YNP vs GNP

Backing up to the National Parks of the USofA, a coffee person told me Glacier was way better than Yellowstone and that you have to do Yellowstone first as a warm up. I don't entirely disagree, but these are radically different places. One is a geology nut's Paradise, the other is simply Mother Nature showing off, just out of the shower, ready for action. Then there's Banff, but that comes later.

Here's a moosemom and her kids (three little meese out of frame) I forgot to include in my Happy Traffic post along with hundreds of other photos of Yellowstone. I of course only saw about 1/238952639582th of the place and I highly recommend families and explorers of all ages spend as much time as possible here. Here is another reason to visit ...

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Here are my Japanese cousins-through-fake-sister preparing to enter the park at sunset as I leave. Note the little boys aren't even in the park yet and are already interested in geology.

This is all there is between YNP and GNP. This and a billion cherry farms along Flathead Lake. Oh and the cities of Bozeman, Butte, and Missoula, Montana.

I was amazed, utterly, by Yellowstone and I hope to visit again. This was Solomon's reaction ...

He was obviously exhausted by all the volcanic landscaping excitement.

We crashed in Missoula before heading on to GNP. My expectations were unfortunately high.

And then we got there and I wept.

There's just too many and as you can imagine, the photos are laughable compared to standing there.

Solomon's reaction:

He did have some nice hikes and spent some time ignoring birds. There are monstrously large ravens up here.

Below is a terrible video made with the iphone that's mounted on my dash. It's more of a music video for the incredible Michael Kiwanuka, but it gives you a little taste of driving through here.

I'm off to rescue the boy from the sweltering heat and overprotective fascists. Have a good one!

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Quick Global Outcry pre-Canada

Have a small pocket of wifi as I exit Glacier National Park and head for Oh Canada. Stayed in a KOA campground for the first time. Tons of people, eggs in the morning, showers, a pool even. It was just like camp! Lonely lonely camp.

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Like a four year old with crayons, I am obsessed with filling in this map. This shows the stats on what countries are looking at hoboxia. Spread the word to someone you know in a country not yet got.

I made you folks a music video from the iphone planted on my dash, but the wifi here says it will take 2 hours to upload, so I'll leave you with this tiny glimpse for now. See you on the other side!

FLASHBACK #1

I am about to slip into the woods for a while, so to tide you over, here is part one of the photos I never got to blogging from Hoboxia 1 and 2. If you'll remember, or if you have a look at the old blog (link), I disappeared into British Columbia in 2009. Many many many photos were taken up there and since, so I'll gather a few selections like the ones below. I hope you see bizarre narratives in them and tell me what story you think the pictures tell ... AUGUST 7 - AUGUST 14, 2009

We begin in a dark wood ...

Happy Traffic

The title refers to the manhood mystery I mentioned yesterday, but I'll get to that in a bit. I should mention that the traffic was only happy because of my position within it.

Make no mistake, I know who the star of this blog is, so let's get this out of the way now - the King greets the morning against the backdrop of the slightly less hazy Grand Teton Mountains. A fellow came up to us during this photo shoot to say hi to Solomon. Turned out he was a vet who had a Maine Coone (sp?) that loved being on the road too. As he walked away, I asked him something I've never asked before on any of my trips - would you mind taking a photo of Solomon and me? He was happy to oblige. The photo of us was awful (not his fault). We bumped into the vet again, many miles later, taking photos at the first of what would become a series of mind-blowing locations for all of us park visitors.

Before this though, I made a quick stop. I am often asked, "Where do you shower?" about my Hoboxian lifestyle. I found this spot off road and here's an example of where. Not a bad way to start a day. Unless we had been mauled by bears.

When I woke in Jackson, WY (or Jackson Hole, not sure why they use both), my only plan was to hit Glacier National Park before heading into Canada. The Tetons were hazy and I'd heard that Yellowstone was just some ugly old volcano.

The idea that I may have skipped Yellowstone National Park makes me shake my head now. Still, we only saw a tiny fraction of the magnificence. I took the photo below because I had lunch at the Old Faithful Inn and one of the bellhops doubling as a bar waitress clued me in to the secret hike to get this angle. I didn't even know what she was directing me to. The photo has absolutely no color enhancement. And of course it was even more eye-popping in person. To get the shot I took a wild gamble. She'd mentioned that the hike was "a couple blocks" which could have meant anything. The only bummer of the day was that it was still too hot to leave Solomon in the car for long, so I couldn't do any ambitious hikes. If this one was too far, I would have turned back. Regardless, the gamble was leaving my windows completely down. I'm rather foolishly trusting about theft. I was far more concerned with Solomon getting a little antsy and hopping out, because he certainly couldn't get back in like he does when I open the doors and let him out.

