The drive back to Salt Lake City from Jensen took a bit longer than Google Maps said it would. This was at least partly due to the fact that I was so over the seats in that car.

Once we arrived back in Salt Lake City, I had three goals: 1. to see the state capitol building (and, at one point, I could have crossed a moon tree off my list, but it is dead now); 2. to see City Creek, which was the water source for the early city (and still supplies water to the city today); and 3. to make it back to the airport in a timely manner.

And I achieved all three.

The trip to the capitol building took us up State Street (which makes sense), which eventually becomes one very lane going uphill. It was near the end of the work day (around 4:30 or so), so I figured that most traffic would be headed away from the capitol. I’m not sure why so many cars were headed towards the building at this time of day, but the road was very congested. This was not my favorite part of our trip, and made me wish we had had a little more time and energy on our first day in Salt Lake City to hike up the hill to the capitol. The view of the capitol building once you emerge from this narrow street is very impressive, I’ll give it that.

Once you reach the capitol, you find a street, with the understandable name of “Capitol Street” that makes a circuit around the building. Due to the congestion we didn’t even attempt to make a left and instead just took a right turn. Along the eastern side of the capitol is a very small parking area, so we parked and I got out to take pictures. There was no time to go inside the building.

It was so late at this point, that I despaired of being able to see City Creek until I looked at my phone and noticed that the creek went right past the spot where we were parked. The parking area is at the very edge of City Creek Canyon. So Alex stayed by the car and I took the winding path down into what turned out to be Memory Grove Gardens.

At first, I have to admit that I thought that Memory Grove Gardens looked like a cemetery. I was unaware of the name of this plot of land at this point, but  even the name sounds kind of cemetery-like. The path ended at a replica of the Liberty Bell. As I looked around a saw several marble monuments that looked more than vaguely like graves to my eyes.

City Creek, Memory Grove Gardens Park, Salt Lake City

City Creek, Memory Grove Gardens Park, Salt Lake City, 2017

I spent quite a bit of my childhood visiting a great-aunt and great-uncle who lived down the street from a cemetery, so I’m no stranger to spending time in cemeteries. I thought it might be disrespectful to take pictures, though. Then I noticed some people walking dogs and decided that if it’s okay to walk dogs, it’s probably okay to take pictures there.

I think I saw some kind of sign indicating that this was a park at this point. I’m trying to remember (it was two and a half months ago and the Google Maps car has apparently not been along Canyon Road down there yet). I think the sign indicated where the off-leash area for dogs stops. So I got some pictures of the park, the creek, and the walls of the canyon and went back up to the car. I had been down there for a while, and Alex was about to come down after me.

We got back in the car and filled our gas tank at a very small gas station down the street from the Temple and then headed back to the airport. And even with the late start and everything we still got there in time to recharge our phones before we got on the plane (I also caught a Ponyta at the gate).

Like Fox Park, Leon Vista Park is another park that more or less is just a trail head for the Leon Creek Greenway. It is a very nice trail head for the Leon Creek Greenway (and leads to an area that is probably my favorite section of the greenway so far), but that’s basically all it is.

McAllister Park on the other hand, is a very different animal.

At what I estimate to be over a thousand acres, McAllister Park gives the impression of being larger on the inside than it is on the outside. The park is bounded by five pretty busy streets, and while driving on most of them, you would never guess that a park of that size lurks back there. The first time we went to McAllister Park, I parked my car by one of the playgrounds and Alex and I walked. And walked. And walked.We had no idea how much park was there until we explored. And after two more visits, we still haven’t seen all of it. There is one part of the park that heads off to the northwest and I have never been able to find that path at all.

Raccoon footprints McAllister Park, 2014

Usually my pictures are all, “look at this vista,” “look at this architecture,” “look at this historic site.” So here’s “look at these raccoon footprints.” Because raccoon footprints. McAllister Park, 2014

My most recent visit was an attempt to continue the Salado Creek Greenway. I had followed the greenway from Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park to U.S. 281, but no farther. There is a nice parking lot for the trailhead in McAllister Park. This parking lot also serves the dog park which is in that corner of the park. Then you walk for nearly 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km) before you even get to the greenway. Now that we’re aware of that, we need to set aside more time than we had that day to try it again. We will make it someday, though.  Or maybe I’ll attempt it myself on a day off now that Alex is back in school and the weather is cooling off.

