Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scenic Drives Today

(Big Sky, MT)- We'll be leaving Big Sky today for a roundabout trip to Sheridan WY. 

The trip will pass through the width of Yellowstone Park, beginning at the western entrance, going through to the Beartooth Scenic Byway to Cooke City MT. From Billings to Sheridan, it's interstate highway travel, but as interstates go, it should be pretty great.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Barr on Glenn Beck, Repeated. Twice

(Big Sky, MT)- Let's hear it for hotel room dial hopping. I was pleased to find Bob Barr's full hour with Glenn Beck being repeated on CNN tonight. Here's the first quarter-hour:

Beck wasn't throwing Barr softballs. I'd love to see McBama get questioned the way Barr does. Let's hear it for Barr, though. He comports himself well. The more I see of Barr, the happier I am with him as the Libertarian nominee.
Irrigation Update

(Big Sky, MT)- Upon seeing irrigation occurring in places in Wyoming where it seemed so unnatural, I posed this question in a blog post:
It is said to be more environmentally friendly to grow crops near to populations. While Wyoming is the least populated state in the Union, they do have to eat. Which would be better environmental policy? Irrigating locally in Wyoming to feed the state's population? Or, ending the irrigation and shipping the food?
If there are no subsidies, accurate prices will lead people to make efficient decisions. If there are not, all bets are off.
I don't know whether the irrigation I saw is subsidized or not. My bet would be that it is. What I've learned about the west is that the population wouldn't be what it is, in Wyoming or any other Western state, if it weren't irrigated- and irrigation wouldn't have been undertaken privately, because the scale is too great, and the payoff too small.

Now, we all know that the crops are subsidized, especially corn.
Random Wildlife From Yellowstone

(Big Sky, MT)- We've seen more moose than anything so far, although Ame did encounter a small black bear here in Big Sky while on a jog. No pictures of the bear- just a change in course.
A bald eagle perches atop a dead pine, near West Yellowstone MT.

Two female moose just off the West Entrance Rd. You can always find wildlife along the roadways when you spot cars parked in crazy ways at the roadside, for no apparent reason.

Male moose, not far from the females.

Didn't see the grizzlies, but the signs made clear they roam the area- Pahaska Tepee, WY. In fact, we were fairly happy not to encounter the grizzlies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Great Barr Poll Numbers

(Big Sky, MT)- Libertarian Bob Barr is now consistently polling 6-7% when included in presidential polls among likely voters. I can't for the life of me recall Libertarian candidates being regularly included, let alone polling as highly as this, with this being the fourth presidential election cycle I've been supporting watching for such things. From the Barr Campaign:
In the first comprehensive general election poll (a sample of over 46,000 likely voters), Bob Barr is now at six percent nationally!

David (Beiler) was there in 1992 when Ross Perot, then polling at seven percent nationally, was included in the debates with Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

Four percentage points are all that we need to get into the Google/YouTube presidential debate that is scheduled for September 18th.

According to the debate rules we need ten percent in at least three polls before the debate starts in New Orleans.
These polling numbers are being achieved without benefit of huge TV ad spending, or constant media coverage. I have great hope that the media will increase with these numbers. From there, the campaign needs to ramp up the fundraising and get some ads on TV to boost Barr's name recognition. 

Inclusion in the debates would be phenomenal. I recall how Perot's numbers soared after inclusion in the debates. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Old Faithful

(Big Sky, MT)- We thought there would be two things that Isabel would be most excited to see in Yellowstone- wildlife, and Old Faithful.

I don't even wear a watch.

Ame and I were impressed, but alas, Isabel was not. Thank goodness we had seen the bison early in the day, and some moose and mule deer a little later.

The area is very interesting, as Old Faithful is hardly the only geyser or geothermal formation. The things are everywhere in the area, and makes for an interesting landscape while driving. In addition to the forest and mountains, streaks of white minerals mark the location of geysers, along with steam.
Mountain Scenes, West of Cody

(Big Sky, MT)- While I drove, Ame took some great pics of the mountain scenery on US 14/16/20, running parallel to the Shoshone River, on the way to Yellowstone Lake and Old Faithful. Quite the anti-Indiana, anti-Midwest. A real feast for the eyes.

The Absaroka Mountains. The white-capped mountain is either Trout Peak or Dead Indian Peak.
Awesome formations on this stretch of road.

Absurd Irrigation

(Big Sky, MT)- Along US 20 in northwestern Wyoming, we saw several examples of farms that wouldn't exist if it weren't for irrigation. If it weren't for dams and ditches, there wouldn't be irrigation. Every farm in the area near the Bighorn River had either an irrigation ditch surrounding it, or a 6" water pipe lying on the ground near the crops.

