The United States of America, Montana, Seeley Lake

Friday, May 18, 2007

700 miles to Yellowstone

Thanks to Steve and Cherry who made this trip possible for me.

We left Seeley Lake at about four thirty on Friday afternoon. Ahead of us was about 700 miles and a great trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park is the first park in the United States and in the world as well. The US Congress established it on March 1, 1872. It is famous for its geysers, hot pools and springs. The concentration of geysers is the highest in the world. Wildlife is another thing what Yellowstone is famous for. In one day you can see elks, bison, squirrels, pelicans and bears if you are lucky. I did this trip with Max (another ex-change student in my school) and his host parents Steve and Sherry.
We arrived late at night to West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone is a city by the west entrance to the park. We checked in to our hotel. It is not a problem to get a room for a good price in May. It starts to get worse at the beginning of June and July and August might be pretty busy. There were two other ex-change students staying in the same hotel so we spent some time enjoying local pool and sharing our experiences.

Alarm woke us up early in the morning, we had a breakfast at eight and by nine we were ready to enter Yellowstone National Park. The entrance is just 1-2 miles from West Yellowstone. Park entry fee is $10-20 per vehicle. Steve has a special card that enables him to enter any national park in the US ($50). You also get a map and a simple guide, which help you to orient in the park.

First thing that gets your attention are rests of burnt trees. There was a catastrophic fire in 1988, which swept across 1.4 million acres. The aftermath of it is still visible today. The guide says that many observers now describe the fire as a natural event heralding a new cycle of growth.
Another thing that you cannot miss are bison. Even though that there is a speed limit in the whole park, be careful so you do not get surprise by a bunch of bison on the road. It is not like if you hit a deer (which happens a lot in Seeley). Otherwise bison are fascinating animals and you have a lot of possibilities to get a picture of them. Remember, they are wild animals and if your presence makes them to move you are too close. Every year there are few fatal accidents, because some photographers are just too curious.
From the west entrance we drove toward Old Faithful. There are many places where you can stop on the way and watch geysers or take pictures of wildlife.
Old Faithful is probably the most famous part of the park. It is a geyser that erupts exactly every 90 minutes. He does this for ages. When we came there was still about an hour left before the next eruption so we took a quick walk around and had a picnic lunch. Popularity of this place is equal to the number of tourists that come every year to see it.
From there we drove west to the Yellowstone Lake. The lake has a surface area of 136 sq mi and 110mi of shoreline. There is a road on the western side of the lake from which you can see the whole lake. We took it and moved to the northern end of the lake where is the Fishing Bridge. Even though the temperatures were high for couple of weeks there was still ice floating in the river.
We almost have seen a black bear. We were driving along the road and suddenly there were lot of cars parked at the side of the road and we saw bunch of people running with their cameras through the forest. We asked one guy what was going on there and he told us that they were chasing a black bear. Poor bear. We decided to leave bear behind us and continued to the Canyon Village.
This place is also called the Grand Canyon of Wyoming or of Yellowstone National Park. There are two falls on the river. On the first one the river falls 33m down in the canyon and the second one it falls 100m even deeper in the canyon. It is a spectacular show.
The day was getting toward its end and we still had lot of miles in front of us. Last stop was at the Mammoth Hot Spring. These ornate travertine terraces are made of lime stone deposits and can grow up to an inch per day.
Our very last stop before we left the park was the souvenir shop and we also had to take a photo with the famous gate at the north entrance.
After that we drove to Bozeman where we stayed overnight.
On Sunday morning we catch a quick walk through the downtown of Bozeman and we also visited the Museum of Rockies. There are some permanent exhibits of dinosaurs and settler's history plus they have there a temporary exhibition of King Tutankhamun and some Picasso's ceramic art. It was a quite interesting finish of our trip.
After 700 miles on roads we got back to Seeley Lake on Sunday's evening. All of us were tired but full of extraordinary experience.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Once upon a time II.

This is just another quick update.

My participation in the snow-joke half marathon resulted in $150 bill at the local medical center :-)

This winter season is over. I was skiing in the Snowbowl ski resort, which is right above Missoula, last weekend. It was great, sunny and a lot of fun. We have met with other exchange students there. I ended up teaching Tim (my friend from Mongolia) how to ski.

After a not very successful basketball season I’ve decided to play golf in the spring. We are practicing in the gym now, but already next week we are heading to one of the golf courses in Missoula. I borrowed the golf club set from the local golf course. I am enjoying the sport very much so far. We will see what success I will have on the grass.

I managed to change my return flight ticket. I am planning a few days stopover in the New York City. So excited…

Finally I had time to see “Borat”. Unfortunately I have not decided yet if it was more stupid or disgusting. Other movies (which I’ve liked) I have seen recently were Little Miss Sunshine and Babel. I have to recommend both of them. Both of them are this year’s academy winners. By the way the academy ceremony was the best show I have ever seen. Ellen DeGeneres rocks!

