A new year means new ways for people to cause trouble and new strange behaviors and new foolishness.
First day in park, arrive at Norris at 07:00. Call for West Entrance to assist West PD. Woman at restaurant, drunk and disorderly. Not clear if call by owner's wife or if owner's wife causing the trouble. Call to stand down 20 min later.
EMS (Emergency Medical Services) pager callout— for two employees, aged 19 and 20, at Lodge HR office with bear spray in the eyes.
Grizzly in the old Old Faithful corrals and athletic fields area.
Call about car at Lone Star trailhead stuck in snowdrift. Needed tow truck to pull it out about 8 feet.
Medical call in late evening of 19 year old with severe head laceration received "from the ceiling". Bleeding was under control by time EMS arrived. Shortly after that a report of someone, wrapped in a blanket, was accosting people stopped waiting at the one lane overpass. They were searching for him when I decided it was a good time to go to sleep.
At Midway, person called in to report that they hit, and knocked down, the stop sign at the exit from the parking lot. Or, as the responder said, "destroying government property."
Report of 6 people from silver van with Calif plates out at Gentian Pool.
Multiple burglar alarms at OF water treatment reservoir being caused by a squirrel.
Maintenance saw rocks being collected along Firehole Canyon Dr. Car stopped on Fountain Flats. Driver consented to search. Car packed but labeled contraband found. Driver cited.
Right afterwards, car from OF pulled over for doing 66 in 35 zone. Cited with court appearance.
Seemed to take a lot of time to take care of a fire alarm at the Inn, despite report of sparking and a fire extinguisher being used.
One evening during the springtime bear closures of the Lower Basin, someone noticed that there seemed to be a lot of cars (Eleven) parked at the Fairy Falls trailhead. Patrols went in from there and Ojo Caliente. Only a family of five from Iowa were encountered and cited.
New type of traffic stoppage-- tree jam due to fallen tree.
Tesla on West Entrance road needing tow to West because it ran out of power just past Seven Mile Bridge.
At Fountain Paint Pots, drone pilot only got a warning. Then things got interesting. Car hit an elk. Elk survived, but was near the road. That attracted attention of not only cars passing by, but also a wolf. We heard about this just before entering Fountain Flats while returning from Norris. We made it through as trafic was already being moved along. About an hour later, the wolf was still trying to figure out how to get that meal when a grizzly bear joined in on the fun. Found out later that wolf was chasing elk, and this got caught on dashcam video. Elk later moved from road, where it had been "10 feet from fog line."
Rockfall at Gibbon Falls. Cleanup impeded because there's still debris coming down. Then weather closures for other two routes to Norris, cutting it off for rest of morning.
Next day rockfalls on West Entrance road. At least one car ran over some of the rocks and needed service
Power outage from at least Norris south lasting several hours causes the noisy Old Faithful generator to be used. This causes overheating and trips fire alarms in building.
Call from Fountain Paint Pots about two people off trail in Kaleidoscope Group. Way off trail-- "400 yards", "quarter mile". Possibly looking for "bathing ". Ranger headed that way asked for possible assistance from Geology if they had to go after them. Instead, people returned to FPP, where they were rewarded with a return visit to Yellowstone to meet with the magistrate later this summer.
"Fifty foot RV with 50 foot trailer" blocking lane in OF parking lot. Blocked in by other vehicles so couldn't move.
Late night report of dispatching a bison just off the road at Terrace Spring.
Report of "child of 13" riding skateboard on boardwalk at Midway.
Tour guide has medical emergency at FPP, stranding vehicle and two clients who need to get back to Jackson.
Maintenance must've started their holiday weekend early, because the next (Friday) afternoon, the bison carcass was still there. (We saw it going to and coming from Norris.) That's when driver of rental RV made inquiry to NPS person at Madison about removing the horns as keepsake. That attention finally got the bison moved. (Why not carve off some hamburger too?)
In OF employee trailer area, afternoon report of caged dog barking all day. Dog confiscated and relocated to ranger station.
Report of bear south of Daisy. (Not sure if “Daisy” the turnout, or “Daisy” the geyser.) Turned out to be coyote. Nevermind.
The radio adventures in the first couple of days since the last posting were dominated at times by the Lone Star Fire closures and the chaos that those closures caused. It didn't help when one of those closures is on the Saturday of a holiday weekend with the road at Mud Volcano also closed. Since then, things got back to normal.
