Road Trip Teton Report

I had an amazing road trip.

I hadn’t done one in a very long time (2003) and was overdue.

I forgot how much I love the open road and the freedom and perspective that a solo road trip gives me.

After my mother’s death, getting so sick (first the flu then the sinus infection) work stress, and making the final decision that a certain relationship wasn’t going to work out, (oh, and I haven’t had a vacation since 2007) I needed to hit the road to find “me” again.

I also wanted to see my dear, dear friend Black George who is currently in Grand Teton National Park.

Stop by the White Grass ranger station, and he’ll make you a rootbeer float and tell you some stories.

Oh, and for my older lady friends… He’s available (discriminating, but available) He is well traveled, speaks several languages and always has fine Portuguese wine and good tequila available. He’s a “catch”, let me know if you’d like an introuduction.

NPR bit on Black George

High Country News bit on Black George at Grand Teton

George is a long time Park Service volunteer and is 86 years young this year.

I worked with him at Canyonlands National Park 15 (that’s FIFTEEN years ago)

Here’s a picture of the two of us then.

and a picture of us taken last Friday

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We decided that we look pretty darn good after 15 years.

It must be clean living… HA!!!

It was an awesome trip that involved trips to visit other good friends.

First, my friend Jim (also a friend from Canyonlands National Park) and his lovely wife LT in Moscow Idaho on Wednesday night, we had a lovely walk, dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and some visiting time at their lovely home.

After that, I headed out to Hardin Montana to visit my best friend from my senior year of high school Erin and her family.

It took a lot longer than I anticipated to get there due to my taking the Hwy 12 scenic byway and lots of road construction, but I finally made it and we did get some time to visit and catch up (our first time seeing each other in 30 years)

I drove out to Yellowstone on Friday morning and was in the park by 10:00 AM.

The high route into the Northeast entrance via Red Lodge and the Shosone National Forest was fabulous (despite the road construction)

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I passed on opportunities to stop on the side (or in the cases of real idiot park visitors in the middle of the road) to take pictures of pronghorns (there are more of them than people in Wyoming as I discovered when I lived there) or herds of bison on the distance.

I was rewarded with awesome bison photographic opportunity when one almost lumbered in front of my truck just north of the Canyon Visitor Center (were the ranger on duty was kind enough to call Teton dispatch to let Black George know I was in the park and heading that direction)

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and later near Yellowstone Lake

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I look too close, but I made sure that my truck was between the bison and I and had a wonderful new 70-300mm lens thanks to my wonderful friend Gar (the biggest supporter of my photography habit/career) who gifted me with a lens that didn’t work for his needs.

I also enjoyed a visit to the “Super Caldera”

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and the Dragons Mouth

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I finished up my Yellowstone visit with a stop at Lewis Falls

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The Rockerfeller parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton was under construction (oh and all the pavement had been torn up) so between the half hour delays and the 20mph traffic on the ripped up sections it took a good long time to get down there.

I pulled into the White Grass Ranger Station at the Death Canyon Trailhead (the oldest trail in the park) at around 4:30 PM.

Since I was a “special guest” I got to pitch my tent right outside the station, which is an old horse patrol cabin.

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George cooked us a lovely dinner of garlic and ribeye steak with baked potatoes and a salad (OK, I made the salad) and some good Portuguese wine.

The next morning after coffee in front of the wood stove in my moose jammies, I was up with the sun to get some photos of my beloved Tetons (I spent a lot of time there when I lived in Wyoming) at sunrise. (there was a fire burning and it smoked up the view the day before, I was hoping that the fire would lay down overnight and it did)

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I then hiked out to Taggart Lake for some more photo opportunities (where I lost the lens cap to my new lens, the Tetons demanded a sacrafice)

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After that, I hike around Jenny Lake

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I was hoping to bag a peak or two, but bagged lakes instead, due to the ankle injury I sustained in the Olympic distance triathlon I did last week. The ankle isn’t sprained, but I think the bone in injured because I can’t stand any pressure on it. (not rolling over onto that side when I sleep and certainly not a hiking boot being laced up)

After that, I made a trip out to Teton Village (haven’t skied Jackson Hole for 18 years) a grocery run to Wilson and a trip to the Laurance S. Rockerfeller Preserve which is an amazing place.