There is a new photo in my profile. It is a result of my work in the Computer Design class. No comments, please.

We have Prom (“maturitni ples”) today...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Once upon a time I.

So what has been new recently?

My basketball season ended last week. It was one big joke. I did not score at all except once when I scored on our own basket:-) Now I am enjoying little bit more of free time since I do not have to practice every day.

I thought I would invest my time into writing some scholarship essay and prepare little bit for ACT tests, but apparently I am too lazy.

My next sport activity plan is a half marathon (13 miles). It takes place in Seeley at the end of February and it is much more like a fun race than a regular marathon. It is called "snow joke". Our principal promised to dye his hair pink if at least 50 students will run in the race.

We should go ski/snb -ing with other exchange students next week. Let's see if the weather stay winter-ish. Few days ago it almost looked like in the early Spring. However now it is snowing again and the temperature stays only few degrees above 32 degrees.

All new episodes of LOST are now on, after more than two months break. You can see more of this outstanding show every Wednesday at 9c on ABC.

And finally I have downgraded back to Windows XP. Vista was simply causing too many problems.

Friday, February 02, 2007

hasta la VISTA, baby

Two days ago Microsoft finally launched his super new operating system Microsoft Vista. Yesterday I updated to it. But, "I can get no, satisfaction."

No, in fact I do not want to criticize the huge amount of work of people who stand behind Vista, but I just wonder if it is worth of $160. That is the price of Home Premium if you decide to upgrade from XP. Otherwise it costs much more. The Basic version which is the lowest level of the new operation system is little bit cheaper but does not offer all these fancy stuff for which we like the new Vista so much.

I saw a short video few days ago from the party where Microsoft for the first time introduced Vista on January 30. Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and other people were shaking hands with representatives from computer companies like Dell and Gateway and ensuring the consumers how they did their best to improve our digital lifestyles.

My first disappointment was that the new Vista did not support my burning software NERO. It forced me to uninstall it before I was able to continue in the Windows installation. Now, I can use the new Windows DVD Maker which is included:-) OK, fine....

The second disappointment, it is not cooperating with my printer (Lexmark). So, I went to Lexmark website and tried to find if I can do something with it. They told me that they were working on it and that the new software would be available soon. So now I cannot print.

The new feature, Windows Aero and Flip 3D are definitely cool, except I cannot run them on my computer because it does not pass the system requirements. Other elements like the side bar which can show clocks, weather forecast, your notes , currency converter, calendar and many others are a nice design improve. Windows Vista is full of these little design surprises.

With Windows Meeting Space, Windows just tried to catch its concurrents which already offer similar services online.

Work with your photo galleries is more efficient. You can search through thousands of photos and do basic edits. It is nice to have this kind of software under your operating system for people which have lot of photos and not so much time. Searching was also improved a lot. The Instant Search allows you to search your computer and also the internet. You can move through your files much more smoothly.

Windows Media Center is probably great too, but unfortunately I have not time to explore it yet.

After all I got a good feeling from working with the newest technology. The work space looks like from a different universe. It is hard to predict where Microsoft will go next or where it will be force to go. Support of XP ends in 2011.

Next step is to upgrade to the new Office 2007. Or maybe I won't...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's getting hectic, it's chaotic

by Honza Keprta

For most of us it the best part of the year. It brings peace and happiness to our homes. Reality is different. For many people the Christmas are the busiest days of the year. Like every year millions of people hurry to finish their season's duties just few moments before the Christmas Day. Shopping centers are crowded with people trying to buy their last minute presents.

Life in Montana is slightly different. I tried to figure out what makes the Christmas time more pleasant here, but I did not. I do not have more time and neither do the other people here. I am just staying unaffected with all the Holiday rush. People stayed cool even when we lost power for few days last week after the USA was hit with the biggest storm in 25 years.

We have our Christmas tree already since Thanksgiving. So our only duty was to decorate it and it was a task for one evening. Because of all the miracles like "eBay" or "Amazon" you can get all you presents and not leave far away from your fireplace. While it is not always easy to get to the town from our house, you can be hundred percent sure that almost everything can be shipped to you, even if your address is "somewhere in the middle of Montana's forests." And if you are like me and do not trust to all these e-shops, then you simply have to make a plan for all of your shopping. Believe me, when the first shopping mall is 70 miles away you do not what to drive there more than it is necessary.

It is only one thing which bothers me here. Big Brother,fat man in a red coat coming through the chimney, is still watching you. Santa is really everywhere. So I have decided to bring a little bit of Czech Christmas into this Americanize environment and I did not find easier way than to bake some Czech Christmas cookies. I was told that it is supposed not to be difficult to bake them. After I chose the right recipe and got over all difficulties with converting from tablespoons into grams I finally finished my first Christmas Cookies. They are tasteful and they make you feel closer to home.

I would like to finish with some clever statement, but you know I cannot come up with any right now so only....Have a wonderful Christmas time and successful New Year wherever you are...