Yellowstone National Park: Day One

Ever since I heard of Yellowstone National Park, I have wanted to go. I pictured steep mountains and low valleys. And maybe a bear or two that might say, “Hey, Boo Boo, it’s a pic-a-nic basket.” But Yellowstone is so much more! Planning to go here always seemed a bit overwhelming to me. I had read that if you want to camp in or near Yellowstone that you need to make arrangements a year in advance. But here we are seeing the country spontaneously and it seems to be the best way for me. Looking at the map of Yellowstone, I saw that there are 5 entrances to the park. It’s a challenge to know how to attack a park the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. But we decided to camp in Gardiner, Montana right outside the historic first gate of Yellowstone, our country’s first national park. Here is the Roosevelt Arch at the entrance, built in 1903 and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt.  Matt searched for coordinates to a geocache that was right outside the park and was our first Montana geocache.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

We had to get our photo by the Yellowstone park sign.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

Immediately, we were greeted with gorgeous scenery.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

We made our way through windy roads to the first big attraction near us, Mammoth Hot Springs. Here I learned that this wonderful park is really a volcano! Thermal activity is evident everywhere you turn. Here are some photos I took at Mammoth Springs.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

We began keeping a list of all the new animals and birds we saw in Yellowstone. Bison were everywhere and often created traffic jams as they crossed the road. But we also saw black bears napping. Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

And a coyote eating lunch.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

I was thrilled to be here at the beginning of June. It was spring time and the animals had babies. Here is my favorite photo of a mama elk and her little one.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious

The beauty of Yellowstone holds so much, but I will have to show you more photos later. There’s a lot for me to go see!

See more posts about our Great Westward Trip! Starting on the trip, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower

Devils Tower and On

Seems each place we’ve been to, I fall in love with the area and don’t want to leave. But people kept saying that we needed to see Devils Tower and we still needed a geocache in Wyoming. First, even though we didn’t go to the Crazy Horse exhibit, we could see it from the road. Still lots of work to be done there

.Crazy Horse Photo by Janine Broscious

Then it was on to Wyoming. The rest area had great exhibits and a geocache.

Photo by Janine Broscious

We arrived at the Devils Tower KOA and were thrilled with our site! What a view out the back window.

Devils Tower Photo by Janine Broscious

This impressive rock has mystified people through the ages. Indians consider it a sacred place and come there to pray. They say it was a great tree that grew quickly to save seven sisters from an attacking bear. According to the legend, those seven sisters can be seen in the night sky as the Pleiades. Scientists have called it the core of an ancient volcano or an igneous intrusion. Devils Tower, WY Photo by Janine Broscious

All I can say for sure is that it is a part of God’s creation that shows his majesty! Devils Tower WY Photo by Janine Broscious

To think of this beautiful earth we are on as filled with hot, molten rock is disconcerting at times. Especially when looking up at such a massive piece of rock. Look how it dwarfs us.

Devils Tower WY Photo by Janine Broscious

We saw many deer and prairie dogs. DSC_8874 2

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Here is the tower in the evening light.

Devils Tower WY Photo by Janine Broscious

Then, Matt caught this shot in the morning light the next day as I drove towards our next stop.

Devils Tower WY Photo by Janine Broscious

Onward to Montana! Yet another state that neither of us had ever been to. A lot of firsts have been happening for us on this trip. I guess it was about time we saw this country!

Photo by Janine Broscious

Here is a photo that Matt shot through the windshield as I drove in Montana. Looks at those mountains covered in snow in June.

Mountains in Montana Photo by Matt Broscious

More Matt and Janine adventures to come!!

Matt and Janine at Devils Tower WY

See more posts about our Great Westward Trip! Starting on the trip, Badlands, Mt Rushmore


Mt Rushmore and the Black Hills

I’m not sure why but Mt Rushmore has always intrigued me. Why would someone carve faces into a mountain?! But the faces of four of our presidents are carved into a mountain in South Dakota, which is a fair piece from where I live. I figured I’d never get there, but I did! Last weekend, Matt and I drove from the Badlands towards Mt Rushmore. The famous mountain stands 5725 feet high in the midst of the Black Hills. As we drove through the bright green grassy plains, it became obvious as to how the hills acquired their name. They did look black and I saw that they are covered with evergreen trees that have a dark bark. It was pouring the day we arrived, but we were due for some rest and took it gladly. I took time to look on the internet for tips for photographing the presidents. One article said that it is difficult to get a good shot and recommended just buying a calendar. It was mentioned that early morning is best before there are sharp shadows on the faces. So we got up early Sunday morning and as we drove up the mountains I told myself to just enjoy the moment and not worry about getting an awesome photo. Then we rounded a corner and there they were! Bad photos? No way!Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

