Gem-o-Rama 2016 Road Trip

Road Trip to Gem-O-Rama 2016

As always, click on any image for a much larger HD version, and note all the video is HD so adjust your settings.  The crystals of Gem-O-Rama 2016 are in this separate blog post

My prospecting buddy Kirk suggested we road trip to Gem-O-Rama this year for its 75th anniversary.  I have always wanted to make that event, but for the last several years have not wanted to hassle with coordinating a trip.  Having someone to go with was a game-changer for me, and I was able to take off of work and home life to make this happen.

We decided that camping would be fun and definitely the cheapest route, so we packed up our stuff knowing the days would be warm in the desert and nights would likely be cold.   We also packed up appropriate prospecting equipment.  

Itinerary

Here is the first leg of the trip. California or Bust !!!

We started off the trip with Colorado’s first snow.  As luck would have it, the snow was most intense when we planned to leave, and the drive was a bit dicey until the sun came up!  Our goal was to make it to Valley of the Gods in SW Utah (the actual destination was kept secret…little did I know that Kirk had spent quite a bit of time in the SW and had some amazing routes for us on the road trip!)

slick roads

Roads were very slick west of Denver all the way through South Park. Kenosha Pass was re-opened as we were embarking…we saw why!

After leaving South Park the roads cleared up and we had a pleasant drive.  Kirk had made the longest playlist of cool tunes I think I’ve ever heard; I don’t know if it ever repeated.  We discovered we have many similar interests in synth-based music and I met my match when it comes to 80’s band trivia!  

Utah Roads

Guest lodging

One has to be careful when traveling this area of the country–we narrowly escaped this attack!

Durango Oaks

The aspen were almost done and the oaks were starting to turn.

Valley of the Gods

I love this part of our country!  I had not been to Valley of the Gods, likely because I don’t frequent German travel websites (this must be a popular place for Germans to tour the US because we met a lot of German tourists in this area).  The beauty of the SW Utah desert is world famous!

Valley of the Gods

Two episodes of the BBS program Dr. Who were filmed in Valley of the Gods.  You never know when Daleks would be around the bend…

Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods Valley of the Gods

Moki Dugway

It was getting late in the afternoon and I figured we must be staying in this general area. Kirk told me to find Moki Dugway on the map, I said whaaat?  But eventually I found it on the map as we traversed Moki Dugway, a hidden road along a cliff wall onto the top of the mesa.  Moki Dugway led to a mesa that jets out over the San Juan River and overlooks Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley.  It is one heck of a gorgeous place to camp, that’s for sure!

Moki Dugway

Valley of the Gods

Moki Dugway

This is the view from our campsite at the end of the road that Moki Dugway dropped us on. This is looking east back towards Colorado over Valley of the Gods.

Moki Dugway Sunset

The sunset was beautifully colored as there was a fire burning west of us. It was obvious were were under a major flight corridor as we saw planes throughout the evening and night!

Monument Valley

Our view of Monument Valley to the South, with the smoke plume from the forest fire to our west.

Moki Dugway - Evas Point

The camp on the top of a cliff! It got quite chilly up there that evening!

Moki Dugway Moon

Monument Valley

Moki Dugway

Monument Valley

Monument Valley, with the start of the smoke plume from the forest fire to our west, from Moki Dugway.

Moki Dugway Milky Way

The sky was clear and the stars were awesome. We saw several shooting stars but no satellites, which we both thought was pretty strange given how clear and dark the night’s sky was!

Moki Dugway Milky Way

I did catch a Moki Dugway shooting star (and airplane)!

Moki Dugway

Kirk enjoying breakfast on Friday morning!

Evas Point

Looks like we camped at Eva’s Point, so said the sign affixed to this old tree. I wonder who Eva was and how many times she posted her favorite spots in the desert southwest?

Day #2’s Leg

We woke up, got a bite to eat and then headed out.  We stopped at Goosenecks State Park which Kirk stated the last time he was there it was not a State Park.  We parked and took in the amazing bends of the San Juan River.

Goosenecks State Park

After that we went through Monument Valley and continued through Page, AZ where the Glen Canyon Dam for Lake Powell was located.  

Monument Valley

Page power plant

Page Arizona power plant

Zion National Park

Zion is an amazing place, and the word is out.  In 2015 it was the 6th most visited National Park.  We were a little behind in our itinerary so we didn’t have much time to stop but the views and geology as we drove through were awesome!  

Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park Zion National Park

We continued through the barren landscapes and went through Las Vegas on Friday afternoon at sunset, which is rush hour.  Note to self, take the newly built bypass on the north side on the way home!  South of Vegas heading toward Los Angeles we witnessed a solid line of cars heading the other way into the City of Sin!  Not being a huge fan of Las Vegas, I’d have to admin this was my second best trip there; we went straight through without stopping!  (the best was on the way home when we took the bypass loop and didn’t go through it at all, lol)!

Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles

This was our view from camp at Trona Pinnacles.

Our destination was Trona Pinnacles in the Searles Valley, where we’d camp for two nights while we were picking crystals at Gem-O-Rama during the day.  We got to Trona Pinnacles after dark and the moon was setting as we found a place to camp.  Trona’s landscape consists of around 500 tufa (calcium carbinate) spires making it look like an alien landscape.  Actually, it was just that in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier among many other hollywood blockbusters!  

These tufa features were created long ago (10 to 100 thousand years ago) when calcium carbonate groundwater seeped into the bottom of large inland lakes that were present at that time.  The calcium rich groundwater and the alkaline lake water created these deposits, the lakes drained, and we’re left with the Trona Pinnacles.

Trona Pinnacles

Looking east from camp at some of the pinnacles at the crack of dawn.

Trona Pinnacles

Looking at camp from the base of the pinnacles near us.

Trona Pinnacles

On the top of the pinnacles during pre-dawn looking north towards Trona and the Searles Valley Mineral plants.

Trona Pinnacles

Camp from the top of the pinnacles.

Trona Pinnacles

Campers on the other side of the pinnacles from us.

Trona Pinnacles

Here is a cool time lapse I did from the front door of the tent looking west.  This was a 4+ hour capture using my 14mm f2.8 lens with 330+ open exposure shots.

The 75th Annual Gem-O-Rama 2016

Wow, what an amazing event.  I have detailed this event is a separate blog post.  I will say that the crystal digging was very simple and easy, and the Searles Lake Gem & Mineral Society put on one heck of an extravaganza!  It’s nice for a change being able to drive right to the spot and pick crystals with minimal effort!  It was extremely well organized and very family friendly.  Here is the flyer for 2017, you should think about going!  

Searles Valley

One of the Brine Lakes mined by the Searles Valley Mineral Plant.

The return trip home

We finished with the halite collecting field trip on Sunday around noon and headed home. On the way we visited the ghost town of Rhyolite as we traversed through the 99 degree Death Valley (remember we started our trip at 29 degrees).  We stayed in Mesquite in a stinky motel and progressed through central Utah meeting up with I-70 which from there was a straight shot home.

Rhyolite, Nevada

Gold was discovered in 1904 in the hills around Rhyolite, and in 1905 the town was formally established and platted.  As many of the gold rush towns of western America, the town was in a boom mode and growth was swift. Just several years into the boom of the town, however, several economic events including the San Francisco earthquake squelched the investment in Rhyolite’s mines.  By 1908 Rhyolite’s population was peaking at around 8,000, but the mines were beginning to fail due to lack of investment or lack of production.  By 1910, residents moved as more and more financial hardship hit the town. By 1919, the Post Office was closed.  

What amazes me if that in 15 years the town went from nothing, to nearly 10,000 residents, back to nothing.  Much of the infrastructure of the town was moved to the nearby town of Beatty, so at least resources were re-purposed.  Today Rhyolite is a interesting town of ruins, with the train depot currently being restored.  

Rhyolite Bottle House

Tom Kelly built his bottle house in 1906 and then raffled it off. Note that the bottles do not show inside the house; the only light is from the traditional windows.

Rhyolite Bottle House

Recycling bottles did exist!

Rhyolite

One of the iron doors of the jail house built in 1907.  

Rhyolite

The Porter Brothers’ store was erected in 1906. They sold everything from food to automobiles!

Rhyolite

Cook Bank. Built in 1908 for $90,000. It was the tallest building in town, 3 stories plus basement. The vaults were in the center and the 2nd and 3rd floors were business offices.

Rhyolite

This building was state of the art having steam heating, electric lights and marble floors.

Rhyolite

Porter Brothers’ building, with dust trail from approaching vehicle!

Rhyolite

The Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot, erected in 1909.

Rhyolite Rhyolite Rhyolite

Rhyolite

Rhyolite

Sign advertising Rhyolite station, with “Rhyolite Ghost Casino” painted on top.

