Friday, July 28, 2017

More BLM Camping and Whitefish Mountain

 We stopped in a small town for iced coffee and a walk around. They were having a street festival with old cars and stuff.

The old cars out west are amazing, here is another old Jeep I'd love to own.
 After lunch we continued driving up toward our next stop some BLM Land up a mountain that has a Hot Springs onsite.

After an 8 mile dirt road up the mountain we were there. It was actually a very smooth dirt road.
 The hot spring goes way back but back in the day it was more rustic. Later it was shutdown for years but has been re-developed and it open again.

With our parks pass it is free otherwise it costs 5$ on the honor system of course it isn't manned.  But there are changing rooms and two tubs like this one.
 Since we are camping right here we managed to get them to ourselves a couple time. It was a weekend so 5 or 6 other cars of people did pop in now and then.

The view from the campsite was pretty awesome.
It even has a fancy sign which is out of character for BLM anything.

The dirt road continued over the mountains from Idaho into Montana. A nice woman came over in a beat up old truck camper and told us stories of how she had been here several times over the last 50 years.

 Back on the road the next day we stopped for lunch at this roadside museum. OK it was more of a junkyard organized like a museum.

It was a good way to take a break from driving, the West doesn't have nearly as many quick on the road side type of attractions as other areas of the country.

There is hardly a giant anything (Ball of twine, fruit etc.) to be found.
 We are staying in Kalispell MT a few days before heading into Glacier NP.

Nearby is Whitefish MT where there is a big skiing mountain. We almost came here last winter to ski but plans changed.
 Instead we are here in the summer and hiked to the top.

Craters of the Moon NP

 Craters of the Moon is really cool, it is a very recent at least in geological terms lava flow and eruption.

These awesome flowers don't seem to mine growing in volcanic debris.

While hanging out here we caught up with "Wild Bill" and his 2 dogs Owen and Glacier.  We did a few hikes and also drove out to see one of the first nuclear nuclear power plants.

Aaaah here is a Jeep Scrambler Pickup one of my dream old cars!
 My first tech job was at the Foxboro corp where I wrote the embedded software for some devices that measured the flow of materials. This is a old old predecessor of the meters I worked on.

 Checkout these wild trail description signs! They give you so much detail you almost can skip hiking the trail entirely.

Never seen any like it at any other park. But they seemed brand new.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fossil Butte National Monument

Wall of fossils at Fossil Butte.

An ancient lake that spanned 4 different states once existed here. And it left behind more fossils than you could ever imagine.

 But even more fun than the National Monument was a fossil quarry on private land that we went to in search our own fossils!
 We spent a good half day splitting rocks open and finding fish fossils.

There is a small chance you find other things like leaves, shrimp or even turtles.
That was our pile of mine tailings.
 And this was the cliffside where we were splitting off of.

The owner was great and kept checking on us making sure we were finding stuff and having a good time.
 When you are finished they let you use some saws to cleanup the rocks containing your fossils.
We found dozens of intact fish and hundreds of fish where we had cut them in half.  And that was just in a half day.  Looking at this hill there are millions and millions of fossils waiting for people to split open.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dinosaur National Monument

After checking in at the visitor center we stopped to talked to a ranger and he gave us the info on where some good BLM Free camping existed.

We were a bit low on gas so we drove to town and filled up before finding a nice quiet spot in the middle of nowhere.
 Quiet at least until the cows came and moo'd very loudly!

Tucker really really wanted to get out there and play with Bessie and he friends.

 We spent a whole day doing some 4x4 driving around searching for fossils and jasper with some success.  One trail I had read about ended up being too rough to explore without a second truck around in case we got stuck.

We also drove the park road and checked out where a forest fire had been. We actually saw the lightning strike and the fire start the night we arrived. It was a pretty small fire as a thunderstorm dumped some good rain to put it out.

 The Dinosaur National Monument is a big place, but most of it is just beautiful mountains and canyons.  One small section is however full of bones.

This building covers one of the major strikes of dinosaur bone gold.
The hillside here (although it wasn't a hillside that is just from the excavation of bones) is still jam packed with bones. Thousands of poor dead dinos much have ended up here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Steamboat Springs

We are now in Steamboat Springs Co, a friend of Will's lives here and we are going to get together with him for dinner.

Other than that we visited (Strawberry Park Hotsprings) up in the mountains (Twice!). And also did a little hiking.
 We hiked Fish Creek falls, it is a very popular hike, many people only hit the first falls which is basically a short walk.

We went all the way to the upper falls where people were swimming. It looked really chilly!
Our campground is a bit out of the city on a lake and almost daily we got some crazy thunderstorms.

Once we almost lost the awning off the trailer!

However we also got cool rainbows!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rockey Mountain NP 2nd Part

The main road through the park is also very scenic. It is crazy twisty and very high. Some of the cliffs you drive along really made me nervous.

Add that to the crowds of people driving and it made for a stressful but pretty drvie.

Today we are setting off on another long hike also starting at Bear Lake where started the first hike.

Today however we parked at the shuttle bus and took it to Bear Lake as we are hiking clear across almost back to our campground and not doing a round trip.

 This hike is very different than the last. Instead of going up to a peak we are going up a lot but through some rugged terrain to see 2 mountain lakes.
Although we aren't gaining as much altitude the trail is pretty rough in spots and it was still high enough for there to be some snow.
 The lakes were very pretty. Some people hike up here to fish or camp overnight.
We ate our lunch overlooking the lake with this little fellow offering to help us out.

This is a very popular lunch spot I guess. You can hike here up from our destination in just a couple miles. (We only have a couple miles left!)  The rest of the hike went by a couple waterfalls and ended up being around 10 miles too.  The shuttle had good timing and picked us up about 10 minutes after we finished just as some rain was coming through.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rocky Mountain NP 1st half

After several attempts we lucked out and managed to get a cancellation at a campground inside of Rocky Mount NP.

This was really great not only because the campground is nice and has great views but also because there are often long lines just to get into the park.
 We woke up nice and early one day and drove out to Bear Lake (Parking fills by 8 am! This place is insanely crowded).

We are going to hike up to Hallet Peak.

 At the first overlook of the day only a couple miles in we still look fresh as a daisy.

The view is down to a lake below and of the snow capped mountains.

 As we get higher and above the tree-line there are lots of critters like this Pika!
 We are getting up there!  The views continue to be stunning! It is a shame this park is so crowded and that so few of the crowds bother to hike to see these views!

 The big panorama is from the top of Hallet Peak. We actually planned only to hike to the peak below it but it wasn't much further or higher (700 more feet up) so Will convinced me to do it.

Totally worth it.
 Colorado Columbine the State Flower it and a lot of other wild flowers are in bloom.

There were also a lot of Marmots hanging about in the rocks.

Overall it was pretty rewarding 10 mile hike.