Monday, June 20, 2005

Glacier National Park

I couldn't find any decent campground or hotel that was open. So I headed into the park. I think it was after 11pm, but I found a pretty good campground. I went eastward through the park. The scenery was very beautiful, but not a ton of wildlife. WHy do they call this Glacier National Park? There are so few glaciers and they are so small (at least compared to Alaska). It's still nice though. Hit Many Glacier which is on the east side of the park. I had to leave and return. It wasn't worth it though. I'm eating lunch (ok, I've already finished). I'm headed back through the park and westard on to Washington.

Oh I forogot to mention the garter snake and the mountain goats. I wasn't sure if the garter was alive until I got pretty close and it scooted away. The mountain goats were pretty funny. In a park, you aren't supposed to molest or otherwise torment the animals. So a bunch of people coming down the mountain stopped their car to watch the mountain goats. I was headed up and also stopped. Eventually the goats were on the side of the road and I couldn't pass. I think a bunch of people got pissed. I thought it was just fun to watch the goats and the people.

I didn't really put it in my notes, but there are many waterfalls in Glacier and they are quite nice. But I had so much of that from Yellowstone, I probably needed more of a break to appreciate Glacier more.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Last of Yellowstone

Went through Yellowstone for the last time (on this excursion). I saw a black bear today. No more grizzlies though. Not as good as yesterday. Still a really great park. I've liked it the best of all I've been in so far (about 15, maybe more). I saw a mother moose with her baby (what are they called?). This was right after breakfast in Montana (I think, yup it was). I kept criss crossing the state. I wasn't always sure where I was (the story of my life). Nothing else (beautiful, I just noticed a typo in my notes, what's an esle?) particularly remarkable in Yellowstone today. Oh wait (I'm writing this a day later). I did see a heron. I love them. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get close enough for a picture or at least a decent picture. I also saw a very strange and interestingly colored bird near Undine Falls. It had a red head, yellow body and black wings. I got a picture or two, but they probably suck like all the rest (I can only see a 1+ inch picture). The camera on the phone is just too weak. I should have listned to everyone that said I should get a real camera. I wonder how many pictures the phone will hold.

I get into Montana and visit Livingstone and Bozeman. Find places. In Bozeman I get scenic directions to Kalispell so I can get to Glacier National Park. I've now been across Montana West to East and South to North. I've had the same impression each time--a very nice, pleasant place. Serene. A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. It is not inspiring. I don't think this opinion is just because I came from Wyoming.

Side notes: What is it with all the turtles in Nebraska? What is it with all the butterflies in Montana? There are a ton of them and they are plastered all over my windshield.

More notes: It was interesting that through Montana, up until Idaho or Washington, there were so many bugs that went splat on my windshield. I had to clean it every time I got gas or it was a bit difficult to see out. But between Washington and California, there were very few bugs.

Someone I was talking to in Washington (IIRC) mentioned how the west had so much less vermin than the east. It was pretty funny because we were also talking about road kill. Things like frogs, snakes, raccoon, etc. There seems to be many more dead animals strewn about the road in the east than in the west.

Friday, June 17, 2005

(is this the 18th?) more Yellowstone

Drive back into Yellowstone from the west. Thoday was really spectacular (see, there's that word again). Went through the central part and out the east exit. The recent fires in the east seem to demonstrate the Park Service hasn't learned. (Or maybe this is just a result of their activities from a while ago.) The forests around Yellowstone are in pretty good shape. Hit the upper and lower falls and many others. Took more picture today than any other day. Went through the "Grand Canyon". I liked it better than the one in Arizona. :-) I really need to return to Arizona and see more. Same with Yosemite which I will probably get to in Aug. (Not!) Yellowstone is by far the best National Park I've been to. It's more like a National Forest than any other Park which means it is used for multiple purposes beyond just preservation. I pref the conservation approach.

Shoot. This next paragraph is an entire page of notes! The east entrance is all screwed up. Not sure why. The Shoshone Forest is pretty nice. I'm spending the night here in a better part. I spent the evening in Cody. Went to the museum because my mom insisted. I really thought it would suck. It wasn't bad at all. The worst part was that I got there late (like 6.30pm) and it closed at 8pm. I didn't get to see everything I wanted, but pretty much. Cody is a nice town. Although all these tourist towns are getting on my nerves, reminds me of Florida.

