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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
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The Best Deal in America

After visiting Spearfish Canyon and Devils Tower, as recounted here, Crystal Dancer and I headed farther west, passed through the Bighorn National Forest and spent the night in Cody, Wyoming. We had dinner at the Irma Hotel, originally owned by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself. Lots of cool old pics of Cody, Annie Oakley and others adorn the walls, along with a bunch of stuffed animals. In the morning we headed west again, passing through the stunning Shoshone National Forest.

The best deal in America is the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Lifetime Senior Pass. This $10.00 lifetime pass provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies. The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USACE, and Bureau of Reclamation all honor the Senior Pass. All citizens age 62 and over are eligible for this pass. Ten bucks. Lifetime. Get one.

One of the places this pass gets you in is Yellowstone National Park, which was our destination for the next four days. It was my first-ever trip to Yellowstone, and I was not disappointed. We scheduled our trip for early May as a means to avoid the crowds. That worked, as we had many of the major sites all to ourselves; even the campground was less than full. Some park venues were not yet accessible, and cold, snowy weather was a threat, but all-in-all I would absolutely visit at that time of year again.

After entering the park and having a brief walk down memory lane with the Ranger at the gate (Cheeseheads are everywhere!) we vowed to get to the campground and set up our campsite before stopping. We kept this vow for all of a quarter mile when this little gem appeared.

Crystal Dancer’s cries of “stop, stop, stop” delayed us time and again as one picture-worthy scene after another popped up before us. Finally we got to the Madison Campground and set up our site.

Camp Scuba, Elevation 6,800 feet, all buttoned up for foul weather …

My son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter shared the near tent, Crystal Dancer and I the far one.

All food must be secured. There’s Grizzlies around!

The backyard at the Madison Campground, where the Firehole River and Gibbons River come together to create the Madison River …

Then it was on to four days of spectacular scenes. The vastness, beauty, diversity, colors and uniqueness of this national treasure cannot be overstated. It’s home to incredible rivers, steep canyons, pristine lakes and the largest collection of geothermal geysers in the world. A truly amazing place.

How the Firehole River got its name …

Some geysers are bubbling mudholes …

While others appear to be entrances to the center of the earth …

The number of geysers is astonishing …

No Yellowstone trip report would be complete without a pic of Old Faithful …

When Crystal Dancer sent a pic of the two of us in front of Old Faithful, her daughter replied with an apt title: “Two Old Geezers and an Old Geyser.” She cracks me up.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where we watched a pair of bald eagles riding the thermals far below us …

Home of Lower Yellowstone Falls …

And amazing colors …

Some of the roads are a bit narrow …

A terrace of mineral deposits below a geothermal geyser …

My pic of two elk fighting on a mineral terrace deposted by a geothermal geyser, or as I call it, just another day at Yellowstone …

Stay tuned for Part 3: The Grand Tetons.

Camp Weathervane attacked Bernie's policies and it backfired.

So they attacked Bernie's character, but that backfired too.

Now they're reduced to attacking Bernie's supporters.

They got nothing.


So what big lie will Hillary's campaign promote on June 6th?

The Camp Weathervane track record shows they promoted lies about Bernie the day before key primaries in other states (e.g., he wasn't involved in civil rights protests in the '60's, he voted against the auto bailout).

What will it be this time, for California?

I'm leaning toward "he hates Hispanics" but it could be simply "he hates California." Of course Hillary, Brock and company are far more creative liars than I.


The chasm between Hillary and Bernie is not about policy nor about personality.

It's about integrity. Bernie has it in abundance. Hillary has none, zero.

How The West Was, 1: Spearfish Canyon and Devil’s Tower

Crystal Dancer and I departed east-central Wisconsin early on the morning of May 4 to tour parts of the American West – Spearfish Canyon, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. We got on I-90, crossed the Mighty Mississippi into Minnesota near LaCrosse, Wisconsin, then climbed out of the broad river valley and onto the Great Plains. Upon reaching the top, our GPS indicated the next turn was 665 miles away. Obviously, the tech who programmed it knew nothing about my family curse: Walnut-sized bladders.

When we crossed from Minnesota into South Dakota, Crystal Dancer switched us from Ziggy Marley to some tunes that helped set the scene: Roy Rogers singing “Don’t Fence Me In,” The Sons of the Pioneers doing “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and a handful of Marty Robbins ballads.

We finally arrived in Spearfish, SD at about 6:00 p.m., checked into our hotel and had a delightful meal at a local Mexican place, The Guadalajara. Great food and a helpful waitstaff. When we asked where we might take an evening walk our waiter recommended Spearfish City Park, along Spearfish Creek. This is a beautiful spot, and home to a surprise gem.

Established in 1896, D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives is one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the country. Dedicated to fish culture and resource management, the hatchery was constructed to propagate, stock, and establish trout populations in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

The hatchery building looks much the same as it did when completed in 1899, and its Victorian architecture became the standard for hatchery buildings throughout the country. It also holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the old days, this rail car was used to transport fish. Beautifully restored and preserved, it serves as another reminder of past times.

