Monday, September 30, 2013

Running from Snow

The doctor said my electrocardiogram hadn’t changed and so with some adjustments in medications we were good to head out. A massive storm front was approaching and so we left early on Thursday, driving over four hundred miles in a day, which is a really long day for us, but it was a wise decision.

Lander, the city we had been at, was forecast to receive 2-4 inches of snow but instead it got fourteen. We later met a couple that drove across the Loveland Pass and had to stop to remove all the snow, mud, and ice from their toad,(which for non rvers is what you call the vehicle behind your motor home).

So we made it to Sidney, Nebraska, and of course that meant Cabelas. I was able to try on different chest waders and bought a great pair that should last me for years. We also came across a great deal on a smaller Yamaha generator. The new one weighs less then fifty pounds which is way less than the one hundred and fifty plus pound weight of our old one, (hmm now I can add more rocks).

We stayed in Sidney for another day as the front blew through and then headed east across Nebraska. Interstate Eighty parallels the Platte River and the Platte was in flood stage as all the Colorado flooding had moved downstream to Nebraska.

Another day and we made it to the middle of Iowa where we are spending the night at a nice Casino Rv Park. Tomorrow we should make it to Pam and Roy’s, in Eastern Iowa and then it’s off to Indiana to get our rig rebuilt. It will be so nice to get it done as right now we are unable to use all of our slides.

So there’s not much else to speak of, we have all of our doctoring done for the year, and we are looking forward to our winter in Florida and Texas. Most especially we are looking forward to the new times with friends and family. Clear skies.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rock Hounding Near Jeffery City: Mythical Jade, Sweetwater Moss Agates, and the Occasional Rattlesnake

Renita spotted the rattlesnake first. She was driving and it was crossing the road, ok the four wheel track, its long sinuous body stood out in sharp contrast to the light brown desert sand. It was a beautiful light brown green and had probably recently shed, with a striking and sharp diamond pattern. Of course I had to get a close up and so I jumped out of the truck as Renita yelled at me to not get to close.

We had just finished a successful day of hunting Sweetwater Moss Agates at Agate Flats. It was our most successful day there ever and we both had found large agates. Renita had found a particularly beautiful and large agate and we were both thinking about how we could highlight their beauty. They are already naturally polished and the one she had found displayed the beautiful black spots of dendritic pyrolusite, surrounded by white chalcedony, opalite, and adamite, (the picture is the actual agate as it appeared before she dug it out).

So like I said it had been a great day for agates. We love hunting them at Agate Flats because it helps us to forget the previous day’s unsuccessful jade hunt. That day we had scoured the hillsides along Beaver Rim and the Power Line, and while we found lots of pretty rocks, we didn’t find any of the stunning pure, (and mythical?), nephrite jade.

Even though we hadn’t found any jade it still had been a successful day as any day we get to walk the vast and empty reaches is a special day. Surrounded by the Granite Mountains, and loving the view of the beautiful Lamikin Dome, the high desert holds a special place in our hearts. The vast empty spaces here are where the wild things are, antelope, mule deer, the occasional horny toad and of course prairie rattlesnakes. Clear skies

ps the snake was of course left unharmed

Monday, September 23, 2013

An Uneventful Drive To Lander and an Earthquake Greeting

We left Star Valley and started on our winter journey. The first leg was to Lander, Wyoming where we plan to do some jade hunting as we wait for my cardiologist appointment.  Lander is really a nice place and so stopping here is always a pleasure.

Hooking up the fifth wheel, I had to scrape a heavy frost off the windows. Now that in itself was a problem as we got rid of our ice scrappers and snow shovels years ago. No problem as I had a plastic rv leveler that worked to rid the windshield of the hated frozen ice.

The truck worked fine as we crossed the Salt River Pass and the new truck brakes made a very noticeable difference as I applied them on the downhill sections. They worked so well that we decided to cross the Wing River Mountains at South Pass, thereby saving us a bunch of miles and fuel and more importantly a full day of travel time.

So we checked in and the first order of business was to order a pizza from Dominoes! My favorite is the Philly Cheese and Steak and it’s been three months since I last had one. Relaxing we went to bed not expecting the surprise the morning had for us.

A little after seven am the whole fifth wheel shook. My first thought was that Renita had fell out of bed, but she’s really not that massive and I quickly discounted that idea.  It felt like someone had run into our RV, but before I could run outside it shook again. I next thought that maybe we had been hit by a blast of wind but the trees were still.

