I’m going to turn this into a new “Stay on the Trail” series that who knows may become it’s own blog as I camp and hike more in the future.
For one of the first times in my life I had the opportunity to be completely disconnected from the outside world in the last several days as I visited Jackson Hole Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. For those looking for such an opportunity, I suggest camping out near the lake or in the lodge, as you will be forced into absolutely no cell phone usage or internet while you are there. There is limited connectivity at Old Faithful and a few high places you can get a few bars on a CDMA network, but beyond that, nothing. I missed it, but it was actually pretty nice!
I started my trip visiting Jackson Hole and seeing “Nunsense” and “The Music Man” at my sister’s theatre, The Playmill Theatre. They were beautiful productions, and I really learned to enjoy Jackson Hole – I will definitely be back next year with my wife and kids (this trip I was accompanied by my Mother and Father and sisters while my kids started school).
The following two days we spent at Yellowstone. I am a huge Photography buff, and was in heaven, with Mannah of wildlife, geography, landscapes raining down on me everywhere we turned. Just on our way there we saw a large moose in Jackson Lake, a Coyote, 2 elk, one of those swiming out of Yellowstone lake onto the shore. We set up camp, and my dad and I braved the bears in a tent. We were woken up to some really cool animal calls, answered by other animal calls, of which some say sounded like Elk and I think sounded like Coyotes howling at each other. Maybe it was a combination of both. After some more sleep I was awakened by my sister telling us there were Buffalo all over our campground. I looked out and sure enough there were about 5 all over the place. I went back to sleep, and woke up to see them still further away, but surrounding our campground. We went out and got some excellent pics of the buffalo.
We then went out and saw the geographic landmarks in the North and East ends of the park. We saw Mud Volcano, the upper falls, and hiked down about 10 flights of stairs to the lower falls and ran all the way back up (I wanted to prove the trail I was taking was faster to the rest of the group – it wasn’t). On our way from the falls we saw some more Bison/Buffalo just taking their time through the road. One guy got out and started taking pictures about 5 feet from the Bison. We were in some ways kind of hoping for Darwin’s law to happen and make tons of money off the video on YouTube (my sister was our videographer). No, that wouldn’t be nice – but hey, can’t say we didn’t think about it. 😉 We also saw a bald eagle (a little white speck in some of the pictures) in a field next to a river on the way to the falls. We finished the first day seeing some more thermal events and geysers, and also saw Mammoth Springs, the highlight of that day. I hear about just 10-20 years ago those springs were all water – they have all dried out since the earthquake there of ’95, producing some beautiful colors and contrasts for photographers!
The first day we saw lots of Bison, a Bald Eagle, a Hawk or Golden Eagle (need to get out a bird book to tell for sure), a Stork, 2 more Bald Eagles (missed my shot on those), a Coyote, a whole herd of Elk, lots of ducks and Geese, and finished the day with a Moose crossing the river. Pictures are all in the album.
I spent the next evening sleeping in the lodge. I decided I wanted some sleep this time. We met the others back at the campground and I found out I missed a Bald Eagle sitting right on a tree in the campground! I was so mad! We did get to see either some sort of hawk or Peregrine Falcon before we left, squawking at us to get away from the top of its tree. Pictures are also in the album of this.
We then left to see the South and West side of the park. We started by seeing Old Faithful. A buffalo was right in front of it, making for some beautiful pictures with the Buffalo in the foreground! It was once in a lifetime photography! (although I did hear about 2 bears fighting in front of the geyser once) After some more pictures we went on and swam in some part of the river – the water was a little cold, but totally fun to ride the rapids and current around and around in really deep water.
We finished the day seeing the paint pots, the highlight of my trip. The colors, steam, and heat produced from those were absolutely stunning! There is a famous photo of one of them taken from above from a helicopter or aircraft of some kind. I got some nice side photos. My polarized lense did wonders at getting through the steam and really taking out the colors seen with the naked eye. We didn’t really see much more wildlife that day, other than an Osprey. We then headed back to Jackson Hole to finish out our trip.
In Jackson we saw our last musical at the Playmill, “Chaps”. We had a pleasant surprise when the cast prepared a special performance for me and my parents with my baby sister (I have 2 baby sisters) performing the lead as Maybel (/Polly/Molly). My sister has an absolutely stunning voice, and fits the timid nature of Maybel perfectly. It was her first lead role, and she handeled it wonderfully! If I wasn’t a guy I would have cried for her. So you now know even more of the artistic talent within my family (one sister owns a theatre, another performs musical theatre, my brother has a script in the top 200 of a major script writing competition in the US, and I almost majored in Music performing trumpet – we all sing too!).
In all it was a wonderful trip. I need to do more of these – it was quite healing and a great break from the real world, something I think more of us need, especially in the tech industry.
As I get more time here and get some time to catch up I’ll hopefully be able to start blogging regularly again. Here are some photos to keep you occupied in the meantime: