Thursday, September 30, 2004

Diedre and I were out driving around as the clouds were gathering and the rain marching in from across the valley in the west when we saw a curious sight. We saw what we thought was a flock of ravens or perhaps buzzards riding a couple of thermals around the town. We thought we'd ought to investigate, so we rode toward one column and got out the binoculars.

I was seeing eagles, a few buzzards, and one or two hawks flying in and amongst each other. I've not seen so many goldens flying one with the other, and much less have I seen so many different raptors and scavengers amongst each other in such a profusion.

They flew from one side of town to the other, broke up into odd bunches before coming together again on in the center of town, until they all started together just west of the town church. Diedre and I got out of the car again as eagles, buzzards and hawks swooped and hovered from no more than twenty feet above our heads to over three hundred feet in the air. It's really too bad I only had the 1998 Olympus d-220L with a sporadic shutter delay and crummy quality, but here're a couple of samples of the sight.

It was an absolutely amazing experience, one that we're still trying to figure out the physical reasons and metaphysical meanings thereto.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The summer has slipped away, the year is already preparing to wind down. There's still a peck of adventures to follow to their conclusions, but I can feel the steady draining of light and warmth from the air in the evening. If you have it, break out the Chuck Mangione,listen to "Feels So Good," and watch the sun go down.

This is the essence of each day done right, I'd say.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

It's hard to fathom, but it's that time of the year again. The seasons turn like a big ferris wheel, never really stopping for the new passengers trying to get on. You just have to pay good attention and jump.

The sheep are coming down from the mountain here in Ephraim already,and these just trooped down the street in front of our school.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Wow. Online ordering and free shipping on Sen-Sen. That's near the coolest thing I've seen today.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Remember the fire by Manti a couple of weeks ago? It's still going.

The last couple of days have been pretty gusty and warm, stirring the embers back up to a bit of a blaze. The forest service is treating it as a "controlled burn."

Humans like to act authoritative and as if they know what's going on.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The rest of the trip was rather matter-of-fact, cruising down the road to get home as quickly as we could without making ourselves any more crazy than we had become.

We stopped once or twice in the park, we can hardly help ourselves when there's an elk herd just sitting there, not running away from our merest sight or scent. This one was counted by Jerusha to be twenty one, twenty nine or thirty something members. She loved the shifting qualities of the animals, and began guessing at the presence of animals by any extra legs or ears poking up or down from the bunch.

It was hard to leave the park. It always seems wrong to leave a place so soon that we had worked so hard to get to. In spite of the fact that we were, in effect, going in the wrong direction, the joy of the return to hearth and home soon grew to eclipse the incongruity of our direction.

We stopped only in West Yellowstone for a couple of gallons of gas and again in Malad to fill up the tank and our stomachs. If you're ever in Malad, go to the Chevron/Burger King. Not the TacoTime/whatever the heck it is across the street. Bleah.

I even spent a half an hour in Layton, trying to fix the dern brakelights to no avail. I cursed and changed the brake signal switch up under the dash, but couldn't get a change.

We drove the rest of the way home, without a stop. It took about forty five minutes before I could speak civilly to my fellow tripmates, but I cooled down eventually after the time spent scraping knuckles and banging my head under the dash for absolutely nothing.

After that, everything was fine. We enjoyed the last couple of hours talking about our adventures and planning new ones. Hopefully the next trip up there will be longer, but to tell you the truth, I would have a hard time holding back running up there this afternoon if the month's money weren't almost completely drained by last week's trip.

Oh yeah. The day after we got home, I got this email from Ryan:

Hey, before you spend money, may-haps you should check the other bulb,

we only checked the driver's side bulb, and if the other one is toast

it may not complete electricity's path.

And it may be wise and cheap just to try replacing both bulbs anyway,

those things could be toast with their toastiness hidden from human


Just a suggestion.

And that's just what it was. We never got around to checking the other lamp. It never occurred to me that my Toyota operated under the same principals of electrical wiring as a string of cheap sixties or earlier string of Christmas lights. Thank goodness for Ryan. No thanks to all the shops and autoparts stores!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener.

