Pawparazzi

Yes, I spelled the title wrong on purpose.  If  you read earlier posts regarding the difficulty of playing disc with Dart in this camp ground, you might remember that we are forced by the leash police (don’t blame them) to play with the disc in a tiny dog park that has a tunnel, jump, bench, garbage can, and 3 trees.  It’s tough.  It’s also right next to the the camp ground bathrooms.  It is a very large camp ground and the facilities are heavily used.

I make a point of taking Dart to play with his disc in that small space at least a couple times a day.  He spins like crazy and sometimes crashes into things.  There isn’t enough room.  But, we make do and we usually wind up with an audience.  They sometimes take pictures and film him.  Regis has been reluctant to play under such confined conditions, but did so this morning.  He came back telling me stories of the audience including some Mennonites that were fascinated with Dart.  Some people in the campground have become part of Dart’s little fan club.  So, he has his own Pawparazzi!

We left the camp ground by 5:00 a.m. to get into the park.  It was very nice because there was almost no traffic.   We hoped to head for Hayden Valley by sunrise and it worked out well.  As we were getting there and the sun was just coming up, we saw several swans on the river.  They were so beautiful it was unreal.  It was too dark to take a picture, but just enough light in the sky to be mesmerized by the scene.

It didn’t take long to arrive in a herd of buffalo.  The males were aggressive, defending individual females and making lots of grunting noises.  We thought that it might be mating season because of their behavior.  The males were scary and I had no interest in being close to them but several males took to the roads.  It was comforting to be in a big pick-up!  Later I was able to confirm that mating season for Yellowstone bison is July and August.

Getting up early worked out for us because we saw a Grizzly bear.  I have no pictures because he was far off in the field and it took the spotting scope to confirm it was a grizzly and not a black bear.  It is amusing that a spotting scope turns you into a expert in the eyes of other Yellowstone adventurers and you get more people stopping to question what you are seeing if you have a spotting scope than if you are just using binoculars.  We watched the Grizzly for 20 minutes until he/she disappeared over the hill.

The area we saw the Grizzly was in the same general section of the park where the recent Grizzly attack took place.  We saw several areas closed off with tape and signs.

On the way back, we drove down a back road that said no RV’s allowed.  It turned out to be a narrow, broken up road butted up to a canyon wall.  That is scary enough, except a bison decided to pick this road to slowly stroll down for reasons only known to him.  It was the kind of road that doesn’t have much room between the canyon wall, bison, pick-up truck, and crumbly infrastructure holding the side of the road in place.  That may have been the scariest part of the trip!

We wound up leaving the park at 10:40 a.m. and we could not believe the back up of people entering the park.  There were four fee stations with lines of traffic backing up into town for well over a mile.  The guidebooks tell you to get into the park early and go in the evening and 10:30 a.m. is the worst time to enter the park because that’s when everyone else is.  The guidebooks know what they are talking about.

After doing nothing of any particular consequence in the RV all afternoon, I went back to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center this evening.  I found out the wolves came from an organization in Montana that was raising wolves for movies and photography and couldn’t take care of them anymore so they wound up at the Center.  These wolves have never been in the wild.  I watched how they provided enrichment for the wolves and it gave me some ideas for how to deal with my dog when I get home.  Today, they froze bison guts with blood and water and left them in the pen.  The wolves loved them and had to work hard to get to the food.  Admittedly, I’m not likely to use frozen bison guts for my dog, but I have some other ideas.

I was most heartened by a little girl that came to ask the naturalist some questions about the wolves.  The little girl was astonishing.  She knew every wolf there, their name, their background, and what had been happening to them lately.  She was amazing.  I bet she grows up to be an awesome scientist or naturalist.  I learned a lot about what was going on with these particular wolves from listening to her.  I’m sure you can learn it all from their website and facebook page, so I’m not going to turn this into a long blog to share the details.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park before sun-up
Lot of trees in this area of the park look like this. We think it is from the bison rubbing against the trees
Baby bison in Yellowstone National Park

My closest friends will be glad to know that I purchased a can of bear spray today.

Bear warning signs – closure area due to recent fatality in the park

Sadly, we leave here tomorrow but I am already making plans to come back to the area.  I LOVE it in the greater Yellowstone area.  We head for Big Timber, Montana tomorrow and will spend a couple days there.

Mountain Bluebird

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

After Regis got the tire fixed, I went to the Park Information Center.  I am a book addict and love to pick up good books (and eventually give them away so I can pick up more).  The Park Information/Visitor Center was the first one I’ve been to that did not have a gift shop and items to sell.  I was able to pick up a state map for Idaho and Wyoming, and I got some information on the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.

I had seen advertisements for the Center when we got to town and considered going, but found out they had live animals and didn’t think I could bear it after my visit to the Game Park on the Olympic Peninsula.  At the visitor center, I found out that it was a non-profit and the mission was primarily about education. (http://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.com/)  Therefore, I decided to go.  I am very glad that I did and I have become even more horrified over the game park I visited on the Olympic Peninsula.

I visited the center in the morning without a camera and fell in love with the place.  The animals are in good enclosures and clearly healthy.  Naturalists are there to educate you and they have super programs for kids.  Each animal that is there has a name and the story about why they are there and not out running around in the wild.  This appears to be a first class, well run organization that takes good care of the animals and does a great job educating the public.  The game park on the Olympic Peninsula is a for profit organization.  Their bears are clearly in much poorer shape than the ones in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.  The animals they have at the Game Park in outside enclosures might be okay, but the animals the Game Park has in caged enclosures should be taken away from them and given to facilities that know how to properly care for and enrich the animals.

While I was inside the building, the doors were open to the outside and I knew the live animals were out there.  I started hearing a lot of bird noises and thought some video must be playing but couldn’t find it.  When I went outside, I saw Ravens everywhere.  I saw the wolves and some birds of prey.  I saw kids going through the outside bear enclosure and then shortly thereafter, the bears showed up (after the children left).  I couldn’t make sense of what was going on.  I got a text from Regis since I had been gone a lot longer than planned.  Since I had now been gone several hours and my ticket was good for two days, I decided to return to the RV and make sure I returned to the Center with a the camera.

After arriving at the RV, Regis was most excited about the map I obtained for Idaho.  He is mystified about why we got lost yesterday when he did so much research to get us to the right place.  I can’t tell you how much time he spent staring at the map and Google Earth before he was finally satisfied that he understood what happened.  Then he went to change the fixed tire.  After fixing the tire, we decided that he would relax with Dart and I would go back to the Center with the camera.  I managed to spend quite a few hours there and learned a bunch of stuff that is too much to share here.  But, I must share the following.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center have quite a few bears that all wind up there for a variety of reasons that make it impossible for them to be in the wild.  They have one outdoor viewing area where they hide food and then let one or more bears out at a time for about 45 minutes to find and eat the food.  The bears have to turn over rocks and logs to find the food, thereby enriching their experience.  At they end of their allotted time (which the bears have figured out), they go back to their enclosures that we don’t see but apparently contain the really good food.  Therefore, they want to go back.  More food is hidden and new bears show up.  Twice a day, they let children hide the food.  How cool is that?  But, the Ravens have it all figured out.  They congregate between bear viewings and as soon as the person hiding the food leaves, they descend on the enclosure to eat what they can find before the bears and other ravens find it.  The show is fascinating to watch.  The ravens also descend on the wolf enclosure because there are various food items to be found their also.

The Center has some birds of prey that have been hurt in various ways and can not live in the wild.  They are in very nice enclosures also.

During one of the bear swaps, we got a demonstration about bear spray and how to properly walk in bear country.  Since someone was just killed in the Park, this was a particularly hot topic.  A few things I learned include:  walk in groups of three or more and talk so you don’t startle the bear and bells don’t do much good and can actually attract bears.  If you see a bear and it doesn’t see you, slowly walk away the way you came.  Remember, don’t startle the bear.  If the bear notices you and stands on his/her hind legs to get a better smell, it is just curious and may not be a problem.  The bears mostly likely to be a problem are mother’s protecting cubs or a bear protecting a carcass (food source).  Three things to look out for with the bears demeanor:  1) shaking their head back and forth, 2) growling and grunting, and 3) hitting their paws on the ground.  If they do that, you have a problem.  At this point, you better have bear spray in a very convenient location.  This is not the time to sort through your backpack for it.  When the bear charges, don’t run.  (Sounds like a tough one to me.)  It will affect they prey drive and they will run after you and they will win.  If the bear charges, wait until it is 30 feet away (good luck waiting) and spray for 3 seconds low toward the groumd (not above it’s head since it is running on all fours).  The spray goes out 30 feet and irritates them for about 30 minutes.  You now have time to back away and get out of there.  If this happens, it is requested that you IMMEDIATELY find a park ranger and let them know so the area can be closed off from other hikers.  After 30 minutes, the bear is going to be very mad and any other hiker in its path better also have some bear spray.  Also, most cans of spray last at least 6 seconds.  You want to leave some in the can for your retreat.  If the bear is just being curious, there is no need to douse it with bear spray.  Leave the poor animal alone and find somewhere else to hike.

