Junction City KS, Repairs, and Higginsville MO

With our stay in North Platte NE complete…we departed last Sunday for the 330something mile trip down to Junction City CO…birthplace of our Majestic at the New Horizons RV factory. We pulled in about 1500 and got ourselves parked in front of the repair bays on the right side of the property…then had some leftovers for dinner and had an early bedtime as we were tired and had to meet Ken (service manager) early Monday morning.

We went and visited Ken at 0631 right after he started work on Monday morning…figuring we needed to be first in line in order to be done by Friday afternoon…we have an appointment in Elkhart for bearing maintenance next Monday. Gave him our list which included 3 items…adding a support for our microwave at the rear, we replaced it a couple years back and the bracket that holds it to the wall is failing meaning only the bolts from the cabinet above are holding it…repainting the lower front end under the bedroom and behind the kingpin with rock guard paint…and repairing the T-molding on the rear of the LR slide that was damaged in northern CA when we inadvertently dumped the passenger side wheels into a rut in the dirt turnaround. He said fine…we told him we needed to be done by Friday…he said fine and headed off. To our amazement by 1300 on Monday the bracket was installed and the molding installed and ready for paint…and the rock guard paint was on order from the local supplier they use for paint. Late Monday he told us that he would probably get us into the paint booth Wednesday evening which meant we would sit around doing nothing on Tuesday. We figured that was situation normal for service visits based on past history.

Tuesday about noontime…he knocked on our door and told us he had changed his plan…we would go into the paint booth Tuesday evening so we needed to move out. We headed over to the Motel 6 (Tom Bodett left the light on for us) about 1500 after they took the rig off for painting. We showed back up about 0820 Wednesday morning and the painting was done and we were back in front of the service bay…it al looks great. That meant we were done but by the time we officially figured that out it was about 1200 so we decided to just stay and head out Thursday. We were scheduled to overnight in Higginsville MO about 30 miles east of Kansas City on Saturday night anyway…and after checking to ensure site availability we went ahead and setup a reservation for Thursday through Saturday nights. We went out and had some sushi for dinner…amazingly pretty good for Kansas…way, way better than the sushi in Cody WY…then stopped at Walmart for some groceries. 

Our friend Robert had arrived Monday for some work…and although we had time to chat with him for a couple of short periods he is in the throes of battery and tire issues…and with us being at the hotel on Tuesday night we didn’t get a chance to have dinner with him and a detailed chat about life since we saw each other last.

Thursday morning we hitched up and were ready to go a bit after 1100…we knocked on Robert’s door to say our “until next times”…no answer…turned out he was asleep so he didn’t hear either that or the text or phone ring.

I have to say…things have improved considerably for service at the New Horizons factory. Ken moved from the main building out to an office in the service facility…which gets him out of sight of the customer lounge and employee lounge. In addition…the new CEO Brian is slowly changing the culture of the company to be more customer and service oriented…and we have to say it’s a most definite up-tick. I can’t say for sure what improved things…but this is the first time ever that we had no issues with getting what we needed accomplished and ahead of schedule to the good.

We headed east out of Junction City and south around Kansas City ending up at Great Escape Campground in Higginsville MO. We had stayed here before…and we recognized the buildings and layout when we arrived…but at least as far as Neil was concerned it wasn’t what he thought it would be even though he recognized it when we pulled in. He was thinking of another place we overnighted in the past somewhere in the middle of the country…it was located in the same place relative to the freeway exit as Great Escape is and somehow he got the two of them mixed up. No worries though…we quickly checked in and pulled into site 57…one of their super sites which means it’s wider and longer than most…right down by what they call the lake but we would call it a pond. It had poured rain as we headed toward Kansas City…but by the time we got east of town most of the storm had thankfully passed north and west of us so it was dry in Higginsville. 

We went over to the local winery/brewpub/eatery for dinner…had a decent but not really worth $20 bottle of wine and an outstanding mushroom and roasted garlic pizza…it had fermented sourdough crust that was really, really tasty…too bad there wasn’t just a bit more of it.

We’ve got nothing at all planned for our stay here in Higginsville…we need to go fill Big Red with diesel as we need to fill up once between Kansas and Elkhart and we’re already unhitched here while our next stop is just an overnight no unhitch required site. We’ll need some DEF before we get to Elkhart but will just pull around in the truck stop where you can pump it instead of having to get multiple boxes and put them in. Neil’s grilling some lamb chops today with fresh grilled corn and grilled balsamic mushrooms…and we’ll finish last night’s white wine at Happy Hour and open something or other to go with the lamb. Tomorrow is the Alabama game then off to Mass and an eatery she found up in town. 

Sunday we’ll be off 330 miles through St. Louis to Casey IL then another 265 via Indianapolis IN on Monday to Elkhart where we’ll park at the MORRyde factory for our scheduled service on Tuesday Sep 17. We’ve got another appointment at the Quadra Bigfoot Leveler factory in nearby White Pigeon MI on Thursday…and then a scheduled stop in Cincinnati 269 miles south on Saturday Sep 21. If we get done early enough and can move Quadra to Wednesday…we’ll head on over there and if we’re done early we’ll see about getting into Cincinnati OH a day or two early…but mostly we’ll be hit and miss for those few days not knowing where we’ll really overnight until the day before probably. 

