Journal and photos of our travels in the West.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Olympic Peninsula

We took the ferry from Victoria B.C. to Port Angeles yesterday, and have decided to ride out the Labor Day weekend crowds in Olympic National Park. There's plenty here to see, with many hikes to make through the rain forest and on the beaches. We spent most of the day hiking to Third Beach, where I found a freshly-beached salmon. Rather than cooking it and eating it on the spot, we decided to head on out to the River's Edge Cafe, in the little village of La Push, on the Quileute Reservation, where they serve salmon straight from the ocean. But the real winner, in my opinion, was the fresh blackberry pie. Had to go back again later for another piece!

I would have liked to have returned to Vancouver for another round of city life, and to see more things there, such as the museum of anthropology. But, with prices for everything so high, I had to, as the Canadians say, "Give my head a shake", and head back to the land of relatively cheap gasoline.

A news item in the local paper: "The town of Neah Bay has 1 1/2 days' water supply remaining." Neah Bay is situated on the northwest corner of the peninsula, and the river that serves as its water supply has nearly dried up because of the drought. Strange, here in the land of rain forests, to hear about waater shortages. But the same problem is shared by the little town of Tofino, on Vancouver Island.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday night onRobson, the street that never sleeps.

It's 10:30 and the action on the street below shows no sign of abating. If anything, it's intensifying. Sitting in the sidewalk cafes is like watching a parade. A great mixture of faces, dramas. the light on these streets is great. very little neon, just bright enough. people are having a good time, making plenty of noise, but nothing outrageous. Restraint is most evident at crosswalks, where no one walks against a light. Of coure, you'd prbably have to visit the national health if you did. Traffic here is agressive, since people have to rely on surface streets instead of freeways to get around town.

we took the water taxi over to Granville island today, and explored the markets and walked along the docks. they were having their annual wooden boat show...everything from kayaks to 67 foot luxury cruisers. We toured one that had hosted the likes of Eddie Fisher and his wife Elisabeth, back in the 50's.
Nancy loves this city far more than she or I had expected. I find the whole scene energizing. That, plus the fact that the city noise reaches up here even to the 18 floor, means that I do not sleep a lot.

But I have to say that I do enjoy this city, after all. It is cosmopolitan, but also very relaxed. There is a lot less of a feeling of having to be careful. Of course, the omnipresent private security and police contribute. Nevertheless, watching a street person break into a lengthy tirade in the middle of a gelato store, I am interested to note that it is the locals who pitch in to calm him down, rather than the authorities, whom I had expected to materialize shortly.

Tomorrow, off to Vancouver Island, where we plan to decompress.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


After spending a night camping in a trailer park on the north end of Lion's Gate, we decided to roll for a couple of nights at a nice hotel. Vancouver is great..if you like cities. Seriously, the vibe is San Francisco + NYC with plenty of Canadian thrown in. Walking the streets here in the central neighborhood on Robson is like running the gauntlet. but, we have high speed here, so I'm posting lots of pics. enjoy.

Here is a pic of a small "iceberg" below the Angel Glacier

And here a photo of the ochre beds, afore mentioned.

And a picture of post boxes and a rubbish bin, all bear-proofed. Of course, you couldn't prove it by us; so far our wildlife inventory consists of blue grouse, shabby deer, tame ravens and the folks I just saw down on Robson Street.

Here is a pic of our trailer park , followed by a photo taken from the balcony of our hotel. What a difference a few $ makes. I might mention here that the exchange rate, once quite favorable, has diminished now to where a dollar is a dollar..or as they call it here, a "Loonie".

Here are a couple of photos Nancy took at the Vancouver aquarium. An excellent aquarium, rivalling the one in Monterey, California.

Finally, for now at least, a night photo of a nearby club, where they offer pole dancing classes upstairs. Adios, Pilates; welcome, Pole-lates.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

8.23 Kamloops B.C.
Camping two days near Jasper, at a sweet little campground in the national park, right on the beautiful Athabasca River. The whole campground is decorated with red and blue ribbons tied to the bushes. This is how they mark the bushes that need to be torn out soon. Reason: too many bears wandering the campground eating the berries. Everywhere we go, we’re inundated with education and warnings about the abundance of grizzly bears, black bears, caribou, moose, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats: I think the printing and signage industry here is 90% wildlife-information driven. Yet, we’ve seen none of these guys. Zero. Nice birds, cute squirrels, two mosquitos. Maybe we used up our Large Wild Mammal Viewing Points on the horses. At least it was a horse and not a bear sniffing our hats that day.

