Cody WY…Just Hangin’ Out

Like the title says…we’re just hanging out here in Cody WY waiting on time to pass. After Neil’s abortive kidney stone procedure last Tuesday he was a bit sore until mid day on Thursday so we pretty much did nothing. Connie wanted to be Nurse Ratchet…and he appreciates that…but he also feels useless if he lets her do everything. So…after a bit o’ negotiation…she’s agreed to let him do what he thinks he can do without hurting and he’s agreed to let her do anything requiring bending over as that is when it hurts…and he will let her know when he’s done and need for her to take over. That way both of them are happy.

Anyways…he was feeling better by Thursday and was bored…with nothing really to do until Tuesday when Dr. Stewart tries again…so they took a short drive up 40 miles or so NW to an area which has an extinct glacier…we’ll get into that a bit later on though.

Before that…a couple of items from the news this week…ifn ya don’t wanna read about the news idiocy then skip down a bit. 

Ya’ll probably saw this morning that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in jail in Manhattan. Now he tried a week or so to hang himself but failed…and was on suicide watch after that in a jail cell with nothing available (supposedly) to allow him to try again. Nonetheless…he managed to hang himself last night. Ima guessing that the NYC Police Commissioner is mightily pissed over the poor performance of his officers who were supposed to WATCHING to keep that from happening. Naturally though…in the article about it on the web…the conspiracy theorists are out in force saying he was obviously killed by either the deep state or those in power who were about to be exposed by him. Anyway…how the heck does somebody on suicide watch manage to off themselves and nobody noticed?

I’ve thought a bit more about last weekend’s shootings…and in particular there were a couple of articles this week. Bill Clinton…never one to let a good crisis go to waste…is out with an Op-Ed in Time demanding that the Assault Weapons Ban that he championed and that was in effect from 1994 to 2004…be reinstated. In his article…he talks about the “racist white supremacist shooter in El Paso”…all while conveniently ignoring the leftist political leanings of the guy in Dayton, nobody except the conservative media is talking about his leanings or motivations. However…there are a few things that old Bill forgot to mention in his article. First off…there is no evidence…from numerous studies as well as the FBI…that the former assault weapons ban had any effect on crime or mass shootings. Second…these weapons that the left keeps railing about are not military weapons…they’re simply semi-automatic rifles identical in function to the millions of semi-automatic hunting weapons throughout the country…many of which can take higher capacity magazines. The difference is that the so called “assault weapons” the left rails against are simply “scary looking”. Third…the weapon used by the guy in El Paso…and that’s the only one old Bill really wants to talk about…would have been legal even under the previous legislation. So Ima not really seeing how putting the ban back in place would have solved anything. Similarly…although I agree that the “universal background checks” that the left wants would look nice politically…the real fact is that the weapons in both of those instances…as well as the one in Gilroy the week before…were purchased legally and nothing in the background check procedure would have stopped them. Next…there’s the demand for “red flag laws” which would allow family, friends, and such to identify potential nut cases and have their guns seized. That’s all well and good in principle…but unless there is due consideration given to due process what is to prevent your neighbor from reporting you as a nut case and having your 2nd amendment rights violated just because he doesn’t like the way you cut your lawn. I realize that those efforts in the congress are bipartisan…and that’s well and god. Unfortunately…I don’t really think they’ll make much difference and even the bipartisan nature of the efforts is more political than actually trying to get something accomplished. However…they’ll make more of a difference than most of the non bipartisan “common sense gun control” and “assault weapons ban” crap we’re hearing from the left and the “it isn’t a gun issue but a mental health issue” from the right with the corresponding lack of efforts to improve mental health and get firearms out of the hands of crazies.

I can really see both sides…there are some people that shouldn’t have access to firearms and the 2nd amendment doesn’t guarantee you the right to keep nuclear weapons in your garage…but on the other side we do have the 2nd amendment which says “shall not be infringed” and SCOTUS has upheld that as an individual right to arms for self defense. It really is a hard question and both sides have some valid points…but on the other hand both sides have a lot of political points they want to make and neither side is actually interested in compromising. The left realizes that overturning the 2nd amendment is nigh on a metaphysical certainty as John McLaughlin used to say…so they are admittedly trying to gradually move the goalpost by nibbling around the edges. Given that strategy for the anti gun people…I can see how the NRA takes the “no compromise” approach…since any compromise won’t actually do anything but move the goal posts and then the left will ask for more compromise. However…both of those approaches are wrong…but in today’s political environment the likelihood of any actual compromise on this issue is unlikely. Just like the freedom of speech right is limited by not being allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater…and the limitations on hate speech although the left seems to think that hate speech against conservatives is allowable…I’m sure that reasonable people could find a compromise…but mostly both sides seem to think that the other side should be reasonable and just do it their way.

I did see one comment on an article about the shootings last weekend that I thoroughly agreed with. It said “We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.” I agree wholeheartedly…there are a small minority of Muslims that engage in terrorist activities and we should not judge them by the actions of a few. This is what progressives always say. However…why is it then OK in their view to do the opposite for gun owners? Could it be because progressives are convinced that they’re right and if us deplorables would just give them all our money and let them run the country everything would be rosy?

I saw another article this week…again railing against the Electoral College and how it’s unfair because “Trump lost the popular vote just like Bush did”. Looking around a bit I found a nice article by my buddy Greg White that discusses this very issue…you can read it in detail
if you’re so inclined.

Turns out that those two presidents aren’t the only ones who lost popular but won the election…and they’re not even the most controversial ones. IN 1824…John Quincy Adams lost both popular and Electoral College votes…and Andrew Jackson won both of those votes…but Adams won the election because it was tossed into the House for determination. Similarly…in 1876 Samuel Tilden won both the popular and EC votes over Rutherford B. Hayes but FL, LA, SC, and OR EC votes were in dispute and the Compromise of 1877 gave those votes to Hayes even though he lost those states popular vote in order to remove federal troops from the south and end Reconstruction. In 1888…incumbent Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the EC and the election to Benjamin Harrison. 

Then there’s the “every vote counts” mantra…and do we really know that every vote in the 2016 election was counted? They were almost surely not all counted…for instance take a random voting area where one candidate might be 300,000 votes ahead of the other candidate and there are 100,000 so far uncounted absentee/provisional ballots. Do all of those get opened and counted? Sometimes yes, sometimes no…because they don’t matter. With modern elections where there are down ballot races and local school boards and such this is a lot less prevalent…but not counting ballots that don’t matter still happens…so do we really know who won the popular vote for President in 2016? Nope…although with the final numbers reported it’s likely that Ms. Clinton did…but by how much nobody knows…and it really doesn’t matter anyway since popular vote is not how the President gets elected.

So…let’s talk…again…about why we have the Electoral College. The sole reason…and it was a compromise…is because the small states did not want the national election decided by…back then…MA and NY. This is why each state gets 2 EC votes for their two senators and one for each of their representatives…this ensures that the population of deplorable in the flyover states…are not overwhelmed by the more populous cities on the coasts. Don’t believe it…take a look at the map below. The black lines on the map represent census blocks…which are not the same size or population. Rather…census blocks are constructed using streets, rivers, and other geographical features so that you can easily tell where the boundaries are when walking around taking the census and hence put the population into the right buckets. Blocks are aggregated into districts and then states and vary in size from just a few square blocks to hundreds of square miles. 

Anyway…looking at the census block map below…those blocks in blue constitute 50% of the population of the US based on the 2010 census. This means that the blocks in blue could outvote the entire remaining blocks in gray in a presidential election. Does that seem fair?

Next…look at the second map…which shows the Democrat (blue) vs Republican (red) vote in the 2016 election. See any similarities in those maps? I sure do…what they tell me is that Democrat votes are concentrated in densely populated areas primarily along the coasts and Republican votes are spread out over the rest of the country. 

Anybody that thinks letting the areas in blue decide the results for the entire country is nuts.

Anyway…since the EC is established in the constitution…the only legal to change it is to amend the constitution…and since that takes 3/4 of both houses of congress and 38 states to ratify it…I’m reasonably certain that those in the flyover states aren’t going to allow the EC to be amended out of existence.

There’s a move afoot by certain Democrat states to establish something called the 270 Vote Coalition or something similar…which basically says that once they get enough states to join the coalition to provide 270 electoral votes then those states will arbitrarily give all of their EC votes to the national popular vote winner…essentially ignoring what their states voters might have done and making an end run around the constitution. They apparently think that it will be constitutional…but I wonder if the SCOTUS will agree or if they will stop the end run attempt…my guess is the latter. The constitution is hard to change…and was made deliberately so…if Democrats want to change the EC…or the 2nd amendment or whatever…feel free to try, but don’t try and end run around because you can’t get your way.



I was gonna put this down in the interesting things found on the net section…but since we’re talking about census blocks I figgered it went bedda here.

This is another map of the US census blocks…except in this one all of the green areas are census blocks with zero population. Not sure it means anything other than that there are a lot of empty spaces in the country…but I thought it was interesting. There were a bit over 11 million census blocks as defined above for the 2010 census…and almost 5 million of them have nobody living in them.


OK…enough of that…let’s get on to the extinct glacier. When we originally set out for our trip…nobody thought it would be very good but we were bored so we went anyway…and it turned out to be a lot better scenery than we thought.

Back in the ice ages…there was a glacier in a canyon just east of Yellowstone…but over the years the ice age ended and the glacier melted…hence its extinct. I’m not sure why this one is considered special because there were glaciers al over the place back then…but Ima a bear you recall and that ain’t anything we learnt in school.

When a glacier moves…it scrapes the sides of the canyon pretty smooth and pushes ground up rock out to the sides and in front of the ice…these piles are known as moraines and are easily recognizable when you see them.

Once we turned off of highway 14A and 120 and headed into the mountains we got a distant shot of the canyon we were headed towards…we ended up driving up between those two ridges into the open canyon beyond by the time we got to the end of the road.

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Glacier poop and moraines…this is getting pretty close to the exit from the canyon and the rocks out there are in the 4 foot size range. The finely ground moraine ridge is in the background.

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We spotted this interesting looking orange rock section just before getting to the end of the road.

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At road’s end looking into the canyon. The glacier came from uphill out of sight to the back left, came down this canyon running mostly north, scraped the far side very smooth as it made the turn to the east and out into the valley.

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These next 3 images are progressively more and more panning to the left to follow the glacier’s path out of the canyon gouging up what is now the river bottom where the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River runs.

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Looking straight across the river bottom to the far side of what used to be the g lacier exit…the trees on the slope are 40 feet high or so…as you can see it’s a steep and tall ridge with a lot of moraine material finely ground and deposited into seams of the harder rock.

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This is the same orange section from before…but as we departed the canyon we got a lot better view of it. It’s layered and tilted like Grand Escalante National Monument is…so was likely laid down by volcanic action and then tilted in some uplift later. If it had been laid down underwater it would have different colored layers.

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Getting farther from the canyon…the glacier poop gets smaller as it ran out of steam but still left portions of the moraine in the background.

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On the way back we spotted a ranch with some alpacas in the front yard.

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We headed back to Cody, stopped by the Elks for a cocktail, then headed home for dinner. We had some leftover steak, Mexican rice, and mushrooms and onions from the night before…Neil toasted up some soft corn tortillas to make ‘em tasty and we had them with some cheese and hot sauce.

Interesting things found on the net.

She actually said that.



Statements that turned out to be spectacularly wrong.





Best back to school evah.


And finally…a riff on the old Eurythmics song.



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If At First You Don’t Succeed…

That’s what the urologist said anyways.

Neil was in for his procedure today…leaving the pre-op room for the OR by about 1220…he was originally scheduled for 1330 but the outpatient surgical center called yesterday and offered him 1200 instead so he took it.

By 1330 he was back in the recovery room waking up from the anesthesia…and it turned out that the ureter from his kidney to the bladder was too small for the scope…so Dr. Stewart put a stent in the ureter to expand it and he’ll go back in a week to try again. It will probably be next Tuesday as that is his normal surgery day but we’ll know more when we talk to his office and/or the surgery center tomorrow.

There’s no pain this evening…just some generalized soreness and the urge to pee a lot but that’s a side effect of the stent. Light duty for a couple of days, no booze for 24 hours, then normal activity for whatever he feels like doing but no hiking or strenuous activity for this week.

We lazed around the rest of the afternoon, had some leftover chicken and cous-cous with goodies for dinner, and will laze around until bedtime.

Regarding the shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend…how come the media and liberals are all up to blaming the one in El Paso on racism, white nationalism, and the President while calling it an act of domestic terrorism…while simultaneously ignoring the fact that the guy in Dayton is a leftist with many tweets and facebook posts espousing the socialism agenda. The problem…for the media…is that telling people about the latter doesn’t fit their agenda…luckily there are a few news sources that report actual facts and not sensationalist rhetoric that should be left to the opinion page rather than the news page. Cory Booker…he even said on CNN over the weekend that “this is Trump’s fault” which clearly the fault lies with the shooters. 

There have been too many mass shootings…but the reasons are not as simplistic as white nationalism, racism, and the lack of effective gun control. Clearly gun control doesn’t work…as Chicago which has the most stringent gun laws in the nation…had 72 shootings with 13 dead over the weekend…so obviously having laws against law abiding citizens upholding their constitutional rights doesn’t really stop gun violence.

I could see some utility in better background checks and making sure that those convicted of domestic violence being not allowed to own guns…but that still wouldn’t prevent them from owning them illegally…and for those who believe that if you don’t like the 2nd amendment there is a process for changing it that seems like a slippery slope…it will be those convicted of domestic violence this week but next year it will be all felons even though they can’t own guns either…and then it will be misdemeanors and then it will be more than 3 traffic tickets. Anti gun folks don’t want to try and overturn the 2nd amendment because they realize that will never happen…so they want to play the long game and nibble around the edges. I can see both sides of the slippery slope argument…but given the fact that anti gun people have admitted to playing the long game…maybe the old adage “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”…might be relevant.

Like Thomas Jefferson…at least I think it was him but if not it was some early American patriot in his time period…and I am paraphrasing since I couldna find the quote I saw earlier today again…”by the time the people realize they need the 2nd amendment I hope that it hasn’t been abolished”.

Another Jefferson quote…”Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

George Mason, speaking to the Virginia Constitutional Ratifying Convention…”I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.”

Another bit of fake news…according to the Gun Violence Archive tally…there have been 251 mass shootings this year, more than one per day. According to more reasonable statistics…there have been 21, with a mass shooting being defined as more than 4 people shot besides the shooter. Don’t know what those loons at the Gun Violence Archive are counting…but it’s pretty clear from their name that they’re one of those anti gun groups that think the 2nd amendment is optional.

And Mark Kelly…he of being married to Gabbie Gifford, the congresswoman who survived a head shooting in Arizona…he says he has “way more guns than the average Arizonian and I’m not giving them up”.

Sorry…no fun stuff since the last post so just a couple of interesting things found on the net.








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Wind River Canyon WY

After Neil’s appointment with the urologist on Wednesday…we decided to do nothing on Thursday and take a day trip down to Thermopolis WY about 70 miles south to take care of the Fun Stuff© items that we would have taken care of if we had actually departed from Cody as scheduled last week.

With Neil’s laser lithotripsy procedure scheduled for Tuesday afternoon…we figured that it would be good to get that out of the way ahead of time. In addition…Connie is going to make a list of all the drives, tours, boat rides, animal drives and such that we want to do here…once we know how he feels after the procedure we’ll get busy on those.

Neil decided to buy himself a new bird lens…the tech for telephoto zooms has changed considerably since he bought his Sigma 50-600 mm zoom back in 2013. While it was the best inexpensive telephoto zoom available back then…it’s a little soft at the long end and since it is the bird lens it gets used mostly at the long end. Lens engineers have figured out since then that making the overall zoom ratio smaller while still keeping the long end is more betterer…and cheaper to boot. The relatively new (late 2017) Tamron 150-600 generation 2 lens is significantly sharper at the long end than the older Sigma…and equivalent to the current generation Sigma 150-600 Sport…but it’s lighter and smaller than the Sport which means you need a smaller tripod to hold it up and it’s a bunch easier to carry on hikes. That’s what he decided to get…he sent his old bird lens off to B&H Photo as a trade in on Thursday, once he gets the store credit on it he’ll buy the new one…which even at full price is 500 bucks less than he paid for the Sigma back in 2013.

We’ll be here awhile…and he will give the new one a workout both around the campground and on Fun Stuff© to get familiar with all the ins and outs of the new lens once it arrives.

The Wind River Canyon…amazingly enough…is not located on the Wind River, but is so named because (I guess) of the wind through the canyon. The river is actually the Bighorn River…but the reaches of it in the canyon are colloquially referred to as the Wind River according to Wikipedia. The river flows south to north with a dam right south of the canyon.

After our 75 mile drive south from Cody and through Thermopolis we drove the length of the canyon…about 20 miles or so…before turning around and returning to Thermopolis for lunch and more sights.

Looking downstream (north) just inside the north end of the canyon. The canyon is up to about 2,500 feet from the river to the rim…you can see the early morning shadows on the west side of the river cast by the eastern rim.

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Looking down into the river from that same viewpoint…here are two different shots of the same area of the river…the difference is that the first one was shot at 1/400 of a second exposure and the second much slower at 1/25. I’ve talked before with waterfalls and other moving water shots how you can either use a high shutter speed and freeze the motion of the water or a slower one that allows some of the details to blur into the flowing textured sections that Neil prefers. You have to be careful not to go too slow on shutter speed or else the water becomes just a white spot with no texture…he shot another one at 1/15 of a second and that one was too slow so that it lost all character in the texture. As I was editing his shots today I noticed that he had taken several shots at various speeds of the same rippled area and thought I would have a little show and tell.

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Looking south as we stopped at another viewpoint further into the canyon…the road goes down the east side and a railroad track down the west side of the river…unlike many other canyon railroads we’ve seen this summer, this one appears to be still in use as there was a bunch of track repair equipment on a siding about halfway through the canyon.

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Hoodoo along the eastern wall.

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The Boysen dam just upstream of the canyon itself…the dam is about 200 or 250 feet high and provides recreational opportunities, fishing, and electricity to the area.

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Heading back through the canyon…we got one last shot of the western wall before we headed into Thermopolis for a stop at Hot Springs State Park right in downtown. Thermopolis…in fact this entire area of northwest WY…is still in the area affected by the Yellowstone caldera…hence the Colter’s Hell from the other post and the hot springs in downtown Thermopolis.

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Hot Springs State Park…you can see the spa in the second image…the mineral walls are about 30 feet high.

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Immediately to the left of the mineral deposits from the springs is the Thermopolis swinging bridge…you can see the right hand support tower on the left of the first shot above. The bridge was built in 1916 to allow ranchers in the area access across the Snake River in Thermopolis and to allow access between the hot springs and the hotels on the other side of the river.

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By the time we were done there…it was 1100 and the One Eyed Buffalo Brewery and Pub was open…we stopped in there and had a beer and some tater skins for lunch. After that we headed back to Cody and stayed in side in the A/C the remainder of the afternoon as it was hot.

I’ll post again on Tuesday or Wednesday after Neil’s procedure.

Interesting stuff found on the net.








And finally.



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Update From Cody Wy

Well…a week from my last post and I have to admit we’ve done not all that much except for the museum trip detailed below.

Last Monday…7/22…we contacted the local urologist to see about Neil’s kidney stone…and got an appointment for the following Wednesday 7/31…so over a week just to get the original consultation. With that in mind…we did nothing from Monday through the following Sunday…grilled some dinner, went out to the Elks Lodge once, did a few chores around the rig…and not much else.

Did laundry, went grocery shopping, went to Mass on two Sundays…and that was about it…although we did manage a little Fun Stuff© in between there.

***Breaking News

This is chronologically at the end of the post but I figured I would put the kidney stone update first before getting into more interesting stuff. Neil had his appointment this morning with the urologist here in Cody and is scheduled for the catheter/laser/pick up the pieces in the little basket procedure next Tuesday August 6. With the “come back in a week or so to get the catheter out if it’s needed and come back for a final check a week or so after that…looks like it will be late August before we’re ready to head out. 

With that in mind…we’ve cancelled our reservations through early September and are working on getting our New Horizons appointment moved to September 9…assuming we leave here September 3 the day after Labor Day as we currently think we’ll have 6 days to cover the 900 miles to Junction City…and assuming we get out of there by the end of the week…which is always questionable at Camp Horizons…then we’ll be able to make our scheduled appointments in Elkhart and White Pigeon MI for bearing annual maintenance and jack maintenance on time. What exactly that does with the eastern half of US-50 trip is still under dynamic observation as we say…but those plans are mostly blown up and we’ll try to pick off anything we can as we head east.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.

One day last week…I don’t even remember what day exactly…we headed out to do a couple of things around Cody.

First up was the Hayden Arch Bridge. I have no idea why we went to see this…but it was on the list of “things to do in Cody”…so off we went. Apparently it was suggested to Connie by either her Field Trip app or some other web site…so we went there. I’m not quite sure why it was recommended…it is just your standard bridge over the Shoshone River…but what do I know…Ima just a bear.

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This bridge is about 3 miles west of Cody on the road over to the eastern entrance of Yellowstone NP…from there we headed back almost to town and stopped by what is known as “Colter’s Hell”…it was described by mountain man John Colter who departed from the Lewis and Clark expedition before it was completed and is a region of thermal activity…not surprising since it’s not that far from Yellowstone and the associated thermal features there so it is powered by the same magma pool under the mantle of the earth. It is located right next to the Shoshone River which flows thorough Cody…and also incidentally through Calgary AB where we’l be for the Calgary Stampede next summer…and although it does smell sulphur like similar to the the Yellowstone thermal areas…there’s really nothing to see. Again…it didn’t look like much but it was on our list of things to do…so we did.

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That was like middle of last week and we ddi nothing afterwards until Monday this week when we headed out to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This is actually a pretty neat museum…easily the equivalent of anything in the Washington DC area. It’s composed of a central hub section with at least 6 different museum areas in a hub and spoke arrangement around the hub. Admission was $36 for the two adults and that covers two days.

We got there about 0930 on Monday morning and paid our entrance fees…then spent the rest of the day until about 1630 visiting various exhibits, going on a couple of guided tours, and going to their Raptor Experience for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

We went on a tour that concentrated on the Indian peoples of the region…and another one that concentrated on the Cody Firearm Museum…but the two visits to the Raptor Experience were the highlight of the day.

First up was this notice on the main entrance door…I guess they don’t give a hoot about concealed/non-visible firearms…but then this is WY and it is in the west where the 2nd amendment still applies.

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This is a really neat sculpture…the mountain lion is a mounted specimen but the elk head and antlers were carved from single pieces of weed…antlers separate of course.

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Next up…the Raptor Experience…the museum has 11 permanent resident raptors (or birds of prey)…they’re a bird rehabber and both nurse birds of prey back to health for release and provide permanent and educational homes for life for those that cannot be released to the wild. The remaining photos in this post were from both the morning and afternoon sessions…all of them were injured somehow that they cannot be released back to the wild. Their injuries range from busted wing from a car impact…to being blind in one eye due to some sort of puncture injury…to having the inability to move their tail due to some other sort of injury and hence not being able to steer while flying.

Keep in mind that all of these are captive birds brought out for display…I did my best to crop arms, gloves, signs, and shoulders out of the photos as much as possible…but given the opportunity to get this close to them and get such spectacular images…you’ll have to just overlook any minor people parts, fences, signs, or whatever in them. Neil was very judicious in getting shots that were as uncluttered as possible to show you these magnificent birds. Sure…they’re permanently disabled and captive…but they are beautiful and he thinks that the slightly non-natural setting is counter balanced by the excellent close up views which most people never get to see.

Bald eagle Jade.

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Sculpture of Crazy Horse

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Red Tailed Hawk.

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Exercising his wings…as you can see from the underside of his tail…he actually doesn’t have a red tail…this is actually pretty typical for a red tailed hawk out west, eastern ones have much more prominent red underside on the tail.

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Great Horned Owl.

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Peregrine Falcon…this raptor preys on other birds which it takes out of the air while on the wing…it has been clocked at 230 miles an hour in a dive…known as a stoop in bird talk.

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Exercising his wings again…as you can see from the droop on the right side this one is unable to properly utilize the right wing and hence can’t fly.

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Devouring a mouse…it took less than 60 seconds for it to completely dismember and devour this tidbit for lunch.

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Moving into the museum after the morning raptor session…this is a grey wolf…never mind that it is actually brown…it is still a grey wolf.

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Neil took a photo of Connie along side another grey wolf…again ignore the actual color…we knew these were large canines but this shot really gives you a perspective on how big a wolf actually is…before this one was mounted it probably weighed 125+ pounds.

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Back for the afternoon raptor session after the Peoples and Firearms tours.

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Swainson’s Hawk.

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American Kestrel…a pretty small raptor not much larger than about the size of a blue jay or robin.

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Our Raptor Experience host…Melissa…with the Swainson’s Hawk on her hand.

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Kestrel again.

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Swainson’s again.

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With that…our first day at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West…we’ll be there again tomorrow for some more tours and who knows what else. They have a total of 11 birds at the Raptor Center and we’ve only seen 6 or so of them…maybe there will be more tomorrow.

Turns out…not so much for tomorrow. We did the second half of the museum on Tuesday along with a couple of tours but there wasn’t anything nearly as interesting or photogenic as the raptors. We did get this shot of a bronze elk sculpture…the artist must have liked things larger than life size as the sculpture is 6 feet tall at least to the shoulder which is probably 30%-40% larger than life size.

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We wandered through the art museum looking for Remington bronzes…we have a reproduction of one of those in our storage unit back in VA…they had a dozen or so of his on display plus another 40 or 50 from other artists but did not have a copy of “Rattlesnake” which is one of his more famous pieces depicting a cowboy on horseback rearing and shying away from a coiled rattlesnake on the ground. Connie was bummed…she really likes that one and wanted to see an original instead of the reproduction we have.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Turns out that if you’re down in the Southern Hemisphere…the moon is upside down…I never thought of it like that but looking at the image you can see why it’s true.





I’m confused.







Caveman problems.


How to tell a Republican from a Democrat.


And finally…something cheerful.




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Shakin’ Up The Jello

The good news…is that we’ll have plenty of time here in Cody WY to explore northwest WY and spend some more time in Yellowstone National Park.

The bad news…is that we’ll have plenty of time here in Cody WY to explore northwest WY and spend some more time in Yellowstone National Park.

After Neil’s ER trip and discovery of the kidney stone on Friday night…we had to wait until today to contact the urologist to see what treatment was needed

Neil explained to his assistant on the phone about our schedule and what had happened so far…she talked the doctor and his original recommendation was that since it was not causing pain and was not blocking anything we could just wait until we got back home and then get it taken care of unless we could stay here for a month to a month and a half. Neil said does that mean basically not get this treated until November…she had some more consultation with the doctor and he recommended getting it fixed now…waiting until November was longer than he felt comfortable with.

So…we set up an appointment for a consult visit with him for next Wednesday…yup, 9 days from now but that was the first appointment she had available (or at least the first one for something that he didn’t define as an emergency I guess).

With that in mind…we talked to the office staff here at Cody Trout Ranch and extended our stay through July 31…and they know and are comfortable with giving us a monthly rate for the site we’re in if needed after that…assuming we use the full 1.5 months after July 31 that will put us out of here about September 15…which means we’ll end up cancelling the remainder of the eastbound portion of US-50…but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. We went ahead and cancelled our reservations at campgrounds for our next two stops in Thermopolis and Douglas…and will cancel more as needed once we see the doctor next week and have more information.

So I guess we’ll plan on doing some fun stuff the remainder of this week and early next week.

The only thing we’ve done in the Fun Stuff© arena since my last post was last night’s visit to the Cody Night Rodeo. This is a professional rider nightly rodeo and it turned out to be a pretty great show…but it’s not up to the level we’ll expect to see next year at the Calgary Stampede.

After a dinner of grilled pork country ribs we headed off about 13 miles south from the campground to the rodeo grounds on the other side of Cody. The show started promptly at 2000 and ran for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Neil was actually amazed at how well these photos came out…since he needed to use ISO 12,800 for most of them as it was dark and he needed a high shutter speed to freeze the action. There’s a little grain and noise in them…but that’s to be expected for high ISO low light photography.

Bare back bucking bronco riding.

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This guy didn’t win.

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Every rodeo needs a clown and this guy was actually pretty funny and entertaining.

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Calf roping…these horses are well trained and once the calf is roped and the cowboy jumps off it backs up to keep a strain on the lasso until he gets it on the ground and then stops and maintains tension while he ties the 4 legs together.

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More bucking bronco riding…but this style uses saddles instead of being bare back.

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This cowboy was the winner of the event.

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Barrel racing for the cowgirls…oops, she lost her hat.

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And bull riding.

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Needless to say…this one wasn’t the winner either.

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There was also junior steer riding…which involved a youngster riding a steer instead of a bull but otherwise it was like bull riding. There were 5 contestants…none stayed on longer than about 2-3 seconds and in fact 2 of them came off as the steer left the chute. The three that didn’t fall off immediately…one got stepped on after she fell 4 feet and landed on her back, another got kicked in the wrist as he fell off, and the third came off and face planted. They were protected by full face helmets, gloves, and flak jackets…but the age bracket looks like it ran from 6 up to about 10…after watching 3 of the 5 get hurt and then get up, stagger a few steps, fall, and repeat I wonder what those parents were thinking.

We would do it again…actually we will be doing it again since we’re doing a mini NHOG meetup at the Calgary Stampede next July.


Posted in RV, Travel | 4 Comments

Cody WY

Buckle your seatbelts boys and girls…this one will be a long one. It covers our 2 day transit from Idaho Falls ID via West Yellowstone MT to Cody WY…including our first ever combined Travel/Fun Stuff© Day (well, with the exception of a couple of drive-by’s that don’t really count because I said so), and our really neat day trip yesterday through Dead Indian Pass and over the Beartooth Highway.

Two housekeeping items for you first though…first up is that this blog now supports secure or https:// connections in addition to non secure http:// connections so if you prefer to use that for security go ahead. You might get a notice the first time to accept the certificate from issued by Let’s Encrypt Authority X3 the first time you try that. Go ahead and trust the certificate in your browser if you use https connections. Second…I figured out a way…actually somebody that knows how to code html told me how to do it as I can spell html but not code it…anyways whereas before whenever I posted a video if you click on it your browser went to that page and you had to hit Back to get back to the blog…alternatively you could right click on the link and select Open in a new tab or Open in a new window and it would do so. Now clicking it should automatically open the video in another tab leaving the blog open in the original tab…so you don’t have to do the right click and select option any more.

First up though…we discovered last night (Friday) at about 2300 that Neil has a kidney stone in his right kidney…we guess it finally got fed up and decided to keep up with the Joneses as the left one had a stone 10 or 12 years back. He was peeing brown and had some lower back pain so we went over to the ER where they gave him a CAT scan…it was a Siamese…and told him that he had this kidney stone. The good news is that it isn’t really hurting him, just a little low grade back ache periodically. The bad news is that the reason it’s not causing him pain is that at 7x7x5 millimeters in size…it’s too big to pass the normal way which is what causes the acute pain of most kidney stones. The other bad news is that since it is too big to pass normally…something else has to be done about it. At this point we have no real idea what that is. He’s got contact information for the one and only urologist here in Cody WY and we’ll contact them on Monday to see when/if we can get an appointment to figure out the next steps. Of course…we’re supposed to leave here Tuesday for the even smaller town of Thermopolis WY then head to the in between size town of Douglas on Saturday. Once we have some idea on what the treatment will be and how long it will take to both get it done and recover…we’ll adjust our schedule as needed to accommodate things…the next real date we actually need to be somewhere isn’t until August 18 when we need to get to Junction City KS to get our passenger side rear skirt fixed after it’s encounter with the ditch almost a month back in CA. The CT scan that found the stone also verified that the rest of his innards are pretty much fine. Enough of that though…more details to follow on treatment and followup when we actually know something.

We left Idaho Falls last Wednesday morning for a 2 day transit…90ish miles to West Yellowstone MT over Targhee Pass which is actually not much of a pass as passes go then another 340 miles from there over to Cody WY. We elected not to take the shorter 150 mile route straight east through Yellowstone National Park…there is some construction on the park roads, they’re pretty narrow and curvy, the likelihood of bear jams (or moose or bison or whatever jams) as idiots just abandon their cars in the middle of the road to take phone photos of wildlife that’s 300 yards away out in the distance so all they get is bear dots (or moose or whatever) in their photos, and it’s the middle of July so there’s just way too much traffic in the park. We figured that mileage wise it was farther to go around the north side of the park but time wise it was pretty much a wash and aggravation wise the northern route was definitely superior. In retrospect…heading up to West Yellowstone in the first place was not the optimum thing we could have done…if we had been smarter we would have done it differently in the first place. Ah well…such is life.

Anyways…since we only had a short first day…we took the opportunity to stop by Lower Mesa Falls and Upper Mesa Falls which are located…amazingly enough…on Mesa Falls Parkway just east of US-20 as it heads north towards West Yellowstone MT.  Here are some photos of the views.

Lower Mesa Falls was the less impressive of the two. As you can see…it’s about 700 feet down in the gorge and although we could have hiked down to the spot on the right side of the top…it was 4 miles round trip and 700 feet down and back up…and we didn’t have either the time or the ambition to do that. You can only see the top portion of the falls, about1/3 of it is out of sight behind the trees as the river then heads left out the bottom of the frame behind the trees. Looking down on it like this…it’s hard to get a really good image…but hey, it’s a waterfall so we needed to stop.

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We then drove another mile upstream and pulled into the Upper Mesa Falls visitor center…this was more difficult to get into than Lower which was a nice little pull out from the highway. Upper however…was about a mile down a steep curvy road to get to the parking lot. Bad news…it was downhill and curvy. Good news…it got us right to the lip of upper falls and we got very nice photos both from the lip and from a little downstream. This is a really nice fall at about 120 feet high and the flow was pretty high so there was a lot of spray coming off of it.

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We arrived in West Yellowstone and pulled into our site at the West Gate KOA…after a brief detour through the Mountain View KOA a couple miles west of West Gate…we were heading east on 20, Connie saw the KOA sign and pulled in before Neil could tell her on the radio it was the wrong one. We did a quick loop around the office building and went back out then continued east another 1.5 miles to our actual campground. After a minimal setup…we did nothing in the afternoon but did head into town in the evening to eat at the Slippery Otter Pub where we had a brew and a pizza.

Thursday morning we were out of the campground by 0800 and headed east to downtown West Yellowstone…then north to I-90 via Bozeman and Billings MT then south to Cody WY. It was a nice stress free albeit somewhat long drive. Once we got to Cody Trout Ranch Campground…we pulled in and got setup…then since neither of the adults was feeling very well just had some pasta with garlic, butter, and cheese for dinner. After that…we fell asleep watching TV before waking up just enough to crawl into bed.

Friday we headed out about 0900 for our 130 or so mile round trip from Cody northwest into the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and Dead Indian Pass…then back out eastward via the Beartooth Highway…which naturally goes through the Beartooth Mountains…to Red Bluff then south back to Cody. This is supposed to be one of the prettier and most dramatic drives in the US…we all agreed that it was way up at the top portion of the list.

Chief Joseph was the last chief of the Nez Perce and led them on an ultimately unsuccessful 1200 mile fighting retreat towards Canada in the 1877 Nez Perce War. They transited over 8,000 foot high Dead Indian Pass…the only route through the mountains down into the Yellowstone area…in hopes of joining up with the remaining other bands of Nez Perce and their allies. Blocked at the western side of Yellowstone…they turned north and eventually surrendered just 40 miles from the Canadian border. Despite the surrender agreement which specified they could return to the reservation they had left…the band was sent to the southern great plans reservations…another in the long line of less than honorable treatment of Indians by our government. Dead Indian Pass was so named because the band had to abandon several severely injured braves at the top of the pass…those wounded either died or were killed by the pursuing cavalry.

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Panoramic view to the south of the valley and ridges leading up to the pass. There was a considerable amount of really spectacular views on the way up the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.

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Views from the top of Dead Indian Pass.

Looking westward towards the Yellowstone Basin…the road you see is the one we eventually passed down on our way northwest…7% grade for 15 miles before it levels out again.

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Looking back to the southeast where we came from.

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Normal sized chipmunk…you’ll see later why I called this one normal.

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We passed over the gorge of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River…which has been designated “forever wild”…whatever that really means…by Congress.

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Along the Byway…we spotted this sign…which reminded Neil of the old Eagles song…you know the one…it’s got the line that goes “you can’t hiiiide your lying’ signs”. Not a darned deer to be found anywheres.

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Towards the north end of the byway, right before it intersects the Beartooth Highway…we spotted this peak and said to ourselves…that’s why they’re named the Beartooth Mountains.

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Then again…the same mountain next to the Beartooth All American Road sign…looks like we were right.

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Unfortunately…there’s a different pinnacle farther to the east the was named Bear Tooth by the Indians that is supposedly the actual namesake peak for the mountains…we saw that pinnacle later on and we all thought this one was much more suggestive of a bear both than it was…but then we did not get to see the actual one from the best angle based on where the highway goes.

We stopped at Lake Creek Falls for some photos.

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This store/motel/gas station claims to be the Top of the World…but (a) it’s not even at the top of the pass and (b) having been on the real Top of the World Highway up in the Yukon this is clearly a bogus claim.

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We all know there are bear precautions you need to take…don’t leave food out…only camp in hard sided campers…make sure you can outrun your hiking partners…bears have the right of way…but apparently there are special rules if there are grizzly bears around. One of the precautions they tell you to take if you are hiking in bear country is to wear bells, carry bear spray, and keep calling out “hey bear” to alert them of your presence. We read somewhere that the way you can identify black bear poop from grizzly bear poop is that the latter is full of bells and smells like pepper spray.

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This lake is at least 1,000 feet higher than either the Top of the World establishment above and the supposedly summit lake two images back…and we’re 500 or so feet above this lake.

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Connie spotted some sheep…so naturally Neil hiked down a bit with the bird lens to get some photos. He just missed two of the juvenile males practicing fighting each other.

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There were 50 or so in this flock…eating 50 yards from the road.

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This one is farther along in shedding its winter coat.

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And this is what a fat, overfed by tourists in violation of the law chipmunk looks like.

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Edgar Allen Poe must have been here I guess.

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This is the remains of the Smith mine…it was a coal mine that exploded and burned in 1947 killing 74 in Montana’s worst mine disaster. Seam #3 at the mine was destroyed in the blast but the entire mine was closed and never reopened.

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Shortly after the mine site…we finished the Beartooth and headed home…we were originally going to eat at the Edelweis Haus halfway back but we were tired of eating out…so we went home and Neil baked some fish filets for dinner that we had along with leftover baked potato from Outback the other night and leftover broccoli (Connie only) from some other restaurant.

On the way home…we spotted these pronghorns alongside the road…quite close, probably 20 yards away maximum so Neil didn’t even need the bird lens for these shots…we turned around a half mile down the road and came back. Neil stopped in the middle of the completely deserted highway and we got some shots…we carefully did not get out of Li’l Red as that woulda spooked them. As it was…they definitely alerted to our present and these two bucks watched us like a hawk until we were done taking photos with the female a little farther away and mostly ignoring us.

As I discussed in my post 2 years back when we last saw these beautiful and really fast creatures…they are frequently called pronghorn antelope but that is incorrect. They are not antelope at all…those live in Africa. They’re just pronghorns…and their closest living relatives are giraffes and okapi. They fill the same ecological niche as true antelope in Africa do and look similar, hence the incorrect name. Pronghorns can run up to 55 miles and hour for a half mile and keep up 35 for 4 miles…making them the second fastest land mammal in the world behind the cheetah but the fastest in the Western Hemisphere…but they can keep up their speed far longer than a cheetah can. In addition…their antlers aren’t true antlers that shed annually like most similar animals…there is a bony core that is permanent and part of the skull with an outer sheath very similar to fingernails…the sheath sheds and regrows annually for the rutting season. At full speed…each stride is as much as 24 feet. The solo shot is a female…you can tell by the smaller size and the antlers without the forward facing prongs which give the animal its name…this grouping of 2 males and a female is unusual as usually bucks are solitary but females tend to herd together in small groups. If it was mating season then these two could be courting the same female…but that isn’t until the fall and it’s only mid July. They’re good eatin’ too…Neil had some once and it is very similar to venison or elk.

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Just when you thought that politics…Democrats in particular…couldn’t possibly get any dumber…remember how Bernie Sanders protested out at the Walmart shareholders meeting and is all in favor of a $15 an hour federal minimum wage and for unions everywhere?

You can’t make this up kids.

Under the rules are for thee, not me…peasants; policy…turns out that back in the fall he unionized his entire campaign and claimed they were the first campaign to ever do so. Well…according to a report in the Washington Post which you may or may not be able to easily read…his campaign staff is demanding the same $15 an hour “living wage” and 100% paid health care for workers earning under $60K that he says he will implement as President. Well…the campaign says “that will make us non-competitive and jeopardize our ability to get our message out” and is refusing to renegotiate the salaries or change the work rules. Apparently the staff is paid a fixed salary based on $15/hour over a full year…but then after they agreed to that salary their working hours were raised from 40 to 60 hours a week which means their actual wage is less due to the mandatory unpaid overtime. Talk about hoisted on your own petard…of course this hypocrisy is lost amid the hero worship of the posse or squad or whatever they call themselves. 

Here is the link. 

Of course…the other side does stupid stuff like this too…but it seems our socialist friends are shooting themselves in the foot with maximum effectiveness.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

As you know…chutzpah is a word meaning nerve or gall. One of our readers forwarded this example to me.



Sometimes…the thought doesn’t count.


Harley Davidson Motorcycles sales have fallen precipitously over the past couple of decades. They commissioned a study to find out why millennials and whatever came after them aren’t buying them. Here are the answers.


Only people the adults age will get this one. It depicts what Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin found on the moon.


And finally…the difference between a 6.4 earthquake and a 7.9 earthquake in Alaska.

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Posted in RV, Travel | 4 Comments

Idaho Falls ID

First up today…a little story about transition. Nope…not that whole gender transition thing…there are only 2 of those, they’re determined at conception by whatever DNA you have, and you can’t change the one you are. We’re talking about RVing transition…and nope again, not ours but some friends.

We’ve got two very good friends that we met RVing…way back when we first attended Howard and Linda Payne’s educational rally back in 2011 we met these folks and after we bought our New Horizons we asked them some questions as they’ve decades of RV experience…then lo and behold they bought themselves a New Horizons too…they may have seen ours and it gave them an idea or maybe not (probably the latter…they’re pretty good about researching things on their own and making up their own minds). A few years later we both bought RAM 5500HD trucks with Classy Chassis hauler beds with ours being delivered 4 months or so later than theirs. We’ve seen them at multiple New Horizons rallies, 2 of Howard and Linda Payne’s rallies, and went to Alaska with them as well as the Albuquerque Balloon Festival. They’ve even visited us down in Fort Myers during the winter and we’ve been to their house as well…and we’ve fixed many a problem on various rigs at the various rallies we’ve been to. They’re not full timers…still owning a sticks and bricks house…but for the past few years have been on the road 4 or so months a year on fairly extended trips. They’re definitely not weekenders…we’ve always called them part time full timers because when they’re on the road it’s not just a week or two…but a more extended period which although it isn’t 12 months a year in the RV it’s extended enough so the lifestyle they follow on the road is similar to what a lot of full timers do.

Anyway…they’ve sold both their New Horizons and their RAM 5500HD…both to friends that we both have known for years. They’re not sure exactly what the transition will entail…whatever is to follow hasn’t  been fully determined. But they’re happy, the new owners of their rig and truck are happy, and we’re happy for them as well…and that’s pretty much all that counts.

That got us sort of thinking about our own eventual transition…when and to what is still undetermined so don’t read any more into this than random speculation. Neil’s guess is that we’ll stop full timing before we get to as old as our friends are now…so that’s probably 7 or so more years on the outside. It could be as little as 2…as we’ve got the next two summers at least cocktail napkin planned out…and obviously it depends on our continuing good health. How many more than 2…who knows? We know we still want to visit some other places besides the US of A…there are lots of places and things we want to see that have water between us and them so we’ll have to get on an airplane to get there…and we want to do that before the inevitable body decline that we all get eventually. Connie mostly agrees…he thinks…with him on general plan but I don’t think she’s yet tried to assign any numbers to it. It could be that we eventually get a smaller RV and tow vehicle as there are places we would like to go park that our New Horizons just won’t fit…how that fits into the time available after we schedule 2 or 3 or whatever international trips every year and have some time at home in whatever we live in next…well all of that is still under what we used to call “dynamic observation” back in the Navy days.

So…enough of that. I just wanted to acknowledge our treasured friendship with the folks I talked about above and then that segued into their transition and thence into ours…another of those gosh darned ratholes I’m always looking for.

Anyways…after our 3 night stay in Boise…we headed out early Sunday morning for the 250 mile trip over to Idaho Falls. It was 2 lane highway almost the whole way with a few spots on some of the grades having a passing lane…some curves but by and large the curves were not really slow down curves so we pretty much stayed at our normal 64 mph except on the uphill grades and there were plenty of spots for faster traffic on the 70 mph limit road to pass.

Neither Connie or Neil felt very well in the morning…so we skipped lunch and just grazed on some snacks…arriving with just 3 stops around 1500 at Snake River RV Campground in Idaho Falls where we quickly got pulled in and setup in a long gravel pull through site R10. 

Nobody felt like going out for dinner even though it was a travel day…so Neil just baked a couple of shepherd’s pies we picked up from Walmart a couple of grocery trips ago…we had never seen them before and like the dish so gave them a try. Mighty tasty…needed a little salt on the taters on top and next time we’ll add some butter and cheese to the top the last 10 minutes or so of baking time.

Our first stop was at Goodale’s Cutoff…which was a wagon train trail that bypassed part of the Oregon Trail to the south that had heavy Indian activity…named after Timothy Goodale who pioneered the route in 1862. There really isn’t anything to see except the sign that marks the spot…and this is a lousy photo but it was mostly blocked by the first entitled butthead of the day…a guy in a class C RV who parked (a) right in the middle of the pullout instead of to one end so that another RV could get in as well…Neil ended up parking inside him next to the road and would have blocked his exit except we didn’t stay long.

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There are…supposedly…some old wagon tracks still visible down there…but all we could see was water and lava type rocks.

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Continuing on eastward a few miles…our next stop was Craters of the Moon National Monument…we had been there back in ’77 when Neil was stationed here for his nuclear prototype training but wanted to get the stamp in our passport (which we did) and watch the movie (which we didn’t since nobody felt good and there was another 20 minutes before it started. The place was jammed anyway…and the RV spots were full of entitled buttheads who left their cars there…Neil ended up parking in a pullout just outside the visitor center entrance off of the highway and walking into the center. It was hot, it was 7,000 feet elevation, and we felt poorly so we moved along to our final stop.

Last stop was just a drive by…we were originally going to come back out to Arco to see this…but that’s 50ish miles from Idaho Falls so when we drove by it Connie pulled off for some photos…Neil found a convenient gravel area just down the road and waited.

Located in the small town of Arco Idaho…which is about 15 miles from the old Nuclear Prototype Training Unit site which I guess is the reason it ended up here…is the sail (what used to called the conning tower on WWII submarines) of the USS Hawkbill SSN 666…known throughout the fleet as the “Devil Boat”. She was built just one hull number after Neil’s second submarine USS Guitarro SSN 665 and is a Sturgeon class SSN some 300 feet long.

So…wheat’s the difference between a sail and a conning tower? In the olden days…the conning tower which sticks up above the deck was where the skipper and attack party conned (or steered) the boat from. It was watertight and had the bridge on top of it and when the periscope was raised for attack observations the bottom of the periscope was at eye level in the conning tower. Here’s a photo of a Gato class WWII submarine.


The Conning tower you can see is about 30 feet long and 8 or so feet wide…with the majority of it being a water tight compartment. Periscope shears or supporting structure stuck up above that and the bridge is just to the left of the shears. The periscopes themselves were unprotected from water flow when lowered except for the shear structure…but since the maximum submerged speed was pretty slow for a diesel powered submarine that was fine.

When nuclear submarines came about with their much higher submerged speed…protecting the periscopes, radio antennas, and other masts from damage by flowing water at high speed became an issue…along with flow noise caused by irregularities in the outer structure of the submarine…so the sail was invented. Deck guns were no longer needed so their drag and noise inducing shapes were likewise eliminated.

The sail on a modern submarine is mostly not water tight… there is a 4 foot diameter vertical cylinder known as the bridge trunk in the forward part of the sail but it’s mostly used to just get the conning officer when surfaced up above the water about 20 feet or so…since the ship is rarely surfaced the conning party for surfaced operations is smaller than in an old diesel boat which spent the majority of it’s time on the surface. The sail is actually smaller than the old conning tower was…20 feet high, 5 feet thick, and 30 feet long.

The sail itself looking from the top is tear drop shaped…this is done to minimize drag and noise, and all of the remaining part of the sail aft of the bridge trunk is open to the ocean and floods when the ship is submerged, that space is reserved for the periscopes, masts, and antennas when they are lowered.

The old bow planes that a diesel submarine had were moved to the sail…and then moved back to the bow in 1990 era designs for better under the ice performance. The sail planes rotate up and down 30 degrees in normal operation but rotate to vertical in what is known as the under-ice position for surfacing through the ice pack…normal surfacing operations are allowed up to 6 feet of ice but emergency limits are somewhat above that.

You can make out a few features on the sail…the ladder on the starboard (right side that only goes down to the plane where a lookout is placed for port entry/exit evolutions. The corresponding ladder on the port side that you can’t see goes all the way down to deck level. Since the deck is only 3 feet or so out of the water out in the open ocean…there is a safety track along the port side and personnel on deck wear a harness that is hooked into the track. The little bump up on top of the said is the underwater telephone transducer. Just forward of the 666 numbers…which are no longer painted onto the sail and hasn’t been painted on since sometime before 1978…Hawkbill was commissioned in 1971 and wikipedia has a photo with the number painted on but the practice was stopped by 1978 when Neil got to his first ship…is the side running light for surface operations which retracts to eliminate flow noise when submerging. At the front of the sail just about even with the planes you can see the rectangular under ice sonar dome which extends around to the other side as well. There are some other features that he can identify…but I would have to shoot you if he told you.

Sail equipped submarines are conned when submerged and attacks conducted from the control room which is located just below the sail, the periscope when extended sticks about 17 feet above the sail with the eyepiece then located about 6 feet below the bottom of the sail int the control room. Modern submarines would rarely…at least that’s the standard guidance although the only war shot torpedo fired by a nuclear submarine was the one that sank the Argentine cruiser during the Falklands War and it was fired the old fashioned periscope bearings method due to rough seas…anyway they are supposed to rarely attack from periscope depth and even against a surface ship the approach and attack would almost exclusively be done via sonar sensors. Neil has always thought that the guidance was BS and that most if not all skippers would take at least one look before attacking a surface ship to make sure it’s a valid target and not some innocent or neutral merchant ship. Sure…there are auditory clues that give you about a 98% chance of positively identifying at least the class of ship and in some cases which ship within the class…but in anything less than an all out non nuclear WWIII you don’t want to be the skipper that sinks a neutral ship. Given that…and the increasing attitude from the press to hang people for innocent mistakes…most skippers would likely take at least one look, leaving the better sonar conditions deep to go to periscope depth…that will give you (a) an eye look at the target and submariners train on identifying ship class by silhouette as well as (b) identification of electronic emissions from the target which again help you identify it. Given the longer range that modern torpedoes have…conducting a bearings only periscope approach is less likely since engagement ranges will be significantly longer than WWII submarines. Back then…torpedoes did not home but just went out in a straight line and you had to physically hit the ship with the torpedo before it would explode…this meant that you rarely launched weapons from outside of 1,000 yards or half a mile. With modern homing torpedoes…hitting the target with the torpedo is not the goal…you launch from farther away and the goal of the fire control system is to get the torpedo close enough so that it picks up the target and homes to impact on its own.

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Monday morning we headed off to the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Idaho Falls…located in Pederson Park right near the waterfall from which the city derives its name.

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This is just a manmade overflow near the garden…not the actual falls.

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Looking upstream towards the Mormon temple in the background along about 2/3 of the whole waterfall section. Like Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe…this isn’t your traditional waterfall where the river comes up perpendicular to the precipice and then falls over. Rather…the precipice is mostly parallel to the flow of the river and the water angles in to the edge and then (at least from the river’s perspective) sort of falls sideways over the edge. In this view…the river upstream passes very near the temple in the background…this shot is about 30 degrees from being straight up river…you can see the sideways falls geometry pretty easily.

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Panoramic shot of the entire falls area…it’s artificially curved a bit by the panorama process in the iPhone…the edge of the falls is a relatively straight line.

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Neil took a short video of the falls…it is available here

Dinner today…both of the humans felt pretty good…was at the Roadhouse Saloon…which is maybe a 50 yard walk from our site R10…tough commute I know.

We each had a pint of Irish Death…a dark smooth ale at an alcohol content of 7.8 which is pretty high for beer…but it was really more of a porter to our thoughts…from the Iron Horse Brewery…and it was really good. To go along with it…Connie had a garlic-jalepeno grilled cheese and Neil a bacon cheeseburger…he was really looking forward to their garlic cheese steak…but it was Monday and they were out of a lot of stuff. The food was outstanding…the folks in the bar which was really a biker/dive bar…were also outstanding, and the beers were cold so how could one complain. This is the best dive bar we’ve been in many a month…after our dinner, from which we brought home some of Connie’s tater tots for breakfast later in the week…we went back to the house for recliners, TV, and bed.

The bar had three of the best signs we’ve seen in months displayed…Neil and Connie especially liked the first one.

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It is a biker bar after all…so patriotism is naturally pretty high on their list of priorities.

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Sort of a different take on possession of alcohol…we liked it.

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Tuesday morning we had breakfast then headed off for a hike down at Hell’s Half Acre Lava field…it’s about 20 miles south of Idaho Falls on I-15. We had a short navigational error as we punched the GPS and said Go…then about 2 seconds after we made the turn per GPS directions onto I-15 North we figured out we were going the wrong way. So…7 miles up the road we found an exit and got off/on heading south.

The whole area west and south of Idaho Falls is the result of ancient lava flows from the same heat source that also produces the Yellowstone Caldera, the Yellowstone Super Volcano, and the thermal features in Yellowstone. It wasn’t produced by a volcano as one normally thinks of volcanoes with massive eruptions and smoke clouds…but rather by a multiple millennia long series of lava flows at a more sedate pace from cracks in the mantle. Eh…that sounds like a volcano to me…but what do I know. The field ranges up to about a mile thick and has many hundreds of layers. The northern section is preserved as Craters of the Moon National Monument where we briefly visited the other day…if we had more time here and it wasn’t so darned hot and high in elevation we would have gone out there for a visit as we were last there in ‘77.

Hell’s Half Acre is a joint project of the Park Service and the state equivalent and is located at a pair of rest stops on I-15…so it’s an easy visit in and out with a paved 3/4 mile trail through the landscape which is technically defined as high desert…it’s mostly rocky, dry, and hot but the many underground caves, tubes, and eroded lava passages provide plenty of places for wildlife in addition to the plants that have evolved to succeed in this environment.

This eroded crack is about 4 feet deep and 18 inches high at the left end…just one of many thousands of similar formations.

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Some sort of grasshopper family…that’s the best either us or google can do.

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Junipers are the most popular tree type found here.

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Along with common sagebrush…so named because they smell exactly like the fresh herb sage.

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Prickly pear cactus.

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Lots of deep collapse sections where lava pockets formed and then after the surface cooled the lava drained out leaving an open area that eventually eroded enough for the ceiling to collapse. Several of these were 50 yards across and 40 or 50 feet deep.

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Rock wren…along with the grasshopper this was the only sign we saw of wildlife…well we did see some sort of small animal poop but we have no idea what it was from. This guy has breakfast for his chicks in his beak and shortly after this photo flew downing the crevice just below him.

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We spotted this really cool looking dead tree.

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As well as some thistles…which again we were not able to identify any better.

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With that we got to the end of the trail so it was back home for lunch and rest…after a quick stop at Albertson’s to get some pastries for the next two days breakfast on travel day. 

Wednesday we’ll be off 110 miles to West Yellowstone MT straight up US-20 from Idaho Falls for an overnight stop…then Thursday we’ll press on to Cody WY. We decided not to try and take the road through Yellowstone National Park…even though it’s almost 150 miles shorter than going ‘round the long way north of the park we decided that it’s July and 100,000 of our closest friends would also be in the park…and unlike us they will stop for every elk, bear, rabbit, bird, or anything else they see…and none of them will pull out of the road. Nope…this time of year people just stop their cars in the middle of the 2 lane park road and get out for photos then move on. So it’s stop, wait 5 minutes, inch forward 2 or 3 car lengths and then rinse and repeat ad nauseam. We figured it would take at least 3-4 hours to traverse the 80 miles through the park…and by that time we’ll have gone ‘round the north side and be parked sipping a beer in Cody.

I read today on the news that Kamala Harris announced that when she is elected President she will abolish the filibuster in the Senate. Now this woman is a lawyer and a current US Senator…and she doesn’t know that the President has absolutely zero ability to affect Senate rules. So…either she’s completely incompetent…or she is deliberately lying to stir up the liberal base. My guess is that she’s simply lying in an attempt to catch Joe Biden in the polls…after all her lying attack on him over busing during the debate a couple weeks back did gain her a few points…then she quietly the next day said that she agreed with his position. God help the country if the Democrats ever get complete control of both the legislative and executive branches.

Other interesting political news today…the House has condemned the President for his “racist attacks” on the 4 freshman women representatives…ya’ll probably saw that on the news as well. While I agree that his tweets were stupid as 3 of the 4 were born in the US and the other is a naturalized citizen…there was no mention of them specifically or of race in his tweets…but apparently freedom of speech for the Democrats means freedom of speech for speech they like. Where was the hue and cry over Ms. Omar’s anti-Semitic comments awhile back?

Interesting stuff found on the net.

You know what they say about idle hands…




Bad Ass of the Week…haven’t seen anything in awhile worthwhile for this category.



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