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Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Trip of a Lifetime--2012

In June of 2011,  George and I took our first trip out west (to the Grand Canyon, etc.).  IF you missed those pictures,  click HERE (for those 29 different blog posts).  This year,  we made a great decision NOT to travel in the hot and crowded Summer months... SO--from September 12-27,  we took another trip out west,  this time to the Yellowstone and Tetons area.  What a fabulous decision!!!!  The Fall colors were sparkling,  the temperatures were perfect and not so hot,  and even though there were plenty of people around,  nothing was terribly crowded like it was during the summer of 2011...  We had almost perfect vacation!!!!

Our agenda:
-Sept. 12--Drove to Kansas City
-Sept. 13--Drove to Colorado Springs,  where we stayed 3 nights (2 full days)
-Sept. 16--Drove to Rocky Mountain National Park;  Spent 2 nights in Fort Collins
-Sept. 18--Drove to Yellowstone and the Tetons--where we spent 6 nights (5 full days) in West Yellowstone
-Sept 24--Drove to Grand Rapids, South Dakota, where we spent 2 nights  (1 day of sight-seeing)
-Sept. 26--Drove to Kansas City
-Sept. 27--Drove HOME

Today,  I'll share with you an overview from our trip --showing you some of my favorite things..  Then (since George and I together took almost 5000 photos)---I will share MUCH more throughout the upcoming months from specific areas from this trip.

On Sept. 14,  we drove up to PIKES PEAK (near Colorado Springs).  I guess that IF I had to choose a favorite thing on the entire trip,  this may have been IT...  BUT--that is hard since we loved so much about this vacation!  Guess what???   I got to see SNOW up on the top (14,110 feet up).  Note picture above taken on TOP.

Please remember to click on all pictures for enlargements!




Another highlight of that day was meeting blog friends,  SALLY and Jim Wessely.  Sally and I have been blog friends for quite awhile, but this was our first time to meet.  What wonderful people these two are!!!!!!  WOW--it was such a blessing to meet them.  We enjoyed lunch together that day and also a visit to GARDEN of the GODS.  The picture above is a great picture of Sally and Jim at the Garden of the Gods.




On September 16,   we headed north from Colorado Springs,  stopping in Boulder to see a gorgeous waterfall, and then driving on a scenic back road (Highway 72) north of Nederland ---where we saw the most gorgeous ASPENS in bloom (note my header).  Then it was on to visit the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK.  The highlight for me from that visit was on September 17 when we drove all the way up the OLD (unpaved) FALLS RIVER ROAD.   George and I LOVE unpaved mountain roads and this one was fabulous (even included a waterfall for us to enjoy).   Above is a picture showing the road up the mountain (we drove up to about 12,000 feet in elevation, when we entered the main road).




This is a picture of us taken along the OLD FALLS RIVER ROAD in the Rocky Mtn. National Park.  We loved seeing all of the beautiful pine trees and the blooming Aspens along our way --in addition to enjoying the mountain creeks, and of course Chasm Falls. 

NOTE:  All along our trip,  the mornings were quite chilly (hence our jackets).. BUT--the afternoons warmed up quite nicely.  It never was extremely cold (never did pull out our winter coats) --and we had no rain to speak of the entire trip.  Weather was PERFECT--as I said!




We spent four full days in Yellowstone (and could have stayed longer).  The three highlights which jump out in my mind are meeting more blog friends at OLD FAITHFUL,  visiting the canyon area --with all of the gorgeous waterfalls,  AND the thermal areas (geysers, paint pot areas, basins, etc.).... Unbelievable!!!!  We did manage to see 12 different geysers erupt (and some more than once) during our stay.   Above was one of my favorite geysers,  CASTLE GEYSER.   I loved its 'castle-like' base!




The other blog friends we met were LINDA and Doug.  They are from Indiana and were also traveling... Glad we could coordinate our trips so that we could meet.  We met at OLD FAITHFUL,  watched the eruption,  and then had a picnic lunch together.   Linda and I have been blog friends for a long time --but this was our first meeting.  We had a TERRIFIC time--and we have so much in common with them since they also love to travel.   This is a picture of the four of us taken after Old Faithful had erupted. 




Another highlight at Yellowstone was hiking in the Canyon area.  We did lots of hiking throughout the trip--but we probably did the most hiking on this day!  We hiked all of the way down to the RED ROCK OVERLOOK  (where our picture was taken above-- with Lower Falls in the distance).  But--we also hiked all the way down (and back up--pant, pant) those  328+ steps to the bottom of the canyon (on UNCLE TOM'S TRAIL).  Both Upper and Lower Falls were marvelous ---and we also enjoyed seeing 2 other waterfalls that day.




We had been looking forward to spending two days in the TETON area.  However,  we only were there for ONE day --since the wildfire smoke was HORRIBLE there.  I guess this was one of the biggest disappointments of the entire trip since we had been looking forward to getting GREAT photographs of those beautiful mountains.

We did spend one entire day there --and especially enjoyed our hike in the Schwabacher Road area.   We also had hoped to ride the boat across Jenny Lake (to see another waterfall)--but the boat was not running.  Another minor disappointment!!!!!   But--the Aspens (especially in the Oxbow Bend area) were fabulous!

We loved seeing Mormon Row (and the most photographed barn in America) and we especially loved seeing the little Episcopal Church (Chapel of the Transfiguration) --which is pictured above,  with the mountains in the background.  You can tell how smoky it was when looking at this picture.  We want to go back to the Tetons sometime when the skies are CLEAR.




After leaving Yellowstone on Sept 24,  we drove to Rapid City, South Dakota.  The 25th was our only day to 'tour' that area ---and now we know that we could have spent several more days there.  BEAUTIFUL area of the country!!!!!  

We fist visited Mt. Rushmore  (pictured above),  and then saw Crazy Horse (from the main road only).   We loved seeing MT. RUSHMORE  in person.  I had seen pictures of it all of my life--but seeing it in person really was awesome.




We then drove to CUSTER STATE PARK and thanks from some great advice from LINDA  and from LARRY (Big Dude)--who has also been traveling in that area,  we drove down the NEEDLE'S HIGHWAY --seeing some fabulous rock formations and tunnels along the way.  The photo above was along the Needle's Highway ---through one of the little tunnels.  YES---we did fit through it!!!! ha




Two other HUGE highlights of this trip were seeing all of the WATERFALLS (we saw THIRTY-SIX different waterfalls),  and seeing the WILDLIFE.  The picture above was taken in Yellowstone after a nice hike.  This is MYSTIC FALLS.




Finally,   it's hard to choose which 'critter' I wanted to highlight because we saw so many along the way.  I chose a PRONGHORN (which I call an ANTELOPE) --since they are such beautiful animals.  But---we saw many many more wild animals during this trip (including lots of ELK,  BUFFALO (BISON),  WHITE-TAILED DEER,  MULE DEER,  BIGHORN SHEEP, and BURROS).   I was hoping to see an eagle and a moose --but didn't get to see either this time.  We also did not see any bears...  But--we were happy since we did see so many different varieties of wildlife all along the way.  Another highlight was watching the BIGHORN SHEEP climb straight up a rock ledge...  How do they do that?????

Well--this is long,  so I will stop since I probably lost you about 6 pictures back!!!!! ha.... It is great to be home ---and get back to blogging.   Facebook is nice --but it's hard to say all that I want to say there!!!!!!! ha ha

Hope you have had a great September --and will have a wonderful October.

Be sure to check out George's blog (click HERE) for a great post which includes a map of our 5,455 mile trip!!!

Hugs,
Betsy