Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jackson Hole & Grand Teton NP

Got up early this morning - hoping to get so "golden hour" photos.  Cold morning (in the mid 30s) when I got up to Oxbow Bend Turnout in Grand Teton National Park. The sky was hazy (from the forest fires?)  Never got a clear line as the sun rose.

With the cold air, there was lots of fog over the Snake River.  I did not go over to Jackson Lake or Jenny Lake this morning - figured they would be fog-covered, too,  Back to the motel room hung out the "Do Not Disturb" sign and went back to sleep.

By a little after 10am, the air was heating up. There is a multi-use path running from the town of Jackson to the Moose Junction.  The path continues in the park - from Moose Junction to Jenny Lake Visitors Center.

I looked at the trail when i was driving yesterday.  There were a couple steep hills from Jackson to the Junction and another steep hill just leaving the junction.  Most of the rest of the trail in the Park is "flat".  Parked at the Windy Point Turnout.  Other folks starting or ending their rides at this spot.  Found out it is a popular place to unload the bikes.  From the turnout, its a 5.5 mile ride to Jenny Lake.

Not sure how far I would make it, but headed it toward Jemmy Lake. A little over 4 miles, the trail started a steady, gradual climb.  It was a little bit more for me with the altitude.  Headed back to the car.  Ended up with about 4.5 mile ride.  Got some photos for the web site and calendar.

Explored the back road from Moose Junction to Teton Village.  Back in Jackson picked up some G2 for hydration and napped. Spent the later part of the afternoon and early evening processing photos and posting them on facebook.  Not hungry, so will forgo dinner - have a big breakfast in the morning when I head for Buffalo.

Friday, August 30, 2013

West Yellowstone to Jackson

On the move again.  Up early this morning for breakfast (was at the Outpost Restaurant when they opened).  Back to the motel to finish packing the car and get the bicycles on the rack.  Wanted an early start to be at Old Faithful before it got crowded.

Just past Madison Junction, I took the one-way road up Firehole Canyon.  Had noticed this driving yesterday.  Good scenery on the drive - including Firehole Falls.

Could have stopped at some of the thermal features alone the way to Old Faithful, but did not to walk too much before getting to the geyser.  Parked at the General Store,  Found out the next expected eruption is in just of 30 minutes.  Did some shopping before walking to the viewing area.  Was a little frustrated with the service at the General Store - lines for cashiers and/or cashiers heading off suddenly to do what-ever.

Old Faithful did not disappoint.  Got several good photos during the eruption.  Back on the road heading toward Grand Teton.  Before I exited Yellowstone, we were treated to another falls -- Lewis Falls. (lower photos)

When I got into the Grand Teton NP, I stopped at Colter Bay Visitors Center.  Short chat with the ranger and got a park map.  Stopped many times at turn-outs to take photos of the mountains.  Gave me a good "lay ot the land".

Lots of bicycle riding options put here.  Most of the valley ("hole") is mostly flat.  Bicycle lanes in town.  There's a bicycle trail that follows the highway to Moose Junction.  From there, a park bicycle trail continues to Jenny Lake Visitors Center.  I am thinking I may check out the trail from Taggert Lake trailhead and north.

Processed most of my photos.  Will have to use a different process for those at Old Faithful.  All of the spraying water makes the photos look unrealistic.  Got some awesome ones of the Grand Tetons.

Sent an message to the photographer living here - we were supposed to meet.  Alas, He is in Yellowstone at old Faithful (did not tell me).  I figured it was too good to be true - having a local to showing me the hidden places to photograph.

Stretched out on the bed and started looking for a place for food.  Ended up selecting The Lift - neat the town ski lift area.  Almost passed on eating there because the parking lot was full.  I drove down a couple blocks and came back to the restaurant.  Was a couple leaving and I took their spot.

Good burger, cross-cut fries and a pint.  Selected the Grand Teton Amber Ale brewed in Idaho.  Glad I was able to find the place and get a parking space.  The food and beer were great.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Altitude Sickness?

