Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

On our way out of Idaho today I saw a great billboard about wind power. It gave me hope for the future.

Here’s what the billboard said:

swindleGotta love it …

We rolled out toward Yellowstone Park. My thanks to whoever suggested that we take the Mesa Waterfall loop road, it was absolutely lovely. It’s a winding country road, full of the smell of the high northern forest. Here are the falls …

mesa fallsAnd here is a field of mustard further along the road.

mustard fieldIn the town of West Yellowstone, just outside the Park, we stopped for lunch. I was reminded of the religious nature of the folks in the American West by this translation of the Ten Commandments into a foreign language …

cowboy ten commandmentsFrom there, we went into Yellowstone Park. The only other time I was in Yellowstone was in 1964, when I was seventeen. My mom was a wonderful woman who was also a binge drinker. She eventually ran off with a cowboy when I was a senior in high school. I finished school and took the $1,000 dollars I’d been awarded by the Bank of America for being the best high school student in California, in their obviously flawed opinion at least, and I used $450 to buy a brand-new Honda 90 cc motorcycle. I strapped my guitar on the back of the Honda, and drove it from San Francisco to Yellowstone Park, trading music for dinners along the way. At the time I was totally amazed by the wilderness of Yellowstone, and by the animals.

So now, a full fifty years later, I find myself on the same road, still playing music along the way … and still amazed by the wilderness and the animals. First we saw a mother and baby elk grazing just on the other side of a stream by the road. Then, an amazing sight—a buffalo lying at the edge of the forest, perhaps ill or wounded, with a wolf circling it, going in, coming back out, clearly respecting the enormous power of the buffalo. The wolf was much larger than I’d expected, and also more nimble. It almost bounced around the buffalo. Looking at that kind of a life-and-death game certainly puts my world into a much different perspective …

So we left the wolf and the buffalo to whatever their individual fates might be, and went on. The road circled up and up. I was surprised to see the spring flowers of my childhood, shooting stars, lupine in their shades of blue, and the always shockingly bold scarlet of indian paintbrush. But then I realized that up where we were, at about 8,500 feet (2,600 metres) elevation  … it is spring.

The weather today was spectacular. In the morning it was cool and clear. Soon, the unimpeded power of the sun heated up the mountains. Then the clouds appeared. At about 2:00 it started to rain, and immediately the temperature dropped significantly … another of the endless individual examples of the temperature regulation system of the planet at work, warming the surface when it’s cool, and cooling it when it’s warm.

I had a curious thought driving through the high forests. Many of the trees were showing signs of heat stress. What I realized was that at high elevations, there is less CO2. As a result, in order to get the CO2 they need, the trees and plants need to open up the “stomata”, the holes in their leaves through which they inhale CO2. However, the stomata also work the other way, in that they are a major source of water loss to the atmosphere. And the larger the stomata, the greater the water loss.

I’d never considered the effect of elevation on stomata size. It seems like the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere should have the effect of allowing the plants to live at higher elevations, because they wouldn’t need to open their stomata as far … always more questions than answers.

Then we came around a corner, and about 20 yards (metres) off the road, a big buffalo suddenly stood up out of a “buffalo wallow” and shook the dust off … awe inspiring. I’d seen them before in zoos, but never in the wild, and up that close, they are a force of nature.

We saw one more buffalo, also by itself, and we had the same reaction—open-mouthed amazement. Everything about the park is amazing, actually. Here’s a view from one of the roads running high above one of the rivers …

view from the roadFinally, just before leaving the Park, a pika ran across the road. This is an endearing little creature, much smaller than a rabbit, with no tail and huge ears. It is supposed to be threatened by climate change. I got to thinking about that … the temperature in the park ranges from over 100°F (37°C) in the summer to minus 40°F (-40°C) in the winter. The pika survives that without a problem … and he’s supposed to be endangered by a change in average temperature of a couple of degrees? Seems quite doubtful …

However, finally and sadly, we had to leave the Park and its amazing sights and animals behind. Just outside the North Entrance we stopped for coffee. At a table outside the cafe, a guy had a tiny travel guitar, made by “Kapok”. I asked if I could play it, and I sang a tune … the guy at the next table said it sounded good to him. I asked what he did for a living … he said he teaches guitar. Go figure. So he got his guitar out of his car and we played a jazz tune, with his playing full of lovely swings and trills and all the fripperies that make for a wondrous sound.

