Category Archives: Waterfalls


Hilo Hawaii FEB 7 2024

As we sailed around The Big Island to get from Kona to Hilo, the rough waters continued throughout the night.

At 7:00 A.M. we were luck to see this fat rainbow and the nearby mountain appeared red in the early morning light.

In 2014 we rented a car and drove around the Big Island, including visiting Hilo. Many of these pictures are from that trip. We decided not to pay for an excursion on the cruise since we had already visited most of the places.

Widescreen view of Akaka Falls, 422 feet tall

Hilo is known as Hawaii’s Little Big City and is nestled on the slopes of three volcanoes. It has a population of around 41,000.  It is one of the wettest towns in the United States.  The University of Hawaii has a campus there as well as on other islands.  Hilo was hit by tsunamis in 1946 and 1960.  

We love the huge, lovely trees called Monkeypod we noticed around the town of Hilo.

The Monkeypod trees look like large umbrellas

The Monkeypod trees look like large umbrellas

Rainbow Falls usually make rainbows in the morning hours

Rainbow Falls usually make rainbows in the morning hours

There is a lighthouse on the easternmost point of the state of Hawaii called Cape Kumukahi.  Since this is where the sun first shines in Hawaii every day of every year, it is of spiritual importance to native Hawaiians.  In 1960 Kilauea erupted, destroying a town near the lighthouse and crops nearby.  Just as it appeared the lighthouse would be engulfed by the lava, it split into two streams and flowed into the sea on either side, sparing the structure.  People were amazed by this phenomenon and felt it was a message from the god Pele telling them of the lighthouse’s importance to the people.

This Cape Kumukahi lighhouse was saved in 1960 when the lava flow split and went around the lighhouse fence

This Cape Kumukahi lighhouse was saved on 1960 when the lava flow split and went around the lighhouse fence

Here is the height of the 1960 lava flow next to the Cape Kumukahi lighthouse

Here is the height of the 1960 lava flow next to the Cape Kumukahi lighthouse


Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916 and became a World Heritage Site in 1987.  The Big Island is the largest and the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, home to the world’s most active volcanoes, and this park is a good example of why and how this is true.  The overcast sky is due to increases in gasses called “volcanic smog”, also called “vog”.  This vog blows west towards Kona during trade wind weather. The park is 33,000 acres of lava land on the slopes of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest mountain by volume and the world’s tallest when measured from the ocean floor.  Five volcanoes make up the Big Island. 

Mauna Loa is not only 56,000 feet above the ocean floor but also has a large volume.

Kilauea is a relatively young volcano estimated to be 600,000 years old and first erupted 2,500 years ago.

Kilauea Crater leaks lava through its top and side rift zones

Kilauea Crater leaks lava through its top and side rift zones

Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume at the summit of Kilauea Crater/Volcano

Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume at the summit of Kilauea Crater/Volcano

The newest Hawaiian island, already named Loihi, is being created 22 miles offshore from volcanic activity growing on the ocean floor.  It will be thousands of years before the new island emerges, so don’t let anyone try to sell you a cheap condo there!

Night view of Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume

Night view of Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume

Thurston Lava Tube is a 500 year old massive lava cave.  It was an easy walk through the well lighted cave.

Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube

Kilauea Iki Crater created in 1959

Kilauea Iki Crater created in 1959

Kilauea Iki Crater with Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume in the distance

Kilauea Iki Crater with Halemaumau Crater emitting gas plume in the distance

Pauahi Crater

Pauahi Crater

Younger lava flows are dark

Younger lava flows are dark

Some of the newest coastline looks like this

Some of the newest coastline looks like this

Sea arch within the Volcanoes NP

Sea arch within the Volcanoes NP

The port is located in an industral area, not very attractive and not convenient to the city.

View of Hilo from the Ship

These are pictures we took of the city and breakwater that protects the harbor.

Once again as we sailed away from Hilo, whales were spotted off the back of the ship and they put on quite a show. Everytime one was spotted the crowd would cheer, making for a very fun, festive atmosphere.

Next up: Island of Oahu and Honolulu


Nordfjordeid + Olden, Norway JUN 28, 2023

Leaving Bergen, we sailed throughout the night to Nordfjordeid, Norway, pop 3,000, situated in the fjords of western Norway. This was a tender port (our ship is anchored in the harbor). Not a lot to do here but the scenery is breathtaking. 

On Thursday, June 29th we reached Olden, Norway pop 479.  It is a popular cruise ship destination with over one hundred cruise ships visiting in 2019.  It is popular because of its glaciers, fjords, waterfalls, and natural beauty. Again, not much to do here but we enjoyed the beauty of the area, which is just fine with us.

Some Pylons to Anchor Our Ship Actually Float

Here are pictures of the fjords as we traveled between the cities.

