Travel – Yellowstone Adventure: Final Thoughts

These smiles may not have been the reason for organizing this vacation in Yellowstone, but they sure were a reward. Knowing that our efforts and time were well received is priceless.

The final installment of my 7 part blog about our Yellowstone adventure is focused on people. For Beth and I it was our second trip to the area in as many years. We spent 3 days in the park in July 2020 and knew that there was more to see.

Two of our girls live in the Bay Area of California. The last time I saw Riane was dad’s funeral in October, which was a blur. She flew in and out quickly, and there was too much planning to do to spend much time with her. Before that, I do not remember. Between travel restrictions and work schedules I’m pretty sure we lost at least a year or more.

In addition, my mother had not taken a real vacation in at least a decade. She was up for a week away from home with the family.

Anyway…as usual…I digress.

Beth and I researched, compared schedules and executed a vacation plan that could’ve included up to 9 people. Beth and I, Riane and her guy, Maddy and her guy, my mom and Beth’s parents. The final attendees were Beth, R Dub, Maddy, Riane, Ri’s guy Mike, and my mom.

This would be the first time that Ri’s guy Mike would be seen by Beth, mom, Maddy and me. This would be the first time that my mom would see Maddy. Six nights in one VRBO with people that had spent little or no time together prior. How did that work out? Very well, we were pleased.

Beth and I kept calling the adventure a ‘trip’ while the kids thought we should refer to it as a ‘vacation.’ What’s the difference one might ask? Beth and I frequently call anything we do together that is out of the ordinary an adventure. Let’s look at the definitions, shall we?

Vacation – an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

Trip – an act of going to a place and returning; a journey or excursion, especially for pleasure.

Adventure – an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

I think that it is safe to say that all three definitions fit the occasion. We were on an extended period of leisure and recreation, we all went to a place and returned home, and there was plenty of both excitement and some danger in our activities.

You may be wondering about the danger. My first installment of this blog series highlighted an unwanted greeter at our front door. A young rattle snake that Riane relocated to the horse pasture across the road from our VRBO. Video to follow.

We spent much of our time in the park walking about. The possibility of a close encounter with wildlife was real. Our guide Mike always has a canister of Bear Spray at his side in case we accidentally bumped into a bear. The kids went on hiking trails 5 of the 6 days we were there. Mike let them borrow a canister of bear spray while we were there.

Finally, Yellowstone sits upon a giant active volcano. That is why there are so many thermal features in the park. The last large eruption of greater than a magnitude 8, which is the highest on the scale, was 70,000 years ago. There are geological experts that believe the volcano is overdue to erupt again. Being anywhere close when this happens would be a quick and historical way to leave this earth…

Be it an adventure, a vacation or just a trip. Seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces and feeling their excitement every time wildlife was encountered was all the reward these parents could’ve hoped for.

Plus, we got mom away from the house that she’s spent the majority of her time in for the entire pandemic and quite honestly before. I know the trip was physically tiring for her, but she really did rise to the occasion and kept going with us all the way through. I hope she enjoyed the time away as much as we did.

Here’s a photo gallery focusing on the people in our travel group.

Smore’s around the camp fire.
Mom at the lower Yellowstone River Falls
Maddy and Ri at the Grand Prismatic
R Dub soaking his tired and hot feet in the icy coolness of the Yellowstone River.
Maddy recording this Old Faithful eruption.
Mom relaxing on the back deck of the VRBO.
Our tour guide Mike from Yellowstone Wonders with the kids after spying some Big Horn sheep. Look how happy they are to have seen some great wildlife right before we left the park.
Maddy taking a photo of Ri and Mike at the Grand Prismatic overlook.
R Dub, Maddy and tour guide Mike. Mike and I looking at wolves through the Spot Scopes. Maddy with field glasses.
Beth trying on some antlers that the VRBO owners have with a pile of bones in the back yard.
Mom with the filed glasses looking for mountain goats.
Beth from our 2020 trip pretending that these sticks were antlers. I’m glad she found the real deal in 2021!
Maddy’s turn with the Spot Scope.
R Dub at the Grand Prismatic 2020.
Beth at the Grand Prismatic 2020. Showing off her Manitowoc Minute garb!
Mike lassoed Ri on the front porch of our VRBO.
Beth sneaking a Selfie with R Dub.
R Dub at the Roosevelt Arch pedestrian entry in 2020.
Beth and R Dub at the Continental Divide. Water runs in opposite directions from this location.
The 45th Parallel. One fourth of world is north of here and 3/4s are south.
Our VRBO boasts one of the original cabins located at the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge. None of us stayed in it. No insulation, the 30 degree nights would’ve been a little uncomfortable…

Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 6: Then and Now – 1872 to 1956 to 2021

Yellowstone Circa 1956. It was common then for traffic to be stopped by begging Black Bears. The bear management team was formed in 1960 to stop this from happening. Humans being attacked by bears doubled in the 50s. If cars stop in the road for bears now, rangers arrive soon to move people along or fine them.
Yellowstone circa June 2021. There are still bears on the road, but they no longer beg for food at the cars, they simply cross the road and keep foraging on the other side. We were the only vehicle that stopped for this bear. Luckily there was a pull out just beyond where he crossed.

The photos in this blog post are a comparison to our recent visits to Yellowstone in 2021 and 2020 compared to pictures from 1956. Beth is the unofficial visual historian of the family. She salvaged hundreds of photos, film footage, audio and video tape from the family estate in early 2020 when Allen and Helen sold their home of 50 plus years. The 1956 photos were from a vacation that Helen took when she was 20 years old.

I have also included a YouTube video at the bottom of the post that illustrates how things were in the park in the 1950s.

Visitors WALKING on the thermal features at Mammoth Hot Springs! That would land you in jail today.
Mammoth Hot Springs today. Boardwalks with hand rails and warning signs keep visitors off of the features. Occasionally a new Hot Spring develops under the the board walks and they need to be moved.
Mountain goats (2 adults and one kid) getting in on the begging action in 1956. Today you need to bring a high powered Spot Scope to see them way up on the cliffs. Cliffs where they naturally belong.
Maddy saw these Big Horn sheep as we were leaving the park for the final time. This photo was taken by Riane with a high powered zoom lens on her camera.

Many changes have taken place inside of the Yellowstone area over the years. Management has changed hands a few times, and the methods of management have evolve as well.

In 1872 the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act established Yellowstone as the first National Park on Earth. The purpose of establishing Yellowstone as the world’s first national park was to set the park aside as a public pleasuring ground to share the wonders and preserve and protect the scenery, cultural heritage, wildlife, geologic and ecological systems and processes in their natural condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

In 1886 the US Army arrives to be the administrator over the park. The US Army would be chartered with this task until 1918 when it turned over administration to the National Park Service which had been established two years earlier.

In 1934 the National Park Service Director prohibits the killing of predatory animals in the park.

In 1948 the park is visited by over 1 million people. Today the annual visitors top 4 million worldwide guests.

In the 1950s people became enthralled with the park and annual visitation numbers swelled.

Part of the draw was Yellowstone’s wildlife. Visitors would throw food from their vehicles to draw wildlife in resulting in a closer look at nature. However, one of the unintended consequences was the wildlife beginning to approach humans for food instead of obeying their instinct to stay away from humans.

Many animals, especially the black bear became a nuisance and a danger to humans and themselves as well. Something needed to be done.

In 1960 the park began to manage the black bear population in an effort to reduce the number of bear to human injuries and property damage resulting from black bears searching for food in dwellings, camp sites and automobiles. The goal was to reintroduce bears that migrated to human areas back to their natural habitat.

In 1970 the Bear Management plan expands to close open pit dumps that were used to feed black bears, essentially forcing the animals to return to the wild and not rely on human intervention to eat.

In 1988 a law was enacted to protect the thermal features in the park from geothermal projects just outside of the park. That summer was also the last large scale forest fire in the park burning almost 800,000 acres of land.

