Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making Memories and Making our way West

In my last post, I mentioned a brief synopsis of our trip. We've seen some amazing Earth, and we've made some memories. It's amazing what traveling will help you appreciate, and how camping can humble your soul. Wyoming is wonderful; it's vast, wide open, ever-changing landscape. Rock juts out of the earth, lunging up into the sky, kissing it with snow or trees. It is just mesmerizing.

We started in Rapid City in the Black Hills. We stopped in Deadwood for drinks and walked the streets where Outlaw Wild Bill Hickok was killed. The town is small, but in a canyon. We heard some good old mountain music, and we had a dance time with Ryan. Then, we drove through Spearfish and hit the Wyoming border. A few more miles later, we passed through Sheridan  and the first set of mountain. The Bighorn Mountains are snow capped right now, and we headed straight up on the scenic road. There are lots of pine trees and appear to have not been damaged by the pine beetle. There are an immense amount of trees. It's millions of trees in a single viewpoint, and it's lovely. Indescribably lovely.

We stopped in Sheridan for food for our camping the next couple of days, and then we meandered up the mountains to an unmarked spot on the map for camping. Sibley Lake remains undisturbed. The water was pristine; snow lined the lake in areas; water ran in and out. The fresh water sound never ending. We did have a hail storm ten minutes after arriving, but we found the camping spot at the top of a butte-- and luckily, someone who and previously camped there left a plastic and wood structure tent. A lean-to if you will. It was just perfect for us... tent campers fearing the storm. It definitely helped us stay dry, and we were thankful for that. Whenever there's something that's left behind from previous campers, it's a blessing. Whether it's wood or a lean-to, it's something to appreciate. A small blessing from above for someone to use.

We slept there, and it was pretty chilly. Ryan slept in our sleeping bag, and we realized that we should have had one for her own. It's still a learning process, but we made it work. At 8000 feet, it dropped to 34 degrees. And, my bag is for 40-50 degrees. I wore my Ugg boots the second night and that helped my feet. I also had layer upon layer of clothing-- I also wore the same clothing for 3 days. It's hard not to, when you want to stay warm and taking clothes does not seem like a way to do that.   In the morning, we used our camping stove to have hot oatmeal, coffee, and hot cocoa. We snuggled, and then headed out of the tent. Ryan loved eating in bed, and it was a sweet memory that I'll never forget.

Once we took down camp, we loaded down the van. I was looking forward to some warmer temperatures, so we also considered the mineral hot springs. Thermopolis sounded pretty nice, but it wasn't what we expected. We drove through the state park, but it's pretty commercialized. I wasn't impressed. However, we did take a break there and walked around.  Between Sibley Lake and Thermopolis, we saw Shell Falls, and it's beautiful. It almost puts Niagara Falls to shame. Water rushes between Huge rock walls, falling down 100s of feet, headed to the Bighorn River. From mountain through canyon to desert like conditions, the water flows.

After Thermopolis, we tried for a camping spot at Boysten Lake, and it's a different landscape all together. It's desert, with crystal ice blue water. Beaches and higher ground line the lake, but it was raining so we kept moving.

Ryan finally fell asleep on the trip, and we just kept heading west. Finally she woke up, and we were around Riverton and WY287 the scenic drive to Grand Teton National Park. We actually camped  this night at 4000 feet and the weather was nice. It was summer compared to what we'd been in already. Bull Lake is in the Wind River Range, and the lake is 9 miles long. Bear Mountain is to the left of the lake, and the Winds link to the lake past that summit. The Wind River Range is beautiful and houses Gannett Peak- the tallest mountain in Wyoming.

Ryan played here with her dolls and enjoyed the camp fire here best. The temperature allowed us to be a bit more free. She almost fell asleep by the fire, and she says she loves being outside. She hasn't flinched at being in the great outdoors. It's a wonderful thing for our family to be together and see the country. We are loaded to the brim in the van, but it's worth it to see the sky and stars.

I hope that I never forget this. I hope I can read it and smile as I age. I hope that it will be something that Ryan will read and love. She'll love that she was two and travelled with her parents all around our beautiful country. I will keep documenting that.

 Keep doing what I love--- keep being outside-- Keep investing in our family. I LOVE IT!

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