-H.D. Thoreau
Just over the ridges on either side of camp, the bull elk shouted their intentions and warnings to each other. A better way to awaken as the first light of morning sifted into the air, I cannot think of.

Their calls didn't last very long in our neck of the woods, but I was glad of their portent of a new season and hopefully, fresh perspective.

After a hearty breakfast of whatever we could scrounge up from the grocery bags scattered throughout the truck and breaking camp, we headed down the hill to check out Tower Falls in peace, with neither cars nor crowds.

Little Kota, Ryan's younger son, loves waterfalls, so he was eager to make the quick walk down the hill to get closer.

Unfortunately, there had been a washout of the trail the previous spring and the approach to the falls' bottom was inaccessible. Our intended way blocked, we chose to go down to the side of Yellowstone River. Jerusha led the way down, excited to be by as large a body of moving water as she has ever encountered.

We enjoyed the time by the river, scoping out the runs and holes. There are some future days at that river, and any time there will be well-spent even if there is no fishing involved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

As we drove, we did the normal Yellowstone thing, stopping here and there to see the sights just off the road. The number of elk, bison, deer, and other less numerous fauna that one sees just within a few hundred yards from the road boggle the mind as one thinks of all the miles and miles of land inaccessible by the road system. Granted, the roads for the most part follow major rivers which are always important to the animals for food, water and line of sight predator avoidance, but there's lots out there that is very seldom seen.

When I was there the summer after high school graduation, I got out to Yellowstone's backcountry more than I have ever been able to since. I saw geothermal features, lakes, and other wonders that I've not seen since. There were trails, animals, and sights that are precious but not used very often by humans. I reckon that's just fine, but I miss them all the same.

There is something to be said about walking off the beaten path for a day or two, returning to a grand old lodge in the evening after a second day of beauty and hard hiking for a splendid meal of steak and shrimp and recollection of the past days events.

We saw a herd of bison, and though they are by no means rare in Yellowstone, they just look like they belong and where they belong is pretty beautiful.

Further along the road, we saw a pretty big group of gawkers off to the side. Though we were pretty keen on getting to Tower falls so we could secure a campsite for the night (we'd had enough of the 4-Runner the night before),we thought we'd better stop for this big an event.

We were glad we did. A mother black bear and her two cubs were foraging on the hill just below the road. As the group moved along the hillside, the crowd of people accompanied by a nervous ranger and adjunct moved too. "Stay in your cars or with the crowd," was the repeated phrase of the poor authority figures, attempting to mesh visitor safety, curiosity and the bear's space to move about freely. Ryan and I thought it rather ironic, though I've at least a hunch the irony was lost on the poor ranger.

We continued up the road, passing Tower Falls, toward the closed-for-repairs Dunraven Pass, if just for a short view of the northeastern area of the park. This was the area i had seen wolves once, and where I know there is plenty of activity in the Lamar Valley. The view was as good as ever, though it afforded no animal activity that our eyes could see. I'll be happy when the pass and road is open again. For some reason, when it's closed, I don't' get into that area of the park as much as I'd like.

We finally got back down to the campsite just as the sun started to go down. We spoke with the host, who said there was one space left. With that bit of providence, the evening's trials began. Upon parking and getting a bit of food out to keep our own two ravenous wolfcubs happy, I popped the hood after noticing a bit of oil where it oughtn't have been. Upon opening the hood, there was quite a bit of oil where it oughtn't have been at all. No cap was to be found either. None would be had throughout the trip, in fact, until we reached Layton the next evening, adding to the car stress already mounting with the silly brakelight folly.

Perhaps brought on at least in part by a lack of sleep, the stress from the brakelights, and the latest silliness I had brought upon myself, it took Ryan and I five tries and the help of two seasoned camp hosts to get our little three man dome tent up. It's been stored in the suburban for the last three years without use, but for heaven's sake, we were getting worse as it went on until the other two got involved.