Call about theft from motorcycle saddlebags. Took a while for NPS to make contact, but when they did, the missing items were quickly recovered and the culprit identified-- a raven.
Massive search for man who got irate in Snowlodge lobby, threw a drink and stormed out. Was described as intoxicated when he then abandoned his family in their car in the parking lot and disappeared. Search included off trail areas between paved bike trail and highway, trails to Biscuit, and even a helicopter. Was eventually found on the overpass. Not sure what happened next, although it appears his family ended up staying in Snowlodge cabin that night.
Person stopped at Fairy Falls parking area for "resource" who had a prior local record for "MVA" . Given a written warning for rock collection.
Call at 09:30 about a tent set up "in meadow at exit to Firehole Lake Drive" with the car well off the road. Three were cited for OB (out-of-bounds) Camping and one for Car Off Road, all with a court date in October.
Dead bat at the Lodge. Correction, live bat, at least it's moving a bit. And tourists seem to be overly interested in playing with it.
If you call about a lockout from your vehicle, and you have an expired driver's license, you will get your vehicle opened and a citation for the expired license.
During the Labor Day weekend traffic mess, there was a call about a dead deer next to the southbound lane just south of the entrance to the Fountain Flats Drive.
The Craig Pass road may have been reopened the morning, but the trailheads and picnic areas were still closed, to keep people out in case they suddenly needed to close the road again. (As happened on Sunday). That didn't stop people from getting cited for being in closed area.
The last day at Norris started with the morning report of a collision between cement truck (hauling 11 cubic yards) and an RV trailer right at the entrance to the Madison Campground. Callout and canceling of OF fire crew, as well as a traffic mess and debris all over the place.
For the first few days after the earlier radio report, things seemed pretty quiet. Mornings especially, when sometimes I'd wonder if the radio was even on. Only a few medicals in the afternoon. Then things got back to normal.
There were two reports of medical problems in between West Thumb and Old Faithful. So several local units headed southeast in an attempt to respond. The cardiac incident wasn't found, but the pickup truck with the seizure flagged down a responder at Kepler. One of the other responders was an ambulance from the Lower Basin. South of Midway, with lights flashing, it was involved in a minor rear-end collision. There's one NPS driver with lots of paperwork to fill out.
If you aren't going to store your food properly in your Madison campsite, that will attract official attention. So you should not leave your marijuana where it's visible when someone comes around to confiscate your improper storage. That person got two citations, one for "possesion of less than three grams" along with the storage violation.
You only get one verbal warning for speed. Even if it was last year, you are getting a citation the next time.
There was the pair of cultists out at the boardwalk around Old Faithful with loudspeakers exhorting the people there to repent of their wicked ways. At first they refused to stop, so Responding Ranger called for backup, with lights on. They relented and left area. They were driving a Prius with Washington plates, so is a good chance that they were Seattle Democrats who "believe in science."
There was the group of nine who were first reported engaged in "thermal tresspass" out by Grand Geyser, "cussing out" those who requested they stay on trail. They were officially met where the bridge trail to Geyser Hill meets Old Faithful loop. I didn't hear what happened next, but assume it wasn't much.
There were the motorcyclists who had already gotten citations for crossing the double yellow line over by Lake. Their next work of genius was on the road between West Thumb and Lake, where they would slow down for a while, use a turnout letting people pass, then speed up and pass them, starting the cycle again. Except one of the cars they were annoying was off-duty medical with a radio. So they were met at Kepler Cascades by Old Faithful Patrol. They only got a warning, unfortunately.
Visitor assist for a phone lost down a storm grate at the Scaup Lake turnout. They could see it, but could not reach it.
I missed the start of the traffic stop, but you know things are getting interesting when the Ranger is asking for VIN information, including license plate number and registered address. Did hear the result, after the stop had lasted about an hour-- mandatory court appearance for failure to pay fees, no vehicle registration, no display of plates and no proof of insurance.
The first one-way trip to Mammoth I've heard of this trip was someone who got stopped for reasons unknown. But they found "crystaline substance", marijuana pipe, meth pipes (one broken), cuts on subjects hand and blood on broken pipe and around front seat. They also did a field blood draw.
