An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's a Beautiful Thing


In my family handcrafted gifts are the most valued. Monetary value is not as important as the fact that the gift of time was given to conceive and produce the offering. My mother still uses the covers I sewed for her kitchen appliances. Watercolor paintings created by my father grace our walls. And perfect strangers will comment on the beauty of the handknit sweaters my mother made for me.

So this Christmas was very special, when my sister came to visit. We talked a couple of years ago about her creating a quilt for us, and what would we like as a motif. Trees would be nice, we said. We collaborated on a general design, and Monica bought some fabrics. But that was the last I remembered. On Christmas Eve we exchanged gifts, and the finale was the presentation of the completed quilt. We were overcome.

The artist and quilt are shown in the featured photo. The gift of love – it’s a beautiful thing.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Winter Solstice


The sun now dips behind the Sierra Crest as we look out our window at about 4 pm. A few days previous to the changing of the season we had six inches of snow. It was a very cold storm, and the snow was light and nearly weightless. With such low moisture it compacts down to an inch. In these southern latitudes the sun warms the ground and the rooftops quickly. This light snow melted and formed long icicles on our eaves. Looking around the neighborhood, even longer icicles formed off of those roofs that were less insulated. And icicles form on natural features, such as The Boulder, a landmark here at the gateway to June Lake.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Food Art


I am one lucky girl. Every morning my husband gets up first and prepares breakfast. I get to take my time getting dressed and check my email while the pots and pans clink in the other room. Most mornings it is oatmeal, thick and hearty, sweetened with fresh bananas, pears, and studded with dried blueberries. Today it was pancakes. And what greeted me at the table today? The message you see above, reminding me of my special day.

Please be aware that this is the edited version – it said 36 years the first time. I had to inform John that he was a decade off. I wish that were true, but unfortunately it is not, and John had to go back to the carving board and fashion another banana slice into the number four.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

No Knead Needed



It was not my intent to post another blog about bread so soon, but this in this case it is justified. Over the last few weeks the food world, and especially in cyberspace amongst food bloggers, has been abuzz about an article, recipe and video published in the New York Times by Mark Bittman. In this article he explains a technique for making bread of a quality equivalent to those produced by fine professional bakers with very expensive, steam-injected ovens. And it requires no kneading. Too good to be true? Based on the testimonials by various bloggers and comments submitted by their followers, it sure does seem to be true. I had to give it a whirl.

Friday night I mixed the dough, and it sat for the next 18 hours fermenting on a high shelf where it was warm. Since the article has been out for a while, there was a follow-up article with more information, and I followed the directions accordingly. The recipe’s claim was that it was “no-fail”, although some bakers struggled with their first batches.

The recipe calls for a five to six quart covered baking dish, but I do not own anything that large. I used a lovely hand-thrown ceramic casserole dish, a wedding gift (thanks, Joe and Peggy) that has been sadly underutilized in the past few years – we would never get home early enough when we worked to bake a casserole for dinner. The capacity of this dish is only about three quarts, but it was ideal. When I opened the lid after it baked for the initial 30 minutes, the sight of the rounded loaf with a couple of fissure cracks across the top assured me it was near perfection.

John and I consumed half the loaf along with wine and bowls of ribollita. The crust crackled and shattered, just like it should, and yet the inside was chewy and tender and moist. And lucky us, there are leftovers for dinner tonight…mmmm.

Monday, December 4, 2006

First Turns


Last Wednesday morning it was 12 degrees when we woke up, the coldest morning we have experienced yet. The cold wave that eventually moved east and wrecked havoc in the Midwest states was giving us a chill. We had made plans to go over to Mammoth Mountain and ski, and we weren’t going to let temperatures in the teens stop us.

The day was brilliant sunshine. The Eastern Sierra has not received a substantial snowfall yet. The roads are clear and only a sugar coating of snow can be seen at the highest elevations. But Mammoth has the facilities to manufacture their own snowpack, and these cold, dry conditions are ideal for making snow. The ski area had only a few major runs open, but with surprisingly good coverage. They were open for Thanksgiving weekend, one of the potentially big cash-generating weekends. The lack of snow surely dampened the crowds. The merchants in town are nervous – could this be another drought year? – anxiously waiting for the big storm that will make it a white (and green) Christmas.

So we bundled up with multiple layers of clothing and found enough to ski for a couple of hours. It was cold, and by noon a slight breeze persuaded us to call it a day. The electronic sign at the parking lot said it was a mere 22 degrees at high noon.

The snow guns were working full time while we were there. The photo of the day shows the Cornice Bowl, just below the summit. It was nearly barren rock on the day we were there, but they were trying to get it covered for the weekend. The wind was not cooperating, however, and the snow was getting blown right up the slope and over the ridge. We did return over the weekend, and after only a couple of days they managed to get it to stick enough for us to be able to ski down a couple of runs. Impressive, but we are still doing our snow dance for the natural stuff!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Other Half of the Story



Note: Guest blogger, Ilse Brukner (aka Mom), gives us version of the conclusion of the bus story. --DR

Did you ever sell a bus on eBay? We did, and I can tell you a tale.

It’s a long story that started in early January when we moved to Hemet in Southern California. Our dear bus moved with us and landed in the parking lot of an RV storage area. Of course, there was the thought to sell it as soon as possible, but fate (and I must say greed) and inexperience interfered.

Having lived 23 years, mostly in winter, in my husband Ali’s masterpiece, there were strong heartstrings connected to it which had to be severed.

We had purchased this school bus at the end of 1979. They call it a pusher because the engine is in the rear and pushes the bus down the road. It took us four years of dedicated work – Ali, the mechanical design engineer, using his wide experience in design, welding, handling tools expertly, was the very knowledgeable boss. I, awkward in handling tools, called myself the unskilled labor. At the end of this adventure I brandished the paintbrush like a pro, worked along beside him good naturedly and gave him moral support when needed. After we converted the bus into our living quarters of the future, I could repeat my first statement before starting ”I will move into a bus but … it has to be the nicest converted bus about.” And it was and is!

Then with the new year of 2006 came the time to start cutting the umbilical cord and put it up for sale. Blinded by the love and work that went into it and with the recommendation from daughter and her experienced salesman husband, we advertised it at $19,999. Doris had made a professional looking detailed write-up with photos that should get results.

