31 October 2008

Antelope Island & The Great Salt Lake

This morning we took a drive out to Antelope Island State Park. To get there you cross a causeway that should be surrounded by water but it wasn’t today. You had to go nearly three miles out before you hit water. The ranger at the park entrance said that the lake was at historic low levels. They aren’t sure why as the snow pack last year was pretty good. You can’t fool Mother Nature but she sure as heck can fool you. But, when all is said and done, Mother Nature will let you know how it’s going to be. Scientists amuse me with all their figuring.

The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi. It is 75 miles long and 28 miles wide covering 1,700 square miles. It’s a big’un! The island was originally a private ranch. The Fielding Garr Ranch was settled in the mid 1800’s and remained in private hands until it was sold to the state in the 80’s. The ranch/island is approximately 28,000 acres. Now that’s my idea of a proper ranch. The wildlife here consists of antelope (prong horn), mule deer, big horn sheep and buffalo. We did see some buffalo and some pronghorn way off on a ridge. Other than that no animals around that we saw. Here’s the Wiki on it.

I have found buffalo particularly difficult to photograph. The one below I was just playing around with. I have only one shot of a buffalo that I think captures some of the awesomeness of this elegant creature. Buffalo March

We had a great morning walk and Antelope Island is certainly worth the price of admission, $9.00.

Koty barfed in the back seat. His tummy is still upset darn it.

Below are a few photos of what we saw.

Ciao for now,

©Kinsey Barnard

30 October 2008

Dillon, MT to Ogden, UT Pineview Reservoir- Day 2

It didn't get anywhere near freezing in the night. Something of a surprise. We got up early and were on the road by 8:00am. At this time of year all there is for light is the morning glow. I must say that from the junction of US 90 and Interstate 15 (about 65 miles north of Dillon) to Idaho Falls the road is straight and pretty boring. So, I put Clem on cruise control and let Koty drive. I took a nap. Nobody seemed to notice.

We made pretty good time. Pulled into Ogden just after two. It occurred to me that maybe we should spend two nights instead of just over nighting. I've never actually stopped and looked at the Great Salt Lake and we are about a week ahead of schedule so as long as the weather is holding might as well dawdle.

The weather surely is holding. It was around 70 when we arrived. After getting everything setup and a snack we needed to stretch our legs a little so we drove out to Pineview Reservoir. Not all that picturesque but easy to get to and a good trail along the reservoir. To get there you drive through a narrow, windy canyon, Ogden Canyon, along the Ogden River. There would have been some great photo ops except for there was no place to pullover. I hate it when that happens.

Koty could care less whether or not where we go is photogenic. As long as he's on the move he's happy. He's off his feed again. This always happens when we take off and I always worry until he adjusts and starts eating. The boy has a fussy gut.

All along the trail were these plants that had gone to seed. I don't know what they are but I suspect some kind of thistle. I thought they were quite intriguing, in a very natural way, so I had to try a few shots. I really love to photograph plants. They are such intricate works of art.

I also enjoy shooting lines and contrast. Along our path we came across a boat club and these empty boat slips. Everybody gone home for the winter.

As they day started to dim we headed home. A pasta dinner for me and a boycott for Koty. One thing I don't much care for about these RV parks is their proximity to freeways. Gads what a racket! I woke at 2:00 am when the shower started to leak. Drop. Drop. Drop. It seems to be leaking behind the faucet so all I could do was go outside and turn off the water. I love Clem but boy they sure put chintzy plumbing in her. I've already had to replace both sink faucets for leaking. Needless to say they weren't replaced with Winnebago parts.

Ciao for now,
Koty & Kinsey

29 October 2008

Eureka to Dillon - The Journey Begins

I must start this with a confession, the photo above was taken this past June in Alberta. I didn't take time to take any photos on the way down. For some reason I managed to burn up 8 hours without stopping for photos. This is cattle country so that's why I chose it. This one's for you Al B in Alberta.

