Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer vacation 2010...

We pulled off another unique summer vacation! For the past few years we've tried to do something and go somewhere totally different than what we've ever done before. A few years ago we spent 5 weeks living in Chicago and last summer we spent 2 weeks exploring the very historical city of Boston.
This summer, Layton planned a trip totally different than anything we've E V