Thursday, October 29, 2009

More to Wyoming than I knew

More Moose pictures....Anybody like nursing babies?

'nuf said

As much as I sing praises for Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, I have always had a dim view of the rest of Wyoming. To me it is sagebrush and Halliburton (why do you think “Dick” C. calls this home?), and I detest driving across it. I have seen a few highlights outside the Hole, namely Devil’s Tower and hiking in the Wind River Range, but for the most part I have nothing nice to say. And really, if you stick to I-80, any road leading to Casper, and I-90, you will probably agree it is a miserable place.

Recently we had the opportunity to visit good friends who made the great escape from the fast-paced-long-commutes-keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s life of Jackson Hole, to a more normal family-friendly life in Sheridan. Now, the thing about Sheridan is that you can’t get there from here. Look at the map, and you see there are several mountain ranges, winding roads that don’t point in the right direction, and 12 months of snow. Lots of snow (not actually on the map, unless you dropped it in the snow). In fact, from November to May, most roads through Yellowstone are closed. It’s times like these that you keep your fingers crossed that Togwotee pass is open. If it’s not, it’s time to crack open another Pabst at Phil’s Tavern, call into work sick, throw another log on the fire and let the brown couch suck you in for the evening, ‘cause you’re not going anywhere. At least, not to Sheridan.

Luckily for us, Yellowstone was still open, and we had a break in the snow with a few days of weather above 40 degrees. It was downright balmy over in Sheridan! Three of us took off like a herd of turtles and decided to take the scenic route through Yellowstone. We exited the east side by Fishing Bridge, went over the Absaroka Mountains, stopped for a beer with the local color in Cody, and crossed the sagebrush of Wyoming through Powell and finally over the Bighorn Mountains on the Medicine Wheel Passage/Bighorn Mountain Scenic Byway to Sheridan. And boy was it scenic! I had no idea. None at all. Wyoming sure has some beautiful rocks! You can imagine the dinosaurs sitting in those rocks waiting to be found. Here’s some photos from more of that good ol’ scenic Wyo’. These photos don’t do the drive justice. There is much more to see.

Yellowstone Lake

Just Scratchin' my beard

On the way home we decided to check out the medicine wheel of the Bighorns. According to the google, it’s an old Indian ceremonial site that has some celestial alignments among the stones. In our tennis shoes, we took our hangovers for a three mile hike through the snow… and guess what? We couldn’t see the wheel because it too was buried in snow. Duh! But the views were great anyway.

The trail

Medicine Wheel National Monument

Edge of the world, Medcine Wheel, Wyo...

We were glad we made the trek even though it delayed our voyage. After all, you really only live once right? While the actual sight of the stones was lost beneath the snow, we could understand why it could be a significant location due to it’s beauty, remoteness, and solitude. It was a moment of reflection for both of us, despite our triflin’ atheistic ways.

There is much more to Wyoming than meets the eye. We feel lucky to have spent three months in NZ because it taught us to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, in our own backyard. Before NZ we would have driven right past the medicine wheel in our hurry to get to the next destination. Now we realize there are many beautiful things worth stopping to see right here in our own neck of the woods. And despite slowing down those few hours, we were still home before bedtime, and happier for it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Colors in Snake River Canyon, Jackson Hole

"What do you mean I don't need this junk?"

This is the real Jackson Hole!

As September turned into October, the temperatures dropped and the snow started falling.  The snow hasn't been sticking long, but it's quite cold compared to a week ago. If you haven't seen the fall colors in the Snake River Canyon, go check them out. They are astounding this year, brighter and redder than I ever remember. I hope it's not too late, but if you miss them, here are some pictures from the day before it snowed.

The cold temperatures and snow brought my resident moose down from higher altitudes. I was so excited when Grant gently woke me up yesterday with "Honey, the moose are here". After I got up, we found we actually had a whole fam-damily of moose: a momma with twins, and a young bull (like our friends, the Youngbulls. Hi Cody and Tricia! Hope you have twins too). It is rutting season, but because the bull is so young, we aren't sure if he is trying to get laid, or just wanting to hang out with mom still...Probably the former, but we are a wholesome couple with wholesome thoughts so would never assume that nature was taking its course, nor would we watch for hours in the hopes of getting pictures of two moose doing it in our backyard... Because I am lucky to have trees and bushes for my backyard, we could not get a clear photograph of the whole family, but here are pictures of Mom with one of her calves, and the bull through the trees. If you look closely, you can see his paddle-antlers. His are very small, and one is deformed, which we read could mean he was accidentally castrated...or he's very young :) They all slept in my yard, 50-ft away, for hours. I know many people, especially locals, are jaded about moose and other wildlife, but I will never tire of it. Where else in the world can you sit in your warm apartment with a cup of coffee and watch the wildlife come to you? So expect more moose pictures... Cheers!