Yellowstone, The First National Park

America’s First National Park

America’s first national park is named after the river that runs through it. Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Within the park’s massive boundaries, visitors can find mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and some of the most concentrated geothermal activity in the world. The park has 60% of the world’s geysers, as well as hot springs and mud pots. It is also home to diverse wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk.

The Lower Loop

The Grand  Loop Road is a figure 8 that can be divided into the upper and lower loops. When I picked up my Gaperguide I was told that some people have driven the whole loop in one day but it was not recommended. I might only get here once in my life so I didn’t want to rush through it.

Once again I was up at dawn. The ever helpful Valet brought my car around and I headed out with Yellowstone my plan for the day.  First I would have to retrace some of my drive from yesterday. It’s approximately 60 miles From Jackson to the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, most of it through the beautiful Grand Teton National Park.

Mountains and Lake

On The Road To YellowstoneJackson Lake

The Tetons are so beautiful. I should have put the pedal to the metal and booked it to the South Entrance to Yellowstone but I couldn’t do it. I had to keep stopping for more scenic photos. The Jackson Lake area is another spectacular location. I was also a bit nervous about what the scents would be like in Yellowstone. I’ve been to hot springs before and the smell of sulfur (rotten eggs) can be almost overwhelming. What would it be like in a super volcano? I’d never read anything about smells but I’d read a lot about the geysers and thermal vents.

Yellowstone’s South Entrance

Snake River basin

Yellowstone National Park SignMy Gaperguide warned me to slow down. The entrance to the park was coming up. I stopped for the Yellowstone sign and got out. I looked out over the Snake River Basin and spotted my first puffs of steam . The wind was in my face so I sniffed cautiously. It wasn’t bad. I had to really concentrate to pick up any sulfur order at all. That made me feel much better about this excursion.

Thermal Vents at South Entrance

Vacation Planning

Anyone who has followed this space for long knows that my goal is to take a vacation in all 50 states.  Obviously that means two or more new states a year or I’ll be 90 or older before I manage to complete that goal.

I’ve gotten a bit side tracked lately because with each upgrade to my time share they’ve given me a vacation that includes airfare. Bottom line is I keep taking the bonus vacations and have gotten off track from my goal.

So I decided to organize my thoughts and future plans.

July is a brief visit to Maine to try to capture an Iconic Puffin Photo. Its only an extended weekend. (and I’ve vacationed in Maine-Loved it)


I have a vacation to Maui all scheduled, if not completely planned, coming up in November.


I’ve been to Hawaii twice before. Once to the Big Island and once to Oahu so this will be my 3rd visit to Paradise.


In January my company will hold their annual convention in Las Vegas. I am seriously considering added a few days vacation on and staying at the Polo Towers. After all, my company is paying for my airfare. I’ve been to Las Vegas for vacation twice before but there are still things I’d like to see.

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February looks like another trip to Hawaii compliments of my time share. I have a choice of the Big Island (Kona side) or Maui.


Right now I am leaning toward Maui again for the whale watching and snorkeling. February should be peak season for the whales.


That will wrap up the commitments so far.

So where is my focus after those are done?

Jackson Hole Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park is still top of the list.


Key Largo (John Pennekamp Park) (Even though I’ve been to Florida more times than I can count)


Pacific Northwest (Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area)


Central Idaho ( The Sawtooth Range)


Channel Islands CA


Katmai National Park, AK (Brook Falls) (Alaska is another repeat)


I guess that will keep me busy for a while.

Travel is Like A New Car

Have you ever bought a new car and then once you start driving it around you see the same car everywhere? You’d swear that you’d only seen 1 baby blue Prius in all the time you’ve been driving until you bought one. Now no matter where you look you spot another baby blue Prius.


Well I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon with vacation planning. I remember the first time I went to Sedona, Arizona. That trip was a “leftover”. I needed to use my time share points or lose them and time was running out. Everything I tried to get was booked. Then I looked for vacancies and Sedona not only popped up but it was on sale. It cost me half the points it normally would so I was able to squeeze in Sedona and Florida for the price of one.


About a week after I booked Sedona my Intervale International Magazine came with featured locations. Right there on the cover was Sedona! Red Rock Country! And it was the feature story inside.