With four picnic pavilions, a dog park, two playgrounds, sports fields, and more than 17 miles of hiking and/or biking trails, McAllister Park is not what you’d call a quiet place to contemplate nature in solitude. If you are the kind of person who likes to people-watch, or who just feels safer with potential witnesses around, McAllister may be your kind of park.

McAllister is a park, so some of the paths are paved and level, and thus wheelchair accessible. Some paths are less so and accessible by wheelchair users with great upper-body strength. And some are just dirt paths and only accessible to people traveling on foot (and not even them, sometimes, when it’s been raining).

Living with the Wild, by David Quammen, photographs by various photographers

In this final installment of Quammen’s article about Yellowstone, he talks about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He discusses where the term came from, the area it relates to, and how the park itself is impacted by things that happen in the “greater ecosystem” in general. You see, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is not just the park itself, but the surrounding area.

One of the biggest problems is that, well, there are people in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and people have an impact everywhere they go. Most notably, once an animal leaves the park itself, it becomes potential prey for human hunters. And since the park is not fenced off, animals are entering and leaving the park all the time.

Additionally, some of the bison can carry brucellosis, a disease that can be transmitted to cattle and that causes cows to miscarry their calves. No cases of brucellosis being transmitted to cattle from Yellowstone bison have been found yet, but the potential is there, which causes conflicts between ranchers and the park.

The copy of the issue that I have (and likely the same layout that everyone got) suddenly stops in the middle of a sentence on page 137. We go on to some other material for four pages, and then we pick up where we left off on page 142. There is no “(continued on page 142)” or anything.

Quammen has no answers to the questions about what will happen to Yellowstone in the future. One of the people he speaks with, Dave Hallac, former chief of the Yellowstone Center for Resources, says that Yellowstone is facing a “creeping crisis”and doesn’t hold out much hope for the park. Is Hallac right? The scientists involved with Yellowstone are hoping they can forestall the crisis and save the park.

Other Material in this Part of the Issue

Voices: Bill Hoppe (Rancher, Wolf-Release Critic)

Voices: Leo Teton (Member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho)

Dance of the Bison and Elk, a pictorial

Land of the People, another pictorial

Voices: Becky Weed (Rancher, Belgrade, Montana)

I know that the traditional image of dinosaurs is as being an interest that children outgrow, but I have to admit that I’ve never outgrown my interest in dinosaurs. So when I was looking at routes between Salt Lake City and Yellowstone and saw Dinosaur National Monument on there, I knew that we had to visit it.

In 1908 a group of paleontologists had found the femur of a Diplodocus near Vernal, Utah. Most of the bones had already been removed from that area, but farther on, they found a line of Apatosaurus tail bones. This area became the Carnegie Quarry. I cannot find any definitive answers regarding how many dinosaurs have been found there, but the tail bones they found were part of an entire Apatosaurus which is now on display in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.

Alex and I arrived relatively early that morning, driving through the rain from our hotel in Vernal to the Jensen entrance to the park. We nosed around in the Visitor’s Center for a while and then took the tram up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, which encloses what is left of the original Carnegie Quarry. And there’s really not much left of the quarry. There’s a diagram showing that the current Quarry Exhibit Hall area is about a quarter of the size of the original wall. If you take it in three dimensions, it’s an even smaller proportion than that.

Alex and I spent quite some time looking at the bones in the wall. I took lots of pictures and asked two women working there what I should make sure to photograph. The one who answered me said that she liked an area that was mostly spines.

spines, Dinosaur National Monument

The wall of spines, Dinosaur National Monument, 2016

There is also a spot where visitors can touch one of the bones in the wall. Of course Alex and I had to touch it, because why pass up an opportunity like that?

About a thousand years ago, this area was also home to the Fremont, a Native American people. The Fremont left their mark on the region as well (though more intentionally than the dinosaurs did). Some of the rocks of the park have petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs are designs carved into the rock and pictographs are designs painted on to the rock.

We had to hit the road if we wanted to spend any more time in Salt Lake City, so we only went to the closest section of petroglyphs, in what is known as the “Swelter Shelter.” I had seen pictures of the drawings of humans out by McKee Springs, but the road out there is dangerous when it’s raining, so we opted not to go out that far. Maybe someday, though.

