Great Western Adventure: Day 3 Craters of the Moon

With all the time we had in the area plus unlimited rental car miles, we decided to break things up a bit and alternate activities. For day 3 we headed west into Idaho to see Craters of the Moon national monument. As always, everything in the west is far apart so most of our time was spent in the car on the 3+ hour trip there and back. Thank goodness 2 lane highways are treated nearly like interstate here.

Plowing on through Teton pass, through Idaho Falls the first interesting thing you come to is Idaho National Labs. The place where nuclear power generation was developed along with the place where the only fatal nuclear meltdown in the US occurred. Fun stuff and I’m not even glowing green.  Between Memorial Day amd Labor Day you can visit the first power reactor, ERB-1, but we bypassed for lack of time.

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Local views

Onward, we stopped in Arco, ID the first town ever powered by nuclear energy. Ate a place called Pickles which was good and noted the numbers painted on the hill, which is done by every senior class at the local high school.

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Another 18 miles on and we were at Craters of the Moon. I’ll let the reader wiki it to learn the details but here are some views I found interesting.

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The wife being windswept

And back to the hotel we traveled. Tomorrow more Yellowstone.

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Great Western Adventure : Day 2 Yellowstone National Park

Day 2 got started a little late because well, we’re lazy when we’re on vacation. We slept in.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, the ye olde Hampton Inn, we were off to the races. It is not an insignificant distance from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone. A good two hours drive passing through Grand Teton just to get to the south entrance. Speaking of Grand Teton, a good camera picture of the same. Panoramic pictures to follow once we’re home.

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So in the park we go passing through a heavily forested pass. No critters to be seen as of yet but did have some nice views. Still quite a bit of snow on the ground at that elevation.

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Nice view of the canyon

We went around the south loop counterclockwise, starting with the west thumb geyser basin. Lots of great pictures to be had of the thermal features.

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We continued on a “short” way, or as short as any way gets in Yellowstone anyway, to some more thermal features. Dragons mouth, mud geyser and mud volcano were all in the area.

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Continuing onward, we took the side route to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. First stop was the brink of the upper falls.

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Next up was Inspiration Point for a spectacular view.

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And a little critter hanging out…

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Back on track we rode on to another thermal feature, the artists paint pots.

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Bubble bubble

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View from the top of the hill

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Gloop gloop glop

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Gloop bubble gloop

Next we tried to answer one of life’s great mysteries….

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Why did

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The buffalo

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Cross the road?

To get to the other side and the herd it seems…

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And then what i believe was a mule deer.

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By this time it was late, we had a significant drive ahead of us and the wife and unborn were about to naw my arm off so I felt it prudent to head back to the hotel and leave more Yellowstone sights for another day. We have several more till we take of for home anyway.

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Great Western Adventure: Travel Day and Day 1

A couple days behind schedule but here’s the rundown on the last vacation before the little rambler shows up later this year. Jackson Hole, WY and surrounding areas are the topic for the next few posts.

Travel was easy. No flight delays and no rough patches from home to DC, DC to Denver and Denver to Jackson Hole. It’s quite a ways from the airport to town so if you fly in, stick with the in airport rental car companies.

We took day one easy, hit up the visitors center and did a quick auto loop past the National Elk Preserve and through Grand Teton. Not a whole lot to see in Grand Teton plus the Ramblin Engineer here forgot to charge the camera battery so all that exists is a couple of cell phone pictures.

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Operation Eurotrip Part 15: Geneva

No pictures today because I’m tired, grumpy and I just plain don’t like Geneva. The whole town is torn to pieces, it’s a French speaking area with a stereotypical French attitude, unlike every other part of Europe we’ve been to, my basics in the local language plus some basic English have not been enough to get by easily and to top it off, prices for everything are outrageous. $90 for a hamburger, pastrami sandwich and two cokes.

Want my advice if you’re thinking about coming to Geneva? Don’t. Go somewhere else. Go to Zurich or somewhere in eastern Switzerland if you want to see Switzerland. Every other place except here has been fantastic. Now I’m just hoping to bide my time in a hotel room till I can hop a plane out tomorrow.

Tomorrow off back home we go.

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Operation Eurotrip Part 14: GoldenPass Scenic Train Lucerne to Montreux then to Geneva

Took the GoldenPass Scenic train from Lucerne to Montreux then went on to Geneva yesterday. All the trains on the GoldenPass have huge panoramic windows except for the classic series which uses old Orient Express cars. The leg between Zweissimmin and Montreux even has a VIP section at the very front of the train for some really good views.

