Sunday, June 23, 2013

2013 Trip out West

I kept my promise to myself and stayed completely off the internet for my entire trip. It's now been 16 days since I've been on FB.  I've very proud that I was finally able to take a break. I feel so good, I may continue for a while longer. I also stayed away from the TV, unless of cause I could catch a little of the Stanley Cup play-offs.  Our trip out West was truly a dream come true for me. We all had an amazing time.  Each place we stayed was so completely different from the previous, that none of us ever got bored.

June 8th, 9th & 10th  Gardiner, MT~Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone was once again the highlight of my trip.  We spent 3 glorious days in Yellowstone National Park.  I can't wait to go back.  Next time I'm going to spend an entire week there.   The house we rented was located a few miles from town, right on the Yellowstone river with the most awesome view of the mountains imaginable.  The weather was cold at night so we were able to leave the windows open and listen to the river flow by.  We cooked all our meals because there isn't a restaurant with in the park that have better views then the house we rented.  Drives into the park were exciting as usual, lots of Buffalo, Elk and Pronghorns. The morning we headed into the Lamar Valley very early was handsomely rewarded.  First off, I stopped and talked to the wolf people and they were not too encouraging about our quest to see a wolf.  Seems the once large Lamar Valley Pack had been broken up after the Alpha female was shot and killed by a rancher.  The pack currently has only 3 members.  Alpha female, male and a Beta female.  The wolf people told me that the day before they had gotten a good look at some of the members who were trying to feed on a dead Bison calf that the herd was continuing to protect. We headed further into the Valley and went onto a dirt road that was full of people with bins and scopes.  We soon had my spotting scope focused in on a Grizzly sow and her cub.  We turned around and there was a large boar Grizzly up on a hill.  We watched both bears for more then an hour.  The female eventually came towards us and ended up swimming across the river with her cub on her back!  What a awesome, awesome sighting!  Listened to a man who volunteers for the Yellowstone association and continued down the road to find a Golden Eagle nest.  We found it, plus a parent, and later heard that there are 3 chicks in the nest.  Next tip was where to find a sow with 3 cubs that were laying down near the river.  I didn't quite catch where they said, so we ended up pulling over at another area, and immediately heard a young boy looks canine?!  I put my bins up and there were 3 wolves running down a path right across the river from where we stood!  So close you could see them with  your naked eyes!  They continued down the path and soon the Alpha and Beta females crossed the river, while the Alpha male watched for a bit and then made his way as well.  They watched for cars, crossed the road and headed up to the den site.  I was told that yesterday wolf watchers heard the pups howling.  Amazing once in a lifetime sighting.  We did stop to see the sow grizzly and her 3 cubs.  Again....amazing sight!  We continued up to the North East entrance and pulled over to try and find Mountain Goats, which we did!  They were a little harder to spot due to there still being a bit of snow on the rocks.  We saw a couple of goats and babies.  On the way out of the valley right before we came into Mammoth Hot Springs there was a herd of 5 Big Horn Sheep grazing right on the side of the road. 

June 11th Lake Yellowstone, WY 

Wonderful day wondering around all the various guiser areas, including Old Faithful.  We spent the night in a cabin and had a wonderful dinner at the Lodge. 

June 12th & 13th Grand Teton Park, WY

After a amazing drive through the park, we arrived at the Snake River Lodge.  For me it was kind of anticlimactic, very commercial and far from the immersion in nature I was so craving. The place was chosen by my mom and her hubby, and they seemed to enjoy it, and it was important that everyone had a good time.   We did a gondola ride to the top of the mountain at the Jackson Hole Ski lodge, just beautiful scenery.  I don't think that I could snowboard on a mountain that big. 

June 14th Lander, WY

Spent the day with friends of my step-dads.  A delightful older women who has traveled widely and lived a very interesting life.  Her deceased husband was a famous artist.  We went out for the best meal of the entire trip.  Her two wonderful granddaughters went with us.  They are so adorable.  The next day we went out to their family home.  A brand new contemporary home with such interesting details.  Their dad had put fossilized ammonites in several different places, like floors, a water feature.  Just the coolest home.  Really enjoyed our visit with this family. 

June 15th, 16th & 17th Moab, UT

The highlight of my hubby's trip.  I have to agree with him, Moab is stunning. He had taken a trip out there last year and wanted me to see it.  There is no place else on earth that is anything like the mountains of Moab.  It is a Geologist dream scape. Incredible rock formations everywhere, and not just in the two parks.  On the drive down from Lander we were able to see lots of Prairie Dogs just before we arrived at the red rocks.  The house we rented for 3 nights was amazing.  It backed up to a great wildlife area and was just down the street from a Nature Conservancy area.  We rented a 4x4 jeep and my hubby took us for a whole day wild ride out in the desert.  I think that was the highlight of my moms trip.  It was pure adrenaline and FUN!  We also were able to get out and see some petrogliphs, and native ruins.  Such a spiritual area.  I can't wait to return. 

June 18th & 19th Grand Canyon, North Rim, AZ

Long drive through Navaho Reservation areas. So many beautiful rock formations though out the dessert.  Sad how our native Americans have to live.  The Grand Canyon north lodge is just STUNNING!  I don't think that I've ever been in a restaurant with a better view.  The food was not good, but you couldn't beat that the lodge is perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  We had a lovely 2 days stay and lots of sight seeing.  My favorite part was when we arrived in the dark, and on the drive in I could see some dark figures on the side of the road, Bison's!  We also saw an owl and lots of mule deer.  Oh and I forgot.....a CALIFORNIA CONDOR!  The first morning I was in the visitor center getting a free brochure and he was gliding over the lodge multiple times.  My mom and her hubby were also watching him! 

June 20th & 21st Gold Canyon, AZ

After many more miles of the Navaho Reservation area, we met up with my cousin in Flagstaff AZ.  Flagstaff is located in the mountains, and has much cooler weather then the rest of AZ.  They get more then 100 inches of snow each year.  We totally enjoyed the trip down from the mountains into the desert. We headed to Sodona first to have lunch.  We had been told by several people not to miss seeing the area,  they all said it was one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Hubby and I found it to be one big shopping, artist area, with views that aren't even close to what you can see in Moab!  What floats one boat sinks another.  Gratefully the house we had rented in Gold Canyon backed right up to the desert.  The house had a great room with huge windows over looking the view.  There were tons of birds to watch. More birds in that backyard then on the entire trip.  I had a nice visit with my cousins and two aunts.  My hubby got in a couple mt bike rides. 

Now that the trip is over.....can I go back on vacation?  I think that I'm going to have to figure out a way to get away a lot more often.  There is nothing I enjoy more then going on an adventure.  Hubby would very much like to start backpacking.....maybe its time I got into good enough shape to do it.  That is one cheap way to see beautiful less traveled places.  My new goal, be able to carry a heavy pack and sleep on the ground! 

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