Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Troll Kidnap Attempt Foiled!

Lil Dude at the prairie dog town before the
troll-knap attempt.
Prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are related to the squirrel family and very cute, but as Lil Dude Troll found out, they can be dastardly little troll-nappers!

During a visit to Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Lil Dude and his human family stopped to check out the prairie dog town just inside the monument's park boundaries. Wanting to take a souvenir picture of the occasion, Lil Dude was innocently standing next to a little post when two of the evil little creatures took notice and began sneaking up on him. While one kept a lookout, the other grabbed Lil Dude's arm and took off with him! Fortunately, just as the evil-doer reached his burrow and began to pull Lil Dude underground to never be seen again, human daddy quickly jumped to the ground, grabbed Lil Dude's other arm and pulled. A brief tug-of-war ensued and even though Lil Dude's favorite vest was torn, human daddy won the pull contest and Lil Dude was saved!

Nefarious prairie dog sneaking up on Lil Dude while his
accomplice keeps look-out.
Let this be a life-lesson - never trust a prairie dog. They may look all cute and sweet, but beware, they are just trying to deceive you! 

They have Lil Dude surrounded!
Oh no! Evil prairie dog about to grab Lil Dude while
his accomplice appears to threaten human daddy!

He's got him! Evil prairie dog grabs Lil Dude by the arm
and begins to run away with him back to his den!
Evil prairie dog foiled! Lil Dude after human daddy
miraculously saved him from a fate worse than

Monday, December 22, 2014

Yellowstone - Mammoth Area

Lil Dude Troll was here June 1st and it was still
very cold and there was still deep snow cover, but the
road was cleared. 
If you head north of the Canyon Area you will enter the high country. This is normally one of the last roads to be opened each season as there is usually deep snow cover into May and even June. It is also one of the most beautiful areas in the park. Plan to stop, stretch your legs and explore a bit at Dunraven Pass.

Further north you will come to Mammoth Hot Springs Junction. Like all the other area's within the park, there are many very interesting natural sites to see and explore here, but it is also the site of an old army post where soldiers lived when they guarded the park. It now is a small village with a visitor center, stores, and park offices. It is also the site of Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge. The lodge is one of the oldest buildings in the park, but it is well
maintained and a comfortable and convenient place to spend a few nights if you make reservations far enough ahead to get a room. Most of the guest rooms do not have a private bathroom (and the ones that do cost $40 more per night), but the large common bathrooms are kept very clean and sharing is not really a problem with doors and curtains enabling privacy. Moose and other animals do not seem to be afraid of humans and are seen wondering around the grounds at all hours. Just down the road is a cemetery containing many old graves and there are numerous ghost stories about the place (you can read several of them here and here and here), but Lil Dude Troll didn't encounter anything not explainable while staying there for 4 nights.

Heading into the town of Gardiner.
For a nice break one day, continue north past Mammoth Hot Springs to the park's north entrance and into the small town of Gardiner, Montana. Here you will find full services from gas stations and auto repair shops to grocery stores, restaurants, a book store and souvenir shops. On the way, you will pass the 45th parallel marking the half-way point between the equator and the north pole.

The Troll Family really enjoyed their visit to Yellowstone National Park and gives it their highest recommendation - it would be 2 thumbs up but trolls don't have thumbs so it's 2 little arms up!
Just after entering Montana, you will cross
the 45th Parallel

The famous North Entrance Arch coming
into Yellowstone National Park

The engraving at the top of the arch reads, "For the
benefit and enjoyment of all"
The town of Gardiner, Montana just outside the
North Entrance to Yellowstone
The Cowboy's Lodge & Grill is recommended for some
fine eats.  
Heading back into the park past the North Entrance

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yellowstone - Canyon Village & Falls

Located in the Canyon Visitor Center is a great 3-D
relief map of the whole park.
The Canyon Area, on the eastern side of the park from Fishing Bridge north to Canyon Village is an area where you will want to spend unhurried time exploring. Plan to spend longer than you anticipate at the Visitor Center in Canyon Village as it is the best and most informative one in the whole park. Don't miss the free film "Yellowstone: Land to Life" or the 9,000 pound rotating ball which demonstrates volcanic hotspots around the globe. It is here you will also be able to see detailed panoramas, dioramas, and cross sections of life in Yellowstone's lodge-pole forest and grassland-habitats. And don't forget to check out one of the world's largest lava lamps which is used to illustrate how magma rises to the earth's surface by heat convection. While there, go ahead and pick out a book or one of the cool t-shirts, hats or jackets for a souvenir. 
Another interesting section of the Canyon Visitor
Center is the exhibit of the animals that live within
the park. 

In Canyon Village proper, you can do some shopping and/or provisioning at several small stores and a sporting goods store. If it's about lunch time, stop at the Canyon General Store which has a nice 1950's style diner with really good burgers.

Lunch at the '50's diner inside the Canyon Village
General Store 

Be sure to take the South Rim Drive to Point Sublime and be prepared to park your car and do some short and mostly easy paved-path hiking to see Lower Falls, Upper Falls, Artist Point and spectacular views along the Yellowstone River.