In 1995 gray wolves were introduced into the park.

The following YouTube video shows the park in the 1950s. Note the black bears begging at visiting cars. One other large difference. Fisherman’s bridge was full of fisherman in this footage with no fishing license required. Today it is illegal to fish from Fisherman’s Bridge…

Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 5: Wildlife – Fowl

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com
Mother Osprey on the top right of this nest feeding her chicks. This photo was obtained through the lens of a Spot Scope provided by Mike at Yellowstone Wonders. The photo above is a great shot of an Osprey providing a freshly caught fish to its young. We did spy an Osprey pulling a fish from the Yellowstone River.

Granted when most people think of Yellowstone National Park they rarely think birds. But that didn’t stop our girls Maddy and Riane, plus Ri’s guy Mike from focusing on the plethora of fowl that they spotted while we toured with Mike from Yellowstone Wonders.

Riane and Beth following an Osprey with field glasses with the backdrop of the Lower Falls.
Maddy and Mike bird watching at the Lower Falls lookout.
Maddy gave up her field glasses to Beth to see the Osprey flying through The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Cowbird confusing this horse for a cow. Cowbirds hitch a ride atop horses, cows and bison for the purpose of eating flying insects and ticks that invade the four legged creatures.
Difficult to see, but these are Blue Heron nests high atop dead trees along the Yellowstone River.
A Sandhill Crane couple with their chicks following along behind them. This photo was taken at Hayden Valley.
Magpie
Killdeer
Tree Swallow
Part of Riane’s occupation as a Wildlife Rehab major at Lees McCrae College was caring for and educating others about this Red Tail Hawk. May Wildlife Rehab Center on the campus of Lees McCrae rehabilitated not only birds of prey, but birds of all types and species plus many mammals from various rodents like squirrel and predators like Bobcat. This photo not only explains her interest in fowl, but her lack of fear for the Rattle Snake that she wrangled in part one of this series about Yellowstone.
Riane’s occupation now is whelping and caring for puppies and their mothers at Guide Dogs For The Blind in San Rafael, California. If you want to know more about Guide Dogs For The Blind there is a great film about them on NetFlix called “Pick Of The Litter.”

Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 4: Waterfalls

Lower Yellowstone Falls, the biggest waterfall in Yellowstone is a 308′ drop located in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. At roughly 9:30 to 10:00 am DMT the Sun Creates a Rainbow Effect At The Bottom.
Lower Yellowstone Falls with a beautiful rainbow at the bottom mist.

There are nearly 300 waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park, 60 of which are listed. You could easily set aside one or two days in the park to visit only waterfalls. However, while we do love waterfalls, we only stopped to look at the ones that were easily accessible from the main loops in the park.

To be more precise, we only stopped to see the waterfalls that happened to be on the way to and from good wildlife sections of the park and the thermal features that we hoped to see. Here are the water falls that Beth and I photographed and videoed during our stays in June 2021 and July 2020.

The only exception to this statement was the Lower Yellowstone Falls. Mike from Yellowstone Wonders made sure that he got us to the Lower Falls lookout in time to see the sun turn the white spray at the bottom of the 308′ drop into a beautiful rainbow of ROYGBV colors right around 10:00 am Daylight Mountain Time.

Undine Falls
Gibbon Falls
Rustic Falls is a 47′ Fan Shaped Fall on Glen Creek. It is located on the Golden Gate Section of the Grand Loop.
Undine Falls a 60′ Plunge in Three Tiers on Lava Creek. Just 3 miles past Mammoth Hot Springs on the Grand Loop Road.
Gibbon Falls is an 84′ fan shaped drop on the Gibbon River and the Madison Falls section of the Grand Loop.
Firehole Falls is a 40′ drop on the Firehole River. There is a 2 mile one way drive up the canyon that Beth and I drove during our visit in July 2020.
The brink of the Lower Falls.
Firehole Falls
Undine Falls
Bonus Photo, Yellowstone Lake Panarama

Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 3: Thermal Features

The Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin Viewed From the Overlook. The Grand Prismatic is the largest spring in the USA and the third largest in the world. This thermal feature is other worldly!