Sorry for the gap, but I’ve been stressed out lately and so dealing with that took precedence over blogging. I need to get more prewritten posts racked up before this happens again. Oh, well, this is a learning process, isn’t it?

Now, on to the issue.

Into the Backcountry, by David Quammen, photographs by various photographers

In this part of the issue, we talk about wolves, grizzlies, and elk. Quammen spends a while talking about changes to the environment and the introduction of lake trout to Yellowstone Lake. You’d think that lake trout would thrive in Yellowstone. And you’d be right. The problem is that the lake trout are thriving just a little too much. Grizzly bears eat cutthroat trout. The cutthroat trout eat bugs on the surface of the water and come into the rivers to spawn which make them available for the grizzlies to eat. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The lake trout outcompete the cutthroat trout and are also basically unavailable to bears. The lake trout eat crustaceans from the bottom of the lake and also spawn down there, meaning that their nutrients are locked inside their bodies for too long to support the grizzly.

As a result, for the last five years, Yellowstone has hired a company from Door County Wisconsin which brings boats and nets and slaughters literally tons of lake trout every day. The dead lake trout are then dumped back into the lake so that their nutrients will be available to the ecosystem once again. Quammen doesn’t believe that this will end the reign of the lake trout, but the humans are trying the best they can to restore the balance to the ecosystem.

Other Sections in This Part of the Issue:

Voices: John Craighead, wildlife biologist

The Carnivore Comeback, a pictorial of predators

Tracking the Wildlife Highways, another pictorial, this time of migrations, including a section on the migration of pronghorn.

I think this will end up being three parts. Next up, Grant Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.

On our first full day in Chicago, we walked to the Museum Campus up the Lake Shore Drive side of Grant Park and then back down the Michigan Avenue side after dinner (actually, we hadn’t planned to revisit Grant Park, but more on that when I do my blow-by-blow account of the actual trip).

First we passed the Seated Lincoln statue:

Lincoln Statue, Grant Park

The statue of Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park, 2016

I thought about cropping this so that we’re closer to Lincoln, but I like the AON Center (formerly known as the Standard Oil Building) and Two Prudential Plaza so much that I left it this way. This is cropped, however. The original photo was taken from so far away that you can see the pillars on either side of the statue.

I took a picture of the Chicago skyline from near Buckingham Fountain (my favorite photo of which is on my Tumblr), but I cannot find a good way to post it without weird diagonal lines on Mid-Continental Plaza.  I’ll continue working on this problem. Or maybe I’ll just give up.

Anyway, on our way back through Grant Park, I got a picture of what may be the oldest piece of public art in the park, the Joseph Rosenberg Fountain.  Rosenberg got his start as a newsboy and was never (or seldom, at least) able to find someone willing to give him a drink. So in his will, he left money to the city to put a fountain where people could get free water. The fountain still works, but the water is non-potable.

Rosenberg Fountain, Chicago

Joseph Rosenberg Fountain, Chicago, 2016

Another photograph that I’m wrestling with was of The Bowman, one of the two statues of Native Americans on horses that stand at Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway. It was getting pretty late by the time we walked through Grant Park and the picture is pretty badly backlit. It is, however, the closest I’ve ever been to either statue, so I’d like to share it once I get the kinks worked out.

One of the first places we visited (just after the Marshall Field & Co. Building, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Millennium Park) was the Art Institute of Chicago.

I’ve been going to the Art Institute of Chicago for decades. When I was 14 or so, my parents joined the museum, giving us basically unlimited visits for free, so we could just kind of arrive whenever and leave whenever without a lot of pressure to “get our money’s worth.” So, while I was a little rusty on this visit, I once pretty much knew the museum like the back of my hand.

Ever since I was very, very little, I’ve had memories of my parents and me in a museum that had art and also had a spiral staircase with a large window behind it. I seem to recall that there was a statue of a mushroom in the center of the staircase. I thought for years that it was a very odd dream until we visited for the first time in years, when I was about ten or so, and I found the staircase.  I still have no idea about the mushroom.

Anyhow, here’s the staircase:

Art Institute of Chicago spiral staircase

The spiral staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago

I took a lot of pictures of some of my favorite, and some of the most notable, artworks in the museum’s collections, but those are mostly for my own amusement and for me to look back at them and go, “I remember that trip.” American Gothic had been removed from its customary location in favor of being in a special exhibition on art in the Great Depression, which cost extra money. I saw it through the exit door of the exhibition and took a picture, just for the entertainment value. I’m playing around with it in Paint.Net and if I ever get something usable, I’ll let you know.

