- I’m doing my gratitude list a little early this week as we are leaving today for the annual week long sailing cruise. I’ll be sure to share some pictures and stories when we get back.
- I’m grateful to be able to go on the sailing cruise because previous to the last year I was unable to go because I had kids starting school. I didn’t want to miss that.
- I’m grateful my kids are done with school and I am done with that stress.
- Summer, the weather pattern the last couple weeks and for our trip is pretty close to perfect.
- I’m grateful to be called up to the clerk at the DMV before I was able to even finish the paperwork. That never happens..
- I’m grateful to be able to spend the next week with my husband on a sailing adventure and talking with people since we go as a group with our sailing club. That’s one thing I missed about our trip to Yellowstone, we were pretty isolated from other people. I didn’t think I would want to talk and meet new people, but I did.
- My daughter Arabella is feeling better after COVID and an ear infection. For a few days I was having a hard time getting in touch with her and I imagined her laying in her apartment dead…so, yeah, one less thing to worry about.
- I’m grateful my friend Jen is celebrating another birthday today as she struggles with cancer.
- I’m grateful for a husband that works hard to make sure our bills are paid.
- I’m grateful for music that makes me feel better when I am sad.
Soon life will become more interesting.
I really don’t need anymore excitement in my life…
No man is free who is not master of himself.
Wow, nothing like a fun and carefree fortune cookie saying there. This cookie packs a lot of truth. It sounds good, but unfortunately is easier said than done. Who do we know who is truly free?
I want to think I am free, but really is this an obtainable goal? I am but trapped inside of my own body that no longer does all the things I want it to do.
I also think of my friends who struggle with addiction. How easy is it for us to tell them to just stop whatever it is they are addicted to? Just stop then the addiction will be gone. We want to tell ourselves this is the way it works when we see others struggle losing everything they have at times in danger of even losing their lives. Just stop and it will all go away.
I think everyone struggles with mastering themselves, some are just better at it or care more than others. I wish I could be better at managing my worry. Just this week I worried my daughter was lying in her apartment dead because she is sick and hasn’t been returning my calls or texts. Or better yet, I should think happy thoughts when struggling with depression. That will just magically somehow take the thoughts I don’t want coursing through my head away. Or telling someone with insomnia to just try to get some sleep to count more sheep.
I really think that if most people could master themselves they already would. Maybe we will never be as free as we want to think we are.
- I’m trying to enjoy what’s left of summer. In August we have the best weather here in Wisconsin. The stormy hot days of summer have mostly reached their end with warm days and cool evenings.
- This past week I ate, slept, breathed, cooked, cleaned, and shopped everything bridal shower. The bridal shower for my daughter Angel went better than I even expected it to.
- We had some difficult people attending the shower, but even they were on their best behavior. My sister-in-law Carla who we had issues with earlier this summer was a model aunt. She was over the top friendly towards my family which was greatly appreciated.
- I couldn’t have done the shower justice without the help of my daughter’s future mother-in-law. I’m grateful for all of her help. She’s one of those crafty type people and made a majority of the shower gifts. It seems like everyone went home with at least two gifts. She did pretty much all the decorations as well. She bought a balloon arch which I still have set up in my house with another 30 to 40 stray balloons everywhere. (I’m not too entirely grateful about that).
- I’m grateful that Angel, her future MIL, and myself stayed healthy. There is no way the shower would’ve happened if we were not able to be a part of it. My daughter Arabella had to miss the shower because she has COVID. It seems like everyone is sick again.
- I’m grateful that my daughter received a lot of nice gifts for their house. It seems like there will be a lot of cooking for them in the future.
- I’m grateful that after this past week the following week looks like it’s going to be low key.
- Leftover party food so I don’t have to do a lot of cooking.
- I’m grateful my daughter picked a great guy to marry.
- I’m grateful I don’t have to do any weeding for awhile after all of the weeding I did this past week.
- Everything has been cleaned up from the shower (except the balloons!!).
- My sister-in-law Emily spent the night with my two nieces on Friday night. It was the first time I saw my sister-in-law this calendar year. We don’t get together with family often enough, especially since COVID so it was nice to catch up.
We decided to drive a couple hours to fly out of Chicago. We didn’t have a direct flight to Idaho Falls, being a very small airport, and had a layover in Salt Lake City. I wanted to fly out of our hometown airport, but with things going on in the area tickets cost an extra $800 per person.
