Oregon or Bust

Sunday we left Pinedale, WY and made our way to Fort Laramie, WY. It was a beautiful drive with ever-changing terrain. We followed the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail, and Pony Express Route for much of the way. It was amazing to look out at the rolling hills, rugged rocky areas, and arid plains and imagine covered wagons making their way across. The strength and determination of the pioneers is really incredible.

I was so excited to visit Fort Laramie! When I was younger, I spent a lot of time reading stories about pioneers crossing this great country in search of land, money, adventure, religious freedom, or simply a different life. I was particularly engrossed by the stories of women who made the crossing. Their diaries describe astonishing courage, fortitude, and sheer tenacity that I found inspiring as well as impressive. Fort Laramie is a familiar highlight in just about every one of these stories of general struggle and hardship. The joy and relief felt at the site of this fort was a common experience among these adventurers.

Pictures from our visit to Fort Laramie


There were many interesting things to see at Fort Laramie, including the oldest house in Wyoming.  Volunteers, dressed in period costumes, told facts and stories about the history of the fort.  We were even served root beer and sarsaparilla by a gentleman working at the old bar (much had been rebuilt, but we were told the floor was the original.). Thanks to the CCC many buildings had been restored or rebuild. One of the most interesting signs explained the history of education on the fort. There was a school early on in its history (1852), but it was hard to recruit qualified teachers and even harder to keep them. Some teachers would actually get drunk in order to be fired from the position. When a qualified teacher was unavailable, soldiers would be paid an extra 35 cents a day to teach the children. The sign went on to say that “a few soldiers made good teachers, most did not.” One man who grew up on the fort recalled a time when two deserters, in shackles, were forced to teach his class!





















































Pictures from Register Rock









































Register Rock (Register Cliff) is one of the spots along the trail that pioneers carved their names into rock as a lasting sign that they had been there. It is an interesting piece of history, knowing that each of those names has a story. Sadly, there is a lot of vandalism at the site. People, completely lacking in respect for history, sign their name on the wall (sadly, sometimes even writing over the names of the original names.)

Pictures from the Oregon Trail Ruts (including a picture of the North Platte River)-






















Categories: National Monuments, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Day at Yellowstone

I am still trying to get caught up on blogging about our adventures. I will try to put two posts up today and then I will be up-to-date. Hooray!

Saturday we returned to Yellowstone. It was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful time. It is such an amazing park!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone











Scenes from Yellowstone











Norris Geyser





















The Roosevelt Arch 













Elk in Mammoth





















A buffalo grazing on the prairie and (picture #2) a buffalo sitting just outside a restroom. It was a bit of a shock to see a giant buffalo sitting there when we came out and turned the corner. So awesome!











A herd of buffalo and (picture #2) a long line of cars waiting for another herd to finish crossing the road. We were pretty far back in the line, as you can see, but fortunately we had my grandfather’s binoculars to watch the crossing.











Beautiful Jackson Lake and one last good-bye to the Tetons


Categories: National Parks, wildlife, Wyoming | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Green River Rendezvous and the Ring of Fire

Friday we were in Pinedale, WY for the Green River Rendezvous.  The town was quite festive celebrating its mountain man history!  There were all sorts of vendors set up along the main street and folks dressed up in historic costumes roaming about town. We decided we would experience some local culture and go to the rodeo. It was an interesting view of western life. We had the best time!

We were amazed at the skill (horse and rider) of the barrel racers.











The peewee barrel racers were adorable!  The little girl in the first picture was riding a stubborn mule named Peanut. He wouldn’t cooperate, but she didn’t give up. I’m sure she’s going to be a great barrel racer someday!











There were tie-down and breakaway roping events.











Here are the saddle bronc and ranch bronc events. Apparently, saddle bronc is the safer event, as the announcers colorfully explained, because the saddle in that event doesn’t have a horn. (Let me add, the announcers were a riot!  They were two older gentlemen that had to put in great amounts of effort and energy to keep their commentary family friendly. And their jokes were so bad they were good. Haha!)











These two gentlemen are the buckaroos. They were brave and highly skilled. After the 8 second ride was complete (if the rider was still mounted), they would ride up alongside the bucking bronco so that the rider could jump onto their horse, slide across the back, and dismount on the other side to safety. They would then lasso the horse, flank it on either side, and bring it back into its holding pen. It was quite impressive to watch!











