Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Afton, Wyoming

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lincoln

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Idaho and a little Montana

After leaving Yellowstone, I briefly drove through Montana.  I think I need more time in this state because my experience there was confusing; I'm sure it was just the one town I stopped in, but the few people I talked to all had different -- seemingly foreign -- accents, yet claimed to be locals.  The fact that one of them sounded like Crocodile Dundee yet said he lived in the town his whole life was very unexpected.  The town itself was also a mix between cheap boardwalk arcade and wild west ghost town.  The landscape, however, was amazing.


I spent most of the day traveling through Idaho, which was quite similar to Montana - absolutely beautiful but not much else to see.  While most of the state seemed to just be one big farm in the constant state of being watered, I did come across the Idaho Potato Museum.  To summarize: "The Idaho Potato Museum provides a complete information on potato history...trivia and educational potato facts.  You can also view the world's largest potato chip...Gift Shop offers almost any potato gift imaginable including potato ice cream, potato fudge, t-shirts, and, of course, fresh Idaho potatoes.  Admission includes a free potato gift."  I didn't take the tour despite the potato ice cream.



Given all the backroads, naturally I seized the opportunity to finally take the rental car off-road.  It handled poorly.  Very poorly, in fact, maintaining little traction and not having good enough suspension for even the smallest of jumps.  I'm exaggerating.  But only a little.

Also, for the first time in my life, I found myself welcoming the influx of insects I had encountered since heading north from Utah.  See, early on in the trip I had chipped my windshield while attempting to maximize my gas efficiency by minimizing my life expectancy and drafting-off an 18-wheeler.  I had spent much of the last couple of days trying to figure out how to cover up that crack so I wouldn't have to pay to fix the windshield.  The insects gave me the perfect (and cheap) solution.  My rule of thumb: any time you hit a bug, turn on the windshield wipers.  By the time I left Idaho, my windshield was a smear of thick paste and remarkably difficult to see out of.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yellowstone National Park

Continued on to Yellowstone after Grand Teton.  Given the park is over 3,000 sq. miles and extends into three states, I only traveled through a small portion of it.  While I was surprised to find much of the park a little underwhelming (beautiful, untouched land sure, but nothing overly unique from what I saw back home), it was hard not to be impressed when I finally reached the Geyser Basin.

Snake River winding down towards Grand Teton in the distance

Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, and sits on the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano in North America.  It is considered active and, based on previous cases, is actually past-due to erupt again.

Firehole Lake Drive

To give a sense of scale, Mount St. Helens left a crater of approximately 2 square miles when it last erupted.  Yellowstone Caldera is 1500 square miles.  When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, its ash was detectable over 20,000 square miles away.  The last eruption of Yellowstone (considered a smaller eruption), ejected 8,000 times the ash and lava of St. Helens.

Old Faithful Geyser erupting





Great Fountain Geyser


Firehole Lake Drive



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day VIII: Grand Teton Nat'l Park

Driving through Wyoming was utterly beautiful.  My only requests for my next visit would be to consider the idea of actually using radio to broadcast music, adding cell phone reception at least sporadically, or even to just consider having one restaurant opened past sundown.

A passing storm at sunset in Wyoming

I made it into the hotel at about 10:30 pm local time and quickly gained an understanding for the reason this particular place was marked down 35%.  I'll start by admitting that it was an improvement over my living situation in Utah, where I slept clothed--not only for fear of the cleanliness of the dingy room--but also to keep all the flies from landing on any exposed skin.  It also appeared that previous tenants had used the hotel carpeting to relieve themselves, and judging by the appearance of the bathroom itself, I find it hard to blame them.

While the place in Wyoming didn't have the bug problem, it also didn't have a working heater/AC unit, phone, tv, bedroom lighting, hot water, or the internet connection they promised me.  The complex was clearly seasonal, and was just opening up for the winter tourists they'd host for skiing. Judging by the smell of the room, this place hadn't been touched in six-months.

I got up for sunrise yet again, and was surprised to find that half the town apparently lines-up outside a local breakfast joint everyday, trying to be the first to get a seat when they open at 6am.  I guess I'd need to live in a small, remote town to understand.


Compared to where I was yesterday, the difference between the daily high temperatures was 50-degrees.  I was set-up for about 45-minutes to get this shot, both waiting for the fog to clear and for the lighting to become just right.  It was well-worth the wait.

Lessons Learned: When visiting Wyoming, rent an American-made truck.  It wasn't until about thirty-minutes after crossing the border that I finally spotted another foreign-made vehicle.  It took even longer to find one that was a sedan.

The highest peak reaches to over 13,000 feet

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day VI: Glen Canyon

Drove through parts of Arizona and Utah today, pushing my fear of heights to the limit by laying on a rock slab sticking-out over from the top of Horseshoe Bend to get a shot straight down 1,000 feet.  Check back later for more shots from today (assuming I am not sleeping in my car somewhere tonight or can't get on the internet).


Monday, September 13, 2010

Day V: Las Vegas

I never would have imagined actually liking Vegas but--for a short trip--it was totally awesome.  Take away the drugs and hookers and it's just Disney World for adults.  I walked ten miles, wielding beers in one hand and a camera in the other before I had to drag myself out and on to the next stop.

Highlight of the trip would be an older gentlemen in a motorized wheel chair shouting, "Woooooo Wooooooooo!" at any convertible that drove-by.  Runner-up would be when one very drunk man repeatedly walked back-and-forth between Spiderman and Batman, desperately trying to get the two superheros into a fight.

Bellagio Orchestrated Water Show

Marilyn Monroe posing for pictures.  I told her she was smaller than she looked in the pictures.  Apparently, saying such a thing to a 'little person' is in bad taste.

Prada


Miniature Eiffel Tower

Prada II

The Mirage Casino entrance-way

The Gauntlet.  Dozens of men & women line the sidewalk handing out calling cards for 'women within 20 minutes'



Las Vegas Blvd traffic