9/30/10 Montana musings....

On the 29th - ahhh, a relaxing soak in natural hot springs: 103° in the small pool and 98° in the large pool - just right for easing the tension out of uncooperative joints! And such a pleasant place to do it.

Our home site on the Yellowstone during September, (L) east-facing (M) west-facing... squint and you can see our RV! (enlarge photo) Ever wonder where the word Absaroka comes from? Here's the answer. What a wonderful playground.

(L) Smiley, our non-barking, non-shedding, easy-on-the-food mascot, enjoying his view of the river. (M) Jimmy at the picnic table getting gear together to pack. (R) A little going-away party for the few folks left at Rock Canyon RV Park, given by our hosts, Bob & Punky (far table) and Kim & John (younger couple at left table) on our last night here.

We leave Livingston tomorrow, for points west and south, but we will surely miss this fine little community, with its friendly people, beautiful river, wonderful Wednesday farmer's market and all the other things that make an area special, including the beautiful autumn color now in evidence everywhere. You know what Gen. MacArthur (and Arnie!!) said: I'll be back....

A Nyk-visit... in YNP! 9/28/10

(L) Outstanding color at Rescue Creek near the North Entrance. (M) Jimmy, Dave, Jayne, Anne, Ruthie, Rus at Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room where we enjoyed lunch. (R) Anne and  Rus near the VC.

(L) Jimmy, Ruthie, Anne, Rus near New Blue Spring (which looks like a moonscape). (M) Jimmy and Rus and their Mutt and Jeff cars. (R) Brother and Sister saying, "So long for now!"

We are nearing the end of our month in Montana, but luckily Rus and Anne and their friends, Dave and Jayne, are spending a week close by - the timing was perfect for a lunch meet-up at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Too bad for anyone who likes cooler temps, this day was one of the hottest days we'd experienced in Montana. Hot and sunny. Nevertheless, we spent several jolly hours together, glad for the opportunity to see each other again!


9/26/10 (a.m.) National Alpaca Farm Days

What a delightful morning with gentle, inquisitive and sweet alpacas, a llama named Major Bob, an appealing Australian shepherd named Flint, and then a field full of sandhill cranes!

Moms and offspring. Jimmy talking to the "guys" and Major Bob. So neat to hug!

One of the "guys" eyeballing the lens. Flint, the shepherd dog. Sandhill cranes gleaning a field.

An ad in the paper said "join us," so we drove to 60 Mule Deer Road in Paradise Valley to personally tour an alpaca farm. We spent a couple of hours feeding and petting and touching the Huacaya [Wa-kee-a] alpacas and learning about their breed and care from their owners. Huacayas are the "teddy bear" alpaca, whose fiber is deemed "finer than cashmere... smoother than silk... softer than cotton - and ten times stronger than sheep wool. An adult alpaca weighs 100-190 lbs, and the average yearly weight of the shaved adult alpaca coat ranges from 8-10 lbs! They generally live 15-20 years. Major Bob and Flint are the herd protectors from roaming predators. Flint is a 100-lb puppy (!) and Major Bob could do serious damage by kicking and spitting! This was really a super morning! On our way home in the afternoon, we spotted maybe 30 sandhill cranes in a nearby field - they looked like large gray boulders... till they moved!


9/26/10 (p.m.) Cycling to Chico Hot Springs and back

Heading for them hills! Emigrant peak in the background. Pausing at (cool) Emigrant Creek.

A couple of views of the gold-mining town of Old Chico. There are all kinds of ways to travel!

Returning on colorful East River Road, watching river traffic on the Yellowstone, and finally back to Smartie!

The good people at the alpaca farm told us about this short (11-12 mile R/T loop) from near their place to Chico Hot Springs, which included Old Chico, so we hopped on our bikes. The afternoon was hot and the first half of the ride was UP, at a mile-high altitude... huff-puff. But, as has been the case for all of our rides in Montana, this ride was spectacular. Old Chico belonged in the 19th Century and it was fun to look around. When we got to (new) Chico Hot Springs, we parked the bikes, entered the local saloon, sat down at the bar and ordered sarsaparillas! (Actually, A&W Root beers which tasted good on parched throats.) The thrilling part was the one-and-a-half mile downhill on asphalt from Chico Hot Springs to East River Road. Got the speedometers up to 30 mph - YAHOO! Oh, that was nice.


Pastoral Scenes? September....

"Yo Dudes," I called. They ambled to the fence. Hey lady, what is that you're holding? Got any carrots? Montana isn't just cow country; there must have been upward of 40 horses in this pasture. Very friendly horses. Stuck their nostrils right up against the camera. Kwitcher horsin' around!


Elephant Head Mtn hike 9/21

Just look at that sky! Mission Creek... which is ICY cold (think snow melt!!).

Eager to explore the falling down cabin. Hiking up the northern edge of the Absaroka [Ab-soar-key] Mtns.

Autumn is here in the wilderness. Ask us sometime if crossing this "bridge" was unnerving!!

This was another challenging adventure, and I wonder when I see we are the only vehicle parked at the trailhead. Nevertheless, off we went on an easy grade paralleling noisy Mission Creek through dense flora and forest. Abruptly the trail disappeared. We searched and came to the conclusion that the trail continued across the creek! No bridge. Okay - I took off hikers and sox and waded across at the point in top photo. Halfway across my ankles painfully froze, but I made it to the other side, howling. Jimmy said "no way." Climbing over boulders, he investigated further upstream, and found the "log bridge" above. We rejoined and continued as the trail began to ascend at a tiring pace. We were on a narrow footpath with the most stunning colors surrounding us and mountain chickadees keeping us company. Quite a hike! Smartie did NOT like the drive to the trailhead: She almost didn't make it.


Yellowstone bike ride - 9/19/10

Elk @ North entrance to YNP. Shoo - pronghorn antelope on the bike trail! Bumpy ride 'longside the Yellowstone.

Bike trail kind of peters out and eventually joins Old Yellowstone Road, which was marginally better. Didn't see any bears. Stayed off that side trail - didn't want to see bears!

Fascinating ride from Gardiner (Gateway to Yellowstone Nat'l Park) north to Tom Miner Rd, approx 23 miles (which included, uh... unintended detours). Thick, murky fog and 40 degree temps marked the day's beginning, but the sky cleared as we drove the 50 miles south from Livingston to Gardiner and the temp climbed to 82 - not what we anticipated! We followed the Yellowstone flowing north, tho it was out of our sight half the time. We ate our lunch under cottonwood trees shading a tiny creek. Hired a shuttle service to take Smartie from Gardiner to the bridge crossing at Tom Miner Rd, and we were very (hot and dusty) HAPPY to see our little car waiting for us! Another intrepid adventure! The following link gives a little more detail.