It wasn't that there was a shortage of photo ops. I saw some fabulous things at 60 mph. The drive down along Flathead Lake was a beauty. This is a gorgeous lake. Flathead Lake. Next up was the buffalo herd at the National Bison Range. Normally, you don't see them on the south end along 93 but there they were in all their glory. I weep for their ancestors every time I see them.

The fall colors along the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers were simply stunning. We saw some fly fisherman casting in the afternoon sun. The water sparkled like diamonds. The scene looked like something straight out of "A River Runs Through it" another little welling in the eye over this one.

As everyone knows, lighting in photography is just about everything, that along with knowing where to stand. In the fall, the sun has journeyed so far south that it looks like afternoon all day long here in Montana. The shadows that are cast bring a whole new meaning and beauty to the landscape. I would have loved to photograph it but we have miles to go before we sleep. One day, when we aren't leaving for the winter, we will come down this way just to photograph it.

We left at eight and pulled into the RV park at four. Long bloody day for this old broad. Koty and I stretched our legs for about an hour and called it a day. Since we are in travel mode I dined on Marie Callender's finest. Actually, accompanied by a goblet of Cabernet it wasn't half bad. :)

Ciao for now,
Koty & Kinsey

27 October 2008

This is it!

Well, this is it. The last day to get ready for the big trip. Cementine (that's the RV) is packed to the gills, well not really we try to travel as lite as possible. Shadow (that's the tow car) is just waiting in the wings to get attached.

Being away for six months requires a lot of thought. I always worry that I have not thought of everything. But, going a long way toward helping to alleviate those concerns are my good neighbors Doug and Joan Ann who will be looking after the place and making sure I didn't forget anything. Amongst the myriad of things I love about where I live is the sense of community and having good neighbors that look out for one another. As they say in the credit card ad "priceless".

So, today we do those last minute things. One last pass by the dump. We have no garbage pick up where we live you have to haul it to the dump. Actually, I like this because you don't have to remember to put the can out and pay for it once a year through property taxes. For about $80 a year we can dump as much as we want whenever we want. Of course, our first priority is to make as little waste as we can. But, even so, I think it's quite a good deal.

Next up is a last visit to the Post Office. We don't get mail delivery either so we must go to town to collect it. This is a bit of a pain in the patookie because it makes us have to go to town (about 8 miles) when we really don't otherwise need or want to. But, if we don't go regularly the Post Office gets mad and crams the box so full you can't pull it out with a pair of pliers.

A quick stop at the grocers for bananas and a quart of milk and back to the ranch for the final push which much to my chagrin includes getting bookkeeping up to date so we can file whist on the road. Yuck! You gotta do what you gotta do but boy I don't do it without a proportionate amount of kicking and screaming.

The above photo is of our rig on the road. As you can see we are diminutive. But, this outfit is really easy for me to handle by myself and we are easy on the environment. Clem has a Mercedes diesel and gets 18+mpg whilst towing Shadow. Shadow gets 35 mpg whilst we zip up and down those roads less traveled looking for natural marvels to photograph.

When I bot Clem I had envisioned short trips around the Rockies and into Canada. Never occurred to me that I would want to do anything like six month at a stretch. It was with great trepidation that we did our first long trip last year on the Pacific coast. As it turned out we were snug as bugs in a rug. Clem has every convenience you can imagine. In fact, it's quite remarkable. We could have a bigger rig for less money but this compact little unit suits us to a tee. It's easy on everybody.

The gods willing we will be in Dillon, Montana tomorrow night. Not this summer but the one before we spent a couple of weeks in and around Dillon. It's a great place to explore. There are ghost towns and all manner of interesting things to see. Here are just a few shots that we got on that trip. Great place to shoot old buildings and barns.

If you should see us rumbling down the road be sure and honk!