I took some more pictures of the museum itself, including this one of the new Modern Wing:

Art Institute of Chicago Modern Wing

The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago

And this one of the reconstructed trading room of the Chicago Stock Exchange:

Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room

Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, Art Institute of Chicago

This may be the final installment or, as I said above, there may be one more. I need to go through my pictures from our final day in Chicago and see if I got any good pictures of Lincoln Park that were of the park itself and not of Lincoln Park Zoo. It was really, really warm that day and we were meeting a friend for lunch, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore Lincoln Park. It was pretty much visit the zoo, take pictures of the lake, and then get on the bus and get to our lunch meeting.

One way or another, we’ll be back in Chicago on or about October 1, I think. If not then, then October 5 for certain.  Probably.

I’m  a couple of posts behind here because this issue, which focuses on Yellowstone National Park, has an unusual structure. There are pictorials and things punctuating several pretty long articles, rather than larger and smaller articles. So I guess I’ll treat the photo essays and things as if they were articles as well.

America’s Wild Idea, by David Quammen

America’s Wild Idea is the first photo essay, which is accompanied by photos by several photographers. The text isn’t unified but complements the photos that are near it — a blurb about the prismatic springs near a photo of the springs themselves, a statement about interactions (and conflicts) between humans and grizzly bears near a photo of a man who was attacked by a bear, and so forth.

The Paradox of the Park

No writer is credited on this section. We start out talking about, once again, conflicts between grizzlies and humans, and then go into the history of the park. One of the points that the (to the best of my ability to determine) makes is that originally Yellowstone wasn’t supposed to be about establishing a truly wild place. It was more of a place designed to protect prey species from predators. To this end, nearly every carnivore in the park, from grizzly bears on down to otters and skunks, were hunted. Then they discovered that bears could be a draw. The problem with this was that the bears in the park were habituated to humans and would eat out of garbage receptacles.

We kind of end this article on a cliffhanger — “But the grizzlies of Yellowstone were never tame,” and that’s it. I think that perhaps this was intended to be kind of artistic, wrapping around to the conflicts at the beginning of the article, but I was left less than impressed. I think that maybe this was because the article ends in 1929, but begins in 2015. That’s a gap of nearly 100 years. I guess that the attack could prove that the grizzlies weren’t tame, but it could also well indicate that something changed in the interim.

Other Pictorials and Things

Back when I made my posts on Yellowstone, I said that I’d read something where the superintendent of the park, Dan Wenk, said that they need to limit the number of visitors to the park. I found it. It was on the next page after The Paradox of the Park. I still think that limiting cars would go a long way towards the goal that Wenk espouses.

The rest of this part of the issue are more pictorials, It All Starts with Heat, The Fire Within, and For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.

Next up: More Chicago pictures and then we go onto the next article, Into the Backcountry.

There wasn’t much that was destination-y about this leg of the trip, but it was beautiful.  We also didn’t have a connection for the drive, which was frustrating. Even once we got back to where we did have a connection, my phone totally failed to see that we’d been following US 191 for most of the drive.

We did have a connection in Jackson, Wyoming. I figured that there would be some place to eat and, upon arriving in Jackson, we passed an Albertson’s supermarket. We picked up some pop and a lemon loaf cake just in case we couldn’t find a restaurant. We did find a restaurant, though. We stopped at Liberty Burger, which is in the historic town center. I ended up doing a little white-knuckle driving in the historic town center — the roads seemed too narrow for the traffic to me — but the burgers were excellent.

One of the times and places I can locate was in between Jackson and Bondurant, As we headed down US 191, I saw something white ahead. In Yellowstone, I got used to that kind of white being a thermal feature. As we drove closer, the white turned darker. Eventually it was nearly black and we turned the corner to see some burning trees up the mountain. We considered calling 911 but, I pointed out, we didn’t have a connection. We got closer and saw that there were emergency personnel nearby, so we wouldn’t have needed to to call 911 after all.

As we continued to drive, we were passed by all sorts of emergency vehicles headed that way, and when we stopped so that I could get some rest miles and miles later, we saw a column of smoke from that direction.