It is usually dinnertime when we pull away from the port and we enjoy seeing the view from our table by the window. Birds are always flying around the wake of the ship.

The entertainment show cast dazzled us with another unique performance.

Next up: Stavanger, Norway


Flam, Norway JUN 14, 2023

Before we get to today’s port we would like to start with some pictures taken last night as we sailed away from Maloy, Norway.

Never Enough Glaciers

Wind Turbines and Lighthouse We Went To

Today we entered Flam, our last port of this cruise and our last port in Norway. Flam is a tiny village, pop. 350, located at the end of the Aurlandsfjord, one of the world’s longest and deepest fjords. The fjord is surrounded by high mountains with heights over 4,500 feet.

A Tall Waterfall as Seen from the Ship

One of the popular things to do in this area is ride the Flam railway constructed in 1923.  We looked at the excursion before leaving home and even viewed a YouTube video of the trip. We decided to pass considering all the train trips we made in Austria, Slovenia and Italy.

We wanted to explore Flam on our own which meant we could sleep late and let the crowds eat breakfast and get off the ship ahead of us. 

We were delighted and surprised to find the temperature in the low 70’s  Perfect! First we found two geocaches in the area.

We then took a walk to see a large waterfall near town.

We looked through the Flam Railway Museum and went by the Visitors Center. We finished the day with a little shopping. No Hard Rock Cafe here but Bill found a nice Norway tee shirt. I am not a fan of souvenir tee shirts. I was very happy with a refrigerator magnet. 

We noticed yesterday and today how the front of a boat was used as decoration by hanging on the wall. Here a old locomotive front is attached to this wall to appear as it is coming out.

Norway makes it very easy to get the tax back that nonresidents spend. There is even an office located right next to the ship. If you spend at least $30, they refund the tax (25%) back on your credit card. You just have to have a receipt from the vendor, fill out a form and have your passport number. There was quite a line of cruise passengers in the harbor office waiting to get some tax money back. It could add up to quite a bit if you bought lots of souvenirs and gifts.

Trolls Are Famous in Norway

We were back on the ship in time for a very late lunch. A nice day in beautiful, tiny Flam, Norway. 

Next up: Two days at sea before disembarkation back in Southampton, England

Costa Rica May 1, 2022

Next up was the port of Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. We had read many positive things about Costa Rica so we were looking forward to seeing some of the country. Located between Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica has 800 miles of coastline on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. It is known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. Twenty-five percent of the country is made up of protected land and jungles with 75 wildlife refuges, 28 national parks, 13 wetlands and mangroves, 9 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves. It is the only country without an army or military and is called “Switzerland of the America’s” because of its neutrality during international conflicts. We read that Costa Rica has excellent healthcare with reasonable costs. Ninety-nine percent of their energy comes from renewable resources. It has a population of a little over five million. Like Panama, it is very popular with retirees from the United States and other countries looking for a cheaper place to live. 

We booked an excursion which was advertised as an exciting tram ride through the rainforest where you see a variety of birds and animals native to Costa Rica. Their advertisement said “feel the adrenaline”. We were also going to visit a sloth rescue center. After the disappointing excursion in Panama City we were optimistic about this one. Well, it was better than Panama City, but not by much. And these excursions are not cheap!! 

On the positive side we had an excellent guide who continually entertained us with information about her country. She was enthusiastic and really tried hard to make it a great day for everyone. The poor selection of sites to visit was not her fault. 

After a long bus ride through the countryside we arrived at the Rainforest Adventures Jaco park. We didn’t really mind the long ride because our guide’s narration helped pass the time and we enjoyed seeing the countryside. 

The exhilarating tram ride was nothing more than a slow moving covered chair lift through the tree canopy. We saw no birds or animals. We rode to the top and the chair lift turned around and went back down. As I overheard another person behind us comment on the way back, “Well that was pretty boring!” Yes, I would agree. But we did see a small waterfall!  LOL 20220501_094639original_ee98a477-fb35-4ee0-ac8d-df88dd8b228e_PXL_20220501_155754977PXL_20220501_154931513original_2f3de48f-4e79-4941-b817-a2cb5b2680ee_PXL_20220501_161813085

A park guide then took us on a tour through a garden area showing us some of the flora of Costa Rica. There were a number of flowers as well as herbs. 20220501_10503720220501_105059

He showed us how the berries of one plant could be used for face paint. 20220501_110707PXL_20220501_170733798

One very interesting plant had several small bats sleeping under a large leaf. He explained how the bats chew the leaves of the plants to create a folded area for them to sleep under. If a predator moves the leaves, they are instantly alerted to danger. PXL_20220501_165422386.MP20220501_105718

