Month: September 2012

More Yellowstone Stuff

First, thanks to Jeannette/Grandma for quickly responding to my question about photo galleries. I’ll use a couple to supplement this post later, but do let me know if it slows stuff down too much for you. Just too many pics for my regular “inline” posting routine. We’ve just been relaxing today – and getting to know our dog again. She’s just the same – sleeping or full of mischief.

Yellowstone – Thursday, Sep 20th – the rest of the dayI left off before our visit to Norris Geyser Basin.  This is a very large Thermal Basin area, set up with boardwalks so you can walk around, as well as a small museum about geysers and such.  This one was interesting because there was a lot of thermal activity, and some small geysers that were continuously erupting.

(All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them)




After Norris Geyser Basin, we stopped for a picnic lunch at another interesting spot:

After lunch (excellent picnic lunches from Ernie’s Deli in West Yellowstone), we took some photos of the area, then went to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Again, we had time to walk around.  Lou & I were both worn out – we waiting by the van, but we did see a beautiful Geyser Basin as we drove out of the area:

Lou took these two photos; these are some of my favorites from the trip to Yellowstone:

After touring the geyser area, we dropped down to Mammoth Hotsprings and had some time to wander around town before dinner at the dining room for the Hotel.  Some of us opted for a relaxing drink in the lounge ;).  We’ll have to go back to see the Visitor’s Center.  Dinner was good, although once again the service was protracted.

After dinner, we saw large numbers of elk out on the town square – there was a Bull at one end, and one at another:

And, from the other end of town, these cows came running down the street, followed by “their” Bull — we were walking back to the parking lot when the Ranger yells, “in the building” and we ducked into the closest door.  They (the elk) turned back and headed up the hills, but it was exciting.

And, then we got back in the van for our almost 2 hour drive back to the hotel.  A shot of the sunset, out of the window of the van:

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Ahhh – “Home” Again

We left Zion at 9:30am yesterday, and made it to Cave Creek just before 3pm (with the help of a one hour time change).  Natasha was shy for about 30 seconds, then started running and jumping – I think she remembered us, since the first thing she did was hunt for and steal Lou’s shoes.  We very much appreciate Mij taking such good care of the pup while we were gone (Natasha obviously loves Mij).

We relax here until Wednesday, then head out on a 2-day drive to Northern California to see the Holmes Clan at Sea Ranch.

Continuing on with our report from Yellowstone: Thursday, Sept 20th Part 1

Up early again, to put our stuff in the van at 5:45am, grab a quick breakfast at the Brandin’ Iron Motel’s Free Breakfast offering.  Perhaps they should have paid us to eat there 😉  It was less than good, but was a chance for people to eat something before we headed out so early (apparently the other motels don’t start breakfast until 7am).  Our room was clean, and the motel was conveniently located next to the park entrance, but that’s about all the good we can say about it.  Of course, it’s not like we spent any time in the room – we were out by 5:30am every morning, and usually not back until after 9:00pm.

This morning was another hunt for the Great Trophy Elk.  As I said yesterday, I quite enjoyed photographing the elk – Lou, not so much.  But, he was a good sport, and continued with his expert spotting technique.

We found a new subject, and this one was more to the group’s liking.  We hiked a ways out into the scrub to set up our tripods, and took photos for an hour or so.  It was cold – about 38 degrees.  We saw the Bull Elk bugling, running after his women, and keeping an eye on us.







Lou asked if we were going to photograph every elk in Yellowstone 😉  Well, Yes – if we can find them.  But then, we saw something else – we parked in the turnout, and as we got out of the van to get our camera gear – we saw this Big Guy:


It’s Billy Bison!  He was all by his lonesome – he came out of the bushes towards us, taking a couple steps, then eating some grass.  He walked right by the van (we were by then hiding on the other side), and out into the street.  He really wasn’t concerned about anyone else – he walked down the road a ways, and back in the brush.  We both got some good shots of the bison:






That was fun!  We then drove for awhile, and made a few stops along the way.  One of the places we stopped was Gibbon Falls – it was difficult to get photos, but we tried.  We were a bit disappointed that there were not as many opportunities for landscape photography as we would have liked.  This was due to the still-present smoke, and also due to the time we spent on wildlife.  Still, we never thought we would do it all in one trip – a reason to go back some day.  It was cool to be driving along and see the steam coming from the ground in the thermal areas – as long as it didn’t mean a giant volcano was about to erupt.


Some of the drive and vistas would be breathtaking on a clear day:



And, a snapshot of Lou – almost smiling – as we finished up at Gibbon Falls.  That silver van in back of him is the one we were driving around in.  We saw a couple nice Mercedes Vans that we suggested for the next tour 🙂


We then drove to the Norris Geyser Basin, where we had a good amount of time to walk around and see the sights.  Will include some photos from there in tomorrow’s post, along with more from our afternoon itinerary.