Yellowstone National Park is located over the top of what is known as a supervolcano. To be classified as a supervolcano there must have been an eruption of at least an 8 magnitude. The last time that Yellowstone erupted was 70,000 years ago.

During a Yellowstone eruption 12 million years ago, the ash was so thick that it killed off many dinosaurs. A large group of prehistoric creatures met their demise while drinking from a watering hole in rural Nebraska due to this Yellowstone eruption. The archeological dig managed by the University of Nebraska is known as the Ashfall Fossil Beds. They have uncovered 19 different genera of animals that died of lung failure due to vast ash blown in from the eruption.

But I digress. The topic of the Ashfall Fossil Beds is for another blog post on another day.

Yellowstone’s supervolcano is active, with 700 to 3,000 earthquakes recorded per year. The thermal heat and activity below the park produce a plethora of thermal features including the famed geysers like Old Faithful, springs, pools, and vents. There are over 10,000 thermal features in the park.

During day two in the park we witnessed many of the thermal features in the southern and western sections of the park. The geysers are spread out in many parts of the park. We visited Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Artists Paint Pots, Lower Geyser Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, Upper Geyser Basin, West Thumb Geyser Basin and the Hayden Valley Geyser Basin.

Old Faithful. Our tour guide Mike from Yellowstone Wonders dropped us off literally 30 seconds before it erupted at the PERFECT viewing location. We are telling you hiring a good guide is essential to optimizing your Yellowstone National Park experience.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Ever Moving, Ever Changing. 170 degree F water is fed to Mammoth from the Norris Geyser Basin through an underground Fault Line.
Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on Pexels.com

Steamboat geyser in Norris Geyser Basin. It did not erupt while we were there this year, but we did get to see it erupt in July 2020 from the Norris Geyser Basin Lookout. Again, our guide Mike was tipped off and we just got parked in time to see this once every other week eruption.

Roaring Mountain in the Norris Region. Several steam vents make the mountain sound like it is roaring, especially on a cold early morning.
Old faithful. Some say that it is a disappointment. Some say that it does not erupt as high as in the past. We we’re impressed every time we saw it.
Artists Paint Pots in Gibbon Geyser Basin
One of the small but extremely active thermal features in Lower Geyser Basin
Dragon’s Mouth Spring in Hayden Valley
White Dome Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin.

We saw most of the thermal features on day 2 in the park. Some of the photos and videos were from the 2020 trip that Beth and I took to Yellowstone. With 6 people in the vehicle, getting us all in and out took time. Seeing as many thermal features as reasonably possible in one day is difficult and tiring.

The kids, mom and frankly the two of us, while in awe of and impressed by the thermal features were not nearly as excited during day 2 of thermal features as we were during days 1 and 3 with loads of wildlife at Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley. However, I’d wager that the entire traveling party loved the 3 days we spent in the park with Mike our tour guide from Yellowstone Wonders.

It was time and money well spent. Beth and I will do it again. Maybe in the winter months next time.

Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 2: Wildlife – Mammals

This black bear cub was calling to its sibling that was hanging from the trunk of a skinny tree while mom foraged a few yards away.

Outside of the thermal structures, most specifically the Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone is known for it’s bear population. We’ve all seen vintage pictures of traffic backed up for a mile or so because a bear sow and her cubs are on the highway harassing cars in hopes of getting a tasty snack tossed their way.

Hanna Barbera developed an extremely successful cartoon based on Yogi The Bear and his faithful side kick Boo-Boo who were constantly on the look out for picnic baskets and Mr. Ranger who will not like it… The two roamed through the fictitious Jellystone Park. Coincidence? I think not.

Well…those days are now over…mostly. The park service has an entire department of bear management that keeps the bears away from people as much as possible. We rented a VRBO from one of the bear management wardens in July 2020. If bears get close to the road, or cross the road like the following photo, bear management responds immediately to keep people from stopping on the road to gawk, or god forbid attempt to approach the bear for a better photo.

