We drove all day, across south central Nebraska, down into Kansas to Hays, over to Saline and down to Wichita. We wanted to reach Tulsa but it would have been late and after suppertime so we found a motel in a small town south of Wichita. The motel is named the Steak House Motel. The steak house closed sometime back and a chinese restaurant opened in its place. Theree are no plans to change the motel to Good Taste Motel.
It will be a long drive but we will be home tomorrow.
The above animal is a Watusi of African origin. There were many other domesticated animals at this exposition beside the fair/rodeo in Jackson, Wyoming two days ago.
We left our Idaho cabin this morning and drove clear across Wyoming to Sidney, Nebraska, a mexican supper and a motel room for the night. We saw numerous pronghorns all along the way, some of them handsome and mature bucks(if that is what the males are called). We are still in the mountain time zone. As a map shows we have not cleared the eastern boundary of Colorado to our south. When we were in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area we could look south and see the Colorado Rockies clearly and as far south as Denver.
I have read hundreds upon hundreds of pages of history about the Cheyenne - Sioux Indian Wars of the 1860's. Very near here is a town called Julesburg, Colorado. In the 1860's during the Indian Wars following the Sand Creek Massacre farther south, the allied Indians twice attacked and sacked the small settlement of Julesburg. The first attack they drew a number of cavalry out into a trap and would have wiped them out had a few young warriors not rode out esrly snd revealed the trap. Still the Indians rode down the slower soldiers and killed them. Both attacks the people of Julesburg barely made it onside the gates of the fort and then watched the Indians take everything they could carry and burn the rest. We have not found such problems as of yet.
There is a huge line of thunderstorms moving across Kansas and since it is merely warm and dry here I figure it is hot and humidto the south of the storms. I would not need to see that huge wall of cloud climbing into the sky to know it is hot and humid down in Mississippi.
We still will not be home tomorrow but we will be close. I hitched the cool mountain air to Kris's car but I think it cut loose at the Wyoming border.
We were slow to go yesterday morning though we were not sore from the previous hike. The cabin does have a TV with three local channels and Telemundo… and the trusty DVD player. We have usually watched one of our DVDs each not before bedtime. We decided to lounge around the cabin and watch Yogi Bear (the movie) before making a decision on what to do in the afternoon. I had been wanting to go to the other side of the Tetons (where we camped last year) and check out the Teton National Park. We loaded up in Kris's car and drove around the south end of the Tetons, across the pass and back down into the Jackson Hole valley but we cut north into the Teton NP. We drove along the Snake River and looked and looked for moose but saw none.
Along this route we drove right along the base of the Teton range and the views we spectacular. Kris had heard from the same woman in Colorado who told us about the 'secret' spot in Yellowstone that there was another great spot much overlooked in the Teton NP known as Jenny Lake. We came to the National Park headquarters town of Moose on the Snake River and stopped and ate buffalo burgers and hot dogs in a giant tepee and then headed up to Jenny Lake. We could tell where it was with all the campers and cars. Kris noted that of all the places we had visited so far, the two most crowded places were the two places made known to us by the Colorado neighbor to Stephen Jacobs. We pulled into the southern entrance to the lake and found a full campground and no parking places. We still could not see the lake for the trees and a rise in the land of dirt and rock. We pulled back onto the main road and drove to the north end of the lake and followed a narrow drive back to the lake where we found a one way road that ran worth along the eastern edge of Jenny Lake. THe road was maybe fifty feet above lake level and the drop was steep. There was a well worn foot path along side the road. We found a pull out and parked and then after hiking down the trail a little farther we found a not-so-steep 'path' down to the rocky shoreline.
Jenny Lake is clear as glass and lined and bottomed completely in round river rock of all size. Across the lake the main three Teton peaks rise up high into the air. The main peak is 11,700 feet with a pyramid-ish top, like its brethren, iced snow pack still viewable in streaks and patches all over. As for Jenny Lake we figured it would be to cold to swim but after putting our feet in we found it cold but not frigid. Ethan was first to go in, then Summer and then me. We failed to bring our swim wear so the kids swam in the clothes and I swam my boxers. We had our own rocky little beach to ourselves. The wind was blowing down from the Tetons and across the lake and we could only stay in the water so long. The kids got cold in the wind and the sun was temporarily behind the clouds. When the sun came back out I made my way out of the water. It was warmer in the sun. The round river rocks along the edge of the lake were more slippery than the ones under water or on the bank and we all slipped in some fashion getting out. On the shore Kris took pictures and found a few pieces of driftwood for keepsakes. The kids and I found some nice large rocks and then we had to climb the hillside with these objects. Once we did we walked back to the car with our booty. We found out later from our cabin owner that people are not allowed to take items from the park. She asked if anyone saw us doing it. We said just a few bikers (motorcyclers) and they thought one big piece of driftwood looked like a moose antler. Looks like we got away with a little pilfering of some National booty.
