Posts Tagged ‘Yellowstone’

 “Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands.”  — John Garamend

Dragon Mouth Spring in Yellowstone. — Photo by Pat Bean


For over 20 years I lived just five hours away from Yellowstone. I’ve visited this national treasure over 25 times, long enough to see Mother Nature redecorate and remodel her landscape.

Black Dragon Caldron, which can also be seen along the Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean


The changes have been many, but one that has been personal to me are the changes that took place at Dragon Mouth’s Spring. I first saw this steam-spurting, hissing feature in the late 1960s. It is located along the Mud Volcano Trail, a 2/3-mile loop through a varied landscape of mud pots and geysers.

It was easy for me, the first time I saw this sight, to imagine a dragon huffing and puffing as steam and water sloshed out from the entrance to a small cavern. But each time I revisited, which I always did when in Yellowstone, the dragon seemed mellower than the time before. And the dark green boiling water of the spring, which was easily envisioned as acidic dragon slime, began turning a bubbling light gray, the color of my hair today.

Interpretive sign along Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Scientists reported the changes, but weren’t exactly sure why the dragon had stopped huffing and puffing so strenuously

As I watched the dragon settle, I began to imagine it as an old broad like me, no longer always on the run, but settling into contentment with no need to continually prove one’s worth — and with time to simply enjoy life.

So, it was that each time I hiked the Mud Volcano Trail, I took more and more time to enjoy the sights along the remainder of the trail, and not just the more memorable dragon. Each hike seemed to offer a new surprise: a fox lazing beneath a tree barely visible through my binoculars, a Clark’s nutcracker flying between hillside trees, the yellow hues of rocks painted by the minerals whose aroma taints the air with rotten eggs.

I can’t imagine visiting Yellowstone without revisiting the Mud Volcano Trail. While not as colorful as the Fountain Paint Pot Trail, or as spectacular as the geyser-dotted trail to Morning Glory Pool – which of course I can’t miss either – there be a dragon that calls to me.

Bean Pat: Boondocking https://nomadadvocate.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/boondocking-love-it-or-hate-it/   I boondocked at Lone Rock at Lake Powell the very first night I spent in my RV. What a wonderful time. And this blog brought back all those good memories.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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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


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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 “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” – Crowfoot saying.

Favorite Places

Author Bob Sanchez http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com/commented that he

One of my favorite shots of an American bison is this one of the large animal taking a dust bath on Antelope Island, which is one of my favorite places. -- Photo by Pat Bean

liked yesterday’s photo of the bison mother and nursing calf that stopped traffic in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. As an aside he noted that since these lumbering creatures can be dangerous, he was glad I took the photo through the windshield of my RV, Gypsy Lee.

His cautionary words jogged one of my brain wires to replay, in vivid detail, an incident back in the 1970s that involved my then 10-year-old daughter, Trish. She, I and my son, Mike, were visiting Yellowstone, where we had stayed the night in the Old Faithful Inn.

Antelope Island bison with a view of the Wasatch Mountains on the far side of Great Salt Lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Antelope Island bison with a view of the Wasatch Mountains on the far side of Great Salt Lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Back then, there was a small cafe located adjacent to the Inn, where the three of us had breakfast. Trish finished first and asked if she could go outside and look around.

“Stay close,” I said in my mother’s voice.

When Mike and I went outside about 10 minutes later, my heart stopped. While Trish hadn’t gone far, she was standing beside a huge bison that had settled down on some warm sand – and was petting it.

Along with bison, chukars are easy to find on Antelope Island. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully her guardian angel was looking over her. Not only did she escape without harm from the wooly creature, her mother was too relived she was safe to punish her.

My travels the past seven years have often taken me in sight of these great animals that once roamed across North America’s grasslands in great herds before we humans killed them to the brink of extinction. Perhaps it’s because they were so rare for so long that many people today get so excited when they see one.

I was fortunate that before I retired and left Ogden, Utah, I saw them regularly on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.

I used the island, which has a high claim on my long list of favorite North American places, as my Birding 101 Lab. That’s the thing about being a birder. If you’re looking for tiny things, you’ll never miss all the big ones.

*While we may call this creature a buffalo which I did in yesterday’s blog because it is a term everyone understands, the animal that is found in North America is a bison, an American bison to be specific.

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“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” – Michael Caine

The flock of American wigeons I saw recently that reminded me of my five-year search for its Eurasion cousin. -- Poor photo by Pat Bean

Bird Talk

My kids tell me I have a better memory for where I’ve seen a new bird species than I do for their birthdays. Well, they’re wrong. I know the dates they were born very well. They just think I don’t because of how often I forget what day it is.

They are right, however, in thinking that I can remember where and when I’ve seen a new bird for my life bird list, which I started back on April 10, 1999.

The first bird on it is an American avocet. It and the next 67 birds on it were all seen when I went on a guided bird tour to Deseret Ranch in Northern Utah. I tagged along as a reporter assigned to do a story on sage grouse.

