Larry Seale

International Consulting and Travel

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Yellowstone Park-Aug. 31-Sep. 1

It was a short drive up the Shoshone river from the Buffalo Bill State Park into Yellowstone via the East Entrance. We had a reservation at the

Buffalo Ruling the Road

Fishing Bridge RV Campground near the Yellowstone River’s outlet from Yellowstone Lake. This is a rare National Park campground with full hookups, but nothing else really recommends it, as everyone is jammed together and there are no picnic tables or fire grates. After arriving we went five miles north on the Grand Loop road to the Mud Volcano area and walked around the various thermal features there. After dinner in our trailer, we went to the Lake Hotel and played backgammon with some after-dinner drinks. This was a nostalgic visit as we did the same thing during a visit in May of 1987 (we think), when our plan to camp was thwarted by snowfall.

“Dragon’s Mouth” at Mud Volcano area

 

 

On Friday, September 1, we went around the southern part of the Grand Loop road along Yellowstone Lake and the Old Faithful Area to eventually camp at the Madison Campground in the Northwest part of the park. Enroute we stopped at the West Thumb geothermal area, which was the first time we had visited there. The West Thumb appears as a large bay on the west side of Yellowstone lake which was formed by a massive explosion about 150,000 years ago that created another caldera within the larger caldera of Yellostone that was formed by its massive explosion 650,000 years ago. After that we stopped to take the five-mile round trip hike to Lone Star Geyser, a very pleasant trip along the Firehole river. The Lone Star geyser erupts about every three hours for about 20 minutes, but our visit was not timed right to see it. At Madison Campground we enjoyed the pleasant sunset above the tranquil Madison River. Cynthia went to the evening naturalist program, but Larry went to be bed early, with the onset of cold symptoms.

Larry at West Thumb Geyser Basin

Firehole River

Bighorn Basin and Buffalo Bill-Aug. 28-30

On Monday, August 28, we headed Southeast out of the Tetons and over the continental divide into the Wind River drainage and Central Wyoming. Our featu

In the Thermopolis Pool

reed stop that day was at the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, which had a nice museum describing the various types of bighorn sheep around the world and other information about their behavior and habitat. We proceeded further and turned north at Shoshoni, camping in a gorgeous deep canyon carved by the Bighorn River. We enjoyed a nice conversation for a couple of hours (no campfire) with a young couple just out of college on a big tour west before heading to graduate school.

 

On Tuesday, we stopped briefly on our way north at Thermopolis, boasting the largest mineral hot springs in the world. The state runs a bathhouse there and we were able to enjoy a short stint in the pool for free. With showers before and after this was a welcome way to rid ourselves of road dust. We arrived in the late afternoon in Cody and found a campsite at Buffalo Bill State Park on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir created by the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone river. This dam was the tallest in the world at 325 feet when completed in 1910.

The rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday was devoted to the B

Buffalo Bill Statue at his Center of the West

uffalo Bill Center of the West (https://centerofthewest.org), a set of five connected museums which James Michener described as the “Smithsonian of the West.” One of the museums covered the life of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, while others were the Plains Indians, Whitney Western Art (many Remingtons, Russells, Bierstadt, and Morans, Proctor), Firearms and Draper Natural History. Cynthia also got to visit three separate art galleries and exhibits within the museum, including one that included 115 contemporary artists. It’s a bit hard to provide a visual image of the Center, but I invite you to explore the link. We actually had some unforcasted rain, which thankfully, along with a steady breeze, has blown away the smoky haze that has plagued us for the last few days.

 

 

 

 

Shoshone Canyon, downstream from dam

 

 

Looking Down Buffalo Bill Dam

 

 

2017-08-27 Rafting Snake 1

Grand Tetons-Aug. 25-27

We took the scenic route from Swan Valley, Idaho to the Grand Tetons.  This took us to Victor, Idaho and over the 8400 foot Teton Pass.  Once again, our Lincoln MKT-Skylark combination performed well, despite some 10% grades on that route.  Although we considered stopping in Jackson, Wyoming (for art galleries) we decided it was too full of touristy hub-bub for our taste.  So we proceeded to Moose, to visit the Visitor Center at park headquarters, then to Flagg Ranch, located between Grand Teton and Yellowstone park, where we had reservations at a “full-hook-up” campground run by the Grand Teton Lodge company. 