Hmm, it was quiet out there!

We went down in price to $17,000, to $12,000. A few nibbles, nothing serious. Down to $7,000 and things became lively. Two different women expressed interest and were enthusiastic admirers of the interior, but the first dropped out not trusting the mechanical innards of the vehicle. With a bleeding heart we almost considered giving it away or sell it for the amount spent on storage and insurance. Then the second woman offered $ 4,000. And we accepted, BUT…(there is always a but, isn’t there?)…she kept asking questions, continued to research any other avenue open to her and then focused on the condition of the tires. She never realized that a bus tire is not a passenger car tire and has more life in it than a 40-year-old man, even if it is a bit cracked by the sun.

When for two weeks our lively email exchange suddenly dried up, we waited for a couple more weeks, and then turned to eBay.

PRAISE BE TO EBAY! For nothing in the world I would not have missed that experience. It was pure fun!

Signing up for a one week auction and asking $500, the bidding started within a few hours and up, up it went. When it reached $2,000 there was a lull which lasted through the middle of the week. It got lively again when the weekend as the end of the auction approached. We looked at that computer screen in astonishment and glee. Friday and Saturday – the last two days – we stared at that screen almost continuously, answered questions promptly and politely. It passed $3,000 and slowly crept higher.

But the end of it all was dramatic not only for us but probably for the three final bidders as well. One experienced guy had faithfully bid again and again. Saturday morning the telephone rang and somebody actually wanted to SEE the bus. Living a three hours drive away, he turned up, looked at the bus, drove it around the storage area and with a big grin on his face said he liked it.

The last half hour of our auction came and excitement mounted to even greater heights. Three bidders were bidding against each other, one of them Ken, our only customer to see the goods. They were popping in and out of the battle. Ken wasn’t sitting on top as the clock counted down to the last minute but, whoopedidoo! with 5 seconds left before closing, he came in with the last offer. We rooted loudly for him. We had met him and liked him.

The bus sold for $4,801.38.

Hey, don’t you think that dear, old bus deserves a round of applause, too?

We are glad it found a good owner who appreciates it and hopefully will love and cherish it as we did. It gave us 23 years of bliss, freedom and happiness. May the new owner continue in the same way. Good luck, Ken!

Does eBay give a discount for advertising?

For a video of the new owners driving it out of the storage yard, click here. If you look closely you can see John and Dad escorting it down the driveway.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Magic Bus


When I was 19 years old, it became obvious that I needed to be able to live independently soon. My sister was already out of the house for a couple of years, and Mom and Dad were planning ahead for when I would leave the nest, too. The house I grew up in was too big for just the two of them, and their dream was to travel and live simply. Dad was nearing 55,and he really didn’t want that day job anymore. Their new lifestyle would be to live in some kind of RV in the winters, then put it in storage in the summer to travel with a Jeep and tent trailer.

So, Mom and Dad starting looking at the commercial RV’s on the market. Most were cheaply constructed and designed more for sleeping lots of people rather than full-time living. My father was at the peak of his engineering and craftsman ability – a mechanical engineer by profession, he also was skilled in welding and construction, able to put his ideas into physical form. So why not build his own motor coach? And that is just what they did.

They purchased a used school bus and drove it home, knocking out the back gate to get it into the backyard. For the next four years Mom and Dad worked on transforming a yellow school bus into what would be their home for the next 20 years. The roof, set at a height suitable for grade schoolers, had to be raised six inches. The sliding glass windows were removed and replaced with a solid exterior. Many square feet of yellow paint was scraped off and the outside primed and painted. And the interior was customized, with open living spaces, nooks and crannies for storage, and beautiful wood paneling and built-in furniture. The engine needed rebuilding, and Mom and Dad pulled the engine out and rolled it to the garage a hundred feet away using old wooden tent poles like the Egyptians built the pyramids -- the engine would roll on the tent poles laid on the ground, and Mom would grab one from the back, place it at the front, and they thus proceeded slowly down the driveway.

Four years later it was complete – this picture was taken on November 6, 1983 on the first drive around the neighborhood. By this time I was out on my own, the house was sold, and Mom and Dad were at the brink of the best years of their lives.

Time passes, and needs change. Mom and Dad moved into a mobile home in Hemet last January, where they can be closer to doctors and shopping. And the bus is on sale on Ebay this week. Just like my parents, there is not another one like it in the whole world.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

A Knead Satisfied


Acquiring good bread has been a quest. During our summer travels we sought out locally baked breads to augment our otherwise minimal lunches. And we were successful. In Missoula, Montana we found three bakeries offering whole-grain breads made from freshly ground Montana wheat. We might move up there someday just for the bread.

Here in the Eastern Sierra we have options. Schat’s Bakery is a local institution. Their bakery in Bishop resembles Disneyland on weekends and holidays – people queued up to buy breads and pastries fresh from the oven, displayed on open racks and wafting aromatic fresh from the oven.

Great Basin Bakery, just around the corner, produces dense, whole breads not available at Schat’s, but inspiring equivalent lust. But, at nearly $4 a loaf and 60 miles south, it is not viable for regular sustenance.

It has been a dream, in addition to retiring early and moving to a mountain town, to learn the art of artisan breadmaking. The appeal is not just in the eating, but in crafting the loaves by hand and managing the variables that determine success or failure. I have been only a scholar of the technique for the past few years, reading books and browsing the Internet. The anticipation of putting into practice these techniques often carried me through the periods when work was consuming or tedious. Since this has been of year of dreams coming true, it was time to knead.

When we moved into our current abode recently, there simply was no room for the three cases of canning jars I had stockpiled. A family friend of our pal Charles does catering in Mammoth Lakes, and I thought she could put the jars to good use. Rumor has it that Evie nourishes a sourdough starter that is over 30 years old. In exchange for the jars, she kindly provided me two containers of the famed starter, as well as a recipe for Jewish Corn Rye Bread. My future lay in front of me.

I “built up” the starter over a period of several days to get sufficient volume for a loaf of bread, adding rye flour and water to the original starter batch to feed the yeasts. By day three it was bubbling and foamy. On Halloween I spent the afternoon baking bread – mixing, kneading, followed by three rises, and forming into two oblong loaves garnished with caraway seeds. Once placed into the oven, they sprung to full glory, browning perfectly. The final product prior to consumption is shown in the photo. The crust was chewy, the interior tender and moist and substantial. The twang of the sourdough and the spiciness of the caraway made for near perfection. John and I ate half a loaf with dinner.

