Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seattle Nature Walk

Merry Christmas! Wild holly on the Lake Washington nature trail.

Alligator? No, just a log.

What are these bizarre trees? There's no vegetation like that in Colorado! I'm thinking it's a Western Red Cedar.

This smiling frog and his companion fish hang out at the playground in Idylwood Park along Lake Sammamish.

Moss. Something else in rather short supply in the semi-arid state of Colorado.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beehive Geyser

One of the most awesome geysers in the Old Faithful area, Beehive powers a narrow stream of superheated water 150-200 feet into the air. The steam blasting out buzzes like a swarm of demonic bees. For those who appreciate the full immersion experience, Beehive's spray often wafts over the boardwalk. With just a light breeze, it is possible for an enthusiast to become completely soaked in warm sulphur water.
Beehive erupted on a regular 24 hour cycle the summer I worked at Old Faithful. Most of my free mornings involved a circuit of Geyser Hill and the spectacular show known as Beehive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yellowstone geysers

My NaNo novel is a romance set in Yellowstone National Park. In honor of reaching the novel's half way point, (33,727 words!) I thought I'd post geyser photos this week.
This is Pink Cone. According to my out-of-date "The Geysers of Yellowstone (T. Scott Bryan, 1995), it plays for 2 to 2.5 hours every 16 or so hours. The summer I worked in Yellowstone, I never waited for this geyser, but it was erupting almost every time I drove the loop road past Great Fountain.
It's a spiffy little geyser - about 30 feet straight up. It lacks the sheer volume and power of the large cone-types, like Castle and Old Faithful and Beehive. But, it is always a joy to see.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Google Earth

I LOVE Google Earth. The romance I'm writing this month is set in Yellowstone. I couldn't remember the precise relationship between the main Old Faithful area and the NPS housing compound. I pulled up Google Earth, typed in "Old Faithful" and there it is. The paths are clear. The buildings are sharp. That's the dorm where I lived. There are the cabins I prefer as a visitor. There are my favorite hot springs, gorgeous and intense even from space.

Robo-phone advertising and endless automated menus may be annoying. Google Earth is a shining example of the good and amazing power of technology.


Monday, November 2, 2009


It's November - time to write a Novel in a Month. National Novel Writing Month. Chalk Cliff Treasure, my middle-reader adventure story, was a novel-in-a-month in 2007. This year, I'm writing a contemporary romance. Last year, I was editing Treasure so waited until January to work on my historic romance.

Sometime this week, after writing 2,000 words a day on the new romance and after editing Treasure, I'll add some Yellowstone stories and photos to this blog.


Monday, October 26, 2009

What happened to October????

Last weekend daughter and I played at MileHiCon. Well, she played. I took several writing sessions. I'll post more later. Conferences are FABULOUS!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Colorado Trail - Silver Creek to Avalanche Gulch

September 27. Two weeks 'til hunting season. 3:00 p.m.
Come on, Daughter! Grab a flashlight and jacket. Let's climb a mountain!
Perhaps starting a 6.5 mile hike at 3:30 in late September isn't the brightest plan, but, hey, we like walking in the dark. It's peaceful and refreshing.
The Silver Creek trail is steep! The low sun gleamed through the golden aspen as we walked in a fairy realm. We walked for an hour, and then two. We passed the point where we turned back last year. We plodded through the cool afternoon, and into the shadows of evening. Near the top, snow crossed the trail. We stepped carefully, and leaned on our trekking poles.

After four hours, we reached the saddle. A few years back, I summited and returned to my car in 4.5. This hike is part of my Odyssey to regain strength, stamina, and general fitness. All this extra weight seriously slows me down!

We snacked while sitting on a fabulous log, watching Yale and the other mountains fade to black.
The Collegiate Peaks still resist the massive beetle kills overwhelming other parts of the state. But, there are plenty of downed trees. I was shocked, several times, by how unearthed tree roots mimic the outline of a mountain lion. At least, by flashlight.
Finally, we reached the last slope. Hubby flipped on the car lights, and we waved our flashlights back. We zig-zagged down the open face of the hill, a section I know well. Since it's south-facing, that section is dry much of the winter, so I often hike those switchbacks as training.

We celebrated when we reached the creek crossings. Daughter reminisced of her younger years when she begged to play in the little rivulets. This time, we crossed carefully, neither of us wanting colder feet. We strode past the last few aspen, and met hubby and the warm car for a chauffeured ride home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Glacier Lunch Guest

We carried our sandwiches to the side of the road and ate, enjoying the spectacular views in Glacier National Park. Cars slowed behind us as other visitors took in the mountains and snapped photos. We ignored the traffic, perfectly content with our spontaneous picnic. Then, the cars on the road seemed to linger longer.

