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.

ReadlityCheckForMillenials

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.

BabyBlueMarlin

WeightIsPerfect

JuryInstructions

PharmacistInstructions

LowesFreezers

Yeah…about that.

YeahAboutThat

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.

Posted in Other | 2 Comments

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

Day Trips Around Cody WY

After Neil’s laser lithotripsy on Tuesday…he felt pretty lousy that night and Wednesday morning but by mid afternoon on Wednesday was feeling pretty good. Nonetheless…we just lazed around through Thursday. 

Our original plan was to take a day trip on Friday early in the morning…but it was foggy so we delayed until Saturday. So…Friday’s entertainment consisted of heading out to the Elks Lodge for dinner…which was Pitchfork Steak.

I realize you’ve probably never heard of Pitchfork Steak…but it’s apparently a big thing out here in the West and is a hangover from the olden days. Back then…they didn’t really have grates to cook their steak on so folks would stick them on the tines of a pitchfork and then plunge them into a vat of boiling oil and deep fry them. No coating or batter…just bare meat. Turns out…that’s a pretty darned good way to cook ‘em…with nothing on the outside they are not greasy at all but just have a bit of a crunch at the surface similar to what you get off of a very hot grill when you sear a steak. These were marinated beforehand in some spice combination…the only flavor we could readily identify was teriyaki sauce but there was more in it than that. They were cooked pretty nicely to medium and served up with corn on the cob and baked taters on the side along with some spice cake for afters. Steaks were about 12 or 14 ounces each and the meal was $15 a plate…pretty darned good grub at a decent price we all said. The only thing that one would have missed from the grilled version is they tend to be a little tougher after being deep fat fried…not tough but tougher than a grilled one would be. The flavor of them though…more than made up for that slight deficiency.

We brought Neil’s tater, half of Connie’s tater, and most of her steak home…he will whip up something out of those leftovers for dinner.

With a nice non-foggy day forecast for Saturday…we were off just after 0700 for our 175 mile or so round trip loop day trip through the Bighorn Mountains via the Bighorn Scenic Drive. Essentially…heading east from Cody about 60 miles or so, then north through the mountains and west/southwest back to Cody afterwards. We stopped by a few additional places that weren’t specifically part of the scenic drive…I’ll point those out when we get to the relevant photos for ya…so let’s get to it.

Neil was kinda wondering the first hour or so when we would get to the scenic parts as that portion was pretty flat and dull…but it turned out to just be the trip across the southern end of the Bighorn Basin which lies west of the mountains and east of Yellowstone and which contains Cody. Once we got to the mountains though…the sights picked up considerably. There was a very curvy section of the canyon with narrow width and tall walls…and also no place to stop for a photo…so we started with photos right after we got past that section.

Looking backwards towards the narrow section.

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And the opposite direction where we would be heading next.

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Connie found a very nice waterfall…Shell Falls…about 70 feet I guess but a lot of character in this one.

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Close up of the upper portion of Shell Falls.

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Looking almost vertically down into the canyon below Shell Falls.

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We stopped by Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark to try and see the wheel…but it turned out to require a 3 mile round trip hike from the parking lot and at over 9,000 feet elevation we “chose wisely” as the ancient knight would say and skipped it. It’s an 80 foot diameter Indian prayer site…here’s a shot from the web I found to show you what it would have looked like if we took the hike. Credit for this photo is travelingtousa.net. The circle was constructed sometime between 1,200 and 1,700 AD (or CE for Current Era if you prefer that designator over the Christian Anno Domini)

NewImage

Continuing on…we crossed the remainder of the Bighorn Mountains…which at that point was more of a high plateau. Topping out at almost 10,000 feet elevation at the edge of the plateau before heading down into the Bighorn Basin…you can see it in the distance in the shot below. The basin is about 4,000 feet elevation…so almost 6,000 feet lower than the edge of the plateau where the trees are. The road winds around the edge of the plateau for 13 miles at 10% grade before getting down to the basin.

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We stopped partway down for a wider panorama of the basin.

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Once at the bottom…we headed generally back towards Cody…with a couple of other brief stops. First up was the Preyer Mountain Wild Horse Range…where, naturally…we got a shot of some of the wild horses.

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Continuing on into the Preyer Range…we stopped by Devil’s Canyon Overlook where you can see both Devil’s Canyon as well as Bighorn Canyon.

