On the road again: Kalispell, Bigfork, & Swan Lake

Can I grumble just a little? No! Well, it’s just frustrating to be in a beautiful place and shoot through a smokey haze. In fact, Richard has been unable to star or sun gaze. There, I grumbled! Now, let’s continue with our Montana experience.

In this post, I’m showing you three of our day journeys. The fires and smoke made it almost impossible to shoot in Glacier National Park (GNP), and we went wherever a truck could take us.

Again, unless you can hike miles, the Going To The Sun Road is the main attraction. So, one day we took off to Kalispell, a city larger than we’ve experienced in the region. We found a State Park and, at the overlook, saw the valley below. We also found Foy Lake. Lunch was at a small Italian place, and we enjoyed great pizza. Here are some images from Kaliispell.

 Bigfork was the following evening. It’s a small community on Flathead Lake–the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. Cute is the word to describe the town. We found a Forest Service picnic area and went down to the lake. You can see the smoke almost covers the horizon on the lake.

Also more towards evening was our visit to Swan Lake. Another quaint community, not far from Bigfork. Here we surprised a doe feeding locally. What a trip that was for me. She allowed me to get close, and was only scared away when Richard started the truck engine. Families were packing their picnic supplies and rafts, etc. We talked to a fireman who said the fires will end about October. This was the worst of the smoke. The featured image is from Swan Lake.

That night, we had a storm and heavy rain. The next morning, the sky was beautiful. Fortunately, we we had arranged for a boat ride at Two Medicine Lake and hike to Twin Falls in GNP that day. You’ll find out about that in another post.

Thanks for letting me grumble for a little bit!


On the road again: Try again, Glacier National Park & Hungry Horse Dam

I admit it, I am tenacious. I don’t give up easily. I mentioned in my last post that we went back into the Park to find Polebridge and Bowman Lake but the road was closed because of fire. So instead, we took a path near Lake McDonald. It was smokey, but not that bad.

After, we stopped in West Glacier and found the Canadian Visitor’s Center. We were going into Canada the next day to visit Waterton Lake National Park and needed to know the best route to take. The gal was very helpful, and, loaded with maps, directions and confidence, we left.

On the way home (the trailer), we decided to drive up to the Hungry Horse Dam and Hungry Horse Lake. It was a worthy trip. There are so many lakes in this area, and they are beautiful. While there, we met a family from Kansas doing a whirlwind road trip. After they left, I realized how lucky we are to be living on the West Coast. In Sacramento, we are 2 hours away from mountain life and beaches. We enjoy visiting several lakes and are surrounded by rivers.

Back to GNP and surrounding area. This trip would be perfect if it wasn’t for the smoke and the haze it creates. When you see the clouds emerging from the dissipating smoke, you realize what a beautiful sky it is. However this trip, we’re not seeing it. I’m hoping that for at least one day, it will clear. I don’t give up!

On the road again: Inside/out, Glacier National Park, Montana

Well, we tried. We wanted to get to Polebridge on the west side of Glacier National Park (GNP). We followed the signs within the park, and then we were out of the park. We like to take the challenge of going off the plan and drove on. The map said that if we drove 37 more miles we would get to Canada; Polebridge was before that. Easy? No.

A sign told us that the dirt road we were about to go on was going through private property, meaning—no trespassing. That’s okay. We passed farms and rural scenery, but no livestock. Do people live here all year round? We asked a gal who lives in White Fish, she said that a lot of them only summer here. So, now I’m curious as to why so much property for living around GNP for 3 to 4 months a year!

We did take the road that was supposed to take us back into GNP at Polebridge. After enjoying a delicious cookie at a gift shop, eatery and bakery, we embarked on the dirt road, but it soon turned into the road from hell. We turned back!

That was a couple days ago. I double checked the map and saw where we made our mistake. So today, we took off to find Polebridge and Bowman Lake on the west side of  GNP. We didn’t make it. A fire had forced the rangers to close the road and campground.

After dinner we went into White Fish to experience an evening Farmer’s Market. We did buy some chocolate huckleberry jam–delicious.

I’m not going to tell you what we did next; that will be in a post a few days from now. We just keep trying! Never give up!!


On the road again: More from the twisty Going To The Sun Road, Glacier National Park

I’ve been in a lot of National Parks throughout the USA. In fact, that’s how we typically plan our vacation–which park do we want to visit and what’s around there. Glacier NP was on the list when we went across country in 2013, but for medical reasons, we didn’t make it.

