Grand Teton National Park WY – Wild Skies

Rainbow over our fifth wheel in Alpine Wyoming

At the end of the flood…a rainbow!

 

August, 2014 – After our four days of Noah’s Flood in Alpine, Wyoming, finally ended, we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow right over our little buggy.

The mud around us dried just enough so we could make our way back to the highway and continue our journey north towards Grand Teton National Park.

The deluge wasn’t entirely over, however, and dark gloomy skies filled our views for a few days.

 

 

Mist rises at dawn in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The Tetons are wreathed in a mysterious mist.

 

We arrived at the Tetons to find them wrapped in a mysterious mist that rose and fell and enveloped their faces as a cold wind whipped ours.

The clouds moved quickly, coagulating into otherworldly shapes and then dispersing into nothing, as if a magician were shrouding them under a gossamer veil and then laughing with a twinkle in his eye as he pulled it away.

 

 

Mountain mist explosion at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

The mountains seemed at times to be exploding.

 

We drove along the highway that runs through this park, awe-struck by the majestic scenery surrounding us.

Wisps of fog reached out along the base of the Teton Mountains and stole up their craggy flanks, giving the regal peaks a mystical air.

Sunlight came and went, teasing us as it lit the jagged faces and then withdrew and left them dark.

 

RV fifth wheel in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Dawn’s light played amid the mountain peaks

 

 

We roamed all around, enchanted by this unusual light, until some huge black clouds gathered overhead and gave us a frightening glare.

When they finally burst wide open, we huddled inside the buggy.  Rain pelted our roof, thunder echoed off the jagged peaks and lightning flashed all around us.

At last the rain stopped, and we ran along the Blacktail Pond overlook with vague hope in our hearts that there might be a good sunset.

 

 

Storm clouds over our fifth wheel RV

Storm clouds threatened and then burst with fury

 

We claimed our spots with our tripods and cameras on opposite promontontories, just in case.

I noticed another photographer setting up near me.

“Do you think there’s a chance of a sunset?” I asked him, making a face as I glanced at the grey skies.

“You never know.” He replied. “I’ve been coming here for years, and I’ve seen some incredible sunsets.”

 

Wild skies in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Wild skies at sunset

Just then, we both noticed a faint hint of pink in the sky.

As we stared at it, willing it to grow, the most stunning sunset I have ever seen unfolded.

In moments, the entire sky was on fire, flaming in waves of brilliant pink and orange.

The colors intensified, as if the flames were licking the mountaintops.

A pink glow began to radiate between the peaks.

 

Sunset in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Waves of color formed as the sunset drama played out

I could hear the shutter clicks of my companion and the “oohs” and “aahs” he was muttering.

I was doing the same thing, and hoping feverishly that Mark was as spellbound watching this magical drama over on his precipice as we were on ours.

I turned away from the valley for a moment and was shocked to see the sides of the storm clouds above us had suddenly begun glowing magenta.

 

 

Storm clouds and sunset in Wyoming

I turned around and saw the storm clouds glowing, as if from a fire within.

Two trees on the flat plain were silhouetted against this delicious, lugubrious sky.

And then, without a hint of warning, it was over.

Mark and I ran towards each other, bursting with excitement.

“Did you see that?”

“Yes. Did you get it?”

“I think so… Look at this one…”

Pink glow between the Teton Mountain Peaks Wyoming

Vibrant shafts of light radiate between the peaks.

Fire in the sky at Grand Teton National Monument in Wyoming

The gods play with fire in the sky over the Tetons.

Shwabacher Landing Grand Teton National Park before dawn

Before dawn, the misty peaks were reflected in the water.

We traded cameras to see each other’s pics, dashed into the rig and drove off in a flurry, totally flushed with excitement.

The next morning we set the alarm for oh-dark-thirty and snuck down to Shwabacher Landing to see if we might get lucky with a sunrise.

The mountains were shrouded in blue-gray mist.

Only the peaks were visible, but the reflections from the mirror-like water gave the scene an ethereal air.

 

Sunrise at Shawbacker Landing Grand Teton National Park

But all the sunrise drama was happening behind us!

We set up our tripods for our sunrise shot, totally focused on the mountains and reflecting water in front of us.

Then we turned around and our jaws dropped in astonishment as we watched the most vivid display of pink and orange developing behind us.

We were in total awe. But the cameras were facing in the complete opposite direction!

After a few minutes I finally regained my senses, yanked the camera off the tripod and fired off a few quick handheld shots of this glorious sunrise.

Sunrise lights the peaks in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Sunrise lights the tips of the mountains as fog rolls in

No sooner had the color faded in the eastern sky than the rising sun began to light the peaks of the Tetons to the west.

The mist was rising rapidly, leaving just the points of each jagged peak to poke its head above and glow pink for a few seconds.

