Hot Springs, Arkansas

A new state to add to our map!

As we were packing up to leave Hot Springs, Arkansas, I said to Matt, “It’s hard to leave. I was starting to feel settled in. I know where the laundromat is and where to shop. I found the post office. We made friends and I have a rug hooking group. It’s amazing how much can happen in a week!” Well, actually, I guess it was two weeks, but we sure did a lot! First we went into the town of Hot Springs to find out what it was all about.

Hot water bubbles through the surface of the earth. At some places it is 143 degrees! See all that steam?! Then we toured the visitor center for the national park which just happens to be in an old bath house.

The antiquated equipment was interesting and some looked downright scary! But overall, they had facilities to do the same things we do today: baths, massage, hair styling and a work out room. There were several places throughout the town where you could fill water jugs with the water. It is safe, and good, to drink. Here is Matt filling the one bottle we had with us with hot water. It was very good tasting.

The next day, we decided to see a chapel in the area. Anthony Chapel is part of the Garvan Woodland Gardens. You can visit the chapel for free and that is all we intended to do. What a gorgeous place to pray. I love windows, and this chapel was just about all windows!

We almost didn’t pay to see the gardens. I kept thinking that it couldn’t be very fun at this time of year. Surely it was best in the spring and summer when flowers would be out. But, we decided to chance it anyway and we are so glad we did.

There actually were some flowers out at Garvan Woodland Gardens. But what we enjoyed was the lovely walk in the woods. It wound beautifully around a creek and over to views of a lake.

The bridges were beautiful. The whole walk was rejuvenating.

Another day we took a drive through the Ouachita National Forest. Matt found a “drive” on the internet and we followed it’s instructions. There were supposed to be signs along the way where you could stop at interesting things. Well, the drive was great and we loved it! We had a difficult time finding most of the signs though. Later we found out that the information he had found was old and apparently not up to date. At this stop along the road, we were to observe how the earth swirled and therefore how the mountains in the area were formed. There just happened to be a geocache there too. He had to watch out for a hornets nest.

While on that drive, we found out that the area was known for quartz crystals! One of the places we stopped had us walk for a mile straight up a mountain. What a climb! It took us to a place that used to be a quartz mine and you could look for crystals. We found where people had dug and also some large rocks with quartz veins, but nothing worth keeping.

I’m glad we just made it back down the mountain. The path was rocky and we kept slipping. Thankfully, we didn’t get hurt. But I love rocks and gems. You know…jewelry maker and all… And I looked on the internet and found out there were several places to look for quartz crystals in the area. One was a mine where you could pay a fee and dig in their scrap pile all day. So, we went to Ron Coleman’s mine and dug in drizzly, 46 degree weather all day long.

At first we dug holes in the dirt and really didn’t find anything. Then I decided to start rolling over large rocks.

We found some lovely crystals and clusters!

We had lots of other pieces but settled on these few to keep with us. When we sold our house and got rid of our stuff, I had boxes of rocks to throw away that I have collected in various places. Just like Lucy in “The Long, Long Trailer.” I can’t allow myself to collect rocks again. I sure want to though.

One day while driving around, Matt said, “Wait. Arkansas. Whetstones are from Arkansas!” He loves sharpening knives and had a whetstone from Arkansas. So, I looked it up and sure enough, we were in the prime area for whetstones. There was a place only 20 minutes from us called, Dan’s Whetstone, so we drove out to it. We didn’t realize we were going to where they produced the whetstones. After speaking with the very gracious people there for awhile, they offered to take us on a tour of the facility! This saw was room sized!

Mary gave us an informative tour about how they bring the stone, novaculite, from their mine and then carefully cut, polish and grade it.

It is a major production!

The folks at Dan’s Whetstone were super nice and interested in us too. In fact, when they heard that I made jewelry, they invited us back for me to show them. They enjoyed doing their Christmas shopping and we loved visiting with them again. Several people mentioned that Arkansas was a place to mine for diamonds too. So, off we went.

People find diamonds there everyday. At least, that is what they tell me. We were faced with a huge area that is periodically tilled up. You can see here a building that was built years ago when they tried to mine the diamonds commercially. It didn’t pan out.

My husband is a very patient man and he stayed all day digging buckets of dirt, hauling it to the sluice area, using screens to rinse the dirt from the gravel and then searching the gravel for bits of diamond the size of a head of a pin.

 

No diamonds for us. Maybe if I had stayed there with him and worked all day we would have found some. I must admit to leaving him there and shopping in the town square nearby. Now that was more fun!

Just had to share this next photo. My dad’s name is Burl and you don’t find many Burls around. So when we saw this sign, we just had to stop.

It was quite the place and Matt had fun sharing stories with this character.

