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

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

Wisconsin’s Beautiful Rocks

For some reason, I’ve never really heard much about Wisconsin, well, except cheese. And I admit that I have a limited experience here, but I’ve been impressed with Wisconsin’s rocks. Our first stop was Pewits Nest, a 40 foot gorge formed by a glacier in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  It was challenging figuring out which path to take to get to the gorge.Which path to take?

We did indeed find it. There were many steep drop offs but here we could catch a picture. Pewits Nest, Baraboo, WI

The next day, we were off to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin’s largest state park. We had only two hours of daylight left since we were visiting it at the end of a work day. The lake was beautiful and many people were enjoying the beach.Devil's Lake, WI

In the hills surrounding the lake, there were many trails. We could have easily spent a week there exploring. But since we were fighting the clock, we chose to walk on the Tumbled Rocks path. This path took us along the lake’s shoreline that was covered with huge boulders of pink, lavender and red Baraboo quartzite. What lovely colors!Baraboo Quartzite at Devil's Lake

As I post photos of our walks, you’ll see that Matt is usually ahead of me. I often have a difficult time keeping up with my energetic tour guide! And if you are wondering what is in the ubiquitous backpack, well this sweet man carries water, snacks, extra camera lenses, tissues, flashlight, bug spray and anything else I decide I need. Aren’t I spoiled?!

It was finally a day off from work! And I knew just where to go, Wisconsin Dells. This area along the Wisconsin River is, again, lined with beautiful rock formations that are best viewed from a boat. We toured the Upper Dells.Upper Dells

Our tour guide regaled us with stories of Indians, loggers and thrill seekers. Each rock formation had a name and story.DSC_8045 2

I asked a fellow passenger to snap our pic.Matt and Janine enjoying Wisconsin Dells

Our boat made two stops. The first was at Witches Gulch which had fantastic rock passageways.Witches Gulch

My ever present tour guide leads me again!Matt in Witches Gulch

We then stopped at Stand Rock which had been made famous by H.H.Bennett, who was known as “the man with the camera.”Standing Rock

Bennett loved photography and set about to document the Dells. His photos made tourism in the area explode. People looked at his photos in 3D stereoscopes and determined to see the area for themselves. Bennett also invented the instant shutter and decided to show case it by photographing Stand Rock. This beautiful sandstone formation is 47 feet tall with a platform on top and was the subject of Bennett’s award winning photograph. The photo shows his son, Ashley, jumping across a chasm to the platform. Our guide told us that Ashley had to jump 17 times for his father to get the shot.Bennett's award winning shot

For awhile, tourists would come and make the same jump. This is no longer allowed but instead trained dogs make the jump for us. Here is our canine, waiting for his turn.Dog at Stand Rock

He did it and with seemingly no effort. Dog makes the jump

What a beautiful place were the Wisconsin Dells. Yes, Wisconsin is a lovely place…and not just about cheese!Beautiful colored sandstone at the Wisconsin Dells

Geocaching Old Florida

There is so much to do here in Florida! No need to ever be bored. First, I love our new site. We are in a completely different part of the large RV park, Sun-N-Fun, and at first I wasn’t sure I’d like it as well. But we are closer to a creek and wildlife comes right up to the camper. These ibises had juveniles with them.DSC_4874 2

But who wants to stay at the camper? The first night that it wasn’t raining, we decided to run out for a quick geocache. I have a facebook friend that lives about 30 miles south of Sarasota and she suggested that we try to find a micro cache that she and her family couldn’t find after about 10 attempts. Micro caches often give Matt and I a hard time and we leave disappointed. I was afraid that we wouldn’t be much help. So, as we headed down the road, I posted on her facebook timeline to wish us luck. What a surprise we had when we arrived at the coordinates. Carla and her hubby, Mike, were there to help us look! As Carla told her woes of not finding it, Matt shared stories with her of unusual finds we have encountered. As they chatted, I looked while I listened. One cache that Matt told about was an especially tricky one. It was in a small hole in the ground that was covered with a bottle cap. Our son, Philip, had found that one. Still searching, I noticed a plastic cap on the ground. Surely this one wouldn’t be the same type. But on a whim, I turned over the cap. Guess what I found!DSC_4854

Needless to say, both Carla and Matt were astonished that I had not only found the cache, but found it so quickly. I was surprised too! Usually, Matt is the one that finds the cache while I take photos or daydream. I hope Carla is still my friend. She was relieved and sort of frustrated that the cache was found. As we said our farewells, they pointed out that their car is a travel bug. See that sticker?DSC_4855 2

Our first Saturday here turned out to be a good geocaching day too. It had been raining ever since we arrived in the sunshine state. But on Saturday, even though it was cloudy, the rain was gone. Off to Myakka River State Park we went with our bicycles in the truck bed. This lovely park shows what “Old Florida” was like, untamed, wild, and features lots of biking trails. Amazingly, there are tons of geocaches along these paths. Before we could park and get out the bikes, we saw several people out along the roadway. We stopped to see what the fuss was about. Alligators!DSC_4891 2

They were huge. The longest one was probably 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. Such amazing animals. Sort of remind me of tires flattened out with legs.DSC_4896 2

They must not have been hungry as birds came very close to them and they didn’t even move. Just across the water, men were fishing for tilapia. A heron was helping them. Okay, maybe he was hoping for a scrap of bait.DSC_4900 2

Myakka’s beauty is everywhere you look.DSC_4901 2

But enough of enjoying the scenery. We were there to bike and geocache. We cycled through a green tunnel.DSC_4905 2

We did find seven geocaches during our bike ride. This was my favorite, a hole drilled into a coconut!DSC_4908 2

Riding along, we noticed some hikers heading toward us. Suddenly, they stopped and darted into the brush next to the path. Matt figured they had to be geocachers. Sure enough, when we reached where they were, we found out that this couple, Caviar42, were the ones that hid most of the caches that we were finding. It’s always fun meeting other geocachers!DSC_4911

Here is another one we found. The surrounding sure looks like “old” Florida, don’t you think?DSC_4914 2

Well, I thought I’d write about what we did on Sunday too, but another time. Hope you enjoy our geocaching adventures!