Once we get to Cincinnati…we’ll be back on schedule for the eastbound portion of the US-50 trip having just missed a little of it between Kansas City and Cincinnati…after our extended stay in Cody we’re looking forward to some Fun Stuff©…although I’ve got none of that for ya today.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

I don’t know what to think about the Democratic presidential candidates…apparently since basic Civics is no longer a required course in high school none of them learned about things like constitutional rights and what is and isn’t legal. For example…O’Rourke says that “Hell yes, we’re going to forcibly take your AR-15s and AK-47s”…but there’s a little trouble with that. First off…an AK-47 is a fully automatic military rifle that is already illegal under the Federal Firearms Act of 1934 unless you have a federal firearms permit. Second…the AR-15…despite what you read in the media about it being an “military style assault rifle”…is nothing more than your basic semiautomatic rifle…just like every other rifle in the world except for single shot bolt action rifles or muzzle loaders. The difference is that it has a detachable magazine…which may or may not have a lot of capacity…and it is black and looks scary. It’s also arguably the most popular hunting and target plinking rifle in the country depending on which source you believe…and it was the target of the much lamented by liberals Clinton era Assault Weapons Ban which did pretty much nothing to reduce crime. However…I can understand that liberals and gun haters want to get rid of them…but then there’s that pesky second amendment. I’m even fine with liberals and gun haters trying to get an amendment passed and ratified to repeal the second amendment. However…they claim that’s too hard and that is why we need “common sense gun control”…essentially they don’t have support to repeal the amendment so they want to nibble around the edges…just a little now but then next time they’ll be back wanting another nibble. Nope…ain’t happening. The amendment is pretty clear…and despite the liberals claims that it doesn’t apply to “military weapons”…as I noted the AR-15 isn’t a military weapon and back in the late 1700s private citizens could own their own artillery pieces if they wanted to…so the amendment clearly didn’t limit by intention or by wording. As I said…go ahead and try to change it…it’s hard but that’s because the founding fathers deliberately made it hard…because they wanted to prevent politicians from screwing it up without a real majority of the population supporting things.

Another example…Medicare for all…which not even the liberals most fervent partners in labor unions support. It will cost the government somewhere between $10 trillion (Democrat estimate) and $20 trillion (Republican estimate) over the next 10 years to implement. Even at the low end…that’s another trillion a year added to the current $4 trillion federal outlay…a 25 percent increase. Obviously…this will require a massive tax increase to fund…at least Bernie Sanders admits that this is true but all the rest claim that it will be paid for “out of savings”. Not sure how that works…and it’s all BS anyway…but that’s what they claim.

Third example…Ms. Warren’s wealth tax. She wants to tax…in addition to increasing income tax on rich people…the net worth of people over $50 million by 1 or 2 percent a year depending on how much money you have. This is essentially just a confiscation…but there are a couple of problems with it. First…it would require determining every year the net worth of all of those rich people…and that’s pretty impossible to determine. For instance…how much is a Van Gogh painting worth if it’s not sold…or how much is a privately held business the size of say MORRyde where we’ll be next week worth? Second…even if this impossible valuation could be done…it could certainly not be accomplished by any government bureaucracy on an annual basis. And the biggest problem…it’s unconstitutional. The constitution specifically says that any direct tax shall be apportioned according to population with the sole exception as authorized in the 16th amendment that an income tax can be applied directly to individuals. Some Democrats are claiming that the 16th allows a wealth tax…I guess they just can’t read. That’s the problem with loose construction of the Constitution as opposed to strict construction. The latter says that “the constitution says what it says” and the former says “it means whatever we want it to mean today” and “it’s a living document that needs to be reinterpreted for modern times. Strict constructionists (i.e., conservatives) believe that you can apply the rules and words in the constitution to modern times but you can’t just invent new rights out of thin air.

Don’t any of those people know how the government is supposed to work according to the constitution? Apparently not.

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297808 horse funny

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HomeDepotCats

Pillage

 

ShootTheMessenger

 

CanaryIslands

Got ya on that one…didn’t I?

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Transit to and Fun Stuff© in North Platte NE

Well…after finishing up Labor Day weekend in Cody WY…we were up and about early the next morning for our 600 mile trip to North Platte NE with an overnight stop in Douglas WY. We were out of the campground by about 0950 and headed south down US-20 through Wind River Canyon and Casper WY where we got on I-25 and continued on over to Douglas WY where we pulled into the KOA for the evening.

On arrival…we discovered that we broke the rear bolt in our LR slide deployment mechanism…haven’t broken one in almost 2 years as we figured out the correct way to position the rig to prevent this sort of occurrence previously. However…our site in Cody was somewhat less than level and we didn’t actually get ourselves leveled properly on the wheels with no twist to the rig before pulling in the rig. Luckily it was the rear bolt which is way easier to replace…and luckily Neil has 6 of them in the parts bin…so it was a pretty quick 20 minute or so repair to get ourselves fully functional again.

Why Douglas WY? Well…first and foremost it was more or less (actually slightly less) than halfway to North Platte but second we wanted to go and view the world record holder…as well as the previous world record holder…of one of the most feared creatures in the west.

This vicious beast can weight as probably 1,500 pounds…the size of a full grown bison…and I have to tell you it has many, many deadly weapons at it’s disposal. It can kick you with legs that have serious amounts of power such that a kick would fracture every bone in your body. It has tremendously long and razor sharp horns that can impale you. Finally…with it’s speed and agility it can easily chase you down, knock you down, and then sit down on you crushing the life out of you as surely as an anaconda or python.

So what is this deadly creature we went to see?

Why…it’s none other than the world famous Jackalope. It was first discovered in 1932 by Douglas Herrick and his unnamed brother when they brought one into a local taxidermy shop in Douglas WY. It’s since only been successfully hunted a few times…all around the Douglas WY area and many local drinking establishments have a taxidermied head of the fearsome beast hung on their walls. In fact…the 2 largest specimens ever taken have been mounted in their entirety and are on display in the town. Here they are…runner up first.

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Mighty fearsome beasts I say…although the record holder seems sorta lean and mean compared to the runner up. In any event…I especially wouldn’t want to run into one in a dark alley outside of a drinking establishment…and since their favorite drink is whiskey that’s the most likely place to run into one. So…Pro Tip…when in Douglas if you’ve perhaps mebbe over-imbibed a bit jus’ make sure ya stay outa the gosh darned alley lest ye meet your doom.

