Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Picture #5

This is a firewood pile outside of my front door - a reminder of the ridiculous winters in Montana. Last winter West Yellowstone got around 20 feet of snow! I used to love snow as a child (didn't we all?) It meant free days off from school and hours of playing outside on sleds. But, as an adult, I've had to drive in snow (and ice, and sleet) far too many times to get excited about it. Work is rarely canceled because of snow, and that means digging out and de-icing your car, then driving slowly over harrowing slippery roads.

I think this picture looks antique-y. I'm a huge fan of post-production; I rarely take black and white pictures because that can all be changed on the computer afterward. Some of the skill of photography has been negated these days, but there's no reason not to use technology if its available - one skill has simply been replaced by another. As a graphic artist, I mainly used Photoshop, but most basic photo fixes can easily be done with Picassa. Picassa has a lot of neat features like the ability to make collages and e-mail pictures without reducing their sizes individually, and the fixes are fun to play around with. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Sock & A Trail

I guess after the year-long saga of my last pair of socks I've decided never to let that happen again. I already started a new pair, and I'm past the heel on the first sock! That's speed knitting compared to what I've been doing. I've heard many knitters say that stockinette is "boring," but I am perfectly content to knit round and round in circles forever. I usually am doing something else while knitting, like watching a movie or reading, so I don't like my patterns to be too complicated. Thanks to Mango for the yarn!

And now, another trail:

Trail: Elephant Back Mountain
Date: July 19, 2008
Length: 3.5 miles
Elevation: 800'
Time: about 2 hours

I didn't take too many pictures of this trail, since it is mainly goes through the woods & is fairly flat until some steep switchbacks towards the end. This seems to be a well-traveled trail, particularly because I think it appears on a lot of "must-do day hike" lists. The views at the top are well worth the effort:

Unfortunately we only had a few minutes of quiet at the top until two women showed up and decided to make cell phone calls to everyone they know. I wouldn't have even thought to check if I had a signal at the top of a mountain!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Some things about me...

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I was 17, between my junior and senior years of high school. I think this was the year I worked at Busch Gardens in a store selling teddy bears and Hello Kitty products (yuck!) I was probably going on college visits & I think I took a community college entry-level calculus class (for apparently no reason, other than I like school.) I also had questionable hair style choices.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?

(1) Not get eaten by a bear. (2) Try to pick up some editing jobs. (3) Figure out what to make with a pound of ground turkey for dinner. (4) Look up possible hikes for the weekend. (5) Umm, I've got nothing. My life is pretty stress-free these days.

3) Snacks I enjoy:

Snacks. I love snacks. In fact, I hardly ever eat lunch, I just snack. A co-worker once said to me, after observing my lun
ch every day, "You really like snacks, don't you?" Snacks mostly include apples, pretzels, any crunchy-type cracker, rice cakes, almonds, and dried fruit. However, I have a horrible weakness for chips (of both the potato and corn varieties.) I could eat a bag of chips a day, but luckily I was also blessed with self-discipline. Jason & I like to refer to our snacks by name, i.e., "chicken-snack" or "salsa-snack." He is also fond of "burrito-snack," but me, not so much.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

I probably would still have a job, but I would be very picky about what job it was (otherwise I'd get bored.) I'd move to a city (maybe Santa Fe, or maybe somewhere like Seattle) and have a really awesome craftsman-style house. One room would have built-in bookshelves on all four walls and I'd compile the library of my dreams. I'd give my parents money so that they could retire, and I know I should say I'd give some to charity. But, I'd really have to research what I gave my money to, because I'm pretty much suspicious of everything these days. I'd also go on vacations all the time and buy some of that buffalo yarn.

5) Places I have lived:
I was born in Arlington, VA, and moved to Alexandria, VA, when I was young. Before high school my dad got a new job and we moved to Williamsburg, VA, where I also went to college. In college, I studied abroad in Cork, Ireland. After graduation, I lived in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM, and Larned, KS. I went to grad school in Newark, DE, before moving back to Carlsbad, NM. I just moved from Yellowstone National Park, WY, to a different area of the park near West Yellowstone, MT.

6) Jobs I have had:

My first jobs were at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, in shops in the Germany and New France areas. I also have worked as:
- Hostess in an Italian restaurant
- Assistant at an art museum
- Cashier at Target
- Education person at a national park
- Editor/graphic designer at electron microscope company
- Park ranger
- Science camp instructor
- Slide librarian
- Registration assistant at a decorative arts museum/mansion/gardens
- Graphic artist
- Editor

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trail Journal: Storm Point

Another trail! (I hope you're not getting tired of these, 'cause I'm not...)