We caught our images, but our hearts were pounding.

How crazy that a silent sunrise could steal over an entire valley and send us into paroxysms of frustration and thrills: “I’m missing it…No, wait, I’m getting it! I got it I got it!!”

Blushing mountain peaks at Grand Teton Naitonal Park Wyoming

The tips of the mountains catch the sunrise above the mist.

For the next few days we rose with the alarm clock to catch the sunrises over the water.

There were other photographers at every viewpoint, all jumping up and down to keep warm, and blowing into their hands to bring some life back to their fingertips.

We shared stories of missed shots, wrong camera settings, and the ecstasy of catching it just right.

Some photographers had caught The Big Fiery Sunset at Ox Bow and Shwabacher Landing where the theatrics in the sky were doubled by reflections in the water.

Stormy sunrise over an RV

Another stormy sunset fills the sky

Such good fortune!

The stormy skies continued to enchant us, and we were blessed with one stunning sunrise and sunset after another.

After nearly a week of this nonsense of getting out of our warm bed in the ice cold dark and not crawling back into that warm bed until many hours after sunset, we were bleary eyed and tripping over our own two feet.

But the Tetons had gifted us with their magic and we were grateful for every stunning moment.

 

Glowing with happiness at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Glowing with happiness in a truly spectacular place.

Prior to this visit, our RV travels in Wyoming had brought us to this magnificent valley twice. The first time, in our first year of traveling, we had naively rushed through way too fast, and the second, just two years ago, had been devoid of mountain views due to thick wildfire smoke in the air.

This visit, however, was taking us by storm, in the best and most literal sense.

We quickly decided to stick around a while to see what else these mysterious mountains would share with us.

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Craters of the Moon + Cataclysms from Sun Valley ID to Alpine WY

Camping in the Sawtooth Mountains

Sunset in the Sawtooths

August, 2014 – We had been enjoying a wonderful stay in Sun Valley, Idaho, spreading out in some great camping spots and taking in lots of free summertime outdoor events.

The wildfires that had nipped at our heels in Sedona, Arizona, and in Bend and eastern Oregon, were by now long forgotten, and after a few days of summer showers and thunderstorms, the air around us was crisp and clear.

We wanted to do a “signature hike” in the area when the sun finally resumed its rightful place in the sky, and a ranger suggested the hike to Baker Lake.

Starbucks insignia for Sun Valley Idaho

This had been the most popular hike in the area until it was devastated by the Beaver Creek wildfire of 2013.

Now it was a hike through a burnt forest.

“It’s still beautiful,” the ranger insisted.  “But in a different way.”

Well, we’d seen enough fires in action this year, why not see what a national forest looked like once the embers cooled a year later?

Baker Lake Road into the Sawtooth National Forest

Beautiful mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Our trail, which had once wandered between green pines, was soon passing between stands of charred trees that were stark reminders of the devastation

However, as we slowed down and took in the strange landscape around us, we soon found there was an eerie beauty to it all. A mysterious aura enveloped us.

The Beaver Creek Fire had been the result of two separate fires that had joined forces.

By the grace of God, the ranger told us, the winds had turned at the very last minute, before the flames raced down a canyon into town, sparing Ketchum from a true bath of fire.

Fire damaged trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

The Beaver Creek fire burned 180 square miles

As we hiked, we saw large shards of blackened bark had fallen off the trunks of the trees, leaving intriguing lace-like patterns on the red-brown wood.

Bark falls off the trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

Lace patterns on the tree trunks

Scorched logs lay scattered across the ground, each filled with the funny checkerboard patterns that develop as wood burns.

Hiking the Baker Lake Trail we see lupine blooming

A little lupine grows between the blackened tree roots

Scattered here and there between the singed roots and ravaged remains, little purple lupine flowers poked their heads through the cinders and basked in the sunshine.

A thicket of tiny purple flowers filled the spaces between a stand of black stick-like trunks, and a few yellow flowers smiled up at us from their hiding places amid the wreckage.

Life was returning.

RV Camping in the Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

Fire in the sky at sunset — flames of the gods!

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

We had been in Sun Valley for nearly a month, and we were ready to move on.  We packed up and made our way east from Ketchum, Idaho, through Craters of the Moon National Monument.  This monument is a vast sea of lava flows that is the result of a series of violent volcanic eruptions between Idaho and Wyoming.

Driving alongside this moonscape for many miles, there was nothing but black lava rock as far as we could see into the distance.

Ironically, here we were facing another cataclysm, one much bigger than a forest fire and dating from a much more distant time thousands of years ago.

Most of the hiking trails wound through crooked trees and craggy lava rock, but the best one climbed straight up along the lava cinders to the top of a cinder pile.