All went well and my snoring feline didn't even notice I had left (as usual). We drove "around the block" to get the close-up experience of THE GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING and MIDWAY GEYSER BASIN!

I didn't have to leave the windows down all the way after that having lucked into a shaded parking spot and the temperature decreasing slightly. Obviously I took hundreds of photos and I'll share a tiny few and then reveal the big event!

The last photo was a biker checking out the amazing waterfall behind me.

And not far up the road from Gibbon Falls, there was quite a lot of traffic. Cars were stopped about a hundred meters ahead and it was obvious something was up: there was a thrill in the air. BUT, as I was interpreting this, to my immediate left was something I found stop worthy, if not jaw-dropping. I was confused by the cars stopping ahead because their view, whatever it was, was way off the road. I made a hasty u-turn and the following unfolded ...

Solomon slumbers as I start taking snaps of BISON!

The white van slows. And before we know it ...

The lady bison have a protector. (not the biker)

Everyone starts slowly driving around.

Everyone but me, of course. And the poor folks behind me. I wave at the growing line of cars that they can go around, but everyone is beside themselves with excitement and all come up to get pictures. Well the first dozen cars or so.

And here's where I become a man. It's somewhat along the lines of when I made the giant cats at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana purr and rub against their fences, but that did more for my reputation as an ecofeminist honorary lesbian. This one was pure balls.

The bull was much farther from Hobox when I stopped and he got progressively closer, slow and non-threatening, but the guy was intimidating just to look at. When most everyone had gotten their photos and cars stopped realizing they could go by and the traffic piled up, I stood in front of the guy and spoke plainly to him (and gesticulating of course) and said, "Alright brother, it's time to get back to your ladies."

He turned and marched down the side of the road.

I've posted a short video capturing some of Solomon's reaction to this ... when he finally heard them, he shot up from his bed (which I didn't get unfortunately). You can see it here ... SOLOMON vs BISON.

Now I joke, but it was quite a blast. I would have loved to thrown a blanket over the back of him and ride him off the road, but there are laws.

And speaking of laws, after hours more fun of incredible and inspiring sight-seeing, I made my way out the in door of the Northern Entrance to Bozeman, Montana and chose a rather poor sleep location - the very dark back side of the University stadium. Thirty minutes in, the Law on Segway kindly asked me to get out of town and sleep in the federal park land. I reconfigured. I've gotten rusty!

King's Privilege

I've done the unthinkable. I posted something yesterday and included no photos of Solomon. To those of you who follow this blog solely to check up on the Royalty, my deepest apologies. I will hopefully correct that by delivering a pure pin-up post. I didn't get to any form of internets until very late today, so our grand day will be reported soon and there's a surprise event concerning my manhood! Without further ado - a few of the many billion photos I've taken of him so far: P.F.J. Solomon Fink (or S.Fink's to his friends)

And a preview of our incredible Sunday ...

Sweet dreams from Montana! (not where the above was taken but where I write this from now)

----- Quick add! I almost forgot to mention I got Internet back just in time to proudly watch our JPL boys put the incredible Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Congratulations, Earthlings!

A Donkey Worth Stopping For

It's always a unique challenge to find an urban campsite after dark. I normally find a neighborhood or even a specific spot before the sun goes down. After the game yesterday, I drove past a Super Target and considered that lot but it's so brightly lit. In fact, as I mentioned in the previous Hoboxian blog, finding darkness in a city is close to impossible. Beyond Target was a business park and since it was Friday night, I thought I'd be good in one of those lots, but the road away from Target swerved and zigged and sent me around four or five roundabouts before any of the business buildings appeared. Off road was too maintained but I couldn't tell what it was - perhaps early construction sites. I eventually found a spot and was rather shocked to discover in the morning I was immediately next to a golf course and only a few hundred feet from the clubhouse. Eep! As usual, no one seemed to notice or care.

My Salt Lake plan was to hit the Family History Center and then move on. On the way there, I drove past a great looking art show/farmer's market/street vendor extravaganza. Hoped that was an every Saturday thing. Looked fun. Almost bought some boiled peanuts (which I thought that was a southern, if not a Florida, thing).

Across the street from the genealogical library is the big Temple thingie - the place where Brigham Young said okay far enough away from those persecutors, let's build a temple here. And they did. The image above was the last of what I'd hoped would be a fun scavenger hunt for all the fantastically designed identicards each of the Sisters who gave tours wore. I sat in the church (pictured below) listening to French, Spanish, English, and Japanese explanations of the Book of Mormon. The next time I tried to photograph them, I was admonished and I became very afraid. Outside that church, there is an ornate, beautiful "Star of David" window and I couldn't get a good answer why it was there other than, "we believe in the Old testament too."