We ate the last slice for lunch today, so I knead to bake again…

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Trio of Peaks






From the window of our spare room, we can look to the west and see the rising sun highlighting the peaks standing guard over June Lake. We are in the period called the “shoulder season” by the local businesses – the time between summer fishing and winter skiing. The weather has been mild, an Indian summer with warm days and above-freezing nights. In past years, storms have brought significant snow by now, but this year it is a bit delayed. That is fine by us, since it has provided the opportunity to explore our surroundings and climb those sun-touched peaks outside our window.

In the winter, we have often looked towards Mt Wood (12,657’) from the June Mtn Ski Area. Its east flank gets covered with what seems an endless expanse of snow, smooth and uninterrupted by cliffs or boulders. In its current un-blanketed state, it is multihued in grays and reds. To reach the top would be too long for day hike, so packed our backpacks with our warmest sleeping bags for an overnight excursion. We camped near Alger Lakes (10,600’). The sun sets by 6:00 pm, so following dinner we were snug in our tent doing crossword puzzles until it was time to sleep. The next morning we packed a lunch and hiked to Koip Peak Pass, then cross-country along the ridge to the summit of Mt Wood. Along the ridge is Parker Peak (12,850’), higher than Mt Wood, but not positioned as well for views. The top photo was taken from our lunch spot on the top of Mt Wood, looking north with Grant Lake on the right and Mono Lake in distance.

Our next goal, a few days later, was Carson Peak (10,909’). This massive chunk of rock is a prominent landmark visible for just about anywhere in the canyon where June Lake resides. It was a long day hike from the Rush Creek trailhead, 15 miles roundtrip. We waited until 9 am to get started, since our thermometer read 27 degrees when we rolled out of bed. By the time we reached the summit, it had warmed up significantly, with hardly a breath of wind. The views in all directions were outstanding, as you can see from this video. The second photo is looking west into the Ansel Adams Wilderness and towards Yosemite National Park. The reservoir in the foreground is Gem Lake, with Waugh Lake in the distance. The concrete dam was built in 1917, an engineering marvel in its time. Flows from Waugh Lake, Gem Lake, and Agnew Lake still produce electricity used by many of the communities in and around June Lake.

The last peak in the series was San Joaquin Mtn (11,600’). Our hike to this peak started from our front door, where we took the trail to Yost Meadow. We then hiked cross-country up the steep gully to the peak’s east shoulder and eventually to the summit. The view was somewhat obscured by smoke from a fire burning to the south, somewhere in the Kings Canyon area. With binoculars we could see the plumes rising from the bottom of the canyon. We could also see Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, with a dusting of snow from the storm a couple of weeks ago, as well as a wide, white band down the middle of their main run where man-made snow has been spread in anticipation of opening day on November 9th. The third photo is looking northeast – the ski runs of June Mtn Ski Area cut through the forest are visible in the upper right portion of the image. The town of June Lake, as well as June Lake and half of Gull Lake are towards the upper left of the photo. The steep, multi-colored metamorphic rocks in the foreground comprise what is called “The Negatives”. This is a popular backcountry ski run, which John has on his list of future descents – I would consider it under perfect conditions.

The bottom photo is Yost Meadow, brown in the late-season dryness. The pyramid-shaped Mt Dana with a streak of snow can be seen in the distance. An idyllic place for a rest on our way home.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

First Snow


We have become real weather geeks. We have an indoor/outdoor thermometer that records the diurnal temperature highs and lows. One of us checks it first thing in the morning to see how cold it is outside. A weather radio sits on the kitchen widow sill, and John listens to the forecast as he prepares our morning oatmeal. John verifies the forecast by checking out the satellite images on the Internet. And the local radio station broadcasts the weather analysis and forecast by Howard Sheckter, a local real estate agent and weatherman who provides a forecast that is not dumbed down. All this information so we can plan our outdoor activities with no surprises.

October 10th brought us our first snow. We didn’t need any of our nifty weather tools to verify this fact – we just had to look out the window. The temperature outside was just above freezing, so the snow did not stick on the ground and melted quickly. But it came down steadily throughout the day. We stayed warm and cozy inside. Every once in a while one of us would look outside, and verify that, yes, it is snowing.

It has since snowed again (on October 17), this time leaving an inch or so on the ground. We weren’t around, since our predictive tools told us it would be a nasty weather day. We traveled to Reno for a day of shopping. That night when we returned, and after the weather passed, it dropped down to 24 degrees, our lowest low so far.

Winter is on its way, and you can be sure we will know it when it gets here!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Moving to Paradise





It has been a week since we moved all our worldly possessions from Southern California to June Lake. It is so beautiful here – the crisp fall air, the golden light of the sunrise on the peaks, or the brilliant hues of the autumn aspen. Despite the chaos of moving and unpacking, I am sometimes overwhelmed with a feeling of pure joy to be living what has been our dream for many years. We celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary in our new home on October 4th, working from dawn to dark unpacking. Not a day has gone by that we have not looked at each other in amazement on how lucky we are.

The journey started from our 10’ by 15’ storage unit in Hemet. We had to drive 30 miles to Moreno Valley that morning to pick up the Budget rental truck – it turned out to be almost $600 cheaper than U-Haul, with just the added inconvenience of more distant pickup and drop off points. The temperatures in Hemet were peaking in the low 100’s for the several days we stayed with my parents in their mobile home. Moving day was only a bit cooler, but by the time we loaded the truck and were ready to leave we were dusty and sweaty. After a quick shower, we were on the road by 3 pm, John at the wheel of the 14-footer, and me following in the smaller red truck.

Our plan was to camp halfway, and we pulled into the Fossil Falls campground by 8:30 pm. A front was moving through, pelting us with some rain overnight, but the next morning was crisp with just a few remnant puffy clouds. After a quick breakfast (top photo), we continued our journey north.

By noon we were on the June Lake Loop road, covering the last couple of miles along the shore of June Lake itself (second photo). The last two places we lived were second floor units, and lucky for us, this one is, too. The rest of the afternoon was spent moving boxes and furniture upstairs. Our friend Charles, who lives in Mammoth, came to help (thank goodness), and soon much of the floor space was covered by boxes (third photo). By dark all was unloaded, and we dug out some cans of chili and our camping cook pots, and ate our first meal together.