August 26 was hike day.  We left Flagg Ranch at 7:15 AM to make the 35 mile drive to Jenny Lake in order to park before it got too crowded.  We then took a 10 minute boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to the west dock at the foot of the Tetons (and of course I had to mention running boats at Glacier National Park).  We then took the short but “moderately strenuous” hike to Inspiration Point above Jenny Lake. 

Hiking Cascade Canyon

Seeing as we managed that in about an hour, we decided to go further up Cascade Canyon, which gave us great vistas of the end of that glacial valley and also a chance to see a moose lazing in the mud next to some willows.  By the time we got back to the boat dock we had managed about 7 miles of hiking in five hours.  But our age shows as we feel the aches and pains along the way and passed by the 20-somethings and trail runners.

Bull Moose in Cascade Canyon

With those aches and pains in mind we chose a less strenuous activity—a  scenic (not “whitewater”) raft trip down the Snake River.  We chose the 8:00 AM departure, which meant another early rising to get to the departure point.  Along with two other couples, we floated a 10-mile stretch of the river that afforded great views of the Tetons as immortalized by Ansel Adams by his photos of them above the winding river. The early morning views are also less hazy than those in the afternoon.  We also saw one cow moose, several eagles and numerous merganser ducks. Our guide did a good job of keeping us entertained and informed about the geological and cultural history of the Park.  

As we were off the river and back at our trailer by 1:00 PM, it gave us the afternoon to use the laundry facilities.  Then we indulged ourselves with drinks, backgammon and a light meal on the deck of the Jackson Lake Lodge, with a great view of the Tetons at sunset.  By the way this is the place where the Federal Reserve just completed its annual retreat and also where I attended my first conference of the state budget officers, with Stephanie and Chris in kid carriers enchanting the other budget officers and spouses at the opening reception.  So the place has a bit of nostalgia for me.  (After the conference, we camped at Colter Bay and listened to Nixon’s resignation…wish I could hear another presidential resignation now!)

Animal Report: Two Moose, two coyotes, Sow Grizzly with cubs, bison herd, chipmunks, eagles, ducks and geese.

Sunset at Jackson Lake Lodge

Eclipse Escape to the East-Aug 21-24

Traffic Jam Leaving Eclipse

 

After heavy traffic heading toward Boise after the Eclipse on August 21, once we headed east along the South Fork of the Payette river at Banks we had easy going. The line-up going the other direction was 6 miles long and we stopped once to explain to concerned motorists why they were stopped. After 60 miles of gravel road, both car and trailer were very dusty, so we made time to use a car wash in Garden Valley, then continued east. We ended up that night at a Forest Service campground at Kirkham Hot Springs. I doused myself with comfortably warm water from one of the springs and Cynthia sat in a pool which was too hot for me (see the featured photo above). The stream and pool was right next to our campsite.

On August 22, we had a short (two-hour) drive farther up the South Fork of the Payette, then over a summit into Stanley Basin, which is the headwaters of the Salmon River. We had a reservation for one night at a campground at Redfish Lake, but found another site we could have for two days at Sockeye Campground, so chose that. In the afternoon we visited the Visitor Center, and had a root-beer float at Redfish Lake Lodge. We were disappointed that they were not still serving the molten chocolate cake that made such and impression on us 10 years ago. We enjoyed some backgammon and a walk along the lakeshore, although the usually spectacular Sawtooth Mountains were hazy from fires in the region. We heard a lot of helicopter and plane traffic that we learned was related to the nearby fires.

Hazy Redfish Lake and Sawtooths

On August 23rd we geared up to take a hike to “Bridal Veil Falls” about 9 miles west of Stanley. But we were thwarted because the road off the main highway was closed to through traffic. There were two helicopters and ground support trucks and staff at the junction. It turned out that one of the fires was near the trailhead that we wanted to use and we had to abandon that plan. We considered other hikes, but decided that because the scenery was so limited by the smoky haze, we would “pull up stakes” and head for Craters of the Moon National Monument. This gave Cynthia her first drive over the Galena summit from Stanley Basin into the Big Wood River drainage and also a quick tour of Sun Valley.

Larry at Spatter Cone in Craters of the Moon

When we arrived at Craters of the Moon at about 3:00 PM, we were disappointed to discover that the campground was full. They were experiencing heavy demand from all the eclipse watchers deciding to see other points of interest in the area. We took an hour or so to tour the main loop and see a few of the features, then headed to Arco, where we spent the night in an RV Park that had views of local buttes and mountains. We met a couple from the UK (wales) who had come for the eclipse and had made plans over two years ago. They were in a rented sleeper van they picked up in Boise and were touring for nine days—and had also been turned away for camping at Craters.

