Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yellowstone & Montana

Work took me to Billings, Montana, so I decided to go a couple days early and visit Yellowstone again, staying near Mammoth Hot Springs. I got in late in the afternoon, but still with several hours of daylight to go exploring...

and there was an evening rainstorm that resulted in a rainbow over the meadows.

Early the next morning I got up and made my way to the Norris Geyser Basin, one of the highlights of our last trip to Yellowstone. Not only was it nearly empty that early in the morning, but the cool air made for lots of great steam off the thermal features.

There was so much construction on the way to Norris that I decided to just make a loop around the park, instead of going back the way I came. I stopped many places along the way...most notably, and not captured in pictures, to see a mama grizzly with three cubs very far away on a hillside, and three wolf pups far away in the Hayden Valley. In both cases there were people staked out with scopes they let me use...but the animals were way to far away for photos.

On my way back in the evening I stopped by the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone -- the parking lot was almost empty at 7:00 PM, which was the polar opposite of our traffic jam experience on our last visit.

Further on, some people had stopped to watch a grizzly from afar in this previously burnt stretch of forest.

And then, as I was making my way back across the north end of the park, there was a fox trotting down the middle of the road. I followed it slowly for over a mile. It had something in its mouth -- food for some kits in its den? Eventually it hopped off the side of the road on a well-traveled path. A few miles later I came across another fox, walking down the other lane in the opposite direction, also with something in its mouth.

Next morning: obligatory bison-in-the-road picture.

I took a short hike to a lake on my way out. The area was covered in wildflowers.

And, apparently, bears.

I headed back to Billings via the Beartooth Highway, which is a stunning (and very curvy) road through the mountains. Happily, the guidebook I had checked out of the library had a two-page spread recommending places to stop along the highway. All of them were beautiful, and much appreciated to break up the drive, which was pretty challenging in places. I think that pointy bit in the picture is the bear tooth.

There were lots of flowers at higher elevations. I think this was at about 9,500 feet.

I asked a young woman at this overlook to take my picture. It was pretty sunny, so I had my camera set to use the viewfinder instead of the screen on the back. I told her this and she had no idea what I was talking about. I had to explain that she needed to hold the camera up to her face and look through the hole. I think she'd never seen a viewfinder before. This made me feel very old. But the picture came out pretty well!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Monday, July 05, 2010

It's Hot

So hot that our resident raccoon just came down from the oak tree and did a couple of laps in our pond, in the middle of the day.