Tetons and Yellowstone Part II

I forgot these photos on the last post…I entered Yellowstone, and got welcomed with sunshine bursting through the trees at a waterfall.

I woke up at 6am to drive over to old faithful before the crowds came. Lucky for me a bison without a care in the world was hanging out right in front of it, and I got to see it erupt after waiting only 10 minutes! I went to the next geysers, sapphire pool. I explored a bit, but at this point, it was 10am and getting swamped with tourists everywhere. This is when I go back to camp and relax until 5, where I head back out for sunset

I head over to the yellowstone falls - “the grand canyon of the north” beautiful, and worth the hike around there.

the next morning I used some tips that people told me there was a grizzly bear in Heyden Valley. So I head out there first thing, and find the spot. It was all socked in with fog. after waiting 1.5hours (mid 30F) for the fog to clear, there was no bear :(. I did see a coyote out hunting though

that night I got treated to another excellent sunset. Also checked out the mud volcano. crazy stuff

the next day I took the drive up to Lamar Valley - “the serengetti of the united states”. I hung around a couple hours as there was a carcass nearby. I ended up saw Wolves in the distance (the black dogs), tons of bison, pronghorn, and more. with the wildfires going on, and I was treated to a sky on fire.

the next morning I headed east of the Lake Yellowstone for a little hike. Saw that marmot, squirrel, sunrise, elk all that morning. the views were beautiful over there, naturally too

later that day, I experienced some thunderstorms that left the coolest orange color in the sky. The sun burst through the clouds afterwards and flooded the valley with sunlight.

that night, i went back to that carcass, and finally saw a grizzly bear! First one I’ve seen in the wild!

 My first grizzly bear in the wild!

My first grizzly bear in the wild!

So every night, there was a big bison or elk that came to my tent and would eat the grass around. once I figured out it wasn’t anything to be worried about, II was able to (barely) get some sleep. The last night I was there, my neighbor asked if he could leave his stove in the car. I said yes, no problem (in yosemite the bears rip off doors). So I went to bed, noticing the stove was still out, but he was still awake. Figuring he would put it away, I went to bed.

About 3 in the morning I was awakened by all sorts of critters wanting to taste the stove drippings. Sounded like some crows, squirrels, etc. after listening to them for 15-30 minutes, something spooked them all and everything scurried away. I then hear footsteps past my tent, followed by snorting and deep grunts. I tried to grab my bear spray without making noise, but of course my sleeping pad makes a crunchy sound, and my sleeping bag swooshed. The bear was more interested in the stove, thankfully.

Exhausted, I get up and adventure on my final day:

 Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

headed over to Grand Prismatic - one of the coolest stops in the park IMO

more beauty at grand prismatic:

As I’m leaving, I stop for some bison crossing the road, and 15 minutes later, I’m on my way. As I’m leaving, no lie there was thousands of cars held up from the bison. the line of cars was easily 2-3 miles, and probably 3+ hour wait! Allow plenty of time to get around the park.

I got into West Yellowstone, and stopped at the Bear and wolf discovery center. You get to see and learn about the animals here

additionally, they had some birds of pray there as well.

then I made the 14 hour drive home. I made it to twin falls, ID, which was about 6 hours away. including the drive out of the park, I was already at my 8 hour limit and starting to get fatigued. Twin Falls was a beautiful town surrounded by boring farmland. I’m glad I discovered it

The rest of the drive was a boring, uneventful 8 hour drive back.

Thanks for following along! cheers.

Tetons and Yellowstone Part 1

I started my trip off by leaving early on Friday August 31st to get a head start on my drive. It is a 12 hour drive from Portland to Tetons, and My limit is about 8 hours of driving in a day. I got to Dead Man’s Pass in Eastern Oregon (~4.5 hours away) at about 9:45pm. The Stars and Milky Way were already incredible! I pulled over on a feeder road and star gazed for about a half hour. (first milky way shot). I stayed at the rest stop there, which was the first time ever staying overnight at a rest stop. It went well, except I was a little cramped, as my folded seats were not tall enough to stretch out enough, when laid flat.