We popped into a local restaurant for dinner…a brew each and some chicken wings and jalapeño poppers as we weren’t overly hungry before heading home to the rig.

Early the next morning…rinse and repeat. It was a quick setup since we only had slides, power, and front jacks to do…and Big Red remained hitched overnight. Back onto I-25 and then onto US-26 just north of the CO border. The GPS wanted us to stay on 25 and then take I-80 east…it prefers freeways to at grade roads. That way was 50 miles farther and we were mostly out in the middle of nowheresville WY and NE…so we took the road less traveled by. We did have to slow momentarily at 3 or 4 towns as we passed through…but otherwise easily maintained the same 64 mph cruise control speed we would have used on the freeway…so the couple of minutes we lost in the small towns were more than compensated for by the 50 mile shorter route.

Arriving in North Platte…we quickly set up in site 0 at the I-80 Lakeside Campground just east and south of the city. Neil dumped and flushed our tanks on arrival…the indicators were not working properly so we did our standard half full, add 4 gallons of vinegar and a cup of Dawn degreaser dish detergent and let it slosh around for 2 days travel to wash all the gunk off the inside of the tank. Our level indicators are ultrasonic based and read the fluid level from outside…but they do get confused by grease or stuff stuck on the inside of the tank and we routinely do this trick at least once during each travel season as well as again just before arriving in FL for the winter. After that it was leftovers for dinner from Labor Day.

Thursday…we were up early for the first of 3 Fun Stuff© outings here in North Platte…the Sandhill Crane Drive…it’s about a 30 mile loop around where the Sandhill Cranes roost during their migration. Actually they only roost here in the spring as they head north…in the fall as they head south they apparently don’t stop here…so we didn’t really think we would see any of them (we seen plenty of them in the past) but we figured we would see other waterfowl and that would make it worth the trip.

We headed out right at prime bird watching time…just after sunrise…but what we didn’t anticipate was it would be pretty seriously foggy and thus with limited visibility we would not see much.

We spotted 3 female mule deer walking through a field but were unable to get any photos before they disappeared into the woods. However…we had pulled into the driveway of a farm to try and catch them and we did spot a flock of wild turkeys.

Ya know…back in the 80s there was this movie Gorillas in the Mist that made Sigourney Weaver famous as she played the treehugger Diane Fossey…I wonder if I can get famous for Turkeys and Trees in the Mist?

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Neil especially liked this tree in the mist with the early morning sunrise behind and to the left.

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As wildlife drives go it was pretty slim…but we did enjoy finding the turkeys…we ended up seeing 3 or 4 other rafters (that’s the term) of them as we proceeded on our drive. The term rafter comes from either the fact that large heavy birds like turkeys tend to roost on the branches of trees which are similar to rafters in height…or from the fact that when they panic their paths tend to crisscross and weave as they run and the root word from Arabic for weaving is raff. 

We finished the day with a nap, lunch, and a steak that Neil broiled for dinner. He was too lazy to get the grill out for one meal…and it was hot…so he just dragged the Breville oven outside and used it instead. Not quite as tasty as a grilled one would have been…but we schmeared roasted garlic cloves all over it when it was done and that outstanding flavor covers a lot of other minor issues.

Friday we did laundry and a winery/brewery tour in town. The wine was good as was the beer and the pizza we had was the best one we’ve had in many months.

Saturday…we headed off on the Wild Horse Canyon Scenic Drive…but it turned out to be pretty much a bust. Nothing to see…not really a canyon that we would call a canyon, and no wildlife. We did spot some glossy ibis (they’re black) but they flew off before we could get a picture.

Cyas.

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Last Day In Cody.

OK…moving along to a less unhappy subject…we’re well into our last day here in Cody…which coincidentally is also the penultimate (or next to last) day of no air as by Wednesday afternoon we’ll be at an elevation that starts with 2 rather than 5.

So…after the weekend where we had numerous calls/emails/texts/messages regarding Baby Sis with a lot of people…we pretty much did nothing. We did watch the Alabama game and as noted in the previous blog hoisted a cocktail or three to honor her but beyond that we went to Mass and did pretty much nothing.

We’ll miss the Elks Lodge here in Cody…they’re really friendly, have a non smoking section in the bar, and keep giving us free cocktails…not to mention the food is pretty good as well as inexpensive as Elks Lodges tend to be. What we won’t miss is the lack of air…we’re feeling the effects of the altitude significantly more than we did when we were last here in 2017. The other thing we won’t miss is the gosh-darned Small Minnow Mayflies…there’s a bazillion of the dang things. They don’t bite but fly into your face, land on your arms and everything else and are generally annoying. Every time you open the door to go in or out another 3 dozen of them fly in…we’ll be smacking them with the flyswatter for the next month I think. They breed in/near fresh water ponds…and since we are at the Cody Trout Ranch campground there’s a whole bunch of trout hatchery ponds just a couple hundred yards away. Once we get out of the campground they’re non existent but they are a real pain here unless the breeze is up a bit.

On Saturday we did head out for our final scheduled Fun Stuff© activity here in Cody…a trip back up the Chief Joseph Highway 20 miles or so then off into the Sunlight Basin area…essentially another canyon. We stopped by the Golden Arches right after sunrise then about 40 minutes drive out to the basin…we figured it would be prime wildlife viewing time…but alas we were wrong.

On the other hand…we did get some nice photos of the views and also had an unexpected surprise.

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What was the surprise…well…it was an honest to goodness cattle drive. We didn’t get quite out as far down the “adventure portion of the tour” dirt road as we planned because we ran into this.

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Yup…a whole heard of cattle being driven down the road from one pasture to someplace I guess. Here’s a couple of shots of the ranch hands in charge.

