Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day Nine:
The rain finally cleared and we are ready to camp! We headed back into Yellowstone to tour and get a campsite. The campsite we picked is near Mammoth Hot Springs. After we got our site reserved we toured around the area. The Hot Springs at Mammoth are so cool. They are these bubbling pools of water and sulfur coming out of the ground. We walked the board walk around the pools and just enjoyed the sights.
Next we headed to see the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was actually quite a drive since this park is so big. We arrived to the spring area and unfortunately the air was so cold that the steam from the spring completely covered the colorful sight! Later this summer we plan to take a hike by the spring to get a view from the top of a mountain. We’ll be able to see the colors a little better too.
While we were already in that area, we decided on hitting Old Faithful. The Inn at Old Faithful has a three story entry way that is so neat. There is a giant fireplace in the middle and the whole place is built with logs. I didn’t get any pictures of it yet, the lighting could be tricky. At the Inn we got some hot chocolate to go wait for the geyser to blow. It seemed like forever until it started spurting out some water. There were several false starts and then it finally gushed out of the earth. It was spectacular! It shoots really high. I’ll get pictures next time we go. I wanted to just enjoy the sight this time.
After this we headed back to our campsite to cook dinner and just chill. We met our neighbors and shared some s’mores with them around our fire. It got really cold that night, but we survived. As long as it doesn’t rain I’ll be happy.

Day Ten:
I woke up really early this morning and made some coffee in order to warm up. It was an amazingly beautiful day! The sun was out, our camp is nestled in some mountains, birds were chirping. So amazing! Josh didn’t get up for a while, so I was able to enjoy the early morning and write in my journal. This trip is very well documented.
Once we got moving a little bit and had some breakfast we decided to hit a trail. The first trail we went on was called Bunsen Creek. It was a two mile hike up a mountain. We were both struggling to get up it. Altitude and not being in shape really made it difficult, but we pushed through! When we were close to the top we lost the trail because it was covered in snow. So we cross-countried it up to the peak. I felt all goat-like from climbing up the rocks. It was quite an experience. At the top we could see an amazing view all around us. It was so windy though, that we didn’t stay very long.
After the hike we went to a nearby picnic site and ate some lunch. Then we started toward Upper and Lower Falls. On our way there, the fatigue from our climb really hit us. I was about to fall asleep in the car. At the falls we barely made it to the look out point to see them. There was a hike to get a better view, but we definitely didn’t make it. Fortunately we are staying all summer so we can go see these things again.
At the campsite we crashed in our tent for a little while to rest. Then we just hung out at the fire until the sun went down. We played some cards and ate some dinner and of course had some more s’mores. It doesn’t get dark here until about nine-thirty, so we were up for a while. The days are very long here. It’ll be really nice when we are able to hike longer trails.

Day Eleven:
This day has only started. We got up and had some coffee and decided to stay one more night at this campsite. We are currently doing some laundry in Gardiner (the town right outside the North entrance to the park). They have showers here too. We were both getting a little ripe!
We aren’t quite sure what we are going to do today, wherever the wind blows, I guess. Both of us are worn out from traveling and are ready to get settled in our room and start working. But we will make it work out. The campsites here are nice and it’s a beautiful place to be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day Seven:

Leaving Buffalo…we started across Wyoming. This state has a very diverse landscape! We did lots of driving and it kept getting colder! We reached the Big Horn mountain range and the peaks were covered in snow. The mountains were beautiful. When we first laid eyes on the peaks ahead we were ecstatic.

After lots more driving we finally hit Cody, WY. Its a nice little mountain town at the base of another mountain range. We were finally getting close to Yellowstone! After stopping to buy me some pants we started down the road again.

Finally we arrived at Yellowstone! The moment was glorious. We went in the Park and started driving around. We didn’t get to see much of it because it is so big. Josh took us to the place where we will be working to check it out. The actual Lodge where we are both stationed is still closed. It won’t open for another week.

We were both surprised as to how cold it still was. It started snowing while we were there and we learned that there was only one campground open. We suddenly realized that we had no place to stay! We checked with the personnel staff to see if we could rent a dorm room for the night until we figured out what to do. But sadly the answer was no.

After evaluating the situation and checking the forecast of upcoming snow and lows in the twenties, we headed for Bozeman, MT. We weren’t sure where exactly we were going to stay, but heard there was a hostel in the area. Our drive there took us through more of the Park and through more beautiful mountain valleys. It was definitely a nice drive.

Bozeman is a sweet mountain, hippie town. We loved it! We found the Bozeman Backpackers Hostel near Main St. As soon as we entered the house we were greeted by other fellow travelers. It was so cool. A few of the people there were from Moldova ( a small country between Romania and Ukraine.). And another guy from Australia and from other places too.

That night we tried a local pizza place and it was better than MPC. (If you don’t know Memphis Pizza CafĂ© is our all time favorite pizza place.) We were surprised to find a place that had a better taste! When we got back to the hostel we hung out and shared adventure stories and plans. It was really awesome.

Day Eight:

This morning we woke up and shared a big breakfast with all the other hostelers. It was fun to keep sharing stories and getting to know others. After breakfast we headed to check out some local thrift stores. It was neat to cruise around Bozeman and check stuff out. We also had to make a plan for our next move.

The weather forecast put camping out of the picture. Cold we could probably handle but the wet, rainy cold would not be fun. So, we decided on a Hot Springs Resort nearby. We are currently sitting in a small library at this resort. The place is really nice. (and inexpensive!)

Josh and I are both so worn out from traveling and from the altitude. We jumped in the hot spring pool a little while ago and it felt nice. Now we are just chillin’. We don’t really have a plan for our next move yet. We have a few possibilities floating around. Just part of the adventure!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Day Six (part 2):

Alrighty! After we left Starbucks in Rapid City, we went to the (Free!) Dinosaur Park. Honestly it was pretty lame. But of course we got a few pics ‘cause dinos are our thing.

The next stop on the list was Sturgis, SD. This is the location of a giant motorcycle rally. Every summer over 300,000 bikers meet there for races, showing off their bikes and touring the Black Hills. The town was quiet this time of year, but it was really clean and fun to visit. While we were there we did some laundry. Josh’s socks were pretty smelly! And my jeans were about to stand up on their own. Ha!

After this Sturgis, we headed to Deadwood. This is where a lot of old western outlaws hung out and got their names. Now it’s turned into a gaming town, so we didn’t stay. Our next plan was to go to Keyhole State Park in Wyoming. But as we saw the clouds rolling in and heard the weather report we changed our plan. We went up to Devil’s Tower just north of Sundance, WY. This monument blows my mind! It’s this giant rock jutting straight up from the earth with ridges on the sides and a flat top. We didn’t go into the park, but got a bunch of pictures.

The clouds kept rolling in and we really didn’t want to spend another night in the car, so we decided to push on a ways and hit a cheap motel. Currently we are at the Wyoming Motel in Buffalo, WY. Its not too shabby and we get a bed. The tent is hanging up in the shower to dry a little better and we are relaxing. Tomorrow we will reach Yellowstone!!! Yay!!! We will most likely just pass through and get to Grand Teton National Park. We want to spend the next week in that area, hiking and playing and camping. I may not be able to access the internet for another week…so I’m going to leave you in suspense!!
Day Five:
This day started as we drove through and took more pictures of the Badlands. We wanted to spend more time here, but as we looked around we realized there really wasn’t that much hiking or exploring to do there. So we moved on to Rapid City.
On our drive we stopped at Wall, SD. Here is the famous Wall Drug Store. This little drug store turned into a little mini-mall, after it was saved from bankruptcy during the Great Depression. The original owners offered free ice water to travelers that were weary from going through the prairie. We didn’t get any water, but they did have five cent coffee available! Not a bad cup either.
From there we drove on and hit Rapid City. We didn’t hit anything this day, but drove on to see Mt. Rushmore. That is quite an amazing monument! The little museum underneath it was really well done too. We learned about the sculptor and the methods he used to carve the faces in the wall. And if anyone wonders the face on the mountain are Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln. (we were trying to remember on the way there)
After we left the monument we headed into the Black Hills National Forest. I think this was the prettiest place we’ve seen so far. The hills are beautiful and there are amazing rock formations. We went to Custer State Park to camp. We were all ready with supplies to cook out and make s’mores and everything…and then came the rain! As we were working on building the fire, it started sprinkling. We put all the supplies, except the tent into the car before it started raining harder. Once it really started coming down we got in the car. The lightning was crazy and the thunder was loud and it started hailing! I was really starting to freak out. It blew over fairly quickly, so we checked out the tent. Amazingly it stayed dry! We crawled in to sleep and Josh was knocked out. A few hours later I heard the thunder start up again. The rain isn’t too much of a problem, but the lightning is not safe! So we spent a very uncomfortable night in the car. We survived though. The tent is wet, but we’ll let it air dry at our next spot.

