American West Adventure Days 11, 12 & Wrap-up

7/4/13

From Brandon:  on the eleventh day of our trip we went from Montana, through Idaho and Butte County.  There was this big Butte volcano, the Soda Butte River and Butte is a town in Montana :-).  We drove along the Salmon River Scenic Bypass the whole way because we had extra time.  We drove through Idaho Falls and then on to Pocatello to get to the hotel.  On the way to the hotel we stopped at a lake that had about 500-700 people in a town called Blockfoot and  saw a cool firework show.

From Sofia: We drove across Idaho to get to Salt Lake City the next day.  We saw a river the whole way.  We went to a lake really late at night before we went to the hotel.  This nice family with 1 boy and 3 girls sat next to us in the sand and gave us glow sticks, sparklers since it was 4th of July, and gave us a blanket to sit on.  My glowing thing kept falling in the water so my shoes got all wet.

Salmon River in Idaho somewhere

Salmon River in Idaho somewhere

Crashing a fireworks show in Blackfoot, Idaho

Crashing a fireworks show in Blackfoot, Idaho

7/5/13

From Brandon: This morning we woke up like 10, went downstairs, ate breakfast and had to get out of the hotel room by 12.  We beat the house cleaners by 2 minutes before 12.  We went to see Despicable Me 2 – it was really funny.  We saw a trolley when we went to downtown Salt Lake City for dinner.  The flight home was late at night, we boarded at 11:45pm.  It was a shorter flight home than when we left Continue reading

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American West Adventure – Day 7

6/30/13

Sunday morning we hit the road for Montana and Glacier National Park at 6am. The kids fell back asleep, but I woke them up 20 minutes later when we hit some Sunday morning traffic; in the form of a herd of Bison migrating along the Grand Loop Road. More and more came off the side of the road by the trees until our car was surrounded by about 25-30 adults and 8-10 babies. The mom’s were pushing the babies along and showing them how to walk the right way. This was one of the best parts of our vacation for sure.

From Brandon: The Bison were all different sizes. Some were black, brown, tan, some were wet so they might have come from a lake. A lot of them were really big and some had small horns. Some were very cautious and guarding the babies. It took about 15 minutes for all of them to pass the car and head further down the road and it was like 6:30 in the morning. It was cool to see all of them at the same time!

Bison herd migrating at 6am Sunday morning

Bison herd migrating at 6am Sunday morning

The kids fell back asleep and just before reaching Mammoth Springs on our way out of Yellowstone and Wyoming, I was able to take this pic in the middle of the road. No one but us was up and about early Sunday it seemed.

the open road...

the open road…

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American West Adventure – Day 6

6/29/13

We woke up to a nice view outside our hotel window of the lake this morning. We slept in a bit. Lazy is ok on vacation, ok?

Yellowstone Lake - window view

Yellowstone Lake – window view

We then took off for the Old Faithful area in the morning. The Old Faithful Inn where we stayed was the first great park lodge of the American West and is one of the last standing log hotels in America. It looks amazing inside.

Old Faithful Inn lobby

Old Faithful Inn lobby

We hung out to watch the Old Faithful Geyser shoot water about 80 feet in the air, which was cool. But we aren’t into spending all day with crowds at all the touristy things so we took off North to see more geysers and thermal activity (less people).

Messing around

Messing around

Blowing off some steam

Blowing off some steam

We headed up to Black Sands Basin and Continue reading

American West Adventure – Day 5

6/28/13

We slept in Friday morning to catch up from the long days and nights so far. Then we headed South to the Lake area. First we passed over the Fishing Bridge over the Yellowstone River, which was built in 1937. Beautiful views to the North and South. It was early AM and we wouldn’t be able to check Lake Yellowstone Hotel yet, so we headed to the marina to see if we could get out on the water. All the rowboats were out for rental already so we took a boat cruise around Yellowstone Lake with a park ranger from the National Parks Service. We found out that a large portion of the lake is over a dormant volcano and there is a lot of thermal activity down below. The rest of the lake is quite cold.

Stevenson Island

Stevenson Island

We then came upon Stevenson Island, which has an interesting history. A man named E.C. Walker built a raft in the early 20th century and brought wildlife to this small island. He then would charge visitors to Yellowstone $1 to take them out on the raft to see the animals. He would then take a photo of them and say they owed him $1 additional for the pic. Eventually the powers-that-be in the park kicked him out. That was one reason, it seems he was also having crazy parties and had lots of women. They never bothered to take his boat off the short of the island and it remained until it was hit by lightning and most of it burned up.3 at Lake

We went out to the general store grill (not bad) for some cheeseburgers and then went to explore Mud Volcanoes. We saw boiling mud and heard all kinds of bubbling sounds under the earth. Bison roam freely and one had stationed itself right in front of one and a crowd gathered to check him out. Some parents are really dumb; one kid was just a couple of feet from the Bison while he was started to get irritated; growling and shaking its head. Duh. Continue reading

American West Adventure – Day 4

6/27/13

Since we did so much in the Canyon area yesterday, we decided to head up to Lamar Valley in the NorthEast section of Yellowstone today.  We hadn’t thought we would have time to visit there and it was supposed to have lots of wildlife.  Along the way we stopped at Tower Fall, which is a waterfall on Tower Creek.  1,000 yards upstream from the creek’s confluence with the Yellowstone River, the fall plunges 132 feet.  Its name comes from the rock pinnacles at the top of the fall.

Yes I just used the word ‘confluence’, so now you know I just quoted from Wikipedia 😉

Base of Tower Fall Trail

Base of Tower Fall Trail

My apprentice

My apprentice

Resting after Tower Falls Trail

Resting after Tower Falls Trail

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American West Adventure – Day 3

6/26/13

Got up early with the kids to check out Oxbow Bend at sunrise at Grand Teton National Park. It was very foggy but still amazing. We also saw a Raven eating an apple.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend

Next we entered Yellowstone National Park through the South entrance. We were staying up in the Canyon area but first we spent time at the West Thumb Geyser Basin overlooking Yellowstone Lake.

We spent a few hours exploring the sites of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River; including Artists Point (Lower Falls) and hiked down the steep Uncle Tom’s Trail to the base of the Lower Falls.

Artist's Point, Yellowstone National Park

Artist’s Point, Yellowstone National Park

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American West Adventure – Day 1

Dinner@JFK

Dinner@JFK

6/24/13

So we are off for our longest adventure yet; a quest to explore several National Parks on the other side of the country (and maybe in Canada too), see lots of wildlife, go on cool hikes, hope that Sofia and Brandon don’t strangle each other in the backseat of our rental car.