Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bear, Up Close and Personal

I have been in Minnesota for more than two weeks now, parked in front of my parents' house. They live on the outskirts of Duluth, and are surrounded by woods. In fact, part of their property is very wooded, and deer pass through pretty regularly. I have been seeing plenty of evidence of bears when Rylie and I go for our morning walks in the neighborhood. They like to get into the trash cans on trash day, and one of them even left a deposit on the road right in front of the neighbor's driveway.

This morning we were about a half a block away from my parents' house when we heard something large crashing in the brush across the road, about sixty feet away from where we were walking. Rylie stopped dead in his tracks and refused to budge. I stood and waited for a few minutes, thinking we might see a deer run off. Then I tried continuing on, but Rylie still wouldn't move. We didn't see anything or hear anything further, but the brush would move a tiny bit now and then.

Finally Rylie decided that he was ready to move on, so we continued up the road. When we were right across from the area where we heard the noise, a black bear stuck its head out of the brush. We were about 25 feet apart at this point. I hurried up the road as fast as I could without running, and then turned around to see if it was following us. The bear came out onto the road, stopped and looked at us, we looked at it, and then it loped across the road and into the woods on the other side. Rylie was pretty curious and wanted to stop and watch it, but then, he was just as interested in the pot-bellied pig we saw roaming around yesterday.

That's the closest I've ever been to a bear, closer even than the one I saw in Yellowstone. I don't think I want to be any closer. That was close enough to get my adrenaline pumping. Naturally, I didn't have my camera with me, even though I considered taking it with me this morning.

Rylie's Notes:

I told you Minnesota is a dog's paradise. Deer, bears, rabbits, squirrels, and pot-bellied pigs. It's a daily feast for the nose. The best part is, The Staff lets me off leash when we are in the yard, so I've had some fun chasing in the woods. Not only that, but the Grand-Staff like to spoil me. Life is good.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hiking in Yellowstone

Yellowstone River Canyon

I did some hiking while I was in Yellowstone, and saw some gorgeous scenery in the canyon. One of the hikes was just a short one to a viewing platform on the brink of the lower falls, which you see in the photo below:

Kayaking, anyone?

I did another hike on Uncle Tom's trail that brings you 3/4 of the way down into the canyon, for a rainbow view of the falls from near the bottom (you can see the rainbow a bit better if you double click on the photo):

Warning to those with bad knees or shallow lungs: there are a whole bunch of steps (over 300) to climb to get back out of the canyon. The climb is made more difficult by the fact that the elevation is 7,000 to 8,000 feet. It makes a difference when your lungs are used to operating at sea level elevation, but definitely worth it!

I love Yellowstone. I can see why it was the first national park.

Rylie's Notes:

Yellowstone wasn't much fun for me. Dogs aren't allowed on the trails or very far from the road. I had to do all of my wildlife viewing from the front seat of the motorhome. Now Minnesota, that's dog paradise!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More Yellowstone

Old Faithful

A visit to Yellowstone National Park just isn't complete without a visit to see Old Faithful, the park's most popular geyser. You can count on this super-heated, natural fountain spouting off about every 60-90 minutes, and huge crowds gather to see it. This is one of the things I remember most about my only other visit to the park, when I was twelve years old. There are also some very striking thermal pools, a couple of which are shown below:

Chromatic Pool

Liberty Pool

Another fond memory I have from my first Yellowstone trip was the Old Faithful Inn, where my family stayed for one night. (We camped or stayed in cabins for the rest of the visit.) For some reason, this rustic hotel made from huge, wood beams made quite the impression on me. As can often happen with childhood memories, things did not seem quite as large this trip as they did when I was young.

Old Faithful Inn

Stone Fireplace in Old Faithful Inn

Inside the Old Faithful Inn

I'm not quite done with Yellowstone. Stay tuned for one more post.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff didn't tell you the most important thing about her visit to the Old Faithful Inn: the ice cream. How did I know that she had a strawberry cheesecake ice cream cone when I wasn't there? I could smell it on her breath.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

Since Rylie tattled, I guess I will have to confess that the moose in my last post was not real. It was made of wood. Unfortunately, I did not see a moose either inside or outside of Yellowstone National Park. However, I did see a lot of interesting wildlife while I was there. Although I tried to get photos of all of them, some were too far away to tell what they were. I call those photos my brown blob series. I share some of them below. Remember that you can double click on the photos to make them larger.

Brown blob number one, the grizzly bear. Just to the right of the two trees in the above photo you can see a faint brown shape in the tall grass. That's a grizzly bear. Every now and then the bear would raise its head up and look right at the camera, but I could never get the camera to take the shot at just the right moment. It really is a grizzly bear. Honest.

Brown blob number two, the buffalo. This guy was lying down in the Hayden Valley area of Yellowstone. I did get a closer shot of one right after I entered the park. He was walking alongside the road -- and sometimes on the road -- causing a buffalo jam. He finally moved off into the grass closer to the river. I called Rylie up from the floor of the cab to get a look. He was very interested in the buffalo and kept trying to roll the window down. (He knows how to stand on the button to roll down the window, but he can't always step on it just right.)

