Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wyoming "Big Coal"

Many people may not think of the beautiful mountainous state of Wyoming as coal country but this state is has a ton of it.
   This coal seam is approximately 100 ft thick and adjacent to highway 90 right in the middle of Gillette, WY.

The coal seam is so close that a conveyor belt runs underneath the freeway
directly to this power plant.

This is the huge coal strip mining area of the Powder River Basin, 
 the largest surface strip mine in the western hemisphere.

While this bad boy is of huge dimensions, you have to understand that the real machine is in the mine, a mile away from my camera. This P&H has a bucket capacity of 140 to 160 yards... the drag line monster in the pit is call "Big Muskie" (28 million pounds and 22 stories tall) and the worlds largest drag line bucket capable of holding two Greyhound buses at a time or 220 cubic yards.

The worlds largest drag line needs a very large coal elevator to feed the trains.

A  90 car train is filled every 58 minutes and the mine runs 24/ do the math.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wyoming.....Oil and Gas

BP's blowout last year was horrible but unless everyone wants to put their "red cups" down and quit driving than America still needs fuel. Renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, hydro and wind still only account for less than 15% total, so that leaves coal, oil and gas.

I have never been close to a drilling rig before but I did drive down a dirt road, right to the fence and from the road I could see tons of support that I did not realize was associated with the rig.

Huge generators, tanks for slurry and at least 8 full size trailers all with GPS and satellite dishes on top... with the added thump, thump,thump of the drilling rig going down foot by foot.

Every hundred or more acres you will see these areas that are retrieving gas from the ground.

You won't see cranes in the middle of the prairie unless it has to do with the oil business.

Hey!!!!!!! That's money going up in smoke?

Badlands of South Dakota

           This was our first view of the Badlands, which are...very BAD! The Badlands are made up of soft sediments and volcanic ash molded into soft shades of pastel color.

Not exactly "America's bread-basket".

Bad girl for the Badlands!

No matter how wretched the town of Interior is, the church is nearly always a vocal point for the many people.

I mean really...could they spend a little of the church money on a new sign?

Believe it or not, nearby was a town called "Worst"...and it was! The outline of the car on the Packard Cafe looks to be early 1950's.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our hometown......Madison, South Dakota

                                 Well actually it is our "domicile" which is short for... tax break.

If Madison really was our home town, the family farm would of looked like barn and all!

Can anyone say dinner? South Dakota's state bird, the Chinese ring-neck pheasant.

When you grow a lot of corn, you need a big place to keep it.

You'll see a lot of these farm machines running up and down the road trying to feed the world.

I had originally thought this might be a
 big lawn mower but my younger brother clued me into the fact that it is a "Case IH 1660 8 row corn de-husker and separator"? Fine, well I could probably identify a 1966 GTO before he does!

This is the slot we live in...1785
. A bit tighter than the motorhome but we make do.

One of the more obnoxious residents of Madison.

One last look at "Mayberry" South Dakota (Madison)

Big Horn Mountain Range

              Near the top of the pass in about 5 feet of snow we noticed some tracks.  Earlier we saw some but there were pole marks next to each foot print.

As you can see, there are no pole marks and we believe we see claw marks at the top of each footprint. Now a cougar would not show claw marks because they are retracted...but a bear would show the claws.

My little babies can lick any dead really, they can l.i.c.k. any dead coyote! ha ha

The beautiful Big Horns Mountains from about 8000 elevation.

This porcupine didn't make it any further than the poor coyote did.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Astonishing story

                                                     Leigh Creek Monument
I find it so incredible, considering the topography and the fact that 120 years ago all you had was horse, rope and pulleys.

                                        This is a look at the hard to reach ledges in the canyon.


This poor guy, William Henry Leigh, was out hunting by himself in 1884 and apparently fell to his death. The heroic part for me was that the men from the local area looked all week for Leigh and finally found him dead....he was then shipped all the way back to Scotland for burial. The locals then made the effort of putting a plaque on the mountain for him...astonishing

Jackson Hole, Wy

After our drive over the Teton Pass in Idaho to Wyoming... we found the tourist mecca of Jackson.

                                                Someone  has been busy collecting antlers.

This is an Elk refuge during the winter...none there now they have headed for the higher ground.

While Yellowstone was closed to us because of the snow, we did see this male moose (see the antler spuds in his head) hanging around Lake Jenny.

Even your average photographers can get a good shot of the Tetons on a clear day.

The Big Horn River that flows through Thermopolis, Wy.

One of the few buffalo we saw.

Hot spring water flowing under the highway just outside of Thermopolis.

I don't know if I could handle the loneliness, wildlife, stark beauty or open land...NOT!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Driggs, Idaho in the Teton Valley

        This was a cute little town that on a better weather day would have produced a beautiful view of the back side of the Teton mountains.

How could you pass up a bar with a buffalo on the roof?

Did I say something earlier about Idaho potatoes?

On top the pass between Driggs, Id and Jackson Hole, Wy we found these skiers that just don't give up.

Now think about it...there is no tow lift, chairlift or gondola to the top. These young kids walked up 700 or 800 feet of the mountain just to spend an exciting 30 seconds coming down.

The group skied past the starting point down a few hundred yards and then walked up road for another  run.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Central Idaho

            I suppose everyone has heard of "Idaho Potatoes"? Well these are the fields, with the rich dark loam, where they grow.


These potatoes are not on their way to your local market, they actually are cut in pieces and use the small parts as seeds in the field for a new crop, they are called seed potatoes.

These fine ladies are sorting the seed potatoes by size.

This is a large operation, well large to us.

The structures look to hold hundreds of thousands of seed potatoes from last years crop.

Five miles away was the site of the former Teton Dam. The dam suffered a catastrophic failure on June 5, 1976

The earthen dam was completed just the year before and while there are a number of reasons for the collapse, the fact is 11 lives were lost and 13,000 cattle died down river in the resulting flooding.