I thanked him, and we drove on. We’re spending the night in Bozeman, Montana, a most congenial college town. We walked the length of the business district, it’s full of street art and interesting folks. My favorite sign was in the window of a bar, it said:

sorry we're openAnyhow, for now, that’s all the news that’s fit to print …

My best regards to everyone,



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July 15, 2014 12:25 am

Willis, as always – wonderful stuff!
Live the dream.

July 15, 2014 12:29 am

Yellowstone is wonderful! I have no idea how many times we’ve been there as we lived “relatively” nearby in Idaho for about four years, visiting often, and have been back many times in the 34 years since we left Idaho and plan to visit again this summer. A day drive through part of the park is never enough. My first visit was with my grandparents in 1963. I was 11 and I think we were there for nearly a week.
It would be interesting to see a comparison between the forest growth in 50 years ago and that of today. I wonder if the increase in CO2 would have a perceptible impact.

July 15, 2014 12:41 am

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.” — John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama. Published in Science 9 February 2001
So Obama’s object is expensive energy in small quantities?

Roger Dewhurst
July 15, 2014 12:45 am

I envy those who, while being a bum, can be smarter than the rest of us.

Graeme Hosken
July 15, 2014 12:47 am

Is that mustard or canola/rapeseed?

July 15, 2014 12:59 am

Having just not read this post from Willis, I got to wondering.
Are there still folk who complain at Willis’s rambling tales? Personally, since I know how to not read something, and it takes little effort, I have no objection to them at all, but IIRC there used to be all sorts of kerfuffle from folk who somehow couldn’t work out how to skip a posting that didn’t interest them.

July 15, 2014 1:06 am

The Russian first officer on The Hunt for Red October said as he was dying “I would have liked to have seen Montana.”
I thought so too, so I went and saw it years ago.

July 15, 2014 2:10 am

A very enjoyable and enlightening read.
What a great little travel log.

Chris Thorne
July 15, 2014 2:26 am

Yellowstone is indeed extraordinary. A few notes:
(a) The local fauna can be extremely aggressive. Especially bears. There are defensive sprays available, of which you should avail yourselves. But there is no substitute for caution, quiet, and distance.
(b) The altitude effect is strong. Even for physically fit individuals, running up even a modest hillside in the upper reaches of the park can be exhausting.
(c) The local weather can change with extraordinary speed. To include severe thunderstorms at any time of year, and even snow in the summer.
(d) Yellowstone is not part of the 21st century, in that there are large areas of the park where one will not even be able to obtain a mobile phone connection to summon help. Plan accordingly.

Lil Fella from OZ
July 15, 2014 2:26 am

Great account Willis. I have seen much of the land where I live, AUSTralia. I love the bush. It saddens me that so many want to mess with it, while they are clueless!

July 15, 2014 2:27 am

Most enjoyable, Willis – thank you. As you may know, Bozeman, Montana is the home of Weber, makers of fine mandolins and guitars. It’s also where Gibson’s top quality acoustic guitars are made – maybe you could give us a factory tour the next time? I’m a big fan of American guitarists such as the late, great Doc Watson, Clarence White, Tony Rice, Norman Blake, Dan Crary and others – they’ve inspired me over the years.

July 15, 2014 2:31 am

Hi Willis, nice to make your acquaintance and thanks for the narrative.
So after that, tonight I have “Hankering” to wander around to my favourite open mike and warble out a tune or two,- an Aussie in the Land of Smiles…

July 15, 2014 2:59 am

Great stuff, well written – and thank you very much Willis.

July 15, 2014 3:03 am

If you have time, check out the Deinonychus at the Museum of the Rockies.