A gentleman called out: "Hey. You guys? There's a bear up there."

We grabbed the sandwiches, chips, and lunch paraphernalia and dove into the car. Sure enough, here came Mr. Grizzly, strolling down the road, head up, nose twitching. We slammed our doors and rolled up the windows. Mr. Griz wandered off the side into the bushes.

No, no, Mr. Griz. These are our sandwiches. Please, go find your own dead deer.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The primal wonders - my favorite poem

This is my favorite poem. My "Senior Field Studies" teacher read it on our 10 day desert backpacking excursion. It resonated in high school. Many miles later, it still resonates.
It's in the 1960's book, "This is the American Earth," a collaboration between poet and literary critic, Nancy Newhall, and photographer, Ansel Adams. They were both supporters of Sierra Club.
This Is the American Earth
Nancy Newhall

To the primal wonders no road can ever lead; they are not so won.
To know them you shall leave road and roof behind;
you shall go light and spare.
You shall win them yourself, in sweat, sun, laughter, in dust and rain, with only a few companions.
You shall know the night — its space, its light, its music.
You shall see earth sink in darkness and the universe appear.
No roof shall shut you from the presence of the moon.
You shall see mountains rise in the transparent shadow before dawn.
You shall see — and feel! — first light, and hear a ripple in the stillness.
You shall enter the living shelter of the forest.
You shall walk where only the wind has walked before.
You shall know immensity, and see continuing the primeval forces of the world.
You shall know not one small segment but the whole of life, strange, miraculous, living, dying, changing.
You shall face immortal challenges;
you shall dare, delighting, to pit your skill, courage, and wisdom against colossal facts.
You shall live lifted up in light; you shall move among the clouds.
You shall see storms arise, and, drenched and deafened, shall exult in them.
You shall top a rise and behold creation.
And you shall need the tongues of angels to tell what you have seen.

View from the South Kaibab trail, Grand Canyon.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bouldering at Marmot Rocks

The Black Canyon visitor center offers a brochure on their semi-official area for bouldering. We went and checked it out.
Six massive boulders provide opportunities to test yourself. Most of the climbs were way too difficult for any of us. Daughter succeeded in scrambling up five of the rocks. Even I found easy paths up a couple.
So much of the Black Canyon experience is visual - you walk up to a fence and look - that finding a physical and mental challenge was priceless.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Camping at Curecanti

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Curecanti.

We continued our Labor Day weekend camping tradition. Four years ago (2005), we camped at the Great Sand Dunes. In 2006, we visited the Alpine Tunnel and camped near Pitkin. We logged several Geocache site, too. In 2007, we returned to Sand Dunes, and drove into northern New Mexico. Last year, we backpacked to the fascinating Wheeler Geologic area.

This time, I wanted to car camp so I could get out of there if it rained. I wanted flush johns with running water. I wanted my food in an easy-access car, not tied in a tree. I wanted trees, shade, a hint of privacy.

Although Hubby and Daughter have both traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, neither had ever seen the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a mere two hours away. But, where to stay?

Hermit's Rest, right on Morrow Point Reservoir sounds fabulous. Except it is three steep miles away from the car, and only has vault toilets.


East Portal, right below Crystal Dam has trees and a bit of privacy, since the campground only has 12 tent sites. RVs and trailers over 22 feet are banned from the steep windy access road. However, no flush johns.


Elk Creek and Lake Fork meet my restroom requirement, but are huge, open, treeless RV parking lots. Literally. The Lake Fork Campground is literally an asphalt parking lot.


21 sites. Some trees. Flush johns! Finally, I found my place, if only it still has openings when we arrive mid-afternoon. Cimarron. The Cimarron Campground is about half a mile away from the Gunnison River, just below Morrow Point Dam. Unfortunately, it's just off highway 50, and next to a steep hill, so the truck traffic was a bit annoying in the early evening. Not horrendous, just louder then my rural neighborhood.

We got a site with a great tree. Only seven groups stayed there our first night, and eight the second. The volunteer in the Cimarron visitor center said it's rarely even half full.

Another advantage of the Cimarron area is the Rio Grande Western train display. A stock and freight car are displayed next to the visitor center. A Baldwin 2-8-0 locomotive, Engine number 278, rests on a trestle across Cimarron Creek.

And the best part about the Cimarron Campground? It didn't rain!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Odyssey

Grand Canyon. Yellowstone. Hawaii. Europe by rail.

During my 39 years, I've explored vast regions of America, and a bit further afield. Many of these entries will be travelogues, complete with photos. As a mother, an amateur historian, and an aspiring author, some days I'll share my adventures in those categories, too.

Yes, the photographs are mine. Please respect my copyright. Thanks.

Goal: weekly posts.