I started snapping pics as soon as we parked the car. Thankfully, there weren’t many people there since we got there shortly after it opened. But we did make friends with another couple that knew all about Cedarville University where our son and daughter-in-law attended. We swapped photo taking favors.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

After enjoying the view from the Grand View Terrace, we walked the Presidential Trail which winds among the pines right under the sculpture. There were many places for more photos including through a crevice in the rocks.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

There was an opportunity for close up views of each president. I especially liked Teddy Roosevelt with his glasses and nice mustache.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

We ended the walk and a ranger, Erin Green, said she was about to give a talk about Mr Roosevelt. She stated that it was her first speech of the year, but she did an amazing job of presenting Teddy as an adventurer. I decided that I wanted to be like him and keep exploring and doing interesting things.

Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

This is my most favorite shot of the sculpture. Such an amazing piece of art that was accomplished mostly with dynamite. Four important presidents keep watch over the Black Hills because of daring men working during the Great Depression to fulfill the vision of the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum.

Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

We ended the Presidential Trail and couldn’t believe our eyes when we ran into our new friends from the Badlands, Max and Betty. We wondered if we would see each other farther down the line in our travels. I hated leaving the presidents and kept looking back as we drove off. But I shouldn’t have worried. I would get to see them many more times that day. The first was from a pull off where we ate our picnic lunch under the profile of President Washington.

Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

Continuing to drive on the scenic Iron Mountain Road, we stopped many times for geocaches and I saw Mt Rushmore again and again. One time was through a tight tunnel.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

Here was my view as Matt searched for one of the caches. We were just behind Mt Rushmore.Behind Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

At this overlook, you can see the presidents just to the right of Matt’s head.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

I zoomed in and saw some lucky people getting a helicopter tour.Mt Rushmore photo by Janine Broscious

After saying good bye to the much enjoyed Mt Rushmore, we continued driving through the Black Hills. We were told that if we drove through Custer State Park we would see some Bison. After driving for quite some time, we saw cars stopped ahead. We got into an actual traffic jam with our big pickup truck but finally got to stop and see the majestic beasts.Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious

We were told of a woman recently being gored by a buffalo and I decided not to get close. I was surprised how close some people did go and with children too. There were many baby bison.Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious

At one point in the drive, we were unable to keep a distance from the creatures. They were right next to the road! I took this shot through our windshield.

Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious

This one was close by and decided to roll around in the dirt.Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious

We saw a few antelope and the song “Home, Home on the Range” kept going through my head. I didn’t hear any discouraging words!Custer State Park photo by Janine Broscious

After Custer State Park, we drove through the Needles. Such grandeur that God created.Needles, South Dakota photo by Janine Broscious

Finally, we drove through Spearfish Canyon. Yet another beautiful place in the Black Hills. We saw lovely waterfalls and nature.DSC_8699 DSC_8731 2 DSC_8713 2DSC_8741 2

As we drove back to our home on wheels, we truly felt that we were in the wild, wild west. We passed through Deadwood where Wild Bill Hicock was shot. Buildings had false fronts like old time towns. And there were signs all over for gold mining. The gorgeous Black Hills have so many fun things to do and see. Even though we couldn’t do it all, it’s time to move on. Maybe someday we’ll come back to explore some more!

Mt Rushmore

Check out previous posts about our westward trip: Might as well go to Mt Rushmore, More Badlands Photos

One Night as a Princess: England 7

I am feeling the need to finish up writing about our experiences in England. It looks like we may be heading back for more adventures in Italy soon! So, before my memory gets cloudy, I must finish up our last trip.

As we were planning for our time in England, I dreamed of seeing castles. I wondered which ones we could fit in seeing and looked them up online. Soon, I learned that you could actually stay overnight in some castles! Of course, I thought this would be an amazing experience and set about talking Matt into one night in a castle. He could see my mind was set on being a princess for one night, so we made our reservations. Up to this point, we had stayed at some amazing B&Bs in England, but now we were off to be royalty!

