Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Mountains, canyons, and waterfalls -- breathtaking scenery in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Park. The waterfalls in Yellowstone Canyon are the largest and most famous. Also amazing is the serenity of the river in the wide grassy valley before it gets to the canyon. We drove into that valley before turning off towards the canyon.

Here's a photo of the lower falls from Artist's Point, around a mile from the falls. The upper falls are to the right of the upper falls -- you can only see them from a viewpoint facing them at a different parking area.

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After our view of the upper falls, we decided to hike down 328 steps to look up the canyon at the lower falls. The stairway is remarkable, with very long stretches of metal stairs separated by landings with benches for the weary. The top of the stairs is already quite a bit downhill from the parking area.

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Finally, we reached the bottom. The walk back up the stairs and trail was brutal!

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A couple of days later in Grand Teton Park, we took a boat across Jenny Lake and hiked up to a much smaller waterfall called Hidden Falls. The trail goes alongside the rapids below the falls. Note: it's much better to go up first. But you don't always have a choice!

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The falls are very appealing, though the trail is rather crowded. Cool air rushes down with the mountain stream, a relief on a quite warm and somewhat dusty hike. We continued up from the falls for a while -- the chipmunks that liked my feet were at a viewpoint where we overlooked the lake.


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Soon I'll post more pictures, including a photo of the boat on Jenny Lake.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Animals in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park

We've been back for over a week, and I'm ready to document some of the high points of our recent trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Big and small animals in the wild, impressive mountains, and unearthly volcanic landscapes are the major attractions of these parks. While we were not lucky enough to see a moose, we did spot one grizzly bear from a quite far distance. People were talking about spectacular kills of an elk and a buffalo calf by bears and wolves, but we weren't in the right place at the right time. However, we enjoyed seeing quite a few elk, buffalo, and smaller animals.

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The buffalo often cause a traffic jam, sometimes by standing beside the road, sometimes by trying to get across the road in traffic. We also saw a very peaceful buffalo down a hill from the roadside, resting in what appeared to be a patch in the grass that he had worn bare by circling around to get comfortable:

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In Grand Teton Park, we saw this huge herd of buffalo -- we saw a similar herd in Yellowstone also.

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Len took this beautiful picture of an elk near one of the big hot springs areas in Yellowstone.

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I took a picture of Len photographing the elk.

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At dusk, we saw several elk grazing around the hot springs at the south end of Yellowstone Lake.

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We caught sight of a coyote, running through the woods not far from Yellowstone's Grand Canyon.

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Near Steamboat Geyser, we saw a bunny nibbling on grass.

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And of course the chipmunks scurried all around me while I was sitting on a rock near Jenny Lake in the Tetons.
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Addendum: We also saw marmots capering on the columnar basal formations in Yellowstone, beavers swimming and even giving a tail-splash in an oxbow lake in the Tetons, and a sleek reddish otter beside a stream near Jenny Lake.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chipmunk kisses my feet

feet4457 Chipmunks explored my feet while I rested on a rock just above Hidden Falls at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park. We have just returned to Ann Arbor after 8 days making our way from Santa Barbara via Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I'll now do a series of blog posts about our trip.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Santa Barbara Scenery


We're getting ready to leave Santa Barbara and drive home, so I've taken pictures of a few of the scenes that I enjoyed during my stay, and picked a few to illustrate how beautiful this place is.

Near my yoga studio is Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens (which I think of as Park Park). In one city block, inventive landscape designers have created a number of tiny climate regions -- wetlands, collections of dry-climate plants, flowering trees, ground covers, and a duck pond, shown above.


I like the tiny artificial streams that criss cross the park and flow down its slightly sloping grounds. Children often play near the duck pond. They seem to love to feed the ducks, the few white geese, and the turtles that live in the pond. I imagine that they think the park is much larger than it really is.


Arroyo Burro beach is around 10 minutes from our temporary apartment. Above, the beach on the sunniest and warmest day we enjoyed, which was earlier this week. The little girl with the parasol kept twirling it, holding it over her companion, and otherwise playing with it.


The day after sunshine -- heavy fog. The ocean is barely visible behind these beachgoers at Goleta Beach near the UCSB campus. The Goleta Pier almost disappeared into the fog.


Finally, for the first time this morning, I walked on the headland above Arroyo Burro Beach. It's called the Douglas Preserve. A friend showed me how to get there, as I had never figured it out in all our visits to Santa Barbara. We walked around with her little dog Willie. The sunny beach in the prior photo is at the left.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

El Capitan and Refugio Beach

We had a delightful picnic at Refugio State Beach, about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Above, the view from the picnic table, looking across a little slough towards the beach and the ocean.

Our friend Eshel went with us. Below: Eshel and I walking on the nearby El Capitan Beach;

After our afternoon meal, we walked on the beach and up the headland, all breathtakingly beautiful:

The one flaw is tar on the beach. It's somewhat natural, as there is a lot of petroleum in the ground, and always was tar on the beaches even before oil drilling began (as illustrated by one location near Goleta named in the 19th century: Coal Oil Point). Is it an oil-company propaganda claim that the oil wells relieve the pressure and thus lessen the tar on the beaches? Or is it true?

Here's a photo of one of the offshore oil rigs, seen from Refugio beach, that may or may not make it worse:

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Not Amaryllis!

What are these purple and white flowers that grow several to a tall stalk? They are everywhere in Santa Barbara and also around Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View. I googled like crazy, and couldn't identify them, because I thought they were amaryllis. Now I know -- they are


... yes, they are in the family Amaryllidaceae. But they are't amaryllis, and it's incredibly hard to find them if you don't already know their name!

Fireworks at Santa Barbara Harbor

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