Wile heading out that direction, I had the moose encounter that I’d been hoping for (I kept the big lends on the camera just in case) Moose-Wilson Road was the place I saw my first moose over 20 years ago.


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and yearling

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I look like I’m too close (good lens) but there were stupid people closer than I was and I was sure that even with a sore ankle I could outrun out tree climb them. (you don’t have to outrun the moose, just the stupid people)

After a full day of adventure I headed back to the ranger station for another lovely dinner and an early night tucked into my down sleeping bag (hoping not to be kept awake all night again by the “party elk” and other critters including wolves and how knows what else was crashing through the brush, snorting, pawing, etc…)

The rest of the pictures are available here:

Or here as a slide show.

The next morning (after coffee in front of the wood stove of course) I headed out at 6:00 AM (5:00 AM Pacific time) for the drive to Missoula where I was going to spend the night (halfway point)

Taking the Moose-Wilson Road (slowing down before sunrise for moose and elk of course) and out through Idaho Falls was an amazingly fast route and I got to Missoula at 1:00 PM where I was planning on camping. That wasn’t really worth an overnight stay in a place that I had nothing I wanted to do, so I kept driving West (until I got tired of driving)

I remembered the (three states worth) of road construction on I-90 and decided that it would be smarter to just push through on Sunday when the crews weren’t working than to spend twice the time to go half the distance on Monday. I used to be quite the “road warrior” on long trips and it was nice to see that I still “had it”.

I made it home by 8:00 PM. (15 hours on the road for 904 miles) and had today to sleep in, rest and get ready for the work week. (oh and write trip reports by fresh food/groceries/upload photos)

Here’s the route I took.

Yesterday was the longest drive I’ve done in one stretch; here’s how it compares to previous road trips…

Moose Wyoming to Tacoma WA 904 miles

St Louis MO to Boulder CO, 870 miles

Ventura CA to Castle Valley UT, 802 miles

Moab UT to Pendleton OR, 792 miles

Moab UT to Cheyenne WY, 451 miles

Now, I really should get back to resting; it is after all, the last day of my vacation.

Mood: Tired but Happy


Janet & Lisa’s Awesome Bike Adventure

My friend Janet and I had a wonderful sunny day out riding our bikes.

I was excited that it was finally warm enough to wear my sleeveless Cycles Gladiator jersey.

This message was sent using the Picture and Video Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!

She rode over to my house (she lives about 4 miles NW of me) and we headed to downtown Tacoma for coffee and relaxing.

Then, I wanted to vindicate myself for missing the back way down the hill to the valley and Inter Urban Trail so we headed out through Fife, Milton and up the trial to Edgewood.

This time, I made the correct turns and we ended up in the right area. We had a bit of confusion because I couldn’t find my cue sheet and we couldn’t read the street numbers on the map.

We stopped off at Five Mile Lake (where it looks like Gene, Annie, Kathy and I should be able to start our open water swim training as it’s no longer life threateningly cold)

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We found our street (it was 368th) and raced down the steep winding one way road to the valley below and found the link with the Inter Urban Trial down in Algona.

We wanted to go on the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Courage Classic Training ride, until we discovered that it was going up the same trail we just came down and out to Kent where I work.

We opted to head out to Orting on the Foothills Trail and return to Tacoma via the Puyallup River Trial and River Road.

We had a GREAT time out riding in the sunshine.

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We rode out to Orting and decided that a nice cold beer would be good.

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We had a nice mellow ride to the Foothills Trail Head where she showed me the super seekret squirrel Wheelmen route to the Puyallup River Trail.

After that, I actually braved riding on River Road (which can be scary to drive a car on some times) but I did it.

We made a big loop around Tacoma back to her place and then I rode just past home to meet the Icky Boy at the HUB for Buffalo Chicken Pizza & a beer. (he couldn’t’ come ride because of his sprained ankle)

I got 64 miles in which was not the 7 I wanted, but it was a great day.

And now I need to get to bed because it’s my bed time and I’m tired.


Mood: Tired


Mother’s Day Triathlon-A Comedy of Errors


Yesterday (Saturday) was the Elma Mother’s Day Triathlon, my 5th Triathlon (I’m almost thinking that I can start calling myself a triathlete now.)

It was also an amazing comedy of errors.