At another location he picked up a tiny ant that had a grip on a long branch and showed how that single ant had enough strength to hold up the branch. PXL_20220501_165903460.MP

We saw a cacao tree or cocoa tree with the fruit attached and a pineapple plant.  20220501_11103120220501_111103

We went to a butterfly garden but there were not many butterflies and they rarely landed on any plants to get a picture of them. Bill managed to snap one picture of a butterfly that appears to have eyes on the wings. 20220501_111551

Lunch was included and it was provided here. It was a typical Costa Rican meal of beans and rice along with some chicken, beef and salad. Our guide had told us earlier on the bus that the typical Costa Rican family has rice and beans at ALL three meals every day. PXL_20220501_172836970PXL_20220501_172909692.MP

I noticed a table with “Pura Vida” painted on it. Our guide told us earlier that is Costa Rica’s motto and means “Pure Life” or “Enjoy Life”, “Live Life”. It is often used in greeting one another and defines the lifestyle of the country. PXL_20220501_195539630

Leaving there we headed back towards the ship and we stopped at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. We had a very sweet young girl as our guide who nervously said she was trying to learn English and she apologized for not speaking well. We thought she did an excellent job and at the end of the tour told her so, along with giving her a tip. original_19a199ab-1dd4-4e06-9a72-4c99e1da3ff0_PXL_20220501_19570001120220501_142946

During our time at the center the animals were being fed in their cages. 20220501_13574320220501_14090520220501_141038

I will let the pictures show the animals we saw.


Mango Tree

PXL_20220501_20044554620220501_141535PXL_20220501_201639936PXL_20220501_20133728520220501_14142820220501_14110720220501_14052820220501_140637 One monkey was released a few months back but returns each day to grab some food. 20220501_141223

The sloths in the trees were camouflaged and hard to see. PXL_20220501_201858412

We did see a two month old baby sloth and a five month old sloth. 20220501_142209PXL_20220501_202216976PXL_20220501_20230780220220501_142231

At dinner that night we shared a table with a gentleman from Toronto traveling alone, as well as a WW2 Navy veteran from Los Angeles traveling with his daughter. He was going to celebrate his 100th birthday a few days after the cruise ended. He told us he plays bridge once a week and gets there by driving on the freeway. He said his driver’s license is good until he is 101. I had to cringe because Bill and I have both experienced the horrendous traffic on the freeways in Los Angeles. He takes no medication and uses glasses for reading only. He has been cruising since 1976. His daughter said he entertained people on the plane to Florida by doing jumping jacks and exercises. Such are the people we meet at shared dinner tables! 

Today, May 1st was a very special day for us, our eleventh wedding anniversary! We felt blessed to be able to celebrate it in Costa Rica. PXL_20220501_155326190

Next up: A day at sea and then Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala 


Billings, Montana AUG 11, 2020

We drove from Lewistown to Billings (pop 104,000) for a one week stay. The weather during our stay was hot, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees on our last day! 

Billings most striking feature is the Rimrock, a natural feature rising 500 feet above the Yellowstone Valley. Legend says that in 1837 two Crow warriors, dressed in their finest and singing death songs, rode a solid white blindfolded horse over Sacrifice Cliff from the Rimrocks. They did this to appease their gods in order to halt the spread of smallpox among their people. The Native Americans call the cliff “The Place Where the White Horse Went Down“. The Crow, who had no immunity to the disease, had contracted smallpox from the people of the American Fur Trading Company. The disease caused great loss to the Crow people between 1837-1838. IMG_20200814_142111

The Rimrocks sandstone formations were formed 80 million years ago. The Western Interior Seaway, where Billings is today, slowly rose and fell over time, leaving behind compressed sand that became this massive formation. The Yellowstone River has been cutting into it for a million years, leaving a canyon in the bedrock. IMG_20200814_144013

We drove along the top of the Rimrocks with nice views of the city of Billings below. MVIMG_20200814_143927

Then we visited Riverfront Park where we found a geocache and got a glimpse of the Yellowstone River. We had several views of the Yellowstone River flows through Billings. IMG_20200814_155839IMG_20200814_152617

We also stopped by Boothill Cemetery, the final resting place between 1877-1881 of three dozen individuals, many who died with their boots on. This is one of many such named cemeteries throughout the west. Buried in this cemetery was Muggins Taylor, the scout who brought the world the news of Custer’s last stand. There was a large rock memorial with quotes on each of the four sides.