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There’s something wrong with those people though…they’re supposed to be cowboys and cowgirls so what in the heck are they doing wearing baseball caps instead of 10 gallon Stetsons…I tellya…what’s the world coming to. And 2 of the 5 that we saw had on sneakers instead of boots…and to think they probably call themselves cowboys.

We followed along behind the herd for a few hundred yards then decided to give up and headed back. Once we got back off the dirt road and onto the paved highway…we did spot this doe mule deer alongside one of the switchbacks as we headed up towards Dead Indian Pass.

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We were actually surprised to see her out that late in the day…it was going on to 1200 by the time we saw her.

We stopped at the Clark’s Fork Canyon overlook right before cresting Dead Indian Pass for some more views.

Neil thought that flat topped mesa was pretty cool.

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Overview of the canyon.

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And a closer view…that’s the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River down in that canyon.

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We crested the pass and continued back on to home.

Today…Neil will grill some country pork ribs for dinner along with rice and black beans…one of our favorite dishes. Then we’ll get packed up…we’ve sort of spread things out a bit more than typical for travel season as we’ve been here almost 7 weeks. Then tomorrow we’ll head 260 miles to Douglas WY then another 310 to North Platte NE for 4 nights…then the last 350 to Junction City KS to get the rig’s boo-boo on the LR slide skirt fixed along with a couple other minor repairs. Then we’ll head via Indianapolis to Elkhart IN for bearing and jack maintenance then back down to Cincinnati to continue our 50 eastern portion trip over to the coast before heading south for the winter like the birds do.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Seen in a high school football locker room…again, great advice for our younger generation.

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Baby Blue Marlin…these grow up to be up to 15 feet long including the bill although 8 feet or so is a pretty big male as females are 2-4 times the weight and longer as well.

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WeightIsPerfect

JuryInstructions

PharmacistInstructions

LowesFreezers

Yeah…about that.

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CurseWordMom

The look on the non speaking dog is pretty priceless…best I’ve seen in awhile.

GrassTicklesNipples

Cyas.

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Sad News To Report

Just a quick post today to pass along some sad news for those readers who we haven’t already emailed or called.

Neil is one of 4 (now 3) siblings…his brother Ron is a year older than he is, Mark 3 years younger, and Mary Jane…known to all as Baby Sis…was a year younger than Mark. She lived in Knoxville with her disabled adult daughter…having successfully single parent raised both of her daughters.

We received a call from Mary Jane’s married daughter who lives out in Washington on Friday that Baby Sis had passed away overnight on Thursday.

She had gone to bed early and her younger daughter…who has Aspergers Syndrome…was unable to wake her before she headed out to Breakthrough…essentially her adult day care folks…she told them on arrival that she was unable to wake her mom so when they dropped her off in the afternoon the driver came in and checked and found her deceased. EMS came and confirmed the death, the medical examiner came and evaluated it as peaceful unexpected passing in her sleep.

MJ’s daughters, son in law, and ex husband are there in Tennessee taking care of immediate needs…so all is under control on that front. Services are still up in the air at this point.

MJ was a lifelong Crimson Tide fan along with Neil…and she was far more rabid about it than he is. So I’m quite sure that her spirit was somewhere in the rafters at Atlanta Stadium yesterday watching the Tide trounce the Duke Blue Devils…screaming her head off and having a glass of wine.

So tonight…for those of you who knew her…and even for those who didn’t know her…let us all raise a toast of a glass or three of wine (red preferably as she drank) to our dearly departed Baby Sis. We will miss her phone calls to us…almost always initiated by her and she always said “hi, it’s Baby Sis”…even though we already knew who it was since our iPhones told us so.

There will be a happier post tomorrow as we did have some Fun Stuff© to report on…just not today.

Cyas.

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Bighorn Canyon Boat Trip

Today was probably the highlight of the summer travels for Connie…because there was a boat involved…and we all know that she luvs boats…any kind of boat, any kind of water, just about any kind of weather except frigid…she’s down for it. In fact…the only boat trip she has refused to go on was when Neil offered to take a cruise with her…he’s adamantly opposed to paying money and going on a boat out in the ocean for fun after a career of taking the submarine to sea…but he did offer to go with her on a cruise…but the only one he is interested in is the one in Norway during the winter. Yeah…it’s cold…but other than the time spent outside photographing the Northern Lights…he would spend the rest of the time in the warm bar, hot tub, wheel house, and honeymoon suite. She turned him down though…I can’t imagine why.

Anyways…boat trip.

We headed out about 0815 for the 75 minute drive up to the Horseshoe Bend Marina at the extreme southwest end of Bighorn Lake which was formed in the 1960s when the Yellowtail Dam was finished near Fort Smith MT. The dam was built for irrigation, flood control, and generation of hydroelectric power. Prior to the dam…the entire 55 mile length of the Bighorn Canyon was white water but today the river is a lake in the bottom of the canyon ranging from 35 to more than 400 feet deep. 

We arrived at the marina and about 1015 got underway for our 1000 boat trip…nothing like starting things on time. The trip is about 2 hours and goes down lake about 12 or 13 miles from the marina with the turnaround just past the Devil’s Canyon Overlook we were on top of the other day.

Our guide/boat captain was Michelle…she’s been doing this tour for 14 years and she gave us a brief safety lecture before we departed…how to put on a life jacket and how to use the satellite phone to call for help if anything happened to her. We would actually probably have just driven back towards the marina rather than calling for help…but as it turned out we didn’t need to. When we set out…it was about 60 degrees and a bit windy but once we turned around at 1120 to head back the wind was at our back and the temperature had warmed to a pleasant mid 70s so we were able to shed our hoodies.

On to the photos…those that need a caption for a little explanation will be so captioned.

Our boat the “Belle”…took this while we were waiting for the 1000 boat trip to start.

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Looking across to the rust colored limestone ridge across the lake…this one actually was the first shot of the day rather than the Belle shot above.