Day Six (part 1):
After our stormy night, we woke up, and got free pancakes at the lodge! Yay! That made up for the lack of sleep. All part of the journey.  On our way out of Custer State Park we went though the Needles. That is a really amazing layout of rocks in the mountains here. God’s creation just blows my mind. And there’s more to come! I can’t believe how blessed we are to take this trip!
Right now we are at a Starbucks in Rapid City. (wi-fi is hard to find around here!) We have some plans for the rest of the day, but I’ll reveal that on our next post. I’m not sure when we will be able to connect again. Hopefully when we get to Cody, WY. Until then, thank you for your prayers! The adventures continue!
Day Three:
This day was filled with driving! We left St. Louis early and headed on toward Kansas City. Nothing at all on the roads to talk about. We passed through KC and arrived at a little state park in Iowa. It was truly in the middle corn fields.

Day Four:
Another long day of driving. We went though Souix City, IA and then through Souix Falls, SD. In South Dakota we started the drive through a lot of open prairie. It was beautiful in its own unique way.
We did get on stop in Mitchell, SD at the Corn Palace. It was an extremely corny tourist spot, but we had to do it! After a quick stop there and few pictures we hit the road again.
Somewhere in the middle of SD we found an 1880’s town. All the buildings are recovered originals from the time period. Each of the buildings were filled with relics from the olden days. We were really impressed with the vastness of this little town. It felt like we stepped back in time.
We wrapped up the driving with arriving at the Badlands. Its hard to describe the looks of this place. The land is eroded to create pinnacles and plateaus and an empty beauty. We camped at the park in an open prairie area. It was really windy, but the sunset was amazing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Adventure Begins!

The Great Adventure!

Day One:
Our adventure has started! We left not too early from my parent’s house in Germantown, TN. It was one of the most thrilling feeling to drive over the bridge and leave Memphis! We need a break. For sure.
Our drive took us up to Sikeston to visit Josh’s Grandma. We stayed and visited for a bit, then headed down the road. We arrived in St.Louis at Uncle Mike’s and Aunt Kim’s. They kindly allowed us to crash on the couch. Thank you!

Day Two:
This day has truly started our adventures. The first stop of the day is at the St. Louis Zoo. (which is FREE!) There are so many interesting animals on this planet! Unfortunately seeing them in such an enclose place is a little sad. The monkeys were going in circles and we both agreed that they needed more space to run around in.
The second stop of the day was the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Talk about an amazingly awesome place! The tour was FREE! We got to see the aging tanks, the mashing tanks, the brewing pots and the bottling lines. The lines can fill up to 1300 bottles per minute. They were cruising! Plus at the end of the tour we got to “sample” any of their beers.  Josh was very happy about this tour. I certainly enjoyed it very much as well.
After I got a little tipsy on two small glasses of beer (I can’t handle anything!), we went to see the Gateway Arch. That thing is huge! We laid down in the middle of the grass underneath it. It was pretty neat to see the perspective against the clouds.
Later today we are planning to meet my brother Kyle and his girlfriend for dinner. Its going to be a nice little detour to visit to Edwardsville, IL. Yay for randomness!