Wednesday, September 21, 2016

National Park Trip 2016 {Yellowstone: Grand Prasmatic Spring}

Wow!  Just wow.  Driving into Yellowstone really did feel like an iconic thing.  It felt very American.  I also felt grown up, "taking the family to see Yellowstone."  When we first drove in the park, we all kept looking around, amazed at what we saw, because we had never seen anything else like it.  A friend of mine, who traveled there earlier in the summer, described it well as "other worldly."  It's beautiful for sure, mountains, valleys, huge lakes, rivers, forests... and you will be looking at a beautiful valley and see little pools of bubbling water coming out of the ground.  So strange, the completely normal right next to the completely bizarre.  
Anyway, more on that later.  We drove in the south entrance.  It's just a stone's throw from Grand Tetons and already we were surprised with the harshness of the landscape, and the variation.  Our first stop was Grand Prasmatic Spring.  We had to make our way to the west entrance to spend the night so this seemed like a good stop.  Also, the timing wasn't going to work out to see Old Faithful that night, although we were passing it.  
It was an amazing night in Yellowstone.  A little storm was blowing in, the wind was blowing pretty hard and it was a cold wind.  But as you walked closer to the springs, it was like the best facial you've ever had (actually, I've never had a facial, but I can imagine).  Warm, salty mist and steam blowing in your face.  One of the best parts of this whole trip was getting to watch the boys be in awe.  And for that reason, this night was magical for me.

Turquoise Lake, appropriately named.

I loved it so much that I had Samuel take a picture of us.  Don't we look nice together?

 When we left that area and continued to driving toward our hotel, we passed a valley that was so magnificent that we had to pull over.  The pictures don't even do it justice, the colors from the rain and the sun and the yellow flowers and the green grass.

Mother/daughter selfie

Every 13 year old boy wants a selfie with their parents in Yellowstone, right? :)

++When you see pictures of the Grand Prasmatic Spring, it is generally a view that you can only get from hiking above it.  I was a little disappointed to not be able to see all the colors that you see in pictures online.  When you are standing close to it, you can't see all the colors.  It was still amazing, don't get me wrong.  If we come back, I'd love to do the hike so that I can see it with my own eyes++

Thursday, September 15, 2016

National Park Trip 2016 {Boat Across Jenny Lake & Taggert Lake Hike}

After we did the hike to Phelps Lake, we drove to Jenny Lake and decided to take the boat across it to Inspiration Point (Hidden Falls was closed).  You can hike around the lake as well, but since we had already done a hike that day, we chose the boat ride.  Also, it was something my parents could do with us.  Just fyi, we thought it would be more expensive than it was.  There is a "family pass" so we didn't have to pay individually for all the members in our family.  That price wasn't advertised on the sign.  

The little boys got tired and didn't want to hike all the way up to the point, so Chris took the older three who still had tons of energy left.  The older three had boundless energy, as long as they had snacks and water ;)

Chris took these pics at the top, overlooking Jenny Lake.

That night, my parents took some boys back to the campsite and Chris and I got to take these two for a night on the town in Jackson.  We were actually starving and exhausted and had to wait a long time to get into a restaurant, but the wait was worth it.  Liberty Burger was maybe the best hamburger I've ever had, or maybe it was because I had to wait so long for it.  Yum.

The next morning, we hiked up to Taggert Lake.  We heard it was similar to the Phelps Lake hike.  The boys were really wanting to do the Phelps hike again, because they loved it so much.  But it felt wrong to take the same hike again, when there were so many others to try.
This one was spectacular as well.  The boys came prepared with their swimsuits and Chacos this time.

The water was COLD.

Not enough to avert these three from taking a swim.

I love Graham's face in this picture.  If you look closely, you can see his "this water is really cold" face.

One of my favorite pictures from the trip, hat hair and all.

The landscape was a different kind of beautiful than the Phelps Lake hike.  The hike was more open.  But so pretty just the same.  On the way up, the ranger told us they had seen a mama bear and her cub on this hike earlier that morning and to watch out.  We stayed near the people with the bear spray ;) 

We sadly exited the park.  On the way out, we had to say goodbye to the Tetons.  Just one last stop where we stood and looked and threw rocks in the water.  We talked about when we would come again.  We talked about how great God is, to make us these mountains.  We talked about how great heaven must be, if there are things like this on this fallen Earth.

Grand Teton National Park, you were good to us.  I hope we get to see you again soon.

Monday, September 5, 2016

National Park Trip 2016 {Grand Teton NP-Phelps Lake}

Trip Advisor was our BFF on this trip.  How DID people plan things without iPhones?  We were anxious to see pretty things and looked up "family friendly hikes."  Someone suggested the hike to Phelps Lake.  At its base is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center, which is really cool architecturally, and a great place to rest after hiking.

This was an easy hike, definitely enough to make you feel a little out of breath, but not crazy tired.  It's mostly wooded, and you pass small waterfalls and streams along your hike.  

After about a couple of miles, you walk up to this view!
It was a moment for me, as a parent, to hear my kids get so excited to see such beauty.  They were in awe, and so was I.
Clear, shallow, cold water that turned into a pretty blue/green color.  It beckoned to the boys.  They were loving it.

The way down was much easier.

But still, Nathan needs lots of breaks ;) 

Asher outside the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center.