kcowyo:

“Where ever I am I always find myself looking out the window wishing I was somewhere else.” - Angelina Jolie

That pretty much sums me up.

kcowyo:

“Where ever I am I always find myself looking out the window wishing I was somewhere else.” - Angelina Jolie

That pretty much sums me up.

Riding through southeastern Wyoming toward the Colorado border yesterday, I noticed a persistently hazy atmosphere. The sky was the color of a dead dolphin for as far as the eye could see—in contrast to the relentless rays that nearly baked me to a crisp last week. 
Also, I kept sneezing. (FYI it’s a real pain to clean the inside of a face shield.)
But I didn’t put two and two together—my face was stuffed inside a helmet, after all—until I pulled over at the border to snap some self portraits. A salt-of-the-earth country gal pulled alongside me in a beat-up pickup:


"Hey! Do you know where that smoke is coming from?" she hollered.
"Oh…um, no…" I replied.
“Must be a prairie fire, up in Wyoming probably," she said. "I thought it was all that road resurfacing down the way, but that’s just dirt and dust. No wonder I’ve had a headache all day—and I’ve been inside! Welp, guess I gotta turn on the air conditioner….”

She rolled up her windows and sped off.
[Wyoming/Colorado border, August 14, 2012]

Riding through southeastern Wyoming toward the Colorado border yesterday, I noticed a persistently hazy atmosphere. The sky was the color of a dead dolphin for as far as the eye could see—in contrast to the relentless rays that nearly baked me to a crisp last week.

Also, I kept sneezing. (FYI it’s a real pain to clean the inside of a face shield.)

But I didn’t put two and two together—my face was stuffed inside a helmet, after all—until I pulled over at the border to snap some self portraits. A salt-of-the-earth country gal pulled alongside me in a beat-up pickup:


"Hey! Do you know where that smoke is coming from?" she hollered.

"Oh…um, no…" I replied.

Must be a prairie fire, up in Wyoming probably," she said. "I thought it was all that road resurfacing down the way, but that’s just dirt and dust. No wonder I’ve had a headache all day—and I’ve been inside! Welp, guess I gotta turn on the air conditioner….”

She rolled up her windows and sped off.

[Wyoming/Colorado border, August 14, 2012]

Seriously, it’s hot out here!
 [Chugwater, Wyoming, August 14, 2012]

Seriously, it’s hot out here!


[Chugwater, Wyoming, August 14, 2012]

Devil’s Tower, Dirt Devils, and Devilish Tendencies (Can Kill You)

scaled.IMG_7087

"A dark mist lay over the Black hills, and the land was like iron…There are things in nature that engender an awful quiet in man; Devil’s Tower is one of them,” wrote explorer N. Scott Momaday when he discovered this behemoth in northwestern Wyoming.

The butte was named Bear Mountain according to Indian legend: seven sisters were being chased by their brother, who had morphed suddenly into a growling bear.

They came to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them. It bade them to climb upon it, and as they did so, it rose into the air. The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond its reach. It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of the Big Dippper.”

scaled.IMG_6686

In 1906 this incredible “igneous intrusion” was declared the first national landmark under Teddy Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act…just fourteen years after Yellowstone was established as the first national park.

scaled.IMG_6685

Pretty awe-inspiring

scaled.IMG_7097

Also in the park is a town of black-tailed prairie dogs.

scaled.IMG_7098

They scurry about right alongside the roadway, sniffing shrubs and building their underground labyrinth. Apparently they only seem cute if you don’t live on the prairie; otherwise they’re little rat puppies that dig up precious ranch property, spit disease, and generally annoy anyone living off the land.

scaled.IMG_7100

Though I have to say I felt a connection when I saw this. They’re fellow asphalt eaters!

scaled.IMG_7060

But when the need for speed creeps into my right hand on the throttle, these signs along the highway shock me back to sensibility.

Devils lurk everywhere in this territory.

[Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, August 13, 2012]

Yo-de-lay-hee-hoo, YELLOWSTONE!