Quote 1:
“This Monument Marks A Historic Site
Where Thirty-Five Lie Buried
For Fortune and Fame
Lost Their Lives Lost Their Game” 

Quote 2:
“Upon This Rugged Hill
The Long Trail Past 
These Men Of Restless Will
Find Rest At Last” 

Quote 3:
“The Stream Flows On But It Matters Not
To The Sleepers Here By The World Forgot
The Heroes Of Many A Tale Unsung 
They Lived And Died When The West Was Young” 

Quote 4: was unfortunately too worn to read IMG_20200814_154906

On Saturday we drove to Red Lodge, Montana to begin driving the Beartooth Highway (All-American Highway) which goes from Montana into Wyoming. Charles Kuralt called this “the most beautiful roadway in America“. IMG_20200815_143822


Can You See The Bear’s Tooth?

It is also designated one of the most dangerous roads in America as it climbs to 10,947 feet with numerous switchbacks.

On our GPS you can see the five switchbacks which gain about four thousand feet. IMG_20200815_125116IMG_20200815_111529PANO_20200815_115105.vr

Completed in 1936, it provides views of some of the most rugged and wild areas in the lower 48 states.  Along the way are visible twenty peaks over 12,000 feet, 950 alpine lakes, glaciers, Rocky Mountain goats, waterfalls and wildflowers. It took us eight hours to make the round trip drive with all the scenic overlooks. What a beautiful drive! IMG_20200815_121312IMG_20200815_122042IMG_20200815_131837IMG_20200815_122318IMG_20200815_131631IMG_20200815_130922

This is a herd of Rocky Mountain Goats, many are still shedding their coats. IMG_20200815_125852_1IMG_20200815_125854


Pilot and Index Peaks

We saw Lake Creek waterfall and snagged a short video with sound. MVIMG_20200815_140748

Lake Creek Waterfall
Select this above link to see and hear the video. MVIMG_20200815_140844

We went to Crazy Creek waterfall and turned back for home. IMG_20200815_142828

We liked this old wrecker we found in one of the small towns we passed through. It looks like one of the cars (Mater) in the animated movie “Cars”. Mater is the rustiest, trustiest tow truck in Radiator Springs. IMG_20200815_165750
And an interesting sculpture as well! IMG_20200815_165828

After two wonderful months in Montana, it is time to move on to North Dakota. 

Next up: Medora, North Dakota 

Great Falls, Montana July 21, 2020

We arrived in Great Falls, Montana, (pop 59,000) for a two week stay. Great Falls is the third largest city in Montana. IMG_20200803_131659

It is located along the upper Missouri River where the Lewis and Clark Expedition had to portage around five waterfalls in June 1805 and then again during their return trip in 1806. IMG_20200802_133342L&C Portage Route MTIMG_20200803_131817Within a 15 mile stretch of the Missouri River there is an elevation change of 500 feet. This very difficult 18 mile portage around the falls took over 31 days. This portage was one of the most difficult of their journey. Great Falls gets its name from these five waterfalls. Today the city is called “The Electric City” because each of the falls has a hydroelectric dam. 

We spent time exploring the different falls and dams that make up Great Falls. The falls look much different today than they did during the time of Lewis and Clark because they were altered by the construction of the dams. The falls which at one time was seen as a great obstacle by Lewis and Clark is now seen as of great benefit to supply energy and power to the city. 

Of the five falls, one is not accessible by car and one is submerged. We were able to visit the other three. IMG_20200725_110316

Great Falls/Ryan Dam was the first we visited. When first seen by Lewis and Clark, a measurement of the height was taken by Clark using a sextant and a rod using geometry. Clark estimated the height to be 97 feet and ¾ inches which is remarkably accurate to the 96 feet shown by recent electronic measurements. Clark was only off by a foot! IMG_20200725_111308rThe Big Falls Missouri River MT 1910

To best view the dam and falls we walked across a suspension bridge across the Missouri River to Ryan Island Park. The upper part of the falls were covered by the 1,336 foot Ryan Dam. At first the dam was called Volta Dam after the Italian Alessandro Volta for whom voltage was named. It was later renamed Ryan Dam. IMG_20200725_105958IMG_20200725_110123PANO_20200725_111525.vr

Next up was Rainbow Falls/Rainbow Dam. Captain Lewis referred to this as “Beautiful Cascade”. The dam was constructed in 1910. IMG_20200726_115412IMG_20200726_105423IMG_20200726_105659MVIMG_20200726_105711

The last falls we visited was Black Eagle Falls/Black Eagle Dam. This falls is 26 feet high and 600 yards wide and was the first to be dammed in 1890.  We viewed the falls and dam from the Black Eagle Memorial Island Park which was accessed across a bridge. IMG_20200725_124239IMG_20200726_122717

On the riverfront trail along the Missouri River was a statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea. IMG_20200726_122751-EFFECTSIMG_20200726_122948IMG_20200726_123109IMG_20200726_110616