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Underway on diesel power…

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Just 55 miles to the Yellowtail Dam. And there’s uranium in them thar rocks…in the wild uranium is found almost exclusively as uranium oxide…also known as yellow cake for it’s distinctive color…the yellow below and right from the mile marker is the uranium oxide. Michelle claimed that if we had a Geiger counter it would have gone off…but she’s wrong. In the wild…uranium is 99.3% uranium 238…which is the non radioactive isotope which is useless for either a reactor or a bomb. For that…you need uranium 235 which is obtained from its naturally occurring 0.7% ratio through the enrichment that you’ve heard all the hullabaloo about on the news. Basically…you take the uranium oxide and convert it to a gaseous form and then put it through a centrifuge, The slightly heavier uranium 238 gas goes to the outside of the centrifuge drum and the useful 235 isotope gathers on top of that. Then you…without stopping the centrifuge…siphon off the useless 238 based stuff. There is some inefficiency in the process so after doing it you end up with uranium that is now 0.8% of the good stuff…235. Repeat ad nauseam thousands of time and eventually you get up to the 90ish% you need for a naval reactor, 60ish% used for a commercial reactor, or 98ish% needed for a fission based bomb.

The only thing that the 238 variety is useful for is that if placed inside an operating reactor…what is typically called a breeder reactor…the uranium 238 over a long time absorbs a neutron and becomes plutonium 239…which is absolutely useless as fuel for a reactor but is essential for making a bomb that actually produces a significant amount of bang…plutonium is much, much better for that purpose than uranium is. One of the 2 bombs used in WWII was uranium based and one was plutonium based. Unfortunately, plutonium 239 doesn’t naturally occur…at least I don’t think it does…but since it is so much better for making things that go bang the early nuclear scientists were very interested in making it. Long explanation of why Michelle was wrong I know…but as a recovering engineer Neil just couldn’t help himself telling me what to write here.

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One of the dozens of caves that were occupied by humans dating back up to 10,000 years ago. Many have been excavated by archeologists and there are dozens awaiting analysis.

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We ran into 4 or 5 groups of bighorn sheep…depending on whether you believe we saw one of the bands twice. That one was a mile or two away from where it was an hour previous if it was the same one…but it did have a lamb with it…but then there are many lambs down here this time of year. Ewes come down in the spring to give birth and stay here through the summer. Rams don’t come down until the mating season. Just in case you’re confused about which is a ram and which is a ewe…here’s a ram…it’s the one with the curly horns. This shot I got from the intwerwebs…although Neil has some in his photo catalog it was easier to let google fine one for me than hunting.

All of the closeups are Neil’s shots since Connie isn’t interested in the weight of a longer lens.

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This is the ewe…note the much shorter and not nearly as curly horns. And these are actually horns like a cow or pronghorn has and not antlers like a deer, moose, or elk has that are shed yearly…horns continue to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime.

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I think this is a mother and her lamb…note the lack of horns on the smaller one. They stayed very close together.

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You can see here that some of the ewes have longer horns…that means they’re older.

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The red ridge edge just left of center is Devil’s Canyon Overlook…you’ll recall the photos from up there the other day. Here’s what it looks like from 1,500 feet lower at lake level.

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Second band of bighorn ewes…you can see the large horn size difference between these two specimens. I could not tell whether there is another horn behind the visible one on the right side ewe or if it had been knocked off.

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This one has an expression like “what are you looking at”.

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Aha…there is a second horn on the one laying down.

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This is a shot Connie took…you can see both the steepness of the canyon side here as well as get an appreciation for how close they were…her lens maxes out at 55mm…or slightly shorter in focal length and magnification than a typical portrait studio lens. Still was able to get a decent shot though…these are maybe 50 yards away.

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Closer view of the Devil’s Canyon Overlook.

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Distant view of a feature called the “eye of the needle”…where wind, water, and freeze/thaw cycles have opened up an opening in the edge of the canyon wall…just below center on the left side wall. It’s about a half mile or more away though…so it is actually probably big enough to drive a semi through.

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One of the erosion features on the canyon wall…an amphitheater-like feature named “The Concert Hall.”

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Devil’s Canyon Overlook again…the red rock left of center and the second one away coming in from the left.

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Closeup of the eye of the needle.

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This hoodoo has been formed via erosion and the freeze/thaw cycle…it will fall down sometime in the next 250,000 years or so.

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Head on view of Devil’s Canyon overlook…looking astern as we rounded the bend past Devil’s Canyon itself. Unfortunately…getting a worthwhile shot of Devil’s Canyon from the river was nigh on impossible.

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An area called Cave City…3 large caves that you can see along with another one to the left that you can’t see from this angle.

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The large cave to the left in Cave City.

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Distant shot of Cave City…you can see the 3 caves from the closeup above just to the right of the lowest portion of the blue sky on the left.

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All 4 caves up in Cave City.

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More sheep.

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This is the “Bat Cave” Da-da-da-da-dah! Dracula type bats, not Batman type bats.

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This is the Cathedral…it was scoured out in the round form by white water millions of years ago when it was at water level…today it is most of 1,000 feet up to it.

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Right before we exited the canyon on the way back we spotted more sheep way up on the canyon rim. These are about 1,200 feet above the river and something outside of a mile away. 

Three different treatments of the same photo here. First is the fully processed one, next is what it actually looked like with your eye, and the third close in silhouette is because Neil thought it would make a neat photo.

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She was wandering around having lunch.

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And was joined by her posse of lady friends…there must be a bighorn sheep bathroom up there since females always go there in a pack.

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With that…our boat trip was done. We got back to the dock, tipped Michelle for her commentary and excellent “nothing happened to me” performance and headed home. We stopped in Powell for lunch…Subway before heading home for the afternoon and dinner.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Shortest underwater tunnel ever constructed.

ShortestUnderwaterTunnelEver

Important advice from Bill Gates…too bad millennials don’t pay attention to it.