Afterwards we drove down into Jackson Hole, parked and walked to the square just in time to see the daily gun fight put on by the local acting troupe at six o'clock. They use real guns with blanks and the shotgun blasts were very loud. Afterward we had ice cream and went to a smaller park off the square and let the kids play. Then we drove home, ate leftovers and watched Finding Nemo.
Today we are taking it easy again because later we are going back to Jackson to the evening rodeo and fair.
Yesterday afternoon we decided on a local hike up Darby Canyon the the Wind Cave and the Ice Cave. We got a late start but the hike was only 3.2 miles to the site. We were able to drive up to 7000 feet to the trail head. From there we crossed the Darby Creek bridge on foot and at the first opening from the trees we walked straight into a herd of… beef cattle. Their refuse smell was strong. I cannot say it any cleaner than that. The trail turned out to be steeper than we thought and it took us some time to get up all the switch backs. Ethan and I pulled ahead on the trail and starting using the short cuts that go straight up to the next switch back. Since a lady coming down the trail told us she had not seen any wildlife but she had heard a rumor of a bear, we stopped at the top of each shortcut until Kris and Summer came into sight and we showed them the short cut. These cuts were not as worn as the main trial but noticeable enough.
After maybe two miles we came to a big boulder at the elbow of a switchback. We saw that a trail continued straight towards the head of the canyon and it was fairly well used so we decided to take it, thinking it a short cut. We walked maybe an eighth of a mile thru a high meadow of wildflowers of every color including the bright red Indian Paintbrush I had seen in Oregon decades ago. When we reached the head of the canyon and looked up at the walls… there were no caves and the trial came to an end. Our short cut was a failure. We backtracked to the boulder at the main trail and decided to continue up. We made another switch back and found ourselves above the rim of the canyon, maybe a false rim, and after hiking along we found that across the canyon, even higher than we already were (8300 feet by my phone app altimeter) we could see the double cave pictured above. That was as close as we got to them. The sun was an hour from dropping behind the far mountain summit and we were sweaty from the hike and knew that damp clothes (me in a long sleeve) in cool air makes one cold. We took a break in the shade of an evergreen, took some photos, drank some water and headed back down.
As we headed down, E and I pulled ahead and took all the short cuts down. We would stop and wait every two shortcuts until we saw Kris and Summer and then we we would keep going… Ethan talking the entire time. This boy and can walk and talk like nobody's business. Questions, questions, questions. What ifs, what ifs, what ifs. It seemed like it took no time to get back down and once we reached the bridge over Darby Creek, with my ankles hurting, we stopped and I put my bare feet in the frigid creek to combat inflammation. It must have worked because my ankles do not hurt like they did after our hike up on Targhee. Meanwhile the girls were approaching and Ethan was under the bridge throwing rocks in the water so I ducked under the bridge and told E our plan… play troll and scare the girls. We could see their shadows as they crossed the bridge and when I gave the sign we jumped out either side and yelled Rah! We scared Summer and Kris laughed. I dried my feet and put my shoes on and we headed to the car. After a open meadow of cow droppings we walked back thru the big heard of… beef cattle. I wondered if the man who owned the cattle ever had a problem with wolves or bears. We were right not he edge of the Teton range in the Jedadiah Smith Wilderness. We saw no bears.
We were back at the cabin before dark. Of course it gets dark at ten o'clock. Summer and E played with some of the daughters of our host who has four daughters, all Summer and E's age or younger. Kris cooked salmon and brussel sprouts, we watched Ghostbusters on the DVD player and then we were nestled all snug in our beds while visions of Tetons danced in our heads.
We drove into Yellowstone via the north entrance where the road had recently melted due to underground superheating. Park officials had removed the melted road with a dozer while simultaneously making a go around our of gray gravel to enter the park. The old Roosevelt Arch still stands at the old entrance trail but is not used aside from hikers. Immediately as we drove into a canyon there were six bighorn sheep grazing on the steep hillside to our left. None of them had big horns. We had followed the Yellowstone River south from Livingston, Montana to the entrance. All the way down it felt as though we were driving downhill whole strangely, just like the Gallatin River, the Yellowstone was flowing north. It is hard to understand how one feels knowing they are going down a slight decline while the river next to you is flowing in the opposite direction, but it does.