First, on our way we would be passing a historic site that Matt wanted to see: Hadrian’s Wall. I hate to admit that I didn’t remember what exactly this was. But we stopped and enjoyed walking on this ancient wall that was built to separate the Roman empire from the barbarians on the other side. This 120 mile long wall was built in AD 122 and yet in some areas you can still walk on it. The wall snaked its way across the landscape as far as I could see.Hadrian's Wall

We enjoyed the museum at Housesteads Roman Fort. They speculate that the flooring was built upon the posts in the photo and steam was pumped under the floor for heat.Houseteads Roman Fort

This part of the wall is set high on a ridge and you can look down into the barbarian land below. We found some geocaches near the wall and then headed to our royal lodging.Gate on Hadrian's Wall

As a prince and princess, I had determined that we needed to stay in the castle proper, not an out building so we had a room reserved in Langley Castle.Langley Castle

And for some reason, while making reservations, I had decided that staying in the tower would be just the thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?! We told some people as we traveled around England that we would be staying in a castle and they thought that was awesome. But when I mentioned the tower, every one of them said, “Well, I hope you get back out!” I guess the tower is not known as a good place! We arrived at the castle as weary travelers. We had been away from home for weeks and needed rest. I pictured the lush bed in our castle and was eager for a romantic, relaxing evening. I was not prepared for 101 steps to get to that bed! Sure, it makes sense that a castle might not have an elevator. But I hadn’t thought of that. I just had to laugh at myself as I lugged my bags up those steps.Castle steps

Of course, dinner was back down all those steps in the dining room.The castle dining room

I enjoyed wandering around the beautiful castle.DSC_6136 DSC_6165

Then back up the 101 steps to finally rest in that bed. But this princess was not able to enjoy her night in the castle. Due to my diet restrictions, I was sick that night. I might as well have been in a tent on the ground for as much as I enjoyed my night. This was no fault of the castle or their chef. My diet is hard to figure out and they tried their best. But this night was not what I had pictured. As I’ve said in the past, the problem with traveling is that you have to take yourself with you. No matter where I go, I still bring all my problems with me. Of course, all the princesses in towers in the past had problems too and I’ll bet they didn’t sleep well either. I was just glad to have my prince with me to comfort me and help me back down the steps in the morning. It was our last night in England and we still had some miles to travel…. with my problems in tow. I decided I’m not really princess material anyway!The tower room

Check out the previous posts about England. England 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Or you may want to start at the beginning of our adventure – in Italy! Italy 1

My Birthday, Creativity and Gasparilla State Park

Some friends tell me that they don’t want to hear about our adventures here in Florida while they are freezing back at home. But I know there are a few that love to look at photos of a warmer place during the winter. Plus, please know that I really just wish you were all down here with me! That said, I had a lovely birthday here in Sarasota. My parents treated Matt and me to the circus. At the circus

The entire show was amazing, but my favorite was watching the Wallendas perform. You may know of Nik Wallenda, the famous tight rope artist that has crossed Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. But he is part of the Flying Wallendas, an incredible family of acrobats.Wallendas

Before the circus started and during the break, videos were shown about the Wallendas including one of them performing a seven-person chair pyramid in 1962. As we watched the video, we saw one of the Wallendas falter and the whole pyramid collapse. Three people died and two were severely injured in this fall since they perform with no nets. These videos certainly had us all prepared to watch this talented family! I must admit, it was thrilling and yet utterly frightening to see them perform the seven-person chair pyramid for us. Nik’s mother, Delilah, is the one standing on the chair. That woman must be at least  in her 50’s! They asked that everyone be quiet while the Wallendas performed the pyramid and I’m sure I held my breath the whole time.The Flying Wallendas seven-person chair pyramid

The circus was a few days before my actual birthday, so my hubby took me out for dinner at Marina Jack’s. Oh, how lovely to watch the sunset over the water, birds fly and dive for fish, and dolphins swimming. And the scallop dinner was scrumptious!Marina Jack's

Most of the time we’ve been here it has been cold and rainy, but last weekend’s weather was finally the kind we came down for. It started out with a lovely sunset on Friday night which included an unusual conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars. Mars is a bit difficult to see in the photo, but it is there just up and to the right of Venus.Conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars

While searching for a new place to ride bikes, I came across Gasparilla State Park. It was an hour drive away, but so worth it!DSC_1182

We have never seen a beach with so many shells.DSC_1187

Matt went out into the water and found this shell. It was still housing a creature, so we threw it back.DSC_1181

I took a break from the treasure hunt on a bed of shells.DSC_1196

We had come here for a bike ride and so far I had been completely distracted by the shells! We did ride for 6 miles and found a geocache at the range light.DSC_1202 DSC_1203

