Our Travel Blog 2017

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Then, when I awoke at 6:00am and turned on the TV I heard someone say…. “Close is OK for horseshoes, but it doesn’t work for an eclipse”.

So… I went back to the bedroom and shook JoAnn awake and said, “Lets grab our eclipse glasses and some water bottles and go see how far south we can get”….! On our way we determined that Debois Idaho might be the closest place for us within the totality band. Three hours and about 230 miles later we pulled off at an exit about 30 miles south of Debois at Hamer Idaho. As we exited we could see about a hundred cars parked around a potato shed dome just to the east of the exit. “That looks like a good place we said and pulled in amoung the others. Shortly after we had settled into our lawn chairs, the moon started over the face of the sun. It took me about 15 minutes to find an acceptable exposure range for my camera…. (“It’s harder than I thought”).

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As I looked around our scene, I noticed there were several RV units, lot of pickups and cars from numerous states. All were parked on a dusty lot and most of the occupants were in their lawn chairs.

Nothing about the eclipse was what I expected. As I frantically searched for ecamera settings, the light gradually dimmed and took on an unnatural eerie appearance. My first shots caught the process about 1/3 along. It was really hard to see much change in the light even when all that was left was a small crescent. By then you could tell the light was a little less bright, but you could still see shadows of people and cars, just dimmer. I expected that as it came closer to totality the light would just gradually go away, be darker for a couple of minutes, then gradually come back. NOT SO!! In a matter of 1 or 2 seconds the light just “popped off” as the sun’s rays disappeared behind the moon.

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We took off our glasses, a little timidly, and saw the amazing penumbra and sun’s corona appear around a black moon. Forcing our eyes to look away, we were shocked to see how dark things were. You could still see to walk around because of the corona’s light but it was getting very dark. To the west, it looked like night. To the east a rosey sunset like horizon appeared. Stars began to show themselves. Two minutes later, the sun “popped out” again and it gradually became a sunlit day again.

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I am so thankful that I heard that person make that statement about “horseshoes”…. I would not want to have missed this experience. Even with the almost 500 mile day, it was a great retirement day….!!

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We have come to understand that almost everything in Deer Lodge is western…. And why not? The town speaks Montana through and through….

A cow throws out candy… There are lots of horses, and of course lots of tractors.. I heard one little girl ask her friend, “Why are there so many tractors”… The friend answred, “Who cares? They all throw candy”… !

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Demolition Derby Victum

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4-wheeler, Jeeps, motorcycles… and all it takes to make a float is and old trailer, a few bales of hay, and a few buckets to hold the candy that everyone tosses… and of course “Smoky the Bear” rides along…..

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Courtesy of Uncle Sam, we went to a small town in southern Switzerland, where we went to bed at the foot of the Matterhorn, but did not see the mountain until the following morning.

The Tetons can be somewhat the same. They often have a tendency to hide behind clouds, so you can’t see them.

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Our trip started that way, with low hanging clouds shrouding the highest peaks. As the day progressed, snow and rain covered the mountain tops and gradually worked down almost half way down the side. The next day started about the same.

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If fact, it wasn’t until early afternoon that the peaks started to show themselves. By mid afternoon the sun was out in full and the peaks were showing off their brilliance. We are glad we waited.

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The Tetons are beautiful mountains. Unlike some ranges, the Tetons seem to rise up from the plains, without any foothills or smaller ranges leading into them. It’s pretty awe inspiring to stand at the foot of the Grand Teton and look up into it’s heights.

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This was a great side trip with friends Sharon and Jerry. Everything is better with friends along…..!

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We were curious to see if those memories of Bryce Canyon are still accurate after all of the incredible places we have visited.  We have visited many of our country’s national parks during the past several years and Bryce Canyon sticks in our minds.

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An evening and a morning drive along the viewpoints was all it took to confirm our memories. Bryce Canyon is perhaps the most unusual of all the parks we have visited. It’s almost like going into a cavern of staglagmites except there’s no roof…. !

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Bryce Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Natural Bridge, Farview Point, Paria Point, all have their own interpretation of this amazing canyon. We have several days here and are looking forward to returning to the various viewpoints for different light conditions….. Please excuse us if we get camera happy…. !!

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Bryce Canyon, as with Zion and the Grand Canyon has shuttle service to take you from viewpoint to viewpoint. At this time of year, we found that simply driving along the roads to the overlooks was an easy way to see the canyon. During high traffic season the shuttle may make more sense due to possible parking problems along the viewpoints. We had no trouble parking at any of the viewpoints with the exception of Sunset Point which was pretty much covered up. This howeer, was during the middle of the day when traffic was the highest. We went back at sunset and had no problem parking at Sunset Point…… go figure !

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We were here in early May…. The days were bright and clear with cool temperatures. A light jacket felt comfortable. The nights actually were cold…. Temps dropping to the upper 20s and low 30s.

Bryce Canyon did not disappoint us at all. It remains one of our favorites of the National Parks we have visited…. !

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