Monday, September 28, 2015

The Super Moon Lunar Eclipse, Star Valley, Wyoming

I am not really sure where the name, "Super Moon", came from as the moon is simply at perhilion. This is the point where its closet to the earth. Anyway the eclipse forecast here was not good as cloudy skies threatened, still I set my camera up and took a few images of a gorgeous sunset.
Watching the football game I set a timer but every time I went out the clouds and mountains blocked the view. At halftime a patch of clear skies appeared and there it was, the moon at totality! Grabbing the new camera I went out and tried to take some images, (the above image is the best one I took with the 75-305, the next four were with the smaller lens).
I tried to use the truck as a stable platform but a neighbors stupid trees were in the way, (I don't understand why people want to plant trees and block every one's view of the mountains and sunsets).
Anyway I was able to move over to another spot and started to take image after image.
Going inside I was dismayed to discover that the 75-305 telephoto lens just didn't have a low enough focal setting to allow me to capture a good image, The moon did show up, barely, so I switched out the large lens to the 28-75mm and actually got a good but blurry image.
Later I went out and took some images of the moon as it left the earths shadow. The contrast between the shadow and sunlit moon caused more problems but at least I could see the curve of the shadow of the earth, (one of the proofs that the earth was round).
So it worked out and we were able to see the eclipse. Now I have to do some research in preparation for the upcoming Total Eclipse of the Sun, August 21, 2017. Plan your trip here as the totality path is only thirty miles north of here! Rooms are already going fast in Jackson, Wyoming, (seriously)!
Clear skies

Friday, September 25, 2015

Two Ocean Lake, Fall Colors In the Tetons, and lots of Elk

We wanted to make one last fall trip to the Tetons and so after talking with our friends George and Val, we decided to do so. They had actually went there the day before but hadn't seen any elk. Knowing that they hadn't looked in the right place we decided to show them some lesser known places.
Heading into the park, we first stopped at Glacier Point, an overlook pullout above the Snake River Valley. It didn't take long to show them the location of the elk, across the river and and above it on the second terrace. There the elk are easily visible with a good pair of binoculars but out of sight to most of the tourists.
Setting up our Celestron c 90 telescope, we got a fine view of the big bulls and their harems. One huge bull, his neck swollen by mating fury, hormones, had a harem of twenty some cows. He kept his harem herded together and constantly ran back and forth challenging other smaller bulls.
Ever the teacher we invited other's to look through our telescope and most did. One man was hesitant but his wife literally grabbed his arm and pulled him over to take a peek at the herds. We stopped at the other two pull outs and saw more elk. Most people will never buy a telescope but everyone who loves the out of doors should save up and buy a great pair of binoculars.
On the way there we had a surprise as we saw a number of people surrounding a small aspen grove. Inside the grove were a somewhat frightened moose with her calf. People were getting too close and we all thought the moose would charge but she finally decided to lay down. A lady asked Renita what was the difference between a moose and a deer. Renita told her that moose were huge compared to deer and sometimes charged and trampled visitors.
From there we headed toward a lessor know trail head, Two Ocean Lakes. Its a place where I had taken students on field trips, many years ago. Its a place to take a beautiful hike and definitely a place to arm oneself with bells to warn the bears of your approach.
The fall colors were magnificent and while we didn't have time for a hike we made a note to head back there  and dedicate a day to walking from there to Emma Matilda Lake, The area is closed in the spring due to calving elk and numerous grizzly bears hunting the newborn calves).
Crossing Jackson Lake dam we turned up the Signal Mountain road. Narrow but paved it was an easy drive to the top, but it's definitely not for the acrophobic. The road does not have any hairpin signs and they don't bother with guard rails!
Time was running out and so we headed back down to Jackson and then back to Thayne. It had been a day with many blessings, a day surrounded by beautiful fall colors and lots of wildlife. I think this place is as close to heaven as one can get, at least while still breathing! Clear skies

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Trip Over Togotee Pass, Doctors, Rocks, and Fall Colors

It was time for my annual cardiologist checkup so I made an appointment in Riverton. The original plan was to load the truck camper and spend a few nights in the jade fields but the weather turned nasty and so we decided to spend a night in a motel.
A strong stationary front was bringing heavy rain and snow but we managed to drive out of it as we headed over Togotee Pass, (the east entrance to Grand Teton National Park). On the east side the winds were gusting to fifty miles per hour and we were glad we were empty and not hauling a camper.
Arriving early we managed to stop at the two rock shops in Riverton and of course added more rocks to our collection. We met a jade dealer who shared with us his private collection piece of Bull Canyon Jade and it was the best Turtleback jade we have ever seen.
He lightened our billfolds of a considerable amount of money but we did end up with three pieces of apple green jade. Across the street the Rock Solid rock shop beckoned and we added lepidolite, amazonite and a piece of good adventurine.
The doctors visit was good, in that my ekg was unchanged and showed no further heart damage, so we could plan on heading south as soon as Renita has finished her last doctors checkup. Hurrying quickly to the truck we drove through Wind River Canyon headed for Ave's Silver and Rock Shop, in Thermopolis Wyoming.
The rock shop has been completely redone and sitting proudly out front is a 2740 pound Wyoming Jade boulder. It was found two years ago and is on sale for only $27400 dollars. We didn't have room in our truck and definitely didn't have the money so we settled on other stones.