The blob above is a black bear. He was right on the other side of the road but the park rangers wouldn't let me linger to photograph more because he was getting too close to the road. The next two photos are pretty clear, elk and coyote. They were very close. I also saw deer, beaver, otter, eagle and osprey.

I tried very hard to see a moose. I went to the Blacktail Drive area where a guy I was talking to the day before said he had seen a moose, and also a pack of wolves, but I saw nothing. I went to all of the spots where they said the chances were best to see a moose, but no such luck. I even tried using my moose call, which goes something like this:

"Here moosey, moosey, moose!"

All to no avail.
My quest continues.

Rylie's Notes:

I was wondering if border collies can herd buffalo. I used the following equation to determine this:

B = 100xBCM /1000xBCI

Loosely translated this means, buffalo is equal to 100 times the mass of the border collie, divided by 1000 times the intelligence of the border collie. I think I could do it, but The Staff would not be pleased. I might not get any treats, so therefore, it's not worth the risk.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Since I got such a late start on Friday due to my skylight repair, I only made it to Winnemucca, Nevada the first night. Don't you just love the name of that town? It would be even better if it were called Winnebucca. The second night I spent in Idaho at the Rainbow Campground in Rexburg, about 100 miles from the West Yellowstone entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Those of you who know me well, or have been reading my blog for the past couple of years, know that I have been on a quest to see a moose. I thought for sure I would see one in northern Minnesota when I was there two years ago, especially in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. But no such luck. Well, you'll never guess what I saw when I was in Idaho!

Rylie's Notes:

Don't let The Staff fool you. That moose isn't real.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

So Long, Auburn!

Rock Creek Lake

Affordable RV was able to install my skylight in record time, so I left Auburn Friday afternoon. It turns out it was quite easy to install, and I probably could have done it myself if I had known that all I needed were some screws and a drill. No sealant was required. The RV tech said that the remaining plastic just crumbled in his hand, so I guess it disintegrated from all of the sun it has been getting the past year.

Except for the unpleasant events at the end, I had a really nice stay in Auburn. I had more of a social life there than I usually do when I'm traveling around, thanks to family and friends who visited from the Bay Area, and the new friends I made while I was there. I felt a bit sad to be moving on, but it helped that I will be visiting family and friends in Minnesota and stopping in Yellowstone. My vacation has officially begun!

One of the first things that I do when getting settled in a new area is to scout out a good place for Rylie and me to have our hour walk in the morning. It isn't always possible to find a scenic route, but we had a pretty nice path in Auburn. I am posting some photos from our walk along Rock Creek Lake and the canal that runs near it.

Canal Path

Canal on Stilts

Rylie's Notes:

Finally, some new scenery! The ducks and geese were getting boring, and I haven't seen a turkey for ages. The Staff thought I was getting lazy when I didn't want to do our morning walk, but I was just tired of the same old, same old.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What the....?

Well, it happened. That most dreaded of events secretly feared by every RVer, has happened to me. The other day I was dumping my holding tanks and everything seemed to be going just fine. Until I walked around the motorhome to the other side and discovered that my neighbor's sewer hose connection had come apart and my campside was flooded. With sewage. Ewwwww! This event is pretty high up there on my worst nightmare list.

Apparently there was a clog in the sewer line a couple of campsites down, and therefore the sewage was looking for the weakest link in the system to erupt, which happened to be my neighbor's sewer hose connection. I wanted to vomit, run screaming down the road, and strangle the park manager, all at the same time. Then when the workers came to clear out the clog, they blew out my sewer hose. So now I had floods on both sides. The only silver lining that I could find in this event was that nothing got on my person. I think I really would have to strangle someone if that had happened.

They got it all cleaned up and I moved to another campsite, but I had to throw away two lawn chairs, a tablecloth, a grill brush and a cooler. I don't care how much bleach and water they threw at them, they were contaminated as far as I was concerned. Remember, this is the same RV park whose power fluctuation blew out my surge protector a month or so ago.

Yesterday I brought my car in for a timing belt, etc., and then today I brought the motorhome in for its 30,000 mile service. Tonight when I went to take a shower, I discovered that the skylight in my shower (which covers most of the shower roof) is gone. Completely missing. I guess I am to shower with the stars now. It was dark when I made this discovery, so I decided to wait until morning to climb up on the roof to see if the skylight might be up there somewhere. Where do skylights go? Was it just tired of hanging out on the motorhome and decided to run away and join the circus? Oh, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow.

I was supposed to leave tomorrow morning to head to Minnesota, but it looks like that's not happening. This has been a very strange week. I must be about to win the lottery, or something equally wonderful.

Rylie's Notes:

I don't like it when The Staff brings the motorhome in for service. We have to spend hours in the car or the empty campsite, and we don't have access to the treat cupboard. It's very unsettling. As for the sewage spill, well just imagine what it would be like if your sense of smell was 1,000 times better. Now you can imagine how dogs feel about it.