There was the vehicle at Gibbon Picnic that spilled several quarts of oil due to a leaky drain plug.
Waiting at Norris, heard about the couple who'd brought in a dog burned in a thermal feature to the Old Faithful Clinic. Were described as "non-coperative" about where the incident occurred, but found out later that could've been due to a language problem. Never did learn more because it's hard to hear the radio when New Crater/Steamboat is erupting.
The OB (Out-of-Bounds) Camper in the Madison gov't housing area. Seems she got "separated from her party" and decided trying to hide among other parked cars would help and she'd escape notice. Ended up in one of the emergency sites at Madison, so I guess it worked.
There was the traffic stop of an SUV southbound across Fountain Flats. They were given a verbal warning for "child out of sunroof."
The "biker" who may or may not have taken some beers from the Lodge cafeteria without paying after causing a scene over the use of masks. He was contacted outside during eruption of Ol' Filthy and given verbal warning about tresspass. (In other words, leave when you are told to leave.)
Not much radio traffic about the Lone Star Fire, even on the "fire" channel. Must be using other frequencies.
Also, it appears that if you are caught operating a drone, you will be scheduled to make a return visit to see the Magistrate at Mammoth. Have heard that happen three times now.
For the first time in years, I listened in to the NPS radio channels. Got out of the habit, and had forgotten how entertaining it can be.
Some of the entertainments from the past couple of weeks
The woman who, because of a family dispute, decided to head straight down from Monument to Beryl. She broke her leg about a quarter of the way down, and had to be helicoptered out.
The campsite "100 yards from the Lone Star Trailhead". These three people got citations for "out-of-bounds camping", a fire outside of a firepit, and a dog in a closed area.
The two motorcyclists who were filmed engaged in "thermal trespass" in the Black Sand Basin. When Law Enforcement Ranger arrived, he called for backup. The radio check had one of them with a conviction in 1988 for "assault on a police officer" among many other incidents. They both ended up getting a court date.
The old guy who got cited for "disorderly conduct" after an altercation in the Upper Ham's Store over masks. Something about spitting was involved, it seems.
The Life Flight helicopter that made it to Old Faithful, but couldn't leave because of a check engine light. They had to send in a second one.
The Mercedes that got high centered parking off road north of Midway, and needed a towtruck to get out.
The bicyclist who went from Geyser Hill to Biscuit, only to have Law Enforcement waiting for him with a citation.
The guy whose traffic stop check included a "non-extraditable warrant from Virginia."
The guy who got cited for camping up by Harlequin Lake. It was dark and he had to tear it all down.
The people who drilled holes into trees in the Madison Campground so they could insert hooks and hang their hammocks.
The fifth-wheel that couldn't make one of the corners at the fire road emergency bypass without taking out a bunch of cones.
The drone operator out by Castle who got a court date.
The leaking propane tank over by one of the ranger housing units.
The day there were three medical emergencies over by the Lodge and the Photo Shop. They had to call in backup from Grant that day.
Various boats, kayaks and floatation devices used by people in the Firehole River above the falls south of the closed swimming area.
That's just what I remember and was able to decipher. Should have plenty to post for Part Two in a few weeks.
This posting is a bit late, but when I decided to resurrect this site, I figured I should also write up my eclipse experiences. (And post it on the correct date...)
Began thinking about the eclipse shortly after the last eclipse I saw, in Aruba on 1998 Feb 26. While there were going to be a few others I might try for, like the one in Europe in 1999, I knew that I would not be missing one that would be crossing Wyoming.
It was disappointing that the path of totality would just miss the Yellowstone thermal areas. According to my calculations, even Shoshone would only experience 99.5%. There may have been shadow bands there for a few seconds, but I knew that I wouldn't be the one seeing them.
At first, like a lot of people, the idea of the Tetons being in the path of totality got my attention. But I also figured out that from Jackson Hole, the sun would be to the southeast while the mountains would be to the west. Might be amusing to see them disappear into the umbral shadow, but that was about it. On the Idaho side, there's a ridge blocking the view of them until you get nearer to Tetonia. And the logistics of getting there and back didn't look great.
