Monthly Archives: April 2020

Travel Shave Kit

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Thought I would share my travel shave kit, which I have been using for a number of years. 

I use a safety razor at home, which I found out the hard way, is not travel friendly.  Also, I prefer to have a separate bath kit packed.

My kit:

  • Razor – Yes, sir! No twelve bladed shaving monstrosity here.
  • Brush – Economy brush; nothing fancy.
  • Shave Cream – Palmolive Classic Shave Stick.

A few key features:

  • Small and compact
  • Versatile – equally functional at a hotel or campground
  • Carry on Friendly – no liquids
  • Inexpensive – the shave stick is $4 and has lasted for years
  • No Surprises – not going to run out of shaving cream unexpectedly

Family Adventure: Yellowstone N.P.

Reading Time: 9 minutes

We had always talked about doing “Christmas at Yellowstone.”  It was sort of a bucket list trip. So we decided that now was as good of time as any – packed up my mom, the kids, and the two of us and went for it.

Here’s a rough outline of our agenda with a sampling of the 3,000+ photos we took!

Note: This post was a long time in the making.  Our trip took place Dec. 16 – 24, 2017.

Day 1 – December 16

This was mostly a travel day and fairly uneventful.  

Welcome to Jackson

We flew into Jackson, WY and rented a car.  Grabbed a quick bite to eat at Snake River Brewery. And hit the road to drive up to West Yellowstone, MT.

There is a pretty decent mountain pass between Jackson and West Yellowstone (Teton Pass Highway).  And Google routed us backroads to save us I am guessing 38 seconds at the risk of being lost in the wilderness if we encountered car troubles. Although, we did see the largest mule deer that we’ve ever seen.

Route from Jackson to West Yellowstone

We used the Kelly Inn as our base camp in West Yellowstone, and it got the job done.  

Day 2 – December 17

The second day was about getting into the park as we were staying the next couple of nights in the park at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

We decided to spend a little extra and use the trip in as a private geyser tour (totally worth every dollar).  We used Backcountry Adventures as our tour guide for all our tours.

The snowmobile tours are pretty popular.  That really wasn’t an option for us with my mom and daughter.  But there are some advantages to the snowcoach – mainly you’re not driving.  Also, you have more sets of eyes to see things that I think you’d just motor past on a snowmobile.

Madison River

We saw some awesome sights on the way into the park.

Bison herd
Trumpeter Swans – Parents and Juvenile
Coyote

When your guide is impressed by the sights, you know you’ve just seen something cool.

Fox with Carryout
When the guide is impressed, you should be too!
Yeah, kid. This is amazing.
Paint Pots

The cold temperatures really highlight the thermal features.  

Bison in the Mist – could be my favorite photo of the trip…
Grand Prismatic Spring

Flocking occurs when the steam refreezes where it lands

Flocked Trees & Shrubs

We stayed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.  Our trip coincided with the first week the park was open for its winter season and that seemed to work to our advantage as visitor traffic was pretty light for our whole trip.

Day 3 – December 18

We decided to do a day excursion from the Old Faithful area over to the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.  The trip took us across the Continental Divide via a snowcoach.

Snowcoach

One of the interesting parts of visiting in winter is that the snow and cold temperatures really highlights the multitude of thermal features – that you probably wouldn’t notice in warmer months.  All those unfrozen spots in the lake are the result of hidden thermal features.

Yellowstone Lake
Kepler Cascades

After returning to the Snow Lodge back at the Old Faithful area, Mrs. SFTE and I rented some cross country skis from the Bear Den Ski Shop and she proceeded to pound me into the ground.

Mrs. SFTE says “Eat my dust!”
Nordic Trails

We attempted to make it out to the Lone Star Geyser, but ran out of daylight.

PistonBully grooming the roads.

Day 4 – December 19

This was our last day at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.  We scheduled a group shuttle back out to the West Entrance around mid-day, but that gave us some time to explore the Upper Geyser Basin in the morning.

When I tell folks about the trip, this was one of the most amazing parts (to me at least).  I think we were about the only people out in the Geyser Basin this morning. Compare that to pictures during other seasons.