Mom spotted this male black bear before it crossed the road. Luckily he crossed the road by a pull out and we got some great pictures and video.

The most plentiful and easiest mammal to see while in the park is Elk. They can be found at the visitor centers, and open fields everywhere. Just past the Fishing Bridge in Pelican Valley one of the kids excitedly spotted some elk running fast. Our tour guide Mike was quick to interject this wisdom: “When you see elk running fast, ask why or what they are running from.”

Earlier in the day we saw an elk doe cross the road in front of us. She had an umbilical cord and placenta hanging from her backside. Mike pointed this out and added that she had recently given birth, hidden the calf in the tall grass and was now grazing until she needs to nurse.

We soon discovered why the elk were running. A large grizzly was chasing the herd. A herd with several newborn calf’s.

Now, a grizzly bear can run 30 miles per hour. If he’s chasing you, you don’t need to be able to run 31 mph, you just need to run faster than someone else that the bear is chasing.

Adult elk can run 40 miles per hour, much faster than a bear. A calf however, not so much. The bear in question quickly caught one of the newborn calf’s and spent the next hour eating it in an open field a couple of miles from the road.

Cameras without extremely high powered zoom lenses could not take clear photos. Riane had a zoom, but not strong enough. Mike had two field scopes that zoomed in nicely on the action. The bear’s head could be seen popping up and down with a blood soaked nose. The poor calf’s legs occasionally bounced up and down as the bear rendered its carcass. Nature taking its brutal course.

This was the best shot we could get with our equipment. This is the grizzly before he caught the calf.
Momma elk and her calf.
A bull elk in the Yellowstone river.

The next plentiful and easily noticeable mammal in the park are the bison. Now don’t call them buffalo when around the locals or anyone familiar with these huge bovine. Buffalo are found in Africa, in North America they are bison. Grown bison are quite heavy, females around 1000 pounds and male bison up to 2000 pounds.

But…don’t let their size and ambling way fool you. Bison can run 35 miles per hour. Many idiots, also known as tourists, have been harmed trying to get a selfie with these beasts. The following pictures represent people and bison too close together.

Male bison grazing in the parking lot leading to the Grand Prismatic. These people chose to be way too close.
This male bison snuck behind a group of people watching a pack of wolves. Everyone stayed calm until he slowly moved through the crowd and into the meadow on the other side of the bathrooms.

The majority of the bison herds are in Lamar Valley where we spent much of the first day in the park. You can also see Prong Horn Elk, coyotes, wolves (from afar, way afar), and many forms of fowl in this basin. Fowl is for another post.

Beth and I were particularly pleased that the kids REALLY got excited for the wildlife portion of our tours. My mom enjoyed seeing the wildlife too. If you want to see wildlife, pick a good tour guide. This was our second trip utilizing Mike’s expertise, he does not disappoint. The following pictures represent most of the mammals that we got to see in the park on day one and day 3.

Pika, I have some cool video too.
Four female Big Horn Sheep resting under a tree.
Ground squirrel posing for a picture.
To keep us from getting home sick a badger!
Photo by Niklas Jeromin on Pexels.com

I know we have at least one photo of a marmot, but I couldn’t find one…so I stole one from Pexels!

Herd of bison crossing the road in Hayden Valley.
The large herd of bison in Lamar Valley.
A lone yearling elk.
Momma bear foraging while the cubs frolicked.
A Pika scurrying about the rocks along the side of a hill.

Most of these pictures could not have happened without the guiding hand of Mike from Yellowstone Wonders. If you go to Yellowstone National Park and want to see the most wildlife possible during your stay. Hire a good guide. We highly recommend Yellowstone Wonders.

Cooking: Spare Ribs Easy & Perfect…Always

BBQ Ribs. One of my favorite snacks. It was the first thing R Dub learned to cook on the first smoker grill I owned. Now it is one of the least often meat cooked on my smoker.