July 15, 2014 3:03 am

That SWINDle billboard sent me to the Web site of the Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, there to read about:

Why the “Affordable Renewable Energy Act” Initiative is Necessary
by Irene Gilbert, FGRV Legal Research Analyst January 12, 2014
(1) When the legislature adopted the renewable energy standard they excluded all hydro power that came on line before January 1, 1995. This means nearly all hydro-electric power generated from Oregon’s dams does not count as “renewable energy”.
(2) Only the renewable energy being used in Oregon counts toward the starndard. Since over 3/4 of the wind energy produced in Oregon is sold out of state, it does not count toward the standard even though Oregon taxpayers are subsidizing it with millions of dollars of our tax money.
(3) The State of Oregon currently has approved wind power developments that would more than meet the renewable energy standard for 2025 if we counted all the energy they produce.
This initiative is necessary because under the current statute, Oregon taxpayers will be required to continue paying to build wind and solar industrial sites without benefiting from the power they produce or having most of it count toward the renewable energy standard. The initiative will require that taxpayers received credit for the cheap, reliable hydro-power that we produce.
If you are a registered voter in Oregon, please go to the web site at http://www.hydropetition.com/
and sign the petition on line.

Interesting. I’ve been told that the big population areas in Oregon are altogether “deep Blue” and for the greatest part thoroughly whacked-off when it comes to the great global warming garbagefest. These “Friends” (however many of ’em there are in Union County) buy into the “reduce CO2 emissions” horsepuckey, but are convinced that wind power not only ain’t the way to do it, but that it has resulted in “the devastation and deadly spoil that wind factories are leaving in their wake throughout our planet for many decades to come” and thus will beat the living crap out of the wilderness areas in their Valley.
No duh.
Might this possibly be one way for those of on the sane side of the “climate change” discussion to engage discussion of the realities anent atmospheric carbon dioxide with these FROMATE types?

July 15, 2014 3:09 am

On the back of a Honda 90 from CA to WY is quite a feat.

July 15, 2014 3:40 am

Not too far away from me, up here north of Montana in Calgary…
Yellowstone was awe inspiring to me, not because of wildlife (we see more wildlife in Alberta on a day trip to Banff than Yellowstone has, and people don’t line up for miles to see it), but because of the incredible tectonic stuff. Like a boiling lake. That never gets old! Geysers, yeah, overhyped.

July 15, 2014 4:07 am

A very good story, thanks. The sWINDle billboard is great – it reminds me of the episode in The Simpson’s where their town bought the monorail and Lisa was the only one who saw the con-job for what it was. Thanks again.

July 15, 2014 4:16 am

You are a great travel writer. I do hope you collect these wonderful travelogues and consider turning them into a book.

July 15, 2014 4:18 am
Bruce Cobb
July 15, 2014 4:36 am

Whenever I hear of Bozeman, I am reminded of my favorite book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Climatism can be viewed as a good example of the Classic/Romantic split Phaedrus (meaning “wolf) talks about. Climatists revel in their anti-rational thought and behavior.

July 15, 2014 4:46 am

Dig a little deeper. The SWINDLE board is not on the side it appears to be. It’s a bunch of greens who are spitting mad their snout has been refused at the trough.

Bruce Cobb
July 15, 2014 5:13 am

TheBigYinJames says:
July 15, 2014 at 4:46 am
Dig a little deeper. The SWINDLE board is not on the side it appears to be. It’s a bunch of greens who are spitting mad their snout has been refused at the trough.
That’s an ad hominem argument. It makes no difference who they are. The message is still correct.

July 15, 2014 5:15 am

Steveta I have learned how not to read a reply as well

July 15, 2014 5:26 am

Little story a ranger in Glacier Park told me.
“There are two kinds of bears here the black bear and the grizzly bear. When hiking it is smart to wear bells and carry bear repellant spray. If you come across bear scat you can easily tell what kind of bear left it. It there are berries and small rodent bones it is the black bears, if it smells like repellant and has little bells in it it is grizzly”. Take care Willis.