One more special thing happened in Hot Springs. I decided to see if there were any rug hooking shops in the are. I needed more wool! And I found Aileen Anderson of Bear Creek Studio. She invited me to her lovely home to shop. We hit it off immediately and I stayed for four hours. Such fun! Later, she invited me back for a hooking time with her gals. Aileen showed us how to make poinsettia pins.

So, yes, we loved Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it wasn’t just for the fascinating hot water seeping from the ground. No, it was for the people. I almost felt like they adopted us. And I hope we see them again!

Natural Bridge to Nashville

After leaving Ohio, we drove to Stanton, Kentucky. We’ve decided we really like that area. So beautiful and full of parks and places to hike.  We almost didn’t find a campsite in the area, but I’m so glad we did! I wanted to see the Natural Bridge. I thought that was the only “bridge” in the area, but there are several. These arches have formed naturally in the stone.

We took the original trail to the Natural bridge which is the easiest. Now don’t suppose that means it is easy! No, it was quite strenuous. I’m glad we didn’t take any of the other trails.

The beauty of the area was wonderful.

We did make it to the Natural Bridge. Fascinating!

Then we hiked to the top to walk over the bridge and view the scenery. Matt has a terrifying habit of getting close to the edge and leaning over to look down.

While in the area, we took several drives in Daniel Boone National Forest. What a beautiful place! The roads were very narrow and often dirt. It was a bit interesting driving on switchbacks in the mountains with a long bed dually truck. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much opposing traffic! We did go through a tunnel that was one lane and we barely had room for the fat back end of our truck. I think I held my breath all the way through.

We stopped at one point for Matt to climb a rock. I didn’t join him in this activity. 

One of the other arches we saw was the Rock Bridge Arch. Beautiful spot! This “bridge” is the only one with water running beneath it.

We almost hated to leave Kentucky, but knew there were more things to explore ahead of us. We decided to stop for a bit near Nashville, Tennessee. We ate at an Aquarium restaurant. I was pretty hungry.

They had some really big and interesting fish in that tank. The fish swam constantly, well, all but one that just sat on a rock the whole time. It was exhausting to watch them.

We aren’t much for cities, but I wanted to see what “Music City” was all about. A fellow RVer had told us of a good place to park where we would cross the Cumberland River over a pedestrian bridge to get into the town. We had a lovely view of the city as we crossed.

Then we walked around the streets in Nashville. We had heard that every night of the week you will hear music pouring out of restaurants and clubs. It is true! Even though it was chilly, the doors were wide open, and sometimes even the walls, with musicians right inside playing all types of music. It was a happening place.

I was really tempted to buy some boots for some strange reason.

And I had fun singing with Elvis. I had no idea he would be there!

The view was even better on the way back to the truck.

The Hermitage was something Matt was interested in seeing. It was the home of Andrew Jackson. We both realized that we didn’t know much about him. One interesting tidbit was that he fought a duel for the honor of his wife. The opponent got a shot off first and hit Jackson, but he reeled and got his shot off too, killing the other man. He lived with the bullet in him for the rest of his life. Or so the story goes…

When Matt tried using his credit card to pay to go into the Hermitage, he realized that he had left his credit card at the restaurant in downtown Nashville. So we hiked back across the bridge to get his card from the Brazilian steakhouse. He loved eating there at the churrascaria because it reminded him of mission trips to Brazil.

As we walked across the bridge this second evening to get to our truck, we passed a young man walking the other way. He looked worn out and sad but had a guitar on his back. I wondered if he had great dreams when he first came to Music City but that it wasn’t panning out for him. I couldn’t help but think he might want to spend a few days being rejuvenated by hiking in Daniel Boone National Forest. I know that’s what I prefer!

The Grand Tetons

I had heard so many things about the Grand Tetons: how beautiful they are, how much fun it is there, so many things to do. We only allowed one weekend there and were ready to explore. On Saturday, we went to the one place I had heard the most about, the Chapel of the Transfiguration

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Even though it looked lovely nestled below the mountains, an inside window allows a glorious view of the majestic creation of God while you pray.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There are over 200 miles of trails in those gorgeous mountains and I would have liked to hike about a bit. But I was exhausted from Yellowstone National Park and so we drove to various spots around the mountain loop.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I was interested to see this sign about Ansel Adams at one pull off. Seeing his dramatic black and white photos of some national parks was one of the things that urged me to visit the parks for myself.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It’s not possible to get the same shot that he did because of tree growth.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

At one spot, we saw a mother moose with her baby. It was one baby I hadn’t seen yet on this westward trip!

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There are a couple of barns along the drive that are famous photo spots. Of course, they are best in the morning light. Why are all the best photos early in the morning?! lol. But I did the best with the lighting I had…along with some post processing to lighten up the barn which by this time was in shadow.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

This was a new duck sighting for Matt and me. I still don’t know what it is since we seem to have lost our bird book.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Beauty was at every turn.