Now we’re here, 4 years later. And, now I understand what the Ranger meant the first day when she kept mentioning the Going To The Sun Road. There really aren’t many other paved roads! Most other NPs have a bunch of paved roads that can get you around. I’m not complaining, the road is beautiful and can take a whole day to drive. However, we’re trying to figure out how to get to the Canadian Waterton National Park.

In the meantime, I do have another set from our drive on the Going To The Sun Road. No more grumbling. I’m sure we’ll come up with a solution and find some more roads.

When these were taken, the skies were relatively clear and cloudy. Tuesday, August 8, there were four fires in the Park. We were surrounded by haze as we wandered in and out of the park. You’ll see the fire effects in my next post.

On the road again: On the Going To The Sun Road, GNP

We had three options when deciding how to discover what we could along the Going To The Sun Road (GTTS) in Glacier National Park (GNP). We chose to drive it ourselves and not take the free Park shuttle (which really didn’t stop at places we wanted it to) or the pricey Red Bus. It’s been my experience that when on tours, the photographer may want to take a slightly longer time to get the shot, so……..

It took us at least four hours to get across the 50 mile road through the Park. Yes, a lot of it was spent shooting. Richard even pulled out his cell phone to take some pictures. I’d lie if I said it was an easy drive. It was for me, the passenger, but not for Richard. Once we got to the east end of the Park, Richard was exhausted. An ice cream sandwich later, Richard felt better. We decided to go back to the RV park in Columbia Falls by going outside the park. A little over 2 hours later, we were back to the trailer–both tired.

It was worth it. The scenery was beautiful. Our National Parks are amazing and we need to do everything possible to protect them.

Because of our age and physical capabilities, I knew we’d do two days in the park and rest another, and things are happening that way. Today, I’ve been editing, walking and editing. Here’s the first installment of images. I’ll try to keep up by editing while Richard naps and on our days off.

Tomorrow we go into the park to discover what other options we have other than the GTTS Road.

On the road again: First glimpse GNP

Excitement churned inside me. This was to be our first time in Glacier National Park, located in Montana , but as we approached traffic was backed up 1/4 mile before we could show our senior pass and get in. I thought, not another Yosemite! I have seen many traffic jams in Yosemite Valley.

All we knew was that we needed to go on the Going To The Sun road that stretches across the park. Because we arrived late, we wanted to do something else for our introduction to the Park. Our friendly Park ranger kept telling us to either ride the tram or drive on the Going To The Sun road (GTTS). “You’ll see everything,” she said.

“But what about this area?” I asked, pointing on the map. She mumbled something about the GTTS road. I knew that conversation was hopeless. So we took our maps and literature back to the car. We mapped out a plan while we ate our lunch.

Since there was a 2 1/2 hour wait to get on the shuttle, we decided to walk to Lake McDonald and do the loop along  McDonald Creek. Well, we didn’t get on the right trail, but we weren’t alone. Two other couples were walking the wrong trail. It was pretty and moseyed along the creek.

We wanted to build up our walking/hiking legs slowly after sitting in the truck for four days. And this walk was the perfect distance. Tomorrow, we’ll get there early, hop on the tram, go all the way across the Park, and decide where to get off on the way back. I’m also thinking that if we wait until Monday, there may be less people.

We’ll decide tomorrow. At least for today we got our first glimpse of GNP.


We have arrived: Columbia Falls, Montana

Oh, we are the weary travelers. If we visit Glacier National Park again, we’ll be flying in and renting a vehicle! In our youth, driving almost 200 miles of twisty mountain roads would have been easy. But, now, almost 20 years more than the senior entry of 55 years, it’s more difficult. We arrived in Columbia Falls yesterday afternoon to our RV park for the next two weeks. We’re taking a lazy day today and will go into the the park tomorrow.

While on the road, I shot some more images from the truck window. I took these during our drive to Kooskia, ID. In spite of the highway, Idaho is a beautiful state. There are also 3 from the campground we stayed at. The new owners are updating it, but it’s great to be self-contained!

