Colonial Williamsburg

A Vacation in Colonial Williamsburg

Colonials on horseback

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As I mentioned previously, July is not the time to vacation in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Too hot and humid! I poked around some and finally settled on early December. The weather looks to be cool but not freezing and there’s so much to do!

Colonial dress

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Williamsburg in December

According to the website the Village is decked out in traditional decorations. You can keep busy with Santa sightings. Re-enactments and carolers in traditional dress roam the streets. Horse drawn wagons jingle their way through the streets. Sounds like a scene right out of Dickens!

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown ruins

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Not far from Williamsburg you’ll find  the remnants of the Jamestown settlement. You can walk through a real archaeological dig. This should be just enough to get your mind ready for  a museum and a reconstruction of the life and culture of 17th-century Virginia.  I bet my sister, a real history buff, will love this!

Glass Blowing Anyone?

Glassblowing

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Once upon a time Jamestown officials thought Jamestowncould make glassmaking a profitable venture. In the end it wasn’t the right thing for Jamestown but the Jamestown Glasshouse is still one of the main attractions. We’ll have to check it out.

This one’s for my Sister

She’s the wine connoisseur. We can tour the Williamsburg Winery and enjoy a wine tasting. There are also several restaurants. Special meal packages can include the meals paired with fine wines.

Casks of wine

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How about some Peanuts?

I like peanuts. Whitley’s Peanut factory has been producing peanuts for 30 years so they must be good. Besides classic salted peanuts there’s sea salt & caramel, Butter Toffee, Pumpkin Spiced and more. Bring your taste buds and appetite!

peanuts

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This one’s for me

Zebra at Christmas

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Busch Gardens has a Christmas Town in December. With over 8 million Christmas Lights it is the largest light display in North America! Disney at Christmas is pretty spectacular so I need to see if this is really as amazing as they say.

Family Fun

One of my brothers and his wife live in Virginia. So a visit to their state wouldn’t be complete without invading their space at least once. I’m absolutely sure we’ll be getting together.

Madison Junction to Gibbon Falls

Madison River joins the Gibbon River

At Madison Junction the road from the West Entrance joins the loop road. The Madison River also joins with the Gibbon River at this point. I continued on the Grand Loop to follow the Gibbon River

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls

I saw the stone walls and walkways first. Photographers were set up with tripods, intent on something I couldn’t see. I was coming up on the parking area for Gibbon Falls. Gibbon Falls is not the highest or wildest waterfall in the park but it is really wide. The water flows in lacy ribbons over the gradual rock drop. From the parking lot you have a walk of about .2 miles to the southern end of the lookout. Along the way you enjoy different views of the falls and interpretive boards that describe what you are looking at. This is a very nice stop.

Gibbon Falls

You’re Looking at the rim of a Caldera

The Gibbon River flows along the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera. Gibbon Falls is where the river falls off the rim. Its mind boggling. The rim just looks like a mountain ridge but its the lip of a giant volcanic crater! 

over the caldera rim

A White Navigator

Returning to my car I met a couple who, like me had just trekked the length of the walkway. They were driving a large white Navigator and once again I wished I had an SUV instead of my little black Toyota. That would soon be a factor in my next Yellowstone adventure. Little did I know what was waiting for me just a few miles ahead as I followed my new acquaintances out of the parking lot. They turned right and so did I. They were on their way to Norris Junction. I planned to skip Norris today and start my swing back toward Jackson through the   Hayden Valley. I was hoping to start spotting some wildlife. All I can say is “Be Careful What You wish For!”

Jousting Bison

Geyser Grill, Black Sand and Biscuits

Geyser Grill signLunch at The Geyser Grill

The Geyser Grill at Old Faithful  is a fast food restaurant. It’s pretty typical of the restaurants at attractions or Theme Parks. You stand in a line, order from a menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries or maybe a salad and get a souvenir mug for your soft drink. I didn’t know where or when I’d find another restaurant so I stood in line for almost an hour. It was just my luck that 3 tour buses pulled in right before I got to the grill! Still, once I placed my order it was up in minutes and it was fresh. With that many customers there wasn’t time for anything to sit under a heat lamp! Somehow I managed to find a table but I didn’t linger. Based on the cautions I received from the concierge at the resort I wanted to be on my way back before dark.

Ordering a meal at Geyser Grill

Black Sand basinBlack Sand Basin

With a full tank of gas and a full tummy I left Old Faithful to see what was ahead on the Loop Road.  About 1/2 mile from Old Faithful I saw a sign for Black Sand Basin.  I hadn’t seen anything about that in my guidebooks so I made a quick stop out of curiosity. I remember the black sand beaches in Hawaii so I wasn’t sure what to expect here. It certainly wasn’t a beach!

 

Spouter geyser

Colorful ruin offA geyser right next to the road was sputtering and bubbling. This is SPOUTER GEYSER and erupts almost continuously. No big plumes like Old Faithful but its constantly dancing and gurgling away. There are a variety of colorful hot pools and a board walk. I looked around but due to the time decided to skip the walk for now.

Steam covers teh boardwalk

 Biscuit Basin

Biscuit Basin Sign

BoardwalkUp next is Biscuit Basin. Named for the biscuit shaped formations around the edges of some of the thermal features. After an earthquake in 1959 most of the “biscuits ” were destroyed. My GaperGuide said they were starting to reform but I didn’t see any. There’s plenty of parking and a heavy wooden walkway so you can get up close  and personal with the thermal features. There’s plenty of mini geyser action here and clouds of steam.

 

 

Biscuit Basin Run Off

Natures Hot Tub

Put Old Faithful on Your Bucket List

Old Faithful is a Bucket List Must

Anyone’s Bucket List should have a geyser or two. There’s nothing quite like watching all that heat and steam burst into the air. But why Old Faithful? It’s not the biggest geyser in Yellowstone nor the most spectacular but it’s still impressive at heights of 100- 140 ft. It’s also pretty predictable. The mathematical average between eruptions of Old Faithful is currently 74 minutes, but it doesn’t like to act average! Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes. A lot depends on the force of the previous eruption. Finally, it’s easy to get to. No climbing up steep hills or clamoring over rocky trails. Enjoy a bit of time in a cozy museum or gift shop and sit on a nice bench to wait for the eruption. But the main reason to put Old Faithful on your bucket list is that its THE MOST FAMOUS  GEYSER IN THE WORLD!

Old Faithful Erupts

 

Getting Bigger90 Minute Countdown

Once I found a parking spot I headed into the Visitor Center. The expected next eruption was 90 minutes. Plenty of time to look around. I have to say that all of the Visitor Centers that I’ve seen this trip have been beautiful. They are large, spacious modern buildings with exhibits, gift shops and clean restrooms. (Always important). It was too early for lunch so eventually I found a seat to wait for the big moment. Since it was about noon the sun was almost overhead but I wanted the wind at my back. I didn’t want geyser spray soaking my camera or me. It can be caustic enough to ruin a lens.

It was a good one!Beautiful Blue Sky and steam

Old Faithful never really stops steaming so even when I first arrived it was puffing away. Old Faithful warming upI enjoyed watching it sputter and start then subside again. Once it began to approach the 90 minute mark you could see the change. The steam was heavier and water sputtered out. Finally it let loose. The plume climbed in stages higher and higher. I don’t know how long it went on but certainly longer than I expected. Eruptions can last 1.5 minutes to 5 minutes. If I had to guess I’d say this one was closer to the 5 minute mark. As the plume faded back down I joined the rest of the crowd as we made our way back to the Visitor Center.

Calming Down

Is that Snow I See!?

Is That Tiny Snow Flake?

Jackson Hole Aerial TramThe weather report is for snow.  I’ll break out the winter jacket. At least I packed one. I have an appointment at 10 am to pick up a Gaperguide but I also want to take the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. They closed it yesterday because of the high winds. With a storm predicted I’m afraid it will get closed again and this is the last day! The concierge says they have a waffle shack at the top. If I go up when it opens at 9 am I can have breakfast at the summit.  As I watched the tram glide down from the top I saw a tiny flake of snow drift slowly down. That’s it. I’m going up. I’ll just be late for my appointment.

Jackson Hole Aerial TramTram at the Bottom

This is really convenient. The tram is right next door! As I lined up I was surrounded by skiers anxious to get to the top for the new snow. They all planned to have a waffle breakfast too. The tram operator had some bad news for us non skiers. The storm had already started at the summit.  The walking was treacherous. It was all ice and the wind was blowing. He strongly advised that we ride up and come right back down. Going up we all watched for animals. Bears and Moose are often seen on the  mountain but not today.

MountainSide

Still ClimbingSeriously Serious Snow

Once the tram docked I stepped out onto the platform and nearly took a header. My feet could not get any traction at all. I didn’t even make it to the path to the waffle house. Safety First, I reluctantly agreed to skip the waffles and returned back down the mountain. The tram operator recommended a restaurant called the Mangy Moose as a substitute. He said it was close to the tram and had excellent breakfast.

 

Pretty Rugged