We also visited Giant Springs State Park, a beautiful state park. Clark first found this great spring in June, 1805 and called it the largest fountain or spring he ever saw. It is one of the largest freshwater springs in the United States. Over 150 million gallons of water flow from Giant Springs into the Missouri River everyday. MVIMG_20200726_111554IMG_20200726_112343IMG_20200726_112419

The springs are the source of the Roe River, which at one time was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest river in the world. Whether or not that record stands today, at only 201 feet in length it is definitely one of the shortest. The Roe River flows into the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States. IMG_20200726_111547IMG_20200726_111655IMG_20200726_112602

Next up we visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It was disappointing that both the theater and entire lower level of the Center were closed due to the pandemic. IMG_20200726_114936IMG_20200726_120309IMG_20200726_120309(1)

There were still interesting exhibits and displays here about the Expedition. Meriwether Lewis wrote that he saw more buffalo in this area than he ever witnessed before. Buffalo was a staple diet for the local Native Americans and became a favorite meal for the members of the Expedition. IMG_20200726_115758IMG_20200726_115853

We stopped by the Great Falls Visitors Center which was closed but we did see a nice statue of Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea, York a slave and Seaman the dog. We also found a geocache there. IMG_20200726_135500

We found a nice police memorial nearby. IMG_20200726_135702

On another very hot day we drove to the Upper Portage Camp Overlook. This area overlooks the site of the 1805 Lewis and Clark Upper Portage Camp on the banks of the Missouri River. Even though the landscape has changed over the centuries, it was still a place where we felt a deep sense of history.


A Reenactment Of The Boat; In the Background In the Trees Is the Campsite

While Clark directed the portage around the falls, at this site Lewis supervised the assembly of a boat they had hauled in pieces from Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Considered an experiment, the iron boat frame was designed by Lewis in 1803. The canoe shaped frame was 36 feet long and 4 ½ feet wide with nearly 200 pounds of iron strips connected with screws. It was further strengthened with willow limbs and covered with animal skins. It was designed to carry 8,000 pounds. Lewis’ crew labored for weeks preparing 28 elk and four bison hides. Unfortunately during a trial run the boat at first floated like a cork and then sank. Lewis was devastated by the failure and ordered the boat to be buried here.

They then quickly moved upstream and made two large cottonwood boats as a replacement. The iron boat and failed experiment was never mentioned in their journals. A replica of the boat experiment is located here today. 

Meanwhile at the Lower Portage Camp, Clark and the rest of the Corps of Discovery struggled around the five falls. Four times they loaded baggage into six canoes laid upon carts and then pushed and pulled the heavy loads across 18 miles of rugged terrain. They used sails to help them whenever strong winds allowed and endured brutal hail storms. At one point they documented hail as large as seven inches in diameter that bounced 12 feet and landed 30 feet away. It left them bruised and bloodied. They endured heat, rain, prickly pear cactus, and mosquitoes. Through it all Sacajawea, having recently been deathly ill, carried her four month old baby. 

The Expedition all gathered together at the Upper Portage to rest and plan the rest of their journey before leaving on July 13, 1805. They stockpiled meat, wrote lengthy journal entries, made detailed maps, and dug a cache to store items and equipment they wouldn’t need until their return trip when they camped here again from July 13-26, 1806. It was here they celebrated the nation’s 30th Independence Day on July 4, 1805 with a feast of bacon, beans, dumplings, and bison meat as well as singing and dancing. They wrote they fought off mosquitoes and grizzly bears that harassed them daily. 

We also found a geocache here after a long search in the hot sun. 

We enjoyed our time in this historic city except for the extremely hot temperatures. 

Next up: Lewistown, Montana

Yellowstone NP part 3 June 24, 2020

Yellowstone is such an amazing national park. Whatever your interest, it has something for everyone. Geysers, hot springs, animals galore, gorgeous scenery and waterfalls. On our third day into the park we focused on waterfalls. IMG_20200627_105328

Yellowstone has a grand canyon. Not as huge or magnificent as THE Grand Canyon, but still fabulous and beautiful with not one but two magnificent waterfalls. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River was created from a lava flow 484,000 years ago.  It is mainly made of rhyolite rock.  Past and current hydrothermal activity weakened and altered the rock, making it softer.  The Yellowstone River eroded these weakened rocks to deepen and widen the canyon, a process continuing today.  The canyon is twenty miles long, more than a thousand feet deep, and between 1,500 and 4,000 feet wide with two waterfalls. IMG_20200624_100902

One end of the canyon begins at the 308 foot tall Lower Falls which may have formed because the river flows over volcanic rock more resistant to erosion than rocks downstream.  The same is true for the 109 foot Upper Falls. IMG_20200624_100707IMG_20200624_110656