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I was a bit disappointed that we only had one more day there and that day it rained. I never got to see the mountains with white puffy clouds behind them. But with all the gorgeous weather we had had thus far on our trip, I couldn’t complain. Besides, I still felt that I needed time to process all I had seen in Yellowstone. We enjoyed our day of rest as we camped near the Tetons which were enshrouded in clouds. We’ll just have to visit the famous mountains for hiking another time!

Grand Tetons photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

See more posts about our Great Westward Trip! Starting on the trip, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower, Yellowstone- Day One, Yellowstone- Dangerous Beauty

Yellowstone: Dangerous Beauty

After being at Yellowstone National Park, I feel like I should have a T-shirt that says, “I survived Yellowstone.” I might have gotten one if I had seen one. Hmmmm….maybe I should market that. Our first national park is a place of intense, alluring beauty and yet full of natural dangers. Our second day at Yellowstone just happened to be our 33rd wedding anniversary and we set out with anticipation and carefulness. (You can read about our first day here.) Such gorgeous scenery.

.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Since we were there in early June, there was still snow on the mountains. We commented on their beauty, not realizing that the road would take us right up to it. We couldn’t resist stopping and throwing snow at each other on our anniversary.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Here’s Sherman (our trusty truck)  in the beautiful surroundings.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We stopped for our picnic lunch high along the Washburn Range. It really looked like a scene from The Sound of Music.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Tiny wildflowers grew in this high altitude.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I told Matt that I wished we had a photo of us eating our lunch while looking out at the mountains. It took several tries, but he got a selfie from behind us!

Yellowstone National Park photo by Matt Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our next stop was Upper and Lower Falls along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Each place we went to had warning signs. I felt either brave or foolish to continue walking.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We saw this rainbow against the canyon wall near the Upper Falls.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The Lower Falls are the famous ones and I could see why. How amazing!

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Just a perfect place for an anniversary pic. I had learned from the previous afternoon that the sun is fierce at Yellowstone. Time for my adventure hat.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It was the middle of the day and the lighting wasn’t that great for a photo. I hoped that on one of Matt’s vacation days that we could come back to see the falls in the morning light. Still pretty in the middle of the day though.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We headed further to drive around Yellowstone Lake. Gorgeous reflections.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Even along the lake, there would be a random steam vent. Constant reminders of the volcano just waiting to erupt again.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Dragon’s mouth, a belching, spewing cave was another example of dangerous beauty.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It’s a long drive around Yellowstone and we did a lot of it that day. We headed home, exhausted and yet ready for more. We stopped once more and saw this raven’s nest. Babies were everywhere in the park in early June.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The next day, we set out with the purpose of seeing animals. We heard there were wolf pups to be seen but that you had to get there early. We got up early and to the sighting spot at 7:00 after having to drive an hour to get there. Lots of people were there, but they were starting to leave. “You just missed them by about 15 minutes,” someone said to us. The pups had gone back into the den and were resting. We thought maybe they would take a short nap and we waited…and waited. At one point, a man said, “There are a couple of buffalo heading our way. We should probably make our way slowly to a different spot.” Sure enough, there were two beasts lumbering towards the group. The man continued, “I don’t think they will be any problem, especially if no one is wearing red.” I looked at Matt. He was wearing red! Oh no. I thought of my parents’ parrot who hates the color red and will attack it. I thought I’d offer Matt my jacket to cover his red shirt. That’s when I realized I had a red shirt on too! Yikes! Then the man and Matt both laughed. It was a joke. Hmmmm… not very nice with all the signs around warning of buffalo attacks. After waiting a long time, I convinced Matt that maybe we should move on and see what other animals might be out in Lamar Valley. I loved the lighting on these bison with their young.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Many times as we progressed on the Lamar Valley road, there were traffic jams as people stopped to view animals in the distance. They had high powered scopes and would point off in the distance explaining that a tiny dot was a wolf or bear. We were glad we had our binoculars, but most of the time the dots still looked pretty much like dots to me. Once I even had the opportunity to look through one of the scopes and it still looked like a dot, but moved a bit. My camera equipment was sorely lacking for such a time. But I did see this wolf and got this shot.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We continued on the drive and were almost to the northeast entrance to the park. As we followed another pick up truck, it suddenly pulled to a stop. They excitedly told us there was a moose to be seen. I expected another dot on the hillside, but this one was easily seen. What a beauty and my first sighting of a moose.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

