Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yellowstone Pics Of The Day: Going Home--The Grand Tetons

The weather prognosticators promised us snow for the last few days, but didn't deliver. Boo. All we got was a week of temperatures in the teens and twenties, and a little dab of ice at the end. Where does that get fun? (I admit, the clear blue cold was quite pretty, but nowhere near as nice as snow!) Hmm... need something cheerful. What to do? I know! Lets go to memory lane! I promised myself that I would get my last Yellowstone post up before the old year passes, so here we go. I'm making it with two-and-a-half whole weeks to spare!! This set of photos won't really be Yellowstone photos, per se. These are pics from the drive home, but we drove home through the Grand Tetons, and I promise that the scenery was spectacular. Since it was early July, there was still snow on the peaks, too, so it comes as close as I can get right now to satisfying that winter wonderland yearning. Okay, okay, it's a winter wonderland with shorts and sun glasses, but I'm working with what I've got here!

Enough chatter. Let's get to the pictures, shall we? (Click on them to enlarge.)

Heading south on the way out of the park, we hit a construction zone, for a slight delay. We couldn't get too agitated about it, however. With the mountains in front of us, and one last chance to scout for wildlife, we just enjoyed the last of our time in Jellystone. You see our friends Scott, Mary, Emma and Ben in the car up ahead--or you would, if all our bikes weren't blocking the view. That was the only down side to the drive home--separate cars for the duration. Still, they got some family time, and Ked and I got hours and hours to listen to To Kill A Mockingbird on CD. (Great book, by the way.)

This was our first sight of the Grand Tetons. I was not prepared for the experience. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I am used to splendid mountain views. I love mountains. I remember being so excited when I was going to see the Rockies for the first time. They are impressive, with their massive block of mountain-ness, but still they left me a little flat. They are higher than the Cascades, but the level of the land around them starts so high that the elevation increase is much less than the mountains I am used to. They just didn't impress me the way I expected them to do. Mt. Hood, Rainer, Adams, Jefferson, Shasta, even St. Helens, rise from basically sea level, so when they grow to 11 or 12 thousand feet out of the ground, standing in proud isolation, they are noticeable. (Not that the Rockies aren't noticeable, but you know what I mean.) I had no expectations of the Tetons. I don't think that would have mattered, though. If my expectations had been very high, I think they still would have blown me away. Jagged, sharp, abrupt, and tall, the Tetons are stunningly beautiful, and line up mountain after mountain in majestic array. I very much want to go back when we have more time to explore and camp. I think they need to be soaked in a bit.

Uh oh! The sign says not to feed the wildlife, but Emma's getting hungry...

Yay for maps! Where would we be without them? I assume we'd be somewhere, but we might not know where that somewhere was!

I'll just post a bit of beautifulness now.

More of the pretty.

Are you packing yet? One of the fun parts of this shot for me, besides capturing a shot of our friends heading into the gorgeous scene ahead, is the fact that I took that picture from a moving car, just by sticking my hand out the window and holding it as steady as I could. Came out pretty well, don't you think?

Here's a shot at Jenny Lake. This spot was so beautiful, and one of the places where a few extra days to find a campsite and start hiking would not have offended me. I was probably the only one on the trip who really did not feel ready to come home by this point, after almost two weeks, but I just couldn't make myself want to return to real life when views like this were right in front of me.

What do they say? "The family that rolls around on animals pelts together... " Nah. That can't be it. Looks like they're enjoying it, though.

Come on, guys. I know we've been living in close quarters for quite a while, but there's only a couple of days left!

Here she is--Little Big Horn.

Stopping for dinner, and a drum lesson.

Can you tell we are in Wyoming?

I can't remember the name of the dam, but I remember the name of the store!

We saw these tubes on trains and trucks on the drives both to and from Yellowstone. The first one we saw was in the middle of the night in a rest area where we stopped to sleep our first night out. It was huge, and slanted, and the only word on the tube was Titan. For a while, Ked and I thought it was a missile (we were sleepy), but later we saw some of these being unloaded, and discovered that there were giant windmill blades and towers inside. We saw them over and over, which made sense because we were driving through some very windy country, especially in eastern Oregon.

Our last night in the trailer--we spent it in a trailer camp at Wildhorse Casino outside Pendleton, Oregon. Not a place we anticipated camping, but it made its appearance when we were all ready to stop, and it had some advantages. Scott found a free wifi connection inside and some free coffee, which helped him catch up on the homework he had let slide the last couple days on the road. The kids got to ride scooters and bikes, and work out some of the kinks from the road, and we all got to eat outside in the dry eastern Oregon air, without getting eaten ourselves by mosquitoes. Can't say the campground was much more than a parking lot with power and some grass, but it was a welcome respite to driving, and stopping there meant we woke up just minutes from Pendleton, which meant one last adventure in the morning, before our final leg on the journey home.

Walking through Pendleton in the morning, we came upon this pretty little one-room schoolhouse--no longer in use, but part of the town's storied past.

Wouldn't you love to have been one of the kids that had to sit right next to the stove in the middle of the room? Whatever you do, don't wear long johns!

Pendleton looked pretty charming from where our lens was sitting.

We ate at the Main Street Diner. Betty Boop wasn't the only nostalgic icon to meet our gaze...

Elvis, James Dean, Marylin Monroe, and Superman were among the luminaries to grace our environment. It was fun and (here's that word again) charming. Emma doesn't look like she's enjoying it, though, does she? Right now she looks like she's thinking, "Really? That's all you serve--liver?"

I'm happy that our last picture all together on our Yellowstone adventure turned out to be a keeper! Shiny, happy people, smelling hotcakes!

Here Ked and I pulled in for a quick stop along the Columbia River. Remember all those windmills in transit from earlier? Right across the road from me there are a bunch of them, already put together. I'll give you one look at my bangs to guess why this is a good spot for windmills!

Well, that's all folks. I dragged the memories of this trip out over almost 6 months, and (if you look at it from a positive perspective, rather than a "gee, it took you long enough" angle) got as much out of this vacation as I possibly could! I kind of liked blogging it this slowly. It kept a really special experience fresh in my head, and since this has been one of the hardest years I've had in a long time, was a good reminder that "everything happens." (Major bonus points if you know the source of that quote.) Good and bad both come. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn, etc. 2009 has had more tears than most of my years to date, and fewer consolations, but it's also had some things that have really made me grateful. Our Yellowstone trip, with kind, loving and accepting friends was right up there next to finding out that my husband did NOT have pancreatic cancer. I treasure the memories, and am grateful for a way to preserve them in pictures, in my own little corner of the blogosphere.
This seems a good way to draw 2009 near to its close, by remembering the good, acknowledging a little of the bad, and praying that Ked and I will be able to face what comes in 2010 with faith and grace. I hope for more memories like Yellowstone, and good friends to share them with, to balance out the challenges that I know will be coming soon. I hope the same for you. In case I don't talk to you again before 2010 arrives, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. May God be with you, and give you joy, peace and the blessing of knowing Him.