Posts Tagged ‘USA road trip’
Places I wanted to see before kicking a bucket…so to speak…!!
The ‘Grand Canyon’ in Arizona at the ‘South Rim’ in early morning light…!
When I was a kid in kindergarten, we were taught about the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ and, the Grand Canyon in the USA was one of those places. Our teachers drummed it into our heads. They also talked about an old natural steam geyser in Yellowstone National Park named ‘Old Faithful’…!
This is the famous ‘Old Faithful Geyser’ in Yellowstone…!
Lower Yellowstone Falls…!
This natural wonder is in Yellowstone, the world’s first protected area established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. As years past, I often read and saw pictures of these beautiful and great places in America, and wanted to visit as many as possible before I kicked the bucket, so to speak.
Me and my wife ‘Noi’ and the Dodge SUV at the Intercontinental Hotel close to LAX…!
For my first ‘Bucket List’ trip, no holds were barred. Last year, my wife broke her leg in a fall down some stairs in the house in Bangkok. As I wanted to take her along, I postponed my trip in 2015. But this year, I was bound and determined to do my ‘bucket list’ and we departed Bangkok on the 1st September, 2016. After a long grueling flight, we arrived in Los Angeles and went to the Intercontinental Hotel close to LAX spending two nights resting up.
A rest-stop on the famous ‘Route 66’ in California…!
We then spent a few more days in LA visiting friends here and there, and then on 5th Sept., we headed off in a rental car (Dodge SUV) leaving early in the morning and traveling on Route 66 to the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon National Park run by the U.S. National Parks Service, and arriving in the late afternoon. We checked into the Yavapai Hotel for a two-night stay. The weather was cool and clear with no cloud cover – perfect for photography the next morning.
The ‘Grand Canyon’ further up the ‘South Rim’…!
My wife stayed in bed but I went to the ‘South Rim’ at 5am and waited for sunrise. It was scary out there for me, even with a barrier – many people have fallen into the canyon by being foolish and taking a risk getting too close to the edge which means certain death if you fall in. Eventually light filled the canyon and I got some spectacular shots.
The ‘Grand Canyon’ 30 miles east of the ‘South Rim’…!
There are many other areas at the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon to see but time was short and we had to move on. The next stop was the ‘North Rim’ but as we arrived at the turn-off, a big fire was raging and not wanting to be delayed, carried on to our next destination which was Zion National Park in Utah.
At the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon in late morning…!
At the ‘Yavapai Hotel’ in Grand Canyon-South Rim…!
We entered Zion and 10 minutes from the gate, were greeted by a herd of ‘Desert Big Horn’ sheep. They were breeding and several rams were only interested in the females and paid no attention to us. I got some great eye-level shots which are rare for this species; they are usually seen high up on the cliffs. I also managed to get some very nice landscape photos of some interesting geological formations sculpted over millions of years. Our trip to Zion was well worth the effort.
‘Desert Big Horn Sheep’ by the side of the road in Zion National Park – a lucky encounter….!
Some of the weird sandstone formations in Zion National Park, Utah…!
Sunset at Zion….That is an eagle flying up near the cliff….!
I also managed a side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park near-by to see those natural formations but kept my visit to a minimum as there were many tourists and parking was near impossible. After two days, we left Zion for the long haul to Salt Lake City visiting with friends there and a needed rest stop for the next haul to Grand Teton National Park further north.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah at mid-day…!
The next morning after we had breakfast, we headed out to the Grand Teton National Park. It’s a beautiful place in September with clear blue skies and crisp weather. The mountain range vista of the Tetons is absolutely stunning but I was not lucky, and it was socked in the next morning and so did not get any good photos of the mountain range. After two days, we had to move on to our next destination.
Grand Teton mountain range in Wyoming during the late afternoon….!
Having lunch in Grand Teton National Park: it was absolutely beautiful at this spot…!
Yellowstone National Park was not accessible from Grand Teton through the ‘Southern Gate’ due to a large forest fire there. We had to detour around and enter at the ‘Western Gate’ but as we were booked into a hotel there, it worked out OK.
A common sight in Yellowstone National Park: An American bison or buffalo…!
A ‘Rocky Mountain’ big horn ram blocking traffic over in east Yellowstone…!
However, it was raining and sleeting when we arrived late in the afternoon, and thought my photography would be washed out. But about mid-morning on the next day, it cleared up and I got some really nice shots of the landscape and buffalo (plenty of them). There were no bears (heading into the interior looking for a hibernation dens) or elk. I saw one bull elk early on the second morning bugling at a distance but no photos.
Along one of the many tributaries of the Yellowstone River system…!
Fresh snow laid the night before: elevation about 7,000 feet…!
We went to see ‘Old Faithful’, and ticked off another ‘bucket list’ checkbox. There were loads and loads of tourists (some 1500 plus people sitting around the old geyser) and traffic was bad; specially when someone saw a buffalo, big horn or bear in a tree.
My top ‘bucket list’ finally ticked off….!
In Yellowstone, there are a couple of areas along the road that was very narrow and just one slip-up meant going over the small curb and thousands of feet down to a certain death. The next day, we left Yellowstone and I look back on this segment of my ‘Bucket List’ trip and believe it came up to my expectations for the entire trip except for poor weather in Grand Teton. I will return to these beautiful places with my family again one day…!