I haven’t been down to Illinois in awhile. One thing I noticed as I was digging around in my wallet for change is that all the tolls are paid online with no collection of cash or credit anymore. It said we had 14 days to register online to pay our tolls which amounted to $9. It ended up costing us $300 to park our car at the airport for a week. It took us about an hour to find our car upon return even though I took a picture of the outdoor lot we were in. Indoor parking was more expensive. Chicago airport is huge and it is easy to get turned around.
I try to research the area I’m going to be travelling in. But it’s a fine line for me. I want to learn about where to go and what to see, but not necessarily everything there is to know about the state. I enjoy learning about the state while I am visiting and experiencing it. What I wasn’t expecting was how dry Idaho is. I think one day the humidity was 8%. Coming from Wisconsin where the average humidity is 71%, I didn’t even think that was possible. One hundred degrees in Idaho wasn’t all that bad once you got out of the sun. We would be dying here with the humidity. Thankfully it’s only been 100 degrees or more here once in my lifetime.
Everything in Idaho that wasn’t watered was dry and barren. There were a lot of wide open spaces and sparsely populated areas. I noticed the gas prices there were around $1 per gallon more expensive than at home. The speed limits were a lot higher too. A two lane highway there had a speed limit of 70 sometimes 75 mph versus 55 at home. Whereas Idaho was dry and barren, Montana was heavily wooded. The speed limit was about the same though which was a little scary because there were also signs warning us of elk, bison, and cattle.
A lot of time when we travel to other parts of the country, people can tell we are from out of the area. Not there. We didn’t talk much differently. The thing is, it seemed like no one was from around there even some of the wait staff and shopkeepers. Everyone was a tourist or came to the area to work for the summer. A large majority of the people in our West Yellowstone hotel did not speak English when we went for the continental breakfast.
Other than that, I didn’t see too many mask wearers in Yellowstone. Even though it said masks were mandatory in federal buildings, no one was enforcing it. Hardly anyone wore masks on the plane either. That part seemed back to normal. There were even people coughing and no one really seemed to pay attention to it. Although I must say, the airport in Idaho Falls was very small and they didn’t have doors to go into the bathrooms. For about 45 minutes, we could hear a woman in the bathroom coughing and throwing up. She sounded so sick I couldn’t bring myself to even use that bathroom.
The only other oddity was that there was construction at the Salt Lake City airport. We had to exit the plane down the steps onto the tarmac and take a bus to the main airport area. The strange thing was as we were exiting the plane, Paul saw his luggage fall from the top of the conveyor belt onto the ground along with another suitcase that fell behind the conveyor belt. I was thankful I put the pint glasses I bought into my backpack.
Also, I want to add that I really enjoyed Idaho. When Paul and I were visiting New Orleans we went on a tour with a woman from Idaho. I told her I’d never been to her state and asked her what the top things to visit were and she basically told me not to bother going. Idaho potatoes are a big thing in Idaho, but nothing big. I was also jokingly told not to join a militia. Other than that, I really didn’t know anything about Idaho. I honestly just wanted to check the state off my bucket list and it happened to be close to Yellowstone. It definitely would have not made the top 100 list for a place to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. Who knows, maybe we’ll go somewhere warm in the winter. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed it there, probably more than I enjoyed Yellowstone or Montana in all honesty. I was not expecting that.
In the end, I checked Idaho and Montana off my bucket list of visiting all 50 states. Nine more states to go…
The big highlight of our trip was visiting Yellowstone and the sites I’ve already shared with you in Idaho. However, there were some other stops we made that are worth mentioning…
On our second day, we visited the Minidoka Historical Site where thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned after the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. The camp was located in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we arrived at opening time because they were closing early due to a heat advisory and a broken A/C unit. We were able to visit the historical center with tons of photos and artifacts, watch a video of survivors, and take a tour of the camp. Honestly, it was hard to keep a dry eye learning about this tragic chapter in US history.
The camp was not fully preserved and intact, but we were able to tour some of the buildings. The building on the left was the cafeteria and the building on the right was where 6 families lived. They were not furnished inside, just empty buildings. There wasn’t a fee to visit the historical site and take a tour. It was a solemn adventure off the beaten path, but worth the stop if you are interested in history.