Old Faithful all to ourselves!
Old Faithful
Old Faithful and Old Faithful Inn
Transportation back to West Yellowstone
Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon – Eat Here!

Day 5 – December 20

The fifth day was a trip to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The canyon (Canyon Village area) is in the north central part of the park.  It was actually easier to get there from West Yellowstone, than from the Old Faithful area.  That’s why we chose to leave the park the day before. And the Kelly Inn was a little more economical than the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

However, even from West Yellowstone, this was a full day trip.  We chose to do a private tour again and we had Mr. Pierre as our tour guide again.

Upper Falls
Enjoying the snowcoach decision vs. snowmobile.
Bald Eagle
Beryl Spring – This might have been my favorite feature.

Our tour guide was awesome!

Mr. Pierre (our tour guide)

This was a good day (every day on this trip was a good day).  It was a lot of windshield time. If you made me choose one thing to take out of our trip, it probably would be this day.

Day 6 – December 21

The sixth day was a travel day back to Jackson from West Yellowstone. But we stopped by the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center before we left town.  

The drive back to Jackson was beautiful.

Stopped by the Teton Science School for a private tour.  Check out their amazing programs!

And had a nice evening in Jackson.

Day 7 – December 22

We started off the seventh day with a half day wildlife tour guided by Bear Witness Safari.  Highly recommended.

Moose
Through the spotting scope.
Bighorn Sheep
Through the spotting scope.
And visiting up close.

And did a tour of the National Elk Refuge.  The weather had been pretty warm without much snow, so despite a heroic effort of our sled driver, we only saw a few elk.  In fact there was so little snow, the sled was actually a wagon.

 Can you find the elk in this picture?  There’s at least three.

Day 8 – December 23

The eighth day of our trip was open.  We stopped by Jackson Hole and drove over to Grand Teton National Park.

A good snow fort is hard to beat.

Day 9 – December 24

The ninth day was our return trip back to Ohio.

Summary

We’ve all said that we would do this exact trip again.  

The only thing I think I would change is spend a few more days at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone.  Originally, I was thinking that you might run out of things to do here. Far from it. I could easily spend several more days here and would plan on some snowshoeing or nordic skiing trips out to some of the geysers a bit further out.

https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/utah/solamere-loop--3

Family Mission: Solamere Loop Trail

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Another family mission in the Park City area.

We did most of the Solamere Loop Trail – although we traversed across the ridge line to the other “peak” versus taking the trail around the south side.

Took about 2 hours with a couple of snack stops.  Nice views of Park City, Deer Valley, the Jordanelle Reservoir and surrounding area.  Not a long trail, but the elevation gain made it rewarding.

Influential Reads – March 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two books this month.  And lots of articles. Apparently there was some stuff to read about going on.

Updated stats through March:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. To be free, stop caring what others think – “Tranquility comes when you stop caring what they say think, or do. Only what you do.”
  2. Bird in the Hand – “If you are able, increase your 401(k) savings to front load contributions for the year.”
  3. Why Leaders Need Meditation Now More Than Ever – “On the contrary, starting the day with a few minutes of meditation can help you center and calm fear-based thoughts.”
  4. Muni Bonds Have Started to Rally. Why You Should Get on Board — and Where to Find Bargains – “Muni yields are currently almost double those on Treasuries, a rare occurrence.”
  5. What’s in Congress’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package – “Democrats: Won language that would bar any business owned by President Donald Trump or his family from getting loans from Treasury. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked.” Stephen here, good for them, but wondering if golf courses are considered essential businesses?
  6. The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming – “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”
  7. The Virus Infecting MLPs – “But the delevering of MLP CEFs has exacerbated the drop for everyone.”
  8. Calm also has a coefficient – “Being up-to-date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.”
  9. Flowing Uphill: Tips for Efficient Skinning – “The irony of efficient skinning is that you are practicing something as basic as walking uphill, but touring is a sport of subtleties and you get better with every step you take … just in very small increments.”
  10. Coming Back to Powerful Habits – “In fact, coming back to a habit might be the most powerful habit of all.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.