BillGatesAdvice

ManWrongFace

RepeatVows

InmateBlondWife

KKKMeeting

BeerWorksMiracles

MemoryFoamInsoles

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Hike Around Cody and Shoshone River Canyon

Before I get into today’s early morning walkabout…a little update on Neil’s kidney stone.

As expected after being released from care a week ago…he’s had no further issues with the kidney, no pain, and no more noticeable stone fragments passing so that’s all good. 

He got a copy of his surgery report for both surgeries and the process is a whole lot more involved than he thought…if you’re squeamish about these sorts of things skip on ahead a few paragraphs to the line that starts with asterisks.

What he thought would happen was that they would slide the scope with the laser on it up past his bladder into the kidney and nuke the stone into dust. While that’s correct from an overall procedure standpoint there was a little more to it. The first procedure the doctor discovered that the ureter from bladder to kidney was too small for the scope…so he put in a stent (fancy word for a tube) in the ureter to stretch it a bit. This required a total of 4 different things from wires to scopes to stents being slid up there. The second procedure a week later involved insertion of a guide wire that the stent was then slid down and out over and then a total of another 6 different things going up with as many as 3 of them up there at one time. The laser involved is a 270 micron Holmium laser which is operated in pulses of varying length depending on the stone to break it into sub millimeter particles. Neil was unable to figure out why they use this particular type of laser or how it does its thing without cooking the inside of your kidney…but as a recovering engineer his best guess is that the short, low power pulses are absorbed by the stone and fracture it with the power being too low to pass through the stone. The laser itself is outside and the pulses are routed up through a fiber optic in the scope.

Way more than you wanted to know…but he thought it was interesting how much more complex it was in practice than in broad theory.

***** OK…those of you with squeamish tendencies can start reading again.

We headed out to the Paul Stock Nature Trail…about a 1.5 mile out and back with a lollipop loop at the end sort of trail and started out about 0830. Passed a few other early morning walkers and a young lady out running with her dog but otherwise pretty much had the trail to ourselves. It is located over on the north bank of the Shoshone River just outside of town.

Looking upriver and away from Cody…we eventually got down to the little green patch right at the bank that you can see on the far left.

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And downriver…you can see some of the industrial area outside of Cody in the back left. The bridge in the distance heads out towards the Chief Joseph Byway.

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Flowers.

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A shot of the nicely smoothed trail heading out…most of the hike was up on the canyon rim above the river but the lollipop part was down on the banks.

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We spotted an osprey hunting breakfast out over the river…this is the best Neil could do without the bird lens along.

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Looking back towards town just before we headed down to the river side.

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Some sort of flowering tree…no idea what it might be…our super whamperdyne Seek app that is supposed to identify plants says it’s a member of the clematis family but nothing beyond that. Googling Clamatis and looking at the images reveals nothing like this…so it’s just some cool unidentified flower.

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We spotted a Cedar Waxwing down by the river.

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Along with a couple of Common Grackles.

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Once we got back up from the river bank…across the way you can see the layered evidence that this whole area was once underwater.

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Prickly pear that we spotted on the way back.

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Shortly after that last shot…we got back to the parking lot. Stopped by the barber shop to get Neil’s ears lowered and then it was home for the rest of the day.

Interesting things found on the net.

Did you know that the bubbles in champagne are basically…yeast farts?

GoodChoices

No matter the species…children are always the same.

ChildrenAlwaysTheSame

The shortest scientific paper ever published can be read about
here
. The paper is titled…”The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of ‘writer’s block’” and it is completely blank except for the Title, journal, and references. It was published in the Journal of Applied Behavioural Analysis in 1974. Conversely…I ran across another paper this week as well…located
here
…this one set a record for the most number of co-authors at 5,154 of them. It was published by the folks at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and reports on the mass of the Higgs Boson particle, nailing it down to +/- 0.25%. It was published in Physical Review Letters this past May…the paper is 33 pages long…of which 9 cover the research, conclusions, and references with the other 24 being needed to list all of the co-authors.

You remember how when we were growing up there were 9 planets…but then back around 1999 Pluto got demoted. Well…turns out that this happened because the IAU redefined what a planet was…it’s on wikipedia and I won’t bore you with all the details but essentially it needs to orbit the sun, have sufficient mass to have assumed a hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e., nearly round) shape, and that it has cleared the neighborhood of it’s orbit of other chunks of stuff. While that’s all well and good…and based on that definition Pluto is most definitely not a planet. However…strictly based on that definition…neither Earth, Mars, Jupiter or Neptune are planets either…since none of those 4 have “cleared the neighborhood of their orbit” of other celestial bodies.

Sounds like the IAU is just prejudiced against Pluto to me. It likely was formed either outside the solar system or from the collision of something inside the solar system since it has an orbital path inclined 17 degrees compared to the remaining planets and is more elliptical in orbit than other planets and actually comes inside of Neptune’s orbit. However…it most definitely meets the first two IAU planetary requirements but based on the neighborhood clearing criteria has as much right to the planet definition as those other 4.

GangViolence

And finally…they have these really, really high tech toilets in Japan. They include sound effects, bidet features, power deodorizing (whatever that is), and air drying capability in addition to the standard old toilet functions. This is a copy of the instructions posted on the inside of the stall door. Makes me like our 2 control (foot pedal and sprayer) model in the RV.

JapaneseToiletInstructions

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Monday morning…Connie had a nail appointment downtown so off she went while Neil stayed home and did laundry. While he was doing that…he got a call from the urologist’s office. They told him he’s now “free to move about the country” and asked if he would bring in the kidney stone pieces he’s been collecting so they can send them off for analysis. He also needs no further followup treatment or appointments…so he’s done. So we did that in the afternoon, picked up a copy of all of his records from them for our files…then went out to a local German restaurant for dinner…schnitzel…ummm good. Not quite as good as some we’ve had but pretty tasty.