It wasn't really necessary, since we were planning to sleep out anyway, but by the time we had tried in vain the third time, it had turned into a principle thing. We needed to succeed, and succeed we finally did.

After we finished, we ate, took a walk or two, and retired to the campfire of an adjacent camp, where a gentleman and his wife, camphosts of the recently closed for the year Slough Creek Campground, were playing guitar and talking. (Great comma-riddled sentence, neh? Almost Faulknerian.) They got Jerusha singing along, making animal noises, and spreading a generally dandy spirit. When I figure out how to upload the QuickTime movie, I'll post a link to his song, "Star of Yellowstone." 'Twas a perfect ending to a perfect, in spite of its imperfections, day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

As we got into the Old Faithful area, I was pretty sick of watching my back for mounties and flicking my lights on and off to simulate brakelights. I pulled into the former Hamilton Store, and seeing no one within one hundred feet behind me, I didn't do my light trick.

As soon as I got out of the 'Runner, a somewhat disgruntled man approached me with the proclamation that "You don't have any brakelights. I was behind you and saw no brakelights. You have no brakelights!" I assured him that I was painfully aware of the situation, and that there was no remedy for the problem aside from taking up permanent residence at Old Faithful unless I drove at least forty miles and waited for two days until Monday when something could feasably be done, and I'd still be driving there without brakelights. I was very cheerful and tried to act grateful for his information, but he seemed unsatisfied with my speech. So I just went back to the task at hand.

Admiring a '79 p200e in the space beside us.

Wow. Quite a clean little wasp. I ogled and took a few photos, leaving a short note of camaraderie and admiration while Ryan complained that I was straying from the established course of focusing on the acquisition of a couple of BMW bikes before the close of the coming winter.

I am a fickle biker, sometimes.

Anyway, we made it into the store/cafe in due time, and although we were a bit disappointed in the changes in the menu made by the current proprietors (no extensive kid's menu served on frisbees and no Bison Burger being the most egregious), we ate and were satisfied indeed.

Walking over to The Geyser, we were struck by how many people there were. Ryan doesn't like crowds any less than I do, but he has probably had less opportunity (or cursed impositions, as the case may be) to have to learn to deal with the same. We went to a few of my favorite old spots, watched the Geyser blow, payed our respects to the Inn and Lodge, and left for less populated climes.

Leaving the put-in at seven thirty, our spirits buoyant and our eyes feasting on the sights of the Snake, our first speedbump toward joy was about to present itself.

Not far from the put-in was a flagger and detour on highway 89, about twenty miles before Jackson. While waiting for the pilot car to lead us closer to our promised land, the friendly motorist directly behind us approached us with bad news. He said we had no brake lights at all.

We broke out the Leatherman and checked the driver's side brakelights, they were alright. The next order was to look at the fuses, they were just dandy. I looked for some sort of relay, there was none, so we concluded that the problem was to be found in the switch in front of the brake pedal.

After adjusting to the worry associated with brakelight absence while on the road, we stopped in at the grocery in Jackson to buy our stores for the trip. Apples for 1.89 a pound was the highlight of our purchases, the rest was pretty close in line to our prices here in Sanpete County.

We set ourselves to find a garage to diagnose and fix our problem as quickly as possible, but finding none (besides a chap at a Big O who suggested that we check the brake fluid level, stating confidently that such would affect the functioning of brakelights. Hm.), we scoured the three open autoparts stores for a brakelight switch. None would be had in the town until Monday morning, so after an hour of time wasted to the pursuit of vehicular repair, we headed out of Jackson after a stop at the glorious Jackson Thrift Shop and purchases of cheap shoes, fleece caps, a jacket and a 1947 hardbound copy of The Upanishads purchased for only a dollar.

The next mistake was soon upon us, it too brought upon by a flagger and a brief stop to wait for passage.

While stopped for a resurfacing crew on the shores of Jackson Lake, I got out of the truck to stretch and check the oil level. While I expected a long wait, before I had time to get anything done but unscrew the cap and find the oil to begin pouring, the cars ahead began to start and move out.