Yesterday, there was more of twisty Highway 95. We got an early start so our truck (a senior also) wouldn’t a difficult time pulling the trailer up the mountain. And, to my non-surprise, I was able to get some golden light drive-by shots. Once we got into Montana, the road was less twisty and the land became more flat. It took us a while to drive around the large Flat Head Lake. Smoke from fires hid the mountains. Just like California, Montana is on fire. When we checked into our RV park, the gal said they are praying for rain to put out the fires and reduce the smoke. Our hope is that when we get into the park, we have visibility.


And finally, while I’m doing this blog, Richard has been practicing with my camera and telescope as a lens, getting sun shots. The black dot, bottom left, is a sun flare. I’m hoping to get some good eclipse shots.


That’s all for now, these weary travelers are taking the rest of the day off!



On the road again: Getting to Glacier National Park

Our trailer is smaller, our trip is going to take less time, but we’re still excited about our first long trip since our cross country trip in 2013. This is the fourth day of driving the highways through California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho. While Richard is getting the truck lubed, I thought I’d write this blog.

Our first night was in Sparks, Nevada. We decided to take our time, Richard needs his naps so 300 miles a day would be enough. They did build a nice, small marina right near our RV park, and we took a walk. The featured image is of this marina and so are these below.


Our trailer brakes weren’t working the next morning, so we were delayed and hit the road later in the afternoon. Desert is desolate. Some are prettier than others, but the long stretch of straight road can be daunting. Being a bored passenger, I did some drive by shots. I actually liked the shadows on the mountains.

We stayed overnight at an RV park in Winnemucca, NV and then pushed on to Boise, ID where we are currently. Thanks to Karen B. who made this trip last month, we stopped at the Rome Station in Oregon for lunch. The food was terrific and the place was photogenic.

After dinner, we went to see the Idaho State Capitol building and part of downtown Boise. They had just closed the Capitol building to visitors, but I did get to shoot the outside in the golden hour. Downtown was just the kind of place you’d like to walk. There were many upscale stores, small boutiques, banks, and parking that was free for an hour.

So, here I sit, waiting for Richard. We’ll eat lunch and then get on our way. Next stop–Kamiah, ID, and then to Columbia Falls, MT for a two-week stay visiting Glacier and surrounding area.

Macro time: WPA Rock Garden, William Land Park, Sacramento

If it weren’t for a friend’s gentle push, I would have gone back to the car and swapped out my macro lens for my walk around lens. I’m so glad she persuaded me to use the macro. It’s a great lens: 105 mm, 2.8, Sigma; and I hardly use it because there’s always a slight breeze.

Karen taught me to increase my ISO so I could shoot at a faster shutter speed, and I got amazing results. I’ll be using that lens more because I do love macro photography. Although the WPA Rock Garden is a small area, we were shooting for about 2 hours!

This was my last time out shooting because we needed to prepare for our trip to Glacier National Park. Right now I’m exhausted. We packed the trailer today, except for refrigerated food in triple digits. I did try to do a lot during the morning. This is our first vacation since our 2013 cross country trip. We’re also going to be in Idaho for the solar eclipse, and in a great vantage spot. We’ll be attaching my D3100 to a small telescope, so wish me luck. I have a couple of days to practice. Richard will be using his sun scope to capture images.

After that, we’ll head into Oregon to visit my older granddaughter. I’m so looking forward to this trip. And, yes, I’m bringing my macro lens with me.

Images from the WPA Rock Garden.


Oh Dear, No Deer: Effie Yeaw, Carmichael

As the heat continues, we look for places to shoot that are open early in the morning to avoid the rising temperatures. We chose Effie Yeaw Nature Center for a recent Tuesday shoot. This is a nature preserve along the American River in Carmichael.

Typically the deer are out in the early hours. When I took my young grandkids there, we saw a full herd in the first meadow, and we found bucks on the other side. Marlene and I had the joy of walking (on a path) through a heard one time. But, this time we didn’t see a deer–not one. I wondered where do they go to hide? It’s not a large preserve. One was spotted near the pond at the entrance.

So, without our dear deer, we looked for other things to shoot. Lesson learned: there’s always something to shoot. It’s what you make of it! We walked and shot for a couple of hours and then went for an early lunch.

After lunch, we went back to the Vedanta Society’s pond to see if the Hyacinths we in the pond.  There were some but not a lot.  During lunch we talked about what other outings we could schedule with this summer being so hot. I think you’ll have to wait to see where we go next!