Saturday, May 28, 2011

Where we've been...

Over the last two weeks, Joel and I have been doing a LOT of traveling.  We have been talking about going out West for several years now, and we decided to go for it while we have a schedule that allows for a two week trip.

So, on May 11th, we boarded an airplane in Atlanta and flew to Denver.  From there, we rented a car and drove to all of our (many) destinations.  We made a big loop, landing back in Denver on the 24th of May to fly out on the 25th.

So here is the itinerary:

Day 1 – May 11th
·       Fly Atlanta to Denver
·       Travel Denver to Great Sand Dunes (CO)
·       Camp at Pinyon Flats Campground
Day 2 – May 12th
·       Great Sand Dunes
·       Travel to Mesa Verde (CO)
·       Mesa Verde
·       Camp in Morefield Campground
Day 3 – May 13th
·       Mesa Verde
·       Travel to Grand Canyon (AZ)
·       Camp at Mather Campground
Day 4 – May 14th
·       Grand Canyon
·       Camp at Mather Campground
Day 5 – May 15th
·       Travel to Hoover Dam
·       Hoover Dam
·       Travel to Las Vegas
·       Night in Las Vegas, NV (MGM Grand)
Day 6 – May 16th
·       Travel to Sequoia (6:20)
·       Camp at Lodgepole Campground - This didn't happen because it was around 20 degrees outside.  We stayed in a hotel instead!
Day 7 – May 17th
·       Sequoia (Also didn't happen because the state of California requires snow chains for tires after a snow)
·       Travel to Yosemite
·       Camp at North Pines Campground
Day 8 – May 18th
·       Yosemite
·        Camp at North Pines Campground
Day 9 – May 19th
·       Yosemite
·       Travel to Carson City, NV
·       Camp at Washoe Lake State Park
Day 10 – May 20th
·       Travel to Salt Lake City
·       Night in Salt Lake City, UT (Dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse)
Day 11 – May 21st
·       Travel to Yellowstone
·       Grand Teton National Park
·       Night in Jackson Hole, WY 
Day 12 – May 22nd
·       Yellowstone
·       Night in Jackson Hole, WY
Day 13 – May 23rd
·       Travel to Laramie, WY
·       Night in Laramie
Day 14 – May 24th
·       Travel to Denver
·       Night in Denver, CO
Day 15 – May 25th
·       Travel Denver to Atlanta

All in all, we drove (once we landed in Denver) 3,851 miles total.  We traveled into these states: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.  We saw all but one of the national parks we had planned to hit, and we had a great time.

I'll be posting pictures in the next few posts of each of the places we visited.

Grand Teton National Park

Information about Grand Teton.

 Jackson Lake

 Jenny Lake

 The moose we got to see up close - Joel got a video of it. Go here to see it. We were very excited to see a moose so close up!

 View of Snake River 

 View of the Oxbow bend of Snake River

View of the Tetons

Yellowstone National Park

Here is the site about Yellowstone.  Joel and I were both glad we decided to go to Yellowstone because it is so different and interesting, but much to our surprise it wasn't our favorite.  There are lots of crazy things to see - geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, etc.

Driving into Yellowstone - crazy amounts of snow that had been plowed.

 Abyss Pool - a little bit of information about the hot springs: the brighter the colors the hotter the pool actually is.  So, this one is hot, but not as hot as some of the others you'll see.  When you see bright blues, orange, and yellow those are the hottest.

 Beehive Geyser (Video Here)

 Black Pool

 The edge of the Black Pool

A buffalo - we ended up seeing buffalo, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, chickaree, and pronghorn.

 Firehole River

 Fishing Cone Geyser - this geyser got it's name because it is located near the edge of Yellowstone Lake.  People used to fish in Yellowstone Lake and then dunk it into the geyser to cook it in the steaming hot spring.  As you can imagine, this was not the safest practice, so now it is not allowed.

Fountain Paint Pots - mud pots that literally bubble and pop

A fumarole (definition from Wikipedia)- is an opening in a planet's crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide. The steam is created when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from the ground.

 View of hot springs

 Lakeshore Geyser

Old Faithful Inn

 Upper stories looking up from lobbies

 Fireplace in the lobby

 Old Faithful (Video Here)

 Opal Pool

 Yellowstone Lake

One other video from Yellowstone:  Red Spouter

Washoe Lake State Park

This was a stopover on the long journey to Yellowstone.  We found a great state park that had really nice campsites and a great mountain/lake view.

 Campsite - Joel watching the grill :)

Just before sunset

 At sunset

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park ended up being a favorite for both of us.  I loved the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and Joel put Yosemite in first place definitely (this was his 3rd time to be at the Grand Canyon and my first).

Here is some more information about Yosemite.  We camped at Yosemite, and the first night we were there we woke up to snow on the ground and on the tent!  Joel and I decided that we have far exceeded our quota for snow this year!

Abbi in front of a giant sequoia tree

 Joel in front of the roots of a downed sequoia

Three sequoias next to each other

 This one is named the Grizzly Giant.  I put the picture with people in it so you'd be able to get a sense of how big it really is.

 Bridal Veil Falls 

 El Capitan - we didn't see anyone climbing, but it had snowed the day before, so we think everyone was letting all the ice/snow melt first.

 Half Dome covered in snow

 Half Dome after the snow melt

 The Royal Arches - if you look closely you can see the striations in the mountain that make an arch shape.

 View 1 of Yosemite Falls - notice the upper and lower falls

 Up close view of the lower falls

View 2 of Yosemite Falls - you can see the upper and lower falls more clearly here.

Here is a video Joel took of Vernal Falls - we took a hike (uphill) to get to see this view of the falls.

Hoover Dam/Las Vegas

Here is some info about the Hoover Dam 

 Hoover Dam

 New bridge that bypasses the dam. 

Lake Mead

 Lights/Water show at the Bellagio (short video here)

M & M's store on the strip.  I immediately thought of my niece Avi - she loves M & M's.

 It's not every day that you find yourself in Las Vegas, so we wanted to swing by the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop while we were there.  This is a shop that is featured on the History Channel - see more about it here.

We did not make it inside the shop because there was a BIG line of people waiting outside the door to get in.  But, we can say we've been there :).

Grand Canyon

 Abbi & Joel at the Grand Canyon

 Campsite at Mather Campground

 Canyon Views

 Canyon at the start of sunset