September 16, 2011

Yellowstone and the Beartooth Pass, September 9th

An ἅλως or halo, encompasses the sun as seen from atop the Beartooth Pass on a clear September day. Typically these are seen on extremely cold days and are caused by ice crystal in the sky, but this day the optical phenomenon was caused by smoke from a nearby fire. Captured with a Canon 5DII with 17-40/4.0L and Singh-Ray LB Polarizer in aperture priority mode with an exposure bias of + 2/3 at ISO200, f/11, and 1/400th of a second. The camera was handheld from a prone position.


Work delayed my trips planned departure by about 18 hours, and if that had been the only hitch on what was supposed to be a 5 day trip to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks I would have been ecstatic. Unfortunately someone had other plans for me. I left for the park as soon as I finished my meeting, as my car had been packed for 24 hours.

I made good time to Red Lodge, filled up with gas and started up over the pass. There were small fires burning in a few places and the smoke in the air produced an optical phenomenon called an ἅλως or halo, that encompassed the sun. It was really something to see, and I was surprised at all of the cars that raced right past me as I worked the scene. I continued on until I noticed two of them intersecting, luckily I noticed this as I was pulling up to wait for the construction traffic to be let through. I had a great chat with a few of the construction workers, who all claim that they are going to finish their project this year.

After a half hour, or so, they let all of the cars proceed, and I was heading down the pass to one of my favorite aspen groves. There is a feature on me that will be in an upcoming magazine, and they needed a "recent" portrait of me. I also have a number of friends who have started complaining about my old avatar on Facebook, my blog, numerous forums and the like. I hiked up to the grove of aspens with two tripods/cameras/lenses, four "outfits" and some wireless lighting equipment. I proceeded to spend about an hour photographing myself to provide images for the upcoming article. I will admit that I felt a little silly as I tried to make myself laugh (and have it look real).

Back to my car and on my way down the pass toward Cooke City and Yellowstone, but luck would not have it. As I descended toward the Chief Joseph Highway intersection my "check engine" and "oil" lights came on, and moments later my engine quit, causing me to loose power steering, breaks and basically everything. I was descending rapidly, but I remained calm enough to muscle (I know that I don't have many) my car around the turn at the bottom of the hill and managed to time my exit from the road and complete stop perfectly. After a few calming breaths I popped the hood and checked the oil, it was empty, not dry, just empty. Unbeknownst to me when the dealer changed the oil in my car they neglected to tighten the drain plug, so the vibration and pressure of the pass caused it to work its way out and drop all of my engine's oil (I had driven about 143.7 miles sense the oil was changed). For those that do not know cars, that is a really bad thing to have happen and because of the angle I was traveling when it happened the car did not turn itself off before it destroyed the engine.

I was behind the last wave of cars through the pass, so I decided to hike up the nearest "mountain" to attempt to find cell coverage. Oddly as I reached the top I could email and check the internet, but I could not call or text (very odd, but it is Verizon, so Lord only knows). I made my way back to my car and waited for another wave of cars, so I could send a not in to Cooke City for a tow. After sending a note in it took a couple hours until a local drove back to pick me up, as the service station wanted a person to come in (I guess often they get a note go out to find that someone else already picked up the car). Long story short we loaded my car on the trailer and headed back to Cooke City to try to replace the drain plug, fill the car with oil and pray. It did not work, so that left me with the long ride back to Billings where I could drop the car off at the dealer's and get a ride home.

Saturday morning I was on the phone with the dealer, who seemed not to return my call, so I called the owner/manager who I have dealt with on past issues. He was very understanding, apologetic and passionate about being able to correct the situation. Unfortunately the Subaru techs were all out for the weekend, so they could not begin work on my car until Monday. They offered me a loaner, on Monday, but I rarely drive when I am in Billings, so I declined. They ordered a new motor, and predicted a Thursday delivery and Friday completion.

On Friday, they called to say that; "it looks like Saturday or... I am really sorry... as late as Monday evening before we can get everything fixed." With my plans for lots of work this weekend I did not care, but at 4:45p they called to say that they had finished my car and that I could come pick it up. When I arrived they were continually apologetic about their mistake and I learned that the fix cost Subaru over $7,200 plus the $850 tow bill (that they are reimbursing me for). The car runs better now than ever and my engine only has about 20 miles on it, while the rest of the car has over 52,000 miles (they also fixed a recall issue with the PZEV stuff).

The dealership did a good job fixing their mistake, and oddly thanked me for; "being the calmest person in a situation like this, that I have ever seen." I will not let the dealership's express lube change my oil again, and I expect that I will check my own oil filter and drain plug for a long time, but I am no worse for the wear. I also do not expect to keep this car much longer, chances are I will trade it in for something else (thinking truck) before spring. A big thanks to my colleague Jenny who both picked me up and took me back to the dealership, I think she now knows better than to be texting me when I get back into cell range on a return trip to Billings (especially when my car is on a trailer).

Make the jump to go through the online gallery, I ask that you leave comments/criticism or at least give your favorites a thumbs up... THANKS!

If you have questions, ask... I published the camera information with each image and have added full keywords to share just about anything you would want to know about the images.

Happy shooting

1 comment:

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