Yesterday we hiked up to some glaciers. Though they are melting quickly, they are still dynamic, icy blue and huge. In the little lake below, the mini icebergs were gorgeous – they are the pieces of the glacier above that have broken off and avalanched down to the water. The weather and the water then melt them in to the prettiest shapes as they float about looking majestic and really, really cold. The water color didn’t show up in the pictures, but it is an amazing milky aqua, like some impossible exotic precious stone. Glowing turquoise pearl ice water. Quite glacial, eh? All of the rivers here, and there are many, are various versions of the turquoise, some whiter, some deep rich teal, all shades of blue green turquoise aqua. The glaciers as they melt, grind the mountain beneath, which gets mixed with the river and lake water. If ground very fine, they call it glacial flour. You can watch geology up here and it is breathtaking. Why are glaciers aqua?

At the top of the trail, where the signs say not to bring your dogs as caribou are afraid of dogs due to inborn wolf fears, don’t get close to the caribou, don’t feed the caribou, etc., we saw plenty of other people not seeing caribou. We still loved the hike; it was steep and a good workout and we love being way up high in the mountains among dramatic scenery, cold winds, thin air and tiny alpine plants.

Jasper: tiny, pricey little tourist mountain town. There probably are good restaurants there but like dummies we didn’t get a guide book ahead of time so we missed them. We did find an after-hike hamburger, salad and beer place with a great outside patio upstairs, with amazing views of huge jagged mountains on all sides. Jasper is a hub for lots of great high altitude hikes; we should come back and stay longer. Met a young photographer who showed us some of his snow-sports photos on his computer; great shots of airborne snow-boarders etc.

It’s raining today, so we’re heading west towards Kamloops. Can’t not go to a place with a name like Kamloops Kamloops Kamloops. The locals say Loops. It’s a Cree Indian word about the rivers joining together there.

Excited about exploring Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and about eating fresh salmon for every meal, and waking at 4 am for more. We’ve been out (oot) a month plus a couple days, and we love this life. It’s a dream come true. I’m used to the small camper now, and love the flexibility it provides; we can go on the roughest tiniest roads that often lead to the prettiest places. In this miniature kitchen, Jack creates feasts. I’m getting pudgy even with all the hiking, due to his culinary talents. And this is with one frying pan, two sauce pans, two gas burners, a frig the size of a shoebox, and about 2 inches of counter space. He’s amazing. I will always have the sweetest memories about our little vitamin bottle filled now with olive oil, our little plastic butter holder thingy that Wendi gave us, our refrigerator freezing everything every other day, and our two forks, two spoons and two knives. We’re on vacation, so everything is better, brighter, funnier. Every minute seems to be a gift.

Global warming is starting to seriously worry many in British Columbia; the economy and natural beauty are closely intertwined here, and melting glaciers, bark beetles, fires and flooding are of great concern.

Every single word is in both English and French here. It’s great being in another country. I was hoping for different kinds of cars and fewer Kraft and Coke products in the stores, but this morning our eggs were from Poulets En Liberte – free range chickens. Our truck may hereby be named Poulet En Liberte.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