With no more kidney stone stuff required…we decided to head off Tuesday for a trip over to Yellowstone NP…we’ve been here several times before but always stayed in the western half of the park…we had never been east of Canyon Village located just east of dead center nor had we been to the Lamar valley in the northeast portion. Our original plan was to head west from Cody and enter the eastern gate than go north through the park and out the northeast gate before heading back. However…Neil met a lady from the eastern shore of MD just about 50 miles from Fairfax where we used to live and she told us that the wildlife was concentrated on this side in the Lamar valley. Since wildlife is best early in the morning…we changed our mind and decided to reverse that route…although that came with a slightly earlier…well much earlier actually…alarm time for the drive. From Cody to the eastern entrance is only about 55 minutes…but it’s 2 hours and 10 minutes to the northeast gate and then another 20 miles or so to the Lamar valley from there. With sunrise being about 0630 this time of year…we set our clock for 0400, bought some scones from Albertsons for breakfast the night before after eating at the German restaurant (although to be honest we did that before we set our alarm), and were out the door by 0430. We made a quick stop at the Mavericks for coffee…Pro Tip…wait until the fresh coffee brews because at 0430 the dregs in the pot are (a) burnt and (b) taste really bad…and then headed out. The route from Cody to the northeast gate is up the Chief Joseph Byway to the Beartooth Highway then west into the park through Cooke City. Since it would be in the dark…with the possibility of deer wandering into the road as it got closer to dawn…we were slightly concerned that visibility on the Chief Joseph would be bad…but as it turned out it’s actually very well marked for night time travel. Lots of reflectors to mark both shoulders and curves, and just about every cure had the yellow arrow signs…so we pretty much did the speed limit all the way up it. Coming down off of Dead Indian Pass there are some switchbacks for 9 miles or so…but again well marked and easy to negotiate even in the dark. In 44 miles up the Chief Joseph…we saw 1 work truck going the other way and a single car which remained 2 or 3 miles behind us the entire way. Turning onto the Beartooth headed west…it was much less well marked but by that time it was twilight so no real worries there.

We got to the northeast gate…nobody there…and headed on into the park. After a couple of stops for coffee recycling and early morning photo opportunities…we arrived at the north end of the Lamar valley and Neil got out for some bison shots…they were pretty far out but we decided to shoot them anyway as insurance shots.

Barronette Peak just after we entered the park.

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Early morning stream view at the coffee recycling location.

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North end of the Lamar valley where we spotted our first bison. Connie got these shots including the sun coming up over the mountains to the east while Neil hiked about 400 yards to the bluff overlooking the Lamar River to get as close to the bison as he could. If you’ve been monitoring the news this summer…you’ve seen how at least 2 idiots had been tossed into the air by bison that they walked right up to so that they could get a selfie of themselves with their phone…and the bison took exception to that. Even at the bluff over the river…these bison were still at least 1/4 mile away and across the river…but we wanted to make sure we didn’t get skunked on photos. Neil was pretty sure we would not be…but like carrying an umbrella prevents it from raining taking insurance shots make sure that you will get better ones later.

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These were shot at max zoom on his 150-600mm lens…and then cropped to about half of the frame…they were way, way out there.

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Probably 200 or 300 bison in this herd.

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As he was walking back…a lady in the parking lot told him that a couple miles further into the park there was a dead bison being eaten by grizzly bears and wolves…so with no more ado we headed that way hoping for some shots.

As an illustration of the fact that the bison here are wild animals and hence the prohibition on getting close to them to prevent tossing incidents like the idiots referred to above…turns out that a couple of days ago two bull bison got into a mating season fight…it’s that time of year here in Yellowstone…and while the victor of the fight went on to have his jollies servicing the ladies…the loser of the fight, rather than retreating to fight another year…well, he was dead, gored to death by the victor. This is the natural outcome…at least one of them…of fights between 2,000 pound beasts with sharp horns…but in the wild nothing goes to waste. Anything that dies serves as lunch for various other wildlife…starting with the apex predators like bears and cougars, then wolves, coyotes, smaller mammals, vultures, chipmunks and so on down to the mice, beetles and other insects finishing them off.

Sure enough…a couple miles down the road we spotted the bear jam. A bear jam is a large group of cars either pulled off the road to take photos or being blocked on the road by bison herds crossing the road…but they’re not always cause by bears. Bison, wolves, elk, moose, sheep, bears naturally…and pretty much any other form of wildlife you might think of can cause a bear jam.

So we pulled off at the bear jam, noticed the carcass out in the distance…probably 600 yards or more out there…and atypically…not one o the hundreds of folks gathered to watch was wandering out towards the carcass to get a close up or selfie…I guess they were intimidated by the quite large boar grizzly bear who was head deep into the remains. There were also wolves, about 8 or 10 in the pack nearby…and we think at least one coyote…in the vicinity but mostly they were all waiting on the bear to finish his meal and move on before coming in for their share.

Again…all of these were taken at max zoom and then considerably cropped…so there aren’t any real close up high detail shots…but then none of us were dumb enough to wander out there either.

Grizzly chowing down and the wolf wondering how he can get himself some of that.

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Guess I’ll lay down here and wait awhile.

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While my buddy sneaks in from the other side.

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There was also a sow grizzly and 3 cubs nearby…again obviously not going too close to the boar with her cubs in tow. We only ever saw 2 of the cubs with here but others in the photo taking group kept claiming there were 3…but then they also claimed there was a coyote even though all we ever saw were the members of the wolf pack.

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Finally the wolf laying down got brave enough to go in and grab a bite or two.

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But when his buddy came in there was a classic grizzly-gray wolf standoff. Would have been wonderful to get a close up of their facial expressions more obvious…but nah, not happenin’ today.

