Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I miss my car already

Well, here it is. My new car for the next few weeks. Its bright cherry red and has 25 miles on it (when I said new, I meant NEW), and its not my Prius. I am positive I will loose it in a parking lot somewhere at least twice.  Thank goodness I was able to talk them into giving me the Corolla instead of the boat of an Impala. I like little cars, easier to manuever, park, less to mess up. Its going to take a bit to get use to using a key in the ignition and locks. Hope they can fix my car quickly. Oh, and for those of you tracking Sideshow Bob (AKA the Prius/deer saga) the estimate is $5,300. Thank goodness my deer collision deductable is only $250!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home sweet home

There are some pleasant things about being back home (although I'd really like home to be out west). Among them are sleeping in my own bed, knowing my shower is clean, drinking wine from my own wine cellar, and baking bread. Threw together a quick no knead bread, nothing like hearing it crackle coming out of the oven, smelling the fresh warm yeastiness.

Rising in the bucket.. I probably didn't need to get the big one, but oh well, more room for dough.

Fresh from the oven! Good thing I like to hike and have neighbors to pawn off extra loaves onto.

Ok now for a bit of weird. I bought my very first pair of thong sandels today. I don't like things between my toes, but I just couldn't resist, they were too cute and not uncomfortable (Yea Kenneth Cole!)!  I'm pretty sure this will not start a trend for me, but I might not wear any other shoes all summer.
Glad I painted my toes when I got home. 
Yes, I have monster long toes, almost like having extra fingers. I told you this would be weird. Really, I'm just excited about my new shoes. I hate shoe shopping, and this was an unexpected find when I wasn't really looking for shoes. Happy Days!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Well, only 15 hours in the car later, I made it home. To be fair, I stopped at two quilt shops in Lincoln, took a detour, and sat in Kansas City rush hour traffic. And I can honestly say, I wish I wasn't home yet. Laundry, and cleaning, and no food in the house, and even worse, no beer in the house. But at least I get to sleep in my own bed again. Think I'll get some bread going. Eventually today I will have to show off the damage to car to the neighbors, great, I'll still be side show bob. Taking the car in on Monday, wonder what tin can I'll get as a rental. On the bright side, its cooler here than in Laramie right now.


The car managed to gimp into Laramie and up the mountain to spend the day hiking the rocks of Vedauwoo. Spent the afternoon being a mountain goat, up and over and around boulders the size of city buses. There were a couple of groups doing real climbing way up high on the shear faces. I'll stick to the lower stuff without the ropes and harnesses and helmuts and high degree of you can die. Had fun visiting with friends, wish I could have stayed a few more days.

I walked under that boulder without ducking my head.

Sunset on Lodgepole Mountain. Always spectacular.
One of my favorite things to do when I'm up on the mountain is to sit on the deck or at the table and watch for the deer, elk, or moose to wander into the yard. No such luck this time. But on the way out in the early morning light, 6 huge elk (4 with good sized racks) led me out the road almost to the highway. Wasn't able to snap a photo because of the lighting and the quickness, and frankly I was too busy just watching them. But they were gorgeous and majestic and powerful, and it was nice of them to see me off.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy First Day of Summer!

Summer Solstice today around 11:15 Mountain time. Sure felt it... sunny and very warm (considering there's snow, more on that later). Headed into the park early to beat the crowds. Hiked up behind the Grand Prismatic Geyser, and wouldn't you know I would run in to people from Columbus, OH. Nice couple and kiddos, we shared the hike, each finding easier ways to get up the elk trails on the side of the mountain.

My little point and shoot camera has a decent zoom.

See that stretch of snow? Up near the top?  That's where I took the pic of the geyser. Pretty good hike.

This gal and her pals created a 10 mile long bison jam. I was more than happy to yield the right of way to them and not get gored. She walked within 3 feet of my car. I figured it was wise to avoid eye contact.

The volcano caldera/valley floor with the Rockies in the distance. 

On my way towards the East entrance. 64 degrees and 3-12 feet of snow.

These boys were hanging out streetside in the canyon leading out of Yellowstone to Cody.

Staying in the cute town of Lander, Wyoming tonight.  Had dinner at a local brew pub... surprisingly good food for the middle of nowhere (actually, the middle of the state). Staying at yet another motel, probably the worst of the bunch- nothing says cozy like cinderblock walls! But the price is right and it has free internet. On to Laramie in the morning, after a quick hike up to see the Sinks and Rise (local river flows hard into the side of a mountain, disappearing. It trickles back out 1/4 mile down the mountain into a gentle stream. Don't know what happens to all that water, but its pretty cool).