It was hard to get good pictures of the bull riding event. Most of the gentlemen didn’t make the 8 seconds. The most amazing thing about this event, for me, was the bravery (foolishness?!?) of the rodeo clowns!  They were quick to come to the rescue of riders on the ground by refocusing the bulls attention on themselves. You can see the clown in the cowboy hat and peach shirt running toward the bull and downed rider. Fortunately for him, he is quick on his feet!











And this leads me to the final event, the “ring of fire”!  It sounded mysterious and we had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be the craziest thing we’d ever seen! The rodeo clowns painted five circles on the ground. Then 5 volunteers (Young men with more spunk than sense, if you know what I mean! I am pretty sure most of them were bull riders.) put on protective vest and stood in the circles. Once they were in their places the bull was released. The last man still standing in his circle wins.

The bull came out charging. About 2 seconds after the second picture was taken, the young man in the red vest with the bull headed for him was flipped up in the air and promptly thrown to the ground. There was a collective gasp and shriek from the audience. It was scary to watch! The rodeo clown quickly came to the rescue, at which point the dude in red made a fast break for the fence, but was himself flipped into the air by the bull.  At this point, all of the fellows were fast on their feet and headed to the fence! In good news, both the contestant and clown appeared to be fine, although, no doubt a bit banged and bruised.











The evening ended with what was perhaps the most beautiful sunset I’d ever seen! I wish my camera could have captured the beauty, but I guess some things aren’t meant to be captured.


Categories: Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Bridger-Teton National Forest

We have been so busy having fun that I haven’t had time or energy for blogging. Soooo, I am a bit behind again. Rather than making one very long blog post, I am going to break it up into smaller pieces.


I’ll start with Thursday. We spent the afternoon in Bridger-Teton National Forest. We followed Granite Creek up to the Granite Hotsprings.  In the 1930’s the CCC built a pool for the spring water to flow into, but we hadn’t brought our swim things with us, so we didn’t end up swimming. Too bad.


Here are a few pictures from our day and a photo of a bridge for sale along the side of the road that caught our eye.













Categories: National Forests, Wyoming | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Teton and Yellowstone

This is an exciting day! My sister gave birth to a little boy this afternoon. Congratulations to John and Katie and the three big sisters!  I have now been blessed with 21 nieces and nephews! 

So… I have fallen behind in blogging. We had a wonderfully busy weekend and then Monday I had a terrible headache all day, so I will try to get a little caught up now. And I am sorry this post is so long. Friday we were back in Teton to hike a trail that skirted beautiful Jenny Lake. Saturday, Nick and George had a wonderful adventure exploring a wind cave in Targhee National Forest (hopefully he’ll blog about that tomorrow). Sunday we spent the day in Yellowstone National Park. I should say we spent *most* of the day in Yellowstone, because we were actually in two national parks, 3 states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho), 3 national forests and a wilderness area before the day was done. It was quite a day!

Hiking around Jenny Lake on Friday


Sunday we drove through Teton, making a few stops, to get to Yellowstone.











Visiting the AMAZING Yellowstone National Park


A picnic lunch at Lewis Lake (Luckily, we did not encounter Yogi Bear!)











We saw Old Faithful and other geysers erupt. Very cool!






















The Lewis River and Nez Perce Creek











Wildlife! We saw a lot of really awesome things in Yellowstone, but the wildlife was definitely the highlight!  Most of the creatures we saw in the park were along the Nez Perce Creek (coyote, elk, and buffalo).



















I wish I would have gotten more pictures of Idaho, but we were all tired by the end of the day and a storm was approaching so we just wanted to get home.  In any case, the farm land was so lovely and I have never seen so many wildflowers. It was absolutely delightful! Here are a couple of pictures of the the Tetons from the Idaho side.

The Tetons have loomed up grandly against the sky. From this point it is perhaps the finest pictorial range in the United States or even North America. -Thomas Moran, while painting the Tetons from the Idaho side, 1879


Categories: Idaho, Montana, National Forests, National Parks, wildlife, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Grand Teton National Park


There are no foothills to the Tetons. They rise suddenly in rugged majesty from the rock strewn plain… the soft light floods the great expanse of the valley, the winding silvery river and the resplendent deeply carved mountain walls. -Lieutenant Gustavus Cheney Doane, 1876

(As always, click on a picture to view it larger)

For most of the trip from Pinedale to the park, the road follows alongside the Hoback River.  The drive begins in the enchanting, open prairie lands of Sublette County and ends with the majestic beauty of Teton County.











