Category Archives: National Parks

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake in Oregon, where our young sons, in shorts and tees, pelted us with snowballs one sunny August day.

The lake itself taught us that we could see nearly 100 feet into the water if that water is clear enough. Unblemished with the sediment that river-fed lakes carry, only rain and snow feed this 1,934-foot deep puddle in the caldera* of a volcano. 

We hiked from the rustic, sturdy parkitechture of Crater Lake Lodge, singing a song our youngest, Cole, made up. We climbed enormous stone steps and steep trails high enough up a mountain to find sticky and heavy snowball-snow that hadn’t melted.

After a few battles, we hiked back towards the lodge, stopping at a scenic overlook high above the lake. An older couple joined us, standing at the same rail. 

Unfortunately, as I backed up to take a photo, the older woman’s knees buckled, and she slid under the rail. She was lucky that both her husband and my own grabbed an arm, or she might have fallen 1,000 feet into the caldera.

Was it steep? Yes, look at how trees planted roots horizontally but grew vertically:

Strangely, she insisted on continuing up the mountain.

We said good-bye, but even our 4- and 6-year old wondered if that older man would be able to catch his unsteady wife on his own. We decided to report the incident at the lodge, ordered some hot chocolate, and settled into rocking chairs on the porch. 

When a bulked-up rescue ranger asked to speak to Brad, my husband, we expected bad news, but Brad came back laughing. The guy cussed him out for reporting an incident, saying we had caused an unnecessary rescue operation, and who the hell did we think we were. 

As the burly guy ranted, our youngest threw up on his shoes. 

How to See a Wolf in Yellowstone: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

My husband, Brad, was lost hunting at fourteen years old.  Really lost.  Feeling the heebee jeebees from behind, he turned to find a wolf staring at him on the trail — five feet away.

“And then what?”

“I raised my gun.”

“And then what?”

“It walked off.”

That was it.

If you want to see a wolf in Yellowstone, don’t get lost hunting.  Stop at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.   Or in this year of Covid, check out their Bear Cam or Wolf Cam, open 24 hours, 365 days a week.  

Wolf in Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
Wolf in Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

Yellowstone 009The animals at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center are unable to live in the wild, so are rescue wolves, bears, eagles, etc.  Without the stress of hunting and protecting a territory, these animals can be viewed at their most relaxed states.

And you will also be in your most relaxed state.  Believe me, when you see a wolf or grizzly in person, you won’t have composure to admire it’s coat and wonder what’s on it’s mind.


Grizzly and Grizzly&Wolf Discovery Center.
Grizzly and Grizzly&Wolf Discovery Center.

The Discovery Center does an excellent job of education, offering talks throughout the day, like the “Bear Spray Demo” we heard.

The naturalist demonstrated bear spray, shooting blanks from her holstered demo can so we could see how far the spray travels (not far enough for me).  She explained that we should be patient if a bear charged us because, after all, it could just be a false charge. She also advised, “Do not run.  A bear is a predator.  If you run, a bear has to chase you.”

If you run, a bear has to chase you.

Finally, she showed how to windmill one’s arms, slowly backing away from a bear.  She mentioned that someone she knew survived a bear encounter by doing this for seven hours until the bear turned and walked off.  Got all that?

Yellowstone 015

Meanwhile, the bears entertained us by playing in the habitat behind the speaker, wrestling, splashing and ignoring ravens who stand around criticizing them.

Uptight ravens are no fun.
Uptight ravens are no fun.

Jago Peregrine Falcon, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
Jago Peregrine Falcon, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

Yellowstone 029The Bird-of-Prey area of the Discovery Center was full of personalities, like the gentle-looking, “who, me?” Jago Peregrine Falcon and the judgmental bald eagles.

We have kept up with the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center via their web cams for both bears and wolves.  It’s a great place worth supporting.

Yellowstone Under Canvas: $400 Tent Overpriced by $267.12

Would you pay $400 a night for a tent?  I did and I feel foolish.

Guess it’s not the fashion to be negative, but I feel duped by a false-positive review of Yellowstone Under Canvas.  Sometimes, it’s just not helpful to endorse whatever you review.  Plus, based on this review, I gave up a night at the fabulous Old Faithful Inn to try this place.  I reserved the Deluxe Tent with a bathroom and companion tipi (the Under Canvas term for teepee).  My only option also included breakfast, so $401.12 later, I had booked one night in a tent. Continue reading Yellowstone Under Canvas: $400 Tent Overpriced by $267.12