Missoula, really

Thirteen years. Thats when I retire. And sell the house and move. Maybe to Missoula.  Even though its raining here for the 7th day in a row. Neat little town/city. Great hiking all around the city with 5 major valleys and rivers. I'd like to see it in the winter. I like college towns, it seems to add something to the atmosphere. And you can't beat a town with more than 4 microbrewers of pretty darn good beer. There's even a winery, although I didn't get to check it out. Guess I would have to learn to hunt whitetail deer (way too many of them here) and get a serious bike butt going on. I could see myself working part time at the brewery to pay for health insurance and hiking and biking my retirement away.

Yellowstone: the good, the bad,and the ugly.

Headed out of Missoula towards the Bitterroot to hike in the am on Monday. Changed gears part way there and went to Yellowstone instead. Yellowstone is spectacular as always. Have seen it all... black bears, grizzley bears, bison by the thousand, elk, deer, wolves. And that was just in the first 4 hours. And IT STOPPED RAINING!!!
So, here's the good....

The Roosevelt Entrance to the park.

The number of bears was a bit alarming, curtailed some hiking.. no bear spray.

Thats a grizzly bear sunning on the rock below the top pine tree.

The bison herd in Hayden Valley.  Roughly 1,000 of them in the Valley. 

I don't get the "molesting"part. I don't think I want to get it either.

A rare daytime sighting of a wolf. In the Hayden Valley, my favorite part of the park.
 The bad.... Motels were expensive, I spent so much time in the park that I never got dinner, and it still rained a bit.

So that only leaves the ugly.

Prepare yourself.

No freaking out allowed.

Did you know that there are suicidial Pruis hating bucks out in Montana?

Yup, that's my car. Suicidal Prius hating whitetail/muledeer buck had an issue with me cruising down the highway and nailed me just west of Butte, Montana. And I even swerved to try to avoid him. Needless to say, my car came out better than the deer did, unless it truely was his intention to commit suicide. 'Cuz he didn't get back up after eating my headlight and fender. My trip is suddenly $250 more expensive thanks to a low "deer collision" deductible. So I'm heading home a couple of days earlier than planned, travelling only in the daylight to stay somewhat legal. I am completely unhurt, except my pride in that the car bagged a deer before I did. Also disappointed that I wasn't able to take home his rack as a trophy (too early in the year for the rack to be filled out and clear of velvet. His would have been huge come fall.). I will say that I became as big an attraction in the park as the living wildlife (new nickname.. maybe Sideshow Bob, or Deer Slayer?), and it resulted in several interesting convesations with complete strangers. And I will continue to turn heads as I slowly make my way back towards good ole hot and humid, mountainless, and staid St. Louis.


What a great little town! I could easily retire here. Hiked to the top of the "M" Sentinal Mountain, above the university (this pic is from about half way up to the M). LOTS of switchbacks to get to the top, and a very popular trail. Checked out a bit of the Rattlesnake area trails (thanks Nadia!). In the afternoon did a brewery tasting at Big Sky Brewery, maker of Moosedrool and Trout Slayer (yummmm!) with the other houseguest Jake. Lots of fun. Even though it rained. A lot.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Here's some photos from today...

Lake McDonald, in the rain.
Some river that feeds into Lake McDonald, in the rain.

High meadow, in a brief moment of light drizzle.

Did I mention that LakeMcDonald is the center piece of western Glacier? And that it was raining?

Don't feed the bears, or you will be bear food. In the rain.

And finally, the reason some move to Montana, I guess. Funny, this was a rain free moment.
We'll see what tomorrow brings!


Just pulled into Missoula, staying with the niece of my mother's tennis partner.  Left the camera out in the car, so I'll upload photos later.  West Glacier was underwhelming after seeing East Glacier.  Most of it is Lake McDonald and lodgepole pine forests (a huge portion of which is still recovering from forest fires in 2003). And the Going to the Sun Road was definitely closed on that end as well.  Rained the whole day so no hiking, and very little wildlife activity. Just not near as spectacular as the Easter side. Wish I could go back in August when the Sun Road is not snowed in.  Someday. Drove to Missoula in the rain.  Stopped at a winery (yup, in Montana!) and had a free tasting of wine and ice cream.  Nice people. We will see what tonight brings with dinner and a free rest. I'll explore Missoula a bit tomorrow then on towards Yellowstone.  Free admission on Tuesday. Then head towards Laramie I suppose... or maybe stay in Yellowstone a couple of days. There were some hikes I wanted to do last time I was there that we didn't do.

