Wednesday, September 25, 2013

West Trip....Day 6

Welcome to Montana!
The home of cowboys, ranches and horses. This is "Big Sky Country" and it is beautiful! Although I personally wouldn't move to a part of the country that has even more winter than Ohio......shudder......I now understand what attracts people to move to Montana.
  Up until today, I have been in all the states we visited so far.  Montana is new territory for me.
Once again, this is mostly a driving day as we head north toward Glacier National Park from Gardiner to Kalispell, a distance of just over 400 miles. There were beautiful scenic views along the way, from rolling hills, prairie grasslands, rivers, and towering mountains. And as usual, photo opportunities are rather limited on these driving days so just a lot of random shots.
The one stop we made was the Smokejumpers Center in Missoula. This is the nation's largest base for highly trained specialists who parachute into remote area of national forests to fight the spread of wildfires. A tour through the base gives visitors a look at the preparation and skill required of men and women who work as smokejumpers.
Our last stop for the day is in St. Ignatius where we enjoyed a home cooked meal with an Amish family.
Well, since I live in an Amish community and I know how the Amish can cook, I knew we would be served a delicious meal and we certainly were but....... I was completely blown away when I got off the bus and stepped into a little piece of paradise on earth.

  I was like a kid in a candy store. I didn't know which way to go first. Of course the stream and waterfall caught my attention so that's where I headed first.  A shot up the stream......
then downstream.
The area around the waterfall.....

and a close-up of the waterfall.
This is the area beside the waterfall. Lets see where the steps lead to.
All I could say was Wow and Yes please......In. My. Backyard!

Back in the main garden, there are a lot of hostas. Everyone who has read my blog knows I'm a hosta fanatic. 
 Love the Russian Sage with the hosta's. I have one pathetic spindly stalk of Russian Sage. If I can ever get it to grow like this I will plant some with my hosta's. Very pretty combination!
This part of the garden is to the right of the steps that lead to the pond.
And it just keeps on going and going. And all of this has to be irrigated.
The Mission Mountains are the mountain range in the background.
I don't think I would ever get tired of a view like this from my back yard. It doesn't get much better than this.
 She called this Lavatera and it's in the Hollyhock and Hibiscus family.
I have a fascination for old weathered barns.  I'll take one of these too. Thank You.....
And eventually we found time from our garden meanderings to eat a delicious meal of salad, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, vegetable, and the best fresh peach cream pie I ever tasted.
 After dinner Simon shared the story of his dream as a young boy to live in Montana someday. I have to admire people who have the courage to step outside of their comfort zone and live their dreams!
Some of the Amish in St. Ignatius previously lived in our area here in Ohio.
We thought this was the perfect setting to do our group photo.
It was hard to leave this idyllic setting but the time came to get on board and head to Kalispell for the night. 
 Amish schoolhouse in the neighborhood.
Our hotel tonight was the Hampton Inn in Kalispell, Montana.
Gorgeous sunset in Kalispell.
Next......Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

West Trip....Day 5

According to Kathy, the only thing better than a cup of coffee is two cups of coffee!
The Grand Teton Mountain Range
Today we will take in some vistas of the Grand Teton Mountains as we make our way north to Yellowstone.
The Tetons are part of the Rocky Mountain Range. They are quite different from most other national parks in this country having sharp, jagged peaks that resemble mountains in Switzerland.
I could have done two posts on this day but I'll try to cram it all into one.  We had so much to see on this day that by the end of the day we were two hours behind schedule.
 What makes these mountains so unique from others is they rise straight up from the valley floor. There are no foothills so this creates a stark contrast from flat land to striking peaks.
The tallest and most recognizable mountain in the range is Grand Teton. This peak is 13,770 feet. Mount Owen to the right is the second highest at 12,928 feet. Middle Teton to the left is 12,804 feet and South Teton on the far left is 12,514.
 The Teton Glacier is tucked in between the peaks of Grand Teton, Mount Owen and Teewinot Mountain know as the Cathedral Group.

Middle Teton and the Black Dike.

Jenny Lake lays at the base of the main Teton peaks. Jenny Lake is one of seven lakes in the park and the beautiful blue color comes from melting glaciers.

Mount Moran from Jenny Lake elevation 12,605.

Jackson Lake
Now we are entering Yellowstone. Yellowstone gained it's National Park status on March 1, 1872 making it the first and oldest park in the US and covers 3,400 square miles.
Since we are only here for one day we can only hit a few of the highlights in this area. Unfortunately for me I could spend a week here!

 We entered Yellowstone at the south entrance at an elevation of 6,886 feet. The road follows the scenic Lewis River and Canyon which is still showing forest fire damage from 1988.
Duck Lake in foreground and Yellowstone Lake in the background.

No visit to Yellowstone is complete without seeing Old Faithful Geyser but unfortunately rain was moving in leaving a cloudy background which makes the geyser hard to see.

 Yellowstone's iconic geyser shoots up to 180 feet in the air releasing steam that is 350 degrees. The amount of water discharged from Old Faithful ranges from 3,700 to 8,400 gallons depending on the duration of the eruption.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is an amazing, must see feature in the park. It is roughly 20 miles long, depth 800 to 1200 feet, width is 1500 to 4000. The canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciation.
 Iron and Oxides in the rocks have painted the canyon various shades of yellow, orange and red.
Lower Falls
 Lower Falls is one of hundreds of waterfalls in Yellowstone. I love waterfalls and hiking and that is why I could spend a week here. There's so much to see you can't do it justice in one day.

 After the canyon we entered a part of Yellowstone with rolling hills and wide open views and occasionally a wildlife sighting.
Mostly bison but we also saw elk, pronghorn, and bear.
 Our last stop in Yellowstone is the Mammoth Hot Springs. Our time is very limited here because somewhere during the course of the day we got two hours behind our schedule.
 Hot water bubbling up from the ground, has formed terraces and covered them with calcium carbonate. The water travels underground from the Norris Geyser Basin by a fault line that runs through limestone. The superhot water has cooled to about 170 degrees before surfacing here at Mammoth Hot Springs.
The landscape looks like you are on another planet.
"For The Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People"
This is the arch at the northern entrance/exit. It was dedicated when Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone. I certainly did enjoy it and it is on my bucket list to do an extended trip to this area.
As soon as we exited Yellowstone we arrived in Gardiner Montana and this is where we spent the night.
Up next Montana.....Big Sky Country