Friday, October 27, 2023

A hike to remember in Yellowstone National Park

Reflections in the geyser pool at West Thummb
The weather was sunny when we started the hike to Storm Point in Yellowstone National Park. It was our first day in the park, and we had already driven from Jackson Hole, through Grand Teton National Park, so we were ready for a little exercise.

Earlier in the day, clouds had covered the Teton Mountains, but the haze lifted and the sun came out. On entering Yellowstone we drove through Grant Village and then on to West Thumb Geyser Basin for our first look at the geysers and boiling steam pools that discharge into Yellowstone Lake. Bright colors and reflections of clouds in the pools provided positive first impressions of interesting geology for which the park is known.

Bacteria in the water make brilliant colors in the geyser pools.

Storm Point is at the top 
of this map.
I had two possible hikes on my itinerary list, but when we missed the first one, we decided that Storm Point would be a good place to stop. The trail started at Indian Pond and proceeded on a two and a half mile loop to a point high on a cliff at the edge of the lake.

One of the attractions of this hike was a colony of marmots just past the point. It would be fun to take a break and watch these cute creatures scampering around before starting the return part of the loop.

Larry walks in the woods.

It was a pleasant hike through the woods. We saw a variety of wild flowers, crossed a pond, and trekked through tall, shady pine trees. As the trail neared the beach, large pieces of driftwood and unusual geologic formations caught our attention.
Beverly found driftwood on the beach.

But soon, warnings of possible rain that we had previously ignored, loomed in the darkening sky. Since we were almost at the peak of the hike, there really was no advantage to turning back. 

The wind began to blow; we quickened our pace. I tightened the grip on to my visor and then removed it altogether, zipped up my jacket and placed the visor inside.

Just as we reached the actual Storm Point, the wind began howling and pelting both rain and sand against our skin. Jagged grains of sand stung from the force of the wind. We got soaked from the driving rain. That colony of marmots? They had taken refuge from the storm. Only one was still around, looking quite forlorn.

The sky, water, and beach turned dark in the storm.
So we trudged on, shielding our eyes and bodies as best we could until we rounded the point which gave the hike its name.
We got a full dose of nature in multiple forms.

Following the other side of the loop trail, we eventually were back in the forest, which offered protection from the stormy elements. The rain subsided, the sun returned, and we even saw a deer before finishing the hike.

This buck was a bright spot on our return hike.

Lessons learned: Pay attention to weather forecasts, and pay attention to the name of the hike.

Storm Point was exactly that.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Bad tourist behaviours add to travel risks

Loud, rude conduct and disrespectful or entitled behavior by tourists while visiting another country are the leading characteristics that infuriate the world’s most experienced travelers, according to the summer 2023 Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey.  

Dressing and acting in obvious tourist
mode may put you at risk for scams.

“Global tourism is on track to rise by 30% in 2023 as travelers make up for lost time due to the pandemic-related travel restrictions. Unfortunately, a few travelers may have forgotten their manners in their post-pandemic travel exuberance. If so, then I hope they remember them soon,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

Check with the waiter before ordering
so there's no dispute later.

An important part of travel is the responsibility each traveler bears at every destination. Are you dressed inoffensively? Is your behavior appropriate for the region? How you present yourself in foreign localities reflects on your homeland, but it also stirs reactions from the local population that could be helpful or provocative.

Contain your emotions.

 According to the survey, the worst tourist conduct observed by other global travelers was being too loud (27%). In second place, 26% of respondents reported that travelers’ unwillingness to try local cuisine or follow local social customs was the most infuriating behavior. The third most disappointing trait (18%) was the expectation that destination residents speak the same language as the traveler. Fewer than 10% of respondents said tourists who wear revealing, offensive or shabby clothing were the most exasperating.  
No need to shout if you don't speak
the language.Be polite if you need help.

“When you’re visiting a new country, it’s essential to respect the local culture and customs. Behaving like a tourist can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to locals. Travelers should do the research to know and understand the little things about the customs and culture of your destination,” said Harding Bush, a senior manager for security operations at Global Rescue.   

Put the selfie stick away! You're an easy
target for pickpockets.

Looking and acting like a tourist can produce assumptions that you are inexperienced, naive, lacking cultural awareness, and wealthy. “Standing out as a tourist can make you appear vulnerable and an easy target for scams, pickpockets and other types of crime. By blending in you reduce the risk of local criminals or scam artists spotting you as a foreign traveler and targeting you for fraudulent schemes or petty crimes," Bush said.  