Rhyolite

Looking into the front of the Jail

Rhyolite

Nevada Sunsets

Beatty

The irony here is terribly funny. This is “The Dream” resort in Beatty, NV. They must have run out of funding after they got the sign up, because the sign is all that exists of this resort.

Nevada Sunsets

Sunset on Sunday night in the middle of nowhere!

Mesquite

Sunrise in Mesquite

Utah

Some of the landscape as we progressed through Utah.

Utah

Utah

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

We love visiting Rifle Falls State Park in western Colorado, this is the fourth time we’ve stayed there.  Rifle Falls SP is north of Rifle and New Castle which are Interstate 70 towns, and is about 25 miles NW of Glenwood Springs Colorado.  It is a small park and is co-managed with Rifle Gap State Park several miles to the west.  There are tent camping sites along the small creek with a good amount of privacy.  Pull-in sites have electricity and will accommodate pop-ups to motor homes.  There is potable water available at several taps in the campsites.  There are a couple of non-flush bathrooms making those early morning trips convenient.

Beyond the campsites is parking and picnic areas at the main attraction, the three waterfalls.  Over the weekend the park was heavily visited, so we hung out at the very well shaded tent campsites with our chairs and feet in the creek, occasionally taking plunges in the pools of cold, refreshing Colorado stream.  In the evenings we hung out in the luxury of our friends pop-up camper and had a great campfire.

There are hikes around the tent sites, a loop around the falls, and a loop to the neighboring fish hatchery.  There are many caves along the falls loop where you can go inside and enjoy some darkness.  Nighttime boasts dark skies in the canyon.  Overall a fun multi-family camping experience!

Waterfalls at Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Middle waterfall

Middle waterfall on a longer exposure

Hidden cave

The limestone is full of caves

B&W Middle Falls

Black and White shot of the middle falls

Middle falls @ Rifle Falls

Middle falls @ Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Moon in the pond

Moon in the pond

Northern side of the Milky Way

Northern side of the Milky Way

Milky Way

Southern side of the Milky Way with some clouds

shooting star milky way

2 second shooter as the moon was rising.

Fourth of July Pictures

It has been a busy summer so far, lots of family activities and work projects have called for long hours.  On the fourth of July we headed to my folks house near Red Feather Lakes Colorado for some needed R&R; and for my daughter and mom to finish a 4-H project, her very ambitious quilt!  I took the camera and was able to catch timelapse video and some interesting pictures.  The video is forthcoming, but here are some of my favorite stills.  As always, images can be clicked for a larger perspective!

Their house had three outside lights and each day there were a variety of moths hanging out on the side of the house.  I’ve never seen thing large of a variety in one spot before.

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00404

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

Fly on Columbine

Fly on Columbine. Colorado’s state flower and state pest! 🙂

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00457 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00463 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00466 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00505 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00533 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00046

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00064

Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00091

Green Fly

Green Fly

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00110 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00112

 Angulose Prominent Moth

Angulose Prominent Moth

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00145 tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00147

Didn’t rain too much, but this storm put off a great rainbow!

tn_CrystalLakes-FourthJuly-00250

Tooks some photos of the quilting process.  Many will go on Daphne’s presentation and in her record book.

Daphne's first quilt on Grandma's quilting machine

Daphne’s first quilt on Grandma’s quilting machine

Mom's Pin cushion

Mom’s Pin cushion

Mom's fabric all sorted

Mom’s fabric all sorted

My son, my dad, and I took a drive up to Deadman Fire Watch Tower / lookout.

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Rawah Wilderness

Rawah Wilderness from Dead Man fire watch tower

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range from Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Lush green floor in the forest

Lush green floor in the forest

Interesting forest panorama

Interesting forest panorama

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Deadman Creek valley

Deadman Creek valley

Reflect & Refract

Reflect & Refract

North Fork Cache de Poudre River

North Fork Cache de Poudre RiverJul

2015 Summer Road Trip – Western Leg

This was the leg we all were waiting for, Yellowstone.  Erin had planned this over a year in advance and it was really cool!  We entered from the NE from Billings through Red Lodge Montana.  We then dropped down into the Lamar Valley and ended up for the first 3 days in North Yellowstone at Tower / Roosevelt Cabins.  The cabins were roomy with 3 beds and a wood stove.  We didn’t end up needing the stove as it was very warm.

