Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Last Town on Earth - Thomas Mullen

This is another from Sunriver Book Store's Carol's Surprise book club. It's about the 1918 flu epidemic and is set in a small mill town in Washington. The town leaders decide to quarantine themselves from the outside world, to no avail. Scary times, interesting read.

Skylight Confessions - Alice Hoffman

This book was loaned to me by a coworker. It was a quick read, but a bit depressing. A young woman feels it is her destiny to marry the first person who comes along. Too bad he's shallow and unloving. The bulk of the book is about the fallout of the relationship and their children. A bit of mysticism added some interest. Not quite as good as other Alice Hoffman books I've read.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Grand Tetons and Grizzlies

We were sad to leave Yellowstone, but excited to head south to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. It's just a short drive out the south entrance to Grand Teton. Our first stop was at the Jackson Lake Lodge where there's a deck overlooking a meadow where animals roam. The only thing we saw was a herd of elk in the distance. Eavesdropping on other sightseers was entertaining. They all thought the could see moose and other wild animals when, in fact, they were either looking at elk or a rock.

Then we drove on to Jenny Lake, stopping along the way to take pictures of the mountains and wildflowers. The wildflowers all week were out of this world, especially in the Tetons. The fields were abloom with purple or yellow flowers. So lovely.

At Jenny Lake, we ate lunch, then had a difficult time finding a parking spot for the RV, but we finally located something. We decided to hike the 2.5 miles to the Hidden Falls. The trail was very well maintained and it was a pleasant time viewing the lake, flowers, and mountains all along the way. Now that's what hiking should be like. A new vista at every turn. After checking out the wildly cascading water, we took a the shuttle boat back across the lake as the sun was going down behind the mountains. Wow!

Our reservations for the night were a few miles east of the park, so we headed out. On the way, we again saw cars pulled over and lo and behold...Grizzly. Just off the road. Of course, we stopped and gawked and took lots of pics where the bear is too small to see, but oh well. How often does one see a grizzly bear?

The RV park left a little to be desired, our view of the mountains was partially blocked by dumpsters, but the drive past Wyoming ranches was worth it. The area could not be more beautiful. Bill found a dead mouse under the motorhome, so we took a picture of him flying over the mountains. Little things amuse little minds!

The next morning we woke to a bright, clear day to spend in Jackson Hole before heading home. We shopped around. Great shopping! Ate lunch at the Snake River Brewery...just ok and then had to say goodbye to Bill & Darla who were driving home through SLC.

Jill really wanted to drive home via Missoula, MT and Coeur d'Alene, but it was just too far out of the way. Maybe next time. I guess Jill doesn't always get what she wants....

The drive out of Jackson Hole in the RV was slow, to say the least. We had quite the line up of cars trailing us. But once we were over the top the drive back to Portland went quick. We left Wyoming at 3:30 and got the Oregon around 11:00 p.m. where we spent the night in a rest area. Pat and I got up early and started driving and made it back home by mid afternoon. Lunch was at a great resaurant, The Baldwin Saloon in The Dalles.

Yellowstone Yummies

We ate great. Here's a glimpse of our menu:

Artichoke quiche and spinach quiche
Breakfast burritos
Homemade granola and yogurt
Fresh scones and fruit
Homemade Egg McMuffins
Tomato Bagels

Pesto & feta pizza
Grilled ciabatta sandwiches
Turkey burgers
Hot dogs
Mediterranean Hummus Wraps
Chicken Sausage kabobs

Grilled Cilantro Chicken
BBQ Steaks and potatoes
Pasta Arrabiata
Chili & Cornbread
BBQ Salmon

Rookie Fisherwomen

The day we'd been waiting for. Jill and I got to use our fishing licenses. After a quick lesson from fishing expert, Bill, and a lot of complaining about the windy conditions, we tried our luck. Bill brought rods (not poles) for all and we spread out along the bank and enjoyed the peace of standing along a beautiful river. It was great, I could definitely see myself spending time like this.

I was lucky enough to land a little, tiny brown trout. Of course, all fish were thrown back to be caught another and another and another day. Jill looked cute in Bill's waders (always important). Then we were hungry. So, we headed to the Old Faithful Lodge area for a picnic.

Throughout the week, we'd been keeping track of all the license plates we saw. On this day, we were only in need of Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Delaware. We figured we'd never find Hawaii, but you never know. After lunch, we scouted the parking lot and found all but Delaware. Sad to say, we never did see Delaware. they not travel?

After lunch, we took a hike to the famous Morning Glory pool. It was very beautiful, but the highlight of the hike was another geyser that continuously spewed water and sounded like a dragon breathing. Oh...and the little boy who said, "directly to your left you'll see the Mastiff Geyser". Who talks like that?

They guys headed back for a bit more time on the riverbank, while the ladies drove back to camp to let the doggies out and get ready for our dinner at the Old Faithful Inn. On the way, we say about a gazillion cars pulled over to the side of the road and some park rangers. Obviously, we had to join the fun. It was our first glimpse of a grizzly bear mamma with two cubs sleeping under a tree a couple hundred yards off the road. There wasn't much to see, but at least we saw a little.

Dinner was nice at the beautiful inn. The inn itself is so hard to describe. Here's a link to some pictures . Between us, we ordered buffalo steaks, salmon and corn cakes. The food was great, the atmosphere better. Afterward, we wandered around the Inn. Outside on the 2nd floor, there's a deck to view Old Faithful. Wish we'd been there during the day to take advantage of the panorama.

