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

Where is the Amalfi Coast?: Italy 4

I’ve always heard that the Amalfi Coast is not something to miss. Well, we missed it the last time we came to Italy. Instead we went to see Herculaneum which was intriguing. I was determined that this time we would not miss the Amalfi Coast.

Wouldn’t you know that the one day set aside for sightseeing, it was once again rainy. We didn’t care. We had our raincoats and umbrella and set off.  Folks from where Matt worked in Naples suggested how to drive along the Amalfi coast. Plus, we had the information from our tour book and our hostess at the agriturismo drew out a map and directions. We set some information into our GPS and took off.

I’m not sure we ever did see what people call the Amalfi Coast drive.  Matt followed our GPS and we ended up in some very interesting places. Suddenly we were taken down a one lane path. I don’t think we were even supposed to be in the little town of Pietre. I was beginning to see a theme develop for our trip….getting lost.DSC_2330

In the village of Figlino, we were following the GPS and she told us to go down an extremely narrow street. Matt gave it a go, but we were part way through these tunnels and had to back up. We definitely were NOT going to fit. The clutch got quite a work out as he backed up, uphill, without any mirrors. We had pulled them in to fit through the tunnel. That poor clutch smelled pretty bad by the time we got out of there.DSC_2336 2

By now our good mood was wearing a bit thin. I was determined to enjoy whatever this day presented, but…where was the Amalfi coast?! After much discussion, we got turned around and finally found the road that the tour book mentioned. The drive along the coast really would have been beautiful on a clear day, but it was foggy and looking pretty stormy.DSC_2337 2

One of my desires for this trip was to purchase some Italian pottery. Two years ago when we were here, I had enjoyed looking at it, but resisted buying any. Ever since then, I had wished that I had gotten a souvenir of pottery. We were told by many that Ravello was not only a beautiful town near the Amalfi Coast, but also a wonderful place for purchasing pottery.DSC_4105 2

We headed back up the mountain to find some pottery. Ravello was beautiful and we strolled around this town even though it was drizzling.  I did find just what I wanted, a bottle for olive oil. Suddenly, the clouds let loose and it poured.  I was seeing another theme of this trip…getting soaked.DSC_2358 2

DSC_2349We gave up and headed back to the agriturismo. This was the second time that we attempted to dry our shoes with a blow dryer. I wished I had brought some warmer clothes. It was only 8°. Well, that was Celsius.  But still, 46° F did not feel very warm while soaked. Thankfully, we were dry and warm by the time to eat dinner at 8 pm. It still amazes me how late the Italians eat dinner! We had the fun of eating with a fellow boarder, Vig. He was from England and enjoyed giving us advice on our upcoming adventure there.

But first we had three more stops in Italy. The next day we told our hostess, Siska, that we planned to head to San Miniato which was 450km away, a 5 hour drive. She acted surprised that we didn’t mind driving that far in one day. It made me wonder how often Italians drove to other areas. Were they as mobile as we Americans? We headed off, but decided to stop at a place that Vig had said was not to miss…. Montecassino.

As we drove along, we saw one village on top of a hill after another. Each one had something that looked like a castle. It’s funny, I had always thought of England whenever I thought of castles. But there are a ton of them in Italy!  Matt drove and I kept pointing out castle after castle. Suddenly, a mountain loomed in front of us, huge and covered in snow. In front of it there was a lower mountain with a large structure on it. I at first thought it was another city on a hill with a castle, but it looked larger and more interesting. It was Montecassino!DSC_2380

This abbey, just southeast of Rome, was originally built in 529 but has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The last time was after being bombed during WWII. It is a beautiful reconstruction. I especially enjoyed the mosaics in the crypt. Our friend, Vig, said he had never seen so much gold and it was really beautiful.DSC_2417 2

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DSC_2440 2Our stop was not long and we continued on towards San Miniato.  The scenery changed from mountains to rolling hills. We passed a factory for PRADA and later Gucci.  It seemed strange to fly by Rome and not stop. There was no time during this trip and I was thankful that I had seen it in the last trip.DSC_4535

And finally we arrived in Tuscany. All we needed to do was find our next agriturismo. I had endeavored to find ones that were interesting and yet would be fairly close to where Matt needed to work. As we wound far up a mountain, I was confused. This would not be an easy commute for him. I began apologizing. Even though he said it would be okay, I felt badly. It was a beautiful mountain with wonderful scenery, but we could not find Agriturismo Settesoldi. We found a different agriturismo and we thought about just staying there. But we had reservations at Settesoldi and I wanted to meet the people there. The host, Sergio, had been interesting in the emails during the reservation process.  Matt looked at the GPS and found that we were headed for coordinates, not an address. We put in the address and found that we needed to travel an extra hour…down this mountain, through the valley and up a different mountain. Once again, lost. Finally, we found Sergio, on a tractor, on a one lane dirt road. What a relief! And glad to see our next new bed.DSC_2470

See the next part of the trip: Italy 5

Don’t miss the rest of our adventure: Italy 1, Italy 2, Italy 3

The Flume and Old Man

Now that the holidays are over, I think it’s time to finish writing about our trip to the New England states. We visited two more interesting sites in New Hampshire. Both showed the ravages of time and weather.Entrance to the Flume Gorge

We had to stop at the Flume Gorge because I had seen photos that my friend, Patti, took while there. So beautiful! And it was!DSC_8863

The flume was formed years ago with granite walls, but then molten lava pushed up and filled in some areas. It’s a lovely treasure that was first discovered in 1808 by 93 year old Jess Guernsey. No one believed her at first, but she finally convinced others to come to see the beauty. Folks have been coming ever since.DSC_8867

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The visitor center showed photos of times past. There used to be a huge egg shaped boulder hung suspended between the walls. It fell during a storm in 1883. They still point out a portion of the rock. The walk through the gorge and back was two miles of high walls, water, moss, bridges and waterfalls. Just gorgeous.