Anxious as we were to unpack, we had to make a six-hour round trip drive to Ridgecrest to drop off the rental truck. But the day after (our anniversary!) was our day to unpack. It has been quite a challenge to fit all our STUFF in the apartment – it is two bedrooms, but the rooms are small. It is a very nice place – only 10 years old, with modern cabinets, double-paned windows, and ample storage, of which we used every inch. We did significant “purging” – old t-shirts, unused gear, and odd kitchen tools were set aside for donation to the local thrift shop. Entire boxes with notes from college were tossed.

By the end of the week we were (more or less) settled. We decided to do a hike from our front door via the Yost Meadow trail. It traverses the slope to the south of town, offering spectacular views of the village of June Lake and the chain of lakes. The bottom photo is looking northwest, and if you find the yellow arrow in the bottom right corner, that is our new home. Paradise, indeed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wanderings in the Eastern Sierra




With about a week and a half to squander before our move to our new place in June Lake, we ended up wandering in the Eastern Sierra. Mom and Dad were heading south, and we were able to meet up for a night in the Oh! Ridge Campground in June Lake. The weather was cloudy and cold, so we spent a morning walking the neighborhood around June Lake so we all could be come familiar with our future surroundings. Mom and Dad proceeded south to warmer climes outside of Lone Pine at one of our favorite campgrounds at Tuttle Creek. We stayed up north, hoping for clearer weather for some hikes.

Mornings are consistently cold this time of year, often in the low 30’s. This dictates our morning routine. The sun does not break over the horizon until about 7 am, so we put on all our layers before emerging from the tent. John starts the stove to boil water for tea, and we take down the tent before breakfast. By the time we eat and pack the remaining gear into the truck, we are chilled. We start up the truck, pile in, and blast the heater on the way to the trailhead. Upon arrival, we put on our boots and change into our hiking shorts. It is a bit chilly for the first mile of hiking, so we move briskly.

We had some notable hikes. One was up the Sierra Crest south of Mammoth Lakes. This spine is the divide between the watersheds where water flows west to the Pacific, or east into Owen’s Valley. It is also an important physiographic feature – the moisture-laden clouds of winter storms draft up from the west and hit the crest, releasing moisture in the form of snow. Mammoth Mountain, in the heart of the ski area and on the Crest, acts as a barrier and receives much more snow than locations just a couple of miles to the east which lie in the shadow of the mountain range. The top photo is a view looking north from the Crest – Lake Mary and Twin Lakes are in the foreground, the town of Mammoth Lakes beyond them, and the prominent bare mountain to the left is Mammoth Mountain.

Another day was spent hiking up McGee Creek Canyon to Steelhead Lake. Lunch was consumed on the shore of the lake, and jumping fish frequently broke the surface of the water. The water was so clear we could see them swimming just offshore. It was the middle of the week, and no one was there to try hook them – we don’t fish, so these trout were safe.

A hike up Pine Creek Canyon just north of Bishop was a spectacular day. This canyon is the location of historic tungsten mining operations. Although not currently active, the facilities look like they could be called into service at anytime. The second photo shows the mill operations near the trailhead. We followed the path of the road leading to the ore deposits. This road is no longer maintained, but easy to follow by hiking. It was a steady grade, passing through the zone of contact metamorphism that created the skarn deposits that are so rich in tungsten. The colors of the rocks in the canyon were marbled and deeply contrasted between the gray of the intrusives and the red of the country rock. The road eventually ends at Morgan Pass, but we stopped a couple of miles short of that to eat lunch on the shore of Lower Morgan Lake. The third photo is a view of this lake.

After a dip in Keough Hot Springs , we too ended up at Tuttle Creek for yet another reunion with Mom and Dad. Strong winds due to a Santa Ana condition kept us near camp for a much-needed day of rest.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gimme Shelter





Once we started on our journey south, we covered the distance in five days what took us nearly 3 months to travel on our way north. After leaving Mom and Dad in the chilly high-20’s morning in Jackson, Wyoming, we pointed the truck onto the interstate and pulled off a 300 mile day. One long stop in Twin Falls for grocery shopping, and we arrived at Bruneau Dunes State Park in south-central Idaho. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so we were lucky to find a slot late in the afternoon. The next morning we did a short walk to the edge of the dunes (top photo), windblown remnants of Lake Bonneville that once covered a huge area in the Plesitocene era.

Back on the road, we dropped into Elko, Nevada and beyond to the base of the Ruby Mountains. The campground was full, so we found a dispersed campsite within Lamoille Canyon to pitch the tent and make dinner (second photo). The next day we did a day hike to Liberty pass, with excellent views south to Liberty Lake (third photo). Back to the truck by noon, we drove the afternoon through the desert along the Humboldt River, previously the route of the pioneers heading to California. Late in the afternoon we found a campsite in the National Forest north of Winnemucca. Or fourth day of travel brought us into Washoe Lake, within striking distance of Mammoth Lakes.

The rush was to get to Mammoth by Thursday morning. Our mission was to find a place to rent for the winter. We had been monitoring the online classified ads in the weekly local paper for the past month. We wanted to be there when the newest issue hit the stands so we could be the first to call on the new ads. Our calculating approach paid off – we found a small cabin in the woods for rent in Old Mammoth. From the driveway we called the landlord, who faxed us an application by 9:30 am – we faxed the completed form back to him by 10:30 am. We both were excited with the possibility of finding a place so quickly.

We continued looking at other places while waiting for word on the cabin – everything from high-priced furnished condos in the $2K/month range, to multi-unit apartments. An unadvertised unit above a plumbing shop got our attention from a “For Rent” sign on the street. We left an application there, too. We ventured over June Lake to touch bases with our Ski Patrol friends. A tip to talk to a local business owner proved our timing was right on. She had a two-bedroom unit coming available. We talked awhile; we filled out an application, and made plans to see the unit in a couple days once she contacted the current tenant.