I think I have some altitude sickness,  Since arriving in West Yellowstone Tuesday, I have been at over 6000 ft.  Each day I call it a quit a little earlier.  Tired, short of breath, constant light headache. Even with my walking stick, I was not doing well.. 

Anyway - this morning, I hightailed it to Canyon.  Along the way there, I detoured through the one-way drive to take better photos of Virginia Cascades.  Success -  was able to stop on the road (nobody coming) and get the photos.

Today's tour was the South loop of the park.

First big photo shoot area this morning was Yellowstone Falls and the Canyon the the Yellowstone.  checked out and took photos on both sides of the river.  Got some good photos. (see here)

Stopped at Mud Volcano.  Took a couple photos of the thermal action there.  There are fires in this area of the park.  Another driver told me that all turn-outs South to Fishing Bridge was closed because of the fire.

By the time I got to Yellowstone Lake, it was past breakfast time.  Just got under the wire as breakfast at the Lake Lodge cafeteria closed at 10am.  Already, my knee and short of breath was getting to me

Debated, but eventually got out of the car and did a short walk (with my walking stick) at West Thumb Geyser Basin.  Thinking that I might walk more there tomorrow when I head South.

Stopped at Kepler Cascades.  It was right along the road near Old Faithful.  Speaking of Old Faithful, I was planning to stop there for photos and a walk.  But, by the time I was there, I would have parked a long way away from the geyser basin. 

There were a couple other of other places I wad thought about stopping - but they were busy, too.  Guess these will be other places to visit when I head south to the Grand Tetons and Jackson.

Processed all of the photos taken today.  Heath Blizzard this afternoon. No getting ready to pack up for being on the road in the morning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

North Loop of Yellowstone

Early start this morning - touring the North loop of Yellowstone National Park.  Temperature was 41 deg when I left West Yellowstone.

Walked some at one of the pools and another walk at Gibbons Falls.   Legs and knee were doing pretty good.  (Not 100%, but pretty good).  I took it easy as I had a long day ahead yet.

At Norris Geyser Basin - the walk was almost too much for me.  Wanted to get some good photos.  Did NOT walk down to the bottom of the basin.  But it was an effort to get back to the car.  Didn't help that I left my walking stick in the car.

By the time I arrived Mammoth Hot Springs, I was getting hungry.  Stopped at the Terrace Grill (fast food).  Needed some nourishment and coffee.  Back up to the Springs.  Drove the upper loop and did a short walk.

There was road construction in the Tower Falls area.  Almost passed on stopping there because the lot was full.  But, someone left, and I parked.  Started leaving the parking lot when remembered I forgot my walking stick.  Grabbed that and headed the path to the falls.  Only walked to the upper viewing deck.  That was enough by the time I got the the gift shop.  Did a little shopping and headed back on the road towards W. Yellowstone.

Drove the one-way road past Virginia Cascades -- not a good view angle form the road (without walking down the road a bit).  My legs would not handle that.

Back in West Yellowstone, I did some more shopping, early dinner at the  Outpost Restaurant.  From there, Gas up the car and stop in the grocery store for sports drinks.  Finally, back in my motel.  Body is exhausted and my legs are sore.

Got my photos processed. Today's photo is of a moose (or were they elk?) family in Madison River.  Now off to bed!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kalispell to Yellowstone

Early start today,  Encountered one problem loading the car - could not find my heavy bike locking cables.  Must have lost them when I unloaded the car Friday evening.

First 3 hours on the road was one-lane highway.  Eventually got to I-90.  Almost as soon as i entered the highway, I was exiting for Deer Lodge, MT.  There is the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.  Spent neatly 1 1/2 hours touring the house and ranch.  Was a good break from the drive.  Today's photo is of some of the ranch buildings.

Drove a little further on I-94 than needed as I wanted to drive Highway 191 as a more scenic route.  This road kisses the West edge of Yellowstone National Park.  Found my motel in West Yellowstone and settled in a little.

