Tag Archives: commentary

National Parks trip – Glacier

Our National Parks trip ended at Glacier National Park where we stayed at the Lake McDonald Lodge.  Glacier is not named for its (diminishing) glaciers but for the process of glaciation that formed the park’s terrain.

There are two routes that run north/south on the eastern and western side of the park.  Lake McDonald Lodge is reached by the western route.  Going-to-the-Sun run cuts directly across the park from west to east through Logan Pass but, due to the high elevation and heavy snows, it is often closed until late June.

Since we took our trip early, the road was only open to Avalanche Creek.  We did get to hike the Avalanche Creek trail up to Avalanche Lake and were rewarded with breathtaking views as well as siting both a black bear and grizzly bear!

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Glacier Black Bear

Glacier Grizzly

 

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National Parks trip – to Butte, MT?

 

Butte, MT is not on most people’s list of places to visit when going to National Parks.  In fact, it is not of most people’s list of places to visit period.  It is, however, halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.  We decided to break up an over eight hour drive by spending the night at the Copper King Mansion, now a bed and breakfast in Butte, MT.

According to Wikipedia, the Copper King Mansion is a 34-room residence of Romanesque Revival Victorian Architecture that was built from 1884 to 1888 as the residence of William Andrews Clark, one of Montana’s three famous Copper Kings.  We stayed in the Master Suite.  The owners, Erin and Pat, were very gracious and knowledgeable about the mansion and its restoration and upkeep.  After a delicious breakfast and a full tour of the mansion, we continued on to Glacier National Park.

Copper mining in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was done by pit mining with headframes, the structural frame above the underground mine shaft.  Open pit mining – the Berkeley Pit – did not occur until the mid-twentieth century and was closed in 1982.

National Parks trip – Grand Tetons

 

I know, I know.  I have been absent and have failed to fulfill my complement of bitching and grousing.

I will return to that subject but first – another trip, this time to three US National Parks; the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier.  My wife and I took this trip in May, starting at the Grand Tetons then moving north first through Yellowstone and then Glacier.  Taking the trip early in the season meant some chanciness in the weather.  The Grand Tetons had some rainy weather but we got an improvement in Yellowstone and Glacier.  We also got a look at a number of critters including black bears and a grizzly.  More on that later.

First up, the Grand Tetons.

The first four pictures are the classic one (though a bit cloudy) of the Snake River in the foreground and the Tetons in the background.  The Tetons are unusual in that, unlike most mountain ranges (the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Cascades and Sierra Nevada’s), they rise directly from a flat valley without any foothills.  It’s all due to tectonic activity and the fact that one tectonic plate is moving directly under another and, as one plate rises, erosion levels the valley floor.  At times, it is as though there is a flat valley floor and the Tetons are huge fake drapery to convince you that there are mountains.

During our visit, we took the boat ride across Jenny Lake and the next picture shows the approach to the landing dock.  A hike with a 600 foot in elevation change took us to hidden falls (next picture).

A Mormon community attempted to establish a farming community in the latter part of the nineteenth century and this barn is often captured in photographs of the now abandoned buildings of that community.

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Next is a picture taken from our bedroom balcony at the Jackson Lake Lodge and the last is one on our departure to Yellowstone as the weather cleared.

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[Next up is Yellowstone.]

China 2019 – ancient water towns

The water towns were very interesting, more than I expected although getting to them was definitely not what I expected.  I thought that they would be out in the middle of nowhere and we would approach them in a very rural setting.  Instead, we drove and stopped in the middle of a city, walked to an entrance beyond which was this older, hidden village – canals and all – surrounded by a modern city.  Sometimes the entrance was over a bridge straddling a canal (Tongli and Zhouzhuang) and, in other cases (Xitang), through a narrow break in the street leading on to the old village.  These are shown in the next two pictures.  Very strange.

 

These three water towns – Tongli, Zhouzhuang and Xitang – located southeast of Shanghai are all picturesque, each reminiscent of Venice with a network of canals.  Tongli was my personal favorite despite sleeping in the hardest bed I have ever slept in my life.  It was here that we had access to the cormorant fisherman and two of my favorite animal pictures – the patient dog and the inscrutable cat.  I also loved the moss and greenery growing in the foot tiles.  Can you pick out the outline of a creature in one of them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will also notice that it was impossible to get past the “conveniences” of American life – KFC and Starbucks!

 

 

China 2019 – Shanghai

First of all, I must ask you not to judge the quality of photography of Worldwide Explorers and Skye Photography based upon my photographs.  As the least knowledgeable photographer of the group, while I got excellent tips from our guides Marcus and James, I still managed to cut off the tops of buildings, take the photo from too high an angle, misalign the composition of the picture, etc.  Both of our photographs will make you weep… but for different reasons.

With that disclaimer, on to Shanghai.

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population and the second most populous city in the world with a population of 24 million.  It is a global financial center and the world’s busiest container port.  It sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze River on the East China Sea.

Today, Shanghai is a mixture of new and old.  There is the modern Shanghai with some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

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There is the historic Victorian Bund.

 

 

And, just a short walk away, is the old Shanghai with narrow streets, storefront vendors and crowded homes and shops.