Cubs and Calves and Stampedes, Oh, My…. Yellowstone Day 3 Part 3

We left very early for the Tower Falls area of Yellowstone National Park on the 3rd day. We had packed a lunch, as usual, and planned to stay until early evening. This was a spectacular day for wildlife viewing. Two grizzlies, five black bears, pronghorns, elk, and stampeding bison and calves. We also saw some outstanding geothermal features and enjoyed the Mammoth Hot Springs area. It was a wondrous day!

What a fantastic Day 3 in Yellowstone. So much to see! Stay tuned for Day 4 – Jackson Hole and The Grand Tetons. Lovely!

It’s Baby Season in the Park…. Geothermal Features…. Yellowstone Day 2 – Part 2

Day two in Yellowstone National Park took us on a route down Firehole Canyon Road, alongside the Firehole River and Falls. It was early in the morning and we were in for a big surprise. Down on a little peninsula in the Firehole River was an Elk who had just given birth to a beautiful calf. We parked and slowly exited the vehicle and sat quietly on a rock on the ledge above the river. We watched as the calf got up and nursed for the first time. It was a surreal and spiritual experience, a sacred part of nature. Please note that we used a telephoto lense and were well spaced away from the event out of respect for nature.

Once we could tear ourselves away from the miracle of birth, we completed the trek down Firehole Canyon Road. We stumbled upon a coyote hunting rodents in the meadow, bison, and many geothermal features, including geysers. We also saw Old Faithful and while it is a big attraction at Yellowstone, there are many other geysers that are more impressive and have fewer tourists vying for a good spot. I love exploring!

How in the world can one have a better day than day two at Yellowstone? Well, day three was bear day… Grizzlies and black bears. One with her yearling triplets. Stay tuned. It’s awesome! I love Yellowstone!

3 Months on the Road and Here We Are – Yosemite & Crescent City, CA

As of May 2, 2019, we have completed three full months of touring the beautiful USA. We parked our RV at Yosemite Westlake RV Resort, $30/night with Passport America, and began our fun. We took a little tour around the area to get our bearings and planned to head over to Yosemite in the morning.

Due to late season snows many roads and trails throughout Yosemite (the Park) were closed but we decided to make the best of what we could see. The Park is gorgeous but at the time we were there it was very, very crowded. With all the signs around about “Beware of Wildlife,” I believe they should have signs “Beware of Clueless Rubes.” Yep, we interacted with some!

Yosemite National Park was the first area designated as a national park when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on June 30, 1864. The 38th Congress passed the bill in both houses, to protect the area from commercial exploitation and preserve the area. The park is 748,436 acres, 95% is wilderness area, and is visited by about 5 million people a year. 9,500 people a year try to climb El Capitan and about half of those make it to the top. Yosemite was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.

Yosemite is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and was formed over time by volcanoes, plate tectonics, and glaciers. I did enjoy the Park very much but Yosemite is not first on my list of parks that we have seen so far. Maybe it’s because we were limited by trail and road closures, I don’t know. This just means that we need to go back when we can see more.

After leaving Yosemite we headed up to Willets, California where we stayed at Sleepy Hollow RV for $20/night (cash only) with Passport America. This was a stopover to breakup the trip. Next stop: Crescent City, California and it was a great coastal location. We stayed at Sunset Harbor RV Park, $13.50/night (cash only). It was a pretty nice place with harbor views and we could hear the fog horns at night. The people were so friendly, which makes me want to make a trip there (in the summer) and spend some time.

The Crescent City area, with a population of less than 8,000, is also known as Del Norte County and is about 20 miles from the Oregon border. It is still home to the Yurok and Tolowa Nations of indigenous peoples. The topography of the ocean is such that the area is prone to tsunamis. I so enjoyed the Battery Point Lighthouse, the oldest continuously running lighthouse in the US, operating since 1855. You can only tour this lighthouse at low tide. We ate some great seafood at North Coast Grill on the harbor, with a great view which included sea lions. It is a small local’s place where we met two women who had lived in Beaufort, SC. If you go try the mud pie. Good lord, ya’ll. They also had the best calamari that I’ve had in ages and all the seafood was excellent. “As god as my witness, I shall return!”

Well, Crescent City was a great place. I do hope to go back again. I also hope that you have enjoyed this blog. Stay tuned for Oregon adventures. Up soon!