I was none too bright yesterday morning, as was evidenced by some of my tweets/facebook updates via Twitter.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, not too hot, not too cold-perfect for a triathlon.

My friend Annie came down as well and it was good to see her. We hadn’t seen each other since the Bike MS ride last fall, and had winter stories to tell.

The start signal was a bit different than previous events; she didn’t know what it was, and I wasn’t paying attention.

So there we were, standing on the shore towards the outside of the swim start, we looked out to the water, and saw everyone else swimming.


We jump into the water, I’m to the far outside and have to cut a diagonal to get anywhere near the other swimmers and get to the buoy which marks the turn around.

She had borrowed face mask style goggles from Gene and didn’t know they needed to be spit on and they fogged up immediately.

As she was breast stroking so that she could see (when she wasn’t getting splashed in the face, she saw me and said that I looked like I knew what I was doing and was passing a lot of people. (obviously, way to the outside)

The water was cold, but nowhere near as cold as last month. I could actually get my head in the water and swim a solid crawl stroke the entire way.

I came out of the water ahead of people who have beaten me in the swim in the past, despite the rocky start.

Of course, my transition wasn’t so great.

Something had jammed up on the velcro on the neck of my wetsuit and I coudn’t get it unzipped (normally, I unzip while running and have the top half peeled down before I get to transition.

I got it unzipped, but then had problems getting my swim socks off. I knew it would add a few seconds to my transition, but I was having a “moron morning” and was laying there on my back, legs and butt in the air trying to get everything pulled off.

The bike went as well as a ride on rough chip seal rode can go. I averaged 16.2 miles per hour which is par for the course for me on this event.

I thought something was “missing”

At the turn around, I figured out what it was… the soul sucking headwind.

Usually we have head/cross winds both directions; it this case, it was a brutal headwind on the way back.

As if the first transition wasn’t enough “fail”. I struggled to get my running shoes on (socks were still a bit wet) and my right foot cramped up. I had to pull the shoe off and stretch/massage the foot. Once I had the shoes on, I realized that I almost ran off wearing my helmet.

I DID run off without my tri-belt and number which I would need to cross the finish line, so I had to run back for it adding 1:20 to my run time.


Despite the fact that I had beaten myself up on a half marathon the weekend before and on a steep hike the day before, I felt good on the run. I need to pay extra attention to my right calf as I cramped up again for the first half mile (I tore hit the same year I tore the Achilles tendon). Luckily, the cramp let up and my Achilles did not so much as twitch (it was crackling after the half marathon, but I took good care of it.)

It took me 36 minute to complete the run, taking 1:20 off for my number glitch; that’s still slower than last time. Oh well.

I came in at 1:33:00, which was slower than my last time of 1:31:02, but after the run back for my number fiasco, I’m giving myself credit and calling it 1:31:42. (Did I mention that my transitions and swim start were a comedy of errors?)

In any event, I felt good and had a great time visiting with friends.

Annie kicked butt and got 5th place for the women (actually she got 4th because the woman who got 4th had a flat tire and rode back to the park in a truck and then went and did the run yet she still placed) and got a trophy. I got an age group medal.

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Next event is Memorial Day, May 25th. It will be my one year anniversary of my first triathlon (which just happens to be the same tri on the same course) and my 6th triathlon.

I’m a little twitchy at the thought of the Olympic distance race on June 5th because the shorter swim felt long this time. Hopefully, I can get some open water swims in with Gene, Kathy and Annie (in shallow, non glacial fed lakes) later this month and will feel more confident. I have to more tris between now and then. The Memorial Day one down in Elma and then one up in Issaquah on the 30th after which I need to rush home to attend a wedding.

Now, I need to go for a swim, then clean up my filthy apartment so that the Icky Boy and I can hang out here after Pizza & Beer at the HUB.


Mood: Tired


Tacoma Half Marathon

“It’s Steep, It’s Concrete, and it will Kick Your Butt”

And yet, I did it again…

I did it under trained again, but at least I got a ten mile training run in last weekend. (unfortunately, I came down sick with the cold from hell the next day)

My plan was to just take it easy and finish upright & uninjured.

I even shot some video of the route to show folks my town and neighborhood.