Walked the block to the Slippery Otter Pub & Grill for dinner.  Burger, fries, and a local beer called Bozone Amber.  Short walk around a little more then back to the motel.  Legs are toast this evening and I an exhausted.  But, got today's photos processed and this blog posting written.  Now - BED TIME.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Two Medicine

My last full day in Kalispell.  Muffin and coffee at the motel then an early start to drive along US 2 to East Glacier.  Took several photos along the road - mostly of the Middle Fork of Fladhead River.

About 8 miles from East Glacier I entered the Two Medicine section of Glacier National Park.  Photos of the lake and mountains.  Shopping at the general store.  In my guide book, I saw a short trail to a waterfall.

Altitude was not a problem here.  Grabbed my walking stick, bear spray, and camera.  Sign said it was 0.3 miles to Running Eagle Falls.  Was glad that I was able to get out for a short hike.Today's photo is of me at the fall.  Figured I had to post at least one photo of me - proof that I was really there!

When I got to East Glacier, I was getting hungry.  Stopped at the "Whistle Stop".  Had a very good omelet with polish sausage, onions, & peppers.  Could recommend the restaurant to anyone.

Stopped at the post office to send post cards and pick up more postcard stamps.  On US2 for the return trip.  Took a couple photos at Marias Pass.  Caught my eye because one of my train computer games has a route over Marias Pass!

Just West of there is the Izaak Walton Hotel.  The inn is at Essex - a station on the BNSF main line (and Amtrak).  Originally, it was planned to be at an entrance of Glacier National Park - that was not to be.

Original plans plans were to do some dirt riding after I got back to the motel.  But, It was a bit warm and I had lots of packing (and re-packing) before I head out for Yellowstone in the morning.

Topped off the day with Mexican food at Casa Mexico and a mug of Dos Equis. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Recover, Re-coop, and Recalibrate

Today really was an eclectic day.  Slept in, and had coffee & muffins at the motel.  Did some sorting in the room (though it does not look like it now!)  Promised myself a bicycle ride.

Not to often I could do what I did this morning - ride to my ride.  Left the car packed and rode out from my motel.  Plotted out a route from the motel to the bicycle trail.  Rode the trail that mostly parallels Alternate US 93.

When I reached 5.5 miles, it seemed to be a good place to turn around and head back.  Met a couple ladies on the trail - one on a bicycle, the other on a "strider" - elliptical machine on wheels.

Drove up to Whitefish to tour the town and have lunch.  The downtown was very busy - not convenient parking places.  So headed back to Kalispell.  Found Moose's Saloon (recommended with Dale T.)  Had 2 glasses of the local amber ale - Yard Sale.  Hey - Moose's == only the home page of your web site loads!  Others are "404-File Not found".

Napped for a little over an hour, then headed to Lakeside for a sunset cruise on Far West Boat Tours.  Met lots of folks from all over the country.  Has some excitement when we turned to cross the lake or turn back (not sure - could not understand the Captain in the loudspeaker).  Anyway - we got away from the shore and a squall kicked up.  The wind was blowing the deck chairs around - most of us where on the open upped deck.

Soon the wind was followed with rain and lightning.By then, I (and most of the others) moved to the inside space on the lower deck.  Still was an enjoyable way to end the day.  Now about bed time.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 2 at Glacier National Park

Did not get a very good start of the day.  Was out of the room a little later than I planned.  Asked at the motel office for a place for a full breakfast.  Finnigans was the recommendation - and it would be open 24 hours.  Got to the restaurant at 6:30.  Alas, the hours posted on the door are shows opening at 7am.

Was about to turn back to the car to find someplace else, when the server called me, that they were open - just a little early.  Found out the  resaurant WAS open 24 hours - but they are trying to sell the place and cut backed on the hours.  Anyway, had a good breakfast.

By the time I got to Hungry Horse (yes - that's the name of the town) I had an alarm saying that my LR tire was low.  Thought about not worrying about it, but I have a long drive and not sure where I might to find a place to make repairs later Saturday or Sunday.  Found a tire dealer that had just opened.  Was a rock/stone in the tire.  Tire patched.

I was hoping that all this had not made me too late to secure a parking spot at Logan's Pass.  Didn't stop to take photos until I got to the pass.