When we were here five years ago we hiked several trails around the falls and one strenuous hike with 13 switchbacks that took us to the top of the falls. This time the trail was closed due to the pandemic. Just one of many things still closed throughout the park. But we still had plenty to see and do to keep us busy. IMG_20200624_105630IMG_20200624_110752

Along with visiting the canyon we drove through Hayden Valley where we saw plenty more bison, some elk and a bear. IMG_20200624_141025IMG_20200624_142401

We didn’t get a picture of this bear since he was too far away to get a clear picture. IMG_20200624_123955IMG_20200624_123747

This area took us along Yellowstone Lake (elevation 7,733 feet) with stunning views of water with snow capped mountains in the distance. IMG_20200624_124355

We stopped at an area with rapids where we actually talked with a park ranger, our only real interaction with a ranger all week. He told us if we looked closely we could see fish. This time of year is when the water flows at its highest. The fish were waiting because they knew as the water flow decreased during the hotter summer months, it would be time to swim back to the lake. We enjoyed some time there, watching the fish near the surface occasionally jumping out of the water. Too fast to catch with a camera! MVIMG_20200624_132732IMG_20200624_132824

This hill side is called Roaring Mountain. On the hill side if you zoom in you can see two active steam vents. IMG_20200624_150410IMG_20200624_150855

We stopped at a mud volcano area with a nice boardwalk around the hot springs. There were plenty of signs warning people to stay on the boardwalk because thermal areas have a thin crust above boiling hot springs and scalding mud. Some of the pools are acidic enough to burn through boots! More than twenty people have been scalded to death and hundreds more badly burned or scarred because they left the boardwalks. Imagine our surprise when we saw three bison very close by as we reached the halfway point around the boardwalk. A ranger was there and stopped people from continuing to get close to the bison out of fear of them becoming agitated.  We saw this happen on our first day when a lady with a camera got too close, and we were glad of the strong fence.  One was rubbing against a small tree, evidently trying to rub off the last of his winter coat. IMG_20200624_135718

Another was drinking water from a small pool of muddy water, yuck!! IMG_20200624_135544

The third was actually inside a mud pot area and we wondered how hot the ground was on his hooves. Eventually another ranger came with yellow caution tape and stopped anyone from entering that area of the boardwalk.  IMG_20200624_135520

The elevation drops significantly by a waterfall on the Gardner River as we travel to Mammoth Hot Springs and eventually to the North Entrance at 5,314 feet. MVIMG_20200624_153847

Near this waterfall we saw a lone Dall sheep high on the hillside feeding on the grass. He was so high up it was difficult to get a clear picture. IMG_20200624_154120IMG_20200624_154219

The next day Bill took a half day white water rafting trip on the Yellowstone River with the Yellowstone River Raft Company located in Gardiner MT.  IMG_20200627_111804MVIMG_20200626_095218

They went right behind our RV and I was waiting to take his picture. IMG_20200626_103952IMG_20200626_104012~2

The river was running with a good volume/flow of 10,000 cubic feet per second. He had a great time/ride and was glad to add the Yellowstone River to the lists of rivers he has rafted. IMG_6614~2IMG_0815~2IMG_6604

Next up: Our last day in Yellowstone NP


Yellowstone NP part 1 June 20, 2020

We looked forward to visiting Yellowstone National Park again this summer. We were last there in 2015. We left Idaho Falls and traveled to Island Park, Idaho for a two night stay. Along the way we could see the beautiful Grand Tetons mountain range in the distance. IMG_20200620_120115MVIMG_20200620_120131

Island Park, located just outside the west entrance of Yellowstone, was the perfect place to stay to visit the Old Faithful geyser. 

Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the world’s first national park.  Of the 2.2 million acres, 80% is forest, 15% is grassland and 5% is water.  Ninety-six percent of the park is in Wyoming with 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho.

Yellowstone is HUGE with:

  • five entrances into the park
  • ten visitor or information centers
  • three medical clinics
  • six gas stations
  • seven general stores
  • five hotels or lodges
  • twelve campgrounds of various sizes
  • and numerous restaurants and gift shops

But it was a very different Yellowstone than what we visited five years ago. The Visitors Centers were all closed. We always really enjoy the movies about the park shown at the Visitors Centers and we were disappointed not to see them again. With the Visitors Centers closed, access to Rangers and information on the park was very difficult. There were no informative Ranger talks and hikes. Restaurants were closed leaving tourists scrambling for food at the few general stores open. Most lodges and hotels were closed. Crowds were down but there were still plenty of people enjoying the park, some with masks and many without. In spite of it all, we were very grateful the park was open for us to visit and enjoy. 

