On Jackson Lake

We left Yellowstone and less than two hours later were setting up camp at the edge of Jackson Lake in the Grand Tetons. On first glance we wished we had cut our Yellowstone stay a day shorter to spend more days on this lake. We were thrilled we’d brought our kayaks on this trip and we launched before noon. The water was pristine, we could see the colored river rock and larger stones on the lake bed when the water was too deep to touch the those rocks with our paddles.
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Ylstn 295Ed likes having Arkkade with him and I was taking pictures, but then we swapped so I could have proof that I was on the lake too. We toured the bays for a couple hours and were sad to realize a return trip was a long way from home.  But if we ever choose to travel this far again, we’ll know to also plan time to visit Jackson Hole.

Our first day in Yellowstone before we set up camp at Fishing Bridge.

Our first day in Yellowstone before we set up camp at Fishing Bridge.

When we got our travel trailer it was not because we planned to do a lot of camping but then we decided to take this Yellowstone adventure. We expected to be done with traveling by the time we got home after almost two weeks on the road. Now that we’ve tried the RVing way to travel, we like it and are comfortable with our home on wheels. We’re even planning another week long trip in September. We’ll soon be off to Coos Bay and we will revisit one of Ed’s favorite kayaking stories, it was on Sunset Bay and it included a seal and a whale, which is why we prefer fresh water inland  lakes and quiet rivers.

More than wilderness

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The Old Faithful Inn from the walkway around the geyser. That looks like a safe distance, but the Snow Lodge is really close that I wonder if the foundations rumble.

Here’s a few more pictures from our adventure in Yellowstone. The buildings and architecture were amazing, so much so that I didn’t take many pictures.

The entrance of the Inn brings the wilderness inside.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the interior of Old Faithful Inn but this representation of the balcony supports does give a flavor of grandeur to be experienced.

The Old Faithful Inn is an impressive complex of sleeping, eating, shopping, and more (Huckleberry Ice Cream!) with an attached museum and discovery center. It’s built to withstand brutal winters, thousands of international tourists, and constant geothermal activity. I am fascinated by historical and innovative architecture and love that the collection of structures are famous more for their design than because they are located within an active volcano.

You can see professional photos of the park and buildings on the main website. My brother didn’t bring a camera to specifically buy books at the park that include stories. Still, his wife and daughter took hundreds of photos with their phones.

This picture of a clock on the rock chimney was a delight because it’s really artistic and a bit dramatic in its representation of linear time.

This picture of a clock on the rock chimney was a delight because it’s really artistic and a bit dramatic in its representation of linear time.

We learned that many of the staff are in some type of National Park Employee service organization and can choose to return for seasonal jobs or even go to other parks. It sounds like a very efficient system and many have made it their career, even as retirees. We chatted with rangers and restaurant servers who have chosen to dedicate their lives to their tasks because of where they get to live.  It’s awesome to chat with people who are clear about their life purpose no matter how long it may last, or how old they are to be doing their jobs.

Ylstn 257The Lake Yellowstone Hotel was built in a different decade and with the objective of a summer resort. It’s over 120 years old and has a historical and current list of world leaders and celebrities that have enjoyed the views and suites. To eat in the famous restaurants requires making a reservation for dinner when you book the room, or hope for an open table around nine or ten at night.

Courtesy of Melissa M

Courtesy of Melissa Markert

The pianist favored classics and show tunes. The acoustics were great for this grand piano and the singers didn’t need microphones. That’s my niece, who is a professional singer, and her brother. They had fun and other guests in the room had a great time. One was a photographer who gifted us with a group shot, of our family with the pianist, in thanks.

There’s a few more pictures I’ll share soon. The adventures have continued yet we are all trying to return to our normal routines. I expect that we’ll frame some of our life stories to be “before Yellowstone” and “after Yellowstone” because events like this trip do have ripple effects.

Geysers and hot springs

Old Faithful - Of Course! But a picture doesn't add the pressure pops as the water spews high, or the thumping of steaming drops as they pour onto the rocks.

Old Faithful – Of Course! But a picture doesn’t add the sound or pressure pops as the water spews high, or the thumping of steaming drops as they pour onto the rocks.

Mammoth Hot Springs was impressive and the steam rose off the creeks and puddles.

Mammoth Hot Springs was impressive and even the run-off creeks were steamy. As the weather was awesome our whole trip, the mineral stains and crater edges were very colorful.

We crossed the continental divide a few times but only took a picture after kayaking on Louis Lake.

We crossed the continental divide a few times but only took a picture after kayaking on Louis Lake.

The Firehole Lake Drive pavement was melting and crumbling, and the wooden bridges sinking. These views may  soon be inaccessible to tourists.

The Firehole Lake Drive pavement was melting and crumbling, and the wooden bridges sinking. These views may soon be inaccessible to tourists.