8.19 Nancy
Writing from British Columbia, eh!! Yahoo, we made it, and it only took 3 wonderful weeks. We were welcomed to Canada by two bald eagles, and as everyone knows, the rivers are around every mountain and the mountains are everywhere. Turquoise, gleaming rivers, almost translucent with glacial influence. Stunning.
We’re in Kootenay National Park, one of the several adjoining parks that includes Jasper, Yoho and Banff, which we’ll see in the next few days.
Three weeks in the Rockies so far, and I’m jubilant. What is it about mountains that just make everything seem so perfect and sweet? Every time we even see a deer I’m that much happier, and we haven’t even seen a moose yet. (Plenty of elk, and boy are they gorgeous!) Yesterday on a hike from our campsite to a deserted little lake at the foot of the mountains, we made our first Canadian friend, and true to reputation, the Canadians are friendly. This one enjoyed walking with us for quite a while, ahead of us on the trail, picking seeds with its beak and hopping along on little bird-feet. With bright red eye shadow and a stripey tail, it enjoyed the rose hips that Jack picked and fed it… I’ve never had a bird hike with me before. What fun, that little sweetie. Why would it want to walk along with us? I don’t have a Canadian bird book yet, so it’s currently the Canadian Red Eyebrow Trail Chicken.
Everything here is bear-awareness-related. Haven’t seen a one, but it’s just a matter of time I hope.
At the lake, there were huge dragon flies everywhere. I’ve always loved them, and these were beautiful blue striped, and found us very interesting, checking out everything we did maybe hoping we were stirring up dinner for them. I suspect if anyone cared to research dragon fly intelligence, they’d find them smarter than the average bug. There was a flailing of wings maybe 20 feet out on the lake, and Jack rescued and saved it! Unwilling to actually swim to it in the very cold water, he kept tossing sticks out there hoping the victim would swim to one and recover, and eventually it did. It took quite a while but that little critter kept alive in the water somehow, and amazingly didn’t become fish bait in the meantime. Yeah for Jack’s Dragonfly Rescue Service.
Gas here is crazy expensive, well over $1/liter. We knew that but still it’s a shock. We’re grateful for this relatively economical home on wheels; most of these folks with real motor homes must really feel the owie.
We miss the horses and Cookie; waking up to whinnies or purrs is the best way to awake; but we’re hanging in there. What would we do without Braldt and Margaret, loving Cookie every day with great intensity, and keeping an eye on the house, sending our mail, etc. Braldt’s painting lots of new pieces in time for his big opening at the gallery next weekend, and Cookie is helping by napping near him at all times and biting his leg if she needs cuddling. I’m so sad that we can’t be there for his big night. The pieces we saw before we left were great, of course; Braldt is a master. I hope they don’t all sell by the time we return, so that we can see them.

(Jack)The Icefields Parkway, where we begin to question our priorities

The Icefields Parkway, AKA Highway 93, connects the Alberta towns of Lake Louise and Jasper.
The views along this road are stunningly beautiful: Like Glacier, only much larger.
The peaks are a maximum of 12,000 feet, but they start from a much lower elevation, so are quite dramatic. The rock comprising the
peaks is limestone and shale--remnants 0f ancient seabeds thrust high into the air by colliding tectonic plates. This far north,
the high peaks are cloaked in glaciers and icefields, at least for now until global warming changes all that.
And, speaking of global warming, the air is suffused with smoke from the many forest fires burning in Montana and Washington.
In some parts of Kootenai Park, which we drove through this morning, the mountains were nearly obscured by the smoke. Shades of L.A.!

This morning we hiked through the ochre beds, which are fields of powdered limestone stained by iron oxides, and ranging in color from bright red-orange to grey-yellow. I painted
a bit on my face, as did the natives of yore. It dried out my skin. the Natives used to mix it with animal fats. Over 200 years ago, Capt. Cooks's sailors, after having tasted the charms
of the Tahitian ladies, found the native women of the Pacific northwest a bit wanting, covered as they were in ochre and fish oil. That did not deter a few, who, as the diaries tell,
"scrub'd them on deck and desported forthwith."

This evening we are camping near the Athabasca Glacier, about a mile down the road from the Icefields Visitor Centre (not Center...we are in Canada).
We have found beautiful views, and many people. This is our dilemma. We love the beautiful places, but don't much fancy hanging out with hordes of humanoids. That is the main reason we like Southern Utah. We both are thinking, even as we see these majestic views, that we miss the solitude of the Pryor Mountains and the companionship of horses.
I hear an aspiring Abe Lincoln splitting rails...or maybe firewood... just down 2 campsites from me. Last night, after I had thought we had gone to sleep, a few young women set up their camp next to us and began chattering. (We call these “Corn Krakes”…look it up in google)

Perhaps the solution to this dilemma is to talk with people when we are in places like this, learning about where they are from and what they hope for their children;
and when we are alone, to revel in the wilds. But a much better deliverance lies just ahead…Labor Day, and the lessening of the crowds.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tomorrow we head into Canada. Away from cell phone service. Don’t know about Internet. Tonight we are camped by a river in far northern Montana. Nancy is glorying in the abundance of water, by washing the truck. “Guess what I’m thinking as I wash,” she says. “ I don’t know,” I reply. “Maybe thinking of when you bathed Arian as a baby?”
“No,” she says. “OK, Maybe thinking of bathing me when I’m old?” I try again. “No, silly. I’m thinking of washing my horse here by the river.”

