About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Farewell Flaming Gorge

 This past weekend really drove home the meaning behind “mixed emotions”. Sunday is our last day volunteering at the visitor center and during our 15 stints behind the counter and walking the grounds we have met over one thousand people. Not just counted, but actually met and interacted with. I know it doesn't seem like much and it probably isn't when compared to the more popular centers, parks and attractions however the uniqueness lies in the very nature of the meetings with our visitors.

Fishing the Green river.
Every person, couple or group we encountered was direct and personal. The small numbers allowed us to take extra time to share our own experiences and impressions of the area. We, and the visitors to Red Canyon shared a goal; we were all explorers and this commonality allowed for a much more personal approach.

Turkey Vulture warming up in the morning.

Balancing rock.

Our time here has now come to a close and it is time to say farewell. There is some reluctance in leaving for we have come to really love this little corner of our country but, I would be less than honest to say we are not just a little excited about our next adventure. So this is not a sad farewell, just a goodbye until next time. Oh, and there will be a next time. We have been invited to return next season and I believe we shall.

Over the past four weeks we have been more than fortunate to see a piece of America so few get to see. We've seen and interacted with the wildlife, introduced our country to visitors from all over the world and been an active part of the Flaming Gorge experience. We hope through our blog entries we've managed to share even a little bit of the magic this place encompasses. We leave you with more photos of the area and our visit to the Utah Field House in Vernal.

Perhaps our biggest regrets are those where we were so wrapped up in what was happening we simply forgot the photography. Things like the young sheep playing king of the hill on a small gravel pile in our camping area or the osprey taking a nose dive into the creek after snatching a salmon a bit too large. Of course we can't forget the “professional” drift boater who decided to launch not only his boat but the suburban he towed it with nor can we not mention the deer at the local lodge who would stand on their hind legs in order to rob the bird feeders or how about the 2 bucks having a tussle in the middle of the road. We're really sorry there are no pictures of these and so many other events. I'm afraid even if we had managed to snag a photo I'm pretty sure we would have only captured the butts
of the departing participants – human and animal alike. We both will dedicate ourselves to improve this situation though the outcome is seriously in question.

October is going to be a full month as we strive to meet up with old friends, reacquaint ourselves with the grandkids and tackle our errand list before heading to Sunset Bay state park outside of Charleston Oregon (fresh seafood – yum!!) to be camp hosts. Our having completed all of the training modules for this next gig can in no way, under any circumstances be indicative of our excitement and impatience to start. (Will anyone really believe that?)

Until next time, safe travels.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oh, shiney!

Writers block. That period of time where you really want to write about something but there is so much to write about you bounce from topic to topic like a kid in a candy store. Random thoughts, here they come: (Oh, and as always, you can click on a picture to see the larger version.)

Volunteers at visitor centers do not necessarily come from the area they are currently in and as a result may not know where Billy Joe caught that lunker 5 years ago. I figure I'm lucky to know where my car is parked and fortunately Chris has the keys.

This volunteer was mightily chastised (almost in the biblical sense) for not knowing how many RV sites were open and what the nightly rates are for all of the parks and campgrounds in the area. I was 'saved' by calling the closest park and making a reservation for the disgruntled lady.

Met a couple from Australia who started in Peru and are wending their way north in their all-terrain motorhome to see the polar bears. Before this year's trip they had traveled in the same rig from Vietnam to Europe. Wow!

Having spent a weekend of being bothered by the labor day campers and tourists, the sheep and deer are moving back into the area.
They mooned us while in one of the hay fields. Just the other day one doe was nuzzling around our grill, probably looking for some salt and by the time I had the camera she had wandered off. I must remember to have the camera ready at all times as there is always something to take a picture of.

Fall is here. The aspens are beginning to turn, mornings are a bit brisk and the concessionaire run campgrounds are now closed.

Fall is also associated the salmon run and the local land locked Kokonee are heading up stream. I for one did not observe a single fish actually running.

Not petroglyphs, just random staining.
Not petroglyphs, just random staining.
After a day trip to Echo Park Canyon and seeing the interesting patterns in the rocks, it takes no stretch of the imagination to understand how the ancient Native Americans were inspired when creating their petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs. Click on this one to see it better.

In this case instead of line drawn pictures, we see a more connect the dots style. Amazing considering these are located about 35 feet above the surrounding area and the cliff is a sheer face.

Interesting history behind Echo Park as it was the first proposed site for the dam that eventually created Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Conservationists were concerned more dinosaur bones and petroglyphs would have been flooded so their protests encouraged the government to reconsider the location of the dam. Good choice as “our” gorge is spectacular!

Factoid: The dam has to mix the waters to arrive at a temperature between 45 and 50 degrees at the spillway or else the trout will not survive and flourish. They must be doing it right, Green River is famous for the fly fishing.

I'm still having problems coming to grips with the geology of the area. Rock formations that look like semi melted ice cream randomly plopped down (that was a Chris quote, I was thinking cow patties or horse road apples). These are next to strata that has been folded over on itself like bread dough and near other places where it looks like a broken butter finger (ummmm, butter finger, Vernal here we come!). 

And as always, the broad expanses of territory.

We tried but just could not get a closer picture of this hawk and have no idea of what type it is. The bird was gliding over the cliff and we're at about 1500 feet above the water at around 7500 feet elevation. So peaceful. Perhaps there is a birder who recognizes it? Please leave a comment if you do.