Devil’s Canyon…about 2,000 feet down to the river surface.

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The river flows out the bottom of the shot above and then bends to the left and into the bottom of this shot taken about 90 degrees to the left of the above. You can see the tour boat down in the bottom of this one…we’ll be taking that boat later on before we leave…long way down. The following photo is a close up of the boat so you can see its size and get a better perspective on how far down it is to the river.  For the photographers amongst ya…the first shot is at 27mm focal length and the second at 450mm…both are just about full frame crops.

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Closer view of the boat.

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On the other side of the overlook…about 180 degrees from the first view above of Devil’s Canyon…looking out over Bighorn Canyon…the boat eventually would have come around in a 180 bend to its left and then 90 degrees back to its right to get into the section of the river flowing away from you in this view of Bighorn Canyon…from above it’s a horseshoe shaped bend just like the famous one down in Arizona.

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Looking at part of Bighorn Basin as we exited the Preyer Range.

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Shortly after the above shot…we turned right back into Highway 14A for the last 30odd miles back to Cody…no interesting photos there as it’s out in the middle of the basin with not much to see.

We spent the afternoon roasting more garlic…ran out a couple days ago so we peeled, roasted, and stored 4 heads worth in our fridge…that will keep us supplied for mebbe a month.

Interesting article Neil saw this evening…only in CA can you be sued even though it’s not your fault. As you can read
here
if you’re of a mind to…back in 2017 there were a bunch of fires out in CA and PG&E was blamed for some of them due to lack of tree trimming which in the presence of winds caused sparks which cause fires which caused damage and death. Anyways…one of the fires was named the Tubbs Fire…and in this particular case PG&E was held to be not at fault…the fire started due to an electrical problem on private land not associated with PG&E’s equipment…this was the official verdict of CAL Fire on the Tubbs Fire. However…PG&E ended up filing for bankruptcy due to the damage claims from the various fires they were responsible for. According to the judge overseeing their bankruptcy proceedings…victims of the Tubbs Fire are entitled to pursue lawsuits against PG&E regardless of the fact that they utility wasn’t to blame. According to the victim’s lawyers…they intend to sue because PG&E didn’t turn their power lines off in the presence of high winds to prevent fires…and hence PG&E’s deep pockets should pay the victims…despite that fact that PG&E has been sued and lost in the past for turning off the power in the presence of winds. Go figure…only in the DPRC would this be an allowable legal strategy.

Anyways…Sunday afternoon we headed off for another scenic drive…this one down to the southwest of Cody about 50 miles out and back to the Washakie Wilderness. We had been told that there were plenty of Bighorn sheep down that way and that although it was a dirt road for 10 miles or so at the end it was passable. Turns out that the Bighorns only are there in the wintertime for grazing as it’s much lower than their summer range in the park and higher mountains further to the west…so we didn’t see any but it was a great drive anyway…scenery, a bit of wildlife, and even a bit o’ education for y’all included.

Education first…we been noticing a lot out here in the west how you can always tell that a property alongside the road is a ranch because of something called the Ranch Gate. I know you’ve probably seen them on TV or on the interwebs someplace…but just in case here are a few examples for you.

Usually they’re just made of wood and a lot of them are pretty simple in design like this one. Some have actual gates and some don’t.

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They’re frequently decorated with wagon wheels and such.

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Or elk antlers or cow horns.

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Sometimes they’re really massive hunks of wood. Notice the authentic cattle beyond the gate.

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Many have the name of the ranch and the corresponding brand they put on their cattle, pigs, and horses displayed on the crosspiece.

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We wanted to stop and ask if JR was in residence…but then Connie ‘membered we were not in Texas but Wyoming.

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They’re even made occasionally of metal and decorated with whatever comes to mind.

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Ya gotta ask yourself…why do these things exist? Well…you may not be asking yourself that…but I did…and after Connie googled it for me…Ima gonna ’splain it to ya so’s ya can lern it too. Just why in the heck did ranchers waste the money, scarce resources, and most importantly time that they could spend doing something more productive on building these gates…they didn’t do much decorative stuff back then as just life itself was hard enough without wasting time on frippery?

Turns out there have been 3 reasons over the years…current reason first. Nowadays in modern times…they’re just a status symbol and indicate the rancher’s idea of his prestige…in other words they’re to impress the neighbors and make the rancher a legend in his own mind. That’s probably because folks today have a lot more excess cash and a lot less common sense than they did back in the old days.

