Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 13 - Yellowstone to Home!

This morning I woke up in my car at a gas station in Norris, MT. I drove another 20 miles and had to sleep again for a couple more hours. When I woke up again I put on some warmer socks and got myself some coffee and a big donut! (love those donuts) I still had an hour or so to go until I got to the entrance of Yellowstone.
On the drive there I saw a fox running in this meadow and I slammed on my brakes to see if I could catch a shot of him. I did but it was a little dark. Then I noticed that I was standing in front of this sweet pond that was dead still and the mountain was reflecting in the water. I love shots like this.

I made it to Yellowstone at 6:45 in the morning. I thought I was really early but there were already a bunch of people driving in. I paid the lady at the gate my $25 and was on my way in. Never having been here before I didn't really know what to expect. All I knew was there were 2 shots that I needed to get in the park. One of Old Faithful and then one of a bear. Obviously I can't really control whether or not I see a bear but I was hoping and praying (and maybe talking out loud to myself) that I would see a bear.

This is the first shot I got after entering. It was a chilly morning and there was a lot of steam coming off of all the water around. I'm not sure if you can make it out in this pic very well... Right after taking this pic I saw a bald eagle but didn't get a great shot of that.

Then about a mile up the road traffic was slowing down and I was wondering what for. There were only a few cars and a bus on the road but they were all stopped. Then I saw these guys. There were like 5 of them just walking down the side of the road. I've seen buffalo before but not this close. They are freakin' huge!!

So I kept moving toward Old Faithful. Once you enter the park it's like another 30 miles to get to Old Faithful. I guess I never knew just how big Yellowstone is. The crazy thing is the middle of it is one massive caldera that is 1350 square miles!! The fuel behind all the geysers is magmatic heat! It's really amazing when you see it in person!

When I got to the geyser it had just gone off so I had a little time to wait around. I scoped out the site for the same location my grandfather would have taken the photo. A few things have changed I'm sure like the buildings and these benches. But the geyser itself and the hills behind it have remained unchanged since the last time this volcano erupted 640,000 years ago.

This little guy was just sittin' around staring off into space. I got about a foot away from him before he even looked at me and then he just turned for a second and went back to staring at the geysers. It looks like his calm attitude has served him well in charming food out of the hands of tourists.

So here is Old Faithful from the exact perspective and approximate distance my grandfather saw it in 1937.

After getting that shot I was headed out of the park at a leisurely pace hoping to catch a glimpse of some more wild life. A bear in particular.

First I ran into some more buffalo.

They were all over the place! It was insane. They have buffalo in Yellowstone like we have geese in Minnesota.

I entered through the west entrance of Yellowstone and I was leaving through the north entrance. From Old Faithful it was 51 miles to the north entrance. It's one of the rare times in my life where I intentionally drove slow so I wouldn't miss anything. About 1/2 to the north entrance I noticed a big traffic jam. Now I'd learned through the morning that when a car is pulled over or stopped in the road there is usually some sort of animal off in the distance. The more cars you see, the cooler the sight. The traffic jam in front of me was massive! I'm talking buses, vans, cars, trucks, bikes and whatever else you can think of. They were parked on both sides of the road and traffic was having trouble getting through. There were even park rangers out directing traffic. I rolled down my window to ask what was up but I already knew I wanted to go see for myself. The lady I asked was almost out of breath. Apparently there was an enormous gray wolf that had attacked an elk. It only wounded it and then backed off. It was sitting on the edge of a pond... waiting... I found the first open spot I could and grabbed my camera and rushed over to the edge of the tree line. I saw an elk, but no wolf. DANG! I was too late. But I got some cool shots while I was waiting. I wanted to stick around and see if that wolf was going to come back to finish the job! How sweet would that be to see?!

Here's a pic of the elk in the pond. It's back right hind quarter was bit.

Here's one of all the other people that were waiting around for the same thing. I wish I had camera lenses like these guys! Look at these things!