July 15, 2014 5:31 am

One fact relayed to us by a guide struck me about the beauty of the area. Because it is in a caldera which has been wiped clean every half million years or so, it only has seven varieties of trees and in that sense is not diverse at all.

Reply to  wacojoe
July 15, 2014 5:51 am

At 5:31 AM on 15 July, wacojoe had written:

One fact relayed to us by a guide struck me about the beauty of the area. Because it is in a caldera which has been wiped clean every half million years or so, it only has seven varieties of trees and in that sense is not diverse at all.

Considering what’s been recounted repeatedly in popular science articles and TV programming about the Yellowstone supervolcano – emphasis on its continent-wide killing potential with regard to thickly obliterative depositions of ash – wouldn’t the lack of arboreal variety in the region extend way to hellangone beyond the confines of the caldera?

July 15, 2014 5:38 am

I’ve been to many of the national parks in the US. My favorite parks in the entire National Park System are the Grand Tetons and Cape Hatteras. That is before the people-hating environs all but banned beach driving at Cape Hatteras. I will always remember Yellowstone and Yosemite and Death Valley and the many other parks I’ve been too. But something about the Grand Tetons that makes it my favorite. I think it is how they just stand out. Absolutely beautiful mountains.

July 15, 2014 5:43 am

On our way out of Idaho today I saw a great billboard about wind power. It gave me hope for the future.

Too bad there are so few of them. The one I’d like to see would have a flip-flopped hockey stick, looking like this, to reflect the current Plateau in the temperature trendline: /”
The caption would be, “Who’s in Denial Now?”

July 15, 2014 5:45 am

TheBigYinJames says:
July 15, 2014 at 4:46 am

Dig a little deeper. The SWINDLE board is not on the side it appears to be. It’s a bunch of greens who are spitting mad their snout has been refused at the trough.

I doubt Willis has time to dig a little deeper. The URL on the billboard goes to http://www.friendsofgranderondevalley.com/ and that celebrates that “EDP withdraws Antelope Ridge Wind Farm Applicatrion [sic] 9/17/13”
Please post references when you make claims the rest of us may have trouble verifying.

Colin Porter
July 15, 2014 5:53 am

I have been struggling for some time to find a catchy but succinct logo for a tee shirt. The banner from the Friends of the Ronde Valley would make an excellent logo.
Perhaps Anthony, or even The Bish/Josh in the UK where I live might be interested in marketing them. We had a tv programme some years ago which captivated peoples interest called “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” So the connection between the word “swindle” and the cause has already been planted in people’s minds.

July 15, 2014 5:53 am

My notes on bison and Yellowstone:
July 1974: I didn’t see any. I only saw a couple Elk hanging around Old Faithful.
January 1989: Several bison around. The Park folks included a flyer talking about safe distances, how to tell when bison are getting annoyed with you, etc. Didn’t help much for the bison standing by the boardwalk, either we waited it out or got off the boardwalk and walked around it. (Park folks says you can be very surprised when you fall through, but the snow hadn’t melted much there and the ground appeared to be supporting one bison fine.)
July 2003: My god, where’d all these animals come from? Elk herds near Madison, elk and a lot of bison in the Hayden valley. The summertime flyer basically says to stay at least 300′ away from bison and in your car. Easy out for the summer crowd. Only catch is if the bison is standing in the middle of the road and hasn’t decided which side has the greenest gas. Not quite so easy to drive around!

Mary Kay Barton
July 15, 2014 6:37 am

The “SWINDLE” billboard was originally created by Preston McClanahan, a grassroots activist from the Northeast USA. Many grassroots activists fighting the wind scam across the USA (including myself) have also used the Swindle logo.
Anybody who would like a SWINDLE bumper sticker or T-shirt, contact me on my Facebook page, and I’ll gladly send you one. While you’re at my Facebook page, be sure to check out the Obama-Immelt cartoon that I use as my Facebook page header – a great cartoon that originated from our friends in Montana fighting the wind scam.
An awesome website that will also “give you hope” is http://www.WindToons.com. The website’s creator, John Terry, of West Virginia, has donated countless thousands of man hours over the years creating his cartoons for our campaigns fighting the wind scam across the USA. Our groups here in western New York State have used dozens of John Terry’s cartoons over the years in our ad campaigns – all FREE of charge. John Terry is a hero in our book!
Also, for your reading enjoyment, a number of articles I’ve written over the past decade on the wind scam:
Industrial Wind: The Great American “S-WIND-LE” – Not Clean, Not Green, Not Free!:
New York Wind Wars – Hiding the Facts:
Don’t Believe Claims About Wind Power:
They’re not ‘wind farms’, they’re ‘tax farms’:
New York’s (Agenda 21) “Sustainability” Planning: What About Wind Power’s Ecological Insults?
Dear Christian Science Monitor: Wind Is Not Sacred but a Sacrilege:
New York State Windpower: Enough Business/Government Cronyism:
Local Wind Subsidies: New York State’s Money-Road to Nowhere:
U.S. Public Interest Groups Fighting Windpower:
‘PC’ power is not “sustainable”:
Corporate Welfare Bar:
Wasteful, redundant schemes must stop:
Wind Salesmen still can’t make pigs fly:
Nothing embodies Big Government more than Big Wind:
When government tries to pick winners, everyone loses:
Perry Puts People First:
Putting animals, “the love of money” ahead of people:
Wind Conference Draws welcome attention (3/6/10 Batavia Daily News):
Orangeville: The sad realities of a town divided (5/1/10):
Critical Thinking vs. ‘standing firm’ (11/27/09 – Regarding local 8th graders being given a ‘science’ lesson by wind salespeople at a local wind factory.)
Empire Page: NYS’ Two-Billion Dollar Energy SWINDLE:
Despite what industry salesmen say, wind is not the future:
Sound Specialist Offers Expertise on Industrial Wind Installations:

Scott in Nebraska
July 15, 2014 7:11 am

My Bison in Yellowstone story. In the mid-90’s the family and I tent camped for several days in Yellowstone. One night my daughter who was about 7 at the time, was awakened by a shadow on the tent wall. She reached out and touched it and it moved. She claimed it felt furry. Scared her to death. We told her it was just a dream but she swore she was awake. Later my brother, who was camping with us, told us that he too had been awakened and looked out his tent to see a very large herd of bison moving through the campground. My daughter was vindicated, and to this day reminds us of the time we didn’t believe her about touching the bison through the tent.

Pamela Gray
July 15, 2014 7:21 am

You can see Antelope Ridge in the Grande Ronde Valley as you head my way. La Grande sits in the valley within sight of the Ridge. This ridge had been the location of the proposed windfarm which has been withdrawn due to the campaign to stop it by Friends of Grande Ronde Valley. The Grande Ronde Valley has an interesting past. It is also a big thing in a tiny piece of the world. It is a major feature, said to be the second largest enclosed valley in the world.
Here is a link from way back about the windfarm proposal. If you click through the pictures you will see Antelope Ridge.
If you want to see a BISON (buffalo are not found in the US) ranch, there is one just outside of Enterprise in Wallowa County. Looks just like a cattle ranch except the fences are sturdier. We also have some bison that roam the Eagle Cap. These bison escaped from an area bison ranch (we have more than one in Union and Wallowa County) and spent enough time roaming around that they established themselves as a little wild herd. Fish and Wildlife work with ranchers to round them up from time to time (which is a bit like herding incredibly large and aggressive chickens) and get them back inside a corral somewhere. If just one breeding pair is left to roam, the little herd starts up again.

July 15, 2014 7:22 am

My first visit to Yellowstone was in about 1961, when I was about 12. The most common wildlife then was grizzly bears, mostly sows with a couple of cubs. They lined the roads begging for treats, which the more stupid among the tourists would toss out their windows to attract the bears for a picture. It was common for everyone to stop, get out of their cars, and get closer to the bears. One guy left his car with the windows down an inch or two, and a bear ripped the window out and climbed in to help himself to whatever was there, in the process completely trashing the car, apparently thinking there might be food inside the seats. It looked effortless. Incredible animals with awesome power. Fifty years later, we saw no bears at all, but many elk, deer, a few moose, and some bison. No one feeds the bears these days I guess.
Every time I read something from Willis, I wonder at his energy and range of knowledge and skills. He really needs to start writing books so the rest of us can live his adventures with him.

Louis LeBlanc
July 15, 2014 7:50 am

Although the wildlife is amazing and the mountain and river scenery gorgeous, what has drawn me back to the Yellowstone/Teton parks is the geysers in Yellowstone and the serenity of Jackson Lake at the foot of the Grand Tetons rising 8,000 feet right above the lake. Last trip I think I sat at that same place with outside tables for coffee in Gardiner where we spent a couple of nights. I will likely go back to the area again.

Bob Kutz
July 15, 2014 7:58 am

A suggestion, if you’re still in Montana and plan on driving home through Yellowstone;
The Northeast entrance to Yellowstone is the Beartooth Highway, Route 212 to Red Lodge Montana. This is the most spectacular stretch of highway in the lower 48, possibly the world. The Paradise Valley road to Livingston doesn’t hold a candle to it.
Every one who visits Yellowstone and fails to make this particular trek is missing half of the experience. You will see the majesty of unspoiled wilderness and beauty of God’s creation difficult to fathom. And without thousands of other tourists and vehicles to share it with.
There is a scenic overlook on the way up Beartooth pass that has spectacular views, but there are turnouts and places to rest or take a walk all along. Stop at Top of the World Store (9000 ft) or for lunch. I don’t even know if they sell food there, so bring your own, but there’s a turnout there or at the alpine lakes nearby.
You could take a vacation at any of a dozen spots along this road, skip Yellowstone entirely and have a much better outdoors experience than anything available inside the park except back country camping riding shank’s mare. In my experience, even back country camping in Yellowstone can be a bit crowded.
Just my $0.02.

July 15, 2014 8:02 am

Re: “…showing signs of heat stress. What I realized was that at high elevations, there is less CO2
Those are all high-altitude trees used to the climate and environs. Why would the loss of CO2 at high altitudes now be any greater than a century ago, and why would it affect them more now than during the previous century?
Forest management experts and park wardens only realized after the great forest fires of 1988 and the late 90s/early 00s across four states that they weren’t managing the forests properly. They weren’t doing what the Indians knew all along. They have to cull the forests, specifically of pine trees (the source of the wonderful smell), and pull up the undercover “down to the dirt.” No brush ringing the base of a tree (called ‘gasoline’). No junipers. Leave 6-8 ft between each tree. Cut the lower branches off up to 8 or 10 feet. This freed the forest for elk with 24-point antlers to move easily within it, and it kept the bears and other animals off the roads because they could reclaim the forest as their own. The sap in pine trees explodes in the trunk during forest fires when the temperature reaches something like 66 C–it’s not 100 C–and those embers shoot out 1/4 to 1/2 mile spreading the fire “like wildfire” throughout the forest.
When this realization struck the true forest-nazis of North America, the Canadian Rockies’ park rangers and wardens, it was a punch in the gut. They were used to fining anyone $10Gs who even glanced at a tree the wrong way, much less cut it down. But after the discovery in 2000/2001 of 18 x 24 photos taken in the 1890s of the Rocky Mountain range when Indians were managing it, they had to admit defeat. Starting in 2003, they told loggers to ‘come on in’ and take every piece of pine they could cut down. They said it’s going to take them until 2030 before the high forest areas along the range are done. Apparently, this is being done in both Canada and the US.
FYI- the warden said that the most dangerous tree you could have within 20′ of your house in a fire is a pine tree. I pass that along.

July 15, 2014 8:08 am

Great story. But that could’ve been canola, and the buffaloes were more likely bison. Love the billboard.

July 15, 2014 8:53 am

Yellowstone bison stink.

July 15, 2014 9:25 am

Willis – honest to god, you need to get out more and write these stories. Thanks, again for the tag-along and the real and virtual pictures..

July 15, 2014 10:00 am

That is canola not mustard. Karl from Montana

Richard Howes
July 15, 2014 10:07 am

Willis. Just wondering. What jazz song did you play together?

July 15, 2014 10:37 am

Thanks, Willis. And thanks to Anthony for allowing a little bit of humanity to seep into the science here.

Graham Green
July 15, 2014 10:42 am

Dear Mr Eschenbach,
I have a question sir; when the movie of your life is made which actors would you like to play you (at various ages)?
Obviously this assumes the picture is made pretty soon.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
July 15, 2014 10:50 am

A neon sign? Hasn’t the ‘Bama’s EPA already outlawed such willful energy wastage? That can be cheaply replaced with LED strings that wouldn’t use a tenth of the energy!
Besides, someone mentioned the helium crisis on the golf course, then elaborated it was a noble gas like neon and xenon. So the ‘Bama is now standing ready to sign an Executive Order to Prevent Gaseous Emissions of Nobility if Congress refuses to act soon. He’s doing it for the children, which is a noble cause.

July 15, 2014 10:56 am

Willis, 40F is not equal to -40C. It’s about 4.5C.
You may have been thinking -40F = -40C which
is the one point that the 2 scales cross.

John Coleman
July 15, 2014 11:15 am

Yellowstone 1973. A huge bear chased by daughter and me from the woods to our house trailer. I jumped a picnic table on the run. My wife and I will return some time soon; not soon enough for me. Willis you are a great story teller and a true self made scientist.

July 15, 2014 12:00 pm

Buffalo, bison, canola , rapeseed, global warming, climate change…

Craig Moore
July 15, 2014 12:32 pm

If you are making your way still further North after Bozeman, try the Two Dot bar in Two Dot. Between White Sulphur Springs and Harlow Town. Max Baucus launched a political career from this cowpokes bar.

July 15, 2014 1:06 pm

Mr. Kutz is correct. A drive of Rt 212 from Yellowstone to Montana is awesome, not to be missed if one is in the area. Wonderful fly-fishing opportunities in the lakes along the way as well. The store does have food. And gasoline.

July 15, 2014 2:14 pm

Bob Kutz says:
July 15, 2014 at 7:58 am

The Northeast entrance to Yellowstone is the Beartooth Highway, Route 212 to Red Lodge Montana. This is the most spectacular stretch of highway in the lower 48, possibly the world. The Paradise Valley road to Livingston doesn’t hold a candle to it.

It’s great by bicycle too. One could easily argue it should be part of the park, though the residents of Silver Gate and Cooke City would vehemently disagree. I spent the night at Crazy Creek Campground, I think the 3rd or 4th Crazy Creek I crossed. The next day was the 3000′ climb to Beartooth Pass and the tundra conditions – lovely low plants that bloom before the snow completely melts. Like crocuses. I borrowed someone’s closeup lens for several shots. The switchbacks up and down weren’t very steep, the ride up was actually more comfortable than the ride down. I enjoyed watching Pilot and Index Mts gradually fade in the distance. Truly the Big Sky State.
http://wermenh.com/biketour-1974/leg7.html – that tour ended 40 years ago yesterday in Billings MT.

July 15, 2014 2:29 pm

Colin Porter says:
July 15, 2014 at 5:53 am
I have been struggling for some time to find a catchy but succinct logo for a tee shirt. The banner from the Friends of the Ronde Valley would make an excellent logo.

How about the IPCC’s draft graphic (pre-spaghetti) of the IPCC’s four predictions vs. reality, under the caption “97%” (above the graphic) and “Wrong” (below the graphic).