So the waiting began – we decided to do a day hike up Rush Creek out of June Lake. We took the phone with us just in case we got a return call. On the way up the Mammoth cabin landlord called – we made plans to meet him later that afternoon. On the way down we got a call from the June Lake landlord. She said if we could get there before 2 pm we could see the unit. It was 1:00 and we were still a mile and a half from the trailhead. We said we would try – we were literally running down the trail. We were there by 1:45 pm, but the current tenant had already left. We peeked into the window, however, and saw the interior – the unit was less than 10 years old, with double-paned windows, a dishwasher, and forced-air furnace with programmable thermostat. It was perfect.

As it turned out, we had the option of picking any of the three units we applied for – we were the perfect prospective tenants – no pets, non-smokers, and not youngsters in their twenties. Any of the landlords would have loved to rent to us. We opted for the June Lake unit – it was the cheapest, largest, and did not require a year lease (our preference, since we want to travel again next summer and not pay rent, too). We left the area to head to Orange County, where I had some work to do for my former employer, after investing only three days in finding a place to rent. We entered into this search with the fear it could take three weeks.

A week in Southern California is nothing special to blog about. Other than the enjoyment of seeing our good friends at OCWD, dealing with tailgating commuters, traffic, and noise left us wondering how we ever survived down there, and made us even more secure in our retirement decisions. We picked up our Honda, stored for the summer in Hemet, to put in storage in Bishop to simplify our move in October. John and I drove in separate cars north, each listening to our respective music choices at full volume. We camped at Fossil Falls, south of Lone Pine, and enjoyed the solitude and quiet of Owen’s Valley in the morning light (last photo).

Yellowstone Videos

due to technical difficulties, I was unable to upload three videos with my last post about Yellowstone. I have since overcome those difficulties, and the videos are up and available for viewing from the post titled "Return to Yellowstone".

Remember, to view these videos you will need to down load the Adobe Flash Player.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Mom's Final Words


Can you imagine being married for 50 years? This happened to Ali and I on August 31st. Our two “super hikers” invited us to an authentic Wyoming Cowboy BBQ dinner at Moose in the Jackson Hole. Wooden tables and benches were arranged outdoors with the Grand Teton Mountain Range soaring towards the sky as backdrop. There was a huge teepee erected on the grounds and beside it an old pioneer wagon decorated with colorful flowers. We enjoyed the atmosphere and pigged out accordingly.

The celebration occurred a few days ahead due to another planned hike the next day. Our help was needed to shuffle the hikers to their trailhead starting below the Teton Pass. We two oldies strapped on the backpacks for a try and with wobbly knees took a few steps. We decided this was definitely not our cup of tea. We practiced saying "good bye" right there not knowing whether Doris and John would find the time to stay with us after conquering those spectacular peaks. They have to be back in California at a set date.

Dad and I found the ideal campsite on a lake in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and we decided to stay here over the Labor Day weekend. Late afternoon on Friday, August 31st, a red Toyota backed into our site and the joyous shouts of our voices greeted them: "The kids are here! The kids are here!" We received their congratulations - an embrace and kiss - due to us on this special day. We all agreed -- we have had a wonderful summer. One of the best for Dad and me, with lots of good memories to stuff into our almost overflowing memory bag.

Who would like to accept some advice on a good marriage? From the pinnacle of age and wisdom I dispense my recipe gladly:

"Have a strong mutual interest together and if there is a behavior by your spouse that irritates you, swallow in silence because it's always is a two-way street!”

It has been a great pleasure for me to talk to all you people floating out there in cyberspace.

Thanks for listening! Bye, bye from Mom Brukner

Posted using wi-fi provided by Mammoth Lakes Public Library, California

Teton Backside




Yellowstone National Park shares its southern boundary with Grand Teton National Park. Despite their close geographic proximity, the landscape could not be any different. Where Yellowstone is relatively flat with thermal features, Grand Teton is all about mountains. Rising to the west from the valley floor of Jackson Hole, the peaks stand like an impenetrable wall. Only the most skilled mountaineers can stand on the tops of the peaks, the most prominent being Mt. Moran (12,605') and the Grand Teton (13,370'). Most visitors choose to gaze at them in the morning light from the valley floor. For us, however, we had been anticipating all summer to do a multi-day hike along the Teton Crest Trail, which traverses 40 miles along the backside of the peaks.

The trail goes in a linear north-south direction. This required some logistical support from Mom and Dad. We would leave our truck at the northern trailhead, which would be our exit point. We would then load all four of us and our backpacks in Mom and Dad’s van, and drive south through Jackson and up Teton Pass to the southern trailhead. Dad was a bit hesitant about this scheme – besides the illegality of two unsecured passengers in the back, it required getting up before the sun to get an early start. We bribed them by going to dinner at Dornan’s Chuckwagon BBQ in Moose, Wyoming the night before. We ate outdoors on picnic tables with the enormity of the Tetons as a backdrop. Food was served from dutch ovens over hot coals – mashed red potatoes, beans, carrots, biscuits, and stew. All washed down with a cold draft beer. Another motive of this feast was to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary on August 31.

Thunderstorms overnight soaked our tent, so the plans for an early start was somewhat thwarted. We spent an hour spreading wet nylon on the ground to dry in the parking lot as we readied our packs. We then piled in the van, and made the drive to the other trailhead. Teton Pass has grades of 10 percent in places, and the van labored slowly with the added weight of passengers and gear. We said our good-byes to my parents, and started hiking by 10:30 am.

The Teton Crest Trail follows the tilted sedimentary beds uplifted during the mountain building of the range. When you view the Tetons from the valley floor to the east you see only the granitic rocks underneath. We were on the gentler western slope, and the trail followed “benches” of the more resistant sedimentary layers. Much of the trail was at about 9,000 feet elevation, so the wildflowers were still plentiful and the meadows lush. The top photo is from the morning of our second day, looking down on Marion Lake with cliffs of limestone in the background.

Days 2 and 3 were long ones, 14 and 12 miles respectively. We crossed several passes, two of significance. The first was Hurricane Pass at the end of Day 2 – the view looking northeast from this pass is shown in the second photo. From here the backside of the trio of peaks – the Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton – are in full view. The glacier at this pass has also receded significantly – note the turquoise lake in the foreground, and the moraines left behind by the melting ice.

The second pass on Day 3 was Paintbrush Divide, the view from which is shown in the third photo. The wind was howling when we were there – gusts of probably 50 miles per hour exacerbated by a high-profile backpack kept me from walking a straight line. It was difficult to hold the camera still, but fortunately the pictures came out in focus. From this pass we could see Mt Moran, the massive peak on the left of the photo.

