The Most Disturbing Site in the Grand Tetons and 2 Things You Can Do.

We just returned from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Hiking. Rafting. Exploring. I was transfixed by this backdrop.

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We stopped at every observation point to inhale the majesty of this place.  At first these peaks don’t seem real, the way they pop up out of the earth.

The mountains are immense, expansive, glorious. The land goes on and on. Thank God for our National Parks and the 1964 Wilderness Act, for all the lands they protect, and for our Senior Passes (62 gets you one).

Driving the single lane road between the two adjacent parks, we stopped behind a line of cars. Was someone in trouble? An accident? Then we saw them, a pair of bison, creatures bigger than our car meandering down the road. We were intruding on their property.

The park is home to living things of all sizes. From moose (yes, we so one) to grizzlies (no, we didn’t) to Archaea (single-celled organisms) living in the deep blues of this extremely hot (199 degrees F) pool in the Geyser Basin.IMG_2943.jpg

We lingered as long as we could on our last day, not wanting to take our eyes off the mountains.  A red-tailed hawk soared, circled and flew off toward the mountains reminding us these lands are not ours. We are just the current trustees.

At one point, we came across this sign.IMG_3114 (1).jpg

This is a disturbing reality of climate change. Two things you can do.

1) Donate to the Park Service. Here’s a link. Yes, I know Trump gave his first quarter paycheck ($78,333) to the parks (designated to preserve battlefields), but this does nothing, zilch, nada to offset his proposed $1.5 billion cut to the Interior Department.

2) Protest Trump’s heartless budget (if you needed another reason) and protect the parks for present and future generations.

 

The Surprise at the Top of Yellowstone’s Iconic Waterfall

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“This is not a hike for climbers without experience at high altitudes,” the ranger warns us. Then, he adds, “It is the best view of Lower Falls.” Gary and I walk down a few yards to see the Upper Falls pound down on the Yellowstone River. We stand at the lookout mesmerized by its 109 feet of power. A few hikers coming up from Lower Falls stop on the trail. They struggle to breathe. One bends over clasping her hands on her knees. “Was it worth?” we ask when she raises her head. Their eyes open wide. “Oh yes.” They both nod and grin.

Gary and I look at each other. Sure, we live pretty close to sea level, and we’ve got a few years on anyone we see coming up the path. (We carry our Senior Lifetime Park Passes in our wallets.) But here we are. We can do this. Right? Continue reading

Three pictures from El Paso-Juarez

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A week after returning from our Thanksgiving holiday in El Paso, and I continue to be grateful for family harmony. In three days under my brother’s roof, there were no arguments or disagreements about the recent election. We are all in accord about the frightening state our country is in now. We are bound together for reasons beyond shared DNA. We all hate bigotry. Everyone in this two generational picture voted for justice. Continue reading

American Royalty: It’s Not What You Think

 

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KEHINDE WILEY The Two Sisters, 2012. Oil on linen.

 

I’m insecure about art. I don’t know enough to be an art snob. But I don’t want to be thought of as someone who doesn’t know kitsch when it’s staring at her. So I wasn’t sure what to think of Kehinde Wiley. His paintings are meant to startle, in his own words “go for the jugular.” His colors and patterns are bold. His subject’s postures and expressions are intense. His realistic paintings are larger than life. Continue reading

Holiday in Old San Juan

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The banners say, “Lomito de los Vientos” (Hill of the Winds), and I wonder if this is something from Lord of the Rings.

“It’s a re-enactment of the nativity scene,” a guy in line tells me. He is holding his daughter’s hand. She’s about three or four. The nativity scene is hidden behind a faux stone wall that looks like it was leftover from an old movie set or maybe a high school play. A guard dressed as a Roman soldier with helmet, cape and breastplate stands at the entrance as people pass through the gate. Instead of a “mysterious light” to guide the magi, two search lights wave across the night sky. More lights illuminate three kings propped up on a hill overlooking the attraction. They must be ten or twelve feet tall. Hundreds of families wait to see the three kings. The line is several blocks long. While they wait, food stalls sell camarones and chorizos and mofongo and empanadilla. Latin music pumps its way across the street to the Capitol building.PRcapitol Continue reading

Hiking Hueco Tanks, Texas

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“Don’t put your hand in the holes. There could be a snake or tiny shrimp,” the guide says. “The holes in the rocks give this place its name. It’s Hueco and not Waco. Does anyone in the group know Spanish? The huecos can be as small as your hand or as big as a swimming pool.” You can tell he was a high school teacher. Continue reading

Another Reason to drive to Ashland, Oregon

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That’s not snow in the photo. That’s the Rogue River as it races its way through lava tubes into the gorge. The foam so thick, it looks like cream. I had an impulse to dip my hand in and scoop it up. I was warned to stay away from the edge. The rushing waters don’t stop. Continue reading