Monday, August 13, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

A trip that has been booked since October 2011. A trip to celebrate five years of marriage with my best friend. The first trip without kiddos since our honeymoon. And, a trip that almost didn't happen. (More on that later…)

The first day of our trip started at 4 AM Sunday morning. Our alarm painfully woke us in Stillwater at 4:00 and by noon, we were enjoying lunch in Bozeman, Montana. There are definitely perks to EARLY flights.

Because we were anxious to stretch our legs after sitting on a plane for 3+ hours, and because we couldn’t check-in until that evening, we enjoyed a perfect afternoon in Bozeman. We walked up and down Main Street enjoying little to no humidity and THE best sandwich ever created. And in front of every other store front, flowers overflowed from hanging baskets and hand crafted pottery. After only two hours in Bozeman, Wade looked at me and said matter-of-factly, "Honey. I think I could live here."

After our nice stroll and outdoor picnic in Bozeman, we headed straight to the park. And, not far from the Petrified Tree turnout, we enjoyed our first Yellowstone hike.

Buffalo were EVERYWHERE. It reminded me of cows in Oklahoma. But with gorgeous, mountain backdrops and no fences. That, and some of the buffalo we saw were large enough to have swallowed a black Angus whole.


The incredible drive we enjoyed, almost daily, just south of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Like I said...buffalo are to Yellowstone National Park what cows are to Oklahoma back roads. This happened almost daily during our drives in and around the park.

We nicknamed this one, Twiggy. Not to be mistaken for Twiggy, the 1960's model known for her androgynous looks, large eyes and thin build. I believe the only similarities between our Twiggy and the 1960's Twiggy were perhaps large eyes. Our Twiggy simply had a knack for picking up stray twigs with his bushy brown coat. His flair, if you will.

And who would like to join Mr. Buffalo for a picnic in Gibbon Meadows? Anyone? I'm sure he'd make a fine date.

Elk were also very prevalent in the park. There wasn't a day that passed that we didn't see droves of elk munching on sage brush. This particular cow elk and I became fast friends.

In route to Old Faithful

Aside from the occasional sulfuric sent, the air smelled incredibly fresh and sweet. Each breeze brought with it the fresh smell of pine.

There she blows. Old Faithful...the most predictable geographical feature on Earth erupting every 90 to 120 minutes.

I had two "must sees" on my bucket list that I was praying I'd get to mark off. Grand Teton National Park was the first. And the Tetons were just as glorious as I'd imagined.

The Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Mt. Moran

Grand Tetons and Jenny Lake

My Grand Husband

The beautiful drive through Teton National Forest.

One of many mud volcanoes

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

More of the incredible scenery we soaked in during our driving tours inside the park.

The only bull elk we saw during our time inside the park. Probably a teen, but a bull nonetheless.

Wade certainly had a way with the lady elk.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Matine. One of the highlights of our trip. Not only is she cute as a bug in a rug, but this girl can make you laugh so hard your sides hurt. Matine overflows with personality...just like her brilliant mom. Brooke - Miss you like a fat kid misses chocolate cake. Alaska 2013. You, me, Micca. It MUST happen.

Matine and Wade gathering eggs.

WOLVES! Yes, we're insane and set our alarm for 4:30 ON VACATION in order to get to Lamar Valley before daybreak...desperately hoping to see wolves in action. And just when we thought our luck had run dry, low and behold, we saw an entire pack enjoying their morning sunbath.

Stupid sheep, uh, I mean buffalo...heading straight into the pack.

Apparently we weren't the only crazies that set our alarm for 4:30 AM.

As the buffalo got closer, the wolves circled into formation.

While watching the wolves dance around what I thought might be potential prey, I became convinced we were going to see them take down Tatonka. However, I later learned that the wolves likely had full bellies after taking down a lame buffalo the day before. Apparently they prefer to pick out only the weakest bulls to kill. And this particular bull was healthy, HUGE, and fearless.

One of the many beautiful waterfalls we just happened upon

Number two on my bucket list = seeing a MOOSE in the wild. I had been forewarned that sightings were rare and that I shouldn't get my hopes up. Ha! Outside of the park, on our way back to our cabin, look what I saw! And not just one, but TWO BULL MOOSE. It was a good day.

After the poor fisherman realized he'd wet his pants.

Moose paddling across the Yellowstone River

Ah, I could go home now. Poor Wade. I don't think he had a clue how badly I wanted to see a moose. And when I did, I think my excitement scared him a wee bit.

Our home sweet home for five wonderful days.

Our time in Montana/Wyoming was wonderful. We relaxed, had no schedule or agenda, enjoyed God's awesome creation, I read an entire book and started another, learned new tricks with the camera, slept with the windows open (one of my very favorite things), and just enjoyed being together without being asked to fill sippy cups. But we also missed our boys and when Friday finally came, we were anxious to throw our arms around them and squeeze them tight.


Loving Life by Leesa said...

Ah Michal, that is amazing! Thanks for sharing your pictures! That countryside is beautiful!

Abby Fox said...

I am so jealous. Looks like you had breathtaking views! I'm glad you had a good time and got that pesky little moose checked off your bucket list!

Caitlyn Shumaker said...

So beautiful! I share your bucket list-must to see moose. Glad you got to check it off of your list already. I laughed out loud at your comment about how you probably scared Wade with your excitement, I think when my day comes, I will scare Craig as well! I can't wait to see one, or maybe be as lucky as you and get to see two! They are amazing animals!