Great Fountain Geyser is also taking over the surrounding safe zones.

Great Fountain Geyser is also taking over the surrounding safe zones. A picture may represent a thousand words but for these natural wonders a picture lacks odors, heat, or the vibration under our feet.

This was a well names spring.

This is a well named spring.

The roiling steam and popping noises really made it sound like a dragon within. :D

The roiling steam and popping noises really made it sound like a dragon within. :D

Arkkade was interested in the SMELLS - sulfur surrounded us. But the sights were too cool (hot!) to pass.

Arkkade was interested in the SMELLS – sulfur surrounded us. But the sights were too cool (hot!) to pass. This was just one of those side-of-the-road things.

There was more star holes and rainbows around Old Faithful.

There were star holes and rainbows around Old Faithful. This blue star hole is deep, very blue, bubbling and steamy. It’s also crystal clear and the edges looked fragile and transparent like they were made out of sugar.

The bison and wildlife weren't as big a deal to us as knowing we were high in the wilderness on top of a caldera.

The bison and wildlife were – okay – just not as big a deal as knowing we were high in the wilderness on top of the world and within a caldera.

There’s still more vacation pics and a story or two to share…

In Yellowstone

The lake is large, windy, and all boaters are recommended to stay close to shore as afternoon thunder-lightning storms can appear with little warning.

The lake is large, windy, and all boaters are recommended to stay close to shore as afternoon thunder-lightning storms can appear with little warning.

The Fishing Bridge area of Yellowstone is where the river flows into the lake. Most of the scenery is pristine wilderness as it has been protected to retain its natural state since 1872. The whole National Park is awe inspiring even to  visitors like Ed and I who (the first day) felt it reminded us of places we had been before. This made us feel we were on a quest to observe and experience the unique to Yellowstone wonders.

Looking East to the lake.

Looking East to the lake.

We camped for five days within the center of the caldera at the only park with full RV hook-ups.  Only hard sided campers are allowed and there are no picnic areas as cooking and eating outside are discouraged. Grizzlies often traverse through the camp sites on their way to the lake and a grizzly cub was spotted one morning, but we didn’t see it.

The elevation of Yellowstone is 8,600 feet and a few of us had issues with the altitude, shortness of breath and headache, that first day.  But the altitude mainly affected our water filtering pitcher. Though it was a fresh filter it seemed to be clogged. Ten cups of water is usually ready to drink within a half hour but at high altitude the same amount of water took hours to filter. I’m sure someone can explain the science behind it but it was a mystery to us that was only proven when we returned closer to sea level on the way home, and the filter worked just fine.

There's a protected walking lane with benches on the bridge - but fishing is no longer allowed.

There’s a protected walking lane with benches on the bridge – but fishing is no longer allowed.

Part of the fascination for us about staying at Fishing Bridge was knowing we were camping in a caldera of an active volcano. We could see vent plumes along the lake, near the side of the roads, and even in the center of a parking lot. This was fenced but easy enough to look down the steaming crater that used to be a paved parking spot.  Another reminder that Yellowstone is a unique location is because sometimes we felt a gentle rolling under the surface, and not just at Firehole Lake. This wasn’t like feeling an earthquake but more like going in slow motion over a long speed bump.

This bison pair eyed us closely as they passed in the other lane on the bridge.

This bison pair eyed us closely as they passed in the other lane on the bridge.

We see lots of wildlife during our normal life activities but we saw lots more bison than wanted (one was charging around too close for comfort) and Arkkade gets highly excited when near cows. Bison trigger the same reaction with her. On our final night, we waited on the bridge with all our windows closed as those big smelly cattle crossed the bridge next to us.

There are many pristine vistas and delicate wildlife so it's easy to forget there is a volatile caldera beneath the surface.

There are many pristine vistas and delicate wildlife so it’s easy to forget there is a volatile caldera beneath the surface.

We didn’t see any elk, wolf or bear so we don’t know what her reaction would be then. And that’s fine with me.

Waterfalls appeared at the side of the road and in steep canyons.

Waterfalls appeared at the side of the road and in steep canyons.

I am truly grateful to have had this experience in Yellowstone because as awesome as pictures and images of the park may be, the experience is greater. In my next post I’ll present some of our hot spring and geyser photos because those are what made this trip unique!

Craters of the Moon

Ylstn 034We are back from our adventure to and through Yellowstone. This was almost two weeks on the road, traveling over 2,370 miles. I have over 300 pictures and it’s a bit surreal that it’s over now and the laundry is done, the trailer cleaned. Our kayaks have stickers approving our passage through waterways in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, as well as Oregon.