Lepidolite has been a big seller for us and we actually ran out so we purchased ten pounds of the purple mica. We also bought some more dinosaur bone and some really pretty Tiffany stone, which is also called Bertranite, (the mineral from which beryllium is refined and is used for nose cones of rockets).
The next day we headed back to Star Valley. I was able to take a nice image of Crow Heart Butte and another showing the multicolored layers of the Morrison Formation. That's a rock layer from which most of the dinosaur bones you see in museums have been recovered.
We ran into snow on Togotee Pass, which was no surprise as its around 9500 feet in elevation. Luckily the road was only wet and we were able to safely drive down to Moran Junction and Jackson.
There were a few elk out on the snake river benches but nothing close enough for any pictures, so we consoled ourselves to taking images of the fall colors. They are really poor as we were traveling in rain at fifty five miles per hour.
I always try to spend a little of my birthday in Grand Teton National Park, (its fifty five miles away),and this year was a really quick, rainy, and cold visit. We plan on going back next week so hopefully the skies will clear and we can spot some wildlife. Clear skies

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall Colors, A Quick Trip to Odgen, and Our Lapidary Studio

Fall is almost here and the Resort is emptying. The fall colors here are not as bright as normal, due to lots of summer moisture, but you don't have to drive very far to see great mountain colors. We discovered this while making a quick trip to Ogden to purchase a lapidary shop's equipment and rocks, and discovered another beautiful route through the mountains.
While getting my oil changed, in preparation for the fall exodus to the Gulf Coast, the owner of the garage told me the reason for the duller fall colors. She said that the heavy summer moisture meant that the oaks did not have to send sugar to the leaves and so the leaves simply turn brown and fall off.
Still we hoped for a colorful drive as we headed to Ogden, Utah. During the show, last week, a man from Odgen approached our tent and told us he was emptying the family house in preparation to renting it. His parents had both passed and his father had been involved in lapidary and jewelry making.
His wife sent us images of the equipment and so we hurried to their house in hopes of purchasing as much as possible. We have needed a slab saw and a dedicated trim saw, so we don't have to haul all of our rough rocks to Texas, (we still will have to haul the larger ones to cut down to size). Now we are the proud owners of a twelve inch slab and an eight inch trim saw, both Lorotones and both in really great shape.
The seller, Wayne, recommended we head up Odgen Canyon, (Highway 39 to Randolph), and was he ever right. It's a beautiful drive through rocks and trees and it follows a narrow and steep sided ridge. Its definitely not for the acrophobic and its also a road you don't want to pull your big rig.
Renita was busy taking image after image and giving me vivid descriptions of the colors. I really couldn't appreciate them as much as I was concentrating on keeping us alive, as there were few guard rails along this narrow road. It reminded me of driving in Alaska, somewhat like the Top of the World Highway, only paved of course.
So now its doctor time and we are in the midst of getting our annual checkups. These are going to delay our start till early October. We should see some snow before then but Indian Summers usual happen here and so we should have good weather for crossing the Rockies.
Clear skies

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crossing Teton Pass, Steep to say the least!

We rested the day after the show and then decided to head to Driggs, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming via Teton Pass. We invited our friend Valerie and she readily said yes, so we picked her up and headed to Alpine and then towards Victor and Driggs.
Its about seventy five miles to Driggs and the first part is easy as we drove to Alpine and then down the Snake River Canyon. The leaves have just started to turn so its not really colorful yet. Still there is a hint of the beauty soon to be here.
In Swam Valley we turned towards Driggs and for once we did not stop at the home of the Square Ice Cream Cone Shop! It took all my willpower to keep on going but the doctor said I am a lot heavy ad need to go on a diet, (part of my problem is I still think of myself as being the 112 pound wrestler I was in High school).
Crossing the Big Hole Mountains we reached Victor and then Driggs where we stopped at the Teton Jade Store. There Renita and I picked through boxes of Wyoming jade slices and before we left we had a small but expensive box of green and emerald Wyoming jade.More weight for the long long trailer!
We retraced our route to Victor where we had lunch before heading up and over Teton Pass. We had heard of the steep grade, lots of the pass is a ten percent grade, and also heard stories of the numerous winter avalanches that sweep across the road .
The most frightening story was told by Ted Majors, the founder of the Teton Science School. He told our group, we were taking a winter seminar on winter survival and avalanche rescue, of how he and his son had had their jeep swept off the road. The avalanche buried their vehicle, leaving only one tire visible which allowed the rescuers to find them, He survived in an air pocket but his son passed during the ordeal.
Climbing up the road was steep and slow and reaching the top we stopped to enjoy the spectactcuar view. Above us loomed an avalanche chute and a tree nearby told of the force that stripped its limbs from the roaring snow.
Renita and Val posed for a great picture/image, with Jackson and Jackson Hole three thousand feet below. The view reminded me of the time, long ago, when I climbed Teewinot. Its a mountain whose peak is right below the Grand. A relative safe route it still cna be dangerous if you get off route,
Heading down the east side we stopped for images of the road far below. The descent was just as steep and the Pass is one which I would never pull a trailer. On the way down a tow truck was towing a motor home up the pass, reminding me of our friends Jim and Nancy. Their big motor home had broken down in Grand Teton National Park and the towing service had their rig carried over Teton Pass, (a decision made by some flat lander sitting safely in a office. as it was cheaper by a few miles to require such a route).
We reached the bottom of the pass and drove by Teton Village, (a community built at the bottom of numerous avalanche run outs), and then made it to Jackson. There of course we had to stop at the grocery store to purchase items not available at our local Thayne supermarket, ( if you have been here don't laugh too hard at me using the label supermarket).
Driving back to Thayne, along the Snake River Canyon, we did stop and walk down to view a couple of the named rapids. The Big Kahuna and the Piano Bar can be quite dangerous during high water levels but right now the rivers flow is really low and so the rapids could be easily paddled.
It was a great day of a new road traveled, a new pass crossed, and of course more rocks! Thank you God for this days blessings and the blessing and beauty of each new day. Clear skies