First up, the Lucerne to Interlaken leg.

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Interlaken :

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paragliding off the mountain

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inclined railway up the mountain. not enough time to go up though

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Interlaken to Zweissimmin leg:

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No pictures of Zweissimmin cuz there wasn’t much going on there. Wasn’t about to pay $85 to ride the cable car up the mountain for an hour.

Zweissimmin to Montreux leg. This is where we rode the front of the train…

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our seats right up front. driver up top

This is where we started getting into stereotype Switzerland. Little alpine chalets with cows and sheep running around. I half expected to see Heidi running around in pigtails.

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Descending into Montreux :

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Then we hopped a train from Montreux to Geneva. Turned out it was one of the 250km/h tilting body trains so we made the final trip leg in less than 45 minutes with a stop.

You can tell this side of Switzerland is the French side of the country. The whole trip from Montreux to Geneva was virtually nothing but hillside vineyards.

Tomorrow Geneva.

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Operation Eurotrip Part: No Post Tonight

I’m just so very tired and there are far too many pictures to sort through

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Operation Eurotrip Part 13: More Travel and Lucerne

Two posts in one day now that we’re at Lucerne.

1. Don’t let anybody tell you those high speed trains do 200km/h all the time. Average was more like 100.

2. Switzerland is darn expensive. 72 CHF for a fairly simple meal with the swiss franc close to parity with the dollar. Wed be broke if we stayed here too long.

Anyway, more pictures from traveling.

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Salzburg Castle

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And some pictures from around Lucerne.

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Lion of Lucerne

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don't expect to see that on the street in Switzerland

That’s it for today. Scenic train to Geneva tomorrow…

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Operation Eurotrip Part 12: Vienna to Lucerne travel day

This is a live update on the way to Lucerne aboard Railjet, Austrian Rail’s top of the line service. Riding first class nd traveling at pretty high speed.

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And a few pictures from the Austrian countryside. Might be a supplemental post once we get well and good into the Alps…

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Operation Eurotrip Part 11: Vienna Day 3

Well the Imperial Arms and Armor museum didn’t happen today because once again, I’m an idiot. Before mapping out our museum visit plan I didn’t check to see what the operating days were. Of the 4 I had planned to visit, 2 were open yesterday and today and 2 were open yesterday only. So today all we were able to see were the picture gallery and the collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities in the Kunsthistorisches museum. I couldn’t even see the coin collection because it was undergoing renovation. Anyway on to pictures…

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Empress Maria Theresa

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natural history museum

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Kunsthistorisches museum

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Commodus

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Marcus Aurelius

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Vespasian

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Augustus

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Julius Caesar

Many more busts in the museum but these were the most interesting and the best pictures.

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mummified crocodile

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museum ceiling

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staircase

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Vermeer painting

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peasant wedding

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Rembrandt self portrait

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Raphael painting

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Isabela of Spain by Valesquez

And that’s it for today. Called it an early day because we’re hitting a fatigue limit. Long train travel day tomorrow will do us well. Off to Lucerne Switzerland tomorrow.

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Operation Eurotrip Part 10: Vienna Day 2

Today was a good day despite the morning being rainy and cold. The only thing that has been consistently poor about this trip has been the weather. It was cold enough today we were forced to buy sweatshirts.

Anyway, today we visited the Imperial Treasury, home of the crown jewels of the Austrian and Holy Roman Empires along with ecclesiastical treasures. Some of these pictures are poor because the lighting was very low.

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dog collar

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crown jewels of the Austrian Empire

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cradle of the King of Rome

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solid emerald

Next up is the ecclesiastical treasures. Lots of gold and jewels here too…. With a little bone and hair mixed in…

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bone relic of a saint in the center

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supposed relics of the 12 apostles

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Imperial crown of the holy Roman empire

Now this is about the point that the camera battery died because I’m an idiot and forgot to charge it. So even though I got to see more interesting things, like the Holy Lance (Spear of Destiny, supposedly the spear that pierced the side of Christ during the crucifixion), you don’t get to see them.

The did also go to 3 other Hofburg museums including the Imperial Silver collection, the Sisi Museum that covers the life of Empress Elisabeth and the Imperial Apartments but you’re not missing much because you can’t take pictures there anyway.

Here are a few pictures from outside the Hofburg. More stitching must be done to create more panoramas.

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The day ended with hot chocolate and an original sacher torte at the sacher cafe.

Tomorrow the Imperial arms and Armor museum.

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