The Craters of the Moon was the first site where we would all meet as it is an amazing natural phenomenon and one Ed vividly remembers from his cross country flight in a Cherokee Six airplane, 17 years ago. He knew about the Lava fields from planning the trip with sectionals, but what is marked on a map looks a lot different when in flight and he suddenly noticed this massive stark blackness by the Rocky Mountains.

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There are pretty walking paths through those towers and craters now. Ed is the yellow T-shirt.

One thing a private pilot is always looking for is landing sites, just in case, and The Rockies are not famous for long level fields or straight wide roads so a flight plan over the lava fields seemed a better choice than navigating a mountain pass.  Well, the lava fields are miles and miles of jagged rock towers and sharp edged and deep craters. To him it was as bad as flying over open water and he was thrilled to reach the high plains.

We drove past these lava fields for our second night on the road to camp at a KAO in Arco, ID. This town is known for being the first community ever lit by nuclear power. That was in 1955 and it also has a “numbers hill” as it’s claim to fame. High school graduates have a tradition of painting their class year on the steep cliff face above the town. Our first night was at a charming RV park in Baker City, OR so Ed could show me the route he took during the Hell’s Canyon Motorcycle Rally many years ago. Yes, we like trips but this was our first vacation adventure with my brother’s family.

I'm taking the picture and two more joined us on the next day.

I’m taking the picture. Two more joined us on the next day as they flew into Jackson Hole from Maryland, and stayed in our trailer.

We all met at Craters of the Moon on Sunday morning and were impressed with the massive desolation sprinkled with rare and delicate wildlife. There’s a stark beauty to wilderness in its natural state and signs are posted on walking paths to be informed about what makes each plant or crevice special.

Richard calling attention to the rainbow of color amid the black.

Richard calling attention to the rainbow of color amid the black.

This trip included Ed and I exploring RV parks to see if we liked taking mobile home on the road. The planning and details of this trip have flavored our attention since last winter. Our visits to animal shelters for a new dog included finding a dog to travel with us. A lot of our routines with Arkkade have been because we knew there was a long trip in our future where she would need to be always on leash and happy in a crate.

This was just the beginning or our multi family adventure and a big “bucket list” trip for my brother and his wife Carla as they live in Ohio. Ed and I had visited the McKenzie pass lava fields on our first trip to Oregon in 1995. (Our youngest girls are talking about recreating a picture from that trip.)

For now I’ll say that this trip exceeded our expectations. The next night we all stayed in West Yellowstone, MT and I would recommend this charming gateway town. Others we know have stayed there as their primary destination instead of finding lodging inside the park.

More tales to come in future posts…

Sunriver

Mercury retrograde is almost done and for me these weeks have been rocking with changes.

This was our campsite in Sunriver.

This was our campsite in Sunriver.

Our big adventure in Yellowstone is still weeks in the future but we needed to be out of the house this weekend, and wanted to do a full test out of our equipment and toys.  So we loaded up bikes and kayaks, hooked up the travel trailer, and went to Sunriver. This is a resort type area near Bend, Oregon and only a few hours from home and it is beautiful.  We’d been there a few years ago when our youngest lived there.

 

For this adventure, our plan was to kayak on Sparks Lake with our new little dog, Arkkade. We all had a wonderful time!

Arkkade liked it and now knows her favorite spot.

Arkkade liked it and now knows her favorite spot.

That's Mt. Bachelor

That’s Mt. Bachelor

There were lots of coves and byways to explore. We even heard water draining through a lava tube.

There were lots of coves and byways to explore. We even heard water draining through a lava tube.

 

There were lots of places to pull up on the beach for lunch.

There were lots of places to pull up on the beach for lunch.

Those mountains are The Sisters. It was a glorious way to spend hours!

Those mountains are The Sisters. It was a glorious way to spend hours!

Getting in Shape

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Decorative arrangements I created for a daughter’s wedding.

The summer season is here and Ed and I have been preparing for our adventure in Yellowstone, which will include living out of our travel trailer for almost two weeks. Five of those days will be in one spot and joined by family. Preparations have included getting his truck detailed (super cleaned inside and out) and having racks installed so we can take our bikes and kayaks.

The weather has been good for outdoor activities which means we’ve been riding our bikes and kayaking. This past weekend Arkkade had her maiden voyage with me as I paddled my kayak around the lake for almost an hour. She seemed to like it though she didn’t settle in one place and her moving from side-to-side, front and back, added to the rocking motion but fortunately the lake was very calm.

Ed’s also been getting our yard into shape by cutting back years of thick overgrowth and renting a tractor to move rocks and pull out roots so he can have an easy to maintain lawn. This was fun for me to watch as it reminded me of when we first moved here (in 1998) and he rented a bobcat to clear overgrowth, move rocks to frame garden areas, and dig a duck pond. Now that was all being cleared because our lifestyle has changed.

Silk flower strips wrapped around wire tomato plant racks.