Bear spray is not repellent and it is not to be put on your family and clothes like bug repellent.  It is only to be used when you wish you didn’t have to use it.

The Center uses their bears to test products like containers (e.g. food containers and trash cans) for the bears’ ability to get into them.  If the bear can’t get into it after 90 minutes, it is considered good enough.  There is one particular bear at the center that excels at breaking into things, so he is the ultimate bear tester and loves doing it.

I could go on because I had such a great time there.  Your ticket will let you in for two days in case you want to go back.

Ground Squirrel, considered tasty morsels by a variety of animals much to the dismay of the poor little squirrels
Raven
Leftovers from a wolf dinner
Rough-legged Hawk
Golden Eagle
Wolf
Grizzly Bear, look at that paw
Wolf Sleeping
Grizzly Bear

When I got back to the campground, this is what I saw.

One Wrong Turn

After I finished last night’s blog post, a new camper joined an adjacent site.  The guy drove up on a beautiful Harley and the lady drove the truck with the attached toy hauler.  As soon as the guy drove up on the Harley, one of the cows in the field next door came over and started mooing very loudly.  I am convinced that the cow thought it was a very nice looking bike and was admiring it.  I was too!

We had a great plan for today that involved going on a scenic route in Idaho, onto a gravel road to the Grand Teton National Park and then up through Yellowstone to head back to the campground.  We were hoping to reach Yellowstone around dusk in hopes of seeing animals.  The plan started well on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.  We had no idea how beautiful the falls and the area were.  It is an amazingly beautiful place and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area.  There is an upper falls and a lower falls and a trail if you want to hike it.

It was after this beautiful byway that we were supposed to turn left on a road that wouldn’t show up on the GPS and we couldn’t find correctly on the route we were on.  We had a couple maps.  Collectively they were not very good.  After we thought we passed the road, we turned around and went back and drove a long way down a road that started off paved but ended up mostly gravel.  There were cow grates on the road and cows.  Dart hates cow grates and gravel roads.  We eventually passed something called Cave Falls so we stopped to take a look.  The falls were amazing and there was a couple parked there sitting in chairs outside their vehicle just enjoying the view while someone else was fishing.  After the visit, we went up the road a little more and saw a sign that we had just entered Yellowstone National Park.  That was very strange because we were not on a road that should take us into the park and wasn’t aware there was a road that did.  We had the Yellowstone National Park map and this road was not on it.  We were able to determine the road ended shortly, so obviously we had to turn around and go back.

On the way back, we stopped to eat lunch in the Cave Falls campground which is right on the river near Cave Falls.  There were bear warning signs everywhere and safe places to put your food.  We were also aware that we were near a wilderness area that was specifically dedicated to saving grizzly territory.  We ate our lunch with a wary eye and wondered about anyone camping in this area in a tent and not a hard-sided RV.

As we were leaving, Dart decided he had had enough of gravel roads and jumped in my lap in the front seat.  For those of you who know Dart, that is highly unusual behavior, so you know how upset he was.

When we got back on the pavement, Regis noticed a thump, thump, thump noise coming from the tire.  Regis got out to check and noticed the nail (or whatever it is) in the tire and was able to verify that it was punctured.  He turned off on an overlook and changed the tire while I mostly viewed the scenery and watched for bears while Dart slept in the shade and Regis slaved away.

Overlook where flat tire was fixed with bear warning sign in distance
View from Overlook where Regis changed tire.

We joked about our roadside assistance policy.  We had no cell phone service and really didn’t know where we were.  We also agreed that it was no longer wise to search for the original gravel road we planned to travel.  We now had no spare tire, it is Sunday and there is no place to fix the spare, there probably isn’t any place to fix the spare for miles anyway, we had no cell phone service, we had no bear spray, and we were in Grizzly country.  We took the long way around which added 120 miles to the trip.  We drove a total of 313 miles today.

We stopped in Victor, ID so Regis could get a a well-earned pizza and beer.  We were able to get a table outside so Dart could join us.  The weather was outstanding.

We then went through the mountain pass between Idaho and Wyoming and got beautiful views of Jackson, WY and a plane landing at the airport.  As we drove through Jackson, I fell more in love with the place than the last time I was there in the winter a year and a half ago.