The rest of the drive to the Tetons was uneventful. Woke up at 6am and headed out, for a great sunrise over the mountains! I was going to find a campsite outside of the Tetons that Saturday night, but I called one of the campgrounds in the park, and they said they had 30 sites still available, but quickly filling, as the other campgrounds were full and sending people there. I was an hour away and booked it over. When I got to the CG, they were full, and sent me 10 miles up the road to another CG (last few miles were potholed and terrible). The people I was following took the last site at that CG, and I was getting ready to find a place to crash in my car again. Luckily the host stopped me and let me (and a few others) stay in the day use area for the night!

My camp neighbors invited me over to their bonfire, and we talked for a while. It was a father and son that were driving from Austin, TX, and on the road for over a month. They were in the Olympics, Yellowstone, Banff, etc!

tetons at sunset (below)

tetons at sunrise

Two Oceans Lake and Oxford Bend

Sunrise at Tetons - It dropped to 30F at night!

I did a hike around Jenny Lake

As soon as I got into YS, I saw tons of Bison. The viewings continued (Part 2)

Umpqua lighthouse trip 8/3/18

Went on another camping trip down to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, on the Oregon Coast. we started off stopping at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. The Owls were exquisite:

All of the raptors here have been brought from all over the states for rehab. The birds that can't be reintroduced into the wild for various reasons, end up as residents here. Birds of prey are my favorite, so I had a blast here, naturally.

who knew turkey vulture feathers were irridescent??

we made it to our campsite at the state park, and set up camp. We did a walk around the lake that was connected to our campground, and headed out to the lighthouse for sunset. 

once it got dark, we were treated to an awesome light show from the lighthouse, and then dazzling stars

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We headed down to Coos Bay. Nice and sunny! It was low 70s on the coast on Friday, but Saturday was a little cooler, in the 60s. 

then it all turned to fog

with all the dunes in this part of the coast, brings in all the ATVs.

some weirdness on the coast...with full overcast there was no sunset or stars :(

It's Sunday. so we mosey our way up the 101. We stopped at Haceta Head Lighthouse, which was another cool, old lighthouse. Being near the sea lion caves, there were a bunch of sealions swimming around.

Some more from this park. Beautiful views everywhere!

Next up is actually probably my favorite spot on the coast! Cape Perpetua/Thors Well near Yachats, OR. the ocean is so dramatic here, and you really fee the power of the ocean here.

waves splashing out of the well

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Cape Foulweather: known for its amazing whale watching - we saw some distant ones!

That's all for now!

Eastern Washington trip 4/20/18 - 4/22/18

With my 20's rearing it's head, I needed one final trip before i turned 30! I was considering going to Mt Rainier, but some of the parts are still not open yet. It's been really rainy in Portland so I wanted some sun. Hmmm... go to Wallowas? Nope, still too snowy. What about Eastern WA?? There's so much uncharted territory for me out there. My friend Savannah's boyfriend lives on the Idaho border in Pullman, so I decided to head out that way to see Palouse Falls, and some other things in the area. Join my adventure to see the weird side of Washington.

We left late on Friday and headed to Boardman, OR. We stopped at a really good thai place in The Dalles, of all places.Montira's was the name of it. I recommend it! 

 

Our first stop was to get up for sunrise and head over to Umatilla WIldlife refuge. Savannah and I saw some ospreys, and some other wildlife, and a pack of (Mule?) deer with huge ears there. 

We met up with Savannah's boyfriend. and we took the long, boring drive through Tri-cities to twin sisters rock. Kinda cool little pitstop.

#thatnwbus - I've always wanted to go, but it's just been to far! This bus is kind of on the way to Palouse falls, and has been a graffiti icon, that constantly changes.

Next up was the main event: Palouse Falls!