Lordy, I love this woman. There is no one else on earth with whom I could possibly do a trip like this.

OOOH, I just found a little more of that sauerkraut. I’m warming it over the fire with lots of cayenne. Hutterite kim chee.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kalispell, Montana

We spent the night here, and will pick up our forwarded mail at the post office. I have to say that, what Kalispell lacks in charm, it makes up for in traffic. Nancy is reading the morning paper aloud: "Glacier is in a designated EPA poor air quality region." No surprise, looking out the window at this traffic. "There is a plan in the works to build a new coal-fired generating plant in the area. It will spew a million tons of CO2 , 4000 tons of SO2, and 2300 tons of NO2 a year. the glaciers in Glacier NP will be gone by 2030." And a final note: "Cheney was just in town doing a fund raiser for senator Burns."

I have finished off the Hutterite sauerkraut. great stuff. The Hutterites speak an old dialect of German. I doubt their lexicon includes the much newer word, "auspuffen".

Here is Nancy's blog for the day.

8.16 Nancy
Yesterday I nursed a broken heart times 30 or how ever many horses I had to leave up on that mountain. The sadness was gigantic. It was almost as hard as spending great time with Arian then having to leave. Those horses refreshed me spiritually, soothed and thrilled. The fact that there could be horses roaming around these pristine meadows and forests meant that anything was possible, and soon I saw them sprout wings and soar, of course with me on board, discovering new planets. I felt 7 again.
While Jack was up on the hill watching them fight and frolic and getting pictures of that which have yet to be developed (whew! Stay tuned!), I was roaming in a meadowy spot with a group of 7 others: stallion, two mares and 4 babies of different colors. I tried to read their mood and to make sure especially that the stallion didn’t mind my presence among his beautiful brood. He seemed calm; I just sat and waited to see what would happen, and soon they were grazing all around me, eyes half closed while they munched. I could not have been happier.
Then there was the roan mare coming right up behind us as we sat on a rock, sniffed our hats, asked what we were doing and let me pet her nose. Yippee! Then the little gray youngster who nibbled on Jack’s tripod and let me scratch his ears. They are wild and yet they’re used to being loved and noticed by humans, and no person has ever harmed them so they don’t associate us with anything negative. They roam the mountains and their range is huge – half the time they’re no where to be seen – but if they are around they just don’t mind people at all.

My amazing brother, finding these Pryor Mountain horses on google earth! Rock on, Bud!

But, out of that unique paradise we had to come. Now we’re outside of Missoula headed in to Kalispell, Montana before going in to Canada. My crazy, fruit-loving husband just bought TEN POUNDS of black cherries from the roadside stand. But wait, there’s just two of us, right? These are the most delicious cherries ever ever in the world and at a dollar a pound a bargain, but still. I remember Jack doing this a couple of years ago and we had to stop constantly for him to -- let’s say move them through his system on a regular basis. I’ll keep y’all posted on this exciting subject.

This Hwy 93 from Missoula to Kalispell is gorgeous! Dang I love Montana. Too bad about the forest fire smoke.
I think all the time with the horses means we can’t also go to Glacier NP if we want to be out of Canada before winter and see the kids before we turn 80.

Love to you all and thanks for encouraging our blog!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We return to the wild horse range to see the Cloud People and Jack is misled by a pooka

Running out of water, we decided to make the 3-hour drive down the mountain to Billings to find a bed, shower, and grocery store. Our luck was to also find the billings Farmers’ Market, where we stocked up on fresh veggies grown by Hutterite farmers who live in the area. I also couldn’t resist buying a couple of pounds of their sauerkraut. After a good night’s sleep and several showers to remove crud accumulation, we were ready to head back to the mountain.

On the way to the top, we met Dan Elkins coming down, with a newly-captured horse in his trailer. “I’m heading down for a few days, until the Cloud People leave,” he told us. The “Cloud People” are the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Association, who are having their annual gathering in Lovell. They come up to the range to visit, and their particular object of adoration is Cloud, a palomino who featured in his own movie a few years ago. The Cloud People do not approve of the BLM’s policy of horse removal, and they particularly do not like Dan.

