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Posts Tagged ‘wallace stegner’

 

Yellowstone's trails called to me, and I always answered. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” — Wallace Stegner

Yellowstone

My long-time Ogden, Utah, home was only a half day’s drive from Yellowstone – and so I visited it every year at least once. Fall, after the crowds had left, was always my favorite time. .

Most years it was a solo adventure. Usually I would wake up on a Saturday morning with an itch in my feet and simply take off.

I never failed to appreciate the beauty of this first national park. Yellowstone offered me my first glimpse of a wolf in its natural habitat. That’s a thrill that has stayed with me.

 

One of the park's many thermal pools. This one lies along the Morning Glory Trail that begins at Old Faithful. -- Photo by Pat Bean

But more often my joy came simply from hiking a trail and discovering bits and pieces of nature: a meadow full of yellow wildflowers, an elk on the banks of the Madison River, Fantastic views of the Firehole River from a high overlook, the bright turquoise of Morning Glory Pool, and of course the gurgling, hissing, spouting, smoking of the park’s geysers.

It became a tradition for me to sit on the balcony of the Old Faithful Inn, with margarita in hand, to watch Old Faithful blow water and steam high into the air.

How, I ask you, could Yellowstone National Park, not be on my list of favorite places.

Bean’s Pat: http://tinyurl.com/89aolmc The geology of Yellowstone.

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“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Wallace Stegner.

The domes of Capitol Reef. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

*Travels With Maggie

My soul-stirring day’s travel, full of colorful wonders of Mother Nature, didn’t end with the day’s driving. The magic continued at Capitol Reef National Park, a landscape created around 65 million years ago when forces deep in the earth created a wrinkle on the planet’s surface.

In earlier times, when I was driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle, I took the back, unpaved, steep, twisting road. which  went up and over the fold, into the park. Today, with my 24-foot Gypsy Lee, I more sedately drove into the park on Highway 24, which was still quite scenic.

Driving down into the park’s gorge, a steep narrow road, was one of Gypsy Lee’s first adventures, and I still have the picture my oldest son, D.C., took of her that day.

This photo of Gypsy Lee down in Capitol Reef's gorge was taken in May of 2004, when she was just two months old and Maggie and I were both seven years younger. -- Photo by D.C. Bean

Thankfully this was not my first or even second visit to the national treasure, becauseI didn’t have too much time to gawk at the park’s features. With what I did have, I decided to hike a ways on the Cohab Canyon trail, which after a short ascent is fairly level.

Its trailhead is right near the park’s campground.

I walked slowly, not as interested in distance, as I was in taking in the smaller miracles so often overlooked by younger hikers. I know, because I was once one of them.

Today, however, I got my thrills from examining the swirl of patterns on sandstone rocks that lay jumbled along the trail, from a yellow butterfly flitting over some tiny pink flowers growing next to a just-beginning-to-bud cactus, from a mule deer staring at me from up the trail before quietly disappearing, and from the sight of an ash-throated flycatcher sitting up straight on a pinyon tree branch.

These were the kinds of things that interested me for the hour or so before I got back on the road for an 8-mile drive to Torrey, a small town just outside the park where I had reservations at Wonderland RV Park.

My head was so over-filled with the day’s amazing sights that I lay sleepless in my over-the-cab for a long while, watching stars overhead through my roof vent and listening to Maggie snoring on the couch below. She had decided I was too restless and retreated there for a better night’s sleep.

Have I ever mentioned how loudly Maggie snores?

*Continuing Day 10 of the journey, April 28, 2011.

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