Silver City New Mexico/Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument- March 4-7

Silver City New Mexico was the base for our new adventure. We stayed at Rose Valley RV Ranch (Goodsams and Passport America $21.53/night). The sites are spacious and the park has full hookups and it’s well laid out so that each site has some privacy. We saw many jackrabbits each day, which was fun.

Silver City is about 44 miles from the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and is home to Western New Mexico University, which has the most extensive collection of Mimbres Pottery. The pottery was scientifically excavated from the Nan Ranch. Outstanding, priceless collection.

The town of Silver City was once an Apache campsite, later the Spanish traveled through looking for copper. Silver City was founded in 1870 after Captain James Bullard and his brothers discovered silver on a hill west of his farm. The town is known for being home to Western New Mexico University, home to the Mimbres Mogollon tribes from 200 – 1150 AD, and The Big Ditch. The Big Ditch was caused by the great flood of June 21, 1895, which destroyed the business district.

The first caper was visiting Fleming Hall on the WNMU campus and home to the Museum of Mimbres Pottery. Free admission is such a bargain considering the museum’s collection is priceless and extensive. Note: pottery with holes in the bottom were used to cover the faces of the deceased for burial.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is in the Gila Wilderness on the Gila River with elevations from 5700 to 7000 above sea level. The wilderness is 553 acres and humans have traveled through and stayed in the caves for at least 10,000 years. Prehistoric hunters used the caves for shelter and the soot on the ceiling dates back to that time period. The Cliff Dwellings were built by the Mimbre Mogollon tribes around 1275 and they lived, farmed and hunted there for about 25 years. They disappeared in the early 1300s and many theories abound about their disappearance. The Hopi and other tribes claim them as ancestors through their oral history that says that the Mimbres were never staying there permanently as they were on a migration.

The Mimbres built tee-shaped openings to their dwellings. Hopi oral history says that it is to honor Maasaw, one of their deities, as the openings look like the shape of his head. This tradition still exists in modern Hopi and other tribes. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is one of my favorite places now. I sat in the dwellings a long time and it was a very spiritual time. I could imagine the people living and working there and can only wonder at what became of them.

Next up: Photos taken in Silver City. The arts community has an ongoing program with area youth to paint murals around the town. They are beautiful and each one tells a story about the area.

This area was my favorite yet. I was awed by the cliff dwellings, the people, the beauty, and the history. Off to the next caper. Stay tuned.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico- February 24-26

We arrived in White City RV Park ($42/night) on February 24th. This is an interesting place with a population of 9 and median income of $61,000. White City, New Mexico is just a few miles from Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad was added to our already planned trip after speaking with Tom Woodle, a friend of Ray’s, and I must say it was great advice.

The Park was on the agenda for the full day on the 25th and it did take the full day. The Park is in the Guadalupe Mountains, which is a part of the Chihuahua Desert. Big Bend is also in the Chihuahua Desert.

The caverns were discovered in 1898 by a teenager named Jim White. He explored the caverns with a homemade wire ladder and gave names to the rooms of the caverns that are still used today. The US Congress signed into law the establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park on May 14, 1930, after President Calvin Coolidge had signed an executive order requesting the Park be preserved.

We entered the natural entry of the cavern, which has a good walking path that takes you down the equivalent of 80 floors below the service on a 1.5 mile trail. Some places are slippery from water dripping into the caves and the lighting is adequate. Out of respect for other visitors the Rangers ask those entering to only whisper as sound carries about 1/4 mile into the caverns. Luckily, we have been traveling in the off season and having areas mostly to our selves so we can take our time and absorb everything.

I used the flashlight on my cell and noticed many green dots and an occasional red dot on the formations. We were trying to determine if it was some sort of mineral. Near the end of the down cave hike we encountered a ranger and we asked her. She told us that the caverns does 10 year audits of damage by visitors to the park. All those green dots were damage recorded on this audit (which isn’t complete) and the red was from the previous audit 10 years ago. Before entering the caverns rangers tell you not to touch anything as body oils, etc. will damage the formations. Evidently some people visiting just can’t help themselves and they are damaging a real nation treasure. This saddens me.

Carlsbad is a spectacular example of the grandeur of nature. The beauty can not be described adequately and pictures do not do it justice. This place should be on everyone’s bucket list. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the Big Room, which is 4,000 ft long and 357,469 square feet of floor space. This is the largest room but there are about 22 rooms and an underground snack area. Some rooms are off limits due to safety issues. That said, we were in there about 4 hours, not counting the hike down. I’m sure we didn’t see everything.

As I’ve said previously, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

This is a great place to visit. More information: Off to our next caper. See you soon.