Reaching the top, we found the weather turning windy and cold. Storm clouds were brewing, so we found a good spot in the trees to make camp. The sky in the west was clear, and it looked like we would have some good light for sunset. So we decided to go for a hike and look for horses. A hundred yards or so from camp the wind was blowing wisps of fog over the hilltop, and we hiked in that direction. As we walked into the fog, Nancy, declaring it to be much too cold, turned back. I continued up the hill, through the blowing fog, imagining myself alone on the moors. The fog thickened, and I came across a huge, white limestone monolith, covered in ancient lichen. I walked around it, looking at the lichens and small plants growing out of the cracks in the rock. Then I heard a distant whinny in the fog. Thinking of finding a marvelous photograph in the changing light of fog and sunset, I headed in the direction of the sound.
The fog was thicker—visibility only 5-10 meters-- and the wind seemed to be shifting. I soon found myself in a small grove of spruce, the tree tops disappeared in the fog. Scattered at my feet were bits of bone—ribs and vertebrae from long-ago horses. Walking a few feet deeper into the grove I found a nearly complete skeleton, bleached white to match the chunks of limestone scattered nearby. As I mused on the generations of horses that had lived and died in this place, I heard the whinny again, this time from a different direction. I smiled to myself as I began to imagine becoming lost. The light was uniform in all directions, and was waning. I turned and started back toward what I judged to be the top of the hill. Instead, I found more trees, then a clearing with several tall poles arranged in a circle. Walking around the circle, I found that the poles were all that remained from an old corral...something I had not seen on previous hikes. Being in unfamiliar territory further unsettled me, and I decided to forget about looking for the horses and concentrate on finding my way back to camp. At least I was wearing warm clothes, in case I did have to spend the night hunkered in the trees. But I did not think Nancy would be very happy with that, so I resolved to get my bearings.
I almost walked right into the horses. A group of them saw me at about the same time I saw them; they quickly ran off into the fog, which now was so thick that I could only see the ground at my feet. Trying to hike in a straight line, rather than in circles, I came upon the rail fence that served as a boundary between the horse range and the National Forest land beyond: finally, a point of reference that I recognized. I hiked along the fence, knowing that it eventually intersected the road back to camp. Instead, I came to a sudden drop off, with fog and mist howling up from below. I realized that I had become thoroughly turned around, so I hiked in the direction exactly opposite to what my senses told me was the right way to go. After a considerable hike, I came to the road, and back to camp.

Later that night, snug in bed, we listened to a storm replete with lighting, rain and hail blow through, and I was glad I had not decided to hunker down in a grove of trees for the night.

Friday, August 11, 2006

As I write this, I am sitting under our camper’s awning looking out on the sloping meadow with our new companions grazing happily while I contemplate the difference between surviving and living, waking and dreaming, getting through the day and being so excited you could cry every minute. Right now there are 12. There are two blacks for sure, then the sun is too low and I can’t tell if I’m seeing palominos, roans, bays, buckskins… and I need to look up the grulla and sabino coloring (or are they breeds?) when we have internet or a library or bookstore. We’re at the top of Pryor Mountain in Montana, close to Wyoming, but actually we’re in a wonderland that can’t really be on this planet as far as I’m concerned. The horses come and go all around us in the trees and meadows, and at the pond behind us. A few hours ago we tried to come back to the camper to make dinner – we were starving – but then came the sound of thundering hooves and the vision out the camper window of a copper Palomino stallion. Prancing, galloping, and snorting – there went our need for food, once again. Hours later, here we are finally enjoying Jack’s fabulous Chicken Matzo Ball soup, watching horses and the sunset.
These are wild horses. They are the offspring from escaped horses hundreds of years ago – we all want to believe they are descendents of the incredible horses that the King of Spain gave to Coronado in the 1500’s I believe. DNA testing does prove that many are Spanish horses. So, as well as being in this gorgeous scenery, we’re in the middle of American history and spirited, beautiful horses. I’m in my own personal paradise. So, if any of you find me missing in the future, just come up here with a cheese enchilada, a long hot bath and a pedicure please. There’s no water or electricity up here, it’s a long, dusty and rough road up the mountain in 4-low, but the ambience can’t be beat.
We have taken way too many pictures of these beauties, as they go about their day mare-stealing, harem-forming, and child-rearing, which also entails fighting off potential threats to all of those. The stallions are so – sorry – studly. One of them is Cloud, and I guess there’s a movie about him which of course now we’ll have to see.
The pictures I’ll post are just with my limited skill and silly little camera; Jack is taking some real ones which will probably be exceptional. Not sure when that will be, considering this gypsy lifestyle of ours.