(I broke up the paragraph from my notes.) I thought I was going to have to take a very round about route to come back to Yellowstone through the North East entrance. But I found a sign to Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Sounded good, so I took it. (I don't think it was on the map. The only map I took was of the Western US. It didn't have lots of roads, but it's good enough to get around. Last time I had a map of the entire US. I take the position you can't be lost if you don't care where you are or where you are going.) Very good choice (taking Chief Joseph), cuts off a lot of time and mileage. It was beautiful while it lasted. Unfortunately I didn't get on it until 9.30pm or so. Not enough daylight to really appreciate it all. Tomorrow should be nice though. I was bummed that I only saw one bear, a grizzly, and that was very short (mostly just saw its butt as it walked away). Hopefully my wish doesn't come true tonight since I'm camping in bear country. :-) (Unlike some people, you know who you are! I slept quite fine and didn't chicken out and go sleep in the bed of a pickup or my car. :-)

I put all the food in the trunk. Hopefully no bears tonight, but plenty tomorrow in the Park. I also hope it doesn't go down to 50 degrees F again. That's too cold for my skinny ass. I've already had 2 of those 50 degree nights and I'm bracing for a third. (Funny how after a couple more weeks I wasn't comfortable unless it was 50. In Mt View, it only goes down to about 60 and that's still a bit warm for me.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

More Wyoming

Damn, I didn't think I wrote many notes, but I've been typing and typing and there's still a ton more to transcribe. You people better like this crap! Though quite honestly, I don't think there's much interesting in the notes. It ought to get a bit funnier when it gets into August and I'm finally moving towards a destination, rather than rambling about the country. OTOH, if you want to know my views on the scenery of the US, then by all means read on, read on.

Go through Jackson Hole. I kind o flike it, even though it reminds me of Sedona, Arizona a bit (which I don't like). A little too artsy for me though which is similar to Sedona.

Tetons are a bit disappointing. The trip through the forest was nice, even though it was at a distance. There isn't much difference in the park close up. Nice place so far, just not special.

Go into Yellowstone National Park from the South. I think this was on the 17th (Friday), so I think I lost a day in these crappy notes. The devastation from the 1988 fires is amazing. Very appropriate given how much they (National Park Service) screwed up (by their attempt to control fires/nature). Saw lots of bison and some elk. I think they were elk. It was a long way off, could have been mule deer or even moose. (Damn, what was I smoking that I couldn't tell the difference!) I visit Old Faithful and the geysers. Ok. Interesting. Good walk, but that's all. I exit through the west into Montana. The drive out is very nice. Lots more animals. Spend the evening (night) in Idaho at Macks Inn.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More Black Hills, then on to Wyoming

Drove around more of Custer hitting more tunnels. Fun driving. Saw a bunch of bison and other wildlife. (Note: buffalo and bison are the same thing.) Got into Wyoming in the morning. Drove through the Big Horn Mountains and National Park. It was really beautiful. I took a picture at 9660 feet elevation. I'm wearing flip flops on the snow! Seems like a strange sight, but it was quite comfortable.

The whole trip is nice. After Riverton, the scenery gets really spectacular (damn, I'm really starting to over use that word). Reminds me of the painted desert, but much larger and nicer. This isn't even in a park! just along the road. I think a lot of it was in the Wind River Reservation. After being in awe of the scenery fro hours, I decided to settle down. I found a Wilderness Management Area way off some gravel roads. Somewhere around Beaver Creek near Dubois. Nice location, made a fire which was nice. Mule deer welcomed me as I entered the area.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

South Dakota

Wow. Did a fair amount today. Lots of South Dakota. Badlands reminded me of the Painted Desert in Arizona. Badlands was very nice and much larger, but not as spectacular as I had hoped. Same goes for Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. The Black Hills are nice, but they are so broken up with private land. There are a lot of tiny towns in South Dakota (like Inferior, population 67).