OH! There's no sales tax in Montana! Not that I've bought much, but still. Its great!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Montana Humor

I really think Montana is funny. Today I passed several bands of horses roaming freely along the roads, OUTSIDE of fencing. Then I realized, the fences are to keep them OUT. The horses must be free range horses (not wild, some had brands). The grey in the back was particularly eye catching.

Montana is quite proud of their forest fires, they even had turnouts and "exhibit" signs by huge swaths of burned forest.

But it's the road signs that I found most amusing.

 Really, Loose Gravel? There's another kind? Or maybe they meant "Easy Gravel", like in high school. I would have never know just by looking at it. Should we really be advertising its personal history?

Thanks for letting me know, but I think I can handle it. Or maybe its a reference to that gravel. I suppose when you're loose, there's a good chance you'll have a rough break ahead. Hope this isn't referring to how my trip/summer is going to go. I was kinda looking forward to a relaxing, fun summer.

My other favorite was "Fallen Rock". I guess we need to worry about the ones already down on the ground as opposed to the city bus sized boulders that might break off  the cliff, fall, and crush us as we drive by.  I was driving 70 (the posted speed limit) down mountains and didn't think it wise to stop to take photos, especially with the semi's breathing down my tailpipe.


What an interesting day. I wasn't 6" into the park (literally, I was talking to the ranger at the entrance) and a black bear ran out in front of me. He quickly decided the woods were better and hightailed it back before the ranger had to shoo him away. That made me a little nervous to be doing too much hiking before the park got busy, so I did some little 1 - 3 mile hikes in the morning. Here's a bit of what I saw.

That's a snow covered mountain in the middle, bigger than the ones on either side, obscured by clouds.

Goose Island

My destination on a hike. I'm above the clouds already, and the snow is deep.

Near Two Medicine, my frst hike of the trip, after I saw the first bear.

A chute through the granite. More than a football field long.

This waterfall was a mile hike UP the mountain, above the tree line and in the clouds with the bighorn sheep (yup, saw those too). This was a 2 mile round trip hike (up and down, literally) and it wore me out. Happens when you hike up the side of a mountain and have to cross 10' deep snow drifts. Can you see the guy below and to the right of the waterfall?   

Along Many Glacial Road. It was in the low 40's and very windy. Might have actually been snowing, People from Texas took the pic then ran for shelter from the wind.

Not the first bears I saw, but the 3rd or 4th. In 4 hours.
Moose! Saw a couple, this guy is right by the road.

As you can see there is still a lot of snow in the mountains. In fact, the main road that crosses the park, Going to the Sun Road, is still closed due to deep snow and lots of avalanches. They just can't get the plows through 80 vertical feet of snow without setting off avalanches (hmmm, wonder why?). It might be open by August.  Tomorrow I am going to see the Western side of Glacier. The drive around the south end of the park was pretty, until it started to rain. This side of Glacier is busier, has more flat parts, more pavement/paved trails (I don't get that part), and is more expensive. I'm staying in a very nice motel (better than a lot of hotels) in Columbia Falls, the closest I could get for less than $80, and I talked the lady down from that. Supposed to rain tomorrow, Hope to hike in the morning and will probably head towards Missoula in the late afternoon (because its supposed to rain a lot in the afternoon and on Sunday).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day Two

Is it really only Day Two? I feel like I have driven for a week already. Got up and snapped a pic of my accommodations. Really a very cute, quiet, and comfortable stay.

I headed out early to see a bit more of the Badlands in daylight and had breakfast with another couple of  tourists in the park.

Then a quick stop at Wall Drug and I was on my way.

I made it to East Glacier with daylight to spare.  But I am exhaused. Here's a pic of tonight's accommodations (I was going to stay at a hostel, but it was full and this wasn't). Tomorrow I think I will head to St Mary's and the main entrance to the park. There are several hikes I want to do on this side of the park. Saturday might be the West side of the park, hopefully it won't really rain.  Oh, and we're getting 3 inches of snow tonight. I think its 95 degrees in Saint Louis.