Our trusty bikes waited for us under a palm.Our bikes

We were set to go on an adventure with my folks the next day back to Fort DeSoto. But I was in love with Gasparilla State Park! So the next day, we took Mom, Dad and our friends, Ray and Nita, back to the island. We hadn’t gotten to see the light house, but we did this time.DSC_1219

You know I love lighthouses! Well, even though this one is quite squatty, it still offered a wonderful view.DSC_1211

We all had fun shelling. Here is just a part of my treasure. I’m contemplating what crafty thing to do with them.My shells

And speaking of creativity, I’ve been busy, as usual. There was a craft/art show here in the RV park. My jewelry was well received as well as Matt and Dad’s 3D printed projects.Art show at the RV park

I finished the punch needle owl project. After looking for a frame, I ended up buying a canvas, ribbon and push pins. Instead of a $30 frame, I spent $6 and like it a whole lot better.punch needle project

After deciding NOT to bring my rug hooking materials with me on this trip, that’s all I wanted to do! So, here is a new rug project I’m working on.rug project

Finally, I’ve been loving doing the Bible Art Challenge. What a wonderful way to spend time with God and contemplate his goodness. This one is for John 3:16. I wanted to illustrate that God’s great love for all mankind led to his sacrifice for us.John 3:16

Then we studied I Corinthians 13. Here I focused on the words about true love.Love never ends

I John speaks a lot about love, especially God’s perfect love for us and how we should love each other. I have watched bluebirds and they look out for one another in such a tender way. Perfect love

So, I think we are all caught up! Today, I might make yet another trip to the craft store. I’m filled with ideas for those shells! Hope you all stay warm and happy wherever you are and remember God loves you more than you’ll ever know!  Please leave me a comment! 🙂

Fort DeSoto Park, Florida

Saturday was a sunny day here! And that has been unusual since we’ve had a lot of rain here in Florida. It’s actually pouring now. But Saturday, well that was a gloriously sunny day in the 70’s. Just perfect for exploring a new park. Fort DeSoto Park has a seven mile paved path for biking, so we packed up our beach cruisers and headed out. We needed to cross a fun bridge to get to it, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I shot this quick pic out the window.Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Look how steeply we had to climb to go over it!Sunshine Skyway Bridge, FL

We arrived in the park and immediately headed down to the beach. I’m always hoping to find pretty shells, but usually don’t find much. I’ve heard that the best finds are early in the morning. I never seem to make it to the beach then! I did find these lovelies.shells

I had never been on a beach where there were sand dollar pieces everywhere!Sand dollar pieces

And I found this shell. It was pretty and intact! But alas, someone was living in it. So, I left it.nice shell

I was surprised to see remnants of star fish too. This was an interesting beach!star fish too

We roamed around the fort area.Fort DeSoto

Then looked for some geocaches while riding bikes. I’m always on the look out for birds. This one was a new one for us, the American Oystercatcher. American Oystercatcher

I think these were willets. Their wings are so pretty!Willets

This beautiful egret was handsome in his breeding plumage.Egret

And this osprey decided to fly over with his partially eaten lunch in hand. osprey

Speaking of lunch, here was our lovely view while we ate our picnic.Picnic view

While Matt looked for another geocache, I stalked this butterfly. I forgot to bring my butterfly book, so I can’t identify it. butterfly

Off we rode to do the rest of the path. As we approached the beach, I said, “Hey, these bikes are called beach cruisers and we’ve never ridden them on the beach.” So, on the beach, right next to the water we went. It was fun! But there were many broken shell pieces and so my idea was not a good one. Soon, I heard a strange hissing coming from Matt’s bike. We were two miles away from the truck, but Matt didn’t mind pushing it back.Ooops

We left the park and found a bike shop in St Petersburg to get a new inner tube. I had often heard how lovely the beach was there, so we headed over for an hour.St Pete's Beach

It was a lovely beach and a happening place too. But, Fort DeSoto park was more our speed. I’m sure we’ll be heading back there!Janine at the beach

My Favorite Place in England: England 6

Are you ready for some gorgeous green scenery?! I still haven’t written about the place I loved the most in England, the Lake District. This is a tough one to write because I have too many beautiful photos of the area and want to include them all. Ever since I saw the movie, Miss Potter, I ached to go to the Lake District. The movie was great, but the extra content showed that Beatrix Potter bought lots of land and then turned it over to the National Trust so that it would stay untouched and available to all. The video showed lovely rolling hills, lakes and quaint villages. I thought I’d never get there. But, you know, we just don’t have a clue what God has in store for us! I’m still amazed that I was able to go to this wonderful piece of God’s creation! Since Beatrix Potter was my inspiration for going to the area, I wanted to view her home in Near Sawrey. Would I find the area as lovely as I anticipated? Would Beatrix’s home town be as inspiring to me as it was to her? I just had to go and find out!

