Monday, July 14, 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park

It was time to leave Glenwood Springs and use our last full day to travel to Denver to where we were staying near the airport. We decided to travel by way of Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive was beautiful and we drove through tunnels in mountains and along the Colorado River for much of the way.There was Columbine growing at the visitors center coming into the park. It really is a beautiful flower!
Each park we have visited has had a different look and feel. There is one road going through the park. Everyone starts at 7800 feet and ascends to 12000 feet via hairpin turns, winding roads, and cliffs (white knuckle driving). The views are gorgeous! There are mountains and meadows and streams. We saw moose and elk in this park. At one point, there was a whole herd of female elk and their offspring. They make a sound like Nyah, Nyah in a high pitch sort of way. They just had their babies in July and some were still spotted.

We enjoyed every bit of the wildlife we saw on this trip. We have decided we are definitely mountain people. We enjoyed most of what we saw in Colorado. I think I'd like to spend more time here at some point. We've been away from home for 2 weeks (2 and 1/2 for me) and are very anxious to get home! We fly out tommorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Today, we slept in and then went to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park i n Glenwood Springs, CO. We had to take a gondola up to the top of a mountain where the park was. There is a restuarant at the top and also the Fairy caves are up there. We took a tour of the caves which were famous back in the 1800's. They have stalagtites and stalagmites and are cool to look at.

Who knew that my girls would end up being such dare devils. They had this monster swing that swung people 14000 feet above the canyon floor over the Colorado River. This is taller than the Empire State Building. If you look carefully, Kristin is covering her eyes. Kristin and Amanda are on the right side going up.
They also had another ride that was called the Canyon Coaster that sent us down hill on a roller coaster type thing down the side of the mountain. There are brakes that you use to slow you down. Kristin went down first and then we had to show Amanda how to use the brakes. The last thing the man said was not to stop. So Amanda who started well after Kristin decided that the man told her not to stop, so she went full blast down the mountain and bumped into Kristin twice. I used the brakes most of the way down and I like roller coasters.

We had a nice day. Tim's arm is looking better but he is still under the weather.

Arches National Park

Well after the long ride yesterday and the afternoon and evening in the ER, we arrived in Moab at 11 p.m. and boy were we tired. We ate at a cute diner this a.m. and then headed to Arches National Park (about 6 miles away). We drove through the most amazing rock formations in the desert. I believe the temperature then was at least 95 degrees and it wasn't even noon. So you'll understand when I tell you I wasn't going to hike up 1 1/2 mile in the sweltering heat in the desert to see the delicate arch... I thought about it and then got my sanity back. I was able to see the arch from a distance, however.

Unfortunately, most of the arches required hiking in for a distance to see them... and quite frankly, I didn't see the point. But someday, if it is cooler, and I am in Utah, in the desolate place of Moab, and I see the point, I will go see the arches because looking at something other than the terrain I am used to or the mountains we just saw is beautiful in its own way. The colors on the stones were very interesting. And there was some green in the desert which really interested me.

We were going to see Canyonlands but because Tim's arm began to look worse despite the antibiotics he was on, we chose to drive to our next location so he could check back in to the ER for another assessment. We drove to Colorado and was quite fascinated to see that Western Colorado had many of the same deserty, colorful cliffs AND green fertile valleys. We checked into our condo that we are staying at in Glenwood Springs. Our condo is part of a ski resort that is very quiet right now. It is also 10 miles in the middle of no where but very nice and beautiful here. We then spent 5 hours in the ER. This doctor thinks that he has a MRSA infection. We've already weighed the options of going home early, and perhaps even driving home. But Tim was able to get 2 IV antibiotics and came home with 2 more (double strength) to take orally. He will see the doctor again tommorrow night if needed. He assures me that we don't have to cut our trip short. The hospital was much more pleasant and professional than we experienced yesterday. We did enjoy the park this morning so our day was not all bad. Here is one more picture of what we saw.