We came to the north crossroad in the little 'town' of Mammoth in the park. Here we saw eight or more elk roaming around the town green, grazing or lying down. Only one had horns and they were in velvet and only a foot long, a youngster. From here we took the eastern route thru the northeast quadrant of the enormous park. We had traveled thru the southern loop last summer and we were looking for new sights. By far the northeast part of yellowstone holds the best views. Truly incredible! In the early part of this route we stopped at what is known as the Boiling River (or Springs). A neighbor of Stephen Jacobs had told us this was a sweet hidden little gem to check out. We realized when we saw all the parked cars and campers it was no secret. We noticed when we saw the 300 to 500 people coming and going or in the springs along the Gardner River it may have never been a secret. I walked the kids into the water anyway. They geothermal water flowed from a cave like cavern and made its own short stream towards the river, where it cascaded into the rocked off portions of the river bank, blending scalding hot water with cold river water. If you walked too close to the bank the water was way to hot but if you back off a foot or more the water cooled.
People of every nationality were walking back and forth, watching or soaking in the water farther down from us. We heard French, German, Asian and Spanish dialect and these were just the ones I recognized. Seeing all the people squatted down in the water with steam rising around them reminded me of the National Geographic picture of the Chinese monkeys soaking in a hot spring somewhere in China, only hairless. Kris would not get in the water, not that she did not want to but as she as started to enter a small black snake darter off thru the rocks where she was reaching for balance. She screamed and all around her asked her why and she told them and they all went to the spot where the snake was last seen. Kris sat on a bench and waited. After the kids and I waded around for a while we got out and hiked back to the car. Ethan and I were fifty yards in front of Kris and Summer and I was helping E spell words when he yelled, "Snake!" I look up and on the side of the trail, in the open dirt was a very large snake that at first looked like a rattler but once we got a good look at it, it had no rattle and its head was straight like an extension of its body… not poisonous. It was not small. We watched it until Kris and Summer bought up and Kris cringed and I took a picture of it with her camera phone. See posted a picture of it already.
Then we drove thru the most beautiful part of the park (to us) with far reaching vistas to the north and west as we drove. No wildlife to be seen as all for a time until Kris saw something out on the near plateau and asked what it was. I thought it was a burnt stump but as we drew closer we saw that it was a huge buffalo. We pulled off as a turn out and used my strong hunting binoculars to study it. Though they never moved apart I believe it was a large female nursing a buffalo calf (maybe) because from the distance the swishing tail was too close to her large brown, horned head to be her own tail. After a while we loaded up and continued driving, looking at the vast vistas and the mountains and valleys of evergreen trees that escaped the devastating wildfires more than 15 years ago. When we came to Canyon City we took the crossing road that makes the figure 8 center of the looping routes thru the park. We drove west for 28 more miles to the western entrance. All along the way we followed at first the Gibbon River and several thermal, steaming sites, and then once we came to Madison and the route our of the park, we followed the Madison River and more thermal sights including three steaming geysers clustered together. It was along the Madison River where we saw another buffalo out on the plateau grazing alone.
Once we left the park we stopped in West Yellowstone, a small town at the edge of the park. Here we ate dinner and walked the boardwalks for a bit. THe sun was slowly going down but we were only two hours from the cabin. As it happened, when we entered Yellowstone National Park we went from Montana into Wyoming but when we left the park we left Wyoming for Montana, even though we had traveled south a fair amount. Montana has this 'turkey beard' that hangs down over the northwest corner of Wyoming. Within 20 miles of driving we were back in Idaho and headed south. We drove thru more national and state park systems until we came to the agricultural part of Idaho known as the seedling potato capital of Idaho (or the world for all I know). Potato fields about along with wheat fields.
I had really hoped we would have seen a moose or maybe even a bear in Yellowstone but seeing the buffalo, bighorn sheep and elk was pretty cool. We had seen a few small herds of buffalo before we entered Yellowstone but they were being raised domestically. Maybe an hour before dark and probably 20 minutes before sunset I spied movement off to our left out in a vast rolling wheat field. I slowed the car and realized what I was looking at… a moose! A big hornless, bulbous nosed, humpback moose was loping across the wheat field. Too bad we could not get close enough to get a picture but we saw it well enough with my binoculars. Everyone was excited about it. We speculated what the moose was doing running through this open country and I asked Kris if she thought the moose was thinking, how did I get out here in the wide open and where do I go now? As we watched it for as long as I could see it we wondered if it could see the landscape and decide where to go. It was headed towards the Teton mountain range and we wondered if it saw the mountains and thought, I've got to go there. Well, that was the way it was headed.