Later, once we got to our hotel in Utah, we looked up the area near where we saw the fire and discovered that there was a major fire near there that started at about that time, the Cliff Creek Fire. Later the Cliff Creek Fire became classed as a wildfire and it is still burning. They expect it to be fully contained around the end of October. I can’t promise that what we saw was the beginning of the Cliff Creek Fire, but either way, I can tell you that we were a few miles north of Bondurant, Wyoming sometime after (but not too long after) 2:30 p.m.

Wyoming Wildlife Bridge, 2016

Wildlife Bridge, Wyoming, 2016 (photo by Alex Ogden).

One of the other interesting things we saw was a bridge across the road. I had Alex grab my phone and take a picture of it. Later, I did some research and discovered that it was a wildlife crossing bridge, designed to let pronghorn antelope and mule deer cross the road safely. I have a time on that photo, but not a location. It doesn’t look like the bridge at Trapper’s Point near Pinedale, which comes to a point. I just spent too much time trying to figure out if this is the Trapper’s Point bridge or not. I finally looked at the bridge on Google Maps and it definitely looks different from this.

We got lost in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which is a very pretty little town, as it turns out. I was kind of disappointed when Alex figured out where we went wrong. It might have been nice to explore a bit more.

Finally, we returned to Utah. We stopped at Flaming Gorge so that I could rest my backside for a bit. The overlook was very nice, but it was getting later in the day, so the gorge was pretty badly backlit. We also spent some time at Flaming Gorge Dam. We stopped at the overlook, thinking that was all there was to it. Then the road took us actually over the dam, which was a nice surprise. We passed the Visitor’s Center and stopped again for a bit.

I had hoped to make it to Dinosaur, Colorado that day, but with stopping in Jackson for lunch, stopping along the way to rest, making that wrong turn in Rock Springs, and our explorations at Flaming Gorge, it was nearly dark by the time we reached Vernal, which we had to go through to get to Dinosaur. So when we passed our hotel, we stopped for the night.

Europe’s Wild Men, photographs by Charles Fréger, text by Rachel Hartigan Shea

Europe’s Wild Men is a collection of Fréger’s photographs of men dressed in traditional costumes evoking spirits, monsters, and animals. The subjects of these photographs are apparently all men, but occasionally women do wear these costumes. Shea’s text explains some of the costumes and the history behind them.

Mahogany’s Last Stand, by Scott Wallace, photographs by Alex Webb

In this article, we look at the business of tree poaching in Peru. The primary target of these poachers is mahogany, but other trees are targeted as well. The government of Peru stopped mahogany logging in 2001 and has been including most mahogany forests in national parks and in reserves for indigenous people, in hopes of preserving them.

Apparently, the poaching of mahogany continued after 2013, because I found a Sierra Club article about mahogany with falsified documents being imported into the United States in 2015.

These are both fairly small parks, so I figured I’d put them together.

Fox Park is not particularly exciting, I’m disappointed to admit. The parks website says that there are walking paths and such, but Fox Park mostly functions as a trailhead for the Leon Creek Greenway. If you blink, you’ll miss the park entirely.

Gorrell Park is still small, but has more going for it. The full name of the park is Officer Edwynn J. Gorrell Park, and the park is named for a police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1988.

Gilbert Barrera, The Letter

Gilbert Barrerra, The Letter, 2012. At least it looks like Barrera finished it in 2012, judging by his Facebook. I took the photo in 2016.

Gorrell Park has a playground, picnic tables, and a quarter-mile walking trail, which is an out-and-back trail, rather than a loop. There is also a statue which for a long time was wrapped up, apparently to deter vandals. I have never been able to find a name or attribution for the statue, but it is titled The Letter and the sculptor is Gilbert E. Barrera. It is a widow holding a dove, which represents not just the widows of fallen police officers but also anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.

I mentioned vandalism. I’m not sure if it’s specifically anti-police vandalism, since the park is named for a fallen officer as such, but there has been some vandalism in the park. I would blame the vandalism more on the park’s proximity to Tom C. Clark High School, which is right across the railroad tracks. Clark is one of the best high schools in the area, and not at all bad in the national rankings, but kids are kids, and I seem to recall a study saying that homes that are near schools face more vandalism, so I suspect the same may be true of parks near schools. If the vandalism makes you want to be cautious, make sure that other people are in the park when you visit, and don’t go alone.

It’s a lovely park, despite the vandalism and perhaps worth a visit.