Salt Lake City side trip

Well, it's been a busy two days. Tim really started to experience pain in his right elbow on Thursday night and it began to swell and get red. Before he left home, he hit his elbow on a tractor sustaining a cut. He did have some pus several days ago but thought it was better.... NOT! We knew he needed to see an MD but we were in Montana in the middle of no where. I looked online and found a hospital that had a "fast track" to see him in the ER in Salt Lake City which was 5 hours away. When we got to the hosptial, after waiting for many hours, the doctor decided that Tim had cellulitis and needed an IV antibiotic and all kinds of bloodwork. We really weren't planning on going in to Salt Lake City at all, just passing through.
As Tim was getting bloodwork, I took the girls to see some of the city. We were right by Temple Square which is 35 acres in the center of town owned by the Mormons. I wanted to get a picture of the Mormon temple that is so famous. We got in and out of there quickly... I felt a little disloyal. We also got a picture of the capitol building which I think looked like the congress. After the long afternoon and evening at the hosptial, we traveled 4 hours to HOT Moab, UT.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Grizzly Discovery Center

We drove through some of Yellowstone today on our way to West Yellowstone, Montana. We ate supper and then went to the Grizzly Discovery Center. We wanted to see bears closer than we were able to before. And we didn't make it up to the Lamar Valley on the northeast entrance to the park to see the wolves. We were able to see both at this center.
They have a total of 4 wolves that are about 13 years old (older for a wolf). All at once they started howling and it was cool to watch them. They really are alot like dogs in their reactions to each other and habits. You could tell which one was the alpha male just by the way he protected the others.

There were a total of 8 grizzly bears. Some were taken out of the wild because they had become too aggressive trying to steal garbage and pet food. And most were orphaned when they were around 6 months old. They would have kids go into their empty habitat and place food under rocks, in the water, in trees, etc. so that they could similate them having to find it in the wild. Then after the kids had hidden the food, they'd let different combinations of the bears out at different times. The bears had different playmates each time they went out. Many of them looked darker colored. Apparently, grizzly bears aren't always brown colored and black bears aren't always black colored. You can tell them apart by the hump on their back, their claws, and by the way they walk. We really enjoyed watching them play and rummage for food.
I have to say that the little town of West Yellowstone, Montana is all touristy shops and food places. The Grizzly Discovery Center was great, and I hear they have a good IMAX of Yellowstone. But we're anxious to be on our way to Utah. Tommorrow is a driving day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Snake River Scenic Float Trip

As usual, the day is sunny. I think we've only had a little rain one night. We got up early to go on a scenic float trip with 12 others. We went down to Deadman's Bar and launched into the Snake River. It was interesting to see how many times the river has changed the direction of the current due to trees and rocks being in the way. The trip provided beautiful views of the Tetons and we also saw 2 pair of nesting eagles and some osprey.
It was kind of scary to sit in a boat that hits the bottom and floats very quickly around the river. We had a great guide that navigated the river well. We had to be careful because if we sat back to far, we could fall in. The water is only 40 degrees right now and a little high. The current is also fast. Amanda only felt comfortable sitting on the floor of the boat. This was the boat we took.
The views from the boat were amazing. And I'm feeling a little sad today because we leave here tommorrow. We're going into Yellowstone for some more fishing again tommorrow and staying in West Yellowstone, Montana tommorrow night. From there we'll head down to Moab, Utah to see the Canyonlands National Park and the Arches National Park. We now have a passport that we get stamped in the parks (Ryan & Jen, I bought one for your family because I know it is something you'll love to do). We're hoping to do all of them in our lifetime. I will miss the mountain views and the wildlife we've seen! This is a picture taken from the trip this morning.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fountain Paint Pots

We went to Yellowstone today to do some fishing and stopped by the Fountain Paint Pots above Old Faithful. The pots are actually geysers. I didn't realize this but Yellowstone has over 300 geysers. We walked along this boardwalk (because the ground was unstable with the heated areas) and looked at small geysers that were all different colors. They are different colors because they are different temperatures and different bacteria thrives in the different temperatures and makes the water different colors. The one I liked best was the ceylon colored one. Some of them were boiling, and some were spewing off.
They all smelled like sulfer. There were others that were pink colored, leather colored, and green. There was also a white mud one that was boiling. Its interesting to think about the volcanic activity that is present in a good portion of the park.

All of these geysers were letting off steam and water that emptied into the river that ran beside it. The river was called the firehole and was the one that we fished in to day. The water was about 75 degrees. We could see the trout jumping all around us. Trout normally like cold water so I was suprised. I got to use my fly rod today without success I might add. Tim took a picture of me in the river. I will say that I did get a nice cutt-throat trout yesterday in the Snake River.

