Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Glacier National Park, Montana

We've been to Glacier National Park at least four times now (not bragging). This time we took our new kayak early, early in the morning on Lake McDonald. You will see, from the photos, that is was a bit colder than we expected, but it was still magnificent.

ready to launch....

Katie loves being out on the water with us!

You'll have to look very closely to see the mom and her babies...a few of them like to jump on her back while she swims. We watched them for about 15 minutes.

Isn't that a gorgeous view !!??

Brrrrr...both Katie and Kim are all bundled up from the brisk morning wind.

On our way back to the dock...in the middle of the lake looking north. The fog has lifted.



We took a short drive to a bridge where the river flows out of the lake...

okay...caption...river flowing out of the lake


...and saw these two deer across the bridge. The ranger told us they're quite used to us two-legged creatures !



After about 10 minutes, they leisurely headed off into the forest.


One last view of the lake....


If you're interested in a video of this gorgeous lake....

https://youtu.be/ndAenc7cZI4


steve/kim/katie

6/30/2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Gorgeous Montana Countryside

We left Hungry Horse, Montana (outside of West Glacier NP) the other day and decided to go the back roads south to Helena, Montana. Little did we know that we would come across vintage western United States beauty. You can see why they call Montana "Big Sky Country".


Heading east through the Glacier NP and the Rocky Mountains.



Here's our route. You can see the Rocky Mountain range running south to north.


It is so difficult to photograph a bird flying above but Kim got this Bald Eagle just right.

Now...onto the Montana vistas....


Road, roads, roads

See the cloudburst in the horizon?

And...more roads

We only drove 55 mph to enjoy the vistas

Love how the clouds parallel the mountain range in front.

The roads and scenery was like this for 75 miles...never got tired of it.


A gathering of the horses. We saw lots of them along the way. Wonderful animals.




...and, of course, our obligatory Katie photo...
...still trying out combinations for Katie on the kayak.


Short one this time...sure is hard to pick only a few photos...there are so many. Plus, the photos can only convey so much. You really have to be there to fully appreciate the beauty.

steve/kim/katie

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Glacial Lake Missoula, Montana

We stopped in Missoula, Montana for a few days to see where the Glacial Lake Missoula formed over 10,000 years ago. We had previously explored central Washington in the Scablands, an area that was scoured by the floods that came through years ago...dozens, and even a hundred times.

Current city of Missoula showing ancient lake shorelines.

Lake Missoula water levels long ago covering the current city of Missoula.


There used to be 2,000-ft ice dam that was created during the last ice age.  This ice dam stopped up the Clark River and began to form Lake Missoula behind it.

3D rendering of one of the many ice dams that blocked the river

3D rendering of how the ice dam might've looked


It's estimated that it took between 50 and 100 years to fill up the lake ! The dam eventually gave way and all that water came rushing through at a rate of  65 mph!

This towering mass of water and ice literally shook the ground as it thundered toward the Pacific Ocean, stripping away hundreds of feet of soil and cutting deep canyons—”coulees”—into the underlying bedrock. With flood speeds approaching 65 miles per hour, the lake would have drained in as little as 48 hours.


Yes, I know...this is a bit geeky, but to us, it is totally fascinating.

 I hiked up to the floodplain lines on the mountain and this is what is what it looks like today looking towards the ice dam on the horizon. The water level would've been over 500 feet above me!
Lake Missoula stretched eastward more than 200 miles and, at its maximum height and extent, contained more than 500 cubic miles of water - more water than Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined.

Path of the flood across central Washington

So...this is one of the great things about travelling so much. You learn many interesting facts and details about events and places. Plus, we get to be amateur geologists ! 

Hope you enjoyed this educational blog. More flowers and scenic views coming....

kim/steve/katie

oh, let's not forget our Katie-photo....

Katie likes to keep me company in the morning.
We started to post events on Twitter at @lastricks. If you have twitter, check it out.

https://twitter.com/lastricks



if anyone is interested in more flood data:

Monday, May 25, 2020

We're Baaaaack !

FINALLY ! On the road again. After hanging out at home since the end of March (not necessary, in my opinion....oops...sorry to get political), we are heading out for some more adventure.

First stops are Challis, Idaho and up to Missoula, Montana. 

Camas Valley looking north...still lots of snow in the mountains.

Our site...lots of space
Tallest mountains in Idaho

Then we went to Sula, Montana for a night and watched the Bitteroot River go flying by. LOTS of unexpected rain this spring as well as snow melt had this river rise 5 feet the night before we got there! 

Gotta learn how to hold the camera steadier when taking movies

Sweet little campground

Bitteroot River FLOWING!

Katie photobombing my picture

All nestled in for the night


Gorgeous country from Challis up to Missoula....again, the West is like no other.