After about 30 minutes of waiting around I decided the wolf probably didn't want an audience and I took off. I still had a ways to go and some more wild life that I needed to see. I was still hoping for a bear... and maybe a wolf now. As I was pulling back onto the road a guy told me he saw a bear up the road about 1/4 mile. BINGO!!! So I buzz on up there and see only two cars parked. I get out with my camera and walk up to this couple that is standing on the edge of their door frames looking around. I'm on the street and I ask them if they've seen anything. Just as I get the last word out I look to my right and in the trees, not more than 5 feet from me, is a grizzly bear!!! Holy s*&%t! I back up closer to my car and this bear walks out of the woods and stands up on her hind legs with her front paws up in the air and growls! I think maybe she wanted to say "Hey BooBoo, how about a picnic basket?!" Hahahaha! It was freakin' awesome! That bear was like 15 feet from me! Unfortunately I had a zoom lens on my camera and I didn't get a good pic of her standing up. Then she walked out into the street and I got this.

I don't know bears well enough to know if she was big or not, but she was big enough! Look at the claws on her!

And this is how I know that it was a female... The babies were super cute. I would have tried to follow them into the woods for more pics but those babies could tear me to shreds and I don't even want to think about what that momma bear would do!

After that I was happy! I got all the shots I wanted and then some. I was just going to enjoy the scenery on the rest of the way out of the park. As I was passing through Mammoth Hot Springs I saw a bunch of elk just chillin' in a park.

People all around, cars, stores... these elk were just grazing away without a care in the world.

When I got out of the park I started to head north to meet up with Interstate 90 again. I realized that there was really nothing left for me to see on my trip. There was only highway between me and home. Eastern Montana and North Dakota didn't interest me that much so I decided to drive straight home. I got some coffee and a 4 pack of Red Bull and set the cruise control. 15 1/2 hours and 991 miles later I arrived home!

I didn't want to break stride to take a sunset pic on the way home but I got this pic in western North Dakota. I think it's kind of cool. The sun setting for the day and for the last time on my trip just over my shoulder in the rearview mirror.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 12 - Seattle to Norris

It's a beautiful Monday morning in Lynwood, WA at my aunt and uncles home. I woke up at 5am to beat traffic through the city and they were nice enough to pack me a lunch! Thanks guys! I took off at 5:30am and drove through to Portland where I met back up with my grandpas original course. I needed to find a pic in downtown Portland and didn't really have anything to go on as I hadn't been able to contact the historic society.

I pulled over to see if I could find the historic district and stumbled upon a crappy looking building with a sign that read VooDoo Donuts. I had heard of this in Seattle from someone and here I was in front of it! I had to check it out... plus if you know me, you know that I have trouble passing on donuts!

I asked the skinny, tattooed punk girl that was behind the counter if they had any signature donuts. BINGO! Behold the Maple Bacon Donut! Look at this thing! It's beautiful! And it tasted 10x better than it looks! So for whatever reason I decided to ask this girl about my quest. I didn't think there was a chance in hell that she would know where the pic was taken (she was all of 22) but to my surprise she looked at the photo and said I know where that is! WTF?! Really?! I just about dropped my coffee! She told me the cross street she thought it was at and I headed off. Upon arrival at her coordinates it did indeed look like the background save for one thing... the street was too narrow. But I knew I was close so I started driving around. After a few frustrating stops, I ran into a gentleman, Christian, that was driving a sweet old car. After a little chit chat about his ride I asked him if he knew where this photo might be. He said that there use to be light rail tracks that ran up Burnside and he also directed me to a famous bookstore called Powell's that would have a book with old photos of Portland. As I was walking away he said I should come check out his restaurant Chez Joly which I happened to have parked in front of. I unfortunately didn't have time but I looked it up and it looks super cool. I hope I can make it back there. Thanks for the invite Christian! Anyway, so I went to the bookstore, found the book and the photo and then found the exact intersection that the photo was taken on. It was taken on the corner of W Burnside and NW 6th Ave. One of the buildings is still there.

Back on the road I was headed east on the Columbia River. Just outside of Portland I drove by Multnomah Falls and stopped for some pics. This thing is amazing! I wish I had time to climb all the way up to the top.

After the falls there was some great river scenery for a while and then I headed into Washington. As I was driving I got a pic of this bird flying over the highway. Not quite sure what kind it was but it was huge.

Around Walla Walla, Washington (I'm serious, look it up) I started noticing some sweet vineyards. I've tried some Washington and Oregon wines before and it was cool to see all the vineyards on the side of the road. Not a bad drive. After that the drive got pretty boring. There is literally nothing for miles between Walla Walla and Spokane. Spokane was okay and then I hit Idaho which was actually pretty cool.

Then on to Montana where I got this beautiful sunset. I kept driving until I couldn't anymore and crashed in my car for a couple hours in Norris, MT. I think I covered like 900 miles today. In the morning... Yellow Stone! Yeah!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 11 - Free Day In Seattle

Today there wasn't really anything on the agenda so I slept in. When I woke up I found out that my nephew had met Apollo Ohno in the elevator last night. Apparently he was staying in our hotel as well. I didn't believe him until he showed me a pic he took with Ohno on his cell phone. Very nice Brandon. After that I got a call from my dad and step-mom asking if they would give them a ride up to my aunt and uncles house in Lynwood. I agreed and then they told me how much luggage they had. When my dad rolled the cart out of the hotel it looked like gear for a touring pop star and her entourage! I was half expecting my step-mom Sue to come walking out with a little dog and body guards. Anyway, we got it all packed in there and thankfully didn't have to strap anything to the roof. On the way to my aunt and uncles house is the Lakeview cemetery where Bruce and Brandon Lee are buried. I've always wanted to visit Bruce Lee's grave so we stopped by. Bruce is arguably the most influential person in modern martial arts history and I always wanted to see this place and pay my respects.

Here's Bruce Lee's grave.

And Brandon Lee.

Father and son, side by side.

After that it was on to the families house to hang out with my aunt and uncle and cousins. It was nice to have a day to just relax and have a good dinner with family. It's my dad's side of the family so they were extra interested in the road trip and how that was going. I also got to meet some new second cousins and my cousin Trevor's fiance Melissa.

Day 10 - The Wedding

When I started planning this trip last year I knew I wanted to do it on the same days that my grandfather did it. It just so happened that the days of the week lined up so May 5th was a Wednesday both in 1937 and in 2010. Pretty cool I thought. Then I found out that my sister Lynn was getting married in Seattle and it was going to line up perfectly with the schedule for the trip. So perfectly in fact that my grandfather stopped for 3 days in Coos Bay, OR over the same time I would be stopping in Seattle, WA. This trip was suppose to happen!

Anyway, in Seattle I agreed to photograph my sisters wedding. It was a small intimate affair on the water. She got married at Ray's Boat House. It was pretty amazing.

Here's the deck that she got married on. It overlooks a bay in the sound. I got many pics with boats coming in behind the wedding party.

I was having a little fun here and shot a pic of the reflection in one of the mirrors they were using to get ready.

Here's Lynn and Taylor walking over to the venue after getting ready in the bridal suite across the street.

The wedding was perfect. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! The venue was amazing, the people were awesome, the food was phenomenal... you just couldn't ask for anything else. Here's Lynn & Dan after lighting the unity candle.

After the ceremony we went out to the dock where they still launch boats and took some pics. This is the iconic RAY'S sign.

Here's the happy new couple swinging on the boat launch.

And of course one of the photographer with the new couple.

On the other side of the deck was some wisteria that made for a great background. This is Dan & Lynn with Lynn's son Brandon. Brandon was on the road trip with me out to Seattle.

For a fun evening activity after the wedding we all went on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. It was a quick ride but provided some great views of Seattle. Here's a pic of my dad and I with the city in the background.

This is on Bainbridge Island. It's a pretty chill village with a lot of little shops and restaurants.

Of course we all found a great little Mexican watering hole and proceeded to celebrate the new couple as well as the grooms mom who was also celebrating a birthday on the same day.

All in all it was a fantastic day! I had a great time at the wedding. I think I got some great shots that the new couple will like (at least I'm hoping!) and two families got to celebrate the union of two great people. I think my grandpa would approve of the slight detour off of his route.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 9 - Day In Seattle

Today was kind of a free day with a rehearsal dinner for my sisters wedding tomorrow. I'm not sure if I mentioned that in the earlier posts but I took a slight detour north to attend the wedding and do the photography. After breakfast we headed down to Pike Place Market to check it out. There is so much stuff to take photos of and I got a lot of good ones. Here are a few of my favs.

The address

We of course had to get some shots with the fish guys. Max has a very weird set of rabbit ears!

Max also found a street performer with an African Gray Parrot. He was 15 years old and his name was Finnius. Very intelligent bird and Max had a ton of fun with him.

I agree!

Later in the day we had to go do a run through of the wedding ceremony. The location is absolutely beautiful. It's right on the sound and the ceremony is going to be on a covered dock. It's pretty sick. I'm not sure if it's bad luck to post pics of the bride and groom the day before so I'm not going to, but here are a couple of my niece and nephews.

Max trying to be serious.

Taylor and Brandon with their sweet sunglasses (they were cool before you were born FYI)

Here's a cool one of Nate and Jennifer (my dad and sister). This is where the ceremony will be. Pretty sweet huh?

And I didn't get any of the sunset today because I was at dinner but here are a couple cool ones after the sun went down.

This one reminds me of a Dick Tracy scene.

Well, it's now 1:10am and I need to get some sleep so my pics of the wedding tomorrow are in focus.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 8 - Cape Lookout to Seattle

This morning I woke up to the sound of the waves on the Pacific Ocean. It was pretty amazing. This was going to be our shortest driving day but we had a lot to see so after a short walk on the beach it was time to hit the road.

Here's a pic of where our campsite was.

And one of the view from just behind the bushes of our campsite.

So our mission today was to find star fish and sea lions on the Oregon coast. There are plenty of both but to find the starfish you need to catch them at low tide when the water reveals these little pools. Our first opportunity was at Oceanside. There were some really cool rocks that had some holes in the middle of them.

Here's a pic from a little further up the coast. You can see one of the openings better.

This is a pic of Brandon heading into a tunnel that leads through one of the big rock formations from one alcove to another. It was pretty cool.

We didn't find any starfish at the first stop so we headed to the next opportunity just up the road.

Again no starfish, but I did find a ton of little muscles.

Also got a cool pic with some of the big rocks in the back.

Our next stop was Cape Meares where Brandon wanted to stop to see a lighthouse. The lighthouse was okay but we found this sweet tree called Octopus Tree.

Here's the Octopus Tree.

Then we ran into some girls that were from Minnesota. Amanda and Nikki (I think...) Nikki lives in Oregon now and said that we could for sure see some starfish at Hug Point, so that's where we headed. Hug Point is like 45 miles up the coast and when we get there, who do we run into again? Amanda & Nikki! So we bust their chops about stalking us and then get a pic with them.

Here we all are.

The tide is too high to walk around this point so I'm trying to find a way around via climbing...

That idea was abandoned when I grabbed a chunk of rock that came right off. I don't need to die.

Then we tried the up and over route but when we got to the other side we realized there was no way down. So this was as close as we got to the starfish pools that were right behind me.

Our last stop before Seattle was at Ecola State Park. There should have been a ton of sea lions there but for whatever reason they weren't out. I can't imagine anyone or anything not wanting to be in the sun on this beautiful day but whatever...

Here's Brandon & I at one of the overlooks.

And here's one of the rocks where the seals should be.

That was the end of the site seeing for the day. We made a B-line for Seattle so we wouldn't be too late for dinner. I think we made a couple people sweat but at the end of the day it worked out fine.