Afterwards, we decided to take a drive to Jackpot, NV to try to liven up our spirits a bit. It seemed we took a lot of back roads and even had the experience of watching a crop duster spray the field we were driving next to. I’ve only experienced seeing that a few times in my life and never so close.
Jackpot is right across the border of Nevada. It was a town created when Idaho outlawed gaming back in the 1950’s. It came up when I googled things to do around Twin Falls, ID since it was 45 minutes away. The pictures made it seem like it would be full of wild, wild west casinos but mainly it was a small area along the highway with outdated machines. Quite a different feel than Las Vegas which we visited earlier in the year. Paul and I had a set amount of money we were going to spend. I lost my allotted amount right away at Cactus Pete’s. Paul gave me some of his winnings and we walked across the street to Club 93 where we spent the rest of the afternoon and came back with most of our money.
Our last day of vacation we spent in West Yellowstone buying souvenirs for my mom, our kids, and their significant others. There were tons of shops to spend money in but after awhile everything was pretty much the same in each store. Surprisingly the stores were not a lot less expensive than the ones within Yellowstone. As far as dining on our trip, there wasn’t anything really impressive.
I felt like we had our down time days on the first day and last day of the trip. The rest of the time was run, run, run and it would’ve been nice to break it up a bit. For flying in, we spent a lot of time on the road. I’m glad I decided not to add a couple of days in Oregon and Washington to the trip, it would’ve been too much. I’ll have to check off those states some other time.
The second day at Yellowstone was our 25th wedding anniversary. I had a plan, and that plan was to see Old Faithful. Very fitting of the situation for someone who has a bad sense of humor like me. The day before we made reservations after being on hold forever and losing the call several times for the earliest opening for supper which was 9:45 PM at the Old Faithful Inn.
The second day we visited the south loop which we were told takes two and a half hours to drive without stopping. We had no idea how long it was going to take to get to Old Faithful. We did stop at several places along the way. One of the places we stopped had bison along the trail. There were signs to stay 25 feet away. At this particular location, there was a park ranger answering questions. After that stop, I decided being a park ranger was not as much fun as it was cracked up to be. When I first saw her, she was picking up garbage. Not long after that, someone came up to her and told her people went off the walkway. She found the people and told them to go back to their cars that they were in extreme and grave danger. I didn’t know if they went close to the geysers or approached the bison.
This was also the only day on our trip there was a small chance of rain in the forecast. By the afternoon there was a downpour and we could hear distant thunder echoing off the canyons. Everyone ran for shelter and the idea to ever visit the park on a motorcycle was crashed. The rain pooled and flooded the roads. We couldn’t see anything. This also happened to be the place where we ran into road construction.
We were getting close to Old Faithful and decided to stop to see if they could move our dinner reservations up. It was still pouring and there was hardly any room to park at the inn. The inn itself looked like a magnificent castle. I jumped across the puddles to get inside fast. Somehow Paul was able to move up our dinner reservation. Maybe it helped to tell them it was our anniversary, I’m not sure but we were 4 hours early. The staff was very cordial and accommodating, but the meal itself was buffet style and nothing to write home about. We couldn’t even see Old Faithful from the restaurant, but it was a short walk away. It stopped raining and we called a number which gave us the estimated wait time until Old Faithful was supposed to go off again which was an hour wait. There were some people waiting because last time if went off a lot earlier than the ETA.
This was the first time we were able to really talk to other tourists while we were waiting. There was a nice couple from Oregon who came over on a motorcycle. They told us they had to be careful of bison because sometimes they charge motorcycles because they view them as a threat. Another reason why going on a motorcycle might not be the best plan.
We ended our trip by seeing the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was steamy and nearing nightfall which was not the best time to see the brilliant kaleidoscope of colors. I’m sure it’s amazing to see on a bright sunny day. We were tempted to come back, but decided not to make the drive.
The park was beautiful and worth visiting. It’s hard to believe how massive the park is. I think two days was enough but you could probably spend a week there and still not see everything.
- Summer, even with a twinge of autumn in the air.
- Planning a trip this fall that would check another state off my bucket list.
- Going out to eat with friends.
- Spending the weekend with my friend Jen and our husbands at their cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We haven’t been up to their cabin for 10 years. (They have a cabin journal from then so it’s verified, I updated it with a new entry of our trip adventures). Honestly, we didn’t do that much. The weather was cool and rainy so the guys went fishing while we lounged around and chatted.