Our last day was just less than 5 miles, so we were out before noon. We were able to shower, do laundry, and check our email before reuniting with Mom and Dad for our final night of camping together. Mom and Dad will be taking a much more leisurely pace home. We have to break out of the “not-more-than-60-miles-per-day” philosophy we have lived all summer and drive south to look for winter housing in Mammoth and other commitments in Southern California. Our last night together was cold – it dropped to the high 20’s. Fall comes early in the north, so I suspect Mom and Dad will be accelerating to warmer latitudes soon, too.

Posted using wi-fi provided by Mammoth Lakes Public Library, California

Return to Yellowstone





If Yellowstone is not the most visited National Park in the United States, then it is near the top. We now understand why – it is a truly unique place. The sites in the park are dispersed enough to spread the visitors around, and the most popular sites, like Old Faithful, are well laid out for crowd management. It is a playground for geologists. Not only does it have steaming vents, mud pots, and geysers, it has rivers with waterfalls carving through the multi-hued volcanic rocks of an ancient caldera. We had seven days to explore the park, and managed to see most of easily accessible thermal features.

Rather than describe what we saw, I will instead share a few of our favorite images and movies. If you have not been there – GO! It is like no place else on Earth.

The photos, from top to bottom, are described below:
  • Top – Terraces in the Mammoth Hot Springs area,
  • Second -- Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River from Inspiration Point,
  • Third – Steam at the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Middle Geyser Basin,
  • Fourth – Elk grazing with Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin in the background.

And here are a few 30-second videos, too

Posted using wi-fi provided by Mammoth Lakes Public Library, California

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beartooth Diversion





One of the hikers we shared a campsite with in Glacier was a local from Bozeman. He recommended that, if we had time, that we make a trip to the Beartooth Mountains. We had the time, and from his descriptions it sparked our adventurous curiosity. We left Mom and Dad, who would continue exploring Yellowstone at a senior citizen pace, with plans to reunite a week later.

The Beartooth Mountains lie to the north of Yellowstone in Southern Montana. These mountains were formed from uplift during the Rocky Mountain orogeny. During the Pleistocene, glaciers scraped off the sedimentary rocks on top of the Precambrian granitic basement. Additional alpine glaciation carved cirques, valleys, horns and rock basins. Distinctive features of the area are the high plateau-type benches and steep rugged valleys, covered with hundreds of alpine lakes. The highest peak in Montana, Granite Peak (12,799’), is contained within this range.

Our first venture into the range was a 3-day backpack trip. The morning after our first night out we climbed out of the canopy of the forest to a ridge where we could see the lay of the land. The top photo is our view looking north from this high point towards the carved peaks and valleys. The second photo is a view of one of the many lakes we passed as we hiked.

After our hike, we drove the scenic Beartooth Highway. Built in 1936, it is another engineering marvel. It crosses Beartooth Pass at an elevation of 10,947’. At the pass is tundra vegetation, and spectacular views of the ranges. To our surprise there was a ski lift accessing one of the cirques. There appeared to be no base facilities, or even a road going to the bottom of the chair. We learned later that the lift does run from when the road reopens in April until July. There was nothing like a lodge at the top either – just a gravel turnout in the road. I can only imagine Montana at almost 11,000 feet during a late spring snowstorm – it was chilly enough up there in August!

We camped just outside Red Lodge, Montana in Rock Creek Canyon. Our goal was to do a day hike up Mount Rearguard (12,204’), via a trailhead accessed by a very rocky and steep former mining road. We started at the wilderness boundary, and hiked 2,500’ up to the summit. There was some question in our minds as to the actual summit location, since the top of the mountain was one of those broad plateau features. At on promontory we found an empty frosting container with a pad of paper. Inside were just a couple of entries – the register was placed at the beginning of August by a group lead by a gentleman just short of 76 years old. We judged that the actual peak was a bit to the north, so we hopped boulders to that point. The third photo is me on one of the boulders we assumed was the high point, but on closer examination of the topo map we verified the high point was at the register. Oh well, what is five or six feet. The fourth photo is the view to the east at Beartooth Mountain and Beartooth Spire, from which the mountain range derives its name.

A rest day in Red Lodge for laundry, a much-needed shower, groceries, internet, and sampling of the local microbrew completed our tour of this jewel of a mountain range.

Posted using wi-fi access from Cody Public Library, Wyoming.

Megafauna – The Yellowstone Chapter





We headed south from Glacier, stopping again in Missoula at the world’s greatest natural food store. Taking our time, we followed a dirt road along Rock Creek Canyon to Philipsburg, following the trace of one of Montana’s blue-ribbon trout streams. Laying over a day, we hiked up Mt. Tiny (9,848’) on the fringe of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, vowing to come back again when we have time to go deeper.

Our next major destination was Yellowstone National Park. We entered from the north, driving through from Bozeman to Livingston then south through Paradise Valley. We drove along the Yellowstone River with thunderstorms building all around us, and picturesque ranches on either side – quite beautiful. The month of January sees the migration of 10,000 elk north along this route – a sight undoubtedly different than the thousands of Harleys and motor homes that go the opposite direction in the summer.

We spent a couple of days in the campground at Mammoth Hot Springs. Here the flowing hot springs have formed terraces of many colors. We spent one day hiking to Sepulcher Mountain for views and to escape from the tourists. The only domesticated animals we saw were a family of five at the summit. We were treated, however, with another mountain goat sighting (top photo) – he is the white dot seemingly stuck on a vertical rock wall. Our hike back followed a meandering creek, and at a narrow spot in a canyon there stood a moose with a full rack, snorting and chewing grasses from the creek bottom (second photo). He was nearly oblivious to us, just periodically turning to check if we were still there. Click here for the video.

We traveled on to the Roosevelt-Tower area. After one night there, we separated from my parents to travel north to the Beartooth Mountains (see next post). We left early to hike to the top of Washburn Mountain to visit yet another lookout. On the way we saw a group of 13 bighorn sheep from a distance in a meadow just below the summit. We met another hiker at the top who hiked in from the other direction. He saw the group, too, but from a much greater distance. As he snapped pictures with his particularly long telephoto lens, he commented how lucky we were to get so close. He would have been even more envious had he known we would encounter the group again on our descent, this time right on the road in our path. They were more interested in grazing and lounging than getting out of our way (third photo). Click here for the video.