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Art in The Parking Lot at Raven Lunatics, 2015

It's always amazing when another summer comes to an end. Here we celebrate the Labor Day weekend with our last show of the year. The Art in the Parking Lot show is hosted by two of the business's in Alpine, Wyoming.
Day one arrived and we set up our pendants and bracelets as it started to rain. Luckily we have a nice tent with sides and so we were able to raise and lower the curtains to keep everything dry. Unfortunately our customers aren't ducks and so only a few brave souls were all that showed up.
However we did have several other rock hounds bring their unknown stones for me to attempt to identify. I think I got most of them right, anyway Fred and Jeff both seemed to be happy. I didn't set up my equipment to demonstrate cabochon grinding but I promised to set our equipment up the next day.
The next day was all sunny blue skies and so we set up, hopefully for a better day. Fred and Jeff returned and I showed them how we grind and polish cabochons. The rock I was shaping was one Fred had found and it turned out to be a really pretty jasper. It reminded me of Biggs jasper but with more brown hues in this shiny stone.
Sales were brisk but we still had a very successful day. As we work with unique and special material we cater to special buyers. They must be able to realize the rareness of what they are seeing. That of course is what sets us apart and if you are going to make and sell something you need to have a "hook".
We also had a special visit by two traveling pastel artists. Sharon and Allan. We met them years ago in Texas and later that evening they showed us the plein air pieces they had started in this years summer adventures at Glacier and Yellowstone parks
Day three was also a good day, weather wise, but the crowd was smaller. Still we caught the eye of several tourists from Utah, Virginia and New York. We also did rock grinding demonstrations and had a pretty good day.
By the end of the third day we were tired and so when the wind picked up we decided to close up early. If you missed us we will be back here next year and if you can't wait Raven Lunatics Art Gallery has examples of our work for sale.
The show ended up being the best show we have ever done but we don't just rate a show as successful by the amount we sell. As important to us is the people we meet, especially the people with the same interests.  It was nice to meet you all, so please stop by again! Clear skies

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Driving the Loop, September 2nd, 2015

The road looked different, and I didn't remember all the large rocks. Still it had to be the right road, even though we had seen a good road that turned off to the north west. Climbing over a ridge the road headed northeast and began a steep descent.I finally recognized an old avalanche debris field.
We had driven through it last year, barely making it though the ice and avoiding the five hundred foot drop to the valley floor below. There was no ice or snow, this year. Reaching a hair pin curve we stopped to check the topographic map, and now we were positive  of our location, we were driving along Poison creek.
A little further the valley opened up and now we could see the Tri County Intersection. From here you could go southeast to LeBarge, north to Alpine, or back west to Highway 89 and the Salt Pass.
We drove a ways down the LeBarge road, hoping to find some fishable water. Lebarge Creek does hold some Colorado Cutthroats, but the stream here was tiny. It had taken us three hours to reach this spot and time was pressing so we turned around and headed down the Grey's river road.
Planning on doing some fishing we drove quite a ways before there was enough water to hold some cuts, but the willows were son tick that fishing would be difficult at best. We had almost seventy miles to drive down a wash board road and I mentioned that it was just like a ride at Disneyland, but this ride would be another three hours!
We finally stopped for lunch before locating some good water and Val caught the first fish of the day. She caught it on a dry fly and so we all changed but it was to no avail. Further down we came across a spot where I caught and released two nice fine spotted snake river cuts. No one else had any luck but Renita spotted a suspicious track, also imprinted with a print from a bobcat.
We were still thirty miles from Alpine and so we drove further. The wind came up and made our fly fishing almost impossible but not before George caught and released another beautiful trout. The hunting camps became more plentiful, as archery season has started. Still we passed feeding deer and we almost had  a small buck collide with the truck.
It had been a fun but tiring day as we finally reached the rv park. The road had been dry and was pretty easy this time of year, still it is not a road to drive in a car with low clearance! If you drive it expect to go slow and be sure it hasn't rained recently!
Clear skies