couple of shoots while we were both there. We did the same here in Yellowstone. He went on one of my photo tours and then we spent some time exploring the park and area with cameras in hand. The photo above of the pika and the photos below of the waterfall, mining equipment and the 10, 947 foot summit were taken on our trip to the Beartooth Hwy northeast of the park.
Pika are a tiny member of the rabbit family. They live in rock piles in high elevations where the temperatures are cold. They are one of the species being studied as bellwhethers of climate change.
Linda and Howard Stilley went on my photo tour out of Old Faithful. It was a morning with great lighting and Linda got some great shots and learned some new techniques with her camera. Good chance I will see all three again this Fall as we all have reasons to be back in that area for a bit.

Don atop Beartooth Pass

After my years working in Bodie, I am intrigued with old mining equipment and mining towns. This battery box, fly wheel and cam shaft sit in front of an old log cabin in Cooke City, MT. The dogs next door seemed formidable, barking and snarly when we stopped the car. But despite the barred teeth, they never left their unfenced yard and eventually got used to us photographing next door. The waterfall was along the way.

Treating myself

The next weekend was a retreat for myself. It started off with the simple idea of a soak and Chico Hot Springs, north of the park. And the thought of a soak brought on the idea of a massage.
I could have stopped at that, but I have heard for several years that the dining room there is one of the finest places to eat in Montana. The only reason I haven't eaten there before is that I have not wanted to make the long trip home to Lake area of Yellowstone in the dark. I know the roads well, but bison and elk on the road at night are a serious consideration.
No rooms were available at Chico. Part of the facility dates back to early in the last century with nice rooms and baths down the hall. It was in my price range. Then there are newer additions at higher prices. But with nothing available, I asked if they had other recommendations in the area.
What sependipity. I ended up in the Homestead Cabin. Set up for 4 people, it seemed like a bit much for me alone. But once I met Sarah, the owner, and walked inside, I knew I had found the perfect place for a little retreat, for a break before the last weeks of work in the park.
Sarah is one of those unconventional, bold, active, independent women who I admire. She has done a magnificent job of restoring the cabin and adding all kinds of small touches which make it a perfect place to unwind.
I took a walk through the remains of Old Chico. This is an old mining community. The sky was still stormy after snow and rain the night before, so the lighting was great. And I knew Fall was here because that is when the Rabbit Brush, my nemisis is in bloom. But you have to have one non-perfect thing to keep all the rest of the experience in perspective.
After a dinner in the Chico Hot Springs dining room which fully lived up to all my expectations I headed to the cabin a mile and a half away.
I sunk into the feather bed in the loft, thinking I would watch the stars out the window. By nightfall it was totally clear, there were no lights to interfer, the sky was perfect. But I only lasted minutes. I didn't know another thing until daylight the next day, when I climbed down the ladder and fixed a cup of tea in the kitchen.

Above is Chico Hot Springs. I've soaked there several times. This time I added dinner and a massage the next day.

Interior scenes of the Homestead Cabin. I slept in the loft above. The ladder to it shows in the left of the photo on the right.

scenes around the cabin (hinge) and around the community.

Love old equipment. If this were current discards I'd probably think of it as trash. Somehow when it is rusted and tells the story of an earlier era, I like it.