Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore is a don’t miss. But we did. Well, sort of.

You see, the park is free… you simply have to pay $11 to park… not TO the park, but to a concessioner. So, to visit a National monument paid for with tax dollars, you have to also pay some stupid troll controlling the “bridge.” We wouldn’t mind paying the Park for entry of parking, but paying a concessioner means that money does not support the Park. We don’t support that model and voted with our feet.

So, we viewed Mt. Rushmore from other vantage points… no less for wear, and enjoyed viewing a National treasure our own way. – Dan

Custer State Park

Custer State Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota make for a wonderful place to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. The park itself has an abundance and variety of wildlife such as wild goats, big horn sheep, buffalo, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and lots and lots of bunnies. We took an early morning drive around the lengthy wildlife loop and we were not disappointed. As we learned from our Yellowstone experience, getting out early increases your chances of seeing more wildlife.

On our way to the park we learned that the 72nd annual motorcycle gathering at Sturgis, SD was just starting. This event draws bikers from all over the US and even the World as we heard an Aussie accent from one. The bikes are everywhere! One source quoted the number of bikers in 2010 at 600,000 and the number continues to swell. We found the folks we met and talked to as friendly and from all walks of life. No official events are planned, it’s just one big gathering/celebration/party.

If you’re ever headed this way, don’t miss the Black Hills. Just try to avoid the first week in August!

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Yellowstone

Yellowstone was not our list, but hey, it’s on the way (mostly) to the Tetons so we did a very quick drive through some of the southern loop.

The short trip through meant we had to choose what we wanted to see carefully. Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon won. The Falls within the canyon, the trademark canyon color, the geographic features, and the history of what we were witness to confirmed that we had made a good choice!

We saw a lot of the Park on the way in from the western access point to the Park and we continued to be awed by more as we headed out the southern entrance/exit. We saw our share of elk and bison. At one point we had to stop as a family of bison crossed the road. Majestic papa bison was making his presence known with a series of snorts.

We had planned on visiting Old Faithful, but as its clock was set to a timeframe, so was ours in terms of finding a campsite in Teton. Another time I guess!

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Glacier National Park

Please forgive out absence as internet and cell service are extremely rare commodities in Glacier.

It goes without saying that we enjoyed our time in Glacier immensely. No shortage of scenic vistas, towering mountains, babbling creeks, waterfalls, wildlife, and of course glaciers.

Side note: I’m writing this on my cell phone traveling east on Route 2 (part of the Lewis and Clark Trail) between Browning and Cut Bank, Montana and we just passed the site of Lewis and Clark’s winter stopping ground Camp Disappointment.

Ok, I’m back. Sorry for the commercial break…

We traveled the Going to the Sun Road that cuts through the park. Built by the Civil Conservation Corp, it is yet another example of the influence the CCC brought to this nation.

The 50 mile going to the Sun Road was Ah-May-Zing! Two lanes; one spreading her arms out the valleys beyond as well as the rivers below and the other hugging the mountain mother. Wide and long vehicles prohibited… with good reason! As we expected there was a healthy dose of traffic (both ways) with pull-offs to stop and read an exhibit sign, take a short (or long) walk/hike, or simply take in the view. We traveled the Going to the Sun Road twice. The second time was this morning at 7:00 when traffic is predicted to be minimal and more wildlife is likely to be out and about. We weren’t disappointed with the wildlife because we saw a half dozen big horn sheep in the parking lot of the visitors’ center at Logan’s Pass.

Yesterday (Saturday) we hiked 2 miles in to Avalanche Lake. Fed by snow and glacier melt, the lake is surrounded by a flank of towering peaks. In unison, the peaks shed their winter coats in the form of many towering waterfalls that thunder over edge upon edge until they reach the lake. The lake feeds Avalanche Creek which feeds McDonald Lake which eventually feeds the Pacific (seeing how it’s all about the Great Divide). I probably don’t need to tell you that the water is cold, but I will. The water is cold.

More to come as we head through Yellowstone National Park and on to Grand Teton National Park – Dan20120729-105920.jpg20120729-110007.jpg20120729-110040.jpg20120729-110124.jpg20120729-110203.jpg20120729-110436.jpg20120729-110953.jpg20120729-111004.jpg20120729-111030.jpg

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Heading to Glacier National Park

Spent the night near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just east of Spokane, Washington, in a nicely run Narional Forest camp ground on Coeur d’Alene Lake.

We’re currently on our way to Glacier National Park. We’ll need to cross the northern reaches of the Bitterroot Range and head into the Rockies. Should be in Glacier by the early afternoon. Really looking forward to the Going to the Sun Road. Our plan is to do that early in the morning as more wildlife is out, good light for photos, and less traffic.

On a side note, not sure where the time zone change is. Should look into that pretty quick.

Stay tuned! – Dan

Campsite Rituals

Tent camping is not all fun and games as you might be thinking. There’s unpacking the car, setting up the tent, getting the bedding all ready to go, setting up the “kitchen” and… as Ali is oft heard expressing, “There’s no rest for the wicked.”

Wicked as we may be, a little bit of fun must find its way into the itinerary, so on this trip we recently purchased a water soaker to add to the rituals list. Let me explain.

In general there are chipmunks, squirrels, and the occasional raccoon scouting about the campsite doing what they do best. A majority of the darting through chair legs and picnic tables involves the never ending hunt for food.

Most of these critters are pleased to come across a crumb or two left by a child who simply can’t eat with their mouth closed. OK, you got me, those kids leave almost whole meals, but the point is, the resident wildlife benefit. We just don’t want them doing it in our campsite, thank you very much!

Anyway, we wait these poor unsuspecting critters out and play Soak the Rodent. The small creatures get warning shots. The raccoons, they get the full treatment. One coon was so bold at the site next door that it grabbed the bag of marshmallows left by the fire and took off with the entire bag!

No harm comes from our little game and the little beggars learn to hit up the campsite next door instead of ours. Oh, we know, BTW that raccoons are not rodents. In fact they are distantly related to bears as I wrote a few years ago on Henbogle

Dan

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Urban Art: Yarnstorming

Port Angeles, as Ali has written, seems to place priority on spiffing up the city proper with a hefty dose of public art. Graffiti (aka Urban Art) tends to lean to the permanent defacing of private and public property and there is no evidence of it here. But, there’s a new form of urban art that requires hours of planning and execution and that is here.

We were taking in the sites of Port Angeles on our first day here and came upon this piece of public art covered with someone’s knitting project.

It’s known as yarnstorming. (Also know as yarnbombing, but I prefer the non-violent, yet acceptable term of yarn storming.)

Yarnstorming is catching on as an acceptable form of urban art. It’s creative, fun, and it keeps the knitting community busy planning their next project. You know how counter-culture knitters can be! (Sorry Mom, Nina, Jackie, and of course Bets!)

Anyway, it was fun to finally see yarnstorming in action. I’d heard of it but not actually seen any evidence. Gosh, this trip is packed with firsts!

Visit Port Angeles’ Cable Art Studio’s link to learn more about this recent yarnstorming event at: http://www.cabledfiberstudio.com/Yarnbombing.html

Be sure to view the video of London’s experience with yarnstorming and how they take the urban art form in stride without getting their knickers in a twist. – Dan

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