Forty hours after getting back from France, I was driving with Jean from Sacramento to Salt Lake City. It’s a long haul, but one I’m increasingly familiar with. A nearly disastrous misadventure in Winemucca was survived and we joined up with Heather, Tyler, Heahter’s SO, Ben, and his son Jason. The PhyzVan was put to the test: parked for two weeks, then run out on a 650 mile one-day trip, then loaded to the gills for some mountain driving. We made it to Yellowstone and took in the sights, sounds, and--of course-- smells. The geyser basins, Fire Lake Drive, Paint Pots, Terraces at Mammoth Springs, elk, bison, bears, and that one thing Ben saw.
The Grand Tetons [hey, a chance to use my French]
Our time here was short, but I snuck out early the second morning and snapped a few keepers. Especially fruitful were stops at String Lake, a picnic area with a view (replete with split-rail fence), and the very simple Chapel of the Transfiguration.
Next it was up to the northern border of Montana for a stay at The Many Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park. You really are up close and personal with nature there; bear-bells might actually do some good. The dramatic, glacier-cut mountains, valleys, and resulting waterfalls, and not-always-shy wildlife make Glacier a place worthy of return trips.
We kept the PhyzVan pointed north and continued up to the Canadian Rockies. First stop: Banff. In Canada, there are major towns inside national parks. Banff, for example. I wasn’t completely thrilled with the photo-ops here, but it had its charm.
Lake Louise and Lake Moraine
Now these places delivered on landscape scenery! Lake Louise, nestled at the bottom of a wide valley and catching the runoff of a glacier at the far end, posed politely for tourists’ cameras. I hiked up to a tea house tucked away at the edge of a high mountain lake and drank my tea while a storm moved in. Lake Moriane gets my prize for most picturesque destination in the Canadian Rockies. I snapped some nice keepers and sent one in for Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics 10th edition (for a section on color and scattering). Yum!
The sun sets at about 10pm or so at this latitude. We boated out to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake on a stormy day (late July is still Spring up there). We also journey out to Angel Glacier and Cavell Glacier, though the weather wasn’t with us there. Then it was back south along the Icefields Parkway to enjoy the sights and part company with the Canadian Rockies.
Craters of the Moon
After a night in a scary down-market no-tell motel in Arco, Idaho, we enjoyed a day at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Old lava fields--what regions of Hawaii will look like in 1000 years--and air so unpolluted they measure it for baseline levels of atmospheric contaminants. We were there at midday, but better shots would be had early or late.
We kept the PhyzVan pointed south and drove to Yosemite for a late-July visit. The falls were surprisingly robust given the season. And it’s hard to get tired of Yosemite.