On my way to Bryce Canyon I came around a bend and was presented with this view, which only got better. It’s called Red Canyon (for some reason…).
I was on the phone with someone when I came upon this. I was practically struck dumb! I later found out it’s called the Aquarius Plateau, the highest plateau in North America at 10,000 feet! You will see many pictures featuring this, as well as with this in the background because it’s such a prominent feature of the landscape.
Bryce Canyon has an excellent free shuttle system. It’s available because they want to reduce the number of cars in the park. There are a number of stops, all near some of the most beautiful sites in the park. The shuttle runs every 10 minutes from April – October, so you never have to wait for long. You can just get out at the stops like I did, check out the great views and move on – or you can take the shuttle to various hiking trails.
There is something otherworldly about Bryce Canyon, it’s not like Yellowstone where I was thinking, “Is this planet earth???” it’s more ethereal. It’s really difficult to capture in words. And of course these pictures are amazing and beautiful, but just like all such pictures the sheer magnitude of the sites are just not possible in a little square (ok, rectangle). The hoodoos at times make me think of chess pieces, waiting to be moved around. And at other times they seem like people who were in a cathedral, who somehow got frozen in place and time.
By the way, as I'm posting these I'm thinking, "fuckin' ay....fuckin' ay...fuckin' ay..." because I just can't get over the stunning beauty. It continues to take my breath away, even when looking at these tiny little photos!
Sunset Point (still at Bryce Canyon)
The drive to the campground from Bryce...
These mountains are pretty spectacular, but after leaving Bryce Canyon, they seemed kind of boring! How amazing is that – that these beauties seem boring! The ones directly surrounding the campground have those red stripes going through them, which is pretty stunning.
It would not suck to live in this house!
That night after Liz left, I stayed in a campground in Idaho, which was just over the border from Wyoming. It was about $100 for a campground near Jackson, but this one was only about $40 and it was on the way to where I was going, so I drove for two hours to get there. I was rewarded with this beautiful moon over Idaho, in addition to the kindly gentleman Jim who worked there and emptied my cassette toilet for me! If only I could remember to take all my pictures in landscape layout none of them would show up sideways!
This is the Bear Lake area. It was absolutely stunning! I kept stopping to take pictures (not just taking them while I was driving!).
Can you believe this?! Covered wagons!! It got me to thinking about how much that would have SUCKED to ride across that continent in one of those things!! Riding across the country in a camper van, or a pickup camper (with all their modern conveniences) is no easy feat, so I can't imagine what that was like!!
I could not get over the stunning contrast in colors, especially the incredible yellow! It even takes my breath away looking at them as tiny photos now, and this is nothing compared to the beauty in person, when the landscape is stretched out forever in front of you!
Since I was driving right by Logan, UT I decided to stop by the campus of Utah State University where my friend Heather works to see her (she was mentioned earlier when we connected for about 20 minutes on my way to Utah). I was stunned by the beauty of the campus! I ate lunch on this lawn and watched a woman playing ball with her two dogs. It was heavenly.
I forgot to take a picture of Heather again this time! We chatted for about an hour, and she showed me around her office and introduced me to her staff. It was really nice to see her, she is a very kind soul.
I stayed the night at the KOA in Provo, which is where Brigham Young University is. Here are a couple of pictures from there, one of the view from my site, one of the town, and the last one is a cool piece of wood that decorated the foyer in the restaurant where I ate dinner that night.
I'm writing to give a current update about my road trip (sorry, no pics!). Right now I'm writing from Zion National Park, my 5th National Park of this trip! I'm behind on posting entries because I can't post pictures without hi speed internet and yet again tonight I don't have it. I'm mainly writing to say that I'm headed home this coming weekend. I'll be flying home overnight Friday night, arriving at Bradley International Airport at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. I'm shipping my things home via the U.S. Post Office. I decided to forego buying cowboy boots and a winter coat, both of which I hoped to purchase on this trip, so that I can pay to ship my things home. I will be donating a number of items to the owners of the camper I'm currently renting (which I love, by the way - no breakdowns!!). It just doesn't make sense for me to pay to ship some of the things I brought (like food containers - I brought WAY too many of those, I'm not sure what I was thinking...)