We headed further east through the Idaho National Laboratory and lots of flat, straight roads on August 24th and had lunch in Idaho Falls and visited the Museum of Idaho there. We were ensconced in a Forest Service campground right along the Snake River near Swan Valley by 4:00 PM and had some time to relax, read, take a short walk along the river and continue our backgammon tournament, now in its fourth decade (Note: Cynthia is ahead in this decade).

Cynthia Reading by Snake River

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Rendezvous-Aug. 17-21

The initial focus of this three week trip is to meet up with three Seale Brothers and some of the family for the August 21 Eclipse. Cynthia and I left Olympia on Aug. 17 and stayed at the Crow Butte Park on the Columbia, then on Aug. 18 stayed at the Copperfield Campground Operated by Idaho Power on the Snake River at the Oxbox Dam. Normally this campground would be very crowded, but it is outside the path of totality so folks were heading elsewhere and the campground was only about 1/3 full. Thankfully, electrical hookups allowed us to run our A/C unit to counteract the 97 degree heat.

Partial Eclipse images through colander

On Aug. 19th we made our way to the family rendezvous point in the Boise National Forest north of Ola, Idaho. This involved taking gravel “back roads” for the last 30 miles. Brother Steve had already placed a trailer on a pull-out on a sagebrush-cheat grass covered ridge off a national forest road about 4200 feet up.  Brother Bob had arrived in his motor-home about an hour earlier.   Brother Steve and Lori arrived post-midnight on Sunday, and then most of the rest of his family later on Sunday. It was a chance for a nice family “catch-up,” especially with Steve’s grandkids (our grand-nephews) on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Our spot gave us great views of the sky and a good perch for the eclipse.

What to say about the Eclipse? It’s an unforgettable experience. No attempt at recording with my iPhone does it justice and I am not attempting to share it here. I was surprised that, although it got dark, you could see light some miles away, so were in a sort of “hole” of darkness. Even after the sun started re-emerging, it felt cool. We detected a drop of about 8 degrees.

Within an hour after the Eclipse we left, heading further east on a gravel road until we reached pavement (Idaho 55) at Smith’s Ferry and headed south. There were flaggers there to control traffic converging from three directions and we made good time for about five miles before getting caught in further congestion. After stopping along the Payette river for lunch, we ended up spending two hours in nearly motionless traffic to get ninw miles to our junction to head up the South Fork of the Payette River from Banks, Idaho.

Family in anticipation

Final Stretch

Sep 9-11.  As we proceeded south and east through central BC we had constant rain which not only made the driving harder, but pretty much eliminated much ability to see the scenery.  This part of BC is much less “wilderness” and we started to see more agriculture, including hay farms, equestrian activities and more commercial development.  We stayed that night at a provincial park near Lac La Hache, happy that the rain had mostly let up and that we weren’t trying to camp in a tent.

On Saturday we started to get into territory that is somewhat arid, much like Eastern Washington.  We

Railroad Tunnels on Thompson River

Railroad Tunnels on Thompson River

enjoyed more spectacular scenery as we descended along the Thompson River, watching trains and rafters, and then down the Fraser River, which descends rapidly in a fairly narrow valley before coming down in into lush, wider valleys that are similar to river valleys in Eastern Washington.  We finally got across the border into Washington at Sumas.  We decided to stop there to have a short final day.  But we had trouble finding a campground (we hadn’t done prior research) and ended up at a KOA in Burlington, which was away from the freeway so perfectly suitable.

Our final day was a three-hour drive which got us back to our home in Olympia by about 1:00 PM on Sunday, September 11.

BC-Cassiar Highway

Black Bear on Cassiar-Yellowhead Junction

Black Bear on Cassiar-Yellowhead Junction

Sep. 7-8.  From Teslin, we continued driving east on the Alaska highway to nearly the halfway point near Watson Lake, where we turned south on the Cassiar Highway (BC 37).  The road is paved, but sort of like a county road with slow speed curves, no painted center line and some ups and downs.  We still needed to keep our speed below 50 MPH anyway, in order to complete the break-in of our new car engine.   We continued to enjoy miles of mountains, lakes, trees and only occasionally a car coming from the other direction.  Anytime we saw a gas station, we filled up.  On Wednesday night we camped at Kinasken Provincial Park, cooked steak and had a short walk along Kinasken Lake in the drizzle.