Unfortuanately 3 people in their 20s were swimming down at the bottom and all got sucked into the current of the falls. 2 of them surfaced, but a 23 year old from Spokane never surfaced. They are still waiting for the body to surface, but it's too dangerous to send the dive team down. It's been one week, and the park is still closed. The body has yet to be found :( http://keprtv.com/news/local/richland-witness-shares-account-of-possible-drowning-at-palouse-falls

look at all the water flowing! some sparrows were flying around nearby

 I think this is the Wallowas in the distance!

I think this is the Wallowas in the distance!

 Palouse Falls at sunset. We were allowed to walk around on top, but obviously no to the bottom, as that would interfere with rescuers.

Palouse Falls at sunset. We were allowed to walk around on top, but obviously no to the bottom, as that would interfere with rescuers.

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 our weird motel in Connell, WA. A bored cop creeped past me three times while I was out night shooting 

our weird motel in Connell, WA. A bored cop creeped past me three times while I was out night shooting 

Next we headed up to Moses Lake. We were going to check out the dunes, but they were mainly dirtbike/atv riders. We went to potholes state park, but were a bit underwhelmed. Luckily it was earth day and all of the parks were free!

we left Moses lake and were driving through Hood River at sunset, so we stopped at Panarama Point for some pics. 

Final Days - Arthur's Pass, Oamaru, and Akaroa

I headed east after leaving Westport via Arthur's Pass. This pass was one of my favorites of the trip, and definitely not one to miss! 

Just look how jaw-droppingly moody and beautiful this is!

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I got tons of recomendations to do Devil's punchbowl falls. It sure was a thighburner getting up there though! I think the ranger said there was 212 stairs? it was 250 ft elevation gain in only 1.4 miles, but seemed like a lot more :D

Back in the town of Arthur's Pass, I ran into a couple of Kea! These mischievous parrots will steal your food, wallets, whatever for laughs. These smart, cheeky birds have been caught on camera moving traffic cones to redirect traffic in Milfords Pass! NZ have since setup roadside jungle gyms to keep them distracted/occupied.

I ended up camping just east of town, and the weather changed very fast. In the mountains, it was 40ish degrees, and socked in. At campground, it was about 60degrees and sunny! The drive was about 5 minutes. 

The next day I dropped a pin on a hike that looked like it would be pretty cool, and I was not wrong! It took me into the mountains right away, and I was literally the only one around for miles. I literally live for these types of secluded hikes. It followed upstream and the sun even popped out for a few minutes and a (faint) rainbow appeared!

The Hike was Otira Velley Track

Views up and down the alpine valley are framed by jagged peaks and enchanting cascades. The hike up Otira Valley Track is 3.8 kilometers round trip with 125 meters of elevation change (or 2.35 miles round trip with 410 feet of elevation change)

The next day I made the decision to drive from Arthur's Pass to Oamaru, to get my last chance to see a penguin. It was a 5.5 hour trip, so I stopped a few times along the way. The first was Cave Stream Scenic Reserve. Just a quick jaunt around and then back on the road. I then stopped in a small town of Geraldine and was starting to get hangry. I ordered a hamburger and fries at a local cafe (Country cafe) and Idk if I was just really hungry, but it had to be one of the best burgers I've ever had! It came on a gluten free bun (I'm intolerant) with 2 patties, a fried egg, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. I finished it before i remembered to take a photo :D

 Springfield, NZ - Simpsons themed town. A girl stuck her head in the hole and photobombed me before i was ready to take it haha. 

Springfield, NZ - Simpsons themed town. A girl stuck her head in the hole and photobombed me before i was ready to take it haha. 

When I arrived in Oamaru, I was pleasantly surprised at not only the architecture, but the steampunk installations all over town! This was a quirkly, cool town that I had no idea was this cool. Came for the penguins, stayed for the art.

I checked into my airbnb and went exploring.