Next entry I'll try to keep more to a theme or at the very least one subject but no promises.

Look! Squirrel!  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Flaming Gorge – Week 2 – Time Paradox

How is it time flies either like a supersonic jet or a ruptured duck? Case in point: When we applied for the positions at Flaming Gorge a year ago our wait until we got here was definitely of the ruptured duck variety. Now, having been here a week in which the time has flown well past the sound barrier, the day we submitted our applications seems like a decade ago.

Okay, I'll admit last week was chaotic what with our training, uniform issue and getting settled but I'm still feeling like I just put the jacks down and turned off the engine.

Another example is it seems like it was only yesterday Chris and I met but as I write this blog entry we are celebrating 36 years of marriage with a visit to the Dinosaur National Monument topped with dinner at Red Canyon Lodge. The way this time distortion thing is going I figure we'll have about 5 seconds to accomplish it all.

Enough time stuff; it fosters confusion, wreaks havoc on our memories and most importantly, usually makes us late for dinner.

From talking to our visitors, Flaming Gorge seems to be one of the least known attractions in the U.S. With the exception of the locals and those that have been here before, our visitors have been those who simply stopped by on the way to somewhere else or were foreign visitors who wanted to avoid the crowds of the Grand Canyon and heard about the place from friends. A good example is for the past week we've had between 70 and 90 visitors per day and on this holiday weekend our maximum has been slightly over 300. That's for the entire day! Unlike Yellowstone or Grand Canyon where those numbers would be the low estimates for each hour.

Side note: Must mention the surprise of the day when a former co-worker, Denise King stopped by. About floored me as she hasn't changed a bit from 10 years ago when we began at RiverCom (sorry we were so busy we couldn't chat more). Also, long lost relative DeAnna Bumgarner who brought some much sought after cinnamon bears and a cake for Chris' birthday (we've since given her directions and she's told us where to go).

You've already seen the gorge from our 'office' but there is so much more. The dam creating the reservoir and shaped like the Hoover, the Green river, the mountains and trees. Let's face it, pretty close to paradise with pine trees.

Green River

I wonder if the commute keeps people away. Seems like every day last week we were stuck in foot traffic on the way to the visitor's center.

What I can't get over are the colors in the rock formations. Perhaps my photographer friends can give us a couple of hints on how to enhance our photos as they simply do not do justice to the richness we see.

As I mentioned, we visited the Dinosaur National Monument. When we got back, one of our co-workers informed us we had actually only visited a small portion of the area and gave us directions to another section that we'll hit up later in the week. For now, here are a very few photos of the quarry wall and the surrounding area,

That about sums up our week. It only took five minutes to experience and then the 14 hours to write this short missive.

Paradox? Naw, I'll take the nurse.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Flaming Gorge

With bright, sunny skies we arrived at our very first volunteer job. I know, I've been talking about this thing since last year when we were accepted but take a look at the picture. Yes, this is view from our office and will be for the next month.

After settling in to our camping site and introducing ourselves, we were welcomed like family – you know, the ones that seem to always get lost and usually need just that little bit of extra help? Yep, that's us. We received the usual cautions about soft spots, pot holes and the little quirks about the phones and internet connections
(marginal at best and only at the visitor center) and then some unique to Red Canyon such as “Don't set up any chairs there, the sheep will chew on them.”

I know what you're thinking, a flock of sheep is unique? In this case yes as these are big horn sheep who definitely own the area or at least co-lease it with the mule deer that are practically behind every tree.

The volunteer camp is about a mile or so from the visitor center tucked well off the road in among tall Ponderosa pine. Consisting of 5 full hook-up sites, its as spacious and well maintained as any high end RV resort and I'm guessing some RV'ers helped out, if not fully designed the layout.

Our first evening we stayed up way too late chatting with one volunteer couple who were heading out the next day. Ann and Bob House have been full-timing it for the past 4 years and volunteering almost exclusively in Forest Service jobs such as this one. Their experiences and the wisdom picked up were like gold to us rank amateurs. We learned so many valuable tidbits and pretty much filled up a note pad with such things as “Do not attempt to pet the park bear.” and “Feed the Ranger lest he gets grumpier than the park bear.” “Some parts of the pine trees are edible, so too are the chipmunks.” “DO NOT under any circumstances pet the black and white striped cat.”

All kidding aside, it was a very enjoyable evening and one we hope to repeat sometime in the future if our roads happen to cross again. If you beat us to it, say “Hi” for us.

The visitor center is a small building with the usual gift shop, counter with brochures and a small video room with short movies of the attractions in the area. When you enter the front door that first office view seems to just drag you all the way in. That silhouette is Chris who is terribly afraid of heights yet she still went right to the edge overlooking the gorge. We've already been warned, cleaning nose prints from the glass is pretty much the job.

According to the Garmin, we're camped at 7476ft elevation with very pleasant days and cool nights. We've had a couple of storms roll through bringing hail and rain but their ferocity is blunted by their brevity. You still get soaked, but its a short soaking.

Today marks are first “official” day where we go to headquarters for some paperwork, uniform issue and finally meet the Ranger that hired us. Its about a 12 mile drive into the nearest town, Dutch John, Utah so we'll get to see more of the area and have more pictures to share.

Not sure why they don't want us to pet the cat... :)