The last blog post was from Yellowstone which was last Tuesday. The next day Liz and I went to Grand Tetons NP, then she flew home from Jackson Hole Airport and I spent the day hanging around there (most of which was in a co-working space using their internet to update my blog!). I drove from there to Utah where I passed by Bear Lake and took some amazing pictures, then visited my friend Heather on the campus of Utah State University. From there I went to Bryce Canyon where I spent two days (Friday and Saturday). As I said to Liz, it was otherworldly - but not in the way that it looks as if it's another planet like Yellowstone does, there is something sort of magical about that place. And today I'm at Zion. What is amazing, but Bryce is a hard act to follow! If I were a rock climber (which I am NOT) I would definitely come to Zion for that!
I'm going to the Grand Canyon tomorrow and Tuesday, which was not originally on my agenda. However, I have to pass through there to return the camper, so it just makes sense! Then I'm going to go to Sedona, which is sort of on the way to Avondale, where I will return the camper on Friday. Avondale is only about 20 minutes from the Phoenix Airport, which is incredibly lucky for me (thanks God!).
I hope to get some more blog entries done this week, but that all depends on the internet I have available at my future campgrounds. If that doesn't happen, I'll have to finish them up once I get home. For now - adventure awaits!
The night before we went to the Grand Tetons we stayed in a campground that was the most expensive of the whole trip ($79) and it had a bar attached to the building where the bathrooms and laundry were. I didn't feel particularly safe, and I normally feel pretty safe in the world. It was just not that great of a place, but we were not willing to keep looking once we found that one. We had been without phone service, and the campgrounds we'd tried so far were full, so we took the first place we found online once we got phone service. Plus we didn't know what we were getting into. In any case, it was convenient from Yellowstone (where we were leaving) and the Grand Tetons (where we were headed).
All that faded away to nothing as we approached Grand Tetons National Park...
Even though the landscape at Yellowstone is so varied and unearthly, I really prefer the Grand Tetons.
One of these groups of animals is antelopes and the other is buffalo in the group of four photos below, but I can't remember which! The thing about using a phone as a camera is that zooming distorts the picture sometimes rather than enhancing it.
This was not at all what I pictured when I pictured Jackson Hole Airport! Not only was it much smaller than I envisioned, it was just situated right there in the mountains! I’m not sure why that surprised me, but it did. Not only that, it also has one of those arches made out of antlers that were also in downtown Jackson Hole. And look at the railings they use to make lanes!!
I went to Jackson Hole to work in a coworking space there called Spark Jackson Hole. I wanted to have access to hi speed internet to get caught up on my blog. Here is the view from the corner window, a picture of the inside of the space and ., their sign.
For those of you who don't know what a coworking space is, it's where people who have small businesses or work solo go to work when they don't want to work in their home. They have access to business services (e.g., hi speed internet, reception services, photocopying, meeting rooms) as well as getting to work among others.
This place was the least welcoming coworking space I've ever been in! The part-time job I'm returning to in New Haven is at a coworking space called Agora New Haven (formerly The Grove) and we have music playing in the background, and friendly reception service and people are always chatting with each other. In Spark, there was none of that! I was completely silent, the "host" wasn't there for the first hour I was there, and no one talked to anyone else! I was like being in a library.
I had signed up online for a day pass so they were expecting me. When the host arrived, the first words out of his mouth to me were, "You're at the wrong table" not something like, "Hi, I'm Steve, you must be Barb..." Weird.
Here are some pictures of downtown Jackson Hole. All four corners of the square had these arches made of antlers. The table was just something cool I saw in one of the shops. I love wood and I love stone, so I love (even more!) the idea of them together!
These bronze pieces are on the sidewalk outside of a gallery that sells them. There were more than those pictured here, these were just my favorites.
This was a sign in one of the neighboring towns, I just thought it was cool. One thing I've gotten from this trip is how much more important public art is out west than it is back east.
From the Albright Visitor's Center...
The animal in the picture is real! I couldn't believe it. Liz was still in the VC and I was looking at it thinking, "It really looks real, but it's not moving. And WTF is it??" Then its ear twitched!
The bird in the sideways pic is a Magpie, which both Liz and I thought were beautiful! But apparently people in the west hate them because they're assholes!
Mammoth Springs. And yes, this IS planet Earth.