Trail: Storm Point
Date: July 19, 2008
Distance: 2.1 miles
Time: about 1 hour
Elevation: none to speak of
Bison hair: LOTS

This was my most favorite trail so far! On the way there, we ran into a huge herd of bison (hundreds of them.) This caused the traffic jam to end all traffic jams, so it took us over 2 hours to drive the 58 miles to the trailhead. Then, we got sidetracked by a 90% off art sale at the Fishing Bridge gift shop (but that was a good thing.) Finally, we arrived at the trailhead, quite near Yellowstone Lake.

The trail starts in a meadow and quickly winds into the woods, where the blue-green lake becomes visible. The lake is so huge that it reminded me of the ocean. While walking through this wooded area, we came upon an area where a bison had laid down and shed all over the place. Score! I filled up a sandwich bag with fur... but I not really sure what to do with it. It's dirty, and obviously needs to be carded and spun - so we'll see. But I was excited just to have it. (Techinically its illegal to remove anything from a National Park... but also technically, it still has not left the park... just moved.)

Soon the trail open up, and you head towards a beautiful rocky point, where you can stand and feel the strong wind coming off the lake. It was so quiet here (besides the wind), and so scenic, and deserted... hard to imagine it's only a few minutes off the road.

After walking along the lake shore, you head back into the woods for a loop back to the road. It's hard to imagine bison walking through these woods, because they are so incredibly dense. There are fallen trees covering the ground, making it impossible to walk any where besides the trail (so it's impossible to get lost... a plus as always.) We did see a fallen tree, hanging about 7.5 feet above the trail, covered in bison fur! I was imagining a giant hairy beast prowling the woods, but then we realized that the fur deposition had probably happened during the winter, when snow weighed the tree down. However, if any one has seen a 7 foot tall bison, let me know... because that would be awesome.

This trail was fairly short, so we did another trail this day, Elephant Back Mountain... details to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I finished the socks.

I feel like these socks have dominated my knitting life for the past year - first they were jaywalkers, which didn't fit, then finally became crosswalkers. I broke a needle in the process, and never really liked the all the hot pink in the yarn. But they are finally done! They won't supplant my favorite socks (stripy ones!), but they have certainly earned a spot in the rotation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Trail Journal: Midway & Upper Geyser Basins

Trail: Midway Geyser Basin, Mudpots, Upper Geyser Basin
Date: July 13, 2008
Distance: maybe around 2 miles?
Time: about 4 hours, including driving from trail to trail

These are three areas between Old Faithful & Madison Junction, which can all be reached off of the main loop road. Since they are geyser basins, the trail is mostly wood boardwalks. I've shown you pictures of geysers before, so let's go straight to the good stuff.

The colors in the first two areas are absolutely amazing. Thanks, bacteria! In this picture alone I see pink, orange, yellow, purple, blue, & green - very cool, huh?

There were more pools of the florescent blue type:

And stark trees against the also blue sky:

But this, this was amazing: the Grand Prismatic Spring. It's difficult to capture it from the ground, but this is the general idea.

From the air, however, you get the full effect. All I can say is WOW. (I didn't take this picture obviously.)

From there we drove up to the Old Faithful area. If you take the time to walk down beyond the most famous geyser, there are plenty more to see. At this point I was a little thermo-featured out, so we didn't go too far. One of the more interesting features in this area is Castle Geyser, which was gurgling when we saw it. Many of the geysers in this area are predictable, so if you plan it right (which we didn't) you can see some really impressive eruptions.

*As always, and in these areas in particular, be prepared for lots and lots of people. Including men who think its OK to walk around without their shirts on. And people who stage photo shoots of their dogs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trail Journal: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone South Rim

*Instead of one picture this Wednesday, I bring you yet another trail...

Trail: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, South Rim
Date: July 11, 2008
Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: A while; I really need to buy a watch

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone probably has the most dramatic scenery in the park: waterfalls, a roaring river, a deep, colorful canyon. It's possible to see the canyon and its waterfalls from roadside pull-offs, but we all know by now that I think that's cheating (unless you are really old, a baby, or disabled. Otherwise you have no excuse.)

The trail starts right down next to the river, which is moving at high rates of speed. Curiously, the trail is partially paved, although you can tell it was done a long time ago.

After about a half a mile of woods and river views, you suddenly come upon a bridge, where you look out on this:

If you look closely you can see a huge mass of people on the other side of the waterfall - on my side, my husband & I were the only two people standing on the bridge. So, if you can walk half a mile, I strongly suggest hiking, it's so worth it!

After this point, the trail becomes more crowded, since "Artist Point" is one of the park's biggest attractions. I was sort of sad to see that part of the trail actually goes through a parking lot, and a lot of unprepared people wander out onto the trail. We saw some rangers helping a woman who had fallen on a switchback (wearing sandals), and they were getting ready for a "carry-out." When I worked at the Caverns, we had many carry-outs (really wheel-outs, since this means taking someone out on a litter), which are always completely difficult and exhausting. I felt sorry for them since I knew the next few hours of their day would be spent pushing this woman up switchbacks. So be prepared! And if you do fall, give the rangers cupcakes to make them like you more.