Ciao for now,

Koty & Kinsey

26 October 2008

Saying Goodbye

We're getting mighty close to departure now as we will soon leave for parts south. It is always is bitter sweet that we go, for this place is truly where our hearts live no matter where we travel. The past few afternoons we have taken a break from the chores and walked our ranch in the warm autumn afternoon saying goodbye to our friends who share this forty acre patch of heaven with us. My dear friend Scruffy hasn't shown up yet. I fear she may have not made it through the summer. A dear sweet doe that Scruffy.

We don't need a special day to give thanks for the privilege of living in this wild and wonderful place.

I'd better stop talking like that or we're libel to start unpacking!

18 October 2008

Winter Comes Early In Montana

The weather in Northwest Montana has been wild and wooley this past week. One day we are taking our weekly walk along the Tobacco River, delighting in a beautiful autumn afternoon, and the next .....

In the six years that we have lived in the Tobacco Valley this is THE most snow we have ever seen on the Canadian Rockies at this time of year. Last weekend Interstate 15 was completely closed south of Dillon and through the Monida Pass and we just heard from a friend that Red Lodge got 50 inches of snow! Now that be a lot of snow! Also, one night this week, the temperature fell to 23 degrees! Last night it was downright balmy at around 50 degrees.

With all this crazy weather we are re-thinking our departure plans for our winter shoot in the Arizona desert. We've already had our plans upset once by the weather. Originally, we were scheduled to shoot the Gulf Coast of Texas and up into the Piney Woods Region of Texas. But, Ike pretty much took care of that notion. Now we are on pins and needles as to what the weather will do next. The Monida Pass mentioned earlier is right on our route. Bottom lime is, if we can take care of business here we'll try to leave a week early. Stay tuned for this trip. If we make it out it promises to be an interesting one.

The weather can run you ragged but Mother Nature always provides some beauty to help you make it through.

That wraps things up for us this week. Hope you all are enjoying your autumn season as much as we are. Maybe not so much if you are in the stock market? We are and wowser what a ride it has been! This is a time when we try and spend as much time with nature as we can. It helps take your mind off the messes man seems determined to make. Until next time.....

Koty & Kinsey

PS: Be sure and check out KOTY'S 2009 CALENDAR He's a looker! :)

©Kinsey Barnard

13 October 2008


On day three we rose early and headed back to Hungry Horse. Our objective this day was Handkerchief Lake. It's about thirty miles down the west side of the reservoir. As you can see from the above photos the reservoir was looking mighty fine this fall morning. It was an awesome drive. VIEW MORE LANDSCAPES

The only folks out on the road were wood cutters and there were lots of those. You can get a wood cutting permit from the Forest Service for five dollars and for that five dollars heat your home pretty much all winter. The rules are you can only cut down dead trees but because of the fire three years ago there are dead larch everywhere. Larch, otherwise known as tamarack make great firewood as they have a high BTU and there were some really nice sized trees. Montanans are always up for passing the time of day so we stopped to chat with these guys. Mostly the conversation centered around how lousy things were in the economy.

Finally we found our way to Handkerchief Lake. As usual it was a pretty lake. It's located right off the road so the only hike involved was around the lake itself. The above photograph is just of clouds floating on the water that I thought looked pretty. I'm a regular sucker for reflections.

Whilst picking our way around the lake we came upon this group of mergansers paddling along on the other side of the lake. I was so focused (pardon the pun) on the mergansers I tripped over a log and went flying. Fortunately, the mergansers didn't reach this photogenic spot until after I had righted myself.

This last shot is of Handkerchief looking northwest into the Jewel Basin. Handkerchief is fed by Graves Creek and the creek comes out of those mountains. I really fancy this photograph as it looks almost like an oil painting.

It was a great trip to Hungry Horse and the Jewel Basin. We will certainly do it again because there is a lot we didn't see.

©Kinsey Barnard

09 October 2008

Hungry Horse and the Jewel Basin - Day 2

Next day we got up bright and early with the mission on our minds of hiking the Clayton Creek trail to Clayton Lake in the Jewel Basin. But, our first stop was a reprise of Lion Lake. The water was like glass and, as you can see, it made for a perfect mirror. Mornings like this make a person mighty glad to be alive.

The trailhead for Clayton Lake is about 20 miles in from Hwy 2. Once we got underway on the trail we were immediately treated to a riot of fall color. The mountain ash were just drooping with berries and we thought we might see a grizzly because the picking was certainly easy. But, unfortunately, we saw very little wildlife signs on this trail. A few elk tracks and one, two or three day old, bear scat at the lake.

Above is my handy dandy bear detector Koty Bear. And, in fact, this is exactly where we saw the scat but Koty is more interested in something he sees across the way. Koty is a great hiking companion, drawing my attention to things I might not otherwise see. Of course, this is a double edged sword as he can make it a little tough to capture wildlife photos. But, it is a price I gladly pay. To see more of Koty at Hungry Horse go to Koty's Korner New Photos

The hike to Clayton Lake is mostly up hill but it's a very easy hike. The distance from the trailhead is a little less than three miles. I'd reckon for the determined the hike wouldn't take an hour but for dawdlers like us it took and hour and a half as we have to investigate and admire everything along the way.

Mother Nature did a cleansing operation in the area about three years ago. You can see the bare trees on the mountain in the distance. It's just amazing how quickly things have come back. And, how beautiful it still is in it's own special way. Clayton Lake is a little Jewel and one of the things we so love about Montana is we mostly have these fabulous places to ourselves, especially in the off season. You can hike around the lake using either the west trail or the east trail. We chose the eastern trail.

We stayed at the lake for a couple of hours exploring and having a little lunch. On the way back down we were treated to this view of the Flathead Range and the Great Bear Wilderness. You can't see it but this view is looking east across Hungry Horse Reservoir. You can see on the left the dead trees that didn't survive the fire. More Mountain Landscapes

And, lo and behold what did we see on the way down but another human being! This fellow was a local and he was using this trail to get in shape for hunting season. Looked to us as though he had a way to go. ;)

And, so, we bid adieu to the beautiful Clayton Trail. Another day in paradise under our belts.

Be sure and check out KOTY BEAR'S 2009 CALENDER

©Kinsey Barnard

08 October 2008

Clem Gets a Clean Bill - Day 1 at Hungry Horse

After much adieu the Dodge people (Clem has a Dodge Sprinter chassis) said they could find no problem with the electrical and to take her to an RV repair place which I did. After much adieu they too said they could find nothing wrong with the electrical. Whilst I was in no hurry to incur a large repair bill I would have felt more confident if they had found something and fixed it. It seems that our new cars have so much electronic equipment in them that even when you turn the engine off things are still drawing on the battery and can drain it after only a couple of weeks.

So, I decided we should spend a few days exploring Hungry Horse just in case Clem decided to misbehave again. It's not very convenient living 80 miles from the repair place. And, alright, I was hankering to get some fall color in pixels.

The dam was completed in 1953 and is the eleventh largest concrete dam in the U.S. and is situated on the South Fork of the Flathead. It got it's name from a tale about two hungry horses. For those into statics Hungry Horse Dam Stats

By the time we got ourselves situated at an RV Park in Columbia Falls they day was almost done. Days are getting mighty short, mighty fast around these parts. Our first stop was at the Hungry Horse Ranger Station where we picked up some hiking trail maps. The ranger told us Lion Lake was not far and a good spot to stretch our legs and take in a little fall splendor. And, by crackie, he was right!

The above is a lichen rosette growing on an aspen. Probably not of much interest to anyone but me but little natural art works are fascinating to me. It seems Mother Nature can make interesting art out of just about anything.

There certainly was a riot of color reflected on this Lion Lake and we whiled away the afternoon walking the little path that surrounds it. It was a perfect autumn afternoon in the Rockies. More Fall Color Photos

©Kinsey Barnard