A couple of weeks later I was reading another magazine and the travel section in that one also featured Sedona.


When we planned our Alaska vacation the same thing happened. I ran across articles about Alaska everywhere even when I wasn’t looking for something.

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Now I just booked my vacation to Tennessee and along comes my magazine Travel 50 & Over. I love this magazine. The cover didn’t give it away but inside I was reading the article about 50 Fantastic Hikes and there it was, Trillium Gap Trail, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, 3 miles.! Yes! I had read about this trail in my research. There’s a waterfall on it and the trail goes right behind the falls. It is one of the trails I want to try if my hip is feeling up to it.


So it’s starting again. I wonder how many more times Tennessee is going to come to my attention before I leave for vacation!? I love these surprise tidbits of encouragement.

Cades Cove Is #1 on my list

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site  that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains , part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain.


There are loads of hiking trails from short and easy to long and difficult but they also have loop roads that allow automotive sight seeing. One of the most popular and certainly on my list is Cades Cove, a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.


For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures.


An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area’s trails.


A visitor center (open daily), restrooms, and the Cable Mill historic area are located half-way around the loop road.

Numerous trails originate in the cove, including the five-mile roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls and the short Cades Cove Nature Trail. Longer hikes to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top (made famous by the popular song) also begin in the cove.


I think it’s obvious why this is number one on my list when it comes to the sights to see in the Great Smokey Mountains! ( warning earworm alert)

Rocky Top  you’ll always be

Home sweet home to me

Good Ole Rocky Top

Rocky Top Tennessee

(Excerpted from Trip Advisor)

Washington State…not DC

Only 4 more states in the countdown.  Washington state is a yes. I am able to count that because of my new job. No sooner did I get back from Alaska and I was back on a plane winging my way to the home office in Seattle, Washington. Even with work, I was able to get in a little sightseeing but it wet my appetite for more.

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My impression is that the locals don’t appreciate what they have. When I said I might plan my next vacation there , everyone tried to discourage me. They complained about the weather, the crime, (Seattle seems to have a lot of homeless people on the streets) but I was struck by the beauty that surrounded Seattle and I want to see more.Seattle 048 copy

While in Seattle I made a point to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass. Chihuly Garden and Glass is a new art experience showcasing the most significant works of internationally acclaimed artist and glass pioneer Dale Chihuly.Seattle 118 copy

But in Tacoma, Dale Chihuly led an effort to bring glass to Puget Sound. Today a $48 million Museum of Glass calls Tacoma home.

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Tillicum Village is a replica Native American Village located on Blake Island in Puget Sound. About 8 miles by boat from the bustle of Seattle, you can reach this destination only by boat. Recommendations are for a tour as even ferries don’t reach the island.


Of course while in Seattle I still need to visit Pike Place Market. Although it is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the U.S. it really burst onto the scene when it was featured in a series of advertisements promoting entrepreneurial spirit. I think someone might even have written a book about it. A circuslike atmosphere includes street entertainers and (this is the famous scene) fishmongers tossing whole salmon  while shouting “low flying fish!” the equivalent of “Fore!” on a golf course.

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Down on the waterfront is another spectacular sight. The Great Wheel. The Seattle Great Wheel was built in less than a year, but its story goes back much further than that. Seattle businessman Hal Griffith had envisioned a Ferris wheel in the city for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until he realized he could build one on his own pier that his dream became a reality.Seattle 058 copy

The Seattle Great Wheel opened to the public on June 29, 2012. Since then, it has become an icon of the city and a destination for tourists and locals alike.


Remember highway 101 from my post about Oregon? Well it’s in Washington too and it circles Olympic National Park.  The park carries a rare dual designation of  World heritage Park and International Biosphere Reserve! The Olympic mountain range stretches through the park where Mount Olympus climbs to 7828 ft., the highest peak in the range.

A deer and Mount Olympus (7980 feet / 2432 meters) are seen along Obstruction Point Road, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Jefferson County, Washington, USA.

An speaking of national parks, I can’t forget Mount Rainer National Park and Mount St Helens or the North Cascades National Park.

Once again I have run out of time. I’ve hit my self imposed limit of 400-500 words. That can only mean I have many Washington Vacations to look forward to.

New Tally: 20/27