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A Few More Animals

Yesterday morning, we took the short drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park.  Let’s just say it was an awesome day, even though we had a short visit at the Park.

We are getting ready to load up the car for the final leg of this phase of the trip – back to Cave Creek.  Will the puppy remember us?

Back to the Photo Tour in Yellowstone – September 19th – The Rest of the Story:

After finishing up at West Thumb Geyser, we drove around some more, stopping for a few sights.  We took some photos of waterfalls, which we still have to process (it was a little bright in the afternoon for photography).  We were driving in the Madison Area, on our way to West Yellowstone.  You can see the general direction we were headed on this map – we entered at the South entrance, and were going to be staying in West Yellowstone:


We were anxious to see some wildlife.  Len drove down a short service road where he had seen Elk before.  Sure enough – there they were!


They looked at us, then kept on grazing.  We saw a few cows and calves – no bulls.  We watched for about 15 minutes or so before moving on.  Turns out, the light wasn’t good and apparently it doesn’t count if you don’t see a Bull Elk (who knew?).


As we drove along, we saw a couple Bison out in the field – they were a fair distance away.   Since we hadn’t seen any yet, some of the guys hiked out to get a closer shot.



They watched as the Big Guy walked across the river towards them – it looked to us like the Bison was  very close, but part of that is the angle (or so the guys said).  You can also see how many more people joined them.  Whenever you stop the car, or photograph out in the open, you are likely to attract a crowd.


In the meantime, we were watching the other bison – and he too, decided to cross the river.  But, he was coming closer to those of us at the van!


He wasn’t all that close – I had changed to a larger telephoto lens while we waited for the guys.  After getting their fill of Bison shots, the guys came back and we drove some more – still looking for wildlife.  And then, we saw a few people taking photographs of something … we checked it out, and this is what we found:


A young Bull Elk, some cows, and a few calves.  Now, this guy didn’t meet “Trophy Elk” standards, but the lighting was better and we were almost out of the Park.  So … we hopped out of the van again, loaded up our camera gear and hiked out a short distance to take some photos.






He was a very noisy guy!  And he was continuously checking on his harem.  Fall is what’s called “rutting” season, and these guys get rather frisky.

I was very excited by all of these wildlife sightings (hey, I’m the one who stalked porcupines).  Notice I haven’t mentioned Lou – he was not so excited with this part (although he was one of the best spotters when it came to finding animals).  He much prefers taking photographs of rocks, thermal basins, flowers – anything with lots of detail.

We headed on into West Yellowstone, where we checked into the Brandin’ Iron Inn … more about that later.

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Let’s Go To Yellowstone…

Before we go to Yellowstone, I’ll share a teaser photo from our time here at Bryce Canyon National Park.  We’ve spent two nights here, and spent most of yesterday at the park.  I went early for sunrise photos, then came back for breakfast.  Lou and I then went back for the rest of the day.  We were so tired when we got back to our room, we soaked in the Hot Tub and went to bed early.

There will be more photos, but we need some time to sort and process them.  Here’s a peek:

It was somewhat awesome.  More photos to come.


Yellowstone – Sep 19th: After visiting the old barns, we had another fancy buffet breakfast, then packed everything in the van for the trip to Yellowstone.  It is only about 45 miles from Grand Teton National Park, but that just gets you to the entrance of Yellowstone.  We stopped along the way for a few photo ops:

Here is Len telling one of our guys, “Now, if you could see the mountains, the Grand Tetons would be right over there, just above Jackson Lake, which you can almost see…”


We stopped to take some photos of trees.  It was funny – about a half dozen cars stopped and people were all excited: “What do you see?”  When we said, “Yellow Trees,” most left disappointed.  It seems the popular way to spot wildlife is to follow all the parked cars.


Finally, we made it to Yellowstone.  I had to snap this shot from the van.  These pros just don’t understand the importance of documenting vacation travel 🙂


If you are as old as us, you can’t think Yellowstone without memories of Yogi Bear.  In my case, I thought of the newest Yogi Bear movie – it was so bad, I couldn’t even get the grand kids to watch it; “But girls, it’s in 3D !!!”


We stopped along the way to check out the sights, and I’ll try to remember to include a Photo Gallery at some point with more photos.  One thing that stood out was the evidence of the huge fire in 1988.   You can see the dead trees, with the new trees filling in   – it just needs another 50 years or so.


We finally made it to West Thumb Geyser Basin, where we took an hour to wander the basin and also had a picnic lunch.  This was fascinating, and it was also an opportunity to see Yellowstone Lake.  These photos are a combo of mine and Lou’s.









That’s enough for now.  Time to pack up and head to Zion National Park.  We will just do a ride through this afternoon, check into our hotel, and drive back to Cave Creek tomorrow.  I imagine Mij needs rescuing from Cocker Spaniel Puppy overload about now.

