I Lucked Out


At the backcountry office at Old Faithful I was seeking a place to camp for the week. As I was waiting for the newly minted worker to gather up my forms a phone rang and the gist of the conversation was that a choice campsite on Slough Creek was available – including reservations with the outfitter. I quickly made the arrangements and am going fishing starting today, right now, out the door; 4th of July and all.

The Webliography on snowmobile wars is in very rough draft form. It may take two or more weeks after I get back; so be it.


The wildfire north of town is laying down and looks to be about controlled.

Fishing On Opening Day


another-bison-jam.jpgI went fishing on Saturday. Went up to the Firehole and fished in Biscuit Basin – just like about 300 other people. It was fun and it was sunny and it was just like a picnic.

There were buffalo and elk and tourists and fishermen and rangers and smog and honking horns and tour buses and all of the good things that make Memorial Day Weekend such a joy in Yellowstone.

I talked to some women who felt that the crowds detracted from their experience, but they went along because their husband’s just wouldn’t miss the chance to be first on the river.

I suppose that’s important. I was about number 200. I caught some fish and I enjoyed the beautiful weather. The temperature was just perfect if you found the right patch of shade.

A nice fisherman in pretty blue waders told me that the Blue Wing Olives and March Browns were hatching and that I needed to use his special fly. I asked him what it was and he said it was a Midge imitation that he invented himself. It was so small that I had trouble getting it on the tippet.

prince.jpgI didn’t catch any fish with it. It didn’t float too well. I did catch a real nice trout on a Prince Nymph that was about 1/2 inch long – size eight or ten; I’m not real good at this yet. I found a neat web page that is written by a local kid that has good information about the Firehole River. It’s called “Firehole River” at Yellowstone National Park.com.

baby-trout.jpgThe baby trout were very hungry and I caught a bunch of them. After a bit, I went to the car to get my camera so I could take a picture. What a jinx that was. But I did get a nice baby trout picture of a fish caught by a fisherman from Utah.

I’m going to wait until the end of the week before I go back. There are just too many cars, and the kid at the fly shop said that we should have a slow week starting about Friday.


griz.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk about the “grizzly bear expert” that was mauled by mom while defending her cub. And gee, he was only three miles from the road and alone and in the Springtime, and in bear country, and he’d been mauled before – a genuine expert at getting mauled!

There’s an article that I wish I’d written: An Open Letter To Jim Cole, Grizzly Expert. (Once He Gets Out Of The Hospital.)

Before I Rest

analysis COMPLETE, report PRINTED, boxes SHIPPED.

shipped.jpgWell, gals, the report is done and gone – HUZZAH! The staff is moving on to other projects, and I’m going to take a break.

Before I take a week or two off, (Mom’s coming here for Mother’s Day. We’ll go to Yellowstone – I’ll drive, she’ll pay,) there are a couple of things I need to say – as if I wouldn’t!

The stir and hubbub about raising fees to our National Parks is gaining attention in the media (Link, Link, Link.) This has been building since the “Fee Demonstration Program” was initiated about 11, or so years ago. Believe me, fees are going to continue to rise. There is no public outcry loud enough to stop them: it just makes a good story so it gets written.

One thing that is galling about the outcry is that it is a generalized and unfocused whine. It does not address the real costs of visiting parks – all of which are escalating at a pace that far outstrips inflation.

go-to-yellowstone.jpgYellowstone in the winter is an extreme example. Yet it does show that it’s not just park fees that are necessarily responsible for attendance figures. In fact, the Yellowstone case tests the conventional altruistic wisdom.

There has been no outcry about the way the National Park Service has forced the visiting public to spend exorbitant amounts of money to “enjoy the winter in Yellowstone.”

They have mandated that any person wishing to visit Old Faithful must pay no less than $100/day. And they have mandated that any person that wants to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone must pay an additional $100/day.

The very people that decry the petty increases of $5, or $10, or $20 for entrance fees at parks across the nation are blatantly silent about the gross and inappropriate monetary burden placed on the Yellowstone winter visitor.

The very people that whine about a few extra hydrocarbons in the air over Yellowstone, are afraid to mention that it now is a park not much cleaner and very much more expensive.

