Friday, August 22, 2008

Bits & Pieces

During my travels over the past few months, I've accumulated various bits and pieces that do not warrant a full blog but they're too good to simply just let go of. Hence I've decided to write about them here, starting with this really strange picture that I took during my travels in Montana.

This pic was taken when I went to the town of Hot Springs with the all wise and knowlegeable Justin. It was framed up in the reception of the Symes Hotel. It depicts a group of men posing on a front porch of a hotel in Hot Springs in 1883. Now if you can read the names of the men scribbled at the bottom of the picture, you'll find that it's a like a who's who list of the wild wild west. Here are some of the famous men present in the picture: Wyatt Earp, his brother Morgan Earp, Doc Holiday, Butch Cassidy (Parker), Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh), even Teddy Rosevelt! You could say that the photo is a fake...but it was found right in the middle of....well a very sleepy ghost town. I felt that, no offence, no one there would have the motivation to do something like that. Time in that town passes very very slowly. Curioser and curioser!

Here's another pic:

I really loved the way this pic turned out. Justin and I were playing pool in the local pub in downtown Helena. It was really late and most of the locals had already gone home, barring a few regulars. The atmosphere was really relaxed and this pic highlighted the moody lighting and the chilled out environment that pervades throughout Montana. It feels really blues and jazzy with a bit of noir thrown into the mix.
Not everyone gets to see a taxidermist at work. However, I had the good fortune, thanks to Justin's father, of meeting one.

As hunting is a way of life in Montana, many people like to keep the animals they hunt as trophies on their walls. They need someone to stuff the animal and make it look life-like instead of looking like a piece of wood. In steps Mr....oh dear I've forgotten his he makes moulds of animals in different positions, which he stretches the skin over them. He then insert the very life-like eyes and...voila! have a very real looking animal.

I've probably simplified it alot but it takes alot of skill and time to get the whole thing right. And Mr Taxidermist has been doing it for a very long time. And unfortunately it's a dying trade. Not many young people are interested in becoming a taxidermist.

Here's another atmospheric picture:

This pic was taken in Yellowstone National Park early in the morning. It was still rather cold and the mist and steam were rising from the hot springs. Two cranes were simply walking along the spring, catching some insects I guess. But the image of seeing these two birds with the steam rising in the background was really moving. The scene felt very prehistoric and also very peaceful. There was a zen-like tranquility and you could simply stare at the birds and the steam till the end of time
And finally:

Just look at that sky! This pic was taken outside our motel room in Bozeman. We were on our way to Yellowstone National Park and stopped by Bozeman to see the dinosaur fossils. When this pic was taken, the sun was setting. And I guess the sun rays were reflected off the clouds, hence you get this amazing gold purplish colouration. Simply amazing!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Great North American Adventure !!!

Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468 square miles, comprising of lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the North American continent.

Yellowstone Lake....which beneath lies an active volcano

The caldera is considered an active volcano and it has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone, creating some of the most amazing and beautiful landscapes ever seen. And this was where we found ourselves on the last leg of my journey in America. Justin and I were on a two day camping trip in the Yellowstone National Park.

Amazing landcape!

Yellowstone National Park, set aside as a national park in 1872, is located mostly in the state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho. The park was the first of its kind, and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features like hot springs and geysers, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular areas in the park.

At Old Faithful.....

And there she goes!

A hot spring

The vast forests and grasslands contain many unique species of plants. Grizzlies, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in the park.



Grizzly Bear!

Rivers, cascades and waterfalls are abundant as well. One of the rivers, the Firehole River, never freezes in winter due to the abundant runoff from the geothermal features in this area. Hence it is a popular gathering place for wildlife during that season when the park is dominated by freezing temperatures and deep snow.

Our campsite

I had such a great time in Yellowstone National Park and would definitely recommend everyone to go visit it. I took so many pictures that my camera ran out of batteries. And that was on the first day of our trip!

An amazing sulfurous landscape!

This brings us to the end of my wonderful experience in Montana. I was there for roughly ten days and I fully enjoyed all ten days. As you can see from this post and the previous posts, all ten days were extrememly busy. Given the chance, I would have no hesitation going back to relive those days again. I left Montana with my mind full of images and experiences that I still think about them and have many dreamy nights. I have to say a big thank you to the all-wise and knowledgeable Justin, for without him this trip would not have been possible. I hope to return the favour someday soon.

Yeah I miss you too.....