After turning around at the gate and heading though the valley again, I admitted to being a bit frustrated with looking at dots in the distance. “Please, let’s not stop anymore where people are with scopes. I want to see Old Faithful. Of course, I’ve never seen a grizzly. That’s they only thing I want to stop for.” I truly didn’t think we would see one. It was the heat of the day now. As we passed another group stopped along the road, we slowed and asked what they were looking at. You guessed it… grizzly.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I admit it was a thrill to think that powerful beast was in the same general area as I was. I took the photo of the mom and her cubs from the safely of our truck. We made our way to Old Faithful and got there just before it blew.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Here we are after it was done. Notice our red shirts. lolYellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There was a lovely sunset to end the day.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Matt had to work a few days and then we had two vacation days. First we decided to go to Norris Geyser Basin. It was said to be the hottest and most dangerous part of the park. As we drove there (there is a lot of driving to be done in such a large park), we were stopped in a traffic jam. Matt stayed with the truck and I walked to the front to see what was going on. I got there just in time to see a grizzly mother walk across the road with her cubs. There were rangers there keeping people back, but it still seemed too close for comfort. I snatched a quick pic and ran back to the truck

.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We got to the Norris Geyser Basin and were surprised to see many emergency vehicles there. We didn’t know why and tried to get the information from the woman who worked in the bookstore. She said, “I can’t tell you anything. But maybe there is something on the internet.” We kept going and I saw this equipment along the way. A reminder of the danger of the place.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There were signs everywhere stating that the ground was not stable and to stay on the boardwalks. The warnings were dire of burning or death and showed illustrations of a boy falling in. There was no way I would veer off of the path. Here Matt looked over the Porcelain Basin. The earth was steaming and bubbling all over the place.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I heard one person say, “There is no way I’m walking down in that basin.” And I suppose that would have been the safest, but we walked on down, staying on the boardwalk.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The entire time, I was nervous about falling off the boardwalk. So, I stayed in the center. The bubbling earth had a strange beauty.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

In one way, I could almost imagine why someone would walk off the boardwalk. That beauty was enticing. And I watched amazed at how people would do almost anything to get a selfie. You know I love photography. But it is dangerous. As soon as that camera gets in front of my face, I lose what my son calls, “situational awareness.” I’ve been known to start backing out into a road while trying to get a good shot. Thankfully, Matt is always there and he knows to watch for me. And since I know this about myself, I am more aware too. But truly, I was in no way tempted to walk off that boardwalk. Later, we found out that a young man had done just that the day before. His body could not be recovered after he broke through the thin crust and fell into boiling acidic water. I’m glad that I didn’t know that while we were there. Instead, I just stayed where I was supposed to be and looked with awe at the terrifyingly beautiful sights.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

After leaving the hot geyser area, I was happy to put my tired feet into the Nez Perce Creek.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We drove on and ate our picnic dinner next to this sign.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There were more fantastic sights along Firehole Lake Drive.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It was time for the drive back to our camper. But first we stopped where others were looking at a dot on the hill. Matt shot this quick photo before I got out of the truck. Our first sighting of a mountain goat.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Before we knew it, people gathered around Matt asking what he was looking at. Of course, by this time, the goat had laid down and was a tiny white dot. Matt patiently described where to look and helped others look through the binoculars for quite some time. I jokingly told him later that when he retires, he should become a tour guide at some park and I could make art and sell it. Actually, it’s not a bad plan!

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

To end the first vacation day, Matt wanted to take a side road back.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We learned that it was the original road to and from the first entrance of the park.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I thought about all the stagecoaches that jarred along this road. It would have taken a lot longer to explore the massive park on this kind of road.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Matt had one more day of vacation for us to spend in Yellowstone. I determined that I wanted to see the Lower Falls in the morning. I had read that if you got there at the right time, you could see a rainbow at the falls. Another early start and long drive got us there to see people lined up with cameras on tripods. Matt wondered if we missed it, but my theory was that since they were still there, we had a chance. After about 5 minutes, the colors emerged.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I still get excited thinking about witnessing such a gift from God.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We did a lot of hiking that day with elevation changes. Our last one was the Hellroaring trail that took us down to a suspension bridge.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I was thankful that it was a downhill hike to get to the swaying bridge across the roaring creek.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Unfortunately, it was all uphill on the way back! Flowers and animals got my mind off the steep climb back.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our time at Yellowstone was over. My mind was overwhelmed by the startling beauty of the place. It made me realize that this planet that I sometimes take for granted is an amazing work of God. I’m thankful that most of the time I’m not even aware of the dangerous state of nature. Instead, I enjoy the beauty and leave managing the planet to the Creator! Did I like Yellowstone? Oh yes!

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Immediately, we were greeted with gorgeous scenery.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

And a coyote eating lunch.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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

Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

We saw many deer and prairie dogs. DSC_8874 2

DSC_8862 2

Here is the tower in the evening light.

Devils Tower WY Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

More Matt and Janine adventures to come!!

Matt and Janine at Devils Tower WY www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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

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

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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

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 www.joyfulwonder.com

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