Note that the ribs pictured above are on my Weber kettle grill and they not only look great, they were perfect. The smoker is now reserved primarily for smoked roasts like pork shoulder or butt and beef brisket. Meats that require 12 to 24 hours to cook.

Ribs can be done in as little as 90 minutes, 4 hours tops.

So what’s the secret? I’m glad you asked. I cheat. Before you go through too much tisking, I’m not the only one. My friends Di and Dave talked about it back when I was still slow smoking my ribs.

To be honest, I think this method is more consistent and much better tasting than ribs that are smoked.

We are Sam The Cooking Guy junkies. Sam, his son Max and a small but dedicated crew put up several recipes per week. They cook live. No prepared ingredients cooked in advance, few long cut away edited shots.

Max rolls tape and Sam begins to cook. 25 to 30 minutes later a tasty and easy to cook meal is sampled by Sam and the crew. We’ve made several of his recipes, some of which are on my YouTube channel and many on this blog.

We recently watched Sam prepare ribs the easy way and it inspired us to cook them for Father’s Day last week.

This Sunday we are having a few of Beth’s family over to celebrate her dad Allen’s 88th birthday. We think there will be a repeat performance of ribs!

Here’s all you need to do:

Put your ribs in a baking pan. (These are spare ribs, but it would great with St. Louis or Baby Back too.)

Add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degree F for 75 minutes. (That’s one hour and 15 minutes.)

While the ribs are baking make the following glaze:

Two tablespoons BBQ Sauce, Maple Syrup, brown sugar. Pepper sauce to taste. (Sam used chipotle sauce, we used sriracha. You can leave hot pepper out completely if you wish.)

Place baked ribs over a medium heat BBQ grill bottom side down. Cook two minutes and flip. Cook top side two minutes and twist. Cook two more minutes and flip. Brush (slather) glaze over the top of the ribs. Cook for 2 minutes and twist, cook for two more minutes and flip. Slather the bottom with glaze. Cook 2 minutes and twist. Cook 2 more minutes and flip. Glaze the top one more time. If the top looks like my picture above, cook two final minutes and pull. If not, cook until the ribs have a nice caramelized finish on both sides.

Let the rack rest for 15 minutes and cut into individual ribs.

EAT! Enjoy!

You are welcome!

Travel – Trip or Vacation Our Adventure In Yellowstone National Park

Group photo during our final moments at the VRBO before heading to the Bozeman, MT Airport

For our first time as a couple, Beth and I invited family members to join us on an adventure. Yellowstone National Park. Four days in the park and two days outside of the park.

Beth and I like to call our adventures trips, the kids liked the word vacation. R Dub likes both terms equally. Feel free to comment on your preferred term!

Beth and I started the journey on June 3rd, my birthday, from our home in Wisconsin and traveled to my home town in Nebraska to pick up my mother and participate in a side adventure.

The side adventure? Graduation ceremonies at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska. I earned my Master’s degree last November and due to COVID19 restrictions had to wait until Saturday June 5th for the next ceremony.

Mom and I before the ceremony Saturday morning.
Beth and I on campus after getting my cap and gown. My one and only time on the Bellevue University campus. I studied at a remote campus in west Omaha for my Bachelor’s degree and on-line for my Master’s degree.

Saturday was a whirlwind. Graduation and then immediately off to Epply Airfield in Omaha to catch a flight to Bozeman, MT. 12:45 Central time take off from Omaha to Salt Lake City for a brief layover, then on to Bozeman and a 5:30 Mountain time landing and finally an hour or so drive to our VRBO in Gardiner, MT the northern entry into Yellowstone.

Beth taking an USSIE down the skyway. R Dub towing a few things while mom gets a ride from a nice airport worker to her seat on the plane.
R Dub clowning it up for Beth while mom enjoys looking out the plane portal.
Our view from the front yard looking to the south and east. “From purple mountains majesty” indeed.
Our VRBO owners had an interesting idea of decor around the place. This pile of bones is a conversation starter.
Mom enjoying a cool early evening on the back deck while Beth and I checked out this footbridge over the Maple Creek on the back side of the property. The Maple dumps into the Yellowstone River less than one mile from our VRBO.