Last night I loaded the Canon T1i into the backpack as a spare camera.  Grabbed the new Canon 60D to hang over my neck.  When I went to shoot my first photo of the day, I got a "Dust Delete Data" erron on the camera.  No idea how to clear the message.  But, I could take single frame photos - just could not change anything except ISO.  My sulution (for now) was swap the 18-200mm lens onto the T1i.  Put the macro lens on the 60d (for wildflowers).  Used the T1i most of the day.

Was planning to talk the 1.5 miles to Hidden Lake Overlook.  But, once I got to the visitor center and started walking around - I would not be able to do the hike.  To high altitude from me in my current condition.  I walked around the visitor center nature trail.

Talking with the ranger, helping me decide to drive on to St. Mary and up to Many Glaciers section of the park. Was about an hour later when I arrived at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.  No parking there, so checked at the Many Glaciers Hotel.  Was able to pack there and shoot a couple photos.

Not many glaciers up on the mountains.  Climate change has been melting the park's namesakes - Glaciers.

Boring and frustrating drive back across "Going to the Sun" road.  Motorcycles passing willy-nilly or folks that are not familiar with driving mountain roads.  Not planning to drive that road again duriing this trip.  Three times over the 50 miles road is enough.

Found a DQ on US2 in Columbia Falls, enjoyed at Heath Blizzard.  Was thinking of scoping out Whitefish this evening - but just too tired,

One basic problem staying in Kalispell - the sun was on the wrong direction most  times driving.  Into the sun - mornings east-bound and west-bound in the afternoon.  just not reasonable lodging on the East side of the Park.

Today's photos:  Upper - Logan Pass,   Middle - Many Glaciers Hotel,   Lower - Going to the Sun Road.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scoping Out "Going to the Sun" road

Slept in as much as I could this morning.  still, I was on the road by 8am.  The motel "breakfast" did not have any hot food.  So had coffee and a packaged cinnamon roll.

With the start I had, I decided to head up to St, Mary to scope out the "Going to the Sun" road rather than drive US 2 to Kalispell.  On the way to St. Mary I kept an eye out for a place to eat breakfast.  There were non along the road until I arrived in St. Marys.

Got to St, Mary's at 9.  One place did not open until 10.  Other places had waiting lines.  So, I entered the park and started drive toward Logan Pass.  Stopped to take some photos on the drive.  The photo here is a tunnel on the "Going to the Sun" road up toward Logan Pass.

Traffic was bad at the pass Visitor Center, so just kept driving down toward Lake McDonald.  Missed the turn to the Apgar Visitors Center and before i realized it, I was exiting the park.  By now (11:30) I was getting hungry.  Gobbled up a patty melt and fries at the West Glacier Restaurant.

Back into the park to the Visitor Center to get books, post cards, and check on places to hike.  The ranger suggested getting up early and driving up to Logan Pass.  Nice, easy hike and there are still wild flowers at the pass.  Back in West Glacier Village, picked up walking stick (with bear bell), a cap, t-shirts, and a couple more post cards.

Still lots of time to do things in Kalispell.  Picked up a hydration bladder for my camera backpack.  Checked into the motel.  Moved bikes and other stuff into the room.  Then, got directions to Wheaton's Cycle (local Trek Dealer) from the motel.  Picked up an area trail map.

Talking with the desk clerk at the Motel.  Sky was a bit hazy, though the temperature was pleasant.  He said the haze is smoke from a forest fire about 2 hours to the South.  No wonder I smelled something - wondering if the car, brakes, or such were overheating  Hope we get clearer skies tomorrow.. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Across Montana

OK, I only wend 435 miles across Montana today.  Believe me, it was enough.  I was not tired (until I was getting 100 miles from my destination).  Except for 4 miles in Glendive, all was on 2-lane highways.  My route took me on 200S from Glendive to Circle, 13 to Wolf Point, and finally US 2 to Cut Bank.