July 15, 2014 2:30 pm

John Coleman says:
July 15, 2014 at 11:15 am
> Yellowstone 1973. A huge bear chased by daughter and me from the woods to our house trailer.
In 1974 the Canyon campground was closed to bicyclists and I had to ride to the Tower Falls campground. That meant a long ride up to Mt Washburn, and near the start someone in a car coming down the hill stopped to tell me that if I hurried up I could see a black bear. Great, I’m forced to making a ride near sunset that I didn’t want to do that day to get away from bears and now I’m about to be blocked by a bear. Or eaten. Fortunately, I got to the spot just as the bear went into the woods. I had seen a young bear (not a cub!) in Canada, but I was downhill from it and could outrun it as long as I got the bike rolling.
The elevation gain was a lot less than loss on the other side, so I got to Tower with plenty of time, but was annoyed that I couldn’t spend time a the top in the tundra. Fortunately, two days later I spent plenty of time at Beartooth Pass, a much better place to visit.
Tower Falls was nice – it’s small enough so it was easy to get to the bottom. Waterfalls are much more impressive from the bottom than the top.
The NE part of Yellowstone is not thermal. Its varied terrain with canyons, waterfalls, glacial valleys, high mountains, and past volcanism still make it worthy – and that extends well out of the park, as we’ve noted above.

July 15, 2014 2:48 pm


John Coleman says:
July 15, 2014 at 11:15 am
Yellowstone 1973. A huge bear chased by my daughter and me . . .

Kevin Kilty
July 15, 2014 3:05 pm

That field does not look like mustard, but rather a lot like knapweed–bane of Montana and now spreading throughout Wyoming.

July 15, 2014 5:24 pm

Bison bison.
The five museums in Cody are very worthwhile. Especially the Cody Firearms Museum and the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, which has several Frederick Remington original sculptures.

July 15, 2014 6:28 pm

rogerknights says:
July 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Yellowstone 1973. A huge bear . . .
No. Stop. The original story conjured up a far more interesting picture.

July 15, 2014 7:02 pm

That’s a great article. Really enjoyed it.

July 15, 2014 7:40 pm

I love travelogues, and this one is excellent. I just wonder about the misfit who downvoted it. Some folks have no appreciation for natural beauty.

Jeff Alberts
July 15, 2014 7:54 pm

Eliza says:
July 15, 2014 at 4:18 am
This is what happened and this is how it should be told

I realize the mods can’t stop every OT post, so howzabout you should a little control and NOT POST BLATANTLY OT STUFF!
Great post, Willis.
I’ve only been to Yellowstone once, about 12 years ago while RVing our way form Virginia to Washington State, to our new home. Wonderful place. I only regret not being able to spend more time there.
As I recall, there was a wildfire one or two years before our visit, much of the aftermath was still visible. Since you didn’t mention anything like that, no doubt Ma Nature brushed it off, as she always does, and just kept on growin’.

July 16, 2014 10:33 am

Field’s Spring State Park, Rattlesnake Grade and Wallowa County…consider taking this route home. My Dad is logging his property near the state park. He loves this land and the trees and has managed his 160 acre plot with great care. It stands in contrast to the let nature do its thing (fire hazard) style of management practiced by the state park. This is hot and dry country and clear cutting would be very poor practice. This same property was logged in a similar fashion 30 years ago by my grandfather. Could you be tempted to document this love and use of resources?
From my Dad’s place you take Rattlesnake Grade: http://www.motorcycleroads.com/75/642/Washington/Rattlesnake-Pass-to-Wallowa-Lake.html
and cross into Wallowa County, Oregon. If you happen to pass through the last weekend of July, you will be there during Chief Joseph Days Rodeo. (the population of the county quadruples, makes for stop and go traffic and cranky natives) The little town of Joseph is home to bronze foundries, artists and cowboys, and the previously mentioned Buffalo.
The mountains aren’t bad either
PS. My dad is a huge bluegrass fan. If you can boom-chuck on that guitar I can guarantee a great meal. Pie of your choice for You are My Sunshine.

July 16, 2014 2:19 pm

I think I might have gone a little crazy in Bozeman myself.

Eamon Butler
July 17, 2014 5:15 am

Wonderful stuff as usual, Willis. You need to get a video cam. Go pros are brilliant. Not a substitute for the beautiful words. The magic of a spontaneous guitar/vocal performance would be nice to see and hear.
Kind regards, Eamon.

July 20, 2014 6:53 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm
“The name has even become a verb…”
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

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