Interestingly, winter visitation figures for Yellowstone are showing a gradual upward trend, (watch the pollution figures climb as well.) This is not because the park is cleaner but rather, I suspect, because it is more exclusive. It is now attracting more affluent visitors. Visitors who can afford to spend their money on riding in a diesel bus in the warmth of splendor. Shielded, they are, from the very elements that they profess to adore.

poor-folks.jpgThis is the first step in a trend that Scott Silver calls a plan to DISNEYFY the parks.

Now that the “RIDES” cost more money, and now that the common people have been removed from underfoot, and now that exclusivity reigns, of course Yellowstone will attract more of the “right” people.

This injustice is certainly more offensive and obscene than a $15 fee increase. Where are the news sources decrying this injustice? Where are the bloggers pointing out this prostitution of our park system? Where are the activists that so sanctimoniously proclaim that the parks should be available to the common man? Where is Tom [“Really-Loves-Yellowstone”] Brokaw? You & I know exactly where they are – riding on a diesel powered bus, or an obsolete, unsafe, gas guzzling Bombardier. They don’t dare admit that they are just as happy that the guise of pollution has rid their beloved Yellowstone of the “little people.”

They certainly are not going to suggest that the very ranting that they have used to force commercialization is limiting access. They don’t dare suggest that a family of four can afford $800 for two days in Yellowstone, (plus $250/night for hotel.) Oops forgot about travel expenses, meals, souvenirs, gratuities, photos, etc. Is a two day visit to Yellowstone worth $2,800 to the average American Family of four – you bet it is, they just can’t afford it.

denali-ride.jpgThis condition is coming to all parks, even one near you. The Presidio is already long down this road, as is Denali. And as each park realizes that they can mandate tours in lieu of individual experiences – they will.

As each park unit discovers ways to allow concessionaires to take over NPS duties, they will. As each park unit manufactures unneeded services that can bring money to the trough, they will drink.

Just how many luxury hotels (with $500/night suites,) are needed in a national park? Just how many trinket stores constitute a “service” to the public? Just how many horse back rides, stagecoach rides, bicycle rentals, (with regulations and dedicated bicycle trails,) visitor centers, museums, (centralized or dispersed, or for the birds,) resource centers, paved pathways, parking lots, luxury diners & fast food emporia, etcetera ad infinitum, are justifiable as services? The NPS is busy selling the parks – or giving them to private interests as fast as they can. They call it ‘visitor services. They also call it a wilderness.

Americans, as a general rule, want their entertainment done to them: TV, MOVIES, TOUR BUSES, GUIDED EXPERIENCES, LUXURY SUITES, GLAMOROUS DINING, etc. This is what we’ve been sold, and this is what we expect. The USA is a capitalist place and capitalism rules the mindset of us all. After all; it can’t be good if it’s cheap, it must be good if rich people covet it. This is the American mindset, and it demands that the parks cost more – not less.

Even the the NPS believes that they should have expensive luxury and exclusivity. If you don’t believe it just call (307) 344-7381, and ask about the private, not open to the public, island facilities that the executive rangers use for their own enjoyment. Ask about the “White House” china service and the fancy catered meals. Ask where it is in the budget, while you’re at it. (Oh, planning retreat? – I get it!)

The NPS model flies in the face of our overriding cultural values. It suggests that the best things about our country can be had for bargain basement prices. It suggests that the government does amusement parks better than Disney. It’s time to change the model, or it’s time to change the culture. Go ahead pick your task.

Actually the Disney model is a better deal.



Question of the day:
Why are back country permits free?
Answer to the question:
There is no good answer!

In Yellowstone there are entrance permit fees, campground fees, photo permit fees, fishing permit fees, boating permit fees; but no hiking or back country camping permit fees. In the winter there are no snowshoe fees; and even though the park grooms ski trails there are no ski trail permit fees.

Did you know that if you bring your own horses, and weed-free fodder; you can take up five parking spaces with your rig, saddle up and ride in Yellowstone without a permit or a fee. Of course you didn’t know that; you can’t afford a horse, or a Hummer, or a six-horse trailer. Sad for you!

The NPS is missing a bet here. These kinds of activities could easily be taxed with ‘special user fees’ – this would defer costs of trail maintenance, back country signs, trail grooming, back country patrol and rescue, as well as toilet duty. In fact, very high fees would attract more elite visitors and generate more revenue.

We wonder where the righteous outcries will come from.

Scam America – Redux


scam-1.jpgAmid the many concerns about fees, snowmobiles, shooting elk, diminishing budgets, reduced staff, low visitation, and a myriad other issues; there is one constant and nearly silent threat that is relentlessly pushing forward into our national parks.

Privatized Commercialization: the insidious and creeping attack on a system that used to be the model for the world. Attention is given to this attack by the press on slow news days. Activists notice only when their pet ox is about to get gored. The blog sphere finds it useful for an occasional note. And the American public is absolutely oblivious.

scam-2.jpgAmericans are a wonderful target for the slick marketing of advertising; and often-times don’t even know when they are being “SOLD” something.

Such is the case with the “NEW,” “EXCITING,” “CONVENIENT,” and “EFFICIENT,” reservation system touted by the Feds. This brings national resources to the monitor – just click. (I wonder who pays the development costs and hosting fees and maintenance bills?)

scam-4.gifAs noted by Scott Silver in Wild Wilderness, This “NEW” system was actually founded two decades ago as a software development company.

YEOWEE, girlfriend, did they develop! Now they are the interagency one-stop shop for campground reservations. They are a “Partner” busy selling things that aren’t even theirs. In fact they are the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stepchild of the TICKETMASTER CORPORATION.

This is as American as it gets! This is also as insidious as it gets! There are eleven governmental agency ‘partners’ that are listed. Bless their hearts, they don’t have to spend money on a reservations staff now.


scam-5.gifThese guys are good. The site design is similar to the ‘official’ NPS site, (and other dot gov sites,) the vocabulary is reminiscent of nothing so much as scam-6a.gif“agency speak” and “park speak,” and the design symbols shriek “MY GOVERNMENT IS HELPING ME!”

This is a convenient site, it has news, and it even has a nice map with dots to click on. It’s easy to excuse this as just one way my government is helping me – – – right into a fully privatized National Park System.

This is tough stuff. This is hard core. This is reminiscent of the case in Yellowstone.

scam-3.gifFor more than a decade the winter use plan for Yellowstone has focused on “the snowmobile problem” and ignored access for people.

This has allowed the purveyors of tanks and buses and vans to slip into the door with giant fees and diesel engines and the dictation of winter use activities. The unthinking NPS and other AMERICANS have bought it. Good sales. Bad policy.

The National Park Service just loves this kind of ‘partnership.’ They can abrogate their responsibility along with their concern for either the parks or the public.

Magicians and marketeers and entrepreneurs love this slight of hand. Look at the right hand & I’ll do it to you with my left. Soon, there will be a sticky web of deceit that we think is “our government” – but really it’s just a disguised tour business. Will there be ‘overbooking’ like the airlines? Will there be accurate descriptions? Will there be any deceit at all? Of course not, our government agencies are ‘partners.’

This is not new. This is old. The Northern Pacific Railroad did it to begin the infiltration of Yellowstone, and it’s been going on ever since. It happened in the early history of Niagara Falls and continues to the recently added casino. And it will continue to happen. It’s American as apple pie. We just love the convenience. And we’re suckers for slick marketing – just ask Xanterrible.

    Interesting Reading:

Commodification of Nature
Make The Parks Profitable ??
Monopoly Reservation Contract
Outsourcing America The Beautiful


At And Above Treeline

The Beartooths Are Calling

greenough-lake.jpgI just stumbled across a wonderful site that makes me want to hasten spring a bit. The Beartooth Mountains have always held the hiker-fisher in their thrall, (me too.) I was there once and only spent a single night under the cold clear sky. Next year, I shall get there again.

The site: Fishing The Beartooths is astonishing in it’s completeness and is very ambitious. From kids fishing to a reader’s forum, this site, (I think it’s brand new,) bears watching. There are sections on where to fish, GPS information, a gear section and contests.