The mustang-whisperer is here, a fellow I’ve known about for a couple of years since I follow everything I can about wild horses; he’s also from New Mexico and owns 100 mustangs himself. Today he lured 3 horses in to his corral then trailer, and is on the way with them to turn them over for adoption to some lucky horse-lover somewhere. There is also a researcher here, Hannah, who spends her days sitting under trees watching horses and studying them. We’ve talked a bit with both of these very interesting people and I’ll write more about them when I can.

They used to shoot these wild horses and sell them by the pound for dog food; they were like the vermin of the ranges.
In the recent past they have been elevated to much higher status, as their stamina, intelligence and beauty has been confirmed over and over. Now, the government manages a program to keep an eye on all the herds throughout the west. Most stay up in the wild, living as horses have for thousands of years, by their wits. Some are caught and adopted every year, - even though some people object to this and feel we should let their populations grow to what others feel would be past the point of there being enough food and land for them.

So, I’m in heaven. If there’s no more blog from us it will be because I’m too depressed about leaving the presence of all of these horses. They wander around these hundreds of acres that we parked in them middle of, and they don’t seem to mind.

Of all of the wild horse areas in this country, this one has the most beautiful horses close enough that you can really see in to their eyes and hearts and watch them in their natural environment. And the babies – Oh My. No words for those babies. Tomorrow I think we’ll go down the mountain to Billings, get more water and supplies and come back up here; Jack is as smitten as I am.
Now there are 25 horses out here, including Cloud and his family. Since the last paragraph I watched as he had a minor skirmish involving kicking, biting and running off 3 horses he didn’t approve of being near his family. Now, most of them just took off running over the hillside. And at the same time I’m hearing whinnies behind me… see what I mean? This is too good to be true. I’m about ready to grow a mane and tail.

So far, this is by far the high point of our trip.

(Jack's note) the drive up here was a bit hairy. I think that, when a forest ranger tells me that a road is "moderately exciting", I will think twice before taking it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

(Jack) We've spent the last 4 nights in Yellowstone--geysers, bison, elk and tourists everywhere. Mostly tourists. We handled it pretty well until last night, where we stayed at the Old Faithful Inn. (OFI) The Moon Guide had recommended a stay there, just because the place is such an icon. On this much we agree. but the room, while charming and rustic, was noisy most of the night. I would not have thought log walls could transmit sound so well. The restaurant food was mediocre; better to eat at the grill at the store next door. Nancy was loving the place, taking many pictures of geysers, algae patterns, and animals. But one night in the OFI engendered a major crab attack.
Today we are back at the Tetons to look for a couple more images I have in mind, and to decompress from the madness of Yellowstone.

