My Two Favorite Dorks

My Two Favorite Dorks

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trip, Part IV: Yellowstone, the Rockies and Home Sweet Home

Todd and I, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
I spent so much time on my first two trip blog entries that I have lost some steam by the last two. I let the pictures guide the narrative last time, and I think I will do the same for this one. (I also have ulterior motives: I have to catch you up to speed on my health and I have an upcoming work trip to Vancouver - I have never been - which I'm sure I will want to blog about and from which I will also hopefully have lots of cool pictures.)

We met Todd's aunts in Ennis, MT for lunch the day of our departure. After that, we drove through Yellowstone and Cooke City on our way to stay in Cody, WY that night. Unfortunately it was dark after we left Cooke City and we missed some of (what I hear is) the very best scenery in those parts. Not to fret, there was plenty of other beautiful stuff that we saw.

Some stuff we saw in Yellowstone:

A "this stuff should be obvious" wildlife warning
Pretty waterfall
Purple wildflowers
The famous petrified tree - stone!

Beautiful evening scenery

Bison (and baby bison!) in the road
About as close to a bison as I ever want to be

Stupid car trying to drive around a bison...guess who would win that race?
More BIG bison crossing the road in front of us
More pretty scenery

Todd looking for wildlife...we saw plenty!
We stopped in Cooke City for dinner - no cell phone reception! This place is so quiet it feels like a wild animal could walk out onto main street at any time.
We spent the night in Cody, Wyoming, about 1.5 hours past Cooke City, and started out the next day south toward Rocky Mountain National Park near Boulder, CO. The trip through Wyoming was eerily desolate with the strangest most inconvenient road construction I'd ever been through. Traffic would have to stop but there was no telling how long you would be stopped in the hot, summer sun...5, 10, 15, 20 minutes. Grueling.

Much of Colorado until we got near the Boulder area was surprisingly flat. We made our way to Estes Park (a place about which we do not have much good to say besides its convenient location), about 10 miles outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, which we wanted to explore the next day. (Side note: the city we stayed in and the area around there, including the park, have all been influenced by the massive flooding in the past week - crazy that we were there just four weeks ago!)

Rocky Mountain National Park was amazing. The altitude was a killer: I was super-duper having to wear oxygen the entire time in Colorado basically - but especially in Estes Park (about 6,000 feet) and on into the park (up to an astonishing 12,000 feet!!)

Here are pictures from Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park) unless otherwise noted:

Cool canyon wall on way to the park
The closest I ever got to seeing a moose - sad!!
Picnic with the cutest - and most photogenic - chipmunk in Colorado
Crazy bikers all over the park
An elk chillin'
Crazy high elevation! This was the only time in the history of forever (me on oxygen) that my saturations were ever better than Todd's!
A marmot, I think, or some other cute mammal
Rocks and appropriately named place!
Elk in the road!
Another picture of the elk crossing the road - daddy behind the others
An elk coming down the slope - he moves so gracefully for such a large creature (notice the blight affecting the trees here)
Elk stopping for a bite after holding up traffic and crossing the road
Winding roads

A cute bird


Elk grazing
Elk grazing on a hill...if you haven't noticed there are a LOT of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Seriously high!

Now after from Colorado: One night in Goodland, Kansas; one night in St Louis, Missouri; one night in Knoxville, Tennessee.
A wicked storm on the horizon in Kansas - thankfully we stopped for the night before it so we didn't have to drive through the huge lightening and hail it produced. Not much else to say about Kansas...
Our awesome $80/night ex-train station hotel in St Louis...score from Priceline! Amazing architecture, huge open lobby with stained glass windows and swanky rooms to boot.
My friend Betsy and I outside Suttrees in downtown Knoxville, TN - we stayed our last night with her, her adorable dog Stella and her cat Chicken.
Finally! These mountains (an artsy pic of the Southern Appalachians) look more like home...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trip, Part III: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

The beautiful Beaverhead River

Montana. It will always hold part of my heart. If you haven't been there to experience it for yourself, I think that you will understand why after you see my pictures.

We spent about eight days in Montana this year. The biggest change from previous visits is that my brother-in-law Brad now has his own fly shop!

Not only did we get some sweet deals on outdoor clothing and such, but the shop proved to be a very fun place to hang out and relax after a day just driving around, a day of nephew-watching, or a day on the river.

Colorful flies
Clyde (with ball) in front of the shop
We stayed with Brad on a ranch outside of Dillon, MT. Dillon is in the southwest corner of MT. We were lucky to have fantastic weather most of the time. It was warm, sunny and no smoke from wildfires was to be seen.

View from "Hotel Platt"
The ranch is surrounded by lots and lots of grass and farmland...and cows, and deer, and osprey...
The resident kitten - love!

Creepy/awesome tree
One of the best things about being in MT was getting to spend a lot of time with our 5-year old nephew Sawyer. He is a really good kid, a lot of fun to be around, and has more energy than any of us can keep up with!

Here are some pictures of a really fun half-day float down the Beaverhead River that Brad took me, Todd, Sawyer and the two dogs Clyde and Henry on. Talk about a boat load!

On the ride to the river, Sawyer makes sure Henry's sun-protection is in place
Sawyer 'kickin' it' while Brad prepares the boat at the put-in

Brad putting the boat in - Sawyer is ready to go!

Five Platts fishing - how cute are they?
Sometimes being with adults is just boring.

But, Sawyer did get to get out every so often and frolic around in the water with his two dog buddies.

Petting the fish
Me being a dork taking a picture of myself because Todd never takes pictures of me
I love this picture of Henry! The regal retriever.
Some other fun things we did with Sawyer - aka how to be the coolest aunt and uncle ever.
Took him to a Dinosaur Park in Bozeman where Uncle Todd gave him some rock climbing tips.
...He's a fast learner.
When Clyde and Henry heard we were going fishing, Clyde immediately packed himself into the back of the Subaru - Henry jumped into the back seat.
Clyde and Henry supervise as Sawyer helps Uncle Todd (aka Uncle Stinky Socks) reel in a fish.
The highlight of the day for Sawyer - by far - was catching and carrying around this poor toad for the afternoon.

Yep, the toad rode home with Sawyer and Henry in the back seat. (Uncle Todd is a softie.)
We also took him to the movies, bought him a new pair of tennis shoes for school (which he claimed made him 'really fast'), played 'I Spy' until we were blue in the face (...seriously, this is Montana, this game takes a lot of imagination!) and made a comprehensive count of all the stop signs in Dillon.

Todd and I did get away to do some stuff on our own - we went on a couple of very cool drives - cool as in scenic and to neat fishing spots we'd never been to. Unfortunately, a lot of the places we went to elevation continued to affect my breathing pretty significantly, so we were not able to be as active as we liked.

I love this picture of Todd walking down to fish a small strip of river:

Spreading the Ashes

A big part of our Montana trip was getting together with Todd and Brad's four aunts (whose own vacation to MT overlapped accordingly with ours) to spread Todd's father Roger's ashes in the Beaverhead River.

The day we picked to do it was perfect. We all met at the flyshop in time for cocktail hour (the unofficial time between getting off the river and the shop closing at 7). Jill (Sawyer's mom) and Sawyer put together a wreath of flowers - something visual to see float down the river. The aunts had put together a 'message in a bottle' that they hoped would find its way all the way to the Gulf of Mexico - Roger's final adventure.

The Beaverhead winds through this beautiful ranch that we got permission to be at to pour the ashes into the river.
Jill holding the wreath, Sawyer skipping rocks, Brad and John drinking Roger's signature drink (Bud tall-boys). The dogs are also swimming nearby. Keeping it real.
Roger's sister Nancy reading something she wrote for him.
Todd dumps the ashes (well, half of them - the other half are getting dumped in a river in Tennessee) while Brad and Sawyer look on.

The Best Day of Fishing Ever

The day after the ash ceremony, Brad, Todd, Clyde and Henry and I went fishing one last time on the Beaverhead. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the best days fishing ever for me. It wasn't because I caught a lot of fish - although that may be true for Todd! - but because the weather was beautiful, we were all relaxed and just happy to be together. (Sawyer had gone back home with his mother that day.)

Here are a few pictures from that day:

Todd catching another big fish.

Henry and Clyde keep a close eye on the end of Brad's line.

Me, happy to catch a fish.

My Montana story would not be complete without mentioning the awesome Anderson & Platt Outfitters store manager Josh, who led us to some great fishing spots, had a super awesome and very smart dog named Summer (who kept Sawyer entertained when we had all been worn out) and who was just a really great guy to get to know. (Unfortunately only Josh's arm made it into this picture.)

Summer dog
And finally, a brief nod to my underrepresented but not under-appreciated traveling companion, oxygen. Without you, I wouldn't have been able to do half of what I did out West - at least not without my body paying the price for it.

To be continued...