I was looking for a campground and met Marla, a camp host, between Custer and Jewel Cave. She recommended Needles Highway in Custer State Park. She was right, it is spectacular! I plan to hike in here tomorrow. I'm spending the night at the upper Center Lake Campgrounds, since everywhere else is full. I got a very funny picture of a buffalo. The sign says "Official Vehicle Use Only". That's a funny interpretation this bull had. I doubt the picture will come out well. Really should have gotten a real camera. So all those that told me, now you can say "I told you so!" (BTW, the bull was mounting the sign so he could rub his genitals on it.)

Saw a bunch of buffalo and deer in the park. The Black Hills are really incredible in this park.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Midwest

Iowa is not as flat as I expected. It also has more trees. Very pleasant, though not much to hold my interest. Lots of little parks, most of which I can't find. (I have no idea what that means. IIRC, there were many signs on the road for parks, but when I tried to follow the signs they wouldn't lead me anywhere.)

Walked around Sioux City a bit (during the day, my notes are all screwed up here). Spent the night in Spencer (I think) in a motel since it was raining so much. I guess not everyone knows, but for the most part I camped in a tent as much as possible. I did the same (camped) the last time I took a trip around the US 6 years ago. I need to find those notes/pictures and post them too.

Glad I did (spend the night in a motel), since it was raining (and cool ~60 F) in the morning.

Oh yeah, there are a ton of windmills. Not in Nebraska though.

Nebraska continues to nice tradition. Very pleasant, but nothing exceptional. A little flatter perhaps. I took 2 pictures of the road and sky. Show how straight the roads can be (and this wasn't the straightest). The clouds just go on forever. The picture doesn't show them that well I fear. Oh well, still fairly interesting. Stopped at a fossil park. Ok, nothing to write about. Plan to go to a state park in Valentine based on a recommendation. Right before I took the pictures, I passed a turtle on US-20. I was going West and he was going North. He made it half-way. I wonder if he completed his journey.

I'm not seeing so many red-winged blackbirds any more. Thank goodness, they kept reminding me of Sasha and his comment about how English is so original with how it names things (e.g., can you guess what a ringneck snake looks like). I'm glad that amount of reminding is done for now. :-)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Chicago" (11th thru 13th)

Spend time in Naperville, IL with a very old friend (our friendship is old, not him). Man, Jyoti (his sister), and Jasraj (her son). It was fun to see her after so many years. I hadn't met Jasraj before. It was fun to hang out with all of them and pack Manu up so he could move east as I move west.

All along the way, especially at this point, I always got a smile on my fact when I saw a street sign that said "West". I kept thinking, "that's where I'm going, it's going to be home". If I ever had to travel east, it always felt like I was going backwards. North and South didn't have any significance.

Friday, June 10, 2005

day 2

Go back to the beach. Nearly empty. Beautiful though overcast. Goto breakfast at Sammie's in Bridgport. Awesome. Gyro meat, eggs, hash browns, onions, and green peppers.

For some reason, I'm really into American breakfast food at this point. It eventually changes to wanting a more Asian breakfast with rice and miso. When I started work, I've been eating fruit, berries, and bread. The strangest part is that I've never really eaten breakfast because I don't like it. Go figure.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

ok, the trip really begins

Drove out I-68 and used GPS to hook back up with I-70. Didn't think I'd have a use for GPS, but it was a fun toy. Since it's dangerous to use while driving, that makes it even more fun! It's worse than a cell phone.

Lots of driving, finally get into Michigan. It's still a very Eastern-like state. The clouds are slightly different. I took a picture of the clounds and it promptly started to rain (lightly).

Arrive at Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan on Lake Michigan around 7pm. Watched the sun set on Lake Michigan. Very nice. It looks like an ocean it's so big.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

travel begins

Stop in Hagerstown, visit Lew (friend from College) for a bit. Fun to catch up on old times and new. Interesting how fast 13 years can be caught up. :-)

Stayed at Rocky Gorge State Park, MD. Nice area with a decent sized lake that I walked around. Nothing special.

Note: man that was one weak entry. But it really didn't last that long.