Originally…when a fella wanted to start himself up a ranch…he came out in the wilderness and obtained himself some land…mebbe from a settlement claim, maybe bought, maybe just squatted on it and declared it his since nobody really owned it back then. He then owned a patch of land up to several hundred thousand acres…250,000 acres would be about 390 square miles or a 20 by 20 mile square assuming it was square…or it would be 1000 square kilometers or about 31 kilometers square for our metric centric readers…and no, Ima not figuring it out in hectares because that’s not a unit I tend to use…and it ain’t important to the lerning part anyway.

The rancher would establish himself a herd of mostly cattle…side note, there are about 1.3 million cattle in WY today which is more than 2 for every person in the state…that he intended to sell and let them graze on his land until time to sell them. He would have ranch hands to help with the work and horses for them to ride…along with a growing hay for winter use as well as vegetables for everybody to eat. The cattle would mostly just wander around the ranch on their own…nothing was fence back then…until time for the roundup and shipment…or cattle drive depending…to market or to the railroad that would take them to market. 

Then the rancher built himself a nice ranch house someplace…there would be the house for his family, a bunkhouse for the hands, barns, corrals, privies, and all the other outbuildings necessary. There would also be some outlying cabins with small corrals for hands to use when they were away from the main compound. The ranch house would be built either in a central location for better management of the lands or where the best view on the property was and would typically be oriented so that the prevailing winds would help keep the family cool. Most of the buildings though…were pretty low to the ground and not really visible easily.

Now ranchers are friendly folk…and might take to visiting their neighbors. They might know more or less where the house was but they needed to be able to ride their horse up to the front. So the rancher would put up himself one of those ranch gates at some distance from the house to mark the front where visitors should come too. If they were to come say around the back…then the rancher might think that their intentions were less than honorable or even that they might be cattle rustlers…and they might became shot as they used to say. So…friendly folk used the ranch gate to know where the front was and hence they could ride up to find a friendly face for a visit.

Later on…more folk moved out to the west and what used to be easy to drive the wagon on paths across the hills became early roads throughout the countryside. Along with that…since there were now more roads, people, and ranches…individual ranchers started to put up fencing…usually made of barbed wire or bab-wa as westerners call it. This prevented their cattle from mixing with their neighbor ranchers cattle, made roundup time easier, and generally made for better neighbors.

Now naturally…the rancher couldn’t completely fence off his land along the roads and neighbor’s property lines…well actually he could and did do that…but all of the fences needed gaps in them for assorted purposes. Maybe they needed to drive their cattle across the road to more of their property so they put in gaps in the fence…maybe they had a shared water resource that their neighbor was allowed to use for his stock…or needed an opening where the ranch hands could enter the property to get to one of the outlying cabins without having to have their horse jump the fence. So the rancher ended up with a fence with a lot of gaps in it.

Now remember…they’re still neighborly folk and might take it upon themselves to go visit periodically. If this period was somewhat irregular…or if they had never visited this particular ranch…how the heck did they find the gap that led to the ranch house instead of the one that led to the roundup corral or cabin or watering hole? Simple really…the main gate that led to the house got the Ranch Gate moved from its original location out to the road so that folks coming down the road to visit via horseback, wagon, or horseless carriage would know where to turn.

You knew there had to be a function for the gates beyond decorative…right?

Ok…on to the rest of the drive. As I said…it was about 50 miles out and then 50 back and about 40 of it was barely paved or gravel road. Basically the road heads down the valley that contains the Shoshone River as it flows out of the mountains to the southwest of Cody…and the road ends when you run out of valley.

Heading into the valley…the road proceeds to the right out of the frame and then curves back behind the hills immediately in center front of the frame.

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Up on top of the ridge overlooking the Shoshone River valley…about 500 feet down at this point as we’re on the southeast side of the valley.

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The beginning of the “adventure portion of the tour” or unpaved road…we like those though. The peak sticking up at center left is Frasier Peak where the road eventually ends just to the right of it.

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About 8 miles down the road you see above…we crossed the Shoshone River on a temporary bridge (the main one is being rebuilt) and turned more southerly…then took this panorama looking back east/southeast over the river. The road we came in on comes in out of frame to the back left and the head of the canyon and Frasier Peak is out of frame to the right.