Living in Colorado meant that every trip to and from the park meant that we got to drive along almost 200 miles of the path, from Flagg Ranch to Lander. Why not see it from someplace along US-26/US-287? Would also have the advantage of watching for interesting places on every trip. So by the start of 2017 had come to the conclusion that the place to be would be off the main highway on the Wind River Reservation east of Crowheart.
The first complication was figuring out how to work with the land restrictions within the reservation. Sure we could get "trespass permits", but so would a whole lot of other people. Those had to be acquired in person just a few days before their use. That would mean it would be hard for a group of people to all go to the chosen site. It would also leave access until the last minute, with no way to get them for the tribal authorities figured out that they had an opportunity to really jack up the rates.
On our first trip to Yellowstone in May, we took the time to scout out a few of the side roads to confirm that access wasn't going to happen. Every side road is posted with "No Trespassing" signs, and from what I could read online, they meant it.
But we did find that there was non-tribal land accessible in what are shown as the reservation boundary. The access road to the Diversion Dam wasn't posted, and there were some wide spots along the road that, while not great, could function as emergency backup sites in case the place we eventually found wasn't going to work out.
Looking at the map, Suzanne suggested Ocean Lake about 20 miles farther east. One thing we wanted was a wide open view to the west in order to see the approaching darkness. That area looked really flat, and from what I could tell, was not tribal land, but a Wyoming wildlife refuge. So the next trip we left for Yellowstone early in order to look it over, and from what we could tell, it could work. There was open camping along the eastern shore, and except for the last few miles, local paved road access. The Mills Point area, where there was a boat ramp and pit toilets, looked like the best place.
And there was mention of Ocean Lake online. That was a concern, as we didn't want the place to be overrun with campers from California before we arrived. But no one specifially mentioned that spot.
As a backup, we took a day off during our two week Yellowstone visit in July to check out possible places in Idaho. I figured the Idaho National Energy Lab (INEL) would be restricted and help keep people a bit more bottled up along I-15, so we went as far a Howe just so those areas wouldn't be a complete surprise. On the way back I finally got to drive the road from Dubois (Idaho) to Island Park. There's a fair amount of gravel road, but well maintained and definitely would function as a way of getting around Rexburg, St.Anthony and Ashton.
We decided that we'd visit Yellowstone that weekend, no matter where ever we were going, because it would be easier to head out from there early in the morning as opposed to trying to leave Denver that morning. We left on Friday, and made one last visit to Ocean Lake. First we went through Lander, and where they were already starting to get ready for Monday. Just some closures around a downtown park, nothing that should have an effect on driving through later. Got to Ocean Lake and were pleasantly surprised that our chosen area was completely empty. That made us feel a little better, as we did not want to arrive to find several RVs that had put down roots. So on to the Upper Basin.
The visit to Yellowstone was different this time. For one thing, it was my first visit since 1985 that I didn't have a bike. Thanks to Fan & Mortar, I got to relive the experience of being a gazer in 1983 when they were really active and would sometimes walk down there multiple times in a day.
The crowds were different, too. Gone were all the usual American families. It seemed like the only people we heard speaking English were gazers. When we could understand people, the topic under discussion almost always seemed to be, "Where are you going for the eclipse?" As I'd suspected, most people had given that no thought, so any site off of a main road should not be overwhelmed.
Still, we were a bit paranoid, and decided that we'd head out early Sunday morning. On the drive we found plenty of evidence that the areas were getting ready. There were extra porta-potties stationed at pullouts, and the tribal patrols were in evidence. (They did finally decide to open a few places up, and charge something on the order of $40 per person for access, which is actually less than what it would normally cost.) In Dubois made sure that we had a full tank of fuel. With that, could easily get to Laramie. Then we double checked our backup site just past the US-287/26 split, and it was empty. So onward to Ocean Lake.
There we found the Mills Point area empty. We wanted a spot along the lake itself, and the best one was open. There was one RV set up to the north, at what appeared to be a well-used group campsite, a place that we wouldn't have gone to anyhow. A few hours later, some other people appeared, but mostly during the day it was local local families using the boat launch spot to play in the water. By evening, they may have been five or six campsite in use.
It was a pretty nice spot. The bugs weren't too bad, and during the day it was mostly calm. Suddenly at around 17:00, the wind picked up off the lake, and with our tent threatened to move on its own, we weighted it down a bit more. The bugs came out, too, but they seemed to be the non-biting type. I was a nice view, and plenty dark, with no lights nearby, which is one of those considerations for an eclipse people ignore until that streetlight turn on automatically just before totality.