We had a violent thunderstorm last night and torrential downpours and high winds. Luckily, it all blew through. It was clear and sunny in the morning. (at first, that big orange ball in the sky and those dark figures following us on the street attached to us at the feet freaked us out a bit)

I removed a small tree branch from my truck (no damage) and headed out towards the start line. I didn’t think that I could park near the finish even if I could get there through the street closures, so I figured I’d just take the light rail back.

I had plenty of time to stretch out, warm up and chat with some friends. I found Knut/Robert/Tradarcher not far from the portapotties and we got to visit a bit.

He was wearing his “Team Lizzy” shirt; you can see that on the video.

I was field testing a running shirt that had monky paws; I just LOVE monkey paws. I discovered that I could slip a couple of packages of Cliff Shot Blocks up the sleeves, hook them around my thumb and they wouldn’t fall out. That way, the only thing I had to carry was my camera.

Why yes, that bulge in my sleeve IS a packet of shot blocks and I am happy to see you…

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The race actually started right on time, so we were off like a herd of turtles at 7:30 AM (the full marathon took off at 7:00 AM)

We have a lot of concrete and chip seal over concrete and asphalt over bricks and cobbles here in Tacoma, so most of the course is on extremely hard and unforgiving surfaces; the event always kills my knees and angers other parts of my body.

The race course takes a short break from the hard surfaces for a partial loop around Wright Park where I run frequently because it’s in my neighborhood.

Then we actually make a loop around my North End home passing within two blocks of it on the West and East sides.

We run through Stadium High School (where the Movie Ten Things I Hate About You was filmed).

This is where it got interesting… We ran past the volunteers from the school who were cheering and handing out water, ran between the stadium and the new parking garage where we turned into an alley to avoid the main street. Just before we left the school campus we passed two more volunteers who were cheering. One of them said, “Watch out for the cranky man in the alley”.

We thought they were teasing with another volunteer.

But there WAS a cranky man (who lived in a building virtually across the street from me on North 2nd) screaming and swearing at the poor volunteers (it was two of them, not a large screaming horde) because they were waking him up (at nearly 9:00 AM)

He had a mag light stuffed in his back pocket in an effort to be threatening.

*this was a permitted event, not making unreasonable noise and not during quiet hours. It is also an event that has been happening for three years. If he had a problem, he should have taken it up with the organizers or called the police (who would have told him to get stuffed) I wonder how he handles Friday night football games?

As we went through the alley, I shouted back, “Nice language on a high school campus!”

We stopped at the police car who was directing traffic when we came out of the alley and told her that he was harassing, threatening and swearing at the volunteers. When we headed down Stadium Way, we saw another officer light up and head that way.

I wonder how that guy liked the police response?

What an Asshat!

Other than that, everyone was wonderful. The volunteers, spectators and residents. Even the people in traffic being stopped were polite.

We made a short loop through downtown and then headed down Schuster Parkway down to the waterfront. There are a couple of steep overpasses to navigate, so it’s not flat, and it’s work both directions.

The turn around point was just shy of mile 9. One of the volunteers yelled “Mile 8” which I thought was odd because we practically tripped over the mile 9 sign with in a few yards of completing the turn around.

I had to make a brief stop to answer the call of nature (at least I wasn’t running this one for time) and got back on the road. It was quite the slog up and over those overpasses and then back up the hill to downtown.

Once downtown, the real hills begin.

There is no flat ground in Tacoma.

The course to the finish like was a bit more direct than last year, which was nice.

I waddled in with a ridiculously slow time of just under 3 hours. (in all fairness, this course had nearly 1,600 feet of elevation gain on it)

My IT bands were fine and I didn’t have any of the aches or other issues I did after my 10 miler last weekend. All of those terrible aches and pains were from being sick.

My right Achilles was a bit sore and felt kinda crackly when I walked after sitting still for a long time (not uncommon on long runs on steep hills on hard surfaces when not trained up because I tore it back in the mid 90s teaching skiing) but a bit of ice, ibuprofen and stretching took care of it.

My knees are a bit cranky due to the road surface, but my muscles feel pretty good. I’m stiff if I sit too long, but once I’m up and moving I’m fine.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. (luckily, it’s supposed to rain which will keep me from getting tempted)

I was slow, but I met my goal of finishing upright and uninjured.

Oh, and I got a shiny thing. I just love shiny things.

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BadKitty likes them too

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And now I need to get to bed. 4:20 AM comes early.


Mood: Tired