We drove north along the Wyoming side of Idaho, along the western border of Yellowstone and up the Gallatin River canyons to Kris's friend's place where the canyons open up to cattle range outside of Bozeman. It was mid afternoon along the river and in nearly every bend of the shallow, rocky bottom, flowing river we saw fly fishermen working the water. We never saw one catching a fish. I looked and looked for wildlife. We are in bighorn sheep country. We saw nothing coming up thru the canyons aside one hawk, but as luck would have it, later we decided to eat supper at a steak house way back down the Gallatin near Big Sky. On our way down, it was not long before we saw an animal in the road and a car in the other lane, stopped. As we approached the animal I thought it was some type of deer but when we slowed and had to stop we realized it was a bighorn sheep! It must have scrambled down tbe mountain to our left, crossed the two lanes but stopped at the metal guard rail and was still deciding what to do as it stood in our lane. It had a dirty grayish light colored coat and about 8 inch horns but was adult sized. Once we stopped it jumped the rail and stood there and we would have stayed to watch it but we had just rounded a curve in the road. When we first started up the canyons we saw a sign that said white crosses are placed for car crash deaths. There were white crosses all along both sides of the road, so once the young ram jumped the rail we moved along.
We also saw a bald eagle fishing and two mule deer on this drive! We dined at a place called The Corral. I had a buffalo ribeye and it was pretty good. It was not quite as tender as a beef ribeye but it did not disappoint either.
I have a new app on my phone thT tells the altitude and we are currently at 5,030 feet. It is partly cloudy and chilly out this morning. There are cottonte bunnies across the road and a donkey and a beautiful light brown horse outside the kitchen window. We are not sure what we are doing today but as my hips are as sore as my ankles from our hike two days ago where we descended 2,000 feet in just over an hour.
Kris has a friend in Bozeman, Montana who we are going to visit today thru Sunday. Everyone is getting clean and ready for the trip. Yesterday afternoon we drove up to Grand Targhee (a western part of the Tetons and a ski resort) where we rode the chairlift to the peak of, now get this, Fred Mountain (next to Mary's Nipple, the sister mountain).
Now I have to retype the rest of the story. Somehow it got lost in the posting. We drove up to Targhee and bought lift tickets and took the chairlift up to the 9,830 foot peak. Halfway up we realized we were not prepared for the weather conditions. Ethan was the only one wearing long pants and I just happened to have a light rain jacket in the car. It was very windy and mildly cold when we got to the top. We hiked over the precipice and came face to face with the Grand Tetons to our east. We took some photos and the kids played in a strand of ice/snow leftover from winter. We were sheltered fom the wind in this spot. After spending some time warming up we walked back to the cabin atop Fred and went into the Ranger's office. Zarian (the Ranger) was on duty and was very kind. Since he was a smaller man he loaned Summer his coat for the hike down, after he showed us some of the local wildlife such as marmots and ground squirrels.
We two choices of trail to hike down without going down bike trails. One was a long circuitous route that took about an hour and a half and the other was the service road which was also a green run during ski season and it only took one hour, roughly. I talked to Zarian about bikers and how we wanted to avoid the bike trails and he told me the service road was not used by them. I made a comment that these damn bikers want everyone to share the road but they sure as hell do not want to share the trails. I had heard a biker before we came up Fred talk about a hiker getting in his way at a crossing.. We took the service road down, it was wider and there were no bikers on it. I finally saw what ski slopes look like when there is no snow… rocks and wildflowers. There were wildflowers or every color on the mountain, all the way down. We saw a few more marmots and Kris thought she heard a bear roar but when I topped a hill in the trail I saw a back hoe working on the service road. The echo from the bucket striking the rocks did sound like a bears roar. Once we reached the bottom we returned Zarian's coast to the chairlift operator and he said to Summer, you must either be real tough or Zarian is just a wimp! We explained our story and he laughed. He was just joking.
Afterwards we drove back to our cabin, ate and went into Victor, Idaho for an outdoor concert with The Young Dubliners as the headliner. I figured there would not be a thousand people there since the population of Victor is only 1400 people. There were easily 10,000 people there. The opening act was okay, they sounding like a cross between Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews. By the time they were down Kris was ready to go to the cabin, and so was Ethan. I wanted to hear the Dubliners so they went to the car and Summer and I stayed on our tarp on the grassy park and watched, then Summer went and climbed the big fir tree with some other kids. Before it grew dark I gathered her up and went to the car and by dark we were back at the cabin. Everyone, but me, fell asleep watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies on DVD.
Today we are sore from the hike. My ankles are sore. Summer's backside is sore. Kris's calves are sore and Ethan is his usual self. The only other thing to note was the kids and I took one more chairlift to the top and back down before we left Fred. On our way up Summer got all excited about a deer she saw in the trees. She said it didn't have antlers and it had a white face. On our way back down we all see the deer laid up in the evergreens. We were calling Summer Elk Spotter all the way up and back down. She spotted the only elk we saw last summer. As we came back down we saw that what Summer saw was the deer's rear end which was white. So now we call he Bottom Spotter.
The Dragonfly Cross.
For some Native American tribes they represent swiftness and activity, and for the Navajo they symbolize pure water. Dragonflies are a common motif in Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. It is said in some Native American beliefs that dragonflies are a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship.
I plan to start making these in my metal shop, with a leather necklace.