We exited the Park at the Northeast Entrance. Here the Soda Butte Creek flows through landscape very much as the early explorers would have seen. Despite the many developed sites within the Park, it was here that we fully appreciated the preservation that national park status provides. Bison roam this area (fourth photo), and we once again were treated to a close range view of large animals. Click here for the video.

We have yet to see a grizzly bear, but we are still looking.

Posted using wi-fi access from Cody Public Library, Wyoming.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Under-Advertised Geology

Photo courtesy of Ali Brukner (a.k.a. Dad).
When you cross over Marias Pass on Highway 2 between East Glacier and Columbia Falls, Montana, you pass by a most significant geologic feature. If you stop at the roadside rest and read the placards there, you would not be any more enlightened. At this stop there is a 60-foot tall obelisk of granite commemorating the completion of the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway at this pass in 1930. However, if you gaze to the north at the cliffs marking the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, you will see the trace of the Lewis Overthrust. Here Precambrian rocks (one billion years old) have been pushed up over much younger Cretaceous (70 million years old) rocks. The light colored band rising slightly to the right marks the fault surface.

We only were aware of this from my casual research at the libraries we visit for internet access. We camped two nights at the Summit Campground right next to the roadside stop, railroad, and highway. It was a lovely spot, but it required cessation of conversation when trains passed by. Earplugs were necessary for restful sleep. But it was worth the chance to stay in the shadow of such a geologic splendor.

Posted using wi-fi access from Missoula Public Library, Montana.

This is what Mom has to say…


Note: This is a guest blog by my mother, Ilse Brukner. She is my inspiration -- she composes stories and poems in English, her second language after German.

I think it is about time that Mom makes a contribution to her daughter’s blog .

For 2 months we are on the road together and our time in Glacier National Park will mark the halfway point of this summer’s travels. We crossed Nevada, conquered Idaho and now we are exploring Montana and -- oh wonder! -- we are still on talking terms and love each other.

We developed a good travel system and are always on the lookout for a secluded campsite. Mostly we pull into National Forest campgrounds to have the benefit of the Golden Age Pass for seniors, which cuts our camping costs in half; though any US Government facility has the same advantage and a chance of us being there. Also, the National Forests offer dispersed camping which is our preferred type. There is solitude and where else can you see a moose walking by slowly? Looking for those sites is a challenge and it takes time to explore the side roads which are always dirt roads, mostly former logging roads. With 40 years of camping experience behind us, of which 20 years were spent in a jeep pulling a military trailer converted into a tent trailer by my husband Ali, we are only too happy to pass on our knowledge to the next generation anytime.

Now our rolling home is a van - also converted by Ali - which offers refuge to all of us on rainy days and cold evenings. Occasionally we even watch a movie on the laptop– the “Pink Panther” and all its sequels – cozily pressed together in limited space. Doris’ and John’s tent pops up like a bright yellow mushroom beside us.

The ideal campsite is to be close to some mountain peaks the higher the better, for “the kids” to climb while we oldies - now around eighty - stay behind, preferably on a river or lake, guarding the camp.

While our youngsters storm the peaks, we are contend to be the support team and our time is filled with an extended morning walk of about 1 ½ hours preferably uphill at the beginning to massage the hearts. Ali, an accomplished photographer, with his camera around his neck, will always find something to be immortalized. His second hobby is watercolor painting of spectacular landscapes which are more difficult to find. My time is spent with hand quilting and embroidery and both of us are avid readers.

There are nights when two camp stoves are going full blast, and others when we invite each other over for dinner. The young ones are vegetarians while Ali and I are careful carnivores. We both have good sized camping refrigerators powered by the sun and our computers are energized by solar, too, and so are the lights in the van.

Since we never know what’s around the corner and where we will rest our tired bodies for the night, we remind each other to have the gas tank filled in town and the water cans filled at every opportunity. Camping on a river or lake gives us the chance for an additional water source to do dishes and for body culture. Food we carry enough to last us for quite awhile. These three things are paramount with off-road camping.

We appreciate the north with its running rivers. There is water everywhere, an astonishing thing for us thirsty desert rats from Southern California.

Did I give you a picture of our present life? If so, I am gratified and this blog has fulfilled its purpose.

Posted using wi-fi access from Missoula Public Library, Montana.

Glacier Journeys – Part 3





Our last four days in Glacier National Park were centered around Two Medicine Lakes in the southeastern portion of the park. A bit less dramatic, a bit drier, but still rich in wildlife and glacier-carved landscapes.

On our way to the lakes, we drove through the town of Browning. Located within the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, it had the typical drabness and rundown feeling of a reservation. The grocery store, however, was well stocked in produce, and we loaded up after more than a week of dehydrated and canned foods. We had quite the variety of fruits and vegetables, causing the man in line behind us to ask, “Are you guys vegetarians or something?”

John and I headed to Chief Lodgepole Peak via Cobalt Lake for a day hike. It was over 15 miles roundtrip, so we again got an early start. The top photo shows John gazing from the peak. We were rewarded by being the first on top, and on our descent we came across a group of mountain sheep, which included a mother and her kid (second photo). Click here to see a video of them in action.

We followed that day hike with an overnight backpack trip. We made a loop trip around Rising Wolf Mountain, camping one night at No Name Lake. The third photo shows reflections of the early morning light on Two Medicine Lake looking up towards the canyon we were to ascend. It was a short day in, and we were at camp by noon. We spent the afternoon lolling on the lakeshore reading magazines and solving crossword puzzles. The next morning we completed a total of four passes, the named ones being Dawson Pass and Pitamakin Pass. This trail followed the grain of the sedimentary layers along the ridge on the backside between passes, as shown in the fourth photo.

We ended our Glacier journey with a rest day in camp. All summer we told people our goal was Glacier National Park, but we tend to live by the edict that it is the journey, not the destination, that makes the trip worthwhile. Glacier was more than I ever expected, and even if it was a destination, our time there was a journey in itself.

Posted using wi-fi access from Missoula Public Library, Montana.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Glacier Journeys -- Part 2




You would think after seven days and 60 miles of hiking, we would have enough. But we decided on a day hike from the Many Glacier Campground to Grinnell Glacier to see a glacier up close.