Upper Falls - 109 feet high

Lower Falls - 308 feet high

Yellowstone River view near Artist Point

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - Steam and Hot Mud

Fountain Paint Pot
There are so many geysers, thermal vents and steaming pools of mud within Yellowstone National Park that you don't have to go far to see the next one. The interesting thing is they are all different so you need plenty of time to enable stopping often and taking your time to walk around and gaze upon the many wonders.

Lower Geyser Basin

A mountain of hot mud

Along the Fountain Paint Pot Loop Walk

Beautiful walk around Biscuit Basin

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - Trolls 'n Hot Water

Lil Dude Troll checks out a pool of boiling water
The wonderland that is Yellowstone National Park contains within its borders the world's largest collection of hot springs, geysers and fumaroles. Almost 1/2 of all the geysers in the world are inside the park. 

Within these boiling waters, there is life. Microscopic organisms called thermophiles not only survive but thrive in this inhospitable environment.  Nourished by energy and chemicals in the hot springs, these microbes live in brilliantly-colored colonies. Some species are perfectly happy and healthy making their home in water so hot it would raise a blister on your skin and so acidic it is equivalent to the liquid in a car battery. Other organisms living in the hot springs are so tiny we can't see them, but we sure can smell them in the murky, sulfuric liquid pools that smell a lot like, but even worse than rotten eggs.

This pool of hot water looks shallow, but actually is about
6 feet deep. It appears shallow because the water is so clear. 
Some of these thermophiles are very similar to the very first forms of life capable of photosynthesis. These organisms, called cyanobacteria, are what created the atmosphere which would eventually support human life. Just think, the very first life on earth can still be found in Yellowstone National Park and without this very simple form of life, the earth would most likely be a very different place and you and I would not be here!

Streaker Troll takes in a fast flowing river fed by overflowing
pools of boiling water. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - part 1

Yellowstone National Park, the first national park, is one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world and should be on everyone's bucket list. The Troll family spent 8 days in the park and would have been happy to spend even more time there enjoying the natural wonders, gazing upon the amazing magnificent scenery and observing the diverse wildlife. 

The Trolls encourage you to make every effort to go see this amazing park for yourself. Take your time, take your warm clothes, take your binoculars and by all means, take your camera. Trust the Trolls, you want to see this for yourself! 
Be prepared to have patience as the buffalo often
block the roads as they cross or simply slowly walk
down the middle of them.

Steam rises from thermal vents alongside of a road
as the bison play.

Old Faithful

At the Old Faithful Lodge
Inside the Old Faithful Inn. Built in 1903 - 1904, the inn now
has 325 guest rooms and is a National Historic Landmark.  

You can watch Old Faithful erupt from the inn. Even if you
don't stay here, you should go inside to marvel at the huge
stone fireplace, wrought iron clock, and the majestic lobby
with its 80-foot exposed roof ridge above 2 floors of
Lil Dude along the Firehole River in the western part
of the park.

Along Firehole River near its confluence with the
Nez Perce Creek.
A rarely seen member of the Troll Family, Streaker Troll,
along the Firehole River above Goose Lake. 

Streaker Troll on the Firehole River in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grand Teton National Park

About 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming lies the 40-mile-long mountain range known as the Grand Tetons. Encompassing the tallest peaks of the spectacularly beautiful range as well as the town and area known as Jackson Hole is the Grand Teton National Park. The park was first created in 1929 and only included the mountains, but the Jackson Hole town and valley was included in a 1950 expansion.

Rising over 7,000 feet in height, the majestic Grand Teton mountains are famous the world over for their rugged beauty. The park has many streams and small lakes located in pristine settings which can only be accessed by hiking some of the 200+ miles of trails, but the largest is 15-mile-long Jackson Lake which is easily accessible from the main road that traverses the park. Most people do not know that hidden in the deep recesses in the heights of the mountains are 12 different active glaciers. Rocks found in the park have been dated to be 2.7 billion years old, older than any other rocks found in any of the other national parks in America.

The Ranger on duty at the park entrance was happy
to meet Lil Dude Troll!
Much of the flora and fauna is the same as it was in prehistoric times. Over 1,000 species of plants, dozens of mammals and more than 300 species of birds can be found within the park's boundaries. 

Lil Dude Troll thoroughly enjoyed his visit to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson and he recommends it for anyone who enjoys and appreciates the beauty found in nature. Plan on spending at least a few days, bring your hiking shoes and warm clothing (even in the middle of summer it is cold and there is snow in the higher elevations!) and by all means, do not forget your camera!

Coming into the Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Mountains in the background

The historical Snake River

Park map in the Colter Bay
Visitor Center

Looking for souvenirs in the Colter Bay Gift Shop
Mixing in with the bones & fur available for kids to
touch in the Colter Bay Visitor Center exhibition

Colter Bay outside of the Visitor Center
Lake Jackson and the Tetons