It was such a sunny day that it was hard to get great pictures in the Tetons. (The sun makes everything look too harsh in photographs).  But, we have some here and on flickr.  I included the dam picture particularly for my family that was with me in the Tetons a year and a half ago.  We had watched otters playing below this dam at the time and the lake above was frozen.  Now, there is a LOT of water coming out of the dam.  We saw no otters today.  Additionally, I included a view of Jackson Lake.  It is awesome and a place I would love to paddle board if they will let you.  I will check into it for the future.

Dam at Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park

After going through the Tetons, we drove up through Yellowstone and saw more beautiful waterfalls, geysers, and fumaroles.  It was getting late and dark, so we weren’t able to spend as much time as we wanted in geyser basin.  Our current plan is to go back over one of the next two days and get better views.

Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National Park

Tomorrow, our top priority is to fix the tire.  We are tired of driving, so we’ll decide later what we can do that will keep us out of the car but still be able to enjoy what this area has to offer.  It is such an incredible place, I would love to stay here for awhile but we are heading out on Wednesday morning.

Beautiful Rainy Day

Our original plan for today was to go grocery shopping in the morning and then I don’t remember what because it’s Saturday and we figured the park would be more packed than normal.  Yellowstone is a very, very busy park.  We woke up early and it was raining so we went to the park instead (thinking it would be less crowded).  Good choice!

I’m sure the park is always beautiful no matter the season or the weather, but it was spectacular this morning.  The fumaroles were particularly visible in the weather and the clouds were constantly changing shape above.  The scenery was enchanting.

I tried something new with wordpress and inserted captions with the pictures.  It looks like it will work better.  

There were a lot of motorcyclists in the park today in spite of the weather.

Yellowstone is so crowded even the bison need to stand in line.

Part of the park road is under construction and there were stacks of insulation sitting by the construction site.  They were putting the insulation under the road surface.  The road was near a warm spring, so Regis says it will help to stop the hot water from melting the road.  It’s interesting.  I have never seen insulation inserted as part of a road before.

Sadly, I saw several hats and some trash in the Mammoth Hot Springs.  I have one picture below.  I had my zoom lens on, so it is hard to get perspective but the brochure is floating in the warm spring.  With as many visitors as the park gets, I suppose it’s not as bad as it could be.

Trash in Mammoth Springs waters in Yellowstone National Park

We went to the Lamar Valley again today in hopes of seeing a wolf.  It would be more than amazing if I ever saw one because they would be incredibly hard to spot.  While we were in the valley, Regis pointed out some Pronghorns on the hillside.  This is the second time we have been to the valley where it took Regis about 10 minutes to get me to see Pronghorns.  Once I see them, I can’t miss them.  But, I can never see them first.  If we had to survive in the wild, I would be glad to have Regis with me.  Otherwise, I’d probably starve trying to live off berries.  I can usually spot a bison, but, wolves are smaller than Pronghorns and much smaller than bison, so I don’t think I have a chance of seeing a wolf unless I’m standing next to a pro.

Dart has been such a good guy.  We can’t walk him in the park and he has settled in well in the back cab of the truck.  He has Tekoe’s bed all to himself, so he gets cozy until we stop.  When we stop at an overlook or parking lot, we let him out for a couple minutes to give him a chance to relieve himself and drink.  At the campground, the dog park they have is very small and filled with trees and obstacles.  We can’t throw the disc in it.  You are not allowed to have your dog off the leash, but we usually cheat in situations were the dog park is not adequate for disc throwing.  Regis and Dart got caught cheating by the leash police today and so not only can’t we take Dart for walks in the National Park where we spend most of our time, but he can’t play with his disc in the campground either.  To make matters even worse, the campground is crowded with lots of dogs, and Dart doesn’t walk well in tight quarters with lots of dogs on leashes.  I personally love it here and would love to stay, but when it’s time to leave, it will be best for Dart.

Bison with aggressive calf.
Mammoth Springs
Swallows at Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone National Park
Female Elk
Male Elk
Insulation for road under construction by warm springs in Yellowstone National Park
Fumarole in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park water feature
Motorcyclist in Yellowstone National Park

Trout Stream

We set off to visit a National Wildlife Refuge where we hoped to see a lot of tundra swans.  We didn’t see much wildlife at the refuge and the lake was too far away from the road to get a good look at the few white birds we saw.  They may have been swans, but we don’t know.  It was very interesting country to drive in.  We spent most of the time in Idaho and most of the roads were not paved.  We saw a lot of ATV’s on some of them.  There are lots of places here to ride ATV’s in the summer and snow mobiles in the winter.