Beartooth Pass

Looking NW from the switchback as the road angled up to the summit!

Beartooth Pass

Awesome canyon as we entered from Red Lodge Montana

Beartooth Pass

The road was narrow and speed limits were slow, which was worth it due to the amazing views

Beartooth Pass

Cool tundra-scape

Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass Summit

Beartooth Pass Summit

Amazing view atop Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass

Moonscape atop Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass

Looking south into Yellowstone from the summit of Beartooth Pass

tn_BeartoothPass-2015-1332

Beartooth Pass

Mountain Goat taking in the amazing view

Beartooth Pass Goat

Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass Goat looking at the stunning view; what you don’t see is the deep canyon after the foreground

Racecar on top of the world

Racecar on top of the world

Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass Goat

Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass mountain goat. He had a collar.

Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass amazing view

tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9084

Wild flowers in bloom on the Beartooth Pass summit

Wild flowers in bloom on the Beartooth Pass summit

2015 Summer Road Trip – Northern Leg

The second day we left after exploring Keystone and Sturgis South Dakota on our way to Buffalo to spend the night.  Along the way was also Devil’s Tower.  I’ve always wanted to visit Devil’s Tower and was expecting it to be huge.  It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be (I guess the mashed potatoes were to-scale…LOL), but it was very impressive.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower as seen from the NE coming the back way from Aladdin

Devils Tower

Devils Tower from the South on the trail

Devils Tower from the west

Devils Tower from the west

Devils Tower

Devils Tower from the road entering the natural monument

The next day we headed up to Crow Agency Montana to see the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  Erin really wanted to see this and I’m glad we went. The kids enjoyed the Battlefield and the stories of the volunteers there, it was finally cool to know the story when you can visualize what occurred.

Erin really wanted to go the Reenactment and it just so happened it was occurring the day we were there (she is great at planning!).  I was afraid it was going to be really cheesy but I actually enjoyed it.  Luckily there was a breeze (to our backs, fortunately) all day which kept my horse allergies at bay.  I especially liked the narrative which was poetic and told as stories and legend!  There were a ton of horses and people too; and the Crow were riding the horses bareback, many got thrown in front of us and they got up and shook it off.  Yikes!

Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015

Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015

Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015

Cool herd of “wild ponies”

Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015 tn_LittleBighorn-2015-1172 Little Bighorn Reenactment 2015

 

The next leg of the trip was the headliner, Yellowstone.  We entered from the NE corner through Red Lodge Montana.

Road Trip 2015 – Eastern Leg

This summer we did the “Road Trip Vacation” with the kids in our new car.  Now that the kids are old enough to remember we visited many of our national treasures.  We started off by visiting the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark in Guernsey, Wyoming.  This is a neat little site that is amazing to see how the metal wheels of the wagons cut down into the sandstone.  Many many families looked for a new life homesteading the “wild west” in the 1800’s.

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Oregon Trail Ruts

Oregon Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregan Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregon Trail Ruts

Our destination for the first night was Keystone South Dakota to see both rock art features, Crazy Horse Memorial Monument and Mount Rushmore!

Crazy Horse Memorial Gate

Gate at Crazy Horse Memorial plus Daphne howling at the moon

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

David Humphreys Miller

Henry Little Soldier by David Humphreys Miller

Woody Crumble

Woody Crumble’s Spirit Horse

Down the road from Crazy Horse was Mount Rushmore.  We ended up there after dinner time and it was sprinkling and overcast.  Made for a really neat view with some awesome lightning overhead for a little while!  Saw these very tiny Mountain Goats on the way into the park as a bonus!

Mountain Goat

Mini Mountain Goat baby at Mount Rushmore

Rushmore Mountain Goats

Mount Rushmore Mountain Goats

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

tn_Rushmore-2015-0651 tn_Rushmore-2015-0652 tn_Rushmore-2015-0653 tn_Rushmore-2015-0654

Washington's Looking at You

Washington’s Looking at You

Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

Keystone South Dakota was a cool little town with a quaint downtown with 2 rock shops. Only one was open, however.  There was an amazing antique / thrift shop with a bunch of unique stuff and a friendly shop keeper, and an interesting sign downtown…

Surgeon Supplies

Surgeon supplies documented on a sign in downtown Keystone, SD

Rock Shop Fence

Awesome fence at the closed rock shop.

The next day we headed to Sturgeon for lunch and then to Devil’s Tower and eventually to Buffalo to stay the night…see the next post for more about the second leg of 4 of our adventure!

