Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Lost Days: Yellowstone (Plus a little taste of Halloween!)

How was everyone's Halloween?  I think it's pretty crazy that one year ago, I was home with a newborn.  Last year I told myself to take it easy and not worry too much about the holiday.  This year was little different--two Halloween parties, family themed costumes, Chili night, and trick-or-treating.  But it was all awesome.  Here's a couple pics of our costumes.

Dan won best costume at our church's trunk-or-treat!

Dan's masterpiece!

Baby Anna.

Love these two little girls!!

Olaf, Elsa, and Anna.

Sven the reindeer, Elsa, and Anna.

I love London's "Elsa pose" in this one!

I know everyone and their sister was Elsa for Halloween, but it's a popular choice in our house too.  And I'm also kind of surprised that I actually sewed a dress!  It's pretty ghetto, but I DID IT! And London was all about that cape, man.

I'll have to do another post soon all about Juliet turning one (what IS this craziness??), but for now I need to keep a promise to my grandmother and share my Yellowstone pics.

As we drove through the park towards our cabins, we spotted our first wildlife.  At first glance, we thought it was a cougar slinking through the grass, but once we got a better view, we realized it was just a coyote.  Coming from California, that's not all that exciting, but still--kinda cool to see one in the wild instead of suburbia. We also caught a glimpse of a buffalo and a moose! (But we didn't stop for those, so no pictures.)

Traveling with my mom's family is always so fun!  But coordinating that many people can get a little crazy, and when we ventured in the park the next day there was a little confusion, which required a random pit stop.  Fortunately, we were in Yellowstone, so even the most random of pit stops offers up some spectacular views.

Ti and Daniel do a little exploring.

I spy a seester!

Grampie figuring it all out.

Eventually, we all figured out what was going on and where we were going, so we were off!  Only to have another unplanned stop, because BUFFALO!

Eventually, we reached our destination--Yellowstone Falls!  Which involved a crazy, winding trail down the mountain.  Always fun with London in an umbrella stroller.  I counted myself pretty lucky that I had so many willing and able helpers, since Dan missed the family reunion because he was at boot camp all summer.  When the going got tough with these two littles, I always had someone right there to help out.  What a great bunch.

Now please enjoy the following sequence of photos, starring my parents and my sweet baby!

A good one of my mom and Aunt Cheryl

I cannot get enough of this view.
On the way to our next stop, we saw another buffalo!  So of course, we had to take advantage of this photo-op.

Hope and Ti demonstrating how close we were!
Moose Track Jack riding a branch.

Not sure where this was exactly, but a sweet one of Grammie and London.

  Next, we drove a little further away from the falls so we could have a better view.  It did not disappoint!  Yellowstone is one of those places where every time I turned around I couldn't help exclaim, "Are you kidding me??"  Because each sight was more breathtaking or unbelievable than the last.  I was eating it up, and I wish the pictures lived up to the reality!

An osprey nest we spotted.  There were little babies inside.  You may not be able to see them, they're basically the same color as the nest itself.  We were only able to see them when they moved.

So, funny story about that big, white chunk towards the bottom of the falls.  There were these ladies at the viewpoint with us, having a very heated discussion about whether or not that chunk was a rock or a glacier.  I hate arguments of any sort; they make me feel uncomfortable, so I chimed in to say we'd been down there earlier, and it looked like a rock from there.  I hoped that they would stop debating, and they did (although the pro-glacier lady gave me a NASTY look).  Then, later, I was reading a sign and discovered that the chunk was, in fact, a glacier.  Sorry, pro-glacier lady!!

Grammie and her girlies.

My little adventurer!

Moose Track Jack.  This kid had to climb every rock we passed!
After we left the falls, we had a bit more driving to do.  Would you believe me if I told you we found MORE buffalo?  Three this time.

Wardrobe malfunction.

Buffalo bums!

We continued on our way to the Sulfur Caldron.  Which can be summed up in one word: Stinky!

For some reason, there were almost always buffalo near these sulfuric areas...I don't know if maybe they enjoy the heat?
  Yellowstone is essentially a giant volcano, or caldera (literally a super volcano).  The earth's crust is thinner here, meaning the heat from the magma flow underneath creates hot spots, which in turn creates these caldrons, the hot springs, and geysers that Yellowstone is famous for.  Kind of scary when you think about it, because technically this all could blow at any time (and virtually destroy life in North America...), yet here we all are, traveling from all over the world to see these natural wonders.  But what's life worth if we're not brave enough to explore our own beautiful earth, right?

Bubbling mud.  So gross, yet so fascinating to watch.

The sulfur in the soil near the caldron kills all plant life.

 Yellowstone is such a place of contrast.  This is what the surrounding countryside looked like.  Lush and green, an incredible wilderness!

He's enjoying a nice, relaxing day at the spa!

More mud bubbles.  Looks like a witch's brew to me!
Next stop was the Mud volcanoes.  This was London's favorite part of the day.  She kept calling it "the yucky water!" And then would run along the path to find more.

The beginning of the path.

Bubbling water.

This geyser is called the Dragon's mouth.  It hisses and steams, which led to the name.  I think I remember reading that the hissing sound used to be much louder, but it has quieted down some in the last few decades.  The dragon must be sleeping. #Smaug #TheHobbit #couldn'tresist (Don't quote me on this though, it's been a few months and I could be mixing things up!)

Oh, hey! Just chillin'.
Ready for his close-up.

This guy decided to hang out RIGHT next to the walkway!

Aunt Hopey with her mini-me!

Some serious bubbling going on here!

I love all the colors.

This was the view across the street.  Again emphasizing the contrast seen throughout this place.

I found a rock, Mom!
Last on our things to see list was Old Faithful--it's not a trip to Yellowstone without a visit to this iconic landmark.  She was right on time!

The whole Chambers Clan!

Aunt Hopey, Juju, and Papa

London's face says: Please, for the love of everything just let me take a nap!!

She's startin' up!

JK, Old Faithful is such a tease.

Here we go!

The Grand Finale!

On our way home, there was another traffic jam--usually indicative of wildlife.  In our car, we started speculating as to what it might be, when someone yelled, "So help me, if it's a buffalo, I'm going to be so mad!  I'm so OVER these bison!!!!" Lucky for us, the wait was worth it--it wasn't a buffalo, it was this little guy!

It didn't take me very long to fall in love with this beautiful place. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to visit and marvel at the beauty and wonders it offers.  But I especially feel blessed to have been able to share this with so many family members and love these incredible trips we have been able to take together.  Thank you so much to my wonderful Grammie and Grampie for providing us these opportunities!

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