Big deal? Read a great book called "Cadillac Desert". It details the large-scale big government water programs that have artificially populated the west, creating farms where they aren't sustainable, depriving people downstream of water, and otherwise damage the environment. It become evident how absurd the irrigation is when you see them in the context of the powdery desert soils that surround the farms.
The hose spurts far off in this shot. This image shows what most of this part of Wyoming looks like.

Sage brush in the foreground. That's what naturally occurs here. A lush farm behind it- only where the land is irrigated.

The big sprinkler is visible here.

So, now I want to pose a question: It is said to be more environmentally friendly to grow food crops near to populations. While Wyoming is the least populated state in the Union, they do have to eat. Which would be better environmental policy? Irrigating locally in Wyoming to feed the state's population? Or, ending the irrigation and shipping the food?
The Bison Own The Road

(Big Sky, MT)- Before leaving Thermopolis WY, we decided to take a ride through the ranch lands in the park. Good call! A small herd of bison were out for a stroll.
Wyoming's Bridger Mountains loom in the background as a herd of about 25 bison make their way across the road.

This bull was a sort of sentry, and got between the car and the rest of the herd.

From Thermopolis, we would drive US 20 north to Graybill, then west to Cody.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rex Bell In a Two-Way Race

(Thermopolis WY)- Great news hit my inbox last night: Rex Bell's race in Indiana House District 54 is a two-way race this year. It was a three-way race in 2006, and Rex had the highest totals ever for a Libertarian candidate in such a race. Rex got 14.3% of the vote. Republican Thomas Saunders won the race with 46%. Results link.

This year, there is no Democrat. With Democratic antipathy towards the Republican party running deep, could this be the year that a Libertarian is at last elected to the State House of Representatives? All it takes is for more disaffected Republicans to vote for Rex, and the Democratic voters to do the same.

Rex carries many precincts very handily. I know I rode his coattails in many parts of Wayne County, scoring as high as 30% in some of these precincts in my race for Secretary of State. Numbers that high are very unusual for a statewide office, but Rex is very popular at home.
Where Are The Trees?

(Thermopolis, WY)- Back in the mid-80s, a co-worker sometimes wore a t-shirt that read, "Wyoming's State Tree" and showed a power pole. I always thought that was hilarious, but probably way off the mark. Now I know that it isn't. The high plains are mainly ranch lands. I don't know if they were once forested, as the east was prior to farming.

At any rate, this isn't a complaint. The absence of trees made for clear views of the antelope roaming at roadside, and the mountains in the distance.
Northern Colorado- The ethanol-on-steroids subsidy program was evident in both Colorado and Wyoming, where puny corn is struggling to grow in the high plains. Ranch land is being converted despite the lack of water. Good luck with that.

South of Cheyenne- The cowboy reminded me of the Osborne Bulls found in Andalucia, Spain.

North of Shoshoni WY- The drive on US20/WY789 was spectacular once it reached the Wind River and ran parallel to it, winding northerly to Thermopolis, with the River to the west, and mountain cliffs on either side.

We made a mental note that the Sierra Trading Post has two outlets in Wyoming. They deal in discounted camping and outdoor gear.

Thermopolis is named for the numerous natural hot springs. Our motel has one on site, next to the swimming pool. At 117 degrees, it gives a new meaning to 'hot tub'! The aroma of sulfur is generally in the air throughout the town.

Today's drive takes us to Big Sky, MT by way of Cody WY, and Yellowstone Park. Should be some awesome views!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Koles in Colorado

(Superior, CO)- First stop, the home of Tom & Juli Kole. Tom is my cousin, and is an entrepreneur in the tech world. Micro-devices, blue tooth, all that stuff. He already had his parents visiting, along with his sister Jennifer and her family, so what was adding Ame, Isabel, and I?

We drove into Boulder for a look at the college town, and a walk in the creek.

From left, Isabel, my cousin Tom, cousin Jennifer, aunt Judy, niece Kaylee, Ame, Jen's husband Brian Markovitz. 
Tom carries Kaylee in the icy creek. This is mountain run-off.

It's fantastic seeing mountain backdrops in any direction, what with the lack of terrain in Indiana. We were still a drive away from the mountains, and with a mini-reunion happening, a hike wasn't happening yet.

We had big laughs watching Tom's video collection. He's restored old Super-8 film from the 70s- with all of us wearing the finest plaid of the day. Great laughs.

Today, it's a drive into Wyoming.