Mother Nature & National Parks

For as long as I can remember, Mr. SBF and I have had a desire to visit Yellowstone National Park. Early last year we toyed with the idea of going but then we were presented with an opportunity to visit Key West, Florida so we decided to postpone the trip to Yellowstone until this year and made plans to road trip to Florida instead.

For various reasons, the dates for our Florida trip were pushed back and then Mother Nature had her way and sent hurricanes to the areas we had planned to visit along the way.

Feeling a little bit disappointed, we changed our plans once again. We had been talking about visiting Pocatello and Idaho Falls, ID as prospective places for future residence, so we headed to Idaho instead.

We spent a day a couple of days exploring the areas and were quite taken with the charm of Idaho Falls. One morning over breakfast I decided to look at a map of Idaho and Wyoming. We knew we were in eastern Idaho near the Wyoming border, but what we didn’t realize was how close we were to Yellowstone. So, after we finished eating, we jumped in the car and headed north to West Yellowstone, MT and a couple of hours later, arrived at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The entrance fee was $20 and it was already mid-afternoon but we figured that we might as well go for it and see what we could see while there was still daylight. Luckily, it was early October so the days were still fairly long. And being early October, the leaves on the trees had begun to change colors and the temperatures were perfect; balmy but not too cold.

Just a few miles in, we encountered bison and elk, grazing right alongside the road. We snapped a few pictures but wanting to take in all we possibly could, we continued on our way. We made it to the Paint Pots, took the walking tour around them, and continued on to see the geysers, Ol’ Faithful to be exact. Apparently, we had missed its eruption by mere minutes but the next eruption was predicted to happen about an hour and a half later. So we, and several other tourists waited. There’s a nice visitor’s center at the site, along with a snack bar and souvenir store. We met some nice people and chatted while we waited. It was like waiting for the fireworks show to begin on the fourth of July! And Ol’ Faithful did not disappoint. By the time the show was over, it was nearly dark. With mixed emotions, we decided that we had better head back into town (W. Yellowstone, MT).

On our way back, I pulled out the receipt for our entry fee only to discover that it was a five-day pass! I don’t know why I didn’t realize that it would be good for several days. Most of the National Parks give multiday passes, I just wasn’t thinking. Duh. We were pretty excited, found a room for the night and went to dinner.

The next morning we headed back into the park, armed with a map and a well-routed plan. We were able to see about seventy-five percent of the park. I really can’t even begin to describe the beauty of the place! The colors, microorganisms, hot springs, mud pots, the Terraces, and Dragon’s Cauldron, all breath-taking! The landscape is so diverse and full of surprises at every turn. And Yellowstone Lake is much larger than I ever imagined it would be. To be honest, until I studied the map, we hadn’t even realized there was a “Yellowstone Lake”. We expected to see lakes, yes, but not The Lake! Haha! And there is apparently, all kinds of water sports and activities that go on up there during the summer (ie. boating, water skiing, etc.). Who knew? Well, lots of people, I suppose!

We spent the whole day exploring and then exited the Park via the south entrance which drops you into the Grand Teton National Park (bonus!) and oh em gee, those are some breath-taking mountains as well! They are dark and jagged and full of mystery!  Our plan is to go back and spend some time camping and exploring in the Grand Teton National Forest. It really is just as beautiful as Yellowstone, only in different ways.

To top it all off, we arrived in Jackson, WY just in time for dinner. I was a little disappointed at the fact that we arrived in Jackson so late in the day. I would have loved to explore, shop, and bask in its quaintness for a while longer, but alas, we had to get back to Idaho Falls that night.

All in all, it was a good trip and we highly recommend a visit to Yellowstone.

No matter where you make your home, a trip to Yellowstone is well-worth the journey!

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Remembering to be Present

This year has been quite different for us. Mr. SBF and I were able to take an extended sabbatical and spent the last six months of the year road tripping, camping and visiting with family. The break from the stress of the past decade and from our normal routine was definitely needed and we feel so very blessed to have been given the opportunity.

One thing that I became aware of early on in our break was the fact that I am often not “present” in my everyday life. As an Empath, I am almost constantly inundated with the feelings and emotions of others and I think that retreating into my own thoughts is one of the ways I am able to combat the exhaustion that comes from the constant influx of emotion that I am faced with on a daily basis. And because I am often in my own head, I have realized that I miss out on a lot.

Sometimes when the family is reminiscing about something or even during a conversation with someone I’ll suddenly “snap out of it” and realize that I missed out on part of it because I wasn’t “all there”. Yes, really. Ugh.

And don’t get me started on electronic devices and what a huge distraction they can be! Giving a device to people who are in the habit of retreating into their own thoughts only perpetuates the problem, er, issue! And forget about giving them earbuds. I mean…yeah…just don’t! Can any Introverts relate or is it just me? Haha!

Anyway, during our time together, since it was just the two of us and we were traveling in our own car, I was able to sit and enjoy the scenery (and my electronic device) without the “noise” from the outside world. So, when we were around other people, I was able to listen and enjoy it because, during our travel time, I was able to rest and “regroup”.

Becoming more self-aware has been something I’ve been working on for several years now. And I’m grateful that I became aware of this “issue” early on in our sabbatical. I believe that it helped me to focus on making sure the time with my Sweetheart was quality time. And it has definitely made me more mindful of the time I spend with loved ones. I don’t want to miss out on any of the good stuff when my children and grandchildren are home because times well spent make the most treasured memories!

To make sure I’m paying attention to life, follow my social media pages! Let me know if you notice a lack of presence there! Heehee.

 

 

Camp Guests

Mr. SBF and I did some camping this past summer for the first time in years. Our first trip was to Silver Lake in June Lake, California. When we arrived at the campground our camp host informed us that a coyote had recently given birth to a litter of pups on our site and she wasn’t sure if they were still around or not. She also informed us that deer had been seen around the campground and gave us the usual bear warnings and instructions on how to properly make our camp “bear-proof”.

After cautiously poking around for a little while, we deduced that the coyotes were no longer on our site and began to set up camp. When we were nearly finished, a young buck (male deer) nonchalantly walked across our site over to a Juniper tree and began rustling around. To our surprise, a doe (female deer) got up from under the Juniper and moved to the other side (the side closest to us). We were a bit startled at first because we hadn’t even realized that the doe had been there while we were setting up camp! After a moment of studying us, the buck decided that we were alright and made himself comfortable under the Juniper as well. They stayed there until dusk, then quietly went on their way.

The following morning, they returned with a friend. The two young bucks and doe must have known we were good people because they decided to peruse our campsite even more. I was getting ready to make breakfast and I suppose they were curious about what I was going to serve because they made their way right up to the bear box where our ice chest was. After a peek at what I was setting about to do and then they sauntered away. Later, they returned to the shade of the Juniper tree and spent several hours with us. Then once again, left at dusk.

Meeting those deer was the perfect “welcome back to camping” greeting for us and we’re so glad we decided to get back to it. We had a wonderful time.

Here’s a little video for you to enjoy! And don’t forget to check back regularly for more of our camping adventures!