HOORAY! Autumn has arrived at Yellowstone National Park, where I spent nearly three days last week traversing the most diverse landscape to date on this fantastic voyage:

scaled.IMG_6378

A warm greeting in the welcome packet set the tone:

scaled.IMG_6281

Miles later, a temporary roadblock proved that the note was no joke:

scaled.IMG_6385

Turns out, I was approaching the Lamar Valley Buffalo Ranch, established in 1907 to restore the bison herd from near-extinction (fewer than 40 survived) after poachers swept the region. The ranch ceased operation in 1952; now the free-roaming herd of 2000 will cross streets wherever and whenever it pleases, thankyouverymuch.

scaled.IMG_6395

Further down the valley, wide open space, dotted with tall, fluffy trees:

scaled.IMG_6423

Rolling hills speckled with boulders that were once swept along by massive, melting glaciers and deposited as the water drained into the earth. Take a moment to scan the scene; can’t you envision that flow?

scaled.IMG_6445

Sometimes, house-sized blocks of ice were left behind, forming kettle-shaped depressions in the earth, creating small ponds:

scaled.IMG_6441

In contrast, this area of Yellowstone was ravaged by the infamous forest fires of 1988, which burned through thousands of Douglas fir trees, leaving their spindly trunks to tumble down like giant pickup-sticks.

scaled.IMG_6374

Not to be confused with the Petrified Tree, a fossilized redwood that “is a clue to a warmer, damper, more violent Yellowstone landscape….Volcanic ash and mudflows obliterated a living landscape yet preserved this tree for ages,” according to the plaque.

scaled.IMG_6487

Miles away, lush spires stretch toward a torn-paper horizon:

scaled.IMG_6595

Which buffer the sandy, craggy perimeter of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone:

scaled.IMG_6584

And creep toward waterfalls that will likely thunder for all eternity:

scaled.IMG_6612

Yellowstone River, a happy, majestic shade of aqua further downstream:

scaled.IMG_6458

Reminiscent in placid creeks and streams that cut through dewy, wildflower pastures:

scaled.IMG_6642

…seemingly a world apart from the severe panorama of the Norris Geysers:

scaled.IMG_6637

And massive mineral deposits near Mammoth Hot Springs:

scaled.IMG_6655

Old Faithful, smoking and hissing (I could not wait the ~90 minutes until the next predicted eruption), appears tame in comparison:

scaled.IMG_6321

At the exit to the north, a gentle goodbye via sandy, sage-brush-dotted hills and those beautiful, blue mountains:

scaled.IMG_6554

Continental Divide x 3

On Wednesday I left Jackson, Wyoming, and completed my first of three long drives through Yellowstone National Park, to the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana.

As I soon realized, the late-summer sightseeing parade of RVs and SUVs, combined with an ever-changing landscape buttressed by scenic pull-outs around every bend, made for one slow journey.

150 miles and nearly FIVE hours of driving and photographing later, I had traveled up and over the Continental Divide* as the sun fell closer and closer to the horizon:

One…

scaled.IMG_6271

Two…

scaled.IMG_6284

Three…

scaled.IMG_6293

*mountains that separate watersheds draining into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans

Farewell, Jackson and Grand Tetons…Nice to Meet You, Yellowstone!

Farewell, Jackson and Grand Tetons…Nice to Meet You, Yellowstone!

scaled.IMG_6261

Jackson will steal a little piece of your heart…

scaled.IMG_5868

Mike Rangner, Oregon-based fine art painter and photographer at the 27th Annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, September 17, 2011.

File under: prophet.

Hiking Death Canyon

scaled.IMG_6192

I giggled on the phone when I told my mom where I was headed. (Hey, she called, and she asked! Yet as we all learned from 127 Hours, telling someone where you’re going on your hike could mean the difference between keeping and losing a limb.)

First, the drive through Grand Teton National Park to Death Canyon:

scaled.IMG_6150

Seconds after I snapped this photo, the bear ambled off to the right, up a steep embankment.

Suddenly, a second bear charged across the street from the left to follow the first. He was moving so frantically that I could see his fur ripple back and forth with the momentum. The pair bushwhacked up the hill until they were out of sight.

Read More