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We stayed there 30 or 40 minutes before deciding to move on. Another mile or two down the road…another bear jam…although this one was bison related. Why did the bison cross the road? To get to the other side obviously…along with a couple hundred of his closest friends. This is actually a pretty small number of cars and once we were able to move we pulled ahead and into the pullout you can see on the left side of the image for some closeup shots of the bison…by that time the herd had crossed the road and went down the embankment to the river bottom and were slowly crossing the river…distance to this herd was 50 yards to about 150 yards.

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Stayin’ close to mama.

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Crossing the river.

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Moving on from this herd…we stopped for a couple of nice views across the valley.

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Then Connie spotted this pretty majestic bull just striding along like he owns the joint.

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Close up of the massive shoulders and back muscles…useful for fighting…and killing…your mating foes.

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Continuing south…we crossed the Yellowstone River and then visited Tower Falls…Connie thought it was one we had not visited but it turned out we had…it was on the 10 miles or so of park road we were on today that we had been on in previous stays over in West Yellowstone. Neil thinks the water flow is less than our last trip…the falls are named for the towers on either side of the lip.

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Continuing south…we got some nice reflection shots over the Yellowstone River…amazing that it was this calm and slow flowing less than a half mile above the 109 foot tall Upper Yellowstone Falls…the first shot is looking downstream and the falls is just to the right around the bend at the top of the image. 

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And some trumpeter swans floating in the river.

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More views of the Yellowstone River as we headed up over the pass to Yellowstone Lake.

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We stopped at Canyon Village just north of the lake and bought ourselves a sandwich for lunch…then spent a half hour or so getting through the construction section on the eastern entrance road. Like Alaska…there are two seasons in Yellowstone…winter and construction…and the current eastern access road between Canyon Village and the edge of Yellowstone Lake is being rebuilt. Once through the construction we stopped by the picnic area on Steamboat Point for a nice lunch and views of the lake before continuing along.

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Shortly after leaving our lunch site…heading down the east side of the lake Neil spotted some wildlife sitting on a log. We went a bit down the road to find a place to turn around and double back, then back almost to our lunch site to turn around to our original direction again and headed slowly along the shore until we spotted it again…a yellow-bellied marmot sitting on the log…we thought it was a beaver at first glance on our initial pass but saw that it was the marmot when we stopped. First shot…Connie took this one out the window of Li’l Red…Neil had to crop the passenger side mirror out of the image. Second image he snuck around and got it after it hopped off of the log.

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We stopped by the very pretty Sylvan Lake for a couple of shots…including this pano by Connie.

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She told him she had taken the shots for the panorama shot…and when questioned on her method she said “well, I’ve seen you take enough of them over the years so I guessed”. He was remarkably impressed by the results of her first attempt and the only things that he would have done differently she would not have been able to easily figure out by just watching him.

For those of you who wonder how to do pano shots it’s pretty simple. Put your camera in aperture priority rather than full auto so that the aperture remains the same from shot to shot. Shoot in portrait mode (long dimension vertical so camera turned on its side) as this gives a taller final result than landscape mode…other than pano sets almost always shoot in landscape as it looks better on the blog. Start at the far left and take images. Overlap each about 1/3 of the frame with a little more overlap if the background has few details in it as those are what the software uses to stitch the images together. As you rotate the camera for each successive shot…try to rotate your body around the camera instead of the camera around your body…essentially you want the camera to remain as fixed in one location as possible. This is so that the foreground doesn’t get curved too much by the stitching process. Take the number of photos you need to get everything you want in the final image. Neil has shot pano sets from 3 images total up to 11 or so…it just depends on how wide you want to go…but take into account that once you get to more than 5 or so the final image gets really wide compared to the height even with the portrait mode assist.

Pro tip…Neil has done pano sets even though he has a wider lens in the bag. Depending on how much “not wide enough” your currently mounted lens is…and on how lazy you’re feeling that day…even a set of 3 images wide shot in portrait mode might give you enough width to get what you want into the final image…and you can still crop it so that it doesn’t look like a pano at all once you’re done.

Once you get back home…assemble the images into your final image. Lightroom will do it easily as will Photoshop but if you’re using Apple’s Photo app, Photoshop Elements or most other consumer oriented software package most have this capability. Options range from free to cheap to expensive…and the more expensive packages don’t really do a better job than free to cheap options, they just have more options but if you’ve got the more expensive package already for other reasons then no reason to hunt any farther. There are even free web-based ways to do this if you want to. This set that Connie took is 8 frames wide…if she had used portrait orientation the same 8 images wide would have been sufficient but would have resulted in a final image about 50% taller and slightly easier to appreciate. An excellent first effort with no training nonetheless. 

We took a few more shots as we headed over the last pass of the day back down to the Bighorn Basin as we left the park…but no more wildlife.

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Sorry…no sheep, moose, or elk shots today…just didn’t see any. However…here are a couple shots…2 of the 3 at least…from our last visit here 2 years back. Still no moose though…we remain convinced that much like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Bigfoot, and the Yeti…moose are just mythological creatures and don’t actually exist. Despite being most of the places in North America where “there are moose everywhere” over the past 8 years…and despite asking locals where to go and what time to go…and despite following those recommendations…we’ve yet to spot a moose in a picture available scenario. We’ve seen a couple of moose butts disappearing into the weeds…and did spot up in Alaska early one morning a bull off in the distance in a bog with beautiful backlit sunrise behind him but absolutely no place to stop…but basically nada.

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We left the park and got back to Cody about 1345…almost 9 hours after leaving. We had a nice nap…well Neil did anyway…then went down to Cody and picked up a pizza from one of the brewpubs for dinner.

Interesting things found on the net.

Ran across this in my twitter feed…it does a far better job of explaining the basics of calculus than most modern textbooks do…and it is from 1910.

Calculus1910

This just in…I wonder if Brexit will change this any?

European English

ToiletPaper

DoYouReallyNeedIt

KFC

Image002

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments