Mt. Lassen & the Reno Air Show

September 24th, 2016

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I decide to climb Mt. Lassen with an old friend Rich, who like me, just turned 70.  Rich (on right) just retired from UC Berkeley where he was Dean of Chemistry.  Joining us are two colleagues, Ezra and Leila.  And off we go!

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2500 feet later, we’re on the summit with Mt. Shasta on the north horizon.  Mt. Lassen erupted in 1915 and created such a sensation that it was made a national park in 1916, the same year the NPS war formed.

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The summit crater is a scrambled mess but still has a trail that circumnavigates the rim.

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The trail is very well maintained switch-backing up the south ridge.  It’s about a 3 hour round-trip.

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After this strenuous climb, it’s time to kayak.  I roll mine over in the middle of Almanor Lake but keep my glasses, hat and my wits.  Ezra saves my life–when the kayak rolls like a squirrel cage.  My life jacket jambs into my chin–keep those straps tight!  The water was warm!

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After this triathalon (climbing, kayaking, swimming), it’s off to the Reno Air Show–a two hour drive to the south.   What an incredible show–with everything from a C-17 and C-130 to this radial engine with a bajillion pistons–imagine the torque!

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This is a rocket car capable to speeds of up to 400 miles per hour.  It raced a biplane on takeoff…..

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….upside down!  The biplane won.

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The Blue Angles put on an incredible show–much more intimate with jets buzzing the crowd.  if you like big, loud machines, this is the place!  The louder, the better….

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Loop the loop in formation.  What a show!  Next morn, I drive back across Nevada to Flagstaff where the trailer is stored to resume my NPS speaking tour.

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You can tell when you’re in Nevada–there are tractors everywhere…..  This is a 1951 Allis Chalmers–sweet!

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And brothels.  This was Sky King’s last flight……Stay tuned!

 

Rocky Mountains

September 23rd, 2016

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Once again, I leave Jackson, Wyo. threading my way south through Flaming Gorge, and out onto the Colorado Plateau.  First stop is the “Wall of Bones” in Dinosaur National Monument.  We’ve done a bang-up job with our WPA-style poster design here.

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At my talk in Rocky Mountain National Park, I reserve a front row seat for an old friend, Tom Hornbein, of West Ridge Mt. Everest fame. As a teenager, Tom offered me weekend rides down to Mt. Rainier where he guided for Lute Jerstad after Everest.  I was volunteering with the Camp Schurman project on the NE side of the mountain.  It was Tom who coaxed me to apply for dental school–thanks Tom!  He’s now 85 and with two new hip replacements, we’re planning on tying on a climbing rope next month….stay tuned for this one!

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Also at my talk (Beaver Meadows, Estes Park NP), was Pat Yeager Washburn, daughter of Dorr Yeager who promulgated the WPA poster series of the National Park Service….and one of my all time heroes.  I signed her poster and she signed her father’s autobiography, “Bob Flame–Rocky Mountain Ranger.”  You never know who is in your audience…..  Thanks Pat!

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The next exciting stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, formed first as a National Monument in 1933.  It is spectacular–like the Grand Canyon squished together to within a mile.  This vertical perspective looks 2000′ straight down!   Ranger Mike gave me a personal tour.  When asked if base jumpers had ever tried here (it is illegal, btw), he simply stated that there is simply no place to land–and I believe him.  I’m doing a WPA-style silk screen poster of this magnificent National Park, numbering my 150th park unit visited!

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After Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I push on first to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where I attend the Condor talk which preceded my WPA talk.  I did not see any condors, but am told that there are about 435 birds now back in the wild in several states, after the remaining 22 were captured in 1987 for a captive breeding program.  Here on the South Rim, I ponder the Moran View perspective–also used by WPA artists for the source of their design.  If you compare this photo to the poster, it is the river and the distant cliff (upper left) that defines this perspective.  It took a Grand Teton, Jenny Lake Ranger to figure this out, I might add……

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Leaving the east entrance to Grand Canyon, one is greeted by the Vermillion Cliffs area–eye candy for a geologist. Vermillion Cliffs was designated a National Monument in 2000.

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Millions of years of Mesozoic deposits are stripped away here by ancient rivers and wind revealing all sorts of wonder.

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Navajo Bridge is part of the Glen Canyon NRA, one of 413 NPS units, built in 1927-9 to replace Lee’s Ferry and dedicated with a bottle of ginger ale as it was then during prohibition. I’m standing on this bridge looking at the new version completed in 1995. California Condors, now numbering 435, perch here looking for carrion.

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This is the new Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center–it opened in 1997–worth a visit for sure!  Stay tuned–Mt. Lassen is next!

 

The Big Event–NPS Centennial

September 22nd, 2016

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One Hundred Years ago (August 25, 2016) Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act creating the National Park Service.  Today, under the Roosevelt Arch, a Centennial celebration begins.  I run into SOI Sally Jewell for a big “high-five.”  Sally opened my WPA-NPS Poster exhibit at the DOI Museum two years ago.  Sally was CEO of REI, has climbed the Vinson Massif in Antarctica and has a lower Co-op number than I do.  Sally rocks!

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….followed by a hand-shake.  Few people know that I’m a secret agent for the DOI/NPS, ready to ride (Teddy Roosevelt style) into Malheur or the Alaskan frontier to save the environment…..or drive around America peddling the history of the WPA-CCC.  I’m in my 13th month now with 37,000 miles under my belt, second set of tires on my second car, 62 formal park talks (also the Shell Oil Company), and many museums and libraries.

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Who would expect!……TR himself.  TR is my hero.  When he found out I was from Alaska, he launched into a monologue about Taft who talked him out of an Alaska trip and into one to Africa.  Bully!

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Finally–my VP ticket is realized and what a view of the concert stage!!–with Emmy Lou Harris singing the National Anthem with John Prine following……not to mention all the politicians.

Ranger Museum

The drive home included a stop at the Ranger Museum in Yellowstone hosted by none other than Rob Danno–Ranger Extraordinaire–who instigated the Bryce Canyon WPA-style print; our first computer generated design.

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This is the interior of the Museum of the Yellowstone–an old train station in West Yellowstone–with scissor beam roof construction.  They built them right in those days.

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The west slope of the Tetons with wheat fields near Ashton, Idaho—but that’s another roadtrip!  Stay tuned!