Unfortunately the day we chose to visit Old Faithful was cold and windy with rain showers. The cold and high humidity gave us a very different perspective at the geysers. IMG_20200621_103745

This was most noticeable at the Grand Prismatic Spring. The wind was blowing so hard and there was so much hot steam as we walked along the boardwalk, we were not able to see the beauty of the hot spring. We noticed that some Bison had stomped around before we got here. IMG_20200621_101446

As we walked along the boardwalk we were enveloped in hot blowing steam, which quickly would fog your glasses. Here are pictures taken today IMG_20200621_095725IMG_20200621_101001IMG_20200621_101020IMG_20200621_101253IMG_20200621_102650IMG_20200621_101436

followed by pictures taken five years ago on a much better weather day. IMG_20200621_101706IMG_0555IMG_0560

It is always a thrill to see Old Faithful, the most popular and famous attraction in Yellowstone. It is rightfully named because it faithfully erupts every 60 to 90 minutes, spewing 8,400 gallons of steaming hot water up to 180 feet into the air. It is one of the most predictable geysers on earth. We timed our visit just right so we only had a ten minute wait for the next eruption. MVIMG_20200621_105605IMG_20200621_105910IMG_20200621_105741IMG_20200621_110637

Yellowstone is home to more geysers than any other place on earth and is one of the world’s most active geothermal areas.  Within the park are hundreds of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and steam vents.  This is because the park sits atop an enormous “supervolcano” and the immense heat from the underground magma powers the geysers.  The volcano last erupted 640,000 years ago and shows no signs of erupting anytime soon. Water from precipitation seeps into the ground, meeting the superheated earth near the underground magma chamber.  Tremendous pressure builds up until the water is forced back to the surface.  Some geysers like Old Faithful have their own underground “plumbing systems” and erupt at predictable intervals.  Other geysers share plumbing “pipes” with adjacent geysers and erupt more sporadically.

Yellowstone has approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes a year, most not felt. IMG_20200621_140157IMG_20200621_140245IMG_20200621_141824

After seeing Old Faithful show off, we explored some more of this side of the park. IMG_20200621_134327IMG_20200621_134054IMG_20200621_134439

We stopped by beautiful Kepler Cascades IMG_20200621_131058

and then impressive Gibbon Falls. IMG_20200621_145509

We also stopped at the Continental Divide and had lunch. IMG_20200621_125739

Despite the weather, a great first day in the park! 

Next up: Yellowstone part 2: Bison, pronghorn sheep and bears, oh my! 

Soda Springs & Idaho Falls, ID June 10, 2020

As we continued with our summer travels, we left Twin Falls and drove to Pocatello (pop 55,000) for a one week stay. Truthfully there wasn’t a lot to do in Pocatello, but we relaxed and killed time waiting for the weather to warm up at Yellowstone National Park. Pocatello is home to Idaho State University. 

Over the years on the road we have learned how to sniff out unique places. One day we drove an hour to Soda Springs to see their geyser. Soda Springs has approximately thirty mineral salt springs. Early trappers and pioneers called the area “Beer Springs” because of its natural soda water. They documented people drinking the soda water in large amounts while the Indians refused to taste it. Women used the water to make bread and documented it as being great light bread similar to yeast bread. 

Captive Geyser in Soda Springs is a carbon dioxide geyser controlled to erupt every hour on the hour. The town made the geyser into a tourist attraction with a viewing area. I was surprised to see on a weekday afternoon the small town geyser had attracted a small crowd.

The geyser is said to be the world’s only “captive” geyser. In 1937 some people in Soda Springs were trying to locate hot water for a community swimming pool. They drilled into the ground and unleashed the 100 foot geyser roaring like a dragon. They were surprised to say the least! For most of the night the town was enveloped in a mist of steam water running down Main Street and threatening to flood businesses. IMG_20200612_134933

Two weeks later the geyser was capped. IMG_20200612_135129

The Secretary of the Interior sent a telegram to Soda Springs asking the City to turn off the geyser because it was taking attention from the world famous Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone. Today a timer on a valve permits the eruption of the 72 degrees water every hour on the hour throughout the year. IMG_20200612_140227IMG_20200612_140411

Also at the viewing area is a Ground Observer Corps Skywatch Post used from 1956-1959. It was manned due to concerns about the growing capabilities of the Soviet Union to launch surprise air attacks against the United States. IMG_20200612_135005

On the way home we were on a hunt for Oregon Trail wagon ruts. As many as 350,000 pioneers and tens of thousands of covered wagons traveled the Oregon Trail between 1840 and 1870. In certain areas of the west, wagon ruts are still visible and we had read they were visible in this area. We stopped and tried to see the ruts but it would take some imagination to see them. IMG_20200612_142457IMG_20200612_143221IMG_20200612_143128

