Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Roadie 2010 :: Dinosaurs, Arches & Canyonlands

After a little road-side mooing mayhem, we traveled through this beautious place.

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming

I can see myself floating around here for months on end. The entire season of fall. Mountains. Water. Green. Changing leaves. Beautiful!

I would just need 3-months worth of iced tea and fajitas.

Dino tail fossil

We stopped at Dinosaur National Monument near the Colorado/Utah borders. Since we already knew that the main visitor center and fossil display are currently closed (making structural improvements), we took a short hike through the grounds where a ranger showed us some fossils.

Dino femur fossil

Onward we drove to see the red rock formations of Arches National Park in Utah.

We enjoyed the nice moon bonus at sunset.

Kathleen found this large male bobcat print (confirmed by a ranger).

Great hike to Landscape Arch with a special nature's day spa bonus--a brief, skin-softening rain with a windy sand exfoliation chaser.

Mike got all fancy in his Jr. Ranger booklet and used colored pencils on his Landscape Arch drawing. He did get some brownie points with the ranger.

We found a whip snake.

An indication we live in a place with lots of snakes:

When we noticed the snake on the trail and other people were swerving around trying to avoid it, our kids hopped up on a nearby rock to get a closer look at its head to see if it was diamond shaped (poisonous) or not. I was in the trying-to-avoid-getting-closer pack of hikers. FYI--it was NOT poisonous.

Balanced Rock at Arches

Next stop: Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

What's great about all of these national parks is that each one has very unique features and a special look of its own.

One of the unique features at Canyonlands that Mike noticed right away were all of the off-road trails. I wasn't aware that Canyonlands is a premeire off-roading locale, and Moab, Utah is the place to rent your 4x4, if needed.

Mike was in dreamland with visions of a future rock-crawling trip with Dad.

Scenes like this skipping through his head.

Until some tourist stooge we were talking with kind of ruined the moment by mentioning this story about a guy who was hiking in Canyonlands, got pinned under a huge boulder, and had to cut off his own arm.

Well, I guess maybe he only ruined the moment for me, someone who was simply enjoying nature with her family trying to soak in the fresh air, peace and quiet, and a relaxing moment. I certainly hadn't been trying to contemplate stressful disasters involving life-or-death situations.

Mike and the other kids were intrigued. He hasn't looked at his pocket knife the same since hearing of that story! =)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Roadie 2010 :: Tetons

Oh, we love these rugged Teton mountains, the still-growing teenagers of the Rocky Mountain Range.

Lounging cow moose

Beautiful hike to Inspiration Point

followed by a "refreshing" swim in 45 degree Jenny Lake.

Heavy antlers. No wonder those bull moose always have their heads hanging in the marshes--too heavy to hold up all day.

One of the Jr. Ranger swearings in

Town Square--Jackson, WY (a.k.a. Jackson Hole)

Teton Tramway

Our trip could hardly be complete without playing in the snow!

Now heading south.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Roadie 2010 :: Yellowstone

Oh, give me a home

where the buffalo roam

where vents and geysers

blow all day.

Where grizzlies climb trees

to shake out their feed

eating apples before long winter's day.

Yosemite, our nation's first national park.

So much beauty

So much wildlife

SO much


I'm pretty sure Teddy Roosevelt wasn't thinking about Yellowstone's predominant *sulphur* aroma when he came up with this quote on Yellowstone's north entrance arch placard.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Roadie 2010 :: Mt. Rushmore & Badlands

Once again, I'm chronicling our annual big rig adventures. Otherwise, I won't remember the trip details, and the kids might make up a bunch of silly stories like how Dad may have broken his leg, or how a wild grizzly bear put on a fun lengthy show for us, or that Kathleen was kissed by a wild wandering burro.

Well, since all those things actually happened I better document them in case I forget.

After a couple of days on the road, we caught Mt. Rushmore just in time to see the evening lighting and presentation. Impressive. (We did a couple of fun things on our first travel days that I'll post about later.)

Next morning, we hiked all around the park.

I could smell the Ponderosa's as we walked along, so I scouted a good one to sniff.

Kathleen, now a "butterscotch tree" seeker and lover!

When you're enjoying the natural surroundings there are few roses to be found, so my saying is, "Stop and smell the 'Rosas!"

Besides the completion of the face, there's been little change on the Crazyhorse monument from what I remember when I was a young girl.

Hike in the Badlands

Or...climb in the Badlands

Burro in the Badlands

A Badlands burro smooch through the window.

We didn't find anything bad in these Badlands.

Our country's first National Monument, Devil's Tower in Wyoming (a.k.a. alien landing pad in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

Devil's Tower hike through another sweet Ponderosa forest.

Grammy & Grampy were our good luck charms as we had fantastic weather and timing during our adventures.

Onward we go...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some alphabet photos from our trip

Can you read it?