Thursday, September 25, 2014

Port Townsend, Washington

I spent a week in Port Townsend, a little town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, in the Puget Sound. The town's historic district is a US National Historic Landmark District, and the Victorian period buildings have been well restored. When I was there the film festival was in full swing, and the town was busy. The Farmers' Market was especially colorful, with barrels of sunflowers and piles of local produce. There are three state parks in the area, and a busy harbor.

The ferries come and go all day long, connecting the town with other communities. School children on field trips arrive by ferry to visit the marine science center. In the mornings many people line up for their commute to work.

A view of the harbor.

The front entry of a historic mansion, which is a B and B. It's for sale, and I got to have a tour because the owner was in the garden and I told her how much I liked the house.


The beach near my campsite

Early morning view from my campsite

Farmers' market - I bought fresh corn, green beans, peppers, and beautiful tomatoes.

I had been thinking how dirty and dusty my RV was, and on the way out of Port Townsend I spotted a student carwash. The local high school drama club was raising money for a trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. My big vehicle was a challenge, and even the teacher got into the act. The kids were hilarious, and having a lot of fun. They did a good job! They didn't have a ladder so they improvised.......

After leaving the fun community of Port Townsend I headed south and spent the night in this camp near Olympia. What a wonderful site - with majestic trees.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beaver Hill State Park

Montana has many small state parks, and this one was a great place to stop for a night. In fact, I should have stayed longer and I can't remember why I didn't. These parks have electrical hookups, and drinking water is available.



After leaving the park I passed this building.....

The Waterfalls of Idaho Falls

From Grand Teton National Park I drove down to eastern Idaho to see the city with waterfalls in the center. The Snake River flows through Idaho Falls, and the area was a series of small rapids. Eventually a dam was built to capture hydroelectric power, and the falls area was created. The area is 1200 feet long with a 20 foot drop, and is located in downtown Idaho Falls.

There is a park and walkways along the falls, with grassy areas and lush greenery. It was Sunday, and there were many people enjoying the great weather.

Grand Teton National Park - Grand Indeed!

It takes about an hour to reach Grand Teton National Park from the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It's a beautiful drive into Wyoming. Grand Teton is the kind of place that makes you want to sit back and look around you, for a long time. Or meditate. Or do yoga. Or sip a glass of wine while sitting in your camp chair. The mountains are spectacular.

The Visitor's Center is fantastic. Designed by the architecture firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, it's an award-winning building. This same firm designed the Apple building in NYC, also known as the Glass Cube, as well as a barn at Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Below is a summary copied from the firm's website -

"Project Summary

The realm of the Tetons is an extraordinary place in our western landscape. The tectonic uplift of the Tetons and the valley’s glacial past can be read easily.

The building is placed at the edge of the riparian forest in a sagebrush meadow, enabling visitors to sense the meandering river and confront the great mountain range. One is drawn around the edge of the building to a courtyard that all but occludes the Tetons. It is a calm, introspective place. A colonnade of massive tree trunks borders its perimeter to provide shade and shelter on three sides of the sunlit space.

Visitors passing through the entrance vestibule are compressed before emerging into an expansive light-filled space. They stand in a grove of great columns that recall the primeval forest, confronted by the jagged spires and drama of the Tetons. As a counterpoint to the tranquil court, the interior’s geometry is fractured. This seemingly haphazard arrangement of logs choreographs the movement of people through uplifted forms that house interpretive exhibits. A rugged fireplace is at the building's psychological and physical heart. Stone outcroppings form sitting ledges and the base for timber-formed concrete planks stacked to make the chimney, a vertical marker in the landscape.

Choreography and emotionally laden materials connect people viscerally to the Teton landscape. This is a building that is sensibly ordered and surprisingly evocative, shaped to the nature of the land and the people who visit it."

I wish I had remembered to bring the flash for my camera into the building, but here are a few photos. There is a huge stone free-form fireplace inside. More info is on the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson website. The jagged form of the building echos that of Grand Teton Mountain.

The entry courtyard

Grand Teton Mountain - imagine climbing that!

Mt Moran

Jenny Lake - I took a scenic drive on a side road past Jenny Lake and it was so pretty.

Rock wall in observation area at Jenny Lake - I like the use of the different rock sizes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - A Place Like No Other

Yellowstone. Wow. Spectacular scenery, interesting geysers, snowy mountains, grassy meadows, wildlife. Plus rivers and lakes. Awesome! The days were cold but sunny, and the nights hovered around 21 degrees. Koka and I stayed cozy and warm in camp with a little space heater, and there were friendly group campfires in the evenings.

A display of a coyote - Koka's blond cousin. They sure look alike!

It's cold here - isn't it time for these duckies to fly south?

Waiting for Old Faithful to put on a show.

According to one of the Rangers, Old faithful is becoming less and less faithful. She blows her top about every 90 minutes, give or take 20 - 30 minutes. And the number of "big blows" is becoming fewer. After waiting with the crowds, I saw her put on a mediocre show. But it was fun to talk with the alumni group from Princeton, who were eating sack lunches while they waited.

More geyser pictures - geysers are everywhere. Along the road side, in the forests, at the edges of lakes.

From the Yellowstone web site -
Geysers are hot springs with constrictions in their plumbing, usually near the surface, that prevent water from circulating freely to the surface where heat would escape. The deepest circulating water can exceed the surface boiling point (199°F/93°C). Surrounding pressure also increases with depth, much as it does with depth in the ocean. Increased pressure exerted by the enormous weight of the overlying water prevents the water from boiling. As the water rises, steam forms. Bubbling upward, the steam expands as it nears the top of the water column. At a critical point, the confined bubbles actually lift the water above, causing the geyser to splash or overflow. This decreases pressure on the system, and violent boiling results. Tremendous amounts of steam force water out of the vent, and an eruption begins. Water is expelled faster than it can enter the geyser's plumbing system, and the heat and pressure gradually decrease. The eruption stops when the water reservoir is depleted or when the system cools.

Hot water from the geysers emptying into a river

There are boardwalks along the larger geyser areas. I like the way the people are silhouetted in front of the steam. These areas are dangerous, and children must be held by the hand, or carried. The water is boiling hot, and carries lots of organisms and chemicals - some very harmful.

If the earth was flat, this would be the edge.

Yellowstone Lake with geysers in the background

The Lewis River

Lewis Falls


Bison are everywhere - munching grass and ignoring the paparazzi.

Beautiful Yellowstone Lake