Our last morning in West Yellowstone: it was cold when we departed…!
I then sent my wife to Boseman, Montana so she could fly over to Seattle to see a Thai friend. I then headed north to a small town called ‘Malta’ for an over night stay at a little motel. The owner was a serious wildlife hunter and has the grand slam of North American Sheep (4 species) and a Rocky Mountain Goat trophy on his wall in the hotel office. We had a nice talk about the situation around Malta. It certainly is a small town on the way to Canada which I did the next day.
The ‘100’ Canadian speed sign: a conspiracy for sure with no ‘kilometer per hour’ marking…!
Crossing the Canadian border into Saskatchewan was uneventful other then seeing a speed-100 sign and thinking it was miles per hour…it was sometime before I realized I was going in ‘miles-per-hour’…I did get stopped going 115 as the police woman RCMP was trailing a semi-tractor. Her lights went on after I passed her. She gave me warning but let me go.
Driving into Calgary, Alberta, Canada: It was dark and forbidding…!
I finally found the ‘Kilometers per hour’ switch on the steering wheel column and slowed the heck down driving all the way across Alberta and British Columbia ending up in Vancouver Island to see a friend. After 4-days, I packed-up and made my way back to the U.S. at Port Angeles in Washington State for the drive to Seattle to pick up my wife. We then eventually found our way back to L.A. arriving on the 31st September for the end of this ‘bucket list’ trip. All and all, it was great to finally see and photograph some of the greatest places and most beautiful protected areas in the U.S., and the World for that matter…! Total Distance 4, 484 miles…!
THE TRIP: STATE BY STATE…!
In August, I decided to do a road trip in the USA. I arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas on October 18 and spent a few days with my family in Grand Prairie (between D-FW) before heading out. Got a Nissan ‘Altima’ from Hertz with unlimited mileage and got some 35 miles to the gallon. The car was very comfortable and handled well. Also, bought a Garmin Nuvi 2597 GPS and boy, did that ever come in handy. I could have bought two GPSs if I had rented one from Hertz at $12.99 plus tax a day….ouch…! Over the entire trip, it (she) took me to everyone’s front door; simply amazing.
On October 21st, I left Grand Prairie, Texas to Oklahoma (one night), then up to Nebraska (three nights), Wisconsin (one night) Minnesota (one night), Michigan (three nights), Pennsylvania (one night) and New York (for a 5 day rest). It was back on the road again down to New Jersey and back up to Pennsylvania (one night). Then it was down to Tennessee (two nights), Georgia (two nights), Florida (two nights), Alabama (one night) Louisiana (five nights) and back to Dallas. The odometer at the end of the trip was 6,240 miles. The main objective for this mega-trip was to visit my friends on Camtrapper.com forum in the the Mid-West and East.
Unfortunately, I missed Fireman Jim in Dechard, TN (he was at work) and Ron Davis in Jacksonville, FL (out hunting in Georgia)…but I did talk with both of them on the phone at length…!
I also did a wildlife presentation for the Biology Club at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This group are serious students of wildlife conservation…!
Another objective was to meet-up with Beak, an old friend I knew more than 45 years ago in Thailand…..We visited the Okefenokee Swamp together in southern Georgia with the main objective of photographing the American alligator. It was fun and I got my gator…also met a lovely Cajun girl who was our naturalist/guide/boat operator; she was sweet and knew her stuff about the swamp…!
List of Camera Trap guys that I met on this trip:
1) ghoot – Gary Kohout at Snapshotsniper – Duncan, OK
2) TRLcam – Jeff Dale – Walton, NE
3) jjkscf – Joe Kahl – St Croix Falls, WI
4) willy – Sean Hall – Cloquet, MN
5) wolvenkinde – Lon Ludach – Ironwood, MI
6) IroquoisArcher – Jon LeVan – Erie, PA
8) johnnydeerhunter – John Lockburner – Boonton, NJ
9) Buckhunter1 – Bruce Kisner- Wyalusing, PA
Other people I visited along the way as follows:
10) Wayne (Beak) Sivaslian from Schenectady, NY (My dear friend and buddy for more that 45 years).
11) Dr Robert Orr in Knoxville, TN (retired professor at the University).
12) Brad Preston and Chris Lytle, in New Orleans, LA (business associates).
13) Bryan Marlborough in Baton Rouge LA (my webmaster).
And finally, stopped by my 5 acres of timberland outside of De Ridder, LA…as I was leaving my property, a bobcat bounded across the front of a pickup coming towards me. I will camera trap this thicket one day knowing that many animals pass through…!
Politics in Thailand have just had another negative downturn and I might have to set-up some sort of a fall-back in the US. I’m thinking I could homestead my land if Thailand went into serious civil unrest….I’m just prepping for what might come…!!
I enjoyed my trip in the States and look forward to another one in the future. I would like to thank all of you who extended your kind hospitality and friendship. and look forward to doing it again…!
The odometer back in Texas. 6,240 miles total..!
The route and guys I met on the trip. I will post (Part Two) more photos ASAP.