I digress... from Artist Point you have a view up the river and of Yellowstone Falls.

It was pretty cool that day... in the 60s I would guess. Notice I am wearing a fleece in the middle of July!

From here we continued on a mile to Point Sublime, which was considerably less crowded. But, the end of the trail is anticlimactic. The trail ends, but its difficult to see anything for all the trees blocking the canyon. However, again we were the only people there, so the 10 minutes or so of just hearing the river rushing below was worth the trek. (Are you seeing a trend?... its so hard to get away from people here!) There were great views of the canyon along the way though.

And finally, you can rest assured that "Wumpie + Slumpie" made it here OK.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

(Another) HAT

I really need to stop with the hats. But then again, yarn needs to be turned into something, right? I'm just doing what the yarn tells me to.

I knit this hat in one day - something I have never done before. It sort of helps to be isolated with no distractions such as phones or TV, and to be really tired from a few day's worth of hiking. I just made up the pattern as I went along - I swatched to figured out how many stitches to cast on, knit for about 5.5", and then started decreasing every other row. I threw in a purl row every 9 rows to make things a little more interesting.

And it turned out perfect! It covers my ears, is warm, and is colorful. (Oh, that's Noro Silk Garden by the way - but I'm sure all you knitters figured that out already.)

I've brought enough yarn with me for one more hat, a pair of gloves, and a pair of socks. If I manage to get though all those projects, then I'm certainly justified at visiting the local yarn shop. I really wanted some buffalo fur yarn, but they only sell it as roving, and spinning is not on my agenda.

These are the last pictures taken in front of my (former) trailer, as we have moved to a better, larger trailer, with a lot more wood paneling, closer to town. Yay! It was sort of nice to be nestled in the mountain meadows, but those tourists with the horrible driving "skills" were getting on my nerves.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trail Journal: Norris & Back Geyser Basins

Trail: Norris Geyser Basin & Back Basin
Date hiked: July 6, 2008
Distance: 2.0 miles
Elevation gain: negligible
Time: 1.5 hours

Geysers are awesome. Except for the part where you get boiled to death and all of your skin falls off (true story), but I made sure not to let that happen to me. Also, if your off-leash dog decides to jump into a hot spring, don't jump in after it (also a true story, courtesy of Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. Fun reading.)

If you are not familiar with Yellowstone geology, there are all these steam vents, geysers, and other hot things because the park contains a giant caldera, basically an upside-down volcano. (Mom, don't worry. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago. But of course in your mind that means we're about due for another one.)

The most amazing thing about these thermal features are the colors. My favorite is the Pearl Geyser:

The the collage above, you can also see a colorful pool, and some bright green algae that has grown in a flowing stream.

There are also very loud steam vents, that sound very much like a steam-powered train.

Much of the water here is also sulfuric - you can smell the rotten egg smell wafting out of the ponds. The heat, combined with the acidity has killed any nearby trees.

And finally, this area features the most hilarious warning sign I've ever seen:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trail Journal: Purple Mountain

Trail: Purple Mountain
Date hiked: July 4, 2008
Distance: 6.8 miles round-trip
Elevation gain: 1500'
Time: 3 hours

This trail is listed as "moderate" in my guidebook, but I'd say its more grueling than that. The elevation gain is 1500' over a little over 3 miles, the last mile or so being extremely steep, gravelly switchbacks. Much of the trail looks like this:

Once you get up higher, the trees become fewer and it's possible to see quite far. At the top, you can see all the way to the Grand Tetons, and look down on rivers, geyser basins, mountains, and the ubiquitous loop road. At this point you can laugh at the people stuck in cars while you gaze down on them from over a thousand feet up - you've earned it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wednesday Picture #4

Ok, so I'm sort of obsessed with tea. My tea shelf has slowly become two tea shelves, then three, then some on the counter, then some in the drawer... I probably have more that I could possibly drink in a few years. But I need choices!

Black tea will always be my favorite, particularly Assam. None of that pomegranate - blueberry - cherry business for me; fruit tea grosses me out (which is odd, because this is a picture of pomegranate tea. I got it in a swap and thought I'd give it a try, but after one sip I poured it out. It looked good though.) With the the ability to buy almost anything on the internet has come the chance to easily try thousands of different kinds of tea. I particularly like Upton Tea and Adagio Tea. At both places you can get cheap samples, which can easily take over you kitchen.

