Where Have We Been?

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With the exception of my last post about hiking Avalanche Peak, I’ve been very lax about blogging this year. Cindy and I spent of most of this past winter traveling with Jody and Rick, my sister and her husband throughout Texas and New Mexico. We returned to many of our favorite places (Seminole Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis, Carlsbad Caverns) all of which I’ve written about in previous postings.  We parted ways at Hueco Tanks where Cindy and I headed to Albuquerque for our annual winter “vacation” while Jody and Rick headed to Palm Springs to play golf.

The map below shows our 2018 route to date…

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Yellowstone in Winter

Just like last year, we left the motorhome at a commercial RV park in Albuquerque NM and drove our car up to Yellowstone National Park for our annual vacation. We opted for a monthly rate which allows us to leave the RV plugged-in making it unnecessary to winterize and empty the frig/freezer. Periodic patches of black ice on Wyoming’s interstate made the trip scarier than last year especially when traveling the 80 mph speed limit.

The road through Lamar Valley is plowed throughout the winter and seemed to have more snow than last year.

The road through Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley is plowed throughout the winter and seemed to have more snow than last year.

Bison take advantage of the plowed roads between Mammoth Springs and Cooke City. The unmelted snow on their fur illustrates how well insulated they are.

Bison take advantage of the plowed roads between Mammoth Springs and Cooke City. The unmelted snow on their fur illustrates just how well insulated they are.

Winter is hard on all the ungulates as they struggle to find enough to eat.

Winter is hard on all the ungulates as they struggle to find enough to eat.

On the other hand, the wolves thrive this time of year. These guys are about 1/2 mile away. This un-cropped photo was taken with an 800 mm lens on a full frame DLSR.

On the other hand, wolves thrive this time of year. These guys are about 1/2 mile away. This un-cropped photo was taken with an 800 mm lens on a full frame DLSR.

Cropped version of the previous photo and yes, he's looking at me!

Cropped version of the previous photo and yes, they’re looking at me!

Monument Valley

Once we returned from Yellowstone, Cindy and I spent another week in Albuquerque then headed west to Sedona and Phoenix to visit friends and check out realestate. We do plan to settle down one day and as we travel around the country, we try to imagine what it would be like to live in each of the places we visit. After 2 weeks in the Phoenix area, we headed north to Monument Valley.

I, along with a dozen other photographers, photographed this iconic sunrise image of Monument Valley. If you're a movie buff, you may recognize this as the spot where Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run.

I, along with a dozen other photographers, took turns to stand in the middle of the highway to photograph this iconic sunrise image of Monument Valley. If you’re a movie buff, you may recognize this as the spot where Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run.

Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park located on the Utah/Arizona border. It's a gorgeous area but unlike the National Parks, there's an air of commercialization to it. Many John Wayne westerns were filmed here and for a small fee, Cindy was able to pose on this horse overlooking one of the many canyons.

Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park located on the Utah/Arizona border. It’s a gorgeous area but unlike the National Parks, there’s an air of commercialization to it. Many John Wayne westerns were filmed here and for a small fee, Cindy was able to pose on this horse overlooking one of the many canyons.

Goosenecks State Park lies about 30 miles north of Monument Valley. The San Juan River, 1000 feet below the canyon rim, cuts a meandering path on its way to Lake Powell.

Goosenecks State Park lies about 30 miles north of Monument Valley. The San Juan River, 1000 feet below the canyon rim, cuts a meandering path on its way to Lake Powell.

RVs can be seen dry camping anywhere along the rim at Goosenecks State Park. Cindy and I did not stay here but maybe next time.

RVs can be seen dry camping all along the rim at Goosenecks State Park. Cindy and I did not stay here but maybe next time we will.

Back to Yellowstone for the Summer Season

Cindy and I had planned to continue west to visit Great Basin National Park on our way to Yellowstone for our summer volunteer assignment but a family emergency pulled us back to Texas. We arrived in Yellowstone in mid-May. Snow still covered much of the park and Yellowstone Lake was still frozen over.

Spring is a great time to visit Yellowstone National Park. Snow still covers the mountains and cold nights holds off the onslaught of mosquitoes.

Spring is a great time to visit Yellowstone National Park. Snow still covers the mountains and cold nights hold off the onslaught of mosquitoes.

Baby animals everywhere is another reason to visit Yellowstone in the spring.

Baby animals everywhere is another reason to visit Yellowstone in the spring.

Cindy and I spotted this grizzly sow and her two cubs on the way to the grocery store in Jackson, WY. Our trip to the grocery store is 70 miles one-way but the scenery makes the drive worth every mile.

Cindy and I spotted this grizzly sow and her two cubs on the way to the grocery store in Jackson, WY. Our trip to the grocery store is 70 miles one-way but the scenery makes the drive worth every mile.

I spotted these 2 sibling grizzlies in Hayden Valley in late May.  With school still in session, the park doesn't start to get crowded until mid-June.

I spotted these 2 sibling grizzlies in Hayden Valley in late May. With school still in session, the park doesn’t start to get crowded until mid-June.

Cindy and I are volunteering at the Yellowstone Art and Photography Center located in the historic Haynes Photo Shop in Old Faithful. We’ll be leaving on October 1st.  We take visitors out for daily plein air watercolor sessions providing instruction and explaining the significance of art and photography to Yellowstone.  Paintings and sketches by Thomas Moran and Henry Wood Elliott along with photographs by William Henry Jackson made during the Hayden Expedition of 1871 convinced Congress to establish Yellowstone as the world’s first National Park in 1872.

Thomas Moran

Thomas Moran completed this painting of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in 1872. This 7′ x 12′ painting hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum and is credited with convincing Congress to make Yellowstone the world’s first national park.

 

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