It was the first time I kept a list of the birds I saw — and the day I became a birder. I give

An American wigeon, a species that can be found all across the United States. -- Wikipedia photo

all credit for my newly found passion and addiction to birdwatching to Mark Stackhouse, who led the tour.

After I had listed the 67 birds, and had decided I would start my bird list, I did a very foolish thing. I added a Eurasian wigeon to the list.

A few years earlier, when I had been following Congressman Jim Hanson around during one of  his visits to Northern Utah, he made a stop at what was commonly known as the Millionaire’s Duck Club, a private hunting club located adjacent to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Everyone was all excited that day because someone had spotted a rare Eurasian wigeon through a roof-top telescope. I was invited to take a look, and the wigeon became part of the story I eventually wrote. With written proof that I had seen the bird, I didn’t think twice about adding it to my list.

Eurasion wigeons, which can normally be found in winter along U.S. coastal areas. -- Wikipedia photo

But then I got into the spirit of birding, and realized I wouldn’t recognize a Eurasian wigeon if it dropped down from the sky five feet in front of me. And I knew that I didn’t want any bird on my list that I hadn’t personally identified. But to take it off, would be to mess up the entire order of my list.

It took me five years before I did finally see this duck. It was Oct. 4, 2004, in Yellowstone National Park. What a great day that was. And I remember it as well as I remember the days my children were born.

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Grotto Geyser, located on the walk to Morning Glory Pool at Yellowstone National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis Falls is always one of the first places I stop when I enter Yellowstone from the south entrance. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My Favorite Places

 “It’s my job to invite all of you to come to Wyoming and Yellowstone Park where we hope you get a glimpse of the grizzly. We hope you do not have an encounter with the grizzly.” – Mike Enzi

NaNoWriMo Update

My goal yesterday was to use my drive time to Dallas from Lake Jackson to think about my plot for my November novel writing experiment.

North of Houston, I stopped at a Flying J to dump my holding tank. Not only were the RV dumping spots full – I’m used to this task, which I usually do when I traveling between the two cities, taking a half hour – but when I learned that the once RV-friendly service station was charging $10 to dump, I drove on without waiting.

I might have paid $5, but certainly not $10 for my little 20-gallon holding tank. Most RVs have at least 40 gallon tanks. And no longer will I seek out Flying J’s to get gas. I felt the cost was an insult – and I’m still pissed. .

My outrage interrupted my head-plotting for the next few miles, and then I detoured off Interstate 45 – I hate driving on freeways – at Huntsville and took highways 19 and 175 the rest of the way into Dallas.

It was the first time I had gone this route so I mostly just watched the scenery go past.

The little plotting I did for the upcoming challenge involved thinking about the Gulf Coast landscape, which will be the setting for my yet as unnamed mystery.

I drove this landscape recently, between Surfside and Galveston, to get a feel for it. But my only thoughts on the book this day were that the endangered Ridley sea turtle and offshore oil spills might make good conversation fillers.

Sure hope, as past NaNo participants have said, that the characters take charge of the plot once the writing begins. Meanwhile,  I still have to find a place to dump.

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The path on the right leads to Taggart Lake at the foot of the Tetons. It’s one of my favorite hikes. — Photo by Pat Bean


Do you have a favorite hike that you would like to share?


“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.” — Josephine Hart

Travels With Maggie

There is nothing that pleases me more on a hike than to be serenaded by the brisk giggles of a tumbling stream. If you add jagged mountains bearing glaciers on the horizon, you’ve taken my kind of walk from merely bliss to absolute glory.

While Mother Nature has recently been playing weather tricks on Texans, she was playing nice the summer day a couple of years ago when I hiked the Taggart Lake Trail in the Tetons, where glacial streams flow down from snow-covered peaks. Mother Nature’s mixture here of water, mountains, blue sky, wildflowers and twittering birds is a recipe of perfection.

Taggart Creek: A giggling beauty. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I had hiked this trail several times previously, each time finding new delights to awe me, like a red-tailed hawk circling low overhead, or Indian paintbrush coloring a patch of the meadow red with its blooms.

This day, I had brought along a couple of friends who were newcomers to the trail. I took great delight in their delight at almost every step as we hiked the mile and a half to the lake.

Sharing Mother Nature, however, is a conundrum for me. While I want everyone to have an opportunity to enjoy this country’s scenic magnificence, I prefer my hikes be taken on uncrowded trails.

I share the locations of my favorite paths, however, because I truly believe we would have fewer psychotic people who commit harm if they had more grand canyons, meadows of bluebonnets, red rock arches and peregrine falcons in their lives.

So, if you’re ever driving between Jackson, Wyoming, and Yellowstone National Park, take the Teton Park Road past Moose to the Taggart Lake trailhead. You’ll emerge from the trail more peaceful — even if you’re not psychotic at all.

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