- Our house is still standing. After we left there was a torrential downpour and flooding downstairs in our house. Thankfully my son and his girlfriend were around to clean up the mess.
- Sleeping in my own bed. I’m going to be home for awhile and it’s nice to be home.
- My daughter’s future MIL is helping me host a bridal shower for my daughter at my house this weekend. I’m grateful I don’t have to do everything by myself.
- My friend Jen has lived a lot longer with cancer than her doctor thought she would. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with her, because who knows…
First of all, Yellowstone is huge. For $35 per car, we were able to get a park pass for a week. That probably would’ve been enough time to see everything, but we only stayed for 2 full days. There were 5 entrances to the park, two of which were closed due to the massive flooding earlier in the season. We came in from the west and tackled the north loop on the first day.
There were some challenges with the north loop we weren’t expecting. We decided to stop in Mammoth Hot Springs for lunch. It would’ve worked great, but the restaurant was closed there due to the earlier flooding. The only thing that was open was a general store were everyone went to buy food. They had a couple picnic tables set up outside which we ended up sharing with a random family. A lot of people were just sitting on the ground eating. Eating in the park was a big problem. But there were plenty of stores, gas stations, and restrooms. They even had an automotive garage on site for car repairs.
For the most part, parking was not a huge issue. There were little areas to get out and see the sights along the loops. We especially enjoyed the geysers and hot springs even with the whiff of sulfur in the air. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful breathtaking places on Earth, surely it is to be found here.
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without wild animals. We saw a bear, elk, and a ton of bison. There were many signs reminding tourists that these are wild animals. We decided not to go hiking on the back trails because of it. If you do, you would need to buy or rent bear spray in case of a bear attack. We decided to stay on the main walkways for the attractions which provided us with plenty of walking without having to go on the hiking trails. It also allowed us to keep within our allotted time frame of two days and still see a lot. Time management was very tricky because we never knew how long it would take to drive somewhere or how long the walkway was to get there. Plus we needed to add extra time to pull over and look at animals. Animals could be blocking the roads, there are long lines at the park entrance, and of all things we ran into road construction in the park.
We received several detailed maps of the park and talked to several park rangers for information. Cell phone coverage is spotty within the park itself so I wouldn’t rely on that totally for navigation.
The picture above and below are of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The above picture we walked down a steep descent to see a waterfall going down into the canyon. It was a challenging path. The picture below was taken from the opposite side of the picture above.
We didn’t end up getting out of the park until after 8 PM the first day. We were really tired, hungry, and worried about where we were going to eat since it was late on a Monday night. However, we found that West Yellowstone had plenty of restaurants open. We stopped at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon. It was really packed, but their pizza was amazing. It ended up being my favorite meal on the trip. We learned a lot on that first day and we thought we were ready for day two.
The first half of our trip we stayed in Twin Falls, Idaho and the second half we stayed in West Yellowstone, Montana. From point A to point B, it was about a five hour drive. So we decided to break up our drive with a stop at Craters of the Moon.
This park was created by a volcano. The craters were mostly black. In most areas it looked like a freshly cultivated muddy field. We hiked up this hill and were surprised to find the picture below on top. This on top of a hill of rocky soil in a dry climate. Made me think of the weeds growing back at home.
It was another very hot day when we visited, over 100 degrees.
We decided to visit some of the caves. We had to get a permit to go inside which they never asked us for upon arrival into the caves. They asked us if we’ve been to a cave within the last 15 years and if we were wearing the same clothes or glasses. They said a certain bat disease can live that long on our clothes and couldn’t be washed off. Although I was apprehensive about bats, we didn’t see any.
The caves were not at all what I was expecting either. We didn’t go down into a dark tunnel with dripping water and bats. It was more like a tunnel with openings in it so a flashlight was not necessary. The surface was not flat at all. We had to hike over big rocks on uneven ground that threatened to twist an ankle.
There was also a short trail to see the last remaining snowfall. I was expecting to turn a corner and see a mountain covered with snow but instead saw this dirty bit of snow in a crevice. Although it was surprising to see because it was very hot outside.
It cost us $20 to get in which was worth the money. The terrain is unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought the park was very well maintained. It’s literally out in the middle of nowhere. I think we saw a sign that said last gas station in 50 miles. There was nothing but mountains in the distance and large open spaces. It wasn’t a tourist trap either. I would highly recommend a visit if you ever find your way out there.