Because it was over 100 degrees every day in New Mexico, I had stopped drinking hot liquids a while ago. But now that its in the 40s and 50s in the mornings here in Wyoming, I'm happily enjoying my giant mug of tea every morning.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Where I live

Ok, so we've all seen this before (well, at least a picture):

Blah, blah, water shooting out of the ground. Actually, it's pretty cool (and by cool I mean boiling). I mean, this stuff is au-natural. No pipes or choreography to music for this baby. It's a little scary having really hot water shoot out of the ground at high speeds, but fascinating nonetheless.

In New Mexico dust storm are pretty common. So when I was biking the other day and saw this, I assumed it was just another dust storm. But then I realize that they have grass here, and so there really isn't any dust to be blown around. It was a POLLEN storm. I came home yellow.

And here's a note to RV drivers: bicyclists would like to have more than 1' of clearance between their shoulders and your ridiculously huge vehicle. Thanks. By the way, sleeping in an RV in no way qualifies as "camping."

Sunday, July 06, 2008



It was like a scene from a horror movie. The innocent heroine is pulling dinner out of the oven when she hears a loud pounding noise. Unable to identify the noise, she starts walking towards the back of the house. It appears to be coming from the side door, which leads outside. As she leans closer to the door...

A giant bear paw slams against the glass, trying to break the door down.

I cannot tell you how scary this was. There is plenty of literature around the park telling you what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking. But there isn't any instruction on what to do if a bear breaks your door down and tries to crawl inside! Luckily it didn't succeed, and only tore up and bent the window screen.

After it wandered away I pulled out the camera. First it tried to get into the motor home parked next door:

Then, when the people in the RV blew their horn, it was startled and jumped into a tree. Note to self: climbing trees is not a good option for getting away from bears.

It proceed to stalk around the neighborhood for the next half an hour, circling the house a few times. I was glad when it left, but I will be forever vigilant whenever I leave the house.

The next morning I encountered a bear (maybe the same one) on the road in front of my car. While the tourists got all excited, stopped in the middle of the road and pulled out their cameras, I tried to scare it off the road by driving next to it. The tourists were probably mad, but people in the SUV from New Jersey, you don't understand. Bears are scary. Not cute.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Love Hats

Have I mentioned how much I love hats? When I woke up yesterday morning and it was about 50 degrees inside, I was really glad for just having completed this:

Pattern: Train Tam by Cosette Cornelius-Bates
Yarn: Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit (100% wool), 1 skein + a tiny bit of another
Needles: Size 2 dpns, size 4 circular

I always freak out that my hats are going to be too big, so I always end up with a tad-bit too small hats. This could probably be .5" longer, but it covers the top half of my ears, which is enough. Since its 100% wool, it's also very light, and sometimes I forget that I'm wearing it.

This is a great basic hat pattern - it really is the perfect shape hat. I'll definitely make more of these when the yarn comes to me.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wednesday Picture #3

This week I’d like to show you a part of my current house. (And by “house” I mean “Single-wide trailer from the 60s that no one has lived in for 2 years.”) Yes, my friends, my house has a license plate. I don’t think it’s going to be traveling anywhere anytime soon, but it’s nice to know we’ll be legal if we decide to head out on the road…

We're Here!

After 3 hours of searching, the internet has been found!


1,100 miles later, we’re here! We set off from sunny New Mexico on Saturday morning with little idea that we would encounter the worst storm I have ever driven through in my life. In the northern part of the state, it did seem a little dark, so I expected it might rain. But I didn’t expect this:

This was the biggest hail I have ever seen. Some of it was approaching golf-ball size. We pulled off the highway when it became so bad we couldn’t see, and let me tell you, hail that big is scary. I could tell that my car was getting pummeled, which is a bummer, but the hail threatening to crash through the windshield was even scarier. (My two-month-old bike was also strapped to the outside of the car.) Luckily, nothing was broken, and my car is dented but not badly.

We stayed in Denver overnight, and the next afternoon we hit the Grand Tetons. I’ve seen mountains before, but let me say, these mountains are CRAZY HUGE. They are also very spiky, so I would imagine it would hurt to be impaled on one. Check it out:

Most of us have seen pictures of beautiful landscapes, but when you are actually in one, it’s difficult to grasp that it actually exists. We finally made it to Yellowstone (which is huge, by the way.) We’re still settling in, and adjusting to the fact that we have no cell phone service, no landline phone, no cable, and of course no internet. And no dishwasher, laundry machines, or air conditioning (although we probably won’t need it – I’m going to be able to use what I knit this summer!)

Let the adventure begin!

No Internet Zone

I've made it safely to Yellowstone National Park, a.k.a. "The Land of No Internet." What's a girl gotta do to get some WiFi? (Let alone a cell phone signal...) Hopefully I will resolve this situation soon, and I'll be able to post pictures of my newest adventures. I even finished a hat! 'Til then, keep checking back & I promise I won't be gone forever!
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