We were on the trail by 7 am – this part of the park has a high concentration of visitors and we wanted to beat the rush. Many stay at the Swiftcurrent Hotel, a Swiss chalet-style lodge built early in the 20th century by the railroads. It sits on the edge of the lake with the enormity of the glacial landscape in front of it. Hikers can take a shuttle boat to bypass a couple of miles, but it only diminishes the horizontal miles, not the uphill miles. We opted for the full mileage, about 13 miles roundtrip with 1,700 feet elevation gain. With an early start we could get ahead of the first shuttle boat.

The top photo of the day shows the view from the trail as it approaches the hanging cirque where Grinnell Glacier is nestled. The feature was named after George Bird Grinnell, who was one of the leaders who helped achieve national park status for the area. The glacier itself is not visible, but the silver thread of water emanating from the glacier can be seen on the rocky slope. We were the second to reach the top, after a group of very fit French-Canadians passed us on the way up.

The second photo is of the glacier itself. What exists today is more like a lake with ice floes. It is very different from pictures we saw in the lodge from a century ago when glacial ice filled the entire basin where the lake is today. On the right of the photo is glacial till left as a moraine from the receding ice. If we return in a decade we can expect to see no ice at all. Who can deny that global warming is happening?

We proceeded down, passing the multitudes of day hikers. Many were inexperienced, without hat or water, who would breathlessly ask us how far the glacier was. We passed a ranger-led group of about 30, all bunched up, barely a foot apart, as they moved like a Slinky up the slope. Apparently these groups bring their own medic, since one participant tripped and skinned her arm and leg. We were going to offer a bandage from our minimalist first-aid kit, but they were well taken care of by a guy in camouflage pants and a Marine t-shirt. He was stoic and all business, dispensing care from a kit with more supplies than we carry in our ski patrol vests.

We were glad for our early start, which allowed us to see the landscape in the morning light in relative solitude. The views were nearly as beautiful as anything we saw on our loop hike – this would be on our list of must-do hikes if you ever visit Glacier National Park.

Posted using wi-fi access from Columbia Falls Public Library, Montana.

Glacier Journeys -- Part 1



A couple of days before our arrival at Glacier National Park, Dad started to get grumpy and withdrawn. It took a really good joke to coax a laugh out of him. The rest of us were quite buoyant in our anticipation of reaching the northernmost destination of our journey. John and I had a multi-day backpack planned, and Mom wanted to see the sculpted glacier landscape. We realized that Dad was dreading the traffic and humanity that is part of the National Park experience. On the day of entry, the cars were all lined up at the entrance station, families were taking photos at the entrance sign, and the motor homes and travel trailers (Dad calls them “incubators”) were jockeying for position in front of the gift stores. Dad could only converse in grunts from the depths of his curmudgeonly mood.

John and I went to the backcountry ranger station to obtain permits for the backpacking loop trip we had planned. Most people make their reservations months in advance, but since we did not know when we would arrive, we decided to wing it – we could wait a couple days if needed. All overnight backcountry hikers in Glacier are required to camp at designated sites along the trail, and the number of people allowed at these sites is limited. We worked through our itinerary with the rangers, and with luck on our side, were able to get a place at each of the sites along the route we wanted. The rangers were amazed – they said this rarely happens. We were instructed to view a video about backcountry travel, including how to judge if a grizzly bear is about to attack you (bobbing head, raised hair on back), and what to do if one does (don’t run). We bought pepper spray as an additional measure of safety, just in case.

We were to leave the next day from Many Glacier trailhead, which was on the east side of the park, 50 miles along the Going to the Sun Road. Mom and Dad decided to forgo the drive and get into the first campground before it filled up. We parted ways, to reunite in a week. We felt a bit sorry for Mom, who had to mediate Dad’s happiness, but she gave us a wink that it would be ok.

We headed out on our seven day trek the next day. The first day was primarily in the dense trees of the forest. The heat wave that gripped the West was still in affect, so we were quite sweaty on arrival to camp. Each of the designated campsites had tents spots, and all cooking was to be done in a central area to prevent food odors from contaminating the tent sites. There were either poles or suspended cables to hang food bags at night away from the bears, or metal storage lockers. Pit toilets were also available – some more protected than others. The ones with a wooden enclosure had a crescent moon carved in the door. The open-air variety had just a wood box with a hole in it and a lid, leaving you to ponder the sunrise while doing your business. It was a rather social experience at each campsite, since we cooked with our neighbors. We met folks from St. Louis to Atlanta to locals from Montana. It was much like staying in a hostel.

The landscape over the seven days of our hike was spectacular. The concentration of glacial features was more than we had ever witnessed anywhere. Water was everywhere – from glacial lakes to falls that poured from the hillsides. The metasedimentary rocks lay in horizontal beads, with cliff forming layers, multi-colored in reds and greens. Ripple marks and mud cracks were exposed underfoot along the trail. The loop we traveled crossed passes with names like Red Gap and Stoney Indian. On our second to last day we traveled across a section called the Highline Trail, which had a couple of side trips to overlooks. The top photo of the day is from the Sue Lake Overlook. The second is from Ahern Pass looking towards Helen Lake and Elizabeth Lake, where we had camped just a few days before -- click here for a video. The forest is much lusher than our local mountains, and we picked huckleberries for our morning cereal as we hiked. We watched a herd of 11 mountain goats one evening traversing the cliffs above our campsite. We completed our loop convinced that the best way to see this park is by hiking the backcountry, and we had picked a route through the best of it.

We thought often about Mom and Dad, and whether they were having a good time. We hoped they would be at the trailhead when we came out, and had not bolted from the crowds. We found them in the campground, happy and content. They had worked their way through four different campgrounds in the park, took a boat ride across St. Mary’s Lake, hiked many trails, and were as enraptured with the landscape as we were. A forest fire had closed the Going to the Sun Road, which seemed to diminish the crowds on the east side of the park. We were grimy and hungry, so we bought a shower and we celebrated our reunion at the restaurant adjacent to the campground. The pizza was mediocre, but it tasted good to us with our bottomless appetite after seven days of trail food. The Fat Tire Ale on tap wasn’t bad either.

We continued our journeys through the park, which are chronicled in the following couple of blog posts.

Posted using wi-fi accessfrom Columbia Falls Public Library, Montana.

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