The gray trees here have absorbed all the chemicals and are sort of preserved.
This one was of the highlights of this day - a friggin buffalo just walking down the road like he owned it. Which he kind of does!
Can you tell I was wearing a red sweatshirt? (reflection in window). I had to buy that sweatshirt at Glacier because I was so cold (you know, since I didn't have any warm clothing with me...)
Doesn't this look like an animal???
We kept hearing this insect in a bunch of places, and they were pretty loud! I finally figured out they were flying grasshoppers because I saw four of them leap up at once! Liz caught one for a photo-op!
This is one of my favorite photos of the day.
Isn't MKR adorable???
Yes, still planet Earth.
These pictures are in honor of my dear friend Miranda, whose spirit animal is the raven (and the crow).
This is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Here we've moved out of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The two white things in the water a swans.
Liz says that's bison poo, I put my foot in the picture to show the size.
And I'm not sure what those footprints were (or if they were even footprints).
This next set is some more of my favorites, I really like the contrasting colors.
This is a picture of the chapel at the retreat center on Flathead Lake. Liz and I hung out for a while and walked around the retreat center grounds before heading to Bigfork. The idea was to wait until 4:30 when my FedEx package with my warm clothing was due to arrive from April in Arizona. I called FedEx in the morning to make sure it was still scheduled to arrive by 4:30 that day and was assured that it was - LIES!!
We hung out in the area all day, when we could have left the day before, only to find out that there had been a weather delay Sat. and a mechanical delay Sun. so my package wasn't going to arrive for a couple of days. I was not happy! (esp. because I'd been assured that morning that it was on the way - don't worry, I got a refund!). It was much more about the time factor than the clothes - we could have had more time at Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP if not for this delay...but I digress.
We spent the day driving around Flathead Lake, then stopped at Bigfork, Mt. where I got my hair cut (yippee!) and walked around a bit. It was a very lovely day. The first set of pics is from around the retreat center. Can you imagine worshiping in a chapel with this kind of view??
I had a very special moment while sitting there and praying. I was remembering how unbelievably trapped I felt in my last relationship, and in the situation with a homeless person I got myself into (which is what led me into recovery - thank God!). I honestly felt no hope and trapped. That's just about the worst feeling ever. And here I am, several years later, Happy, Joyous and Free AND on a road trip around the country getting to see site like this, and hang out with incredible people like Liz! I got all choked up and needed to hang my head on Liz's shoulder for a few to shed some tears. It's amazing what the 12 steps can do!
These were a couple of things I saw in Bigfork that I liked, and some views of Flathead Lake on the way back.
Once we realized the FedEx package wasn't coming, we hightailed it toward Yellowstone. Liz took over driving once it became dark (I decided I didn't want to have a wildlife encounter at night) and she/we decided to "power through" and drive as far as we could so we could hopefully wake up near the park. We figured we'd wing it and find a place on the side of the road to stop rather than booking a campsite.
Liz told me at one point, "I have this fantasy that we're going to stop somewhere on the side of the road to camp, and we'll wake up and it will be this beautiful place!" And that's exactly what happened! First, here's the nighttime view (this is that hole in the clouds I mentioned the other day - ha!)
And THIS is what we saw when we opened the window of the camper first thing in the morning!
How cool is that???! I told Liz, "You conjured us up a snow-capped mountain!"
Here's what it looked like from outside the camper.
Today Liz and I went with Heather in her RV to Hot Springs, Mt. Liz drove Heather’s RV and here is Liz giving herself hand signals to get back into her lane (something she does pretty regularly as she’s driving). She said to me, “I’m so quiet, I don’t even talk out loud to myself!” I told her, “I don’t really find you all that quiet. Except maybe in groups.”
The deer was in the yard at the retreat center. When we said, “Hey, there’s a deer” people were not really responsive since that is an everyday occurrence in Montana (as you will see below). Liz has stopped taking pictures of deer.
This is on the way to Hot Springs (which, guess what? They have hot springs there!! - yet another cleverly-named place in Montana!) which is about 45 minutes from Lakeside (which, btw, is on the side of the lake...)
