12 August 2015 Coeur d' Alene, ID - Spokane, WA - Portland, OR - OR Coast - Eugene, OR - Bend, OR - Boise, ID - Arco, ID - Yellowstone - Grand Tetons



A frozen waterfall near the porcupine encounter at Lake Louise
   




Windmill Farms abound
 


     Calgary was a difficult place to leave but it was in our rearview mirror as we saw Coeur d' Alene in our cross hairs and arrived to celebrate our independence after just recently enjoying celebrating with the Canadians.  That was a delightful little city---beautiful, a college town, water water everywhere,  very bicycle friendly.  In that area it wasn't uncommon to have streets dedicated JUST to bicycles and if cars had to share with us, the bike lane was plenty wide enough so that lessened our fears of becoming a statistic. 


A big shoe to fill
Spokane, WA

          Took a little side trip on a simply perfect day to investigate the OR coast north of Coos Bay.  Several years ago we covered Coos and south.
   
The Oregon coastline invited us to stop and frolic.
     Tillamook Cheese Factory also summoned us where we tanked up on many cheese samples THEN did not resist their ice cream made with very rich whole milk and many other ingredients that made me wonder why my shorts are too tight.  Sure was good!
Sweetest guy in the world dwarfed by
Biggest truck in the world

     When we were in Coeur d’ Alene, I swam in the Spokane River, clear as a bell. Not another soul out there but 2 white ducks. This was the best thing (workout) since St. Petersburg's pool months ago. Beautiful 4th of July celebration morning. Swimming, my passion, is a very rare treat!!!

     We ordered and received our Bike Friday’s 8 years ago and have been eager to go to their headquarters in Eugene, OR, to see where our bikes were conceived and birthed. We had our bikes turned up, enjoyed a great tour of the facility, and even met the owner/designer of the line of Bike Fridays.

     Bend, Oregon’s, 36.3 mile Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway with an elevation range of 3010 feet to 3800 feet beckoned us.  As “flatlanders”, it definitely wasn’t the easiest ride we’ve ever done. Breathtakingly beautiful but we felt we’d earned our locally crafted beers and pizza on our way home. I never want to leave Bend...but the Deschutes isn't trawler navigable. Hiking! Cycling! Wineries! Microbreweries! Lovin' it!
About 10 minutes into our ride, this rose up to say, "now aren't you glad you got out and started your day with nature and solitude?"


     It's not everyday that we find a giraffe peering over the fence at us nor do we often see a broken dam and surfers making good use of it. We cycled the marvelous Boise Greenbelt today and these were just a few of the things we saw. The state capitol has yellow ribbons on the columns for our military troops.



     
     This was a blast!!! I’ve been dying to do this forever. Even though we live on a boat, Bill is NOT a water person so he never exuded an ounce of enthusiasm when I'd mention a white water rafting trip. There was only one way to solve that problem so I made reservations, paid for our trip, and said, "Guess what we're going to do Thursday." I dragged him kicking and screaming---he even left heel marks in the parking lot. Guess who LOVED it and has agreed to do it again! I couldn't resist "falling in" and that water was probably only 33 degrees (not really) but didn't take long to acclimate. What a great day. Didn't want the trip to end.  My next project is to get him on a zip-line over rivers and gorges. 

Bill's port side near back in khaki cap.  I'm front, starboard, pink cap.

     After 2 nights in Arco, ID, home of Craters of the Moon National Park, we were Yellowstone-bound for 5 days. There are miles of lava fields that look like coarsely tilled very fertile soil. A historical marker at a scenic pull-off boasts that "Since 1949, more nuclear reactors -- over 50 of them -- have been built on this plain than anywhere else in the world." The town of Arco became the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power from a reactor built in 1955. The Arco reactor later suffered a partial meltdown -- another World's First but there isn’t a highway sign bragging about that. This is a sad little town reminding us of something out of an old western movie with tumbleweeds blowing around and sage brush everywhere. Kinda expect to see Gun Smoke's Chester come hobbling out of one of the dilapidated buildings.


These exquisite views are new to us each day.
      Our visit to Jackson Hole, WY, offered hang-gliding which is another thing on my bucket list but could arouse no interest from my husband.  The next one we come across, I'm going even if I have to do it alone.

     2 of our 5 Yellowstone days, we spent a full 12 hours of hiking, entering the park at 5:30 AM.  The other 3 days weren’t as long or as strenuous.  Had no idea I should’ve trained for this trip--like maybe using the Ironman program.  Every day we were on the move and still didn’t see it all.  Think it’d take at least 2 weeks of 10-12 hour days to not miss a thing.  There’s no way to describe the beauty—each just needs to see this for themselves.  We continued to marvel at our Father’s world—the canyons, sculpted and carved from intricacy to boldness; the meadows and forests, colored and textured with His brush and palette; and the clarity and intoxicating force of the cascading waterfalls. When He flung this world into space, He did it was all for our pleasure. After 12 hours and many miles on our hiking shoes, we were running for the barn with full hearts.

     Yellowstone can be one of the most freeing and unique places in the world if you know where to go.  Probably the majority of the park visitors never leave the boardwalks or the Grand Loop Road.

Sapphire Pool
Artist's Paint Pot
Yellowstone is famous for its many geysers but the hot springs seem to come as a surprise to tourists.  We saw hot water flowing over patches of brilliant yellow, orange, red, and green.  Hot pools were lined with color and even the steam appeared to be tinted.


Geyers in Yellowstone are everywhere.


     These colorful deposits are microbial even though it seems amazing that organisms could live, much less thrive, in water too hot to touch. They are called thermophiles, can't live anywhere else.
     
     The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is the largest thermal hot spring in our country and 3rd largest in the world.  If your travel plans include Yellowstone, park your car in the Fountain Freight Road trail lot and after about a mile or two hike you will receive your reward of a spectacular view of this spring in its entirety.  It has 3 distinct colors--white on one side, pale red or an orangey color in center and on the other side, a light sky blue.  The orange color is due to pigmented bacteria, the blue color is due to refracted skylight and the green is chlorophyll. Each color coordinates to a specific microbe that thrives at very different temperatures. 

     Seems that Old Faithful is as much of a national landmark as Mount Rushmore whereas the thermophiles are as under appreciated as the water spouts are over-marketed.  It is the heat-loving microbes that literally put the yellow into Yellowstone.  





 We were captivated by an Old Faithful performance lasting over 4 minutes!!!   
Rodents have never been my favorite critter but these little prairie dogs are cute as can be and real hams.
     


Buffalo/Bison were plentiful; elk not so much; but we never saw not one single bear!!!
Old Faithful Inn where we had a view of geysers and a sumptuous brunch.














Currently, we’re in the Tetons for 5 days and continue to exclaim at every turn we take.










Bill and Laura Bender
8 August 2015





   
   




















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