The blue penguin watch sounded super touristy-sit in bleachers and watch them come up. I understand that they use the proceeds to benefit the penguins, but they wouldn't allow photography. Hat-tip to Nathan, my airbnb host for helping me find a penguin in the wild!

 put your flippers in the air if you've seen a penguin in the wild!

put your flippers in the air if you've seen a penguin in the wild!

I was sitting on this beach motionless for about 45 minutes, hoping that they would come. As it was just about dark (9:45pm) this guy popped up! I had to do a double take, as it blended in so well 

The next day I drove up to Akaroa to swim with dolphins! It was pretty cold and drizzly, as there was a big storm that hit the west coast.The town of Hokitika where I was 2 days prior was under feet of water!

These dolphins were completely wild. what's especially special about them, is that they are the worlds smallest at 3 feet long, and also the rarest! Those of you who know me, know I hate going in the water, but this was totally worth it. 

I mosied my way back to Christchurch for my final days in NZ. I started out exploring the gardens:

This curious little fantail was chillin with me for like 15 minutes! These images were not cropped, and I didn't even need my Telephoto!

I went downtown Christchurch for some streetart and to see the 185 white chairs. Each chair represents each person that lost their lives in the earthquakes in 2010.

I stopped at willowbank wildlife preserve to see some kiwi, etc, but I was really cutting it close to my flight, so I took some pictures from the parking lot, and headed out to fly out

That concludes my NZ trip. I hope you guys enjoyed the adventure, and hope you can visit some of this beautiful country! If you would like prints of anything you see, please let me know! Anything you see here can be printed in sizes like 8x10, 16x20, 11x14, etc, and will not have a watermark on it.

Cheers!

Kevin 

day 31-34 West coast part 2

I left Haast to check out the glaciers (fox and Franz). Fox ( below) was a little underwhelming. This was also receding, and you couldn't get anywhere near it without a tour. It seemed like a tourist trap, so i skipped it. The parking lot to get closer was also full, so I moved onto Fox glacier.

 Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

I opted for a top 10 holiday park to pitch my tent down in Franz Joseph Glacier. Holiday parks give you a shared kitchen, showers, water, nice bathroom, etc. It's nice to have these things when dirtbagging around :). That night I hiked around Lake Matheson at sunset. This was a photographer's playground! unfortunately some rude people staked out the whole platform for 15-20 minutes and wouldn't move.

when the sun dropped, the sky turned all sorts of amazing colors!

I waited till about 10pm to head over to the glowworm dell in Franz Joseph Glacier. These were super hard to capture with how dark it was and how reletively little light they produced.  It was also super eerie walking through this forest surrounded by glow worms. I kept getting chills down my back like a ghost or something was watching me. I B-lined it out of there after that happened!

"Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply glowworm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. Both the larval stage and the imago are luminescent. The species is known to dwell in wet caves, grottoes and sheltered, humid places in forests. Its Māori name is titiwai, meaning "projected over water"."

 

The next day I did the Tatare tunnels hike. It was super hot and humid outside, as it is in a rainforest. (This is one of the only places in the world with a rainforest and glaciers in such close proximity.) Inside the tunnels, it was nice and cool. There was some history behind the tunnels: 

"Pioneer miners drove a 500 metre tunnel system through from the Tatare Gorge to pipe water to the Waiho terrace. While the gold recovered did not cover mining costs, Franz Josef township was established on the operation site. From 1911 the sluice pipes provided water supply for the old Graham Hotel.
The high-pressure water drove a Pelton wheel in the town and generated electricity for a sawmill during the day and lights for the town at night. In 1938 water from the Tatare Tunnels powered a small hydro station in the Tatare Gorge until it was destroyed by a slip in 1982. "
 Franz Joseph

Franz Joseph

Next up I headed out to Hokitika. Hokitika was a small town, but large compared to what I've been seeing the past couple weeks! Cell service was available in towns (Vodafone SIM), but the moment you left town it went down to no service. I took advantage in towns to do all my internet usage, and texting. 

That night, I was treated to another fantastic sunset. Look at those colors!