There’s an underwater trout viewing area, but it wasn’t accessible when we were there. Seeing the rainbows and browns from above, however, was quite the deal for this old fisherman. Trout are not native to South Dakota, but readily took to the cold clear waters. Fresh water shrimp and other crustaceans provide ample food sources.

Crappie (pardon the pun) pic of trout in a hatchery pond ...

Signage at the fish hatchery indicated that the creek is unusual in that it freezes from the bottom up! I’d never heard of such a thing.

(Not relevant but interesting side-note. Spearfish holds the world record for the fastest recorded temperature change. On the morning of January 22, 1943 the temperature in Spearfish was −4°F. A Chinook wind picked up speed, and two minutes later the temperature was +45 °F. The 49 °F rise in two minutes set a world record that still holds. By 9:00 a.m., the temperature had risen to 54 °F. Suddenly, the chinook died down and the temperature tumbled back to −4 °F. The 58 °F drop took only 27 minutes. The sudden change in temperatures caused glass windows to crack. Source.)

The next morning we were up early, had breakfast and headed up beautiful Spearfish Canyon. We were immediately disappointed because the creek at the bottom of the canyon was nearly a dry gulch – just a trickle of water ran down the rocky creekbed. Obviously the waterfalls for which the canyon was known were going to be a major let-down. However, as we proceeded farther and farther up the canyon, the water level actually increased! The place seems to defy the laws of physics! When we got to Bridal Veil Falls (one of many falls across America bearing that name) it was as beautiful as we could have hoped.

Turns out there are five miles of tunnels siphoning water out of the creek and into hydro-electic turbines. Very clever if a bit disconcerting when one doesn’t know this!

There’s also an explanation for the creek freezing from the bottom up instead of icing over. This unusual phenomenon occurs due to the very fast rate at which the creek flows. This speed prevents ice from forming except along the bottom of the creek bed where friction and turbulence allow the water to slow down long enough to freeze. Since the creek continues to flow atop this ice, the water level of the creek gradually rises as more ice accumulates on the bottom, in some cases causing flooding on the north side of town where the channel is not as deep.

Steep rock walls form the canyon, and they stood out beautifully on this crisp, clear morning.

Heading up farther we next encountered Roughlock Falls, a series of cataracts coursing through moss-covered granite. Watercress flourishes in the crystal-clear creek.

Finally at the top, we took a short hike to a viewing spot for Spearfish Falls, the highest of the three. At the foot of this falls, the water joins another stream and the resulting flow was a torrent. Pretty amazing, especially since we still hadn’t learned of the hydro-electric tunnels.

After leaving Spearfish we crossed into Wyoming and stopped at the State Visitor’s Center. A helpful staffer recommended both a back route to Devil’s Tower and the “most scenic” route to Cody and the east entrance to Yellowstone. She also offered us cookies; the peanut butter were the best I’ve ever had!

We headed out the “back way” and proceeded through rolling hills. Suddenly, the unmistakable feature appeared …

Devil’s Tower from the “back side.”

We took a couple pics, then went around to the “front” and drove up to the Visitor’s Center. Devil’s Tower is truly a sight to behold.

It’s difficult to describe this geologic oddity. The tower was “intruded” within an old volcano, igneous rock much harder than the surrounding sedemintary rock formed, then was exposed as the Belle Fourche River gradually eroded the softer structures over and around it. The columns you see are 4, 5, 6 and 7-sided (most often six) and rise 867 feet from base to summit.

Its size is impressive. Can you see the climbers in this close-up?

How about in this close-up?

Before leaving, we ran into another pair of climbers who told us it took them seven hours to ascend to within 200 feet of the summit, then descend again. I asked if we could borrow their ropes and other gear for a pic, but they had no sense of humor.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Best Deal in America

It wasn't me. Honest, it wasn't me.



Richardson says on Monday, as students were being taught at Lamar Buffalo Ranch, a father and son pulled up at the ranger station with a bison calf in their SUV.

“They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” Richardson tells EastIdahoNews.com. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.” Rob Heusevelet, a father of a student, told the men to remove the bison from their car and warned they could be in trouble for having the animal.

“They didn’t care,” Heusevelet says. “They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold.”

Law enforcement rangers were called and the father-and-son tourists, who were from another country, were ticketed. Heusevelet says the rangers followed the pair back to where they had picked up the bison, and the animal was released.

I did have an incredible time on my trip though, and will post some pics starting tomorrow.

Bye bye, DU.

I'm headed out west, first to Spearfish Canyon, then Devil's Tower, then four days camping in Yellowstone National Park! The park opens Friday and we'll be there! Then two days in the Grand Tetons. Woo Hoo!!!!

I'll post pics when I return.

Love you all (yes, even Hillary supporters!).

We should tax and tax and tax and tax and tax the 1% ...

... until they're only fabulously wealthy.

I predict that tomorrow in Indiana, Hillary will do substantially better ...

... than the exit polls indicate she should.

The USA only has one fiscal problem: Lack of political will to tax those who have all the money.

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