Animals of our Road Trip 2015

We had a wonderful road trip this summer going through South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.  2100 miles over about 9 days.  We were able to see many different animals and babies.  This is a summary of the trip’s animal shots.

Young Black Bear

Young Black Bear

Yellowstone River Salmon Fly

Salmon Fly that all the fish loved on the Yellowstone River

Baby Goat at Mt Rushmore

Baby miniature Mountain Goat at Mt Rushmore

Goat Family

(Miniature) Mountain Goat Family at Mt Rushmore

Baby Goat

Baby Mountain Goat at Mt Rushmore

Baby and Father Goat

Baby Mountain Goat and dad at Mt Rushmore

Baby Goat at Mt Rushmore

Baby Mountain Goat at Mt Rushmore

Goat on Beartooth Pass summit

Mountain Goat on Beartooth Pass summit

Goat on Beartooth Pass summit, it was quite spectacular view

Mountain Goat on Beartooth Pass summit, it was quite spectacular view

tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9055 tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9073 tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9079 tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9084 tn_YellowstoneGoat-2015-9091

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone, check out the claws!

tn_YellowstoneGriz-2015-9548 tn_YellowstoneGriz-2015-9547

Pelicans and ducks on Yellowstone River

Pelicans and ducks on Yellowstone River

Baby Deer

After returning, we discovered this baby deer in our driveway.

Elk sleeping

A little afternoon ciesta for this elk. Mammoth Hot Springs visitor center.

tn_YellowstoneElk-2015-9474 tn_YellowstoneElk-2015-9447 tn_YellowstoneElk-2015-9486

Baby Elk

Cute baby elk and male Brown-Headed Cowbird.

Raven

The old raven in Yellowstone, he was huge

Birds at Yellowstone

American Avocet shorebird in the Yellowstone sunset warming up their feet in the thermal pool

Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures at Mt Rushmore

Coyote

Coyote chilling in the grass.

Yellowstone Coyote

Coyote along the drive in Yellowstone

Lamar Valley Bison

Our first bison we saw, in the Lamar Valley heading in from the NE entrance

Bison @ Mammoth Hot Springs

Bison @ Mammoth Hot Springs

tn_YellowstoneBuffalo-2015-9679

2015 Chaco Canyon camp trip

Gallo campground is nice with trash, flush toilet bathrooms and non-potable water. Potable water is available at the visitor's center.

Gallo campground is nice with trash, flush toilet bathrooms and non-potable water. Potable water is available at the visitor’s center.

Chaco2015-6673

Fajada Butte as seen from Gallo campground. Home of the sun dagger (top center).

Chaco2015-6684-2

A closeup of the sun dagger atop Fajada Butte.

If you haven’t seen this video on Chaco Canyon, it is *amazing* and details the archeoastronomy that occurred here!

The Mystery of Chaco Canyon from AlTur on Vimeo.

Click to enlarge. Chaco map from the brochure you get at the visitor’s center.

Chaco2015-6751

These long straight walls are on all of the valley’s great houses and mark astral events.

Chaco2015-6801

These elk were around the canyon most of the days we were there.

Chaco2015-6803

Interesting camping–a couple of rooftop tents from California at the campground.

Chaco2015-7938

This didn’t look very comfortable, there was a large bed in this trailer. Black sides would make it hot I would think?

Chaco2015-6883

Chaco2015-6809

The trail/road to Wijiji site. A short hike from the campground with amazing pictograms and great house. About 3 miles roundtrip.

Chaco2015-6694

Pueblo Bonito

Chaco2015-6820

Wijiji

Chaco2015-6822

Wijiji

Chaco2015-6828

Pictograms near Wijiji

Chaco2015-6830

Pictograms near Wijiji

Chaco2015-6777

Excavated kiva.

Chaco2015-6890

Kin Kletso as seen from the trail heading to the rim of the canyon.

Chaco2015-6840

The birds sang to us each morning, very loudly I might add!

Chaco2015-6898

Casa Chiquita

Chaco2015-6906

Collared lizard protecting the great house Casa Chiquita

Chaco2015-6922

Ball pin hammer art?

Chaco2015-6924

My personal favorite, boom box pictogram. Definitely “retro”, but not by the Anasazi!

Chaco2015-7014

Supernova pictograph along the Penasco Blanco trail.  If you want to just see this, it is a 4 mile round trip hike.  They are now theorizing that the pinky on the hand pointed to the exploding supernova.