Let be back up to this morning. I woke up early, so processed many of the photos from Theodore Roosevelt NP.  Where I did not have bracketed exposures, I was able to tone map the photos to bring out the details and colors better. Some of these photos were posted on my personal facebook page.

Montana 13 is also tagged as a scenic Big Sky Back County Byway.  The only "scenery" was wheat fields and grass.

I saw a lot of wheat fields and range land.  I noticed that there were about equal area of wheat and year-old wheat stubble (see upper photo).  Peaked my curiosity - why half planted in wheat?

It was a long drive on US 2.  At least it was broken up by little towns every 10 or so miles.  There are rest areas once in a while along the highway.  I stopped at one after about 2 1/2 hours on the road.  Needed to get out to use the facilities and stretch my legs.  At the rest area was a marker about the value of water on the Plains.  Similar or "Historic Places" scatted along US 2.

Lunch stop was at the Hitching Post cafe in Malta.  Another stop in Havre to gas the car and pick up some soda (afternoon caffeine).   Stopped a couple times on the road to take photos.

The lower photo is an abandoned grain elevator only US 2.  Numerous abandoned houses, schools, farms, and other building dot the landscape.

US 2 parallels the BNSF railroad.  Its a main line (and the Amtrak route) so the railroad was very busy.

Weather was nice for the drive.  Temperature low of upper 60s to high of mid 80s.  About bed time.  Tomorrow I get my first  view of Glacier Country and Glacier National Park.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Bike Ride and a National Park

It was a beautiful morning in Bismarck, ND.  After a cup of coffee, I headed to Pioneer Park for a bicycle ride before I leave town.  Rode the Pioneer Park Trail along the Missouri River.

Rode about 2 miles when the trail ended at Liberty Bridge (I-94B) over the Missouri.  The upper photo is my hybrid bike at the Liberty Bridge.  While the ride was only just over 4 miles, it felt great to exploring trails by bicycle.  Bismarck is rather proud of the 40+ miles of bicycle trails.

Stopped to chat with a local trail walker (with a Green Bay Packers cap!)  He expressed concerns regarding road construction and heavy truck traffic on the US 88 - the road up to Theodore Roosevelt NP, North unit.  He suggested passing on the drive up there.

When I got back to the room, it was time for breakfast and a shower.   Headed West on I-94 to Medora and the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Drove the scenic loop in the park, taking photos,  Thought I was shooting 3 bracketed exposures for HDR processing.  More about this later.

Stopped in at the visitor's Center and purchased some books and a cap.  Talked with the rangers about conditions along the road to the North unit.  They told me it was not that bad and that I had time to get up there and tour yet this afternoon.  So, I headed back East on I-94 to US85 and drove the 52 miles to the North unit.

There was just some spots of construction and no truck traffic to speek of that would slow me down.

Stopped and took photos most pull-outs on the North Unit Scenic Byway.  When I got the the far end, I was taking photos.  I noticed that the bracketing function was not functioning right.  I had been selecting the menu, and setting the EV window.  Then I would return to return to snapping frames.  WRONG!  I forget the step of pushing "set" after setting the exposure window.  Once I did that, I started getting true bracketed exposures.  The lower photo today was taking along the scenic byway on the North Unit.

Glad I discovered the problem before I got to Glacier NP.  Would hate to lose HDR exposures when I get there!

Gassed up at Exit 42 on I-94, treated myself to a Heath Blizzard, and headed to Glendive, MT.  Checked into the Days Inn.  Not happy that I was put up in a second floor rooom at the far end of the lobby, ice machine, and breakfast room.  Told the desk clerk, the should (like other places have) automatic put seniors close to everything.

Dinner at CC's Family Restaurant in Glendive (good burger, so-so service).  Back at the room, bike ride photos were processed as were the HDR exposures in the North Unit. 

Bed time -- was a busy day with a bicycle ride, touring both units of the TRNP, and about 450 miles driving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On the Road Again

On the way heading to Glacier National Park.  As usual, I could not sleep last night.  Finally got up a little after 3 am and finished my packing.  Was on the road about 4:30.