Grand Teton National Park was a wonderful place to celebrate the 4th of July. It is definitely America the beautiful!











The Cathedral Group










Beautiful Jenny Lake











The view of the valley from Signal Mountain’s summit











The wildflowers are plentiful and oh so lovely!











The Snake River at Oxbow Bend Overlook











It is so awesome to see buffalo roam across the prairie. It conjures up images of another time in this place and stirs the imagination with visions of the old west.


Categories: National Parks, wildlife, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy 4th of July from Wyoming

One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore! -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Happy 4th of July from beautiful Pinedale, Wyoming!  We are staying in a great little rv park that borders on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. I love Wyoming! It is spacious and empty and wonderfully serene. In the midst of this crazy, busy world, I truly appreciate the peaceful solitude of this place.

Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.  -Theodore Roosevelt

The beautiful rv park where we are staying. Most of the land you see in this picture is actually national forest.

The beautiful rv park where we are staying. Most of the land you see in this picture is actually national forest.

We heard a strange squeaking sound coming from the grass just outside our rv. We discovered countless burrows and saw at least a dozen prairie dogs scampering about. Here is one of our little neighbors.

We heard a strange squeaking sound coming from the grass just outside our rv. We discovered countless burrows and saw at least a dozen prairie dogs scampering about. Here is one of our little neighbors.

This forest is just beautiful!

This forest is just beautiful!

We will be spending our day in the Grand Teton National Park appreciating this beautiful country and the blessing it is to live here.

Categories: National Forests, National Parks, rv parks, wildlife, Wyoming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Wyoming and Montana

The very impressive Devils Tower

The very impressive Devils Tower

The upside to taking a couple of extra days to get to Montana is more time for exploring. We spent Tuesday night at Mountain View RV Park in Sundance, WY, which is just 30 minutes from Devils Tower. So, on Wednesday Caleb, Betsy, George and I decided to visit our nation’s first national monument (which is kind of cool in itself).Devils Tower is definitely a majestic and impressive sight!

The downside of not arriving in Montana by Tuesday, is that my husband is having to work all day and then drive at night. (Normally, we’ll only be traveling on weekends.) We drove until about 1 a.m. last night and slept in a Walmart parking lot in Butte, MT. Camping at Walmart feels a bit strange, but there were at least 10 RVs here last night. If you are traveling until late, it really is the best option (most rv park’s won’t let you check-in after 8 or 9 p.m.). We’ll be traveling again this evening and hope to finally arrive at our destination!

George viewing Devils Tower with his great-grandfather's binoculars.

George viewing Devils Tower with his great-grandfather’s binoculars.

Major prairie dog cuteness

Major prairie dog cuteness

Horseback riding in Wyoming (haha)

Horseback riding in Wyoming (haha)

Betsy, Caleb, and George at Devils Tower

...and it's me

…and it’s me

Hello, sweet Montana!  You are a sight for sore eyes!

Hello, sweet Montana! You are a sight for sore eyes!

Categories: boondocking, Montana, National Monuments, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 4… or Plan B

The plan was to leave Virginia on Saturday and arrive at Glacier National Park in Montana on Tuesday… it’s Tuesday and we are in Wyoming.  So, we are on to plan B.  Apparently, we were overly optimistic and failed to factor in time for rv repairs, sickness, and numerous stops for gas (7 miles per gallon *ahem*). The new “plan” is to arrive at our destination by Friday.

With the exception of this first week, we have no plans, just vague ideas about where we’d like to go. One of the things we love about taking a year-long rv trip is that we don’t have to live by schedules or itineraries. The plan is not to have a plan. In a word: FREEDOM. And, obviously, having a plan this week didn’t mean much in the long run. I guess that’s what makes it an adventure.

We spent most of the day driving through South Dakota. It has been quite a few years since I have been in this part of the country. I had almost forgotten the beauty of wide open spaces. In a crowded and busy world, it is an amzingly peaceful feeling to look out and see nothing but land and sky for miles on end.

With four of us not feeling well and the hope of seeing Montana soon, we skipped visiting the Corn Palace this morning. We did, however, stop to see the Missouri River from a scenic overlook. We also stopped at Wall Drug (Oh, how I love a tourist trap!). We’ll be back later this summer to properly explore South Dakota.

We are overnighting in Wyoming and hope to see Montana tomorrow!




Categories: South Dakota, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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