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More from Yellowstone…

Of course there is more to Yellowstone than the Old Faithful geysers.  There are big animals like the elk who posed for the feature photo.  And a bison, one of many individual ones we saw by the side of the road.  And a tiny little butterfly who landed on my thumb for some unknown reason.  On my right thumb, so I thought what a nice picture it would make with my camera in my hand but the photo op sitting on my thumb.  So Karen suggested that we see if we could coax him onto her thumb so I could get a picture also.  That was one cooperative butterfly, who posed for a few pictures and then flew off to do whatever it is that butterflies do.07-10-20part2buffalo07-10-20part2tongue07-10-20part2butterfly

Then there is Inspiration Point, the subject of many artists’s paintings over the years, and the magnificent Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 07-10-20part2artist07-10-20part2falls07-10-20part2don'tfall07-10-20part2grandcanyon207-10-20part2grandcanyon07-10-20part2yellowstonelake

Dragon Mouth Spring was amazing.  Not only did you see the bubbling mud, and smell the sulphur, but you could hear the gurgling down deep underground.07-10-20part2dragon'smouthspring07-10-20part2dragon'smouthspring207-10-20part2mud

Unfortunately one of the best places to see wildlife, the Lamar Valley, is closed this year.  I’m still looking for a bear, hoping to see one from the car, and hoping not to see one while I’m walking on a trail.  At least alligators are a little more predictable as to where you might see one.  This is a most beautiful place to be, chilly overnight, and then warm and breezy during the day.  I’m lucky to be here.

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Old Faithful…

On Thursday I found myself on a chauffeur driven trip just up the road to Yellowstone National Park.  My friend Karen not only did the driving, but her time here has turned her into an expert in the area.  I only wish I could remember half of what she told me as were toured the park.

Entering from the south entrance the first major area we reached was Old Faithful.  Karen says that she has a knack for just missing the eruption, but not this time.  I took my first picture as we walked from the parking lot for fear that I’d miss it altogether.  And then another, and another.  There is a boardwalk that lets you walk among the geysers and springs, and each direction you look has you gasping in amazement (not so much the altitude, that’s getting better).  As you walk you can’t help but notice the sulfur odor, as you find your self amazed at all the geysers, big ones and tiny little ones, evidence of eruptions under your feet as it the place has a life of it’s own.  Which I suppose it does.  Karen pointed out the buffalo hoof marks in the land between the geysers.  Some buffalo prefer to roam this area, eating vegetation which grows in this odd environment.  And these buffalo don’t live as long as they might, the grasses have minerals which wear their teeth more quickly than other diets would.  Just one of the many lessons of the day for me.  Rivers also rise from this area on their way to the sea.  I suppose they join other rivers and lakes on their way, but they are born here.07-10-20oldfaithful07-10-20oldfaithful207-10-20depressiongeyser07-10-20boiling07-10-20bluestarspring07-10-20geysercolors07-10-20geysercolors207-10-20moth07-10-20headwaters07-10-20allinone07-10-20purpleflower07-10-20viewagain07-10-20viewagain207-10-20moth

Our photography guru, Jeff, once pointedly commented that he always crops his pictures to further emphasize the subject of the photo.  I felt like he was talking just to me.  But some of these photos were so nice, I thought, and included the colors, the rivers, the historic Old Faithful Inn, and I couldn’t bear to crop.  Maybe that’s one of the joys of this stage of life, breaking the rules that you obsessively followed all your life.  It seems to be working for me…

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Teton morning…

I slept like a baby my first night in Grand Teton National Park. I was toasty warm under three blankets, including my first night under my ‘quarantine quilt’. My favorite way to sleep is when you are nice and warm but breathing cold air, and it was chilly. I went out early and drove a little way north of the campground to the turn-offs along Jackson Lake. Of course the views are spectacular, but I found myself drawn to the details too. The wildflowers that line the roadway just about everywhere. The little bird at the marina, and the pelican who caught his breakfast and I totally didn’t realize it until I saw the pictures in the computer.

I investigated the laundry/shower facility and discovered that they have wifi and you can plug in your computer to to charge it. That was a happy discovery for me, so I did my laundry, took a shower, and caught up with Facebook. I find as I walk I’m out of breath immediately, and tiredness set in, so I’m writing this while sitting outside at the camper, using up the battery that remains. The breeze is lovely, and the sun on my back feels like a massage. I have to give myself permission to relax, so I’m going to sit in the sun in the zero-gravity recliner and read my book a while.07-07-07lake207-07-07Jacksonlake107-07-07flowers07-07-07flowers207-07-07pinkflowers07-07-07pelican

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Pikes Peak

Of course I wanted to take pictures of Pikes Peak while I was back in Colorado, it’s the ‘face’ of the Colorado Springs area.  But my sister-in-law informed me that there is an iconic Pikes Peak image.  You see it in all weather, used in all kinds of applications.  It’s the ‘kissing camels’ displayed against Pikes Peak.  You see the kissing camels in the feature photo.  A close up because they are so small against the overall scenery I was looking at.  What a beautiful place Colorado Springs is.  I visited here many times when my kids were little, bringing them to visit their grandparents, but not so much sight seeing.  I enjoyed all my visits here, the family was very dear to me, and I enjoyed this visit all these years later.07-04-20iconicPikesPeak07-04-20Pikespeak07-04-20Pikespeak207-04-20gardenofthegods