Of course, I looked for the best B&B in the area and was able to get a room! Buckle Yeat Guest House

Buckle Yeat Guest House was amazing! This 17th century cottage is right next to Beatrix Potter’s house and is warm and cozy with a fire blazing in the fireplace. The hosts, Robert and Helen Kirby are friendly and knowledgeable. We had such a lovely time visiting with them.Robert and Helen Kirby of Buckle Yeat Guest House

Just look at this beautiful breakfast! And it tasted as good as it looked. We were actually eating the same bacon that the Queen of England enjoys. Not many places can brag of that. Breakfast at Buckle Yeat

But as magical as Buckle Yeat is, I just had to explore some more. First on the list was the home of Beatrix Potter. As an artist myself, I have been fascinated by her art with her endearing clothed animals. Somehow, Beatrix captured realistic features of the animals and yet gave each character human qualities too. Beatrix was more than just an author of children’s books. She studied nature and wrote scholarly articles with detailed illustrations. I own a large book filled with her art. It was thrilling to see the home and countryside that inspired such creativity. Hilltop, her home, was right behind our B&B.Beatrix Potter's Hilltop

We were not allowed to take photos in her home, which was a bit disappointing since that is a way that I enjoy things. But I still have pictures in my mind of the simple perfection of the place. After growing up in London, Beatrix was ready for the simplicity of the country. Her home and village were quiet inspirations to her. In fact, as you wander through her home, Hilltop, books from her Peter Rabbit series were scattered about. Each was open to a page and upon inspection, it was evident that the drawing on the page included something from the room. One book had an animal cooking at the stove from Hilltop. Another illustration included the bannister from her stairs. It was fascinating to see! I have often heard that a good writer is one that writes from personal experience. Well, I was beginning to think that lovely art is from experience too. Miss Potter’s book, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, includes a page that shows a path winding up a hill. A page from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers

As I looked out the window of her home, I could see that same windy path.Near Sawrey

Even though, I couldn’t take photos, I found this painting in Buckle Yeat that showed Beatrix’s kitchen. I wish I knew the artist so I could give credit where it is due!A painting of the kitchen in Hilltop

I so enjoyed my visit to Hilltop. And found a treasure in the gift shop, a book called, “Walking with Beatrix Potter”. Book of walks with Beatrix Potter

Exploring the area was just what I wanted to do and what better way than to take walks that Beatrix Potter would have taken? This little gem was full of maps and instructions for taking the public footpaths near her home. She often would walk, ponder, draw and write. It seemed right to take walk number one, a 3 mile walk named “Beatrix Potter’s Heartland”. We followed instructions from the book such as, “Go through a kissing gate” and “In a short distance go through a gate, reaching a permissive path, which soon becomes a boardwalk over muddy ground.” The permissive path

It WAS muddy. And it was good we had the written instructions as well as the drawn maps. Matt found a geocache near a lovely lake, or as they call it, tarn. This was at Moss Eccles Tarn.Geocache at Moss Eccles Tarn

Here are some of the lovely views we had on walk #1.DSC_5591 2 DSC_5613 2 DSC_5623 2 DSC_5620 2 DSC_5655 2 DSC_5661 2 DSC_5665 2 DSC_5673 2 DSC_5681 2

We had had a full day and needed dinner. What better place than the pub right next to Hilltop and Buckle Yeat?Tower Bank Arms

Tower Bank Arms is featured in Beatrix Potter’s book, The Tales Of Jemima Puddleduck. Even though it was chilly outside, this busy pub was cozy with it’s blazing fire. Fireplace at the Tower Bank Arms

We enjoyed the scrumptious food and made friends too! Paul, Sarah and baby Emily sat at the table next to us by the fire and excitedly told us of their holiday plans. They were knowledgeable of the area and suggested many places to hike.Our English friends

What an amazing day! I was glad to have such a wonderful place to sleep that night. Buckle Yeat was all I dreamed of for a B&B in England, quaint and yet comfortable. We sat by the fire in the lounge and planned and dreamed our next day in the Lake District. Sleep was sweet in the Lake District!

Check out the previous posts about England. England 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Or you may want to start at the beginning of our adventure – in Italy! Italy 1