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 Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

The next day I took a drive out to the Hokitika Gorge. Look at that water color! 

I headed out to Goldsborough Camping Area to grab a campsite. Hokitika is an old gold mining town. They also have a ton of Jade rock here. I picked up a couple of Jade necklaces-one for my sister, one for my mother. Maori Tradition has the gifter wear it for 24 hours. The different designs mean different things  If you would like to know the different meanings, visit https://www.mountainjade.co.nz/about-jade/greenstone-meanings-and-designs/ 

My campground was also a trailhead for some gold panning trails. Below was the tunnel terrace walk.

I hung out on a beach relaxing most of the day and came to this old railroad section for another great sunset.

The next day I headed up to methport, er...westport. It was a boring sleepy town, but I wanted to see the seal colony. I was disappointed that there was only about 10 seals there, and very far away, at that. Nothing like Kaikoura!

A quick stop at pancake rocks:

Seal Colony:

After checking in with my airbnb host, I asked her where to find penguins. She referred me to this spot, cape foulwind (below) I did not catch any penguins, but did get another great sunset!

That's all for now! The next posting will be the final post. I'll be going through the jaw dropping Arthur's Pass, The steampunk town of Oamaru, (where I finally spot a penguin!) and swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

Day 26- 30 Wanaka and West Coast (part 1)

I left my campsite behind to go to a music festival on New Years eve, called Rhythm and Alps. I had a great time and discovered some great new bands! Lots of Australian and European bands played. Got to enjoy the fireworks there as well. They played music till 7am, but I am no longer 21, so I bounced at 1am.

 I didn't have my big boy camera, so here was an uneditted phone photo.

I didn't have my big boy camera, so here was an uneditted phone photo.

After the show, I headed back to my campground for one last night before heading out to Wanaka. The next morning, I stopped by Queenstown Hill to do a bit of that hike, and then made the drive to Wanaka.

 Queenstown Hill hike - I didn't have the energy to do the whole hike, but still was beautiful

Queenstown Hill hike - I didn't have the energy to do the whole hike, but still was beautiful

After exploring Albertstown a bit, I headed down to lake Wanaka for sunset. The sky turned all sorts of lovely colors! This tree was awefully popular, and there was about 30 people around snapping pictures of this tree!

The next day was another beautiful bluebird day. It was really dry and in the upper 70s/low 80s! I did the Mt Iron hike .I really wanted to do the Roy's Peak hike, but wasn't ready to do more than 4 mile hikes. (was 8 miles if i recall). A couple days after this, there were wildfires that broke out on the Roy's Peak hike unfortunately.

That night I hung out around camp in Albertstown. Another Stunning sunset that lit up the mountains in a pink shade (called alpenglow). While walking around, I found a dumped wallet. Everything was taken, except for his countdown card and a credit card. I figured he'd at least want some closure, so I dropped it off at the local bank before I headed out to the west coast. The bankers were thrilled, and I felt good.

The drive around the lake Hawea was both incredibly moody and jaw dropping. Some say it's the most scenic in NZ.

I stopped at the incredibly busy Blue Pools for my first stop in Mt Aspiring National Park. The water really was THAT blue! The water is glacier run off water, so as you can imagine, it was quite frigid. I did not jump in. This place also was very thick with sandflies. They really like the swimmers that come out of the water :O. As refreshing as I'm sure it was, I'm good.

I honestly don't remember the name of this hike. It was ranked as "30 minutes" so I gave it a try, figuring I'd be back in the car 30 minutes later. Well, surprise! it was extremely steep, and pretty much climbing stairs the whole way up. I was dripping in sweat, and heart beating like crazy. Not what I was expecting at all! Good views at the top, but probably not worth it.

Next stop was fantail falls. Check out all the cairns lined up!

I grabbed a campsite in Haast, and headed out to Munro Beach to see if I could find any penguins. The Hike goes through an old growth rainforest, to a secluded beach with nobody except deer, dreaded sandflies, and and