Lots of old log cabins along the road




Out-in-the-country pick and pull

Next time...Missoula, Montana.

see ya...and thanks for following

steve/kim/katie



Sunday, March 29, 2020

Arches on the way back home


Well, we came home after only three weeks on the road. Everything in front of us was closed. RV parks in the Florida Keys, all RV parks in Moab, all restaurants in New Orleans and the Keys, D.C. museums, all botanical gardens, and on and on. So....what's the point of travelling only to stay in the RV all the time.

It took us 1,200 miles to get back. Four RV parks, one a night. One outside of Price, Utah was nice enough to let us spend the night, even though they'd been told to shut down to all outsiders. Long travel days.

But, we stopped off at Arches National Park outside of Moab and it was, not only open and free, no one was there! We had practically the entire park to ourselves. Kim took about 460 photos! Thank goodness for digital cameras. This is our fourth visit here....never gets old.

We dropped the truck, left the coach in the parking lot and went to see the park.

You can see our coach waaaaay down there in the parking lot.
I'll just post some of the magnificent rock formations we saw...



Closeup

This one is called "The Three Judges".
These are the "Petrified Sand Dunes". They were covered over with sand from the NW over 200 Million years ago, then it all eroded away to leave miles and miles of these dunes.
Good photo with the La Sal Mountains (Salt) in the background and a couple of arches on the far left.

One of the big attractions here...Balanced Rock

Usually you cannot get into the parking lot or on the trail....too many people. Today, no one!

Arches National Park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. There are over 2,000 documented arches in the park, ranging from sliver-thin cracks to spans greater than 300 feet (97 m). How do they form? See answer at the very end.

So....a few of them...

North and South Window Arches

You can see the scale of how immense the arch is when you see the tiny, tiny people at the base.

Anyway, we got to see the park just in time because I read that, as of the 28th of March...just yesterday, they closed the park entirely.

We're safe and sound back home and are keeping our distance from everyone. Speaking of that, when we were in Carlsbad, New Mexico, I went to the grocery store and it was mobbed! The clerk told me it's that way all the time. Carlsbad is right where all the oil and natural gas fields are located so the town is a 24/7 place. No one seemed that concern about any virus. Oh, I wore latex gloves into the store. No fooling around with this stuff at our age.

Once this crisis all passes...and it will....we'll head back out. In the meantime, we'll probably take 1-2 day trips with our kayak to the local lakes and paddle around.

I'll post some magnificent sunrise and sunset shots some other time.

steve/kim/katie

Katie found a spot to relax on the new kayak





How did so many arches form?

First, you need the right kinds of rock.

Sandstone is made of grains of sand cemented together by minerals, but not all sandstone is the same. The Entrada Sandstone was once a massive desert, full of shifting dunes of fine-grained sand. The grains are nearly spherical so, when packed together, they formed a rock that is very porous (full of tiny spaces).

In contrast, the Carmel layer just beneath the Entrada contains a mix of sand and clay. Clay particles are much smaller than sand grains; a lot of them can pack together and fill in gaps between the sand grains, making the rock denser and less porous than a purer sandstone.

Crack it into parallel lines.

Deep beneath the surface lies a thick layer of salts. Squeezed by the tons of rock above it, the salt flowed and bulged upward, creating long domes. The rock layers covering these domes were forced to crack, like the surface of freshly-baked bread, into a series of more-or-less parallel lines.

Next, add the right amount of rain.

On average, the park receives 8-10 inches (18-23 cm) of precipitation a year. That might not sound like much, but it's enough to keep the engines of erosion working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Drops of rainwater soak into the porous Entrada sandstone easily and then slowly dissolve the calcite bonding the sand together – in other words, rotting the rock from the inside out. Water puddles just above the denser Carmel layer where it erodes a cavity, like food trapped between your teeth. In winter, water trapped between the two layers expands when it freezes and pries the rock apart.

If the park received too much precipitation, the sandstone could erode so quickly that arches might not have time to form. If it never rained here, the engines of erosion would stop.

Make sure your rocks don't rock & roll.

Luckily, earthquakes are rare in this area. If the ground shook often, these massive outdoor rock sculptures would splinter and collapse. The fact that over 2,000 still stand, waiting for visitors to discover them, tells us this area has been rather geologically stable for at least 50,000 years.

Lastly, pick the right time to visit. (You did.)

The rock layers visible in the park today were once buried by over a mile of other rock that had to erode first to expose what lied beneath. Visitors one million years ago might have seen an endless flat plain dotted with vegetation. Imagine a visit 100,000 years in the future, when the Entrada and Carmel layers have fully worn away. What new rock shapes might you discover then?




Glacier National Park, Montana

We've been to Glacier National Park at least four times now (not bragging). This time we took our new kayak early, early in the morning ...