Yellowstone National Park (part III) – Old Faithful to West Thumb and Lewis Lake

Continuing beyond Old Faithful, the majority of the thermal features are now in the rearview mirror. But what this area lacks in geysers it makes up for in mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. The Firehole River flows through this area and a few small lakes dot the landscape along the main road. There is also a short detour to the Kepler Cascades. Continue reading


Yellowstone National Park (part II) – Norris to Old Faithful

In my first Yellowstone post, I left off at Norris Geyser Basin. From here, I’ll continue south through most of the rest of the geyser basins. Though it’s not what the park is most famous for, Yellowstone is a volcano and much of the park is a giant caldera. All of these geyser basins are located within the caldera.

One the way to the geyser basins, a stretch of road from Norris to Madison Junction parallels the Gibbon River. Upon arrival at Madison Junction, Gibbon River joins the Firehole River to form the Madison River. Along the way, the first roadside attraction is Artists Paintpots, followed by Beryl Spring, and then Gibbon Falls.  Continue reading

Yellowstone National Park (part I) – North Entrance to Norris Geyser Basin

I’ve been blogging for over a year now and yet I’ve somehow managed to barely mention the one place I’ve visited more than any other: Yellowstone National Park.

I’ve been there at least 50 times (not an exaggeration) and it just never gets old. Consequently, I have well over 2000 photos of the park. Which is a large part of the reason I’m just now getting around to writing about it. That’s a LOT of photos to sort through. You’d think I’d just stop taking pictures of places I’ve been before. Yeah, not so much. My mom always jokes that she has other photos of a certain place, but “not with this camera.” And so our Yellowstone photo collection continues to grow.

I grew up less than 2 hours away from both the north and west entrances to Yellowstone, so a visit to the park was a day trip, a weekend camping getaway, or a winter cross-country ski destination. Usually all three in a given year.

Yellowstone is huge. And filled with incredible variety. Where else can a person see geysers, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, elk, and bison all in the same day? Of course, if you’re not from the area and are going on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Yellowstone, I recommend spending much more than one day there. We took Pat there last summer for three days and even then there was plenty we didn’t see. Heck, there are things I still haven’t seen. My point is, there’s something there for everybody and you’ll never run out of things to do. I’ve never gone somewhere in Yellowstone that I didn’t like. Continue reading

Exploring Montana on Skis

I never used to mind winter. And then I moved to New England. Winters here are horrible. The sun sets at 4:15. It’s usually cloudy and cold and windy. And dark. All the time. And when it snows in New England, it really snows. Two feet at a time, leaving us to dig our way out of the house and then figure out where to pile up all the snow.

But winter in Montana never bothered me. Maybe because I grew up with it and I’m used to it. Or maybe because it doesn’t get dark quite as early and it’s not nearly as overcast. Or maybe because even though it snows more, it almost never dumps two feet at a time. And when it does snow, it clears up afterwards and it’s beautiful. Winter is still my least favorite season, but the way the Montana landscape shimmers in the sunlight after a snow storm is something that’s hard to beat. Continue reading

Christmas in Ohio

For our final trip of 2011, we headed to Ohio over the holiday break to visit some of my mom’s side of the family. They live in the Cincinnati area but the nearest airport is actually located in Covington, KY, so this trip was also the first time I’d ever been to Kentucky. It’s not much, but my feet touched the ground in the state. In my book, that counts!

Ohio gets its fair share of winter but this particular Christmas was very moderate. Sunshine, a bit of rain, but no snow. Seeing as I grew up in Montana, having a white Christmas every year was basically a guarantee. It’s always weird to me when Christmas comes and there’s no snow to be seen. I don’t imagine that feeling is ever going to change. Continue reading

Places I Never Thought I’d Go

Does this ever happen to you? You’re traveling and you end up somewhere you never in a million years thought you’d go? I’m not talking about planned destinations. Like Prince Edward Island, for example. Or Nova Scotia. Those were definitely places that weren’t even on our radar before I moved out east, but when we did visit them, it was entirely planned. (More on those at a later date.)

What I’m talking about is when you end up in random places that you never planned to visit. It definitely happens to my family and me from time to time. We usually pause, look at each other, and say something along the lines of, “who’d have thought we’d ever be in [this location]?”

For example: Roswell, New Mexico. We didn’t stop here; we merely drove through on our way from Four Corners to Carlsbad Caverns. Nevertheless, it’s a place I never thought I’d see.  Continue reading

Custer’s Last Stand – Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana

Our final stop on summer vacation 2011 was back in my home state: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, MT. This is the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn – also known as Custer’s Last Stand – which took place in June 1876. At this location 140 years ago, General George Armstrong Custer and his army fought the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Custer’s army suffered a crippling defeat.

This battle has been a point of contention among historians. None of Custer’s men survived, thus an exact account from the US Army’s perspective does not exist. It is not even clear exactly how Custer died. Nevertheless, Custer has received much acclaim for this battle, so much so that the monument was originally named Custer National Cemetery and then Custer Battlefield National Monument before eventually being renamed in 1991 to the more inclusive and accurate Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Continue reading