This is Hot Springs, MT where the 3rd most mineral-rich Hot Springs in the world exist at the Symes Hotel. And it’s probably not what you’re expecting! The mineral baths are fed into swimming pools that look like pretty ordinary pools, but the place is not at all fancy, and the neighborhood is pretty run down. They only charge $10 a day, but if they made this place more swanky they could charge a lot more money!! Lucky for us that was not the case!
There are pools with three different temps, about 85, about 104 and about 109. We spent most of our time in the 104 pool and a few minutes in the 109 pool. It was a really cool experience, it was like being in a bath that never cools down. My right shin was bothering me after our 2 hour hike at Glacier on Friday and it went away for a few hours after the bath. It also made my skin feel really good.
I’ve included a pic of a truck with a Hawaii license plate, mainly because Heather is from Hawaii and we got out of her RV and saw that. I also included a pic of how my sterling silver rings were affected by the minerals.
Liz's favorite memory of this place is that they had these robes you could rent for $3, it looked like a rack of robes that someone had scrounged from Goodwill. We wondered if they got washed between clients...
These are pictures of Flathead Lake on our ride back from Hot Springs. It’s the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi! The deer are from the neighborhood near the grocery store we went to after we got back to the retreat center, and Liz and I played Bananagrams! We spent the night in the camper in the lot of the retreat center (with permission) since we needed to stick around until my cool-weather clothing arrived from Arizona.
April, my Holbrook, Az. savior mentioned earlier, went way above and beyond what any normal person would expect in getting my items to me via FedEx. She went to the hotel 3 different times because they wouldn’t give my clothes to her because the employees were not leaving notes on my clothes or communicating with each other after the 5 times I called them. Many blessings on April and her boyfriend Pat, who refused any form of payment saying they believe in paying it forward. I assured them that I do too!
We woke up in the morning and were able to see Glacier National Park from the window of the RV, which you is kind of blurry in the first photo. The other two are from outside the camper.
We took the suggestion of a couple we met at a restaurant Thursday to go to the town of Babb to Many Glacier for a hike. Many Glacier is an area of Glacier National Park. They said we might be able to see bears or moose while there. We saw some mountain goats from very far away – Liz spotted them with her eagle-eyes and we were able to see for sure that they were goats using her binoculars.
The fox was just hanging out on the side of the road on our way there. We stopped and took about 20 photos and it seemed oblivious to us.
We just couldn't get over the color of the water here...
We parked in the lot of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, which was closed for the season - dammit! Then we hiked for a couple of hours.
Yes, it bugs me that I can't figure out how to post portrait layout pictures in Weebly so they are right side up!
I didn't even realize I caught the sun rays in this pic like this until I went to post it - beautiful!!
The caterpillar was the only animal wildlife we saw close up on this hike.
The picture on the lower right has some teeny tiny little white specs, which are mountain goats!!
This is one of several oddly bent trees we saw on our hike.
The BEST LUNCH EVER!! We had hoped to get food at the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge but had to settle for egg salad sandwiches (luckily Liz suggested boiling eggs that morning!) and we were so f-ing hungry after this hike that it was like a gourmet meal to us! We were headed to the retreat so had let out food supply dwindle, thus the slim pickins.
And cows on the side of the road.
These are pics on the way to the retreat from GNP, which was at Glacier Camp on Flathead Lake in Lakeville, Montana.
Any thoughts about WTF that symbol is in the lower right with the cattle head and the red and white thing down its gullet???
One of the coolest things we saw was ACTUAL COWBOYS (for real) bringing cattle across the road and stopping traffic to do so! These pictures came out horribly, but you get the point! One of the cowboys actually had a ball cap and hoodie on! The rest of them were wearing the (expected) cowboy hat.
Ok, there is a setup for this one, specifically the picture on the top right. I want you to know that pre-recovery, I would have been mortified by this and would never have shared this with anyone because of the immense amount of shame I would have had for being so dumb! But now, it's fucking hilarious!!
Liz is driving and I say, "Hey, there's a hole in the clouds that's a perfectly round circle. I've never seen that before..." Liz says, "Barb, that's the sun." I am giggling my ass off right now as I type this! I just had to wipe away tears. We joked about this off and on the rest of the trip. In fact, at night when we saw the moon she said, "Hey, there's a perfectly round hole in the clouds..."
FINALLY! I made it to my first national park! (which was the main objective of this trip in the first place – to visit national parks!!).