Silk flower strips wrapped around wire tomato plant racks. For a little spot at our weekend place.

I’ve also been getting a few of my writing projects into shape and it’s rather awesome that this is now my primary work. It used to be that I scheduled in writing and reading time around my other activities, now I’m searching for activities as a break from writing. Fortunately I remembered today that I used to have fun with potted plant arrangements when the weather wasn’t good for outdoor stuff. There were a few years when it was like a mini rain-forest inside my home but then I was traveling too much. As plants died or found new homes I switched to only silk flowers. Then I got too busy with writing projects and grand-babies to even notice the dust on my silk flowers. I just hosed off a bunch of those and will create something new with them.

All the getting ready busyness will settle soon and we’ll take off on our adventure, after which we should be in great shape for lots more summer activities.

Question Answered

Tall Ship in Coos BayWe had a great Mother’s Day in summer like sunshine at our weekend place. The grandsons rode dirt bikes and the six year old was undamaged by his spill through a barbed wire fence into a small stagnant pond. His mom had stopped to caution him on the turn so got to watch – which she said was like watching it happen in slow motion.

The massage I had yesterday was devoted to my neck, shoulders and hands so I’m feeling pretty good again. I’ve been taking care of writerly business stuff and now am ready to return to a novel in process. There was really no doubt which one to give my attention but I like when a nudge from the universe give me a “Yep, on the right track” message.

Paty Jager posted the above picture on Facebook with the  caption, “Spending our anniversary in Coos Bay and this drifts by our hotel.”  That’s my Yep, as Coos Bay is one of the main settings of the novel I set aside last month. Now the storyboard is again set up and binders and books are spread across the dining room table.

Trips and Twists

Ed and I have recently been taking lots of short trips around Oregon, with our Jack Russel Terrorist, Arkkade. She is great with our grandchildren, though she’s not yet acclimated to all the other dogs around us.  She seems more content with us as “her people” and is revealing that she was trained to have manners. We’re learning how to communicate with her via consistent hand signals. This is good because we’ll be hosting the annual meeting with our airplane association, taking a multifamily trip to Yellowstone, and giving our kitchen a face-lift, all before the 4th of July.  Fun times!

I was settling into a new routine for crafting romance novels, and I even increased my online activities during March. Our spring has been long and mild so Ed was focused on trimming trees and clearing overgrowth. Then we heard the news that close friends had lost their son. We’ve been neighbors for 17 years, both at our home and our weekend place on the lake. We kayak and trail ride together.

We knew their youngest son more through them, and heard of his adventures fighting forest fires by jumping out of airplanes, and then deep-sea diving. Finally he found a less extreme passion, and was three weeks to graduation as a biochemist, when he died in an accident. Yet, our connection to this young man was even closer than we realized when one of the men from our daughter’s bridal party was also one of the speakers at the Celebration of His Life the day before Easter.

This is one of life’s twists that ripples through many, for a long time. As soon as I heard the news I didn’t want to believe it and immediately walked to their home, and learned it was true, and was able to perform at least one task to help them that day. Then I came home and packed away my romance novel projects for a few days.

When I was ready to work on a novel again I pulled out an old one, one that was a bit too personal, one that I had chosen to maybe never revisit again. It was both grueling and inspiring, as it made me revisit not only my personal past but my journey as a writer. And I stuck with editing it all the way to The End. I’m not happy with the ending but it’s now readable and I’m willing to submit it for objective feedback.

Tyler Easter yard decoSome of us have stories that we know so well, because we lived them, that we cannot view them with any objectivity. Like my friend, who in those days between learning her son was dead until after the private burial, told me how thankful she was that she had kept a journal about her son his whole life. And she was the final speaker at the Celebration of His Life because it was the first time she’d ever gotten the last word with him.

It’s a beautiful spring

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Ed and our dog with Kaedence and Robert, the youngest two of our grandchildren that inspired the name for Arkkade.

Our spring in Oregon has been very slow blooming. We had some wonderful warm days in the beginning of March and everything started to bud, but then the temps cooled. All the flowering bushes and trees have been colorful for weeks and only now are petals starting to fall. The green leaves on our oaks, maples, and cherry trees are also growing slowly. It’s been fascinating to watch and everything looks really healthy. My dogwoods are loaded with blossoms like they haven’t been for years.

This slow spring is reflecting how I am developing my new career as a romance novelist. I recently met Mary Buckham [again] and highly recommend her power plotting method and adore the new craft book about active settings.  It’s fun developing my writing process for these and future novels as it’s very different from the way I used to structure my writing time in the past.

We have a multifamily vacation to Yellowstone planned for this summer and all the details for that are finally confirmed. This is what I am using as my project deadline because even a creative process works better with a goal in sight. And there’s plenty of time to savor spring and play with babies.

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