Chaco2015-6957

Along the Petroglyphs trail on the way to Penasco Blanco.

Chaco2015-7032

A neat layer of iron-based fossiles in this part of the canyon.

Chaco2015-7103

The amazing view at Penasco Blanco.

Chaco2015-6935 Chaco2015-6936 Chaco2015-6937 Chaco2015-6955 Chaco2015-6970 Chaco2015-7042

Chaco2015-6987

Along the Petroglyphs trail on the way to Penasco Blanco.

Chaco2015-6988

Along the Petroglyphs trail on the way to Penasco Blanco. Obviously not Anasazi, but who knows how old…

Chaco2015-6989

Along the Petroglyphs trail on the way to Penasco Blanco. Obviously not Anasazi, but who knows how old…

Chaco2015-7021

Group shot at the Nebula Pictogram.

Chaco2015-7056

Penasco Blanco, unexcavated. Heck of a hike but worth it!  7.2 miles round trip.  Take plenty of water!!!

Chaco2015-7093

Awesome masonry throughout the canyon!

Chaco2015-7116

Penasco Blanco masonry!

Chaco2015-7123

Jim at Penasco Blanco!

Chaco2015-7136

Someone left a display of shards and old workings.

Chaco2015-7151

Lots of coral fossils on the trail up the canyon to Penasco Blanco.

Chaco2015-7178

Interesting mushroom on the trail. We saw several.

Chaco2015-6700 Chaco2015-6706 Chaco2015-6805 Chaco2015-6849 Chaco2015-6893 Chaco2015-7139 Chaco2015-7158 Chaco2015-7199 Chaco2015-7703 Chaco2015-7942

 

Port Alberni British Columbia Salmon Festival

Went again this year for the 43rd Annual Port Alberni Salmon Festival with friends in British Columbia.  This is my 3rd year fishing in this large Labor Day weekend fishing Derby.  I took Hunter on his first major fishing trip and we had a blast.  Our hosts put together an amazing trip and provided top notch service on their fishing boats!  This is a trip of a lifetime and we had a wonderful time, fished with some excellent fishermen, and made some new friends.  We stayed at an amazing resort in Bamfield called Mills Landing, which I highly recommend!  They had very nice fish processing facilities and super friendly and knowledgeable hosts!

Hunter and I caught our bag limit of fish and was able to bring a good amount home for the freezer.  We had salmon for dinner the first night home and it is amazing!  Love the pink/orange look whenever we open the deep freezer!

The weather was great overall; one day was partly sunny and the swells were overall small; some days non-existent.  I’m prone to motion sickness (I can’t read my phone in the car) and at one point I caught up with a bit of nausea; Hunter had sea legs all the way home; but overall we did well in that department too!

We fished mostly with anchovies hooked up to a plastic head which allowed us to position the bait such that it “rolled” in the water.  The roll is important and needs to be nice and sexy for the big fish to have interest.  Then up the line was a plastic flasher/dodger which rotated in the water flashing sunlight in about 4 foot (or larger) circles in the water.  The line was clipped to a 10 pound downrigger attached to the side of the boat; and we fished anywhere from 65 to 25 feet under the surface.

First, the fish.  We caught anywhere from 5 to 10.5 pound Coho salmon, and small to 20 lb Chinook this year.  We caught numerous black bass fish that we didn’t know were on the line for a while; and since those were DOA we fed them to the eagles which was a lot of fun to see.

Click image for larger size.

Hunter and his big fish of the trip; this took a while for him to land...but worth it!  20 lb Chinook (Spring).

Dave's first Coho of the trip

Hunter's first fish, a 10 lb Coho

Steve and one of his fish.  He organized one hell of a fun trip! Thanks!

 

John taking care of tackle on his fishing boat!

John taking care of tackle on his fishing boat!

Fisherman during the Port Alberni Salmon Festival

Fisherman during the Port Alberni Salmon Festival

tn_Bamfield2014-1664

Beach and cave on Fleming Island.

Beach and cave on Fleming Island.

Secret beach on Fleming Island.

Secret beach on Fleming Island.

Common view as we were fishing.

Common view as we were fishing.

Overcast day looking through a straight near Fleming Island.

Overcast day looking through a straight near Fleming Island.

You'd think they get a little bit of a breeze?

You’d think they get a little bit of a breeze?

Cool cottage!

Cool cottage!