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Just Some Old Barns …

We made it to Bryce Canyon yesterday afternoon – had about a 10 hour drive.  Took some photos, but they look pretty much the same as the ones I shared for the trip up (just in reverse 😉 ).  If anything, there is a little more fall color.

I’ll post a few more photos from the Grand Teton National Park, then tomorrow we’ll move into Yellowstone for the ongoing photo tour.

Our first stop on the sunrise expedition for Sep 18th was Mormon Row.  Again, about a 30 minute drive from the Lodge, and we left at 5:45am (again!).  This is a very cool place, where some old barns and homes are still standing from the early settlement of the area by some Mormon folks.

We spent an hour taking photos of this barn … it’s a classic Grand Teton shot for photographers.  Once again, the smoke in the air foiled our efforts to become the next Ansel Adams.  But, there’s always next trip.  I still have to work on processing these photos, but here are a few with quick edits.  Also waiting to see Lou’s shots.  He liked the barns.


Then, these gals got in front of my shot, so I had to move.  (Just kidding – these nice ladies are with our group, and I had already moved to another location.  Even I can only take so many photos of a barn).  This shot was taken a little later than the first one, and you can see how it’s become even more smoky / hazy.


I got bored with the barn, and the smoke, so turned around to the other side and tried to take a sunrise photo – of the sun, which is always difficult for me – that darned bright sun keeps getting in the way.



Then we all moved down to another area, where there are some of the original homes and  another barn.


Did you notice the outhouse in the photo above?  I could have used one about the time this was taken, as we were going on hour two …  Here’s the other barn:


On the way back to the Lodge for another filling Breakfast Buffet, we saw a thundering herd of Bison out the car window.  We couldn’t stop – breakfast was calling.  But, my drive-by-shooting skills came in handy, as I was able to capture a snapshot through the window of the van (after poking Lou in the head with the lens):


Here is a photo from the top of Summit Drive, showing the Valley View.  You can see just how much smoke there was later in the day.


Lou did the smart thing, and took some photos of these pretty flowers:


I promise things will get a little more exciting as we continue the photo tour.   On another note, Mij has sent some cute videos and pics of Natasha – says she’s doing well.  I’ll load some up if I can get the internet access to work long enough to do the transfers.

And – remember that new Macbook laptop that Natasha soaked in wine (perhaps Lou trained her to do that, since he loves Apple so much?)?  I received word from American Express that they are going to credit me the cost of the repairs (almost as much as a new laptop).  So glad I remembered to check on the 90 day accident/theft protection.

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Let’s See Some More of Those Tetons

Tonight is our last in Grand Teton National Park.  We returned from Yellowstone yesterday evening and had a last dinner with our Photo Group.  This morning, I took a couple of the guys from our group down to try for another sunrise photo of the mountains (not much luck), and then we said goodbye to everyone at breakfast.  Everyone else was taking off, but we have one more night at the Jackson Lake Lodge – need to rest up for a long drive tomorrow.

We had a good time with the Photo Tour – we had a diverse group, including a gentleman from Australia, another from Japan, a couple from Idaho, a lady from Texas, and a professional photographer from Miami.  Our leader, Len, is from New Jersey, and is known for his wildlife photography.  He was the leader on our trip to the Smoky Mountains, and Lou’s trip to Denali – he does a great job, and he was one of the reasons we chose this particular trip.

Finally had a chance to start looking at some of our photos from the workshop today, as we stayed in since it was raining – and we are tired!  Here are some from our first sunrise session on Tuesday, Sep 18th.  We left the Lodge at 6am to drive about 30 minutes to a place called Schwabacher’s Landing.  We took a dirt road off the main Hwy to a series of beaver ponds, where we attempted to photograph the Grand Tetons and their reflection in the water.


This was taken before sunrise.  Our view of the mountains was obscured a bit by the smoke in the air from the local fires – this would get worse at the week went on.


The sun is rising behind us ( I guess that means we are facing West?) and you can see the reddish glow lighting the top of the mountain – this is the classic photo you strive for when you go to Grand Teton National Park (this isn’t exactly a classic, but we did get excited when we saw the color on the peak of the mountain).


A few minutes later – more color.  I was moving around, trying to find a beaver pond where the reflections would show up nicely.  The trees partially block the mountains, but I think I like this best of the ones I took.  Lou hasn’t had a chance to look at his photos yet.


This is a better location to get more of the mountain peaks in the reflection, but it was late when I walked back to this area, and the color had started to fade on the mountains.


Taken near the parking lot – the yellow scrub brush and some of the trees were so orange, it is hard to figure out if the color is right in the photograph.  We spent about an hour and a half at Schwabacher’s Landing, before packing up and driving back to the lodge for breakfast.

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