The kids caught up with us on Sunday June 6th, my daughter Riane’s birthday. They flew in from San Francisco with a layover in Salt Lake City, arriving at the VRBO a little after noon.

Ri’s birthday brownies. She’s 24, but we didn’t have that many candles!
R Dub taking a selfie with Maddy and Beth in the background enjoying the wooden footbridge over Maple Creek.

Day one outside of the park was officially underway. Other than getting everyone settled into their rooms, our only adventure on day one was a visit to a hot spring spa just 2 miles away from our VRBO. Well, there was one more unexpected adventure. We were greeted by a small prairie rattle snake curled up on the sidewalk just before the steps to the front porch. Here’s a video of how the unwanted greeter was taken care of…

Ri took matters into her own hands…with the help of this shovel and relocates the young rattle snake greeter from the front of our porch.

Days 2, 3 and 4 with the entire group was in the park with a tour guide named Mike. I am still waiting for permission from his company to credit his amazing work with us.

There will be 4 or 5 total posts in this series. Two parts on Wildlife; mammals and fowl. One part on the other worldly thermal features in the park. One part on the amazing waterfalls and other beautiful sights to behold.

Stay tuned.

Gardening: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Harvested lettuce and spinach upon our return home after vacation.

After a couple of weeks off, 10 days on vacation, we are back to discuss operation Green Thumb. Harvesting the 60 day plants has begun. Today: Lettuce and Spinach.

Bonus. We learned two more gardening terms!

“Bolting” and the “Cut and Come Again Method”.

Bolting is a term describing the flowers that form at the tops of leafy veggies like lettuce and spinach. Bolting is not a desirable fate that occurs when the temperatures are too hot during the final stages of growth. The result is a bitter product.

Spinach in the early stage of bolting. We harvested the crop just before bitterness could set in. Thank goodness!

Lettuce and spinach like temperatures in the lower to mid 70s. We experienced temperatures in the mid 80s to lower 90s while on vacation in Yellowstone. As a result the spinach began to bolt, but had not turned bitter yet.

We chose to pull the entire spinach plants out root and all, then saved the leaves pictured above. The best news; we now have an empty row to plant another 60 day harvesting plant that likes the warm weather that July and August will supply.

Fortunately the lettuce did not begin to bolt. The result? We could harvest the leaves and leave the base plant and roots to grow again. We trimmed the leaves down to one inch above the base. This process is called the “Cut and Come Again Method” of harvesting leafy plants.

With luck we will be harvesting another bounty of tasty lettuce in another month or so.

Cut and Come Again harvesting of lettuce. All of the spinach is now out, making room for a different 60 day veggie that loves the warmth that July and August should supply.

Next to harvest? Peas are on the vines and many are ready to pick. Beth and I sampled a few Sunday. Delicious! But…that is for another post.

Gardening: First To Bed, First To Rise, First Out of Bed – Radishes

Harvested radishes making room for companions to the tomatoes.
Our radish row prior to harvest Wednesday morning.

Operation Green Thumb sees it’s first significant harvest. Radishes were the first seeds sown in any bed, they were the first to germinate in the beds and now they are the first to be harvested.

Soon we will be able to cut lettuce and spinach. In a month or so, pull some yummy 4″ sweet carrots.

Chauncey Gardener from Being There would be please.

Radishes will be replaced with herbs and companion plants for the tomatoes soon.

We’ve already planted purple basil, we will sow some green basil seeds too. Parsley repels tomato eating horn worms, and attracts honey bees.

There are many companion plants for tomatoes. We have parsley that attracts hover bees and butterflies. Hover bees eat aphids, and butterflies…well butterflies are just cool.

Peppermint will repel rodents. The only rodents we have a rabbits, which are cute but we don’t want them to eat our stuff.

Marigold will repel nematodes. Nematodes will kill off the entire tomato plant from the root up.