(Nancy, before crab attack)
Now we’re in Yellowstone, my first time and Jack’s first time in quite a while. It’s very crowded of course, which is not our cuppa. But we’ll put up with it to see magma-heated water bubble to the surface everywhere, creating minterals, steam, colors and shapes that are strange, otherworldly and beautiful, and smelly. I’ll never boil an egg without this park’s memories coming back to me. We’ve done all the proper Must Do’s, been wowed several times, thought about the volcano forces at work right now beneath us…. And looked for wildlife, a lot. If only I’d pursued on of my other lives and become a wildlife biologist, I’d be here or somewhere studying animals. To me, most trips are defined by the animals I saw. No moose or bears yet, but there is a stunning huge bull elk near the campground that we’ve seen twice. His antlers are wider than I can stretch my arms and his coat glistens copper, visible from quite a distance against the neon green meadow. He is a handsome boy. Lots and lots of buffalo in the Grand Tetons. We camped near one of their favorite spots; there were probably hundreds of them. And today, I did see two wolves only about a thousand miles away, little blobs running way, way over there. (This was in a grizzly preserve but I didn’t see any griz). I could tell one was black and one was gray, and once I knew they were wolves (several other people told me) I could tell the canine gait, definitely. I took a walk alone today and turned back, wondering if there was a bear in the vicinity. You sing the whole time. Yes, statistically you’re more likely to get in a car wreck than a bear wreck… but still….In this campground you can’t leave food out for a minute before you get a ranger and a ticket in your face. And all dishwashing and teeth brushing needs to be done in the room they provide. It’s taken very seriously here, and I guess when we head up to Canada we’ll be among even more of them. Jack’s been keeping our aluminum cans to make some kind of bear alarm system.
Anyway. We are very happy, having way too much fun, getting in lots of hikes, and we’re so thankful that we were able to do this. We love being together and so far the camper is almost big enough, which is good enough. We’re outside most of the time anyway. However, we still miss Cookie, worse than ever. I met a camping cat yesterday, and her parents told me that from kittenhood they’ve been taking her camping and traveling. She doesn’t run away; they’ve trained her to stay near them. I was very impressed and pretty quiet for a long time. That cat, I could tell, was more calm and less crazy than Cookie. Cookie does like to disappear on her own, instantly inventing needs for secret explorations.
Interesting people we’ve met: A couple on their way back from a 3-month Alaska trip in a camper kind of like ours, who invited us to visit them in Florida someday. She’s a linguistics professor, he’s an ex-photographer now blueberry farmer. The ADD teenagers on a wilderness camping experience. The old and young people working at National Parks for the summer or all year. The amazing camping cat people. The pilot from Sebastopol where we almost moved, who is flying his little plane back from Wisconsin on the scenic route. The young mom of two very cute blond kids, who told us about coming across a grizzly on the trail the day before, just the 3 of them, a very close encounter. The Italian chef in the small Wyoming town of Saratoga, making gourmet food in a little espresso shack and on his way to court for harassing his ex. That third guy she started seeing really put him over the edge. The best part was the old grizzled cowboy sitting at the next table (perhaps his grandfather or uncle?) commenting “Yeah, I couldn’t believe it when you let her get away with that for the third time.” And if I run short, I’ll just make up some others.
We miss the kids. Everywhere we go we wish you three darlings were here with us. Now, and not to mention 15-25 years ago before we even knew each other. We are crazy about you kids and so proud of you. Part of me wishes we were rich enough to fly you out in our private jet any time the mood strikes. We’re working our way out there, slow but sure, in the Chevy. Sorry, y’all, for rambling. Xxxooo.

I just called the ranger station in Lovell about visiting the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge. He said that if we drive up into the mountains there is a good chance we will see many, many horses, up close. We leave tomorrow. The crab attack has abruptly ended.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Breakfastfast at the chuck wagon, Dornan's, Grand Teton

After getting up early to find sunrise photos of buffalo and mountains, we drove a couple of miles to dornan's.
This is a good breakfast at an outdoor grill, an espresso wagon nearby, wifi, a bar with a great view, and a yuppy delicatessen with an amazing cheese selection and several kinds of balsamic vinegar. rouging it will never be the same.

We spent yesterday in Jackson visiting galleries. There are 3-4 galleries featuring excellent landscape photography, similar to Muench, Dykinga, Rowell, et al, and one gallery, the Oswald, ( that is like a combination of the three best photography galleries in Santa Fe. The difference between the Oswald and other galleries is that, while the others display technically excellent landscape photography, Oswald is showing work that is much more innovative, creative. Even the landscapes are unique. The gallery inspired me to continue to move away from literalism. We shall see how this affects the images I look for over the coming months.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Grand Teton Nat. Park

We have celebrated our 10th night out by spending it in a motel in Jackson. Pretty exciting to re-do my pink toenails and shave my legs so voraciously I may have removed skin. I love the natural side of things, but an occasional abuse of electricity and hot water is a joy as well. Jack just stepped out of the shower and announced he may take another one right now.

Jackson is a hub as always, and with good reason; what a setting. The air is so fresh and clean, the petunias are jubilant in all the retailers' hanging gardens, and the cash registers are working hard. People love the western theme; the antler sculptures for instance, in the picture. This other pic is of the Tetons after a rainstorm. I wish I could blog you all the smell of the wet sage and the sound of the buffalo errmphing to each other with theose mountains behind them. Buffalo everywhere here. They seem so wise (but are they really very dumb?) They are completely at home here, wandering the roads and the sage flats ... the babies of course are super fun to watch frolic.