Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Bling

Ok so I'm a complete Geek now, but I'm really stoked about a new phone I just got from Verizon that is quite tough. With my new every two this baby cost me 0 dollars, so the fact that it's free is even better. I took the liberty of testing one of its qualities for you tonight here...

Dave Holmes mentioned this might be a really neat function especially on vibrate at a Margarita Party...this might be tested in the near future.

Also Zac Johnson since I missed my 5:15 bus, I hit 4000 miles on the commuter today. At first I was a bit miffed but I'm glad I got to ride home...twas nice today. Next year's goal is 4500-5000 which should be easy barring broken wrists, long Oceanic Cruises, and Honeymoons.

Day 3 Honeymoon

The start of the Lewis river and our trip North into Yellowstone, with a look back towards the Tetons.
On the way into Yellowstone we stopped at Lewis and Moose Falls.

Lewis Falls

Apparently Some Harley Riders "ain't too bright" This dude was getting refreshing water just below the falls and aherd of Elk on the river above. Can anyone say cha cha cha?

Arrived late by Yellowstone standards, as we were to find out (11 AM). Bay Bridge was a crammed site and many of the sites were in an open field where they were very exposed. And someone must have told all the rednecks there was free beer here too, because they were here in droves.I might have to put a higher res for this one. Conversion van camping at it's finest. Remove leather chairs from back and put around camp fire. According to these people they're water proof too so it's an added bonus.

This site would prove to be my least favorite for the trip. After settling into camp we saw a ton of smoke on the northern horizon. After driving north a few minutes we were in the thick of it and IT was a massive fire.
Coolest part about fires this big is they are in a sense creators of new fires. The smoke billowing up actually forms cumulonimbus clouds, and in turn static imbalance in the atmosphere. Since the clouds don't build up a lot of moisture they don't rain a whole lot and have a ton of lightning. This is how a large percentage of the park burned in 1988 as we learned in the Grant visitor center.

Where's smoke...

Our first Bison didn't seem to care there was a huge fire nearby.

We found out later that this fire was actually “under control” and was a control burn south of the real fire, which was 20 times its size. The flames were burning the upper canopy and lapping hundreds of feet into the air, a truly amazing site of nature’s raw power. This effectively ended our plans for backpacking in the Northeastern part of the park in the Pelican Wilderness...since it was on fire.

When we left this day the fire was 8000 acres. We hiked the storm point trail, which provided good vistas of Yellowstone Lake from a nice rock outcropping in the middle of the 4-mile loop.Storm Point

The fire forming clouds from the point.

Us On it.

Mosquitoes coming back from the loop were horrendously huge (think terodactyls). Asked a couple of Japanese tourists if they would like me to take a photo for them and got the reply “absolutely No thank you” with a smile and slight bow.

Lots of fuel on the ground. I wished it would burn the mosquitoes.

Storm Point Flowers.

We returned to eat lunch at Pelican Creek and proceeded to watch a tanker helicopter fill up and strategically place water and retardant around the control back burn.
The Pilots would suck up water from Pelican Creek and head out to dump over the fire with guidance from ground and air crews in Cessnas.

Another View of the massive tanker.

After an entertaining lunch we headed to the West Entrance of the park and found ourselves in the mountains again. I hiked up briefly and checked out this Howitzer Cannon they probably use to shoot down avalanches in the winter from the pass area. There were boxes of rounds sitting nearby! But I think they were duds?...I hope.
The Cannon!

After looking at the Man toys in the Western passes we headed back East stopping along the way to gaze in wonder at the beauty of the burnt forests and lake views from some small day hike trails.
A view of the lake.

Another...with the 1988 fire damage, most areas had some regrowth but the higher alpine areas are slower to recover.

On our way back to the campground we hiked the Elephant back loop with another high vantage point overlooking the lake and beautiful alpine forest trails.Some neat footbridges for the wetter seasons.

When attacked by a bear it is important to maintain your ground and composure. Let them know you're quick on the draw with your six shooting hand on your mace.

Finally if they don't believe, let them have it and be fierce...your life depends on it. If the bear is hungry or extra mad, you'll probably die anyways, but better to go out like a champ.

Elephant Back view. The only Hotel in Yellowstone down on the lower right corner.

Squirrel distributing new trees and snacking.

Following about 10-12 miles of hiking and lots of driving around the fire, we made a good-sized pot of spaghetti and went to bed on full tummies after a first full day of activity in the Park.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

15 seconds of Fame

My 15 seconds of fame for K town...

I'm usually not too big on broadcasting my own achievements, but I have to say I'm proud to be mentioned in the alternative transportation scene in Knoxville. I was also pleased to find I have converted 2 people to at least ride to the bus in Farragut, one of which bought a new ride from CBC and the other from the Bike getting converts and helping the local shops is always a plus. This kind of stuff makes me feel a real hope for getting people on bikes and out of cars commuting alone. While vanquishing cars from the roads is an unrealistic and utopian idea, getting as many cyclists out there as possible can only help matters in giving us equal rights to what is ours. I feel this year I have made a difference and I hope that my influence on the local scene will continue to grow.

My socks get more space than me.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Return and "Bunnymoon" recaps beginning...

Had one of the most amazing times of my life out west on our Honeymoon the past two weeks. Over the next few days I'll recount some highlights....

Day 1/2
My plane was “vectoring” its way from Knoxville to ATL through spotty powerful thunderstorms and bad turbulence. We ended up actually taking a lighting hit as well which dimmed the cabin for a bit and made some people totally freak out. Fortunately I had the ticket agent note on my passenger file that the original reason the flight was late to Knoxville was mechanical, so any accommodations resulting from me being stranded by Delta would be on them. The flight was subsequently delayed further from Knoxville by weather so anyone who asked later was told that only, which I thought was sketchy, but whatever they at least got me to Salt Lake City the first night.Come fly the Angry skies.

They also accommodated me with an open mini bar, king bed and door-to-door service to and from the airport.Delta accommodations in the City of Salt.

By the time I got to Jackson in the morning the following day Abby had already gotten our groceries and we were ready to go, so everything there ended up working out.My first view of the grand via airplane.

Heron Pond.

Not a heron...a sand Hill crane.

Swan Lake.

At the airport I randomly noticed a United States of America plane and was told that Dick Cheney lived just outside of Jackson and we joked that we hoped he wasn’t hunting that day.
Welcome to the Tetons! Colter Bay campground site. Beautiful campground near Jackson lake. On our way into the park we spotted a mother moose and calf in the distance. Did day hike to swan lake and heron pond and relaxed a bit from a hectic travel to Jackson the previous day. Beautiful vistas along the lakeside greeted us and beckoned me to the mtns. I was a bit nervous for the following week with the amount of snow still remaining in the higher elevations. Also saw some noisy sand hill cranes, beavers, and lots of lilies. That evening we lucked out for ranger programs. The program was an astronomy program and we were there for the one Sunday that the local Jackson Hole astronomy brought some high tech telescopes to check out the stars. We saw the Northern Cross, Jupiter and 4 of its moons, and many shooting stars. The following morning we visited Jackson lodge and saw our first Elk and then headed North for Yellowstone country for a week.Our kitchen for the next 2 weeks, on and off the trail.

Our first view of the Grand...we would be returning in a week for a summit attempt.