Going outside I walked around and didn’t find anything, so I kind of forgot about it till our neighbor asked us if we had felt the earthquake.  It turned out we had a shallow earthquake about forty miles away. It was rated at a 4.9 and had an epicenter about three miles under the east flank of the Wind River Mountain Range.

Renita never woke up as she does sleep sound. Texting our son, he lives north of Pinedale, he said that he hadn’t felt it but his three dogs had became excited and had woke him up earlier than normal. So we have now had two earthquakes in two years. The first was a small one in Valdez and now a Wyoming event.

Perhaps I should add some graphics to our states visited map. Maybe I could draw a fallen building or a shaking tree? Of course if I start adding graphics should I put a tornado on the map for the one we saw in eastern Wyoming? Oh and what about the plumes of smoke from the Alaskan Volcanoes, do they deserve a symbol? Nah, I think I will just stick with the blog. Clear skies

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Birthday Buffalo Jam

The alarm went off at 3:15 am and we could barely drag ourselves out of a nice warm bed. Getting up, we got dressed for a busy day in Grand Teton National Park and left the Rv Park at 4:15 am. Now the reason for the early start was that Jenny’s flight, for Florida, left at 7:25 am and it’s about an hour and a half drive to the Jackson Airport. Arriving about six there was already a long line waiting to check in to the flight.

However the line moved pretty quickly and so we said our goodbyes, always hard, but it seemed a little harder as today was my birthday, (my sixty second in fact). Now after your twenty first birthday, the days seem less important until you reach retirement age. Then, at age sixty two you qualify for not only social security but also for a lifetime senior pass for all national parks and their associated campgrounds.

So rather than wait around the airport we decided to watch the sun rise on the Tetons. Driving to Glacier View Turnoff, we got the cameras and binoculars ready and waited for the dawn. It wasn’t the first time we have watched the sun rise in the park and soon there were other cars arriving. Everyone was setting up cameras and it made me realize how lucky we were to live part of the year near such a beautiful place.

As the sun appeared over the rim of the Gros Ventre range its beams were somewhat blocked by a small cloud and so the Grand didn’t awaken with the usual bright burst of sunlight. It was still a beautiful sight and it made me wish I had climbed the Grand when I was younger. I thought that perhaps it would be a goal for next year, after all others have climbed it at a more advanced age.

We decided to head to the oxbow area and hope to see some bears, but we soon found ourselves in the midst of a buffalo, (bison jamb). Bulls were fighting, and moms and calves were looking worried as some idiots forced their cars through the herd, (I can’t imagine being so busy to not take a few minutes to enjoy a buffalo jam). I was hoping a bull would take offense and do a little structural reengineering to their cars but no such luck. It would have made a great you tube video!

Arriving at the oxbows we watched mergansers and gadwalls, but no bears. A little further we met a young couple full timing in a popup pickup camper. They had gotten married and took off for a year of adventure. What a wonderful way to start off their life together!

Turning south towards Jenny lake we hoped to see more elk but it was not to be. Still we stopped to admire Mount Moran and of course I had to tell Renita the story of my climb up Mount Teewinot, (She had only heard it about fifty times before).

Our last stop of the day was at the park headquarters where I paid my ten dollars, showed my driver license, and got my lifetime senior pass! Now if the idiots in congress will not shut down the government and all the parks……

I had one more birthday plan and that was to fly fish the Gros Ventre River. I have always had success there and I was excited as I took my first step into the stream. Casting my favorite nymphs, I slowly worked my way upstream.

I was surprised that I had no takers as the setup works so well in all the western streams, but before I could try anything else a lightening filled storm cloud neared and it was time to call it a day. Renita drove back to Thayne though rain and the storms were far from over. As we neared home the sky blackened and it looked like the storm was building to a climax!