We stopped to play with Dart.  He is not a sun worshiper.  After playing with his disc, he found the only shady spot around.

We found some interesting wildlife signs along the way.  Included below is a swallow nest, an owl we cannot identify (anyone know what it is?), and scat we can’t identify (anyone know what it is?).   The owl was sitting on the ground on the side of the road.  I thought it might be a burrowing owl but I don’t think so after looking in the field guide.  Perhaps it was injured because it didn’t mind getting pictures taken.  The scat is full of hair, so it is from a predator.  It was much larger than Dart’s.  I think it was too large for a fox.  Perhaps a large coyote??

Regis liked this guy and wanted his picture taken.

We also walked along a trout stream today.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I can see why people take up trout fishing.  It seems so peaceful to stand in the middle of a clear and beautiful stream.  Following are some pictures that give an idea of it.

Badger

I saw a badger today for the first time in my life.  Wahoo!  Before I get to that, let’s start at the beginning.

We left Deer Lodge this morning and headed through Southwestern Montana to West Yellowstone.  The ride was beautiful.  It ranked right up there with our ride through Idaho the other day.  The closer we got to Yellowstone, the more beautiful the scenery and the towns.  We really liked this cell tower we saw.  Yes, it is that thing that looks like a tree.

The ride made me want to take up trout fishing, or at least try it.  I LOVE trout and the trout streams here are awesome.  There are lots of outfitters, so I’m sure I could find someone to show me how to do it.  All my fishing experience is on the Chesapeake Bay.  It is clear that different techniques are required here.

Once we set up camp (and the site is very nice), I couldn’t wait to get into Yellowstone.  My goal was to become a wolf stalker and get up before dawn every morning to sit out in the Lamar Valley and look for wolves.  Apparently, that is your best chance.  Therefore, we went  into the park today to scope the situation.  We went to the Lamar Valley and we wanted to check out places to park.  Unfortunately, it is over 70 miles from the campsite and that’s not on the interstate.  All but 6 miles is through Yellowstone.  I have to back off from my plans.  We will do it one morning, but we do not want to do it everyday.  If we did that, Dart would beg to be adopted by someone else.  He can’t go on the trails in the park, so his activity is severely limited when we get in there.

Part of our problem going in is that the park is incredibly awesome and we kept wanting to stop for hot springs and waterfalls.  We had to cut ourselves off and agree to continue some other day.  We have 5 full days in this area so we plan to draw up a complete plan tomorrow morning.   Following are pictures of hot springs, hot water, and beautiful waterfalls.

Eventually, we got to the famous Lamar Valley.  It is so beautiful.  Oh my gosh.  I could move outside the park for awhile and visit everyday and it would take me some time to get over the awesome beauty of it.  Following are some pictures of the Lamar Valley.  I did not include the magnificent herd of bison.  You may remember we posted a lot of pictures of bison from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The bison in Yellowstone look so much better.  Regis thinks it is because the weather is cooler.  We’re not sure but they are definitely healthy and beautiful looking animals.  We saw a young one running around with two adults.  It was adorable.

The Pronghorn also looked healthier than the ones we saw on the National Bison Range.  Today we found out how nice it was to have a great binoculars and an awesome spotting scope.  We also learned, if you pull out a scope, people think you know what you are doing and stop to ask what animals you have found.  It would be so much more fun if I had a biology degree or something  (Maybe I’ll do something along those lines for the future.)  You don’t have to be an expert to make people happy (we learned that at Wild Birds Unlimited).  We spotted some Pronghorn in the scope and let them look through it and they were very pleased.  It was such a simple way to make someone’s day.

Here are a couple more beautiful Yellowstone pictures.

On the way back, Regis saw an animal swimming across the Lamar River.  I jumped out of the car to take a picture and see what it was and it was a badger!!!!   Wahoo!  The only picture I could snap was totally useless.  It’s not worth the bandwidth to upload.  I saw it scurry away and I am proud to have the wildlife ethics not to chase the poor critter down.  I never got a good picture but I got a good look.  I may not have seen my wolf today, but I saw my first badger.  Wow!!!!!

We also saw an elk on the way back.  It was getting very dark, so having good binoculars was the only way would could verify the animal.

We managed to pick up a lot of our great optics while we owned Wild Birds Unlimited.  It may turn out to be one of the best outcomes from owning the store.  And even though I am without my favorite camera lens right now, we seem to be doing well enough with my remaining lenses and Regis’ camera.