The site was listed in the Outdoor Section of the Billings Gazette, and is run by Jesse Roberts, the office manager at Big Bear Sporting Goods. This quote from the introduction outlines ithe agenda:

“. . . It won’t be an easy task for the office manager at the Billings Big Bear sporting goods store. The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area encompasses 930,000 acres and has more area above 10,000 feet in elevation than any other in the United States, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Narrowing his research is the fact that although the mountain range contains more than 900 lakes, 600 of them are barren of fish. Undaunted, Roberts has already outlined his summer vacation schedule – hiking trips to 52 lakes.”

Energy abounds!

Another Mental Health Day


headbrain.jpgI’ve got a couple of days left here and just needed to unwind. So, of all the stupid things, I’ve eschewed the beach and parked myself in front of the computer.

The world’s news and condition, (aside from headlines and sound bites,) is really encapsulated in weblogs. From the mundane to the monumental – they come and they go, (where is the Budget Wine Babe? – lost in Napa?) But, they continue to reflect a mostly male dominated activity. That’s not bad – just the way it seems to me.

mf.jpgI wonder if it’s a cultural thing or if it’s something in the way we’re wired? Do women have much to say about what is going on? Are our topics just too domestic and mundane? Do we care about different things, in different ways? Jeeze, I don’t know. The idiosyncrasies of a blog are certainly reflective of our personalities, interests, desires, perspectives, and intellectual curiosities. They are also wrapped up in both ego and financial satisfactions.

Is our projection of our persona self aggrandizing, or is it selfless sharing. Probably neither 100%. Are we convincing anybody of anything or just sharing information? Who knows? What are the personal consequences of spreading oneself across the Internet. Reflection on this can lead to some interesting conjecture. The impersonality of it all guarantees some sort of fantasy perception of the self. THE MUSINGS GROW!

I’ve gotten into the habit of aiming a few clicks at a few favorite blogs, and find that there are just a few that keep popping up. It’s a mostly habitual activity, and on days like this provide insight into my own interests and curiosities. Some of them are even written by women.


yogabeach.jpgFrom Rochester, Minnesota comes a blog – Driftless Skies – that is unassuming, down to earth, folksy, and just plain ‘real.’ The flyfisher there is at about the same stage of exploration that I am and I feel a genuine kinship. A brand new $5 rod is being used for the opening of the winter season. No artifice or snobbery here. From the family to the weather to some poetry this blog is genuine.

Verbena-19 gets under my skin. It haunts me with its continuous probing of the human condition and behavior on this too, too small planet. The view from Canada is always refreshing and, in this case poignantly disturbing. I wonder why I keep checking?

Small Dead Animals also get under my skin. It’s also Canadian. It’s also full of insight and perspective. The breadth of this blog is mind-blowing. Real concern and information just ooze from the posts. What is it about Canada? It was a quote on this site that caused this rumination in the first place . . . “Bloggers will continue to believe they are supplanting the mainstream media, when – in fact – the data will show that the growth and influence of blogs is waning:” . . . Check it out.

Persistence, regularity, consistency, and genuine “Old School” insight always comes from the weblog of Dave Richey. It’s obviously written for guys, but it’s also obviously from the heart. This is the way Dad felt. Me too, some times.

My neighbor back in West Yellowstone is training for the Iditarod. I always check Klondike Dreams for his progress. It’s all about dogs. And it’s all about desire and will and dedication. Just imagine; over 1,100 miles on a dog sled. In the cold. In the wild. In the day. In the night. What can be the force that drives these people?

Reel Women, commercial fly fishing for women – and mighty interesting too. Next season’s schedule looks to be the best offering in quite a few years. It’s expensive, alluring, educational, expensive, fun, diverse, and expensive. I think I’ll go.

“SERIOUS BLOGGING” is what CUSS is all about. The Campaign for Unshaved Snatch. reaches out and grabs me each time that I click on it. She’d shit if I meant that literally. This weblog is not as irreverent as the title would imply – but it’s irreverent enough. It’s not just under my skin – it’s under my scalp as well.