A dark wall cloud appeared and I could see a greenish coloring behind it. I watched for rotation but luckily didn’t see any so I went inside as the storm arrived. It started to hail and blow and we were in the heaviest hail storm we have ever been in. Luckily the hail was small, but it formed windrows and covered the ground. Finally the storm passed and the stars came out. It was the perfect ending to a hectic but great birthday. Clear skies

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Fall Visit to the Periodic Spring at Afton

If you read our blog you may remember the entry, in June, where we hiked to the periodic spring near Afton, Wyoming. It was a really pleasant hike, but the change in water volume, the periodicity of the spring, wasn't very apparent. The guide book said that the best time to see the change was in the fall, so yesterday we went back to see the difference/periodic change.
Accompanied by our daughter Jenny, we all enjoyed the short hike to the spring. It really is a pleasant and easy hike, at least until you reach the side valley from which the springs flow originates. Then it steepens and Renita and I both had to stop to catch our breaths.
We could see that the water emerged below the natural spring opening and so we were disappointed in that the spring was dry. Still we waited a bit and just as I was about to head back down, Renita and Jenny both heard a strong gurgling sound. It became so loud that even I could hear the splashing and moving water. The water soon appeared in the opening and quickly rose until I was kneeling in the fast currents flow.
It was one of the most amazing things I have seen in quite a while and we all just had to shake our heads and laugh at the sudden reemergence of the spring. It was truly an amazing site. Finally we headed back down, and by the time we reached the bridge the stream and spring had already subsided to its lower flow.
If you are ever in the area in the fall, you really don't want to miss the changing flow of the periodic spring at Afton. Where else can you see and hear a cold water geyser? Its well worth the effort and remember to get out of the way of the waters flow. Clear skies

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Family and Friends

We continue to get ready for the winters journey, but it’s not all busy times as we have had the pleasure to have some visitors. First Bob and Sue stopped by, on their way to Florida, and then our daughter flew in and will be here for a week.

It is always great to visit with friends, and Bob and Sue had a lot of news. After full timing for five years they are going to become part timers and actually buy a house in northern Florida. They sold their motor home and bought an Airstream and a 2010 Ford truck. They have had nothing but repairs with the motor home and they both seemed to be more relaxed then when we visited with them in Texas.

Yesterday we drove to Jackson to pick up our daughter, she flew in from Florida, and what was supposed to be a simple pick up at the airport turned into an ordeal. Just before her plane landed the experimental aircraft in front of her plane crashed and killed the people on board.

Her flight passed over the wreckage, they were right behind it, and then turned and flew to Idaho Falls, as the airport was closed. Three hours later her flight left Idaho Falls, after they checked to see if the landing strip was long enough to take off on, and she safely made it to the Jackson Hole Airport.

We spent the waiting time wisely, by leaving the airport and checking out the Teton National Park Headquarters, where we got info on hiking and canoeing in the park. It’s so beautiful there and we both couldn’t believe that it was our first trip, this year, into the park. Next year we plan on having a small pickup camper that will allow us to spend more time in and near Yellowstone and the Tetons.

Last night we talked a bit about the blessings of every new day, of course we were all moved by the plane crash. Luckily none of us actually saw it happen; although we did see the emergency vehicles respond and surround the crash site. Again every day is a blessing and some days the blessings include visits from friends and family! Clear skies.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rock and Rain and Smoke and a Library Card!

We have had near daily rains, as a summer monsoon has taken position sending rain after rain crashing into the mountains and valleys. It’s so unusual, out west, and so welcome to see such moisture.  Now if the welcome rain would only move a little further north and west it could douse the fires in Idaho and Southern Montana.

Our skies have been pristine, until a few days ago, when the wind shifted from the south west to the north by north west. That brought heavy smoke from the fires and reduced visibility but today’s precipitation has washed the skies and so we have the clean air that is the norm.

So we have spent our time indoors, grinding rock in the studio, packing and stowing our stuff in the fifth wheel and deciding what to take and what to leave as we head out for repairs and our winter journey to the south. It’s been nice to be able to make so many cabochons and even to work more mammoth tusk.

Our mammoth tusk is no longer for sale online as the company we list at has decided to ban all ivory products regardless of the source. I pointed out in my heated email that walrus tusk and elk’s teeth are also ivory and should be likewise banned. I further mentioned that whale bone and baleen were a heck of a lot more objectionable then fossil jewelry, but it was to no avail, (being Irish I have little patience when dealing with fools). Regardless our store is still open but minus the fossil carvings.

On a bright note we finally went to the local branch library and got library cards. There we made a great discovery, namely that the local library and the Wyoming State wide library system has a vast collection of online bestsellers! Now we can use our computer, smart phone and Kindle to check them out. So I have been catching up and have read four books in the last four days.

So all is well here and we even have two more visits from friends and family. We look forward to seeing our friends Bob and Sue and then our own nice nurse, Jenny. The leaves are starting to turn and it won’t be long before we resume our travels. Clear skies