The more we explored the park, the more we felt its air of haunting melancholy.

Tree at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

Craters of the Moon has some wonderful landscapes

Placards along the trails told how, decades ago, in a misguided attempt to beautify the park, the National Park Service had poisoned all the trees that were afflicted with an ugly parasitic vine.

Only after all the parasitic vines had been successfully exterminated did the Park Service discover the delicate symbiosis between the vines and the now dead trees, one that is critical to the survival of the remaining trees.

Ancient volcanos in northern Idaho

An old volcano on the horizon in central idaho

We left the park pondering the immense forces of nature and the wisdom of tampering with their balance.  Can human knowledge control nature without disastrous consequences, or mastermind its energies without paying a price? An old volcano decorated with cell phone and radio towers slipped quietly past the car window.

High school class years on the hill in Arco Idaho

The hillside in Arco is covered with enormous white numbers.

Arco Idaho first atomic city in the world

Arco holds a unique distinction.

We arrived in the town of Arco, Idaho, and were immediately struck by the strange numbers that covered the hillside on the edge of town.  What the heck was that all about? Were there mines up there?

Looking a little closer, we soon realized these numbers were years — 2000, 89, 95 — and, asking around, we found out there’s been a long-standing tradition for the high school seniors to sneak up on the mountain and paint their school year on the rock.

That’s no small feat, as the numbers appeared to be 30′ or so tall!  Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management put an end to this practice about a decade ago.

 

ERB-1 Nuclear Power Plant control room_

The EBR-1 control room is right out of Star Trek.

We also learned that Craters of the Moon and the other vast barren landscapes in this region of the country are remote enough to have become the site of lots of weapons testing and nuclear power development over the years.

The little town of Arco stands out in history as the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power, and the nuclear power plant responsible, named EBR-1, is just down the road.

We took a tour, marveling at the 1950’s switches and dials in the control room. They seemed to come right out of Star Trek!

Storm clouds swirl above our RV

A fast moving storm swirls above our buggy.

RV parked under storm clouds

Storm clouds threaten…

Leaving Arco and EBR-1 behind, we traveled on to the shores of beautiful Palisades Reservoir. Just as we pulled the rig around to set up, nature unleashed her fury with a cataclysmic thunder and lightning storm.  I was so taken by the sky, as I “helped” Mark get the rig parked, that I began snapping photos of it with the buggy in the foreground.

Mud and rain out our window

It poured pitchforks for four days!

Mark, of course, was struggling to get the rig parked and set up before the deluge hit while I leaped around singing, “Wow, this is AMAZING, it’s so BEAUTIFUL!” as I took more photos.

Just in the nick of time, I got the camera put away and we got our little home set up.  For the next four days we hunkered down as the rain fell in relentless torrents.

Muddy tracks outside our door

Will we ever be able to leave?

At one point, a knock on our door summoned us to the aid of four teenage boys whose muddy joyride in their Rubicon had left them stranded, hubcap deep, in lakeside muck.

Luckily, the Mighty Dodge (with the help of Mark’s skillful driving and four eager boys pushing) was able to pull the Rubicon back to solid ground.

Sunrise over our RV in Idaho

A beautiful sunrise heralds the (temporary) end of the storms…

At long last we awoke to a glorious sunrise, and the puddles around us soon began to dry. We looked around for Noah’s raven and dove to send out as scouts, but his little winged messengers were nowhere to be found. We had to don our boots and go outside for a look ourselves! After a day of drying out, we deemed it safe to hitch up and leave, and we slowly rolled on to Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

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Costalegre: Santiago – Brilliant sunrises every day!

Manzanillo Sunrise in Santiago Bay

Awe-inspiring colors at dawn.

Mid-March, 2013 – We left the little cove of Las Hadas in Manzanillo and went around the corner to lovely Santiago Bay where we anchored of Playa La Boquita. Almost every morning we stayed in this bay we were treated to a divine art exhibition in the sky as the gods painted the heavens in brilliant shades.

Sunrise in Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Every day the patterns were different.

Sunrise Manzanillo Bay (Santiago)

Some days we just got a hint of color…

Sunrise Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Other days the colors filled the sky.

 

 

 

Sometimes the morning mural covered the entire sky, and sometimes it was just a pinpoint of color with reflections in the water.

Eager to watch the celestial drama, we bounded out of bed each morning absolutely thrilled to see the sky awash with yellows and oranges and pinks and reds.

Sunrise Santiago Bay Mexico

Even with blurry, sleepy vision, sunrise was worth getting out of bed for…!

Sunrise Santiago Bay Manzanillo

These were heavenly moments.

 

 

Each day’s heavenly artwork was completely different than that of the previous day, and seeing the wildly varying patterns of color was a wonderful reminder that each day we live is utterly unique, starting with the texture and color of morning’s earliest moments.