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At the end of the road and canyon…this is looking westward toward Yellowstone which is 60odd miles distant at this point. It is probably 2500 feet up to the peak you can see here.

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Turning around and looking eastward across the Shoshone…Frasier Peak is just out of frame to the left…but I liked this view better.

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Looking about 45 degrees to the left of the above shot…back down the road we came in on.

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And finally…a wildlife sighting…an Olympic Marble Butterfly…and no, I did not identify it without the help of google…because the googles knows everything.

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We were pretty convinced we had spotted a grizzly bear up on the mountainside as the profile was perfect…but once we got closer it turned out to be a rock bear and not a grizzly bear…rats. At this point…we figured that the Olympic Marble was our only wildlife for the day as we were headed back out of the wilderness towards Cody.

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Right at the first crossing of the Shoshone on the way back…where the road went from lousy gravel to sorta paved but not really…there was this primitive campground…since it is a grizzly bear area you have to store all of your food in this metal safe instead of your tent.

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As we headed out the better but not really paved road…we lucked out and Neil spotted this mule deer doe crossing the road about 100 yards in front of us. He stopped and let her stop and start grazing before carefully creeping up for some photos. The first one was with his standard 18-300mm Nikon lens…the second he shifted to his new bird lens, the Tamron 150-600 G2. Sorry about the not full shots of her…but she was only 20 or so yards out and he was afraid to get out of Li’l Red because she would spook…so these were taken through the open window.

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Heading on down the road…we spotted this horse out in the pasture just before we went back across the temporary bridge over the Shoshone River.

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With that…our day was done although most of the Ranch Gate photos were taken on the way back and not earlier like ya mighta thought from their position in the post.

We headed back home…made some spaghetti carbonara for dinner…it was really good and it is an easy dish to get on the table…start boiling the spaghetti and while that is cooking the bacon, garlic, shallots, and pesto is done up in a separate pan. After draining the pasta…toss with the meat mixture while still hot and then slowly whisk in 2 beaten eggs, a little parmesan cheese, and enough cream to give it the right consistency. Top with more parmesan and voila.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Elmer Fudd…of “That Pesky Wabbit” fame…was actually introduced as a wildlife photographer rather than a hunter. Here is a still from the first cartoon he was in.

ElmerFuddPhotographer

Why Germans do not play Scrabble.

GermansDontPlayScrabble

OK…some Italian ones…and before you object let me remind you that (a) I don’t care, as long as I think they’re funny then they’re blogworthy and sometimes it’s just your turn in the barrel and (b) these were all forwarded to me by some Italian ancestry friends.

BreakfastofChampions

ItalianTimePiece

ItalianSpeaking

WineTruckAdults

ItalianSecurityCamera

ItalianMotherSlipper

ItalianDNA

RealItalian

ItalianEbola

ItalianCloseEnough

DisgracedTheFamily

CouchPlastic

ItaliansNamedTony

SpaghettiOnStove

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Kidney Stone Success

Just a quick update today on Neil’s kidney stone procedure.

He had his second procedure yesterday…and the stent that was in for a week successfully expanded the ureter from kidney to bladder so that the doc could get the scope up there…and laser the stone into dust which should pass uneventfully over the next week or so.

Best of all…he did not need to put in a stent to help the pieces pass as it was completely demolished…this means no stent removal sans drugs in the office in a week or so. He should have one followup appointment next week sometime and then be free to move about the country. 

We’re already paid up here at Cody Wyoming Trout Ranch Campground through Labor Day…so we’ll leave here Tuesday Sep 3. Plans are to transit from here to North Platte NE for a 3 night stay then overnight to Junction City to get the rig’s booboo fixed…then on to our previously scheduled appointments with MORRyde and Quadra (Bigfoot jacks) for routine maintenance. Assuming all that goes well…we’ll pick our 50 trip starting in Cincinnati OH before heading east and then south for the winter.

We’ll spend the remainder of our time here in Cody until Labor Day seeing the eastern side of Yellowstone NP, some scenic drives in the Bighorn Mountains, and probably a boat trip the river.

Interesting things found on the net.TubeRentals

Australia…where even the trees want to kill you…read all about it
here
.

TreesWantToKillYou

More famous last words.

CopyMachineMarket

HowManyComputers

HusbandWifeBrains

ArrestMotherNeedsBackup

BaptistGatheringChicken

TrueLove

How they did Photoshopping in 1912.

Photoshopped1912

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 4 Comments