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