I am very fond of the Mormon folks I've known and worked with. Everyone at this site was very friendly and I didn't feel the least bit pressured to receive anything other than genuine kindness. In fact, when I mentioned I was a Jew, I got the strangest positive reaction. Turns out our wandering tribes dig each other (according to wikipedia, so you know ...). Though, now that I think about it, that one guy stole my oversized french North By Northwest poster. Therefore don't vote for Romney.

One mystery solved while I was at the Temple Square was why there is a beehive on the freeway signs. It comes from Brigham's office, which was called the Bee House. I didn't go in, but I was soooo disappointed the whole thing wasn't in the shape of the hive.

Nice visit to Brig's town. I have no complaints, other than the terrible, superwhite sculptures littering the place, though the one pictured below was quite bold. I hope that's the big guy at least and not the son.

It was north after that.

The route plan for the first part - L.A. to British Columbia - was to go all the way up the 15 because I'd never seen northern Utah or other places along that drive. I assumed, since the southern, or canyon country, part of Utah was so incredible, the north was too. But like driving up Colorado, for some reason they put the main freeway artery on the flat, efficient part of the state. I looked at my map again and saw "Yellowstone" just off to the NE. I could swing over there and jump back on the 15 easily before Canada. I got as far as the Grand Tetons. The bookstore fellow at the Springville art museum warned me, "our beauty is really about the mountains." He did not lie. I started this in a nice coffee and sandwich place called Dolce (and now sit outside its closed doors) in Jackson, Wyoming. I'll likely crash here tonight.

The Tetons mountain range was very hazy - two major fires in Idaho and Montana made them almost invisible.

At the Teton visitor center. The sign says "BE BEAR AWARE - It all smells to a bear - etc"

Also at the visitor center. Not sure if they were expecting Nazis with lugers to attack, or if that is a scuba gun?

Speaking of unusual design, this is the second in my ongoing WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS SIGN MEAN series. The more I look at this one, I think it's a municipal tombstone and it makes me sad.

But! Could it be that Mr. Sincerity (that's me) has become cynical? I saw a bunch of cars pulled over just before sunset and as I went by, caught a brief glimpse of what they must have been looking at. I was unimpressed and thought how silly of them - I'm going to take a picture of them being silly. And then it became clear that it wasn't a donkey, as I thought, or an elk, but a mama moose and her two children. By the time I'd arrived at the gate (which is a boundary for an elk preserve), she'd walked away and I could only get a distant look.

And this one's for you, Klaas (not one of my Mormon friends)

Solomon wants us to grab some beer and dance with cowgirls, but this resort town is totally dead (and it's only 11:30). Bedtime I guess. Until tomorrow night ... sweet dreams!

It was less hot in the Devil's Kitchen

After a very pleasant diversion in Vegas where the King luxuriated high above the Strip while I lost some of his money, we zipped north, clipping the corner of Arizona, and settled for the night in southern Utah.

The tricky thing about sleeping in absurdly hot weather at night is that there's no shade. It was 91 degrees at 1am. Seems wrong.

The morning found us waking at 7 and after rolling ahead for a bit, I discovered my phone and Hobox did not agree on the time. I'd completely forgotten that Utah is Mountain zone. It helped explain why I was still tired.

The goal for the day was to explore one of my favorite parts of the world (southern Utah/northern Arizona) if weather permitted and then park in Salt Lake City to work and sleep for the night (where I'm writing this now). It was too hot. I fortunately took a side road off the 15 part of the way north and it went up to 9,500 feet! The air was a wonderful 70 degrees, windows down, pure happiness. The placard described this as "mini Bryce Canyon" or Devil's Kitchen.

We even helped drive some cattle off the road.

What could this sign possibly mean? Cows in road about to jump over fallen logs? Lonely cows looking for someone to play soccer with them up ahead? Anyone know?

Speaking of the beautiful sport, the images below may go a long way towards explaining why soccer is not the most popular sport in the U.S. This was back along Highway 15. When I passed all I saw were the girls and since I am a nut for the sport and the green was so incredible I circled back. On my return I noticed the segregated fields.

Made my first obligatory Art Museum stop (Springville Art Museum). First floor was an incredible exhibition of quilts but my hobby is snapping details of painting and sculpture so I went upstairs. They had a great batch of Russian paintings, mid-century, post-war.

Afterward I tried to do my photography thing in Brigham Young University's art museum but they wouldn't have it. Lame! It was still early and hot. I couldn't do much without roasting the boy so I continued north to Salt Lake City and found a meetup group of over-40 soccer players and joined in. Great fun. By the time I got there the day had cooled to a mellow 84 so Solomon was quite happy in Hobox.

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Then off to work a bit (finally). Which I'll get back to now.

Happy dreams!