We also did some geocaching. One place we stopped for a cache was at Sheep Rock which towers 1,200 feet above the Bear River. Sheep Rock was a prominent landmark described in many pioneer journals as they traveled west on the Oregon and California Trails. Sheep Rock received its name from the pioneers because of the sizable flock of bighorn mountain sheep which occupied the rocky ridge above the river throughout the year. IMG_20200612_151005IMG_20200612_150428IMG_20200612_150151

On June 17th we moved to Idaho Falls (pop 57,000) for a three night stay. Our travel day was cold, rainy and windy. When we left Pocatello around noon the temperature was 44 degrees with rain and 20 mph winds. When we arrived at Idaho Falls it was 43 degrees, raining and 20 mph winds. We were so glad to get set up and turn on the furnace! Meanwhile the Yellowstone National Park area was getting some late season snow. IMG_20200618_132107

We had a short time in Idaho Falls but we did want to see the falls. The Idaho Falls waterfalls are created by a diversion dam for a hydroelectric plant. The original dam was created in 1909. The dam today was constructed in 1982 as part of a hydroelectric power development project. IMG_20200618_142946IMG_20200618_143202IMG_20200618_143315IMG_20200618_143332IMG_20200618_143549IMG_20200618_143907IMG_20200618_144007IMG_20200618_144137MVIMG_20200618_144200IMG_20200618_150158

This plant, as well as three other hydroelectric plants help the city of Idaho Falls generate approximately 50% of its own electric power needs. MVIMG_20200618_145747

Along the falls is the Snake River Greenbelt with paved walking trails along beautifully landscaped areas where people can sit on benches and enjoy the beauty and sound of the falls. IMG_20200618_142345IMG_20200618_142632

Next up: Yellowstone National Park at last!! 

Twin Falls, ID June 02, 2020

Leaving Utah, we headed northwest into Idaho. We had reservations for a week at a campground about ten miles south of Twin Falls. 

Twin Falls city, pop 45,000 is a lovely city with waterfalls, big and small in all directions. Twin Falls is the center of 500,000 acres of prime farmland irrigated by the waters of the Snake River. This area is referred to as “Magic Valley” because the early settlers seemed to magically transform the arid, largely uninhabitable land into a lush, agricultural paradise by irrigating their fields with water from the nearby Snake River.  IMG_20200605_113754

Twin Falls is also on the edge of the Snake River Canyon which was gouged out by the Great Bonneville Flood 15,000 years ago.

The city got its name from the two falls co-located on the Snake River that resulted from this flood. However the 1935 Twin Falls Dam and power plant, built to control the flow of water for irrigation and hydroelectric power, diverted the flow of the Snake River away from the southern falls. This left a single waterfall that plunges 200 feet into the Snake River from upstream lakes. So Twin Falls is no longer a twin falls. The power plant is capable of generating enough power to provide electricity for approximately 31,900 homes. IMG_20200605_115115IMG_20200605_115637IMG_20200605_125445

Five miles northeast of Twin Falls city is the much more impressive Shoshone Falls where the rushing white waters of the Snake River plunge more than 212 feet. It is called “the Niagara of the West” which is quite a stretch in our opinion. It is said to be one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States and is 46 feet higher than Niagara FallsIMG_20200605_141327IMG_20200605_140201IMG_20200605_140142

We stopped by the Visitors Center at the Perrine Bridge.  IMG_20200605_113734

The bridge, called the “Gateway to Twin Falls”, spans 1,500 feet and rises 486 feet above the Snake River Canyon. It is a popular bridge for parachute jumping. IMG_20200603_165126IMG_20200603_165113IMG_20200603_165107IMG_20200605_133758

In a nearby park is the Perrine Coulee Falls, which free falls nearly 200 FT.  IMG_20200605_133651_MP

In 1974 Evel Knievel attempted to fly his sky cycle/rocket across the Snake River Canyon but was not successful because his parachute opened too soon. There was a memorial to Knievel for many years but the plaque was continually stolen so the memorial is no longer available. 

Another day we drove the 68 mile Thousand Springs Scenic Byway through farmland with natural springs, hot mineral springs and cascading waterfalls.  IMG_20200603_153714IMG_20200603_144607IMG_20200603_144627IMG_20200603_150220IMG_20200603_150514IMG_20200603_150936
We drove through Buhl, the “Trout Capital of the World” which produce a majority of the rainbow trout consumed in the United States.

Parts of the Byway had visible evidence of volcanic rock known in this part of Idaho. The area is known as “A Land Born of Fire and Water”. IMG_20200603_143150IMG_20200603_143252

We really enjoyed our visit to beautiful Twin Falls/Magic Valley. During the week the weather ranged from a high of 94 degrees one day followed by days with highs in the upper 40’s to low 50’s with strong winds. IMG_20200605_113845

Next up: Pocatello, Idaho as we work our way toward Yellowstone.