I asked Liz if she’d mind driving since I’ve been driving solo for over 3 weeks. Above is our first view as we left in the a.m. And this is MKR sitting on my lap in the passenger seat!
This next part is really difficult because there were so many absolutely magnificent and majestic pictures to choose from.
This first set is from a river we stopped by (just cuz) which is the kind of thing I’d been wanting to do all along on this trip, but I was busy either problem-solving van issues, waiting for repairs or trying to get somewhere quickly for one reason or another. But that shit is over!
So here we are lolly-gagging by this beautiful river. I was really struck by the wide variety of colors of the stones. There were so many beautiful stones and I filled the pocket of my hoody with them. Most of them have some kind of stripes on them and I felt drawn to them.
Speaking of my hoody, I realized the night before this that I left behind (somewhere) all of my warm clothing! I took everything out of the camper to inventory what I had, as well as to rearrange it to make it easier for both Liz and I in the camper. No warm clothing! It could either be in the van, the hotel room in Arizona, the rental car from Arizona, the Holbrook Shuttle that took me to rent the car, or at Tim and Heidi’s Hideaway. Ugh! More on that later…
The approach to the park, and me getting my National Parks pass!
We took Going to the Sun Road, which just opened again this past week due to the fires. (apologies for dirty windshield marks, there will be a lot of those!)
Liz says those trees along the horizon make the earth look like a porcupine :-)
Look at these colors!
We kept seeing these people (mostly in small groups) riding around on these old timey motorcycles. Liz did a little research and found out it's a motorcycle club whose members must drive bikes that are older than 1929 (yes, that's 1929!) and they go on adventures around the country.
And It rained on and off while we were driving through Glacier. I think the raindrops on the window add to this picture. Oh - and btw, Liz was driving this whole time THANK GOD! There were some really scary places on the road where the edge of the road was a figgin' cliff! That stuff makes me really nervous and I would have been driving about 2 mph if I had been behind the wheel! And I probably would have needed a diaper!
This is the KOA near Glacier where we stayed, look at the (faint) rainbow that welcomed us!
I've been away from hi speed internet for days, but things are definitely looking up! [I started this blog post on 9/21 when I was under the illusion that I could upload pictures - I only got one uploaded and gave up after about 45 minutes of trying - this is getting finished and uploaded on Thur. 9/26 from a coworking space called Spark in Jackson Hole, Wy.].
Most of the day Wed. 9/19 was taken up by driving.
As you will see by the pictures the landscape is quite varied in Montana. In this series, the two pics on the right show a gravel road that I got onto directly from the Interstate. I think this was considered “Route 12.” Whatever it was, it was about 12 miles long, bumpy as hell, and reminded me of the back roads in Missouri where my mom is from! I couldn’t wait to get off this road, but the scenery was beautiful!
Not long after that I started praying for a place to pee and hopefully get something to eat! Very soon after I saw the sign for Trixi’s ahead. I pulled in and promptly went to the bathroom. The waitress was named Carol Lee and she told me I was her hero when she asked what brought me in there today. She said, “I can’t even imagine walking into a bar by myself as a woman, never mind take a trip across the country alone!” My thought was, “Um, I thought this was a restaurant…” Anyway, Carol Lee is going to pray for me for the next three weeks. p.s. Liz and I passed by this place again on our way south headed to Yellowstone!
I’ve never seen hay stacked like this, and there were also long stacks of a green crop, some bales of which you can see in the second long strip of bales. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get the one that all green bales.
As I started to get closer to the Whitefish/Kalispell KOA, I started to relax a bit since I knew I was going to make it in plenty of time to get settled and then go get Liz in an Uber or a taxi from the train station. So I stopped at Summit Lake.
I couldn’t figure out how to easily schedule an Uber ride ahead of time, so I called the Glacier Taxi co. and they came to pick me up at the campground at 10:15 so I could meet Liz’s train, which by then was estimated to arrive at 10:30. It was closer to 10:45 by the time she arrived and I was SO HAPPY to see her! This is the moon over the camper later that night.
Barb Nangle is the founder of Higher Power Coaching and Consulting, an entrepreneur and an eternal optimist. She loves motivating others to become better and better versions of themselves, just as she has become better and better versions of herself.