Archive for the ‘Ranger Doug Roadtrips’ Category

Rocky Mountain High

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


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.


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!


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!


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!


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……


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.


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


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.


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

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016


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!


….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.


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!


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.

Museum of the Yellowstone

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.


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

Waterton Lakes National Park

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016


OK–this isn’t Waterton Lakes National Park, it’s Yellowstone–at the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, site of the upcoming NPS Centennial celebrations on August 25th.  A town of about 1000 will host another 6000 to hear all our leaders expound upon America’s Best Idea.  Ranger Doug has it on good rumor, that POTUS will be there so Ranger Doug will too!  I’ve tickets (thank you NPF!) and am still looking for a place for my trailer…..


This is Chief Mountain on the BC side of the border.  Brian, my computer guru and artist extraordinaire, found a half finished version of this view in the LOC archives…..


Our finished version can be seen here.


This has to be one of the best campsites on my now 11 month trip.  Right on Upper Waterton Lake.


I met with the Waterton Lakes Rangers (almost as good as the Jenny Lake Rangers) and there was no parallel project in Canada for WPA posters.  I donated a few Glacier prints to them and the Chief Historian recommended this boat trip up the lake back into Montana.  I made friends with the captain and rode side-saddle just outside the pilothouse window–he was from Alaska.


The trip up the Lake is beautiful.  For some reason, in times of austerity, the US sees fit to mark our border at great expense for the entire length between British Columbia and New Brunswick/Maine (see previous post).  If you look closely, you can see Canadians sneaking across to steal our jobs….


Montana again…..


Leaving Waterton Lakes takes one past many fields of this crop??  I’m told it’s some sort of Chinese herb?  Who knows what this is?


Ultimately my travels take me back across the Cascades and I pause here, in armchair and binoculars for a full hour, to study this group of spires–which I climbed with Fred Beckey back in the ’60s.  Before this road was pushed through, Fred deduced that these spectacular routes would succumb quickly to other climbers and Fred wanted to be first….and he was.  The left skyline route is now in “Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs.”