As we continued south we saw at least five black bears.  We finished the Cassiar Highway at Meslian junction and continued then eastward on the “Yellowhead” Highway (TransCanda 16) that connects Edmonton, Alberta with Prince Rupert, BC on the Pacific coast.  Along the way we were stopped for 45 minutes as emergency crews dealt with a car fire, in which, fortunately, no one was hurt.  We camped that night at a commercial RV park in Houston.image

Haines-Skagway

Sep. 5-6.  We continued to enjoy spectacular alpine scenery as we traveled south from our campground in Kluane National Park, gaining elevation to the “Haines Summit” which marks the border between the Yukon Territory and Alaska.  Then we descended from about 3000 feet to sea level in 40 miles, entering the temperate rain forest with large trees that is typical of Western Washington as well as Southeast Alaska.  After parking our trailer at an RV park, we walked around the historic site of Fort Seward, which was established during the 1898 Klondike gold rush, but shut down in 1947.  The officer’s quarters are now private residences and B&B’s but there are a number of historical markers.  Not much else attracted

View from Ft. Seward, Haines

View from Ft. Seward, Haines

our interest in Haines.

On Monday morning (Sep. 5, Labor Day) we took the one-hour ferry to Skagway.  After parking our trailer there at about 3:00 PM, we had time to go to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center and walk the streets to see some other historic buildings, along with 20 Jewelry stores, which, like in Ketchikan, are owned by the cruise ships (there were two ships in the harbor).  We also drove out nine miles to the Dyea town site, which was the start of the Chilkoot Trail to the Klondike, the main competitor to the White Pass route out of Skagway.  Both were “boom” towns during the gold rush, but Dyea is nothing but mud flats now because once the White Pass railroad was built out of Skagway, no one used the Chilkoot anymore.  However, the trail is now maintained by the Park Service as an historic trail with various artifacts from the gold rush along the 20-mile route.

On Tuesday, the big event was to take the White Pass and Yukon Railway excursion to White pass and back, which took about 3.5 hours.  They were running at least four, 15-car trains, mostly loaded with folks off the cruise ships.  Unfortunately, it was a misty, low cloud day, and by the time we reached the summit we were totally engulfed in cloud and could see very little.  But there were some good views on the way up.

White Pass Railroad

White Pass Railroad

We were finally on our way out of Skagway with our trailer in the afternoon and found the sunshine as we descended over White Pass heading north back into the Yukon territory.  We are now in Teslin, Yukon, and have 1520 miles to go to get back to Olympia in the next 5-6 days.  Internet connectivity will be limited from now on, so this may be the last blog until I can do a final wrap up after returning to Olympia.

Yukon Territory

Sep. 3-4.  From Delta Junction, about 60 miles south of Fairbanks, we have been traveling on the famous Alaska Highway, built during WWII after the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands.  For the most part the highway is quite good, although there are spots where frost heaves require that we travel even slower than our normal limit of 50mph.   Pulling a trailer seems to exaggerate the “bucking horse” feel of those frost heaves.  Cars are few and far between and so are gas stations or any kind of human development whatsoever.  We also hit a major construction area requiring a 30-minute wait and then completely coating our new car and trailer with construction dust and mud.

Kluane Fall Color

Kluane Fall Color

We have been very impressed with the scenery.  At this latitude, fall has arrived already.  The yellow birch and cottonwood trees contrast with the green “black” spruce and low-to-the-ground there are orange and red shrubs.  The horizon is stretching many miles away, much like you would see in Nevada.  Overall it is much more impressive than the fall color in New England because it is presented on such a grand scale.

We skirted along the edge of the gigantic Tetlin Wildlife reserve in Alaska, then along the Kluane National Park and Preserve in Yukon.  One night we spent at a Yukon Government campground by a small lake, where we had a campfire for the first time.  Then, after turning towards Haines at Haines Junction, we stayed in the Kluane National Park at Kathleen lake which is surrounded by towering mountains and whose water is fed by many glaciers in the St. Elias Ranges, which contains the tallest mountains in Canada.  We have enjoyed this area more than Denali National Park and have resolved to return again wh

Campground at Snag Juncion

Campground at Snag Juncion

en we can spend more time.

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