50 Below Zero ?

Last Fall, I drove with a friend of mine to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, only to be shut out of both parks by the government shutdown. A little frustrating, a little expensive and quite an adventure.  That was from 2013, the year of Murphy’s Law, rearing it’s ugly head over and over..

But that year is over, and I now have my Guardian Angel with me, so back I went to Yellowstone for a photography workshop in the park.  What attracted me to this was the fact that the photographer grew up in the area around Yellowstone, and knew the area like the back of his hand. Plus, you can’t just drive into the park, you have to ride a snowmobile, or rent a snow cat which is what we did.  

My friend and I started in Idaho Falls and drove to Jackson, which is a few miles outside of the Grand Tetons. We had planned to photograph the iconic Mormans Row at Sunrise with The Grand Tetons towering majestically in the background and Oxbow Bend at Sunset, with beautiful colors reflecting off of the …snow.

Oh yes, I forgot, it was snowing.  Kind of a light powdery snow that would have been fun to play in, but not so great for brilliant sunsets. And it hadn’t snowed like that for weeks.  Was it Murphy’s Law again?  We did see Elk, which my friend scared away by calling it BooBoo, a weasel in his winter coat, and some beautiful snowy landscapes.  

We spent the day exploring, had a wonderful dinner at an organic restaurant, shopped in town, laughed a lot, and headed to Yellowstone the next day, retracing our steps from October.  I’d call the drive through Driggs and Tetonia kind of a white out.  No clouds, just white everywhere.  And slippery roads! Needless to say, we didn’t turn around much, but we did stop to rephotograph a few locations we’d shot in the Fall.  My favorite was Hill House, which was surrounded by Aspens, so we have two seasons of that location.  And we found my red barn, which made my day.  As we got closer to Yellowstone, the wind picked up, I swear there were hurricane force winds driving us into the park!  something was up…or down.

After meeting the group we’d be photographing with the next day, we all headed to bed to get ready for a sunrise in Yellowstone.  The next morning It was cold.  No, not just cold, it was freezing! No, not just freezing, USA Today reported that West Yellowstone was the coldest place in the country that day at MINUS 50.  That’s 50 BELOW ZERO!  Have you ever ???  So, we found our place by the river, stood in the snowbank for 20 minutes waiting for some light to break through, it never did, and by the time we all got back in the snow cat, we couldn’t feel our fingers, toes, arms, legs, nose, I’m surprised we could even move !  The “warming hut” wasn’t open when we got there, but the bathrooms weren’t too bad.  They were probably 20 above zero.  So we warmed up a little in there.  I developed a headache that lasted 24 hours, and I think my feet finally thawed out around 8pm. Did I ALREADY say it was Cold?  50 BELOW?  Seriously?

But there’s always a silver lining, right? We drove through the park that day, stopping here and there, getting out for snapshots because it was too cold for anything else.  We saw a Bobcat, coyote, and the ubiquitous Bison, in fact a lot to them.  And we drove around again the next day, which was a warmer day with the temperature hovering around ZERO.  MY favorite part of our trip, aside from experiencing 50 below was the Norris Geyser Basin.  Beautiful!  

And I’m going back again in the Fall…but this time I’m headed to Bozeman and driving in from the Northern Entrance.  The Western Entrance just hasn’t been good to me.  If at first you don’t succeed, try try again !Image  

 

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Endings and Beginnings

2013 was a year of turmoil for me on a personal level, but in the midst of gaining insight into life and love, I was blessed to be able to travel from Alaska to Hawaii, from Yellowstone to Florida.  It was windier than hell and I had the flu in Hawaii, my house in Florida had bees inside and out which pooped honey all over the plantation shutters just a few days before finally selling.  It rained almost everyday in Alaska, where my son and I extended our trip to celebrate his 25th birthday to fish for halibut, experiencing what seemed like 20 foot seas, catching one fish which equated to 6 pounds of dinner.  I made it into Yellowstone for three hours, then was barred from entering again with millions of other people by the government shutdown, and finally returned home to my native state to enjoy some sun and fun with my friends and family.  I’m truly glad that 2013 is over, but I have to admit, even with Murphy’s Law rearing it’s ugly head over and over again, it was an incredible adventure, and I’m ready to do it all over again.  Well, maybe not the part with the bees.

Here are my favorite photos from this year, a year of unexpected craziness.

Cherry Blossoms, Reno, Nevada
Cherry Blossoms, Reno, Nevada
Sunset on 62nd Lane, West Palm Beach, Florida
Sunset on 62nd Lane, West Palm Beach, Florida
Gradient Orange
Gradient Orange Sunset over Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Porcelain Geyser Basin sunset
Porcelain Geyser Basin, Yellowstone. The night before the government shutdown.
Ethereal©DottyMolt2013
Silver Lining Sunset over Lake Tahoe, Nevada
On Golden Spooner 96dpi
On Golden Spooner, Spooner Lake, Nevada
Aspen Jack
Aspen Jack, Nevada
West Fork Carson River Autumn
West Fork of the Carson River Autumn Colors, Nevada
Rainbow Inflation Great Reno Balloon Race
Rainbow Inflation Great Reno Balloon Race
Ice Skating Rink Canadian Geese Washoe 0213©DottyMoltPhotography2013
Canadian Geese Ice Skating Rink Washoe Lake, Nevada

In the Wee hours of the night

So, I couldn’t sleep the other night and woke up at 3am  really thirsty. Heading out to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I noticed something odd in the backyard. There was a quarter moon shining down on a huge cloud bank covering most of Washoe Valley!  Needless to say, and being an adventurer at heart, I threw on some clothes, and jumped in the Jeep, heading up to shoot down on this enormous cloudbank.

We see lenticulars all the time in the Valley, and I’ve shot my fair share of those, but cloud banks don’t happen all the time.  As I drove up, I kept my speed down, we’d had a ton of rain in the past 48 hours, and the roads were covered with black ice.  As I came up to the base of the Winters Creek Lodge, I parked right by the guard rail, and stepped out cautiously, treading lightly on the slick surface under my feet.  I had rushed out of the house so quickly that I forgot my ski jacket, and with the temperature down to 35 degres, it was a little chilly.  Needless to say I took two 1 minute exposures, checked to make sure they were in focus, and jumped back in the car with the heat blasting.

I then drove over to Lake Tahoe, hoping for a bank of clouds over the Lake, but I was out of luck this time.  So, I turned around to come back home, stopping twice to shoot the stars overhead.  I was back in bed by 5am, and back up at 7am, ready for my run and to start the day.  Officially start it anyhow.

330am Cloud Blanket over Washoe Valley