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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Our Adventures in Yellowstone

What words can I possibly use to describe Yellowstone? The most incredible place I have ever seen. An absolute wonderland of mountains, plains, hydro-thermal features and wildlife. I feel like there is so much that could be said about this natural Wonderland. I could talk about the debate on conservation (I can see both sides after visiting this park and experiencing both the wonders of the earth and the restrictions on visitors), I could talk about the absurdity of those who choose to endanger their lives to get an up close encounter with a wild animal or get too close to a hydro thermal feature. Really, I could say an awful lot about Yellowstone, but I will mostly say that we loved it.


Yellowstone - June 2016
Setting up camp at Madison campground

We spent three nights camping there, one on the West side of the park at Madison Campground and two in the east at Fishing Bridge RV campground. The second spot was restricted solely to hard-sided camping vehicles (no tents or tent trailers) as the area is frequented by bears. Did I luck out to see a bear? Nope... still no bears. 

After setting up camp on our first day we headed straight south to see Old Faithful. Our timing was pretty impeccable and we only had to wait about 20 minutes to see the geyser erupt. I think it was a little anti-climactic for Halle who of course doesn't understand all of the science behind it, or the fact that they can predict it's eruptions to within 20 minutes. For us, I felt pretty thankful to be there as we were sat next to a couple in their 80's who were just visiting the park together for the very first time. If we hadn't taken this opportunity to travel, who knows if or when we would have witnessed this majestic place.


Yellowstone - June 2016
Waiting patiently for Old Faithful to erupt

After leaving Old Faithful Village, we began driving back towards our campground stopping as often as we could to check out the different hydrothermal features. Though I had some idea of what to expect here after doing research on Yellowstone, no words could ever accurately prepare you to see everything first hand. The steaming pools of water and the vibrant colours created by different bacteria and organisms. As I said to Brett one afternoon, Yellowstone is a nature lover's amusement park!


Yellowstone - June 2016Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

We ambled along boardwalks staring into "stink water" as Halle liked to call it (many of the features smell of sulfur), but I was most taken by the colours that appeared in the hot pools of water. The sounds and the sites were like nothing I had ever experienced. What we were most in awe of was the fact that we were standing inside of a Volcano! If you're not familiar with the history of the park, Yellowstone was once a supervolcano that was transformed into a caldera over the course of three eruptions - the most recent taking place 630,000 years ago. Most of the southwestern area of the huge park is the massive caldera and we were constantly reminded that at any time that whole area could change drastically, taking us with it!

Some of the features Halle was more interested in than others. Of course, any that smelt of sulfur or other strong mineral odours were far less enjoyable. I totally understand, the smell of rotten eggs is not high on my list of things to endure even if a super cool hot spring or fumarole is involved. 


Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016
This picture of Halle gazing into one of the hot pools is one of my favourites from our time in Yellowstone. 

Yellowstone - June 2016Yellowstone - June 2016

I'm so happy that we had bright blue skies for most of our time in the park. The brilliance of the sky made the most perfect back drop to the green hills and the striking hydro thermal features. As we've travelled I have found a passion for capturing nature and landscapes. It may have to do with my constant and growing love of nature and the outdoors, but either way capturing the perfect landscape photo has become my mission.


Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016Yellowstone - June 2016

Yellowstone - June 2016

The textures and colours of everything make it that much more interesting. Especially once you learn that all of those shapes and colours inside of these ultra hot waters are actually living organisms. Science and Nature are surely the stars of the show in Yellowstone!

There is so much to see and do in this park that is over 2 million acres, that we barely scratched the surface. I have so much more to share, including our wildlife encounters and more of the unique features this park has to offer. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Welcome to Big Sky Country

For some reason, Montana had been one of those states that I wanted to visit for so very long. I imagine it had something to do with the picture that had always been painted in my mind - rugged mountains, rolling grassy hills, rambling rivers, wildlife, fresh air. In my mind Montana was everything we had always hoped for in a place to call home, and as we approached the border I think we both thought to ourselves, "this could definitely be somewhere that we'd love to start a new life with our family". 


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Arriving in Montana we got everything we had always imagined. Gorgeous mountains, green grass, fresh air and most definitely wildlife. Within moments of crossing the border we turned a corner to spot a mother Moose and her calf in the road ahead. They were too far away for us to capture a photo, and once they heard our truck roaring down the road they took off into the safety of the surrounding forest. It was a moment none of us will ever forget, including Halle who has proudly told the story to anyone who will listen.

Glacier National Park
Montana encompasses all of the things that we wanted to see and do when we set out on the road. Glacier National Park in particular makes you feel so close to nature and looking back on these photos, I am reminded of how much I truly loved our time in that park. 


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

When we arrived in St. Mary, Montana we sat down for lunch and began to plan our next move. Would we pop into Glacier quickly and move on to another entrance to the park? Or would we go and see if we could set up camp right there? We opted for the latter and when we rolled up to the park entrance in St. Mary, the ranger suggested that we purchase an annual pass for all of the National Parks, to save us some money. She also recommended which campground to stay in, which sold us on camping right in the park. We wanted to see as much as we possibly could during our one night stay.

The one thing that struck us the most about Glacier was the vast amount of the park that had been burnt in a recent fire. Halle mentioned that it looked so sad and not as pretty without all of the green trees. Brett and I explained to her that sometimes a fire can be good to help a forest continue to grow and thrive, but we agreed that it looked very different without all of the green trees.


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Despite all of the burnt trees, the beauty of this majestic park still remained. The towering mountains with their snow capped peaks and the blue waters that swirled at their bases. Even with the sad bare trees, colour emerged in other ways! The bright green grass and wildflowers, the blue water and sky and even the needles and leaves that remained on a few of the trees made everything seem that much more alive. 


Glacier National Park

Glacier National ParkGlacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Though the "Going to the Sun Road" pass was closed (what many call the crowning jewel of the park), we made the most of our time there. We drove as far as we could and stopped as often as possible to get out of the vehicle and take in the hiking trails and breathtaking vistas. 

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

I now find myself wondering how I was so ignorant to the names and locations of so many of these incredible protected areas? Embarking on this journey, especially during this year while the National Parks Service celebrates its 100th birthday, has really opened my eyes to how many diverse and beautiful natural spaces there are on this continent. We are so very lucky to live in this wondrous area of this great big world. 


Glacier National Park

The only thing we missed in Glacier was the wildlife. When we were setting up camp the ranger on duty came around to chat with us and informed us that there was a small black bear who frequented the campsite. She let us know to just clap our hands and make some noise and it would scare off easily, unfortunately we never had the pleasure of seeing the small beast pass by. 


Glacier National Park

As always, one of the greatest parts for us was helping Halle to complete her Junior Park Ranger booklet and then see her earn her badge. She has learned so much completing the tasks at the parks and has even surprised us with some of the things she has been able to answer and do on her own. 

Life on the road has been treating us well. We've done our best to make the most of each day, and this trip really started on a high note! As we left Glacier National Park I had so much excitement about what was to come as we made our way towards Yellowstone...