 

 

In Santiago Bay, Playa La Boquita is at one end of a very long and wide beach, and there is always lots of activity on this beach.

kid flies a kite on Santiago Beach

Afternoons on Playa La Boquita are perfect for flying kites.

Playa La Boquita Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Playa La Boquita is a beautiful, big, wide beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little kids played by the water’s edge and a variety of vendors wandered past with carts full of all kinds of goodies.

Santiago Bay beach vendor cart

This girl sure was cute, but I don’t think she could get the cart to go anywhere!

Playa la Boquita beach vendor cart

What a cool thatched roof!

Mark liked the thatched roof on this one vendor’s cart, and I liked the little girl riding it in the back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beach toy cart Santiago Bay

Skip shopping ahead of time and get your beach toys right at the beach!

Another vendor had every imaginable blow-up beach and water toy for sale, plus enough pails and shovels to dig to China and build lots of sand castles too. No need to go to the toy store before hitting this beach!

La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

Shifting sands…

La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

Between the waves…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark enjoyed getting some artsy images of the sand and the water while I was drawn to a little bird standing up to his knees in the water and fishing between the rocks.

Sandpiper Playa La Boquita

This little guy blended right into the rocks.

Bridge La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

There’s a wonderful foot bridge that leads to some pretty resorts at the far west end of the beach.

One of the hallmarks of this beach for cruising sailors is the tuba player. From late morning until late evening the deep tones of a tuba can be heard throughout the anchorage.

tuba player playa la boquita santiago

A tuba player waits his turn.

Groovy at anchor Santiago Bay

The swell at Santiago isn’t too bad…

 

When we walked the beach we found the tuba player – and then discovered there was more than one of them!

Several small bands with tubas wandered up and down the beach performing for the vacationers.

They would politely wait for each other so each tuba band got a chance to perform without intruding on the others.

 

 

Waves at La Boquita Manzanillo

…some of the waves are quite sizeable!!

This is a beach that gets some nice surf. The waves come in sets. Each wave grows slightly larger than the last until there are one or two really big crashers. Then they grow smaller until the beach actually seems quite calm.

Invariably, as we walked this beach, I would suddenly see a huge green wave out of the corner of my eye followed by a beautiful band of white frothy spray and the sound of thunder as it smashed on the beach. I’d grab my camera excitedly, but, of course, that would have been the big wave of the set.  I’d have to wait another five or ten minutes for the next photo-worthy one.

Club Santiago Homes La Boquita Beach Manzanillo

The beach villas in Club Santiago are lovely

Club Santiago Homes La Boquita Beach Manzanillo

I love the stone walls, the flowers and the palms.

But then I’d forget all about the waves and become intrigued by something else. The camera would be turned off and dangling on my hip. And then, suddenly, there it would be again: the bright green underbelly of a huge wave looming up and rolling over so beautifully. I’d grab my camera again, but it would be too late. I would have missed it once again!

Dinghy parking La Boquita Beach

Dinghy parking on the beach.

Club Santiago Walking Paths Manzanillo

The walking paths in Club Santiago inviting too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bottlebrush flower

Mark discovers a bottlebrush tree in bloom.

Getting a dinghy safely on the beach requires watching these wave sets too, but it’s not too bad a dinghy landing here.

tropical flower

Not sure what this flower is…

There’s a kind of designated parking area on the beach for the dinghies, complete with a rope you can tie your dinghy to so it doesn’t float off if the tide comes in while you’re away!!

Oasis bar club santiago mexico

The Oasis, a cruiser hangout.

The homes along this beach are beautiful. We wandered into the neighborhood of Club Santiago which fills this end of the beach.

The palm tree-lined paths and backs of all the homes were just as lovely as the fronts of them along the beach.

Life is Groovy

Life is groovy.

Some of the landscaping is very pretty, and Mark found some bottle-brush flowers and another exotic tropical flower that we weren’t sure what it was.

Back on the beach, we stopped at the Oasis Bar, a favorite cruiser hangout where you can enjoy a brewski in a lounge chair under an umbrella while watching your boat bobbing in the bay.

beach chairs club santiago manzanillo

Welcome to Santiago Bay!!

This was pretty good living here in the Manzanillo area. The days slipped by quickly, and before we knew it almost a week had passed.

We probably would have stayed even longer, but the crazy thing in Manzanillo is that the air quality suffers from the soot produced by the nearby coal-fired power plant.  After a few days, poor old Groovy was grey. Fortunately, the plant is in the process of being converted to natural gas, so the air in all of the Manzanillo area will be much cleaner in the future.

But we needed to give the decks a bath, so we hauled up the anchor and moved up the coast about 25 miles, setting our sights on the tiny cove at Cuastecomate.

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