Nice sunset from Red's Reef.

Nice sunset from Red’s Reef.

Another wonderful sunset in BC

Another wonderful sunset in BC

Great sunset over the Broken Islands.

Great sunset over the Broken Islands.

We had some sunny skies one afternoon, and some convection!

Over the Broken Islands

Over the Broken Islands

Eagles are part of the fun while the fishing is slow!

Eagles are part of the fun while the fishing is slow!

tn_Bamfield2014-1672 tn_Bamfield2014-1676

Zeroed in on the prize.

Zeroed in on the prize.

tn_Bamfield2014-1678-3 tn_Bamfield2014-1679 tn_Bamfield2014-1680 tn_Bamfield2014-1681 tn_Bamfield2014-1682 tn_Bamfield2014-1683 tn_Bamfield2014-1689 tn_Bamfield2014-1695

Eagles where everywhere, just look in the trees for a white dot.

Eagles where everywhere, just look in the trees for a white dot.

This eagle was perched above the main dock in Bamfield.

This eagle was perched above the main dock in Bamfield.

Landmark island from Kirby fishing area.

Landmark island from Kirby fishing area.

tn_Bamfield2014-1714 tn_Bamfield2014-1715

Interesting "rainbow" feature from the airplane over Washington state.

Interesting “rainbow” feature from the airplane over Washington state.

Heart lake?

Love Lake?

 

Trip to Fulford Cave, Eagle County Colorado

For the 4th of July weekend we ended with a trip to Colorado’s popular Fulford Cave, which would be Hunter’s first “wild” caving experience. He’s been to commercial caves such as Glenwood Caverns (formerly Fairy Cave) and also to Cave of the Winds and Carlsbad Caverns when he was younger.  I wanted to see if Hunter would be interested and/or ready for other caving trips and this is an awesome cave with no technical experience required.

Fulford Campground was $8 per site, first come first serve.

Fulford Campground was $8 per site, first come first serve.

Being it was 4th of July weekend, we set out on Sunday morning planning to find a spot to stay on Sunday night (Fulford Cave Campground was option #1 with the backup being a sweet spot we found near the ghost town of Fulford).  We got up there and the Fulford Cave Campground was nearly empty as we had hoped.  We picked the best camp site available which had been significantly upgraded since the last time we stayed in that site, probably over 20 years ago.  They added a fence which I’m sure has saved a life or two from someone backing up a little too far and falling down the near cliff…

Fulford Campground campsite #4, the best one in my opinion.

Fulford Campground campsite #4, one of the best in my opinion.

The sun was beating down on us but luckily the convective clouds were on their way, which the eventual shade was more than welcome!  We ate dinner and then started to pack up for our trip to the cave.  The trailhead is at the campground and the hike is a good uphill venture.  Along the way you go through an old aspen forest that is very lush full of flowers and plants (and of course mosquitos).  The trail (Forest Trail #1875) is about 3/4 mile and you rise 500 feet in elevation to the cave entrance.  Note that if you follow the trail past the entrance less than 5 minutes you will come upon the upper cave entrances, with no access into the cave, but a beautiful view and a grand cave entrance!

The higher you climbed on the trail the more columbines.

The higher you climbed on the trail the more columbines.

These are abundant throughout the aspen forest on the hike to the cave.

These are abundant throughout the aspen forest on the hike to the cave.

Dandelion reminded me of the pictures I took of the 4th of July fireworks earlier in the weekend.

Dandelion reminded me of the pictures I took of the 4th of July fireworks earlier in the weekend.

One thing I remembered about the trail to the cave is the lush forest.

One thing I remembered about the trail to the cave is the lush forest.

You enter the cave through a culvert with ladder affixed and that has seen many better days.  Many rungs were missing and many were broken with sharp metal edges so it was a bit dicey.  The culvert is uncomfortable to begin with so the broken parts make it a bit more adventuresome which is par for the course I guess!  Once you get into the cave there is a rope (and a broken rope, sure would have sucked being that person) which you will need to use to get to the bottom of the entrance area as it is VERY slick with icy mud.

Fulford Cave Entrance

Erin, Hunter and I made it up the steep hike and are ready for the coolness coming out of the cave entrance!

Hunter coming out of the culvert entrance.  The ladder in the culvert has many rungs missing and many  more broken.

Hunter coming out of the culvert entrance. The ladder in the culvert has many rungs missing and many more broken so be careful!