Overnight, I heard some people arrive, but since none were really close, we ignored them. At dawn people started appearing. A long line of cars appeared, obviously an organized group. Who proceeded to setup right next to that occupied group site north of us. That's why I didn't want it. Then Linda Strasser and Matt Hocker found our site, and a little while later, the Mike Keller family did too.
There was some high cloudiness, and a definite band of clouds to the west, headed east. But that all made observations difficult for someone else out as totality approached. In the moments before totality, the bugs came out again.
Not a whole lot to say about the eclipse itself. If you've seen one, you know what they look like. This one was much like the one I saw in Aruba in 1998-- not long enough, with too much happening and too much to see and experience. Even when trying to plan ahead on what to do and look for, things get ignored or forgotten. (It wasn't until the last few seconds that I remembered to try and look for stars and planets nearby.)
With the wide open horizon in all directions, the changes in lighting were easily seen. One factor that is much more obvious on a video recording than it was at the time was how the position of the shadow affects the lighting. At the start, what light there was was coming from the east. By the end, its from the west. Even though it is dark the whole time.
I looked for shadow bands both before and after, but there weren't any that any of us saw. One woman from another nearby group said she did seem some right after the end.
After the eclipse, we all took off fairly quickly. Originally I looked to see if there was some way to avoid going through Riverton, and I could not find a way. As it turned out, going through town was easy. The traffic on Wyo-135 was a bit heavy, but moving pretty much at the speed limit. Of course, there had to be a few people who needed to keep leapfrogging ahead, as if they were going to get back home to Denver any faster that way. After a while, it looked like most people figured that out, as the passing died out.
The first bottleneck I'd expected was at the Sweetwater Junction, where we'd have to make a left turn to get onto US-287. But it turns out the Wyoming road department was on the job. Not only did they have someone directing traffic at the junction, but they'd turned off the traffic lights at the one lane bridge construction zone just east of the junction. There they had flagmen allowing the long line of traffic moving east to go through unimpeded.
The traffic continued to be heavy, but orderly. In Jeffery City it looked like there were actually people using the gas pumps that appeared a few years ago. Then, just as we left Fremont County, the fun began. Suddenly there was a long line of halted traffic. After a while, figured out what the problem was, when we saw a similar backup off in the distance of cars headed south from Casper. These two lines merged, and there just wasn't the capacity to handle them. So we got to see a "once in a lifetime event", an actual traffic jam at Muddy Gap, Wyoming.
Even after the merge, there was stop-and-go traffic until we were past the first passing zone. Again, it was as if it took most people some time to figure out that there wasn't much point in passing in traffic that heavy. But after that, it was again consistently heavy but moving smoothly until we reached the bypass over to I-80. It seemed that much of the traffic was headed into Rawlins, probably headed west. We gassed up without a wait, and then got on I-80 where it wasn't much different than the usual weekday drive.
Heading south from Laramie there was another backup, this time probably from people trying to bypass I-25. Normally when we head home we'd use Owl Canyon Road, just north of Ft. Collins to get over to I-25, but this time we decided that it would be better to follow US-287 all the way home. Turns out it was the right decision, as we completely avoided the mass of people headed home from the Casper area. Driving through all those little towns was slow, and I'll probably never do that again unless something similar makes I-25 unusable. We got home at sunset, only a couple of hours later than if it had been a normal drive home.
Finally, it's not too early to start planning for 2024 Apr 08, especially since it's going to be in areas in which I'm not familiar.
I was browsing through my copy of Volcanoes of the World when I came across an interesting tidbit that led to other interesting tidbits. This book is subtitled "a regional directory, gazetteer and chronology of volcanism during the last 10,000 years." It was last published in 1994, so it's not totally out of date.
The main body is a listing of all the world's volcanoes, each given its own ID code and a single line summary, followed by every known eruption, each in its own line. So the information there is pretty compact, and requires a key to decipher what all the symbols and characters and numbers men. The inside cover contains that key, and there I noticed the first tidbit of interest. This book is based on a work done in 1951: the 22 volume "Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World", known as CAVW. Since I've not seen that, I have no idea how they filled that many volumes, assuming each volume is not more than a few pages. But in the chart for "Eruptive Characteristics", listed is not only the codes for the book, but those used in CAVW.