Once I got past Sioux City, things get pretty sparse on I-29.   Found a place for breakfast south of Sioux Falls. Past Sioux Falls, it was even more desolate.

On top of that, around Sioux Falls I encountered FOG!  At one rest area, I asked a maintenance person there - any idea how far the fod goes.  She said, "while T did not know about today's fog, if if develops, its usually from Sioux Falls to Watertown".  Sure as hell, as I passed Watertown, the fog was lifting.

While it was foggy, the temperature was in the upper 60s.  As the sky cleared, the temperature raised.  Once I was past Fargo and heading West on I-94, the thermometer on the car headed to the upper 90s!  Eventually it hit the 101 mark (see photo).  Thankfully, there was a good breeze and it was dry (not the humidity back home).

All the way from Sioux City, Iowa to Fargo, ND and to Bismarck, ND - I was surprised of the few services along the interstate.  Most interchanges were "no services".  Twice, I crossed the "Continental Divide" (at that's what signs said).  The second time I caught the altitude - 1490 feet!  Had no idea the divide was in the area.

Did a little shopping in Bismarck.  Had 2 pints of Fat Tire and a pizza in the lounge at the hotel. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Calvin Crest Crankfest

Calvin Crest Crankfest was held yesterday near Fremont, NE.  Over the last couple years, THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) worked with Camp Calvin Crest, designing and constructing their singletrack trail.  Most of the time, the trail was available for riding by the general public 9closed when other functions at the camp).

Saturday was the inaugural race held at the trail.  It was a busy race weekend with two road races and the mountain bike race.  Race promoters reported about 100 racers at the event.

The photo here is of the "grillmasters" serving food for the racers and spectators.  Proceeds from the food went to the Camp Calvin Crest Scholarship Fund which helps those that do not have the money to attend camp.

Was a beautiful day for racing.  Temperatures were in the 70s at race time.  Skies were clear and with a light breeze.

My photos taken at the race are posted on my event and race web site:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Moorehead Mayhem

About 110 mountain bike racers traveled to Ida Grove, Iowa for Moorehead Mayhem cross country mountain bike race.  Was a cool, partly cloudy day, near perfect race weather.

Racers give it all they have for the during of the race - here's a photo of one exhauseted racer after the Category 3 race.

The photos I took during the event can me found on my event and race web site: 

Thanks to race promoter Jesse Bergman and his crew for great course preparation and race.  Also thanks to race host Lakeshore Cyclery and the other sponsors. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Race Shoot with the Canon 60D

Today I took the new Canon 60D with Tamron 18-200mm lens to Moorehead Mayhem mountain bike race in Ida Grove, Iowa.  Was the first time shooting a race with the new camera.

I knew I would have to crank up the ISO as I was in deep tree cover.  But, the location gave me a good view of the trail - and could catch riders 2 different directions at one place.  To have any chance of freezing rider movement, I shot in Tv mode and at 1/60 to 1/125 sec.  As such, had to use ISO 800 to ISO 1600.

During the first race, I took time to review some of the jpg images I have captured.  Finding dark images, I was going to add some exposure compensation and found that for some reason, it was almost 2EV dark!  Changed the compensation to 0, and that made a big different.

The upper photo is the jpg images as captured and saved by the camera.

Fortunately, I was also saving the files as camera RAW.  This means that I will be able to correct the exposure in Photoshop Elements.  The lower version of the photo is after converted in Adobe Camera Raw and touched up in Photoshop Elements 11.

The reason I purchased the lens was so that I could use one lens, rather than swapping from the 18-55mm zoom and the telephoto zoom while shooting.  The lens performed perfect for that.  Just what I need for shooting races on the trail.

And, the reason for the new camera body - the number of shots I could capture before the camera had to stop to write the files to the SD card.  With my Rebel T1i and srandard class 4 cards, I would only get 4-5 shots when the camera paused to write files,  I did not experience and problems today - the camera and and Promaster Performance SD kept up.

I have sorted the jpg "proof" copies and have then ready for posting to my race and events web site:  They should be posted tomorrow (Sunday) morning when I go to Panera Bread.