Mammoth, Mountain Sheep & Montana

Our longest drive was to the northwest corner of Yellowstone to the Mammoth area. As we drove north, the country opened up and we saw many bison herds and other animals including mountain sheep. It's amazing how many cars are driving around the park and the insane slamming of brakes when a wild animal is sighted. Cars end up stopped every which way on and off the road.

Our plan was to drive to Mammoth and partake in the hotsprings as they pour into the river. Unfortunately, the river area was closed due to high water from the late spring runoff. It was also unexpected to have no water running over the travertine steps. It's usually a waterfall, but this time, quite dry. Just goes to show how much Yellowstone features change from year to year. Some are new, some dry up, you just never know.

So, we drove a little way and had lunch along a river in the little corner of Yellowstone that is in Montana. Then we hung out and enjoyed cooling our feet in the cold water. It was definitely the hottest day we experience and the water was a welcome break.

Driving back to camp took us by the Ranger Museum where we had a little stop and scouted out the terrain for the next day's fishing adventure on the Firehole River. Another satifying day!!

Old Faithful & Fly Fishing

Early the next morning, I made scones (nice to have the motorhome's oven) with dried cherries, white chocolate chips and pecans. It is so nice to eat tasty food outside. Along with the scones, we had fruit and fresh ground coffee.

Our first stop was the Old Faithful Lodge where we enjoyed fresh huckleberry ice cream while we waited for Old Faithful's eruption. On the drive from our campsite to the lodge we crossed the Continental Divide twice. During our week in Yellowstone, we probably crossed it a dozen times at least.

I was surprised how many people wait for each eruption, which take place about every 90 minutes (give or take). The eruptions vary in size and the one we saw was fairly small but still exciting.

Our next stop was the riverbank of the Firehole River. We slogged through a marshy area to get to the river and set up a nice day camp. The guys fished, the rest of us wandered, talked, read and knitted in the sun. We had a resident bison who kept us company nearby throughout the day and another that showed up across the river late in the afternoon. Lunch was grilled ciabatta sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, feta and pesto.

We had one last stop at another geyser basin where we saw crazy people 'approaching' the bison. Evidently, many people are injured by bison when they get too close. So scary, they came within about 5 feet of them. The most impressive hot pool was called the prismatic pool, it was so blue.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

West Thumb & Waterfalls

The first day in Yellowstone took us to the Canyon area via the West Thumb. Our first stop was the geyser basin at West Thumb. I was surprised by the number of beautiful hot water features, geysers, springs, pots and by their color. The sulfur smell was just part of the fun.

After that we headed to the Yellowstone Hotel, which had recently been updated. The yellow color was unexpected, we thought it would be a log lodge instead. The lobby was an inviting place to enjoy a cool beverage and watch the scenery.

As we headed north, there was more and more open terrain and bison. We stopped along the Yellowstone River for lovely lunch of BBQ turkey burgers. Bill got his first opportunity to fish.

The upper and lower falls were, of course, much more spectacular than the pictures we all grew up with. We stopped across from the upper falls for a photo op, then hiked along the south rim to the lower falls. Bill was elected to drive the car and hiked back to meet us.

One of the highlights was the brink of the upper falls. There's a viewpoint just where the waterfall plummets. The volume of water during this spring runoff was unbelievable. Just standing there as the water rushed by created a bit of vertigo. We took tons of pictures and I posted only a few here.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at another geyser basin and took a hike. Lots of bubbling pools and 'evidence' that bison hang out in the area.

Yellowstone Vacation

Last year, Jill decided that we all should go to Yellowstone in the motorhome. What Jill wants; Jill gets. So on June 20 we took off from Beaverton and Fall River for a 10 day road trip. Those who rode in the motorhome each took a turn at the wheel of the rig.

On the first day we made it just past Boise to Mountain Home and stayed in a KOA. First, we met Darla and Bill in Boise and enjoyed a cool DQ treat. Dinner that night was wonderful chili and cornbread supplied by Darla. We were starved. In the morning when we woke up, we realized we'd parked next door to a gravel pit. Oh well, we were off to Yellowstone and didn't look back.

Instead of staying on the Interstate, we diverted to Craters of the Moon. To get there, you have to drive through a section of Idaho home to multiple secret government agencies and the oldest nuclear reactor in the U.S. Creepy!

The craters of the moon were a great start to our trip. It's a good thing we didn't see them on the way back, they pale in comparison to Yellowstone. We ate one of my favorite sandwiches for lunch there. Wraps made with hummus, tomato, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumber, lettuce and italian dressing. Yummers.

It took a long time to get to our destination with all the stops. The most important was the stop to acquired our 'buffs' ala Survivor. Again.. What Jill wants..... Anyway they were a highlight. We wore them all different ways, headband, wristband, pirate, neckband.... and they came in quite handy on hot days. Nothing so refreshing as a wet buff around one's neck. Ha!

We entered by the West gate and arrived just as the sun was going down. That didn't keep us from seeing wildlife right away. Bald eagle nest, bison and elk. At just before 10:00 pm we got to the campground, Grant Village. After a laundry list of bear warnings from the camp host, we all settled into the motorhome for a welcome rest. No bears in sight.

Book Group: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

I picked this bookf ro books group on the recommendation of Sun River Book Store. Fascinating information about growing up as a female in China, especially about foot binding. After I read it I had to look up what bound feet look like. Crazy.

I loved it until about the last quarter, then the author changed the focus of the book and lost me. On whole, it's a very good read.

The Faith Club -

I loved this book that was recommended by Darla. Christian, Muslim, and Jewish women start a club to understand each other's religion. They came to realize that the religions are much more similar than they expected and each of them grew in their understanding of God's plans. Great read.