Information courtesy of Bill McIntyre, of Global Rescue, a leading travel risk and crisis response provider. 

Photos from free sources.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Geology of Tetons continues to evolve

Wide angle view of the Teton Range

When you visit a place as stunningly beautiful as Grand Teton National Park, you run the risk of having bad weather, which means you really aren’t able to see and absorb the magnificence of God’s handiwork. Even an overcast, foggy day could obscure the wonder of the landscape.

Actually that happened as we first drove through Grand Teton on our way to Yellowstone National Park last month. It wasn’t raining or snowing, but the weather was off just enough to dampen our appreciation of the scenery.

Clouds obscure most of the mountains.

However, we returned to Grand Teton after five days in Yellowstone. The Teton Mountain Range rises abruptly from the Jackson Hole valley. Although the rocks at the core of the mountains are some of the oldest in North American, the mountain range itself is among the youngest in the world. First the Teton fault lifted the range, then massive glaciers carved peaks and canyons and created beautiful lakes. The Tetons continue to change from natural forces like erosion.

Moran Mountain shines in this reflection photo.

On our final day in the park, not only was the sun shining, but the sky was filled with fluffy, white clouds, and water in the lakes was clear and calm. I literally jumped for joy. This was what we had hoped for. Conditions were perfect for the best reflection photos of this trip.

I hope these photos will inspire you to visit and to explore this remarkable park.   

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Saturday, October 7, 2023

These destinations take you off the beaten path

If you’re craving a taste of America’s hidden natural beauty away from tourist crowds, read on. The U. S. is home to countless stunning landscapes, charming towns, and breath-taking vistas that remain off the beaten path.

Famous rock formation at 
Chiricahua National Monument
Michael Bissona, Motoring Expert at International Drivers Association, says, “The United States is a treasure trove of lesser-known, but no less beautiful, places waiting to be discovered. A road trip to lesser-known locations can be an amazing adventure.”

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Nestled in south-eastern Arizona, Chiricahua National Monument is a captivating oasis of rock pinnacles known as "The Wonderland of Rocks". The 8-mile scenic drive and 17 miles of day-use hiking trails provide opportunities to discover the beauty and diversity of this less-known, yet remarkable destination. The park’s rich biodiversity and unique rock formations will surely create a lasting impression.

Sunset at Door County shoreline

Door County, Wisconsin

Known as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest", Door County is a charming peninsula located between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. With its quaint lighthouses, artisan shops, galleries, and more than 300 miles of shoreline peppered with rugged beaches and hidden coves, Door County is a serene and picturesque road trip destination. Be sure to try the region's famous cherry pie.

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Vegetated dunes at Cumberland Island

Accessible only by ferry, Cumberland Island is a haven of untouched natural beauty. Home to wild horses, maritime forests, and pristine beaches, it offers an escape like no other. As Georgia's largest barrier island, it offers miles of trails for hiking and biking. Don't miss the stunning ruins of the Dungeness Mansion, and make sure to camp under the stars for an unforgettable night.

The Palouse, Washington and Idaho

The Palouse is a rich farming area of rolling hills and prairies spread across Washington and Idaho. Its surreal landscape, reminiscent of Tuscany's rural vistas, is best enjoyed on a leisurely drive on the Palouse Scenic Byway. Time your visit during the spring or summer when the hills are stunningly painted in shades of green or gold.

Madeline Island is part of
the Apostles Islands

Madeline Island, Wisconsin

Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands, is a serene retreat on Lake Superior. With beautiful sandy beaches, scenic hiking trails, and historic sites, the island offers something for every traveler. The ferry ride across the lake is an experience itself, but once you're on the island, visit Big Bay State Park for its fantastic birdwatching and striking cliffs.

Alvord Desert, Oregon

Alvord Desert is a good place if you seek
few crowds and serenity.
The Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon offers a starkly beautiful landscape. This dry lake bed nestled in the rain shadow of the Steens Mountain is an off-the-beaten-path destination perfect for stargazing, camping, and even land sailing due to its flat, barren expanse. Don't forget to relax in the nearby Alvord Hot Springs after a day of exploring the desert.

Beartown State Park, West Virginia

Beartown St. Park

Beartown State Park is a natural hidden gem, known for its unique rock formations, created by hundreds of years of wind and water erosion. A boardwalk trail leads visitors through a maze of moss-covered boulders, overhangs, and deep crevices. Despite its somewhat remote location, the park's serene beauty makes it worth the detour.

Today’s post is courtesy of the International Drivers Association. Photos from Larry Burmeier and free sources.