Rainbows and Prisons

If you remember, last night I mentioned that Dart didn’t like the storm.  I gave him half of one of Tekoe’s calming drugs.  Below is a picture of him weathering the storm on Regis’ lap.  There was also a beautiful double rainbow.  I was able to get the entire rainbow in my new lens as well as some nice pictures with the US flag in front of the rainbow.

We hung around town today.  I took Dart for a walk to take a picture of the historic prison.  After the gold rush started, there were some bad guys around.  Some vigilantes dispatched the first few, but a prison was determined to be the best solution for the continuing problem.  It appeared to have always been underfunded and/or overcrowded so eventually shutdown.  Across from the prison is the Pony Expresso.  They have wonderful cappuccinos with shots of caramel/praline.  Better yet, they have the best dog treats.  Most drive up coffee joints in the west have treats for dogs, which I am sure Dart has figured out.  But, these treats were extra special.  I am sure if Regis took Dart for a walk tomorrow morning without me, Dart would lead him straight to the Pony Expresso.

There were many antique shops in town.  My Aunt Phyllis would be in heaven.  I saw a place with lots of old bottles in the window for sale.  These are the same types of bottles we have found all over our property in Maryland and lots in the barn that we have deposited in the recycle bin.   Hmmmm.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Regis went on a walking tour and found this really cool wood truck.  And, we have to include the favorite sign of the day “Maryland Ave”.

Deer Lodge

As I’m starting this post, I’m finding out that we are camped within about 400 yards of the rail road tracks.  I guess we’ll see how often the trains come through at night!

We drove from Missoula to Deer Lodge, WA this morning and this was my favorite sign along the way.  I guess we missed the festival for this year.

After we set up camp, I noticed this bird hanging around the empty camp site next to ours.  The poor guy looks pretty ragged.  He was obviously successful in getting some food and would occasionally sit in the shade under the picnic table as though he was taking a break to cool off.

We then left to go on a scenic drive called the Pintler Scenic Route.  The rocks here in southwestern Montana look very different from what we’ve been seeing in Washington and Oregon.   And the deer continue to run across the road any time they please.

We turned off to go to Lost Creek State Park to hike to the falls.  This is the first sign we saw.

I told Regis, if we saw a bear before we got to the trail head, I wasn’t hiking.  We didn’t see any animals, so we safely hiked and got some pictures of the falls.

On the way back, we saw this great looking mailbox.  I’m considering doing one like it when I get home.  Perhaps something that looks like an oreo cow.  What do you think?

Additionally, we went through the town of Anaconda which used to smelter copper ore and has a 585-foot tall Anaconda Stack that is the world’s tallest freestanding masonry structure.  Next time you get that question in a trivia game, you’ll know the answer.

Lastly, we went to the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area in pursuit of wildlife.  There was one very bad dirt road in which I would not recommend without 4 wheel drive and a good back.  We drove all the way to the end and back and didn’t even see a bird until the very end when we caught a glimpse of this well hidden deer.  We saw lots of scat and tracks, but no actual animals.  They appear to be there but know how to hide themselves well.

The wind just picked up considerably and Dart is now freaking out.  We had the air conditioner on an hour ago.  We opened the windows about 1/2 hour ago and now it’s getting very cold.  Ahhh, the rain is starting.  I guess it’s time to go cuddle with my frightened dog.

Socks

Wow, it is nice to be in a cool town.  My first goal was to find some great socks for hot weather.  My feet are sometimes a size 10 and sometimes as size 11.  I went to Walmart and found 40 billion socks that would not work and go from size 4 to 10.  You can imagine they would barely fit.  I’m looking for something that will wick the moisture away in the heat.

To be continued.

We went to the camera repair shop this morning and they think they can repair the lens.  If not, they will send it to Canon but either way it costs less than a new lens.  I LOVE this lens, so I want it fixed and prefer not to spend at least $699 to buy a new one.  But, it means I am without out it for the duration of this trip.  I will live with that.

We think we can do with what we have. I have a 100-400m for close up shots.  If I see a wolf in Yellowstone, I will get something.  I have a good lens for wide lens landscape shots.  Regis is responsible for everything in the middle with his lens.  It will have to do.  Someday, maybe we will come back with a better set up and be better prepared for really cool pictures.

I don’t know how many of my east coast friends remember the guy in the following picture.  I made Regis go through all kind of gyrations so I could get this picture.  Do you know who he is?  He is probably a trademark.

Additionally, we saw this flame going on in town and don’t really don’t know why.

I thought this picture was cute so I’m sharing.