Thanks to computers and the limitations of the ASCII character set, most tables these days limit themselves to a small set of characters. That wasn't the case in 1951, and the CAVW used a lot of specialized little icons instead. Some of these have made it into the Unicode character sets, and more on that later. But what caught my eye was that one of the eruptive types listed is "Fumarolic activity", along with the CAVW symbol, a circle with a double headed arrow pointing up. That made me curious, were there symbols for geysers, hot springs and other hydrothermal activity? Let's find out.
Some online searching for a list of CAVW symbols turned up nothing, but I did discover something else. There's a Unicode symbol for "hot springs." Unicode is an attempt to encode all sorts of standard alphabets and symbols, leaving how they are displayed up to the computers involved. But inside the definitions are just about every math or typographic symbol you've ever encountered, and many more: Chess set symbols, arrows, and other decorative items used in printing. Seems that the "hot springs" a standard symbol used on Japanese maps and that's reason enough to add it. And here it is (assuming you are using a Unicode compliant browser):
I also found that the fumarolic activity arrow exists, too:
To use them yourself, on webpages or anyplace where an attempt to display HTML is made, just use "♨" for the hot springs, or "⥉" for the fumaroles. I still need a symbol for geyser, though.
Speaking of geysers on film, I thought I'd toss out a few other places where geothermal features become part of a movie's set or otherwise make an appearance.
One prominent example is the John Wayne film North to Alaska. None of it was filmed there, with the Wayne character's mining shack located at Hot Creek, Calif. instead. In almost every outdoor scene you can see one or more springs sputtering away, and their sounds are prominent in the audio background.
The terraces at Mammoth make an appearance as the planet Vulcan in the first Star Trek movie. At that point, I usually tune out because I've seen all the special effects that I care about.
There is a winter scene of Charleton Heston as an 1830s fur trapper climbing around Castle Geyser in The Mountain Men.
I'm sure there are more, and will try to add to this list as I hear about them or see them. The imdb.com database lists a number of films with Yellowstone as a location, but no details on what or where in Yellowstone was filmed. There are a lot of silent shorts from around 1901 listed, and it would be interesting to know more about them, and how to get access to them.
And then there's all the cartoon characters from Yogi Bear to Elmer Fudd who've been shot out of Old Faithful, but I'll leave building that list to someone else.
The migration home (every migration is a round trip) was boring and almost uneventful. As always, I packed up the night before and then left before dawn at 04:45. Took me 13 hours and 22 minutes to travel 752.9 miles. Not too bad considering there were stops along the way, a few passes to climb, 30 miles in the park, and the last thirteen miles taking 40 minutes along the beautiful West Lake Sammammish Parkway into beautiful downtown Redmond.
One small incident at the very beginning. On the way out, encountered the first oncoming vehicle north of Nez Perce Creek. Was still getting used to not having driven for 6 weeks, and the lighting was such that it was still hard to see details despite moonlight and dawn. Came around a curve and wondered what was it about the road that didn't look right. It was a large elk standing in the other lane, just sort of staring stupidly at me (about as stupidly as I was staring at him as I approached). I swerved around, and that was it. Like I said, other than the radio stopping working when I left the last rest stop (Elk Heights, hmmm...) it was perhaps one of the most boring trips I've had on that route.
So when I arrived yesterday, I checked in moments before Old Faithful erupted. No one at the desk, so I breezed right through to my cabin. By the time I'd unpacked and run most of my errands, I decided I could spend a little time in the Lower Ham's parking lot. As I turned the corner from the main road to the parking lot, there was another Faithful eruption just starting. I just find the timing interesting. (Not that I'm superstitious.)
Because I spoke too soon in the last posting. It seems at that point, or on the drive between there and my cabin, the power steering fluid reservoir on my truck developed a leak, with fluid dropping onto the alternator and spraying all over the engine compartment. So for the next few hours, all I could really do is sop up the leak as the fluid drained, and wait for the repair shop at the Upper Gas station to open on Friday.
And it's also somehow appropriate that the first eruption that I see from the start would be Grand as I'm tying up my bicycle at the Castle bikerack. A one burst in a snow shower.