In the middle level of the cave there are some cool features–some huge ice stalagmites, flowstone and a bat guano room.  We decided to skip the bat guano room and was going to hit the higher flowstone areas on the way out if we still had enough energy.

Ice crystal Stalagmite

This is the big stalagmite ice crystal I remember from previous trips. The texture was beautiful!  I remember a couple of times when this wasn’t there, so it does melt!

Fulford Ice Crystal

Big ice crystal near the entrance, about 5-6 feet long and 1 foot in diameter

We ventured to the end of the middle level of the cave and found the 3-level pit where you can go up or down.  As you approach this pit you hear the reverb and echoes of a underground stream which is awesome!  Just because it sounded so cool, we chose to see the underground stream which we could hear echoes of it cascading in the depths of the cave.  The 3-level pit leaves you at the bottom of the stream passage.  The hike is pretty quick to the waterfall.  This trip was the lowest I’ve seen the stream; usually there is a lot more flow (perhaps that was just the time of the year I’ve been before?).  Given that we were just commencing our journey into the cave, we didn’t climb the waterfall as we would have gotten too wet for the remainder of our trek in the very cold cave!  I have climbed the waterfall several times before and you end up in a small passable tunnel where eventually the water comes out of the wall.

End of the stream

In the lower level, the underground stream comes out of a wall, down a cascading waterfall, and then disappears into another wall. From what I’ve heard/read, using dye, no one has ever found where this exits the mountain!

Leaving the stream passage behind, we climbed to the top of the 3-level pit into the upper level’s Breakdown room.  This is a larger section of the cave where the ceiling has collapsed in large chunks making an underground skree area covered in mud.  It isn’t overly difficult but the rocks are pretty slick and the ceiling was tight so I had to take the backpack off several times to avoid scraping the ceiling.  We walked through the Breakdown room until near the Moonmilk corridor to my favorite part of the cave!

This isn’t named on the map, but there is a *very* tight and small loop that you can do to test your claustrophobia.  This was my goal of the day and we all took turns with the super small and tight tunnel.  At the midpoint of the tunnel there is a small pool that seems much larger than life due to the fact of you being in such a small/tight tunnel.  A great illusion!

Getting ready to enter my favorite tight spot in the Breakdown Room.  This was my goal to reach today.

Getting ready to enter my favorite tight spot in the Breakdown Room.

Coming out of the "tight spot"...even though I've done this many times before, right at this spot I always get a spark of panic...I think that must be an involuntary reaction of the body!

Coming out of the “tight spot”…even though I’ve done this many times before, right at this spot I always get a spark of panic…I think that must be an involuntary reaction of the body! You simply mentally extinguish the fear and continue on…Yoda would be proud!

The Breakdown room turns into the Moonmilk corridor and that is as far as we ventured on this trip.  I’d say we saw about 2/3 of the cave; but hands were getting cold and its no fun caving while freezing; so we decided to head out.

Moonmilk at Fulford

Moonmilk speleothem near the end of the Breakdown Room.

Hunter and Erin in the Breakdown room.  Note the "fog" probably from our breath.

Hunter and Erin in the Breakdown room. Note the “fog” probably from our breath.

Fulford entrance

Hunter exiting the culvert entrance to the cave!

Upon exiting the cave we were treated with a gorgeous sunset for the downhill hike!

Sunset through the aspen

Sunset through the aspen, the picture doesn’t do it justice the way the pink light was hitting the trees!

Some of these trees are of significant age!

Some of these trees are of significant age!

Sunset at Fulford Campground.

Sunset at Fulford Cave Campground.

Drying out the clothes.  Everything went home in a trash bag and was washed down good with bleach as per protocol because of the white nose fungus.

Drying out the clothes. Everything went home in a trash bag and was washed down good with bleach as per protocol because of the white nose fungus.

Caves in Colorado have been closed for several years because of the White Nose Fungus epidemic and have just opened up this year with restrictions/precautions.  The first important change is you must register with the Forest Service to get permission to enter Colorado Caves.  One person “the trip leader” must register and then everyone on the trip must have a signed form on them.  Basically they want to know who is going in/out of the caves (and that everyone understand the rules for decontamination) for protection of our bats…up to 90-100% of bats in some caves have been killed throughout Eastern and Central United States which is devastating (who eats the bugs if the bats are gone)!  For decontamination we ensured that all gear is thoroughly cleaned (we used bleach) between uses.  We’re ready for next time!