In my haste to get going, I must have forgotten to secure the oil cap. I put what I thought was everything back and jumped in the truck and drove off. I remember vaguely hearing a clatter behind me not long after leaving, but my only thought was that I knew for a fact that I hadn't left anything on top of the truck, so I hadn't to worry about it at all. Silly me, I'll learn someday.

The rest of the trip into Yellowstone was uneventful, beautiful and marred only by all of the people riding their BMW motorcycles all over the place. To Ryan and I, it seemed as though they were mocking our old truck, flaunting their speed, freedom and panache as they whizzed by on short grades.

The day was beautiful. I've not been in Yellowstone this early in the season for a long time. The colors were beginning to come out, so the contrasts were stunning and a reward for the troubles of getting out and on the road so late the day before.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Time? What time. No amenable time has presented itself until now for this log, so do I now put forth an account of our weekend...

Friday was the day of decision and vehicular hijinx, with lots of last-minute tweaks and checks on the 4-Runner and a reluctant decision to put the top back on. That was solidified by the admission that if we didn't take at least one kid with us, the trip would be a waste of time in a karmic sense. After much dithering around and frustration with various aspects of our poor planning regime, we left town at around 7:45 at night, as the last light of the day fled from before my pitted windshield.

The long drive through the Utah and Salt Lake Valleys in the late evening reminded us again why we do not live up there anymore. The freeway at nine and ten o'clock pm was as I remember it at six pm when I was a youth.

The rest of the way was an pleasant path, punctuated by deer on the roadside and Claude Challe & Ravin over the loudspeakers.

Our beds were made near Station Creek on the Snake River, parking at a boat put-in and sleeping in the truck.

After a good, solid two hours of sleep, we roused and took our nourishment from bottles and a few packages.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Jerusha and I just got back from a splendid trip to Yellowstone. More as soon as I get all the stuff done that I put off to get out of town as quickly as we did.

Monday, September 6, 2004

Today; a quick trip to U.M. Creek. We got some Tiger trout, sunburn and great photos. Twas a resplendent day, I'll leave you with this:

One for tonight, we'll see what I get done tomorree.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

That, my friends, is the first snow of the season. On the Horseshoe this evening, there is a dusting of snow from today's intermittent storms.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Another fire on the mountain, just southeast of Manti this time. Been going since yesterday sometime. With record temperatures and gusty south winds for the last couple of days, we've had temps typical of mid-summer. I've been looking for something like this with all of the bowhunters on the mountain, high temperatures and low humidity.

The wind and temperature should change pretty drastically this evening, a strong cold front is supposed to come through dropping the temperatures by as much as forty degrees. The fire shouldn't last very long with that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Sometimes it seems that my ability to think and process information in the midst of the action rises and falls like a tsunami tide.

It's doesn't seem contingent upon how much I’m doing of what is on my mind, it seems more connected to what I ate three days ago than anything right now in the moment.

There are vitamins, chelated supplements, blue-green algaes, juiced sprouts and all manner of foodstuffs advertised to be cure-ills and cure-alls for every fatigue and insufficiency known to modern people, but I've not found anything that matches something to look forward to in sheer ability to keep one energized and happy to be alive.

When there is something present in my life sufficient to get me energized, something that I actually want to get out of bed early in the morning for, I seem to have that sought-after ability to think on my feet, a wit and edge to my person and interactions.

That doesn't happen very often.

If you know me, perhaps you might have noticed my slurred speech and stuttering reply. One upside is that I'm noticing this, or that I have the wherewithal to stand back and see how my mind and psyche are operating and interacting. I can see that there are woeful inadequacies, and that there are things that affect the severity of my day-to-day moods and interactions with others, well, I must include myself in those interactions. My interactions with myself are a bit up and down as well.

So, I'm on a quest to document and analyze this odd amalgam of stressors, additives, stimuli, lack of stimuli, etc. to raise my level of hope and bright outlook.

Bright outlook. That in itself might be enough to spur me on to success in this project. That would be nice to have more often.