A visit to New Hampshire wouldn’t be complete without visiting the state’s emblem, right? I had heard of the Old Man of the Mountain especially in 2000 when the state quarter for New Hampshire featured his profile. This Old Man first became famous because of Daniel Webster who once wrote,  “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.” Isn’t that cool?! Who wouldn’t want to see this Old Man of the Mountain. But unfortunately, time and weather had struck again. In 2003, the formation that had been the state emblem since 1945, collapsed to the ground. It made me sad to learn this and I’m not even from New Hampshire. The natives of the state were dismayed and often left flowers at the base of the cliffs. Nine years after the collapse, a memorial was opened to the Old Man.DSC_8977 2

It was quite a unique memorial. Stones on the ground marked where you should stand based on your height. Then if you looked towards Cannon Mountain a steel sculpture allows you to view what the Old Man looked like while still in all his glory.DSC_8975 2

I was intrigued with the steel sculptures on the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza but so disappointed that the real man wasn’t there anymore. Just one more reminder that things are always changing. I’d like to think that something as long standing as a state emblem would last, but it didn’t. One more reminder to enjoy the beauty of the moment and the things that are here…now…before time, weather or whatever takes them away.

Color on Mount Washington

How did I not know about the White Mountains in New Hampshire? I’m a mountain girl. Just love them. So, when my friend, Patti, posted beautiful photos of mountains in New Hampshire I knew I had to go there. Since we were already going north to Maine, we decided to go ahead and stop in New Hampshire. Besides, Matt needed geocaches in that state too. The drive from Bar Harbor to Shelburne, New Hampshire went great. I was thankful that we hadn’t run into any moose. The signs along the way were quite startling.DSC_8608 2

I kept wondering, “Who wouldn’t brake for a moose?” I pictured someone saying, “Wow! A moose! Let’s hit it!” Well, we arrived safely to our campsite at the Timberland Campground and Matt was eager to find a NH geocache. He found one right by the campground sign and relaxed in a nearby chair to sign the log book.DSC_8357 3

Oh, I laughed! He looked so funny sitting there. We strolled around the campground and by the nearby river until it was time for bed. We had plans to ascend Mount Washington the next day. I’d love to say that we now have a bumper sticker that says, “This car climbed Mt.Washington,” but Sherman was too big to be allowed up the mountain. Since I doubted that anyone would let us borrow their car, we took a guided tour in a van. As much as I would have loved to drive up ourselves, our tour guide was full of interesting information and fun too. My only wish was that we would have stopped to take photos. Instead I took some out the window. One of the people on the tour with us wondered why there wasn’t snow on Mt. Washington since it was part of the White Mountains. I thought it would be snow covered too, but our guide told us that the rock on these mountains had mica in it. This would shimmer and people called the mountains white because of the mica.  She explained that while we were there, we would see many different colors on this White Mountain. Berries were hanging in clusters.DSC_8376 2

Lower on the mountain, deciduous trees and evergreens were mixed.  The leaves were just beginning to turn lovely colors and they made the mountain look polka-dotted among the pine trees. DSC_8378 2

Our guide explained that the further we ascended, the more the landscape would change. Soon it was all evergreen trees and they became shorter and shorter.DSC_8381 2

She pointed out that then the trees would disappear. A ground cover was in bloom and she called the color moave (with a long o). I had never heard mauve pronounced that way! DSC_8388 2

Another way to enjoy Mt. Washington is to ride the Cog Railroad. As we rounded a corner, we had a lovely view of the train against the mountains.DSC_8397 2

Finally, we arrived at the top and I was able to take photos without a window in the way. We were blessed with an amazingly clear day and the view was spectacular! It was 45 degrees with wind speeds of 45 mph. There were some gusts of about 60 mph. Mt. Washington is known for dangerous weather. It’s worst recorded wind gust is 231 mph! Thankfully, it was not that way on our day there!

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At the summit, it was so barren. It almost seemed like something from outer space. Who would have guessed there would be a hotel in such a place? The Tip Top House was built in 1853 and was indeed used as a hotel. It is now a museum showing what it would have been like to stay there.

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People stay year round on the summit, but not in the Tip Top House. Someone has to man the observatory at all times. I just cannot imagine being up there in the extreme winter weather. See the green rocks? Lichen is the only thing that grows up there.

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Even on our nice day, the wind was strong enough to hold the flags straight out! And when I had Matt pose for a photo in one spot, it was difficult to stand still enough to take the shot because of gusts.

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The mountains went on and on and on…

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We watched the Cog Railroad train go back down the mountain. It was tempting to come another day and take the train. But we only had so many days and lots more to do in New Hampshire. I had heard there were some waterfalls to see! But look at all the lovely colors on the mountains.

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Mount Washington was all it was cracked up to be!

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When we came back down, we found Sherman pouting at the base of the mountain. Still wish we could have driven up the mountain ourselves. Maybe next time!

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