In the foreground is the Garden of the Gods.  It’s possible to walk in closer among the rock formations but yesterday we moved on to a hike instead.  We covered a lot of ground, with me huffing and puffing all the way…

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Getting there…

Restrictions for Covid 19 finally caught up with me yesterday.  I wanted to see the Palo Duro Canyon park in Amarillo before I moved on, so I got there at 7:30 am, shortly after they opened.  I pulled up to the gate and the ranger asked me if I had a reservation.  I said that no, I wasn’t camping despite the trailer behind me, I just wanted to do the drive and take pictures.  Turns out they are limited in capacity for day use also, and they were all booked up.  I was able to take a couple of pictures there before I turned around and left. 07-03-20Paloduro

This riding stable was just outside the park.  I had pulled over to take a shot of the scenery I had just passed and found myself right there on the road beside the stable.  It was this lone building on the edge of a canyon that had caught my eye.07-03-20house2.jpg


When I was home thinking about this trip and looking at the map it was the wide open spaces of Texas that had caught my attention.  The more northern route would have had me skirting city after city with the traffic that would entail, but the road through most of Texas looked desolate enough that I wondered if I would find gas stations when I needed them.  But I did see that there was one big city I’d encounter on this route though, Dallas, which I’d passed through the day before but didn’t talk about.  Blotted it out I think.  I had told myself it would be fine, and it was.  But I wasn’t so sure as I found myself clutching the wheel trying to assure myself that I was in the right lane of traffic, when there were eight lanes of traffic to choose from, and the speed  limit was still 70 mph, and it seemed like everyone else had decided to change lanes.  Another of the things that Texas does bigger I guess.

But leaving the park I was soon back to wide open spaces, and on, and on, and that question of finding gas stations began to loom in my mind. I saw an old faded sign for The Hitching Post, where they promised gas and cold drinks and hot snacks.  The sign looked like it had been there forever I had to wonder if the place existed anymore, but thankfully it did.  And so it was on into New Mexico with it’s extinct volcanos.07-03-20volcano07-03-20sign07-03-20corral

Heading for Colorado had the road winding through these hills that had taken over the terrain.  I hadn’t been aware of the rising altitude, but my ears were popping as the road wound down and into Colorado.  I began to glimpse the Rockies through the clouds, and yet another thunderstorm loomed.  It was the end of the first leg of this trip, and I let myself feel how tired I was, and how happy I was to see my sister-in-law.  More pictures could wait…

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Westward Ho, day three…

Fifteen minutes into the drive yesterday had me entering Texas, and soon the initial flat terrain gave way to green hills dotted with brush and stands of trees.  Just to the right of the road was a slightly raised railroad track, and it didn’t take long to see a train, and then a few more.  And, being Texas, everything was bigger.  The views in all directions, the sky, and even the train seemed miles long.  It was a pleasant view and soon reminded me of the cowboy shows I watched on TV as a kid.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see some cowboys appear over the crest of a hill, wearing their bandanas over their faces, and not for Covid 19, but to chase down the train to rob it.  In those long ago TV shows the cowboys would catch the train, so when I found myself essentially racing a train I voice texted a friend who worked for CSX and asked him how come on TV the cowboys caught the train but I couldn’t out-run this one.  He said that was Hollywood, in real life the train always wins.  When I remarked about how long the train was, and complained about the lack of caboose, he said that in the caboose days the trains used to have five man crews, and now they have only two men working those huge long trains.  And they would like to have a one man crew but the union keeps fighting it.  Bigger trains equal less workforce, he said.  I thought it was just bigger in Texas.

I knew I would stop for the day in Amarillo, so before I left that morning I had checked online for what to see there.  Palo Duro Canyon state park came up right away and I hoped to get there early enough to do the drive through and get some pictures, so I decided to stop at a rest area to change the GPS to the park and drive straight there.  I took the feature photo, liking how the structure stood out against the sky, but the ‘watch for rattlesnakes’ signs made me pause.  I walked up the hill to this little overlook, but not until another gentleman was already there, in hopes he had scared off any rattlesnakes that might have been hanging around.  I was happy to catch another one of those endless trains passing by.  I didn’t stay long though, it was 102 degrees when I was there.07-02-20snakes 07-02-20trainfeature

And, like the day before, as I actually approached my destination the view had changed to this.  I checked the temperature and it had dropped to 64 degrees.07-02-20storm.jpg

Big sky, big storm, and the biggest lightning bolts you can imagine, each one seeming to hit the ground.  Of course I had to change my plan and head to a hotel in Amarillo instead.  Somehow the storm still seemed to be in the distance, to my right and left, so I took my opportunity to take some photos of the displays as you entered the parking area.  Not the photos I’d hoped to get, and I’m still undecided as to whether to head to the park before I leave for Colorado.  We will see what the morning brings.