The Great Smoky Mountains

So much beauty, so much to see and do…every season.

RIPLEY’S AQURAIUM

DSC03229Ripley's Aquarium

DOLLYWOOD

IMG_1694

PARIOT MOUNTAIN

DSC03110DSC03157DSC03164DSC03175

CREEKS TO PLAY IN

IMG_1642IMG_1646IMG_1716IMG_2922IMG_3105

WATER FALLS

DSC00405DSC00406DSC00943IMG_1731

FLOWERS

VIEWS IN EVERY SEASON

DSC00262DSC00275DSC02030DSC02045IMG_0014IMG_0307IMG_0319IMG_2889IMG_2903IMG_3111

THE ISLAND

TENNESSEE FOOTBALL

DSC00375

CRITTERS

Cougar

????????????????????????????????????

DSC00917

TITANIC MUSEUM

WONDER WORKS

WONDERWORKS

MUSIC

IMG_2919

CADES COVE

DSC00944DSC00949IMG_3107

GOLF

CAMPING

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Part one of ?

Here is how it works.  There are big corporations who bid on concession contracts with the National Park Service to run the retail, lodging, restaurants and entertainment in the National Parks.  We found this out by visiting several national and state parks last year while we were “Living In Our Minivan”.  Once this information was obtained, we discussed it, picked a park, applied, were hired and we reported for work on June 8, 2015.  To protect the innocent the company name will remain anonymous.  We were really lucky, as the other company in the park was huge, impersonal and had very low dress standards (just an observation).

We agreed on jobs, were assigned a nice dorm room, were given our uniform t-shirts and directed to the EDR (employee dining room).  The EDR fed us very well.  A portion of our salary was deducted for room and board.  Our room was like a Days Inn room:  Sink, closet, private bath and good-size bedroom.  We also had a (free) laundry room on the basement floor where the only TV lived.  We had no Wi-Fi and very poor to no cell coverage.  The public areas of the dorm were kept OCD clean.  We were responsible for our space (not OCD).

NOW FOR THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WONDERFUL:

GOOD:  There were three age groups (1) college age (2) retired and (3) middle-aged teachers off for the summer.  Most of the college age are from foreign countries (?), this company seems to have a hard time getting American students who want to work for them in the summer.  The retired (us and a few others) are here because we cannot sit on the couch any longer and because they, like us, want to see these parks.  These are all really wonderful people to work with, we all became friends and formed a tight team.  We spent time out in the park together or visiting in our rooms, playing cards or pool in the TV room.

Brandon, Robert and Rose

Brandon, Robert and Rose

Brandon, Lily, Teegie and Grace

Brandon, Lily, Teegie and Grace

Rose, Robert and me

Rose, Robert and me

Teegie, Grace and Mel

Teegie, Grace and Mel

BAD:  We worked for a very large, privately owned corporation with juvenile rules that had to be upheld by our manager, who obviously didn’t always agree with them, because she was normal and human.  We had to “clock-in” and couldn’t do it two minutes early, even if we were just standing there.  The General Store was open 14 hours per day, seven days a week.  We alternated shifts each week, (hard to get used to).  We stayed short staffed all summer and HR either would not or could not get us the proper help.  My assumption, from years of working is, the smaller the payroll, the larger the profit.  This MAY be the reason American college students won’t come to work for them – their reputation proceeds them.  This was real work, standing/walking 7+ hours per day.  The poor customers had to pay the high price by waiting in long lines.  This was especially hard on them because Yellowstone is huge and moving from one area of the park to another takes a very long time.  They were tired, but they didn’t take it out on us (much).  I don’t have a picture of the dorm, but I do have a couple critters who came to visit us at our dorm.  Sweet husband purchased bear spray after one of these visits.

Black Bear next to our dorm

Black Bear next to our dorm

DSC03444

WONDERFUL:  Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas.  Teton National Park, Cody, WY, The Bear Tooth Highway, Mesa Falls in Idaho, The local live theater in West Yellowstone and so much more.  I will have details in the following posts.

DSC03752 DSC03970 DSC03698 DSC03485 DSC03494 DSC03510 DSC03547

More later…

National Museum of Wildlife Art

This lovely museum is located on a hill overlooking the National Elk Refuge (picture of a portion of the refuge meadow below) in Jackson Hole, WY.

BLDG VIEW

After all the art museums sweet husband and I have visited (and they are legion) we have learned that the landscaping, setting and building foretell the beauty within. This is no exception. It is small in comparison to some we have seen, but the building, landscaping, setting and included works rate a ten-plus.

BLDG1 BLDG3 BLDG4 BLDG6 BLDG7

The building is designed to blend into the hillside with native rocks. Each door handle is made of giant Elk antlers. The form is of ancient, western architecture. It is surrounded by a sculpture trail designed by renowned landscape architect Walter J. Hood. The sculpture trail introduces fine art sculpture into the fabric of Jackson Hole’s incomparable landscape. Sculptures of wood, granite and bronze play with light and the different seasons offering an ever-changing view of art in the wild. There are over sixteen different sculptures on this exterior trail. I have pictured only a few.

GRISLEY2 LEONARD MOOSE1 RAVEN SHEEP4

The interior features art of wildlife by American and European artist of the last two centuries. Again, I have included only a sampling of the many great works.

ANTELOPE BISON 2 BISON1 BISON22 BLACK BEAR CAT EAGLE ELK STAMPEAD FALCON GRISLEY1 GRISLEY3 MOOSE3 MOOSE4 MOOSE5 SHEEP1 SHEEP2 SHEEP3 SHEEP5 TOTUM

If you find yourself in this area, make a point of driving up the hill, past the Elk Stampede. After viewing the sculpture garden and the gallery, exit the front to enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding refuge from their shaded terrace.

ELK ENTRANCE2

OUR DAY TRIP TO IDAHO FALLS

DISCLAIMER:  These blogs from Wyoming, Yellowstone, etc. are not going to be in exact order, nor do they need to be.  I just got my MIFI (Verizon portable internet) repaired and am finally able to post again.

We drove from our spot in Yellowstone to Idaho Falls on our 4th Tuesday off of the season.  I did not want to go – I was so tired after working five days on my feet and because the evening before a group of us drove in to West Yellowstone to the Playmill, a Local Community Theater (truly the best community theater – EVER! ….we saw, “The Foreigner“).  That event put us back at our dorm well after midnight.  As a result, I woke up grumpy and tired…I pushed through because Sweet Husband and good friend, Teegie where excited and DETERMINED.

On our way out of the park we passed a mother bison with calf just walking down the road in the opposite direction from us.  She had the traffic backed up a mile.

IMG_2609

Idaho is mile after mile of changing topography.  from rolling hills, canyons, and the most beautiful farm land.  Idaho grows all the products needed for Budweiser, as well as potatoes, grass for cattle and a couple of crops we couldn’t identify.

Mustard with the back of the Titons in the background

Mustard with the back of the Titons in the background

Barley

Barley

Flax

Flax

There were streams filled with fly fishermen on one side of the highway and the back side of the Grand Titons on the other, with farm valley between.

IMG_2614

We took a side trip to Masa Falls (a must see) created by a massive volcanic eruption 25,000 years ago.  Two thousand times more massive than the one at Mt. St. Helen back in the 80’s.

Lower Mesa Falls

Lower Mesa Falls

Upper Mesa Falls

Upper Mesa Falls

Lodge at Mesa Falls

Lodge at Mesa Falls

DSC03718 DSC03714

This whole region has three Calderas.

We has errands to run in Idaho Falls, including seeing these magnificent falls are being used to produce hydro power.  In addition to that, on our way out of town back to Yellowstone we saw hill tops lined with wind turbines.

Idaho Falls in downtown Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls in downtown Idaho Falls

wind

Many downtowns these days have statues symbolizing their region.  Idaho has big rock potatoes, turned into benches.

Potato back

Potato back

Potato front

Potato front

I expected this region to be arid and brown.  It is lush and green and filled with wild flowers … PLUS: Elk, Bison and Bears,Oh My!

IMG_2661

Moose across the river

Moose across the river

IMG_2658 IMG_2657 IMG_2654 IMG_2652

A rare white elk

A rare white elk

IMG_2637 IMG_2626 IMG_2619 IMG_2616 IMG_2615 DSC03737 (2)

We Went back a different route through Jackson Hole and had dinner at The Jackson Lake Lodge.  This was our view at dinner.

DSC03579

The Hills Are Alive With . . . Wild Flowers and Happy Critters

tree at guard gate

Orange and red trumpet flower on a small tree taken by Bubba McClary

This blog post will be mostly photographs.  The wild flowers in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are a riot of diversity, color, fragrance and size.  There are many bears with cubs, making their debut.  Deer, Elk, Turkey, Rabbits, Squirrel, Ground Hogs and so much more.  If I did not add a name to the picture of the flower, it is because I am clueless as to what they are called. I have never seen many of these before.  I have been told that I can buy a book at the ranger station to help me identify them and (naturally) I will.  I am so thankful our National Parks are preserving these.  I did not take all these pictures, as it takes time and equipment I do not have, but I will give credit to those wonderful photographers, who trek into these woods.  Enjoy!

chreeping phlox

Creeping Phlox

Gwen Cross Photography1

Gwen Cross photography

Gwen Cross2

Gwen Cross Photography

Orchid Gwen Cross

Orchid by Gwen Cross Photography

Trillium Gwen Cross

Trillium by Gwen Cross Photography

IMG_1730

Wild Rhododendron

IMG_1685

Mountain Laurel

IMG_1651

Ornamental Maple (not native, but planted here in abundance)

IMG_1660

Some type of wild Magnolia

DSC03186

Cantilever Barn in Cade’s Cove

DSC03176

Mushrooms grown here and harvested from the woods here

wild azalea

Wild Azalea. Photo by Hank McClary

sweet shurb

Sweet Shrub. Often planted near cabin windows for their fragrance (back when we slept with windows open)

Lady Slipper2

Lady Slipper. Photo by Gwen Cross

IMG_1692

This is not wisteria, it is a flowering tree and the fragrance is divine.

IMG_1548

Red Bud

IMG_1547

Dogwood

wildflower 3

Orchid by Sharon McClary

wild flower 2

Some type of wild Iris (?)

Rhodadendron

Rhododendron

mushrooms

More mushrooms (for sale)

bear turkey IMG_1711 IMG_1657 IMG_1649 IMG_1648 IMG_1622 IMG_1618 IMG_1604 IMG_1600 IMG_1598 IMG_1593 IMG_1584 IMG_1545 DSC03252 DSC03249 DSC03248 DSC03185 wildflower7 wildflower6 wildflower5 wildflower4 wild flower1 Mr. turtle Lady Slipper