“Close on the Season of Goodwill comes the Season of Coughs and Colds and Sneezes.” You tell ’em girl! Mountainear is a weblog about “The high spots of life from the top of a very low mountain.” From Great Britain comes one of the most genuine and insightful life tales – ongoing and authentic. I hope this one doesn’t disappear.

beaujolaisposter.jpgAfter reading some posts about the Nouveau wines, I vowed to get some back in Bozeman. Blew That! But, thankfully, the kids down here dragged me to the Isla Vista village market and Trader Joe’s.

We gathered up a large sample of the “newbies,” as they call them down here. I’d provide a review but they were all opened at once and consumed willy-nilly. Drinkable. winewall.jpgAll that by way of saying that I frequently click on the Winehiker-Witiculture weblog. It has some precise, topical posts. And, like all good things seems to be getting better with age.

And, never to be missed, is “F-Words.” Straight from Moscow comes this weblog that roars about feminism and English muffins within a few lines. This is just about as jolting and entertaining and serious as it gets. If I just want the English muffins I click on over to Orexia. After all, to steal a quote, “If we have to eat three times a day, we might as well make it a good experience.”


winter-beach.jpgA flock of gulls blew in last night and are raising a real ruckus outside. Maybe I’ll go to the beach after all. I feel a song coming on . . . “Windbreakers On The Beach” . . .

A Walk, Some Fishing, Wine, Web Stuff, Skiers, Snowmobiles


upcabinriv.jpgI spent too much time at the computer on Saturday. Forgot to post anything. So, here’s the latest.

Sunday I went fishing on Cabin Creek. It’s about 15 miles from town and the road is plowed. There were still some fish below the campground and where it goes into the Madison river. After the sun came out and the trees started dripping I walked upstream to where it gets narrow and took some pictures. None of them came out close to the way I saw them – oh well!

I finished the number crunching for heavy particulates and dispersion patterns, then jiggled with the models. I’ve added a sidebar widget for new and updated material – it’s way down on the bottom left. As soon as I figure out to make the text links work in the widget I’ll fix that part too. The pages on culture history are roughed out and when I get some time away from the snowmobile morass I’ll get back to the earth sciences. Right now everything is a bit rough.


aspicywine.jpgI noticed a post in the Winehiker about the nouveau wines – I’ll go to Bozeman next weekend if they don’t make it to our village by then. The wines are usually cheap and good enough for my standard hot spicy wine recipe that I do in the winter – maybe the French had this in mind to make them drinkable.

The recipe is simple enough:

Hot Spiced Wine

1 Bottle of red wine
2 (or 3, or 4) oranges
several teaspoons/tablespoons of sugar
3-4 whole cloves
2-3 sticks of Cinnamon
Brandy (or Madeira – to taste)

Add the wine to a pot and heat gently on the stove. Peel and slice one orange into slices and add them, along with the juice of the second orange. Add several whole sticks of Cinnamon and the cloves. Bring the pot to a boil for a few seconds, (not too long – the first steam is the alcohol,) then turn the heat back down so it is barely simmering, (or less.) Add the sugar, (to taste – I like a lot,) and brandy and serve in thick mugs.


rachelsteer-in-o6-end.jpgThe early ski season is upon us. 300 obnoxious adolescents for “ski camp,” about 120 athletes from Sweden, Germany, Finland, France, and our own U.S. Army, National Guard, and Reserves. oit-biathlon-women-russia-gold.jpgThe Olympic biathlon teams are straggling in and getting fit for stocks at Altius, (as in swifter and stronger.) The Norwegians are doing it alone for now. This year’s schedule is really a mess. And then, the Russians are being secret, and strong again.

There are too many grubby men skiers in this world. They are also; loud, arrogant, entitled, imperious, and unwashed. Maybe they think they can be themselves in this little village and nobody will notice. We do! Hell, they walk 5 abreast in the middle of the street – “Look at me – I ski!”


I’ve got most of the data together for the ‘clean snowmobile’ post. copy-of-snowmobile-zero.jpgLast year there was another zero pollution sled built by Utah State University researchers. Several others are cleaner than a Prius. Why don’t the NPS planners take this changing technology into account? Who knows.

One sled was even provided by the NPS – they have ignored the results! The sleds were so quiet and clean that cross country skiers shouting at each other were at least two orders of magnitude louder. God bless the bureaucrats! More on this soon; time to run.

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