On the way back to the our camp ground, Regis noticed an REI.  We were on an exit ramp that was backed up, but the REI would have been within walking distance of the camp site.  I jumped out of the truck and left Regis and Dart to find their  way home while I went to REI.  I had a great time shopping.  I found great socks in the correct sizes.  I checked out other items and paddle boards.  Regis called while I was there asking if I was still at REI and I said yes.  He said Dart was waiting for me.  I assumed at the campground.  With no one waiting for me in the parking lot, I had a great time perusing the store and all the cool things REI currently has available to the adventurer.  Eventually, I finally just bought some socks and left.  As I walked out the front of the store, Regis and Dart were sitting there waiting for me.   Had I known, I would have left earlier. Dart knew his way back to the camp ground in a direct route.  If Regis had not been there, Dart would have easily been able to get me back to the RV.  Once I got back and tried on all the socks, All I can say it was an exceptional experience.  There is nothing like a great fitting sock.  They are all cool max socks, so they should handle the heat well.  I am here to say, don’t settle for sucky socks.  Get good socks to meet the purpose they need to serve and you will be extremely happy for having done so.

In order to move from Dworshak to Missoula at the last minute, we had to get a premium site at this KOA campground.  We don’t usually do that.  This is what is looks like.

Yes, you get a swing and a great picnic table with a concrete pad.  I earned enough KOA points to save $50 dollars so it didn’t seem so bad to be spoiled for a couple nights.  The days are hot, but the nights are cool and lovely.  We washed Dart while we were here with sewer access. He hated it, but he looks lovely with his white feet.  I even went so far as to make an apple martini.  I haven’t had one in a long time, so it’s been a fun evening with a nice swing, apple martinis, a nice breeze, and watching planes land at the local airport.  There has been a haze but you can see the mountain ranges from here.

I am really looking forward to heading south tomorrow.  We get closer to Yellowstone and the possibilities are endless.  We don’t have far to go to Deer Lodge, so what we do depends on whether they will let us drop the RV off in the campground once we get there early.  I have a couple options and any of them work for me.  I am so pumped.

We will be close to Yellowstone in two days.  Once there, I intend to become a wolf stalker.  I would love nothing more than to see a glimpse of a wolf while I am there.  I have been a wolf fan since as long as I can remember.  It is truly the one animal that would mean the most to me if I was able to see one.  The chances of seeing one are very remote.  But, we will do everything possible.  It requires us to get up at unreasonable hours to drive into the park and be available when the sun rises.  Regis is probably ready to divorce me at this point, but he’s a VERY cool guy and ready to do what it takes.  Dart is just happy to be wherever we are.  Since he can’t talk, he doesn’t complain. He’s a real trooper. Regis can talk but he doesn’t complain either.

Can You Hear Me Now?

We’re back!  Yes, cell phone and internet access.  How cool is that?

When we headed to Pomeroy, Washington.  We had no idea how far away from things the area was.  When we followed the GPS signs to Pomeroy and made the turn as it told us to do, the sign said that RV’s and trucks could not drive on the road.  We had to turn around and drive a long way around to get to the campground.  As we were leaving the last day, we took this picture of the sign at the other end of that same road.

While we were in Pomeroy, we decided to take a scenic route loop that we saw on the map.  Almost the entire route looked as follows:

Once you see this picture, you have seen what almost the entire southeast portion of Washington looks like.  We came close to to the Snake River and I think the Columbia.  We got a quick glimpse (below).  You realized you were getting close to water because you began to see orchards and vineyards.  There are a lot of vineyards in the west.  I suppose we are a country of wine drinkers.

There was a spot not far from Dayton, Washington where someone took the time to sculpt something on the side of the mountain.  In some groups, it would be called crop circles (only it’s not a circle).  Who knows?  Maybe it was done by aliens and they either look like us or they are depicting us.

There are a lot of deer around these parts.  Unfortunately, we saw a car hit a deer.  The woman had several kids in the car and she was traumatized.  The deer jumped out in front of the car, so there was no way for her to avoid the event.  The only good news is that the deer died within about 5 minutes.  It was sad, but it happened fast.

Here is a picture of Bambi running across the road.  The deer here are out 24 hours a day.  There is no avoiding them.  You must always be cautious.

We were pretty happy to head out to Idaho.  When in Iadho, we went to the Dworshak State Park which turns out to be in the middle of no where.  There is no internet access and no cell phone access.  It requires a 24+ mile drive to the nearest town.  Once you get to the park, there are two trails (1/2 mile and 10 miles).  Yesterday, I drove to town to make a call and it was 108 degrees.  Back at the park is was only 102 degrees.  I don’t even want to hear anyone talk about the lack of humidity.  Hot is hot.

The reservoir is about 30 feet below it’s maximum level.  The water is released to help the fish down river if the water gets too hot down river   I rented a paddle board for the day on Friday.  In the morning, there was enough wind that it was a real workout to go anywhere.  I paddled until exhausted and returned.  We went to town so Regis could find a tool he needed.  He had to go to 3 different stores and one of them was an Ace hardware store combined with a grocery store.  They didn’t have the part but he did finally get it at another location.  There were a couple jokes in the process about the size of the tool he needed.  When we got back, I went back out on the water for a long paddle and it was very calm but very hot.  Where you got in the water was very silty.  When you stepped in the silt, you sunk up to your shins in it.  I did not consider it very pleasant.  Although I did enjoy the paddle and becoming very, very fond of paddle boarding.  Following are some pictures of the reservoir and my paddle board adventure.  That small dot in the first picture is me.

On Saturday, the place was packed.  I think every human in Idaho owns a boat and came to this reservoir.  I am so glad I didn’t choose to paddle board on Saturday.  It would have been very risky.  Late in the day, we went to the dock to watch all the boats line up to come out.  It was the most entertaining thing we had done all day.

We really enjoyed the signs and the rules at the park.  We drove down a road to the group camp and saw signs that were simply laminated 8 1/2 by 11 pieces of paper.  An example follows:

Along the road were additional signs with silhouettes of animals.  The first animal appeared to be a coyote or wolf.  The second was an elk.  The third was a swallow.  Eventually, the sign was a silhouette of Sasquatch.  Yes, that’s right,  Sasquatch.  Really????  We went back the second night to bring the camera and take pictures but they blocked the road.  Perhaps there was a Sasquatch sighting????

Here was another couple lovely signs.  Please note that the second sign places the dog off leash area in the same location as the archery range.  I’m not kidding.

We also got some do’s and don’ts to the park.  I won’t bother you with all of them but would like to list my favorites from the don’ts:

.  Do not leave pets unattended in your campsite and always keep them on a leash.  Unattended pets will be confiscated and taught how to beg for food, jump on people, sit on furniture, lick faces and chase skunks.

. Fires must be extinguished prior to departure or you will be doused with a hose upon your next return….Yes, we know who you are.

. Pack it in, pack it out, leave not trace.  All garbage left in your site (this include fire rings) will be delivered to address given and placed in your yard.

. Quite hours are from 10:00 pm-7 a.m. No generators, radios, or amplified sound may be used, and your voices should not be heard by other campers who come here to enjoy the cycle of play hard, then rest, play hard, then rest, etc.   Please be considerate of your fellow campers.  If you choose to disobey this park rule, at 7 a.m. be prepared for a parade of lawn mowers, chainsaws, and a loudspeaker booming Rap music, circling your campsite like sharks.

. You want to have fun and may wish to stay longer, but please vacate your site by 1:00.  check out time.  Your camper may be moved to the activity field so the next person can enjoy their reservation. (We saw a camper in the activity field and Regis is convinced they disobeyed the check out rule.)

How can you not like a place like this?

Unfortunately, 1 day was enough for us and we reserved 5 days.  We gave up after 3 days and headed to Missoula which is where we are now.  On the way out of the camp ground, we had to stop and wait for a bunch of turkeys (appeared to be 2 moms and their offspring) cross the road.

The drive to Missoula through Idaho was awesome.  For most of the drive, you drive along some river (it changes).  It is actually tiring to look at such beautiful scenery non-stop. It goes on for miles and miles and miles.  There is really nothing else there, just the scenery and trail heads.  Since you are surrounded by mountains, the trails can only go up.  The trails are places for healthy and strong people.  We saw hundreds of motorcycles.  They weren’t all together and they were going in both directions.  I seriously think they were going on this route for the sheer beauty.  For my motorcycle loving friends, I highly recommend this ride.  We can vouch for the route from Orofino, Idaho to the Montana State line on US 12.

I am SOOOOOO glad to be here in Missoula.  I will be speaking with the lens repair people tomorrow to see if they can repair my lens.  If not, I’ll cross that bridge.  They don’t sell lenses here and I would have to go to Bozeman.  That’s not out of the question, but not something I would like to do.  In the meantime, I’m truly enjoying my cell phone and internet access.  I’m obviously not the wildness type.  A couple days are okay but then I get the DT’s.