Ansel Adams I am not

Ansel Adams was a famous photographer who photographed the Tetons in 1941 and 1942. He took his picture from a spot called the Snake River Overlook. It is a kind of way out of the way place but we found it last night. I didn't do the photograph justice. It was taken at sunset but picture is a bit hazy. But I will say that it looks almost just like Adams picture. This Snake River has been wonderful to fish in (upstream) and we will be taking a scenic float trip right about here tomorrow. We also had a hard time with animals crossing the road right in front of us. First, there was a moose that crossed the road in front of us.

Then, the bison, who don't seem to understand that there are boundaries, decided to cross the road in front of traffic. When we got back into the park, there was a herd of elk in the field that we enjoyed.

This morning, we decided to go to Yellowstone and on our way out, there were 2 grizzly bears rummaging for food. The picture had to be taken quickly because the ranger was moving us on. We realize that anytime there is a ranger present, there is a bear. It's almost like they follow the bear because people are really stupid. People walk right up to the bison to take pictures like they won't do anything.

Monday, July 7, 2008


When we checked in last week, we asked about places to eat and asked about the Chuckwagon. The woman at the desk said, " You want to eat at the Chuckwagon?" like it was a stupid thing to do. But we found Dornan's chuckwagon down by the tackle shop we use. Although it was expensive, it was neat because they cooked everything over a charcoal fire in big pots.

They served beef stew, barbeque short ribs, steak, baked beans, mashed potatoes, salad, blackberry cobbler. They also had a choice of barbeque chicken as well. The chuckwagon had beautiful views of the Tetons in the background.
After dinner, we drove down Wilson Road which is a narrow winding road through the woods. We saw a cinnamon colored bear (ran like a black bear and not a grizzly) that ran across the road in front of us. We also saw 3 swamp donkeys (moose) that were in the pond. It was getting dark so the picture is dark. We also saw herds of elk driving back into the park.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The fish are running

We decided to start doing some fishing. After going to angler store at the park entrance and buying our licenses, we decided to go down to the Snake River below the dam and do some fishing. Tim was able to bring in 4-5 lake trout that were all about 15 inches plus. My fly rod did not work well there because of the wind but we used spinnning rods. Today, I was skunked.... ok, I did have one on the hook but lost him right at the shore.

We fish right below the dam and watch a bald eagle and osprey soar over us. The pelican likes to float down the river waiting for fish, and the uinta (ground squirrel) in the family of the prairie dog playing on the rocks near us. The fish bite most of the day but it does vary with how much water is coming out of the dam. There is alot of water in the lake right now and they are letting about 8000 gallons out a day (normal is 2000). The fishing in Wyoming is wonderful!!!!!! Will try Yellowstone again next week.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Yellowstone or bust

On Thursday, we decided to drive up into Yellowstone before the holiday weekend started and the park was packed. Yellowstone has an amazing diversity of land, mountains, rivers, and lakes, as well as geysers, hot springs and a sulfer cauldron. It even has its own Grand Canyon. Yellowstone Lake is the biggest lake measuring 20 miles long, 14 miles wide, and 460 feet deep.

Yellowstone is a huge park that has 2 loops. To go around both loops and stopping occasionally, it takes a good 8 hours to see the park, and I think we put on 150 miles on the car. Most of the trees in the picture above are Lodgepole pines (a.k.a.Norweigan Pine) These make up 80% of the trees in the park. We first went to Old Faithful to watch the geyser shoot off. It is quite interesting to think about the amount of volcanic activity that is evidenced in that park. Old Faithful supposedly goes off every 92 minutes but the times can vary. On this day, it was 3 minutes late but well worth the wait.
We then headed for Hot Mammoth Springs in the northern area of the park near Montana. It was really funny and cool to see a herd of bison walking down the road. They certainly held up traffic.

We were able to see quite a few animals including elk, bison, pronghorn deer, mule deer, and 3 bear. I guess I thought we'd see thousands of animals in the plains but considering the millions of acres there are, I can understand why the sightings are a little more obscure.

We also enjoyed looking at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It has a wonderful waterfall that I think I've seen on an old stamp. It also has a deep canyon with lots of colors.
The driving could be treacherous as the cliffs were sometimes 2000 feet down. And then there were times where there were miles of fields. We plan to go back one more time before we leave. It was clear to us that most of the animals were in the northern part of the park so looks like we'll be doing the long drive again. Definitely a place we'd recommend seeing.

Feel like I've died and gone to heaven

I'm not sure heaven will have mountains but it is breathtaking here and I feel so priviledged to experience this beauty every day here. The weather has been gorgeous... 85 ish and 50 at night. The mountains still have snow and matched with the blue sky and blue lake, it is breathtaking. The peaks of the Tetons are so rugged they command the landscape. This picture was taken this morning and it is the view we get from our lakefront retreat. Our room has a bathroom, bedroom, sitting room, and small kitchen with a table. We eat breakfast and lunch there (or take a picnic lunch) and eat dinner out.

At night, the lake reminds me of the coast when the sun is going down. It gets light at 6 a.m. and dark at 10 p.m. People were fishing at dusk the other night and caught 18" cutt-throat trout. Can't wait to get my license so I can use my fly rod. Oh, by the way, they were catching them on worms. The Grand Tetons are truly beautiful! Tim was not feeling well initially but I think he is over it and enjoying this trip. He's already asking when we're coming back to this rotten place.

Wyoming is mostly flat!

Yes, after driving through it for 8 hours, I can guarantee that it is prarie lands and seems desolate. There is something eerie about the land. We saw wind mills that generate electricity, lots of oil, lots of cattle and horses, some pronghorn deer, and a few snow capped mountains in the background. We drove through indian reservations. Tim was not impressed with the houses that seemed dumpy and splattered here and there. You can truly live in the middle of nowhere. It is also easy to see how there can be more cattle than people, and how tornadoes can form so easily. The picture above is one taken coming out of Laramie, WY and shows the Snowy Mountain Range. There was one place where there were horses that came right up to the fence near the road. Really looks western to me.

It wasn't until we got to the area just east of the Grand Tetons that we saw the beautiful mountains called the Cathedral Group or the Teton Range. They were gorgeous. I didn't include a picture because it was hazy but I'll include some with my next blog. Needless to say, we were glad to get to our destination.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What is it about the clouds?

Flying from Albuquerque to Denver to meet my family, I saw the most amazing cloud formation. I began to think about the fact that a cloud is sometimes like an iceberg. You never know how big it is from the limited view you get. I think people are like this too. You never know all the things people are trying to cope with on a daily basis. The cloud is a good reminder.

Conference in Albuquerque

This was the first time I've been to Albuquerque and the first national school nurses'conference I've been to. The picture above is the New Hampshire delegation. Pam Murphy, next to me, is from Peterborough, Mary Jo Reed is from Canterbury, and Gerri Harvey is from Gilmanton.

First, I must say that I am not fond of the area of Albuquerque, but I've never met nicer people. Those who live there go out of their way to make sure we got off on the right bus stop, ate at the right places, and told us about their culture. The conference gave me perspective on what is happening in the rest of the country. I'm thankful for my state which has a school nurse ratio of 1:376 unlike those in the west with an average of 2500 on their case load. I sat through some interesting seminars on evidence based practice, prescription drub abuse, media and school age children and more. I enjoyed the presidents luncheon with all the presidents of the various states... did you know that Arnold Schwartzenagger is only 5'9" and dyes his hair? I also enjoyed (and I can't believe I'm saying this) the annual business meeting. There is alot of pomp with the roll call. I met school nurses working in Sudan and Morocco who came over to learn more about their specialty. This morning, however, I had my favorite moment when I met the assistant surgeon general of the U.S. who told me that I should come to work with the national public health service. :)

I had to spend my birthday in Albuquerque and that day was a hard one for me to be away from my family. In the afternoon, my friend Pam called and we went to a section of town called Old Town. There were markets everywhere and the indians (Navahoo) were selling jewlery in an open air market. (They were SOOO nice) After, we ate at a Brazilian restuarant that all the nurses were raving about. They sang to me in Portugese. Didn't sound like Happy Birthday though. The food was delish.

Albuquerque is at 5000 feet and breathing was difficult with exertion. The temp was around 90 he whole time but the air is so dry. If I didn't use conditioner, my hair was unruly. It was sunny every day with 1 storm while we were there. They have an average of 310 days of sunshine per year. There is one mountain range that comes out of nowhere. Its called the Sandia range and the tallest mountain is 10000 feet. I hear there is a tram ride up that is wonderful. I had altitude sickness one day only and I learned my lesson really fast about keeping hydrated.

Above is a picture of the Sandia Range.