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July through September, 2011

Free Park-ing

We normally avoid Yellowstone Park in the Summer, but this year we had a number of guests who wanted to see it, plus trips that took us through the park(s), so we wound up going 5 times to Yellowstone and twice to Grand Teton. Many of this quarter's pictures are from those trips. Gary's Senior Pass got everyone in for free!

After a wet Spring, we enjoyed a relatively dry Summer with temperatures slightly above normal. Pauline spent a lot of time on the garden and on finishing the landscaping in the back of the house. Check out the results here.

Pauline's friend Meg came to visit in July. She had never been to Yellowstone, so we took a very long day to show her a sample. We started at Canary Spring to see its progress as it impinges on the boardwalk. Past visits have documented the modifications needed: 2009, 2007, 2006 and 2005. The current configuration has lasted two years, but the spring is still growing.

A must see is the Grand Prismatic Spring; it looks like the surface of another planet if viewed from above. We made stops at the Fountain Paint Pots and Old Faithful, as well as many other features. We saw coyotes, bears, bison and elk, but not in the numbers expected in Spring or Fall.

For several days in July the normal quiet of the canyon is disturbed by farmers working dawn to dusk getting their hay in. The result is a new color scheme and new shadow patterns formed by the rows of mown hay waiting to be baled.

In early August we took several days off to travel with friends to Grand Teton National Park to hike (2 days of 5-7 mile hikes) and camp (we stayed in our RV at a campground in the park), and to attend two evenings of the Grand Teton Music Festival. At the Jackson Hole ski area we took the easy way (tram) to the top of Rendezvous Mountain to look down the famed Corbet's Couloir. We returned via Yellowstone park and stopped to take in a few sights.

Our big project for the Summer was to build a garden shed. After much debate, we decided to put it down near the garden; this is not as handy as other locations, but it is out of the way of snow plowing in the Winter. We first thought to paint it to match the house, but the colors made it very visible against the background of trees. The final color scheme makes it nearly invisible from across the canyon and less obtrusive from the Main House. Check out the construction here.

In mid August Gary spent a few days at Speed Week.

Pauline's cousin Pat and husband John came for a short visit in late August, so we took them over the Beartooth Highway (pictured) and Chief Joseph Highway to Cody to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and stay at the historic Irma Hotel. Unlike our previous two trips over the Beartooth Highway, it did not snow on us. We returned through Yellowstone Park, making our 3rd visit there within a month.

In early September friends Norm and Carrol visited and we made a 4th trip to Yellowstone. In addition to the usual sights, there was a rare treat: we arrived at the Great Fountain Geyser as it was preparing to erupt. We waited 1½ hours (the eruptions occur every 8 to 12 hours) to see it. Unlike Old Faithful, there are no crowds and the viewing area is quite close to the geyser— people were joking about the possibility of getting splashed with hot water. As an added treat, the White Dome Geyser (left background) erupted at the same time.

Our fifth trip through Yellowstone and second through Grand Teton was at the end of September, when we took a short trip to Southern California. The blazing reds and glowing yellows of the trees and bushes in the parks were amazing; our pictures do not do the scenery justice so we haven't posted any. The purpose of our trip was to visit grand-daughters Lauren and Allison; as an added treat, Kendal dropped in for a day with boy-friend Brandon.

Parting Shot
Uncle Tom's Trail

On our first trip to Yellowstone Park this year, we made the 600' vertical descent of a heavily switch-backed, paved trail to the viewing platform at the top of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, shown in the upper right of a picture taken from Artist Point. The vantage point gave us a view (and nice telephoto picture) of Uncle Tom's Trail across the canyon. That trail is “only” a 500' vertical descent, but involves long staircases clinging to the side of a cliff. In either case, flat-lander tourists regret the ease of descent when they undertake the exhausting return ascent at an altitude of 8,000'. Living at 5,400' gives us a significant edge.

Click on the picture above for a larger version (3872×2592 pixels, 1.8MB). Also, check out an April 2008 view of the stairs from a different angle here.


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