The Roads are Melting in Yellowstone...(but Really!)


Rather than the Philippines, I am developing a strong desire to head up to some camping with the bears and wolves and bison.


Now I don't go camping; don't know nothing about it, I am a white shirt and pin striped pants kind of man...but camping out is probably all that I can afford....prices are expensive in the summer in Yellowstone. I do own a tent; (though I've never opened the box it is in); I own a North Face Mummy Bag for sleeping on the sides of mountains; I've got several sets of decent hiking foot wear; I don't own no gun, and I don't want one. The problem is that I'd like to leave right after my last Labor Board Hearing on July 29....but there are not even any camp sites available in the whole entirety of Yellowstone Park until August 15, and even then only by the South Entrance near Grant Village. I would also stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on the way to Yellowstone, but all of their camp sites are full as are hotels due to the Federal Reserve holding its Economic Symposium in Jackson as they do every year. So we have to find ways around troubles....that's what we do has human beings, that's our job.

I do know that the nighttime temperature this week hovers around 35 degrees in Yellowstone! Burrrrrr. I'm not physically fit for this either, and yet, over the past several month's I've been South on several occasions  and managed 5 separate days of snorkeling, ocean swimming and free diving in La Jolla Cove with the sea lions, Golden Garibaldi fish and swaying deeply green sea grass far off from a distant shore....I've got some reasonably decent underwater video if I ever get time to put it together properly.


But what is more important...working on my electronic life, or, pushing further the boundaries of this slightly broken and unfairly battered body? To embrace life, with all  the difficulties real life invariably entails, or love my computer more? Being 70, or getting there is a milestone and I more than ever need to rock and roll with difficult things, hard, maybe dangerous, (but only a


I have reasons to be in the Philippines, I have people that will put me up; I have business opportunities in Subic Bay, and up North in Baggio, a 50th wedding anniversary I'm supposed to attend...and people I can stay with.


But you know, too heck with them....I think a drive up North, a night in Las Vegas, two nights in St. George, Utah, for Zion National Park, Provo for the American Fork, Idaho Falls for the Grand Tetons...and then into the vast wilderness of Yellowstone National Park sounds just about what I want...not what people want me to do, but what I want to do.

Then probably shoot a Left turn, (I am so precise in my directions and and wander over to Oregon, which I have never seen, the Colombia River George and then back down through Northern California....that itself offers all kinds of opportunities.


As long as no emergencies come up...maybe I can do this.


The earth is alive, this is always cool to see.


Best Wishes, Traveller



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The Narrows at Zion NP...(Video and Text)


It is to be understood that I could not carry my cameras and my walking/snake stick for balance, making my way up stream against current over slippery rocks and sometimes thigh high water.. The beginning video started at 2:49PM and the last one was at 5:44PM, so this was almost exactly a 3 hour walk up river (though actual water time was probably 2 hours)...However this does not convey the wonder of The Narrows...I would need a 3 hour video...but this should give a sense of startling beauty of these Navajo Sandstone, water cut, river canyons..................................................And, as a special Treat: Just Over There..........................................................

Best Wishes, Traveller

Zion, the Virgin River and Oh They are going to Cook Me Today...



St. George, Utah Weather

Today August 10, 2014

High 103 | Low 76 °F
20% Chance of Precip.
High 99 | Low 66 °F
Precip. 0 in


What is odd or interesting or something is that I came prepared for the cold weather of Northern Wyoming, thermal underwear, gloves, wool caps....I have only one pair of shorts and little bright weather gear.


I lost one of my small bags of essentials....tweezers, nail clippers, liquid skin spray, neosporin but most importantly, my snake bite kit...well....this is the problem when you have everything organized; when it goes missing, everything associated goes


But let us not linger over a morning cup of coffee...the day is a` wasting, I'm off now to be further up into Zion, all the way to the Narrows where I hope to walk the river.


But yesterday, leaving the party madness that is Las Vegas on a late Friday night, the drinking in the streets, the singing crowds, the fights, the arrests in the street....all fun, but it was 92 degrees at 2am, and in the day, 104 when the city of Las Vegas is not so pretty.


Because of stops in the Virgin River Gorge, I got late into St. George, 4:43 at last checked in...finally a real dinner? maybe a swim in the pool? Relax a little? is a one hour trip to Zion National Park through some spectacular scenery and so I am off, but do not get into Zion until 6:30pm....too many stops and hikes along the way, and a long, slow line into the park too. But I am in the Park finally, ready to head up River.


At 8PM I'm photographing the Virgin River, after a hike to the Emerald Pools...but the last bus out, (in summer you can only be bussed in) was at 8:30 however and so one does dash that last 1/2 mile back to the shuttle stop...a lovely day it was.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Gorgeous video

Bird Dog's picture

Keep 'em coming.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

So I Need to Make a Reservation in Idaho Falls, Idaho...But...


...instead I make it in Twin Falls, least in part because I want to see Shoshone Falls on the Snake River (they say, higher than Niagara Falls)....but really the wrong side of the State to enter Yellowstone, Wyoming, from.


Ahhh...sometimes I crack myself up...


Fortunately, the error was caught before I got on the road.



It's only a 3 hour mistake, right?


Awesome photos, Trav.


The grizzly-raven one... how in the hell did you manage to get that shot?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Here's what my family did

Bird Dog's picture

We reserved a car camping site near Yellowstone Lake, our base camp. The lodge is nearby for meals, and we didn't bother to bring camping food. We just ate at the restaurants and cafes in the park.

It wasn't that hard to reserve a camping spot and there were actually quite a few unoccupied sites. It was really nice to camp there. We did it in early August and I suggest you don't do it later than August because we're talking high elevations (around 7,800 feet) and it starts getting cold in September. We picked our top ten things to see in Yellowstone and proceeded systematically, which worked for us. One of our best experiences was on the last day and it wasn't on our top ten list. We were driving out towards the west entrance and stopped at this unmarked area along the Firehole River. At this spot, the river is warmed by geysers and totally comfortable to swim in. It was a great way to finish that vacation.

And if you have a chance to swing by Grand Teton, by all means do it. Beautiful country.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Excellent plan all around.

Bernard Guerrero's picture

We just got back from basically doing what you're suggesting last month.

Thanks, BD, I have not heard of this swimming location...


...but now alerted by you, I will look for it.


Best Wishes, Traveller


What a Giggle...2am Front Law Tent Construction!


...I figured I should at least unpack this tent(y) thing I own and maybe try to put it up at least once before arriving at Yellowstone. Though maybe 2am wasn't the best time, it remains true that doing things like this is almost the best part of any trip...the prep work is great.


What fun....the instructions say that you need two people to assemble this largish (8x7ft) tent...but I was good, though people leaving the Friday night partying on Main Street about a mile above my house did lots of double takes, me on the front yard putting up a tent and driving in stakes by the light of a corner street lamp.

And the instructions are person can assemble the the


The tent is big and very cool, to me. The queen size air mattress filled with air and firmed up nicely from the electric pump run from my car cigarette socket and fit well within the tent. I bought myself a big folding chair to sit in....hey, this camping stuff maybe is easy; and if they have showers for me less than a half a mile away, showers being the only essential I absolutely had to have, I am having trouble seeing how this camping can go bad.


But There was a woman in line with me when I was ordering the new run flat tires for the BMW at Costco that had her first husband killed by the Shinning Path while doing Development work for the USAID....and she was quite worried for me. She wanted to lend me a 30.06 rifle if I would bring it back!?! I told her that guns after being in the war were anathema to me. She said the killing of husband in Peru was like yesterday to her; she offered me the gun again, but seeing that I was insistently anti-gun, she accepted my promise to be careful with the bears and what not.




I will note that I could not get all the pegs and polls and tent back into the small canvas bag they were supposed to fit in....but most if it is in and I'll just keep the polls in the trunk, no big.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Melting roads.


Read a book a while back, "A Land of Ash".  A collection of about a dozen stories,  each by a different author,  but all with the same premise:  the Yellowstone caldera is supposed to erupt every half-million years and it is now overdue.   Not a regular eruption,  but a mega-eruption mass-extinction type event.


Pretty good collection,  although IIRC in every one of them the viewpoint character ends up dying in caustic fumes or drowning in ash.  The good news is it's quicker and easier for the ones closest to the park.


Anyway, have fun.

The last mega eruption I was involved with....


...was all about draft beer and a few pounds of Slimjims.  Caustic fumes were a problem but nobody died.  Ash? Cant say I recall any of that, at least not enough to drown in.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Can you get


beer and Slim Jims over there?   Do the Slim Jims have to stay inside the compound?

Can we get beer and slimjims?


There was a big mudslide in NE Afghanistan a few months ago. The cause? Beer and slimjims.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

More Regarding Bears....(a Great Find)


...if you are out and among bears, the advice at this link that a friend sent to me is worth is my response and re-affirmation of my great defensive find:


...much of this I know of course, but:


1. Fight uphill


2. Never cook in your tent or leave food in it; never leave any highly aromatic item in a tent, such as toothpaste or deodorant.


3. Rehearsal allows the human mind to recognize that there is a set of things to repeat without thinking (for example, stay calm, avoid making eye contact, make yourself appear larger, gently step back without running, etc.) and if you do go blank with fear, you at least have body memory of what to do that is both sensible and more likely to increase your chances of survival.


Are nice & important reminders...however, I will be traveling and hiking the out-country alone, and a successful defensive measure might be more important to me than most.


But since you have traveled to Alaska and like outdoor sports more than I...I come bearing gifts, as it were...


The Marine Boat Klaxon Horn that is smaller than the palm of my a remarkable thing, and I might recommend to a lot of people for a lot of survival purposes...It's virtues:


It is small and light enough at 1.4 ounces that you will have it with you...unlike bear spray, or, a heaver air compressed horn system.


And while it may not scare a bear away at 100 yards, if the damned thing is chewing on you, it will let you go. I would imagine that within 20 yards the bear is going to wish it was going in the other direction.


I gave it a one second push today, and pointing it away and holding it away from my body as far as possible, the noise was still a very painful is amazingly and terrifyingly loud. The canister and horn are also very robust, with metal to metal screw-down. It is not going to jiggle apart on you.


This is a real find. They sell these four times this size...but the beauty of this is that you will have it with you...and the larger ones may not produce such an ear piercing sound.


Kind of cool.


Best Wishes, Traveller



I'm Glad You Guys are Having Fun with My Diary, But Re Bears!!!~


...I sense that both eeyn and Darth will enjoy this, and, I am a little proud of myself actually...Here comes a good Idea.


The woman who's husband was killed in Peru had me a little worried so I went down to Big 5 Sporting Goods before closing tonight to buy some Bear's $40 and comes in a canister so large I doubt I'll carry it with me...but while I'm looking at it, and while I am notoriously cheap, if I need it I'll pay whatever is necessary for whatever...


I'm chatting up the good looking young cashier and equally young and equally good looking male sales clerk, (are all young people good looking? I suspect so....), when it struck me and I said....


"If a bear is close enough that I can spray this in his face, he is already far too close to me and I'm probably dead." Both of the sales people tilted their heads as though they agreed but were afraid to confirm my bleak assessment.


"A horn," I said, a spark going off in my mind, "that's what I need, one of those compressed air horns that scare the hell out of you, startles you, that's what I need!"


And they had some; some big, but also one that was only 4 inches long...small and light enough that I can carry it everywhere.


I like it....a good idea, I think!


Make myself look as big as possible and make a blasting is better and lighter than carrying a fully clipped .45 cal


Best Wishes, Traveller





Pepper spray is pretty much a last line of defense,

aireachail's picture

just as you pointed out to those sales people. But I have definitely seen it recommended. As long as you're downwind, it can mask your scent and may even irritate the bear's nose sufficiently to drive him off.


The key thing is to keep from surprising them. One way is to sew little bells into your hiking clothes. They'll hear those from a long way off and as long as they know you're around they'll avoid you.


Do yourself a favor and learn how to recognize bear scat. That can tell you how recently they've been in the area. You can even identify the species if you look carefully enough.


Black bear scat is darker and smaller and often contains berries, the pits from fruit, leaves, and possibly bits of fur.


Grizzly bear droppings are considerably larger and often contain small bells and smell of pepper.

Trav, there's a few things you can do.


You've decided against the armed approach. That leaves you with the options of deception, misdirection or crazy.
Deception: Put a few signs up.
Honey .5 miles >>>
Salmon .7 miles>>>
Written in bear of course.

Misdirection. This takes the form of making other potential meals more tempting. Spray the pepper spray on your garbage and toss your most fragrant trash into the neighboring campsite.

Crazy: Dress head to toe in day-glo clothes, smother yourself in honey and wild berries. Law #1 in nature, brightly colored, easy to nab and tasty meals will, not might, but definitely will kill you.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

One exception to the noisemaking idea: vuvuzelas.


While loud, unexpected noises will spook most wild animals, there have been a number of documented cases of bear, feral hog, wolf, coyote, mountain lion, even beaver and pigeon going out of their way to stalk and kill a vuvuzela player. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

PETA Should Use That In An Ad

M Scott Eiland's picture

"Be kind to animals--you might want one to murder a vuvuzela player for you someday." :-P

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

We've got loads of bears up here in Wisconsin.


Black bears, all of what I've seen.  They're intelligent animals, at least as smart as dogs and pigs, by my reckoning.  Most of the trouble with bears, as with dogs and pigs, is interrupting them feeding.  In the summer and fall, if you see berries on the vines, you're in bear territory.  


Photographed this bad boy running away from the road a few weeks back

That's a Very Nice Picture...I'm Learning All Kinds of Stuff...!


....thanks gentlemen, this is why I get smart people's feedback.


I will note that by e-mail I have sent some of this out to my Army...buddies?...comrades would be closer to the truth. And they say I did all kinds of camping in The Viet Nam.


I think I was all poncho liners made slick by rain and rotting jungle compost and the deep red clay of the Central Highlands. That's how I remember it; shivering, trying to light a field issued cigarette in a cold wind.


That's hardly a tent and hardly camping...but maybe they remember it differently.


There is an astonishing degree of mis-rembering, probably by me...or correct remembering by me and mis-remembering by them.


They all did more tours than I, so their memories have to be more jangled, I think.


On the other hand they all seem to remember my fumbling soldiering with a real fondness for me...they are either lying or glossing over the terror and blood and muck and death of that god forsaken place.


In any case, I like all of them, which also really surprises me. They are all at the heart of it good men. I may not have noticed this at the time as much as I should have.


The war was often a very bad time for me, (I think, I try to remember none of it, none of that misty red hued past).


Best Wishes, Traveller

Three things the US Army taught me to hate


which once I loved.


Camping.  See parent comment.


Running.  The US Army-issued leather black boot damaged both my great toes.  To this day, they're both crumpled and ugly as hell and I've got bunions.  The jungle boot was not much better.  In Germany, I got away with wearing the Bundeswehr black boot, which is warm and fit properly - but was once criticised for it during inspection one morning, told I was Out of Uniform.  The bastards who invented that boot should be slowly tortured.



Would get both


(the horn and the spray) if it were me.   The horn's a fun toy and the spray could help with stuff other than bears. 


But maybe neither one would work on bears. Last summer in NM the guy in a cabin 50 yds from ours heard a bear messing with his trash cans after dark.  He turned on the lights and flung open the back door thinking to scare it off,  instead it charged at him.  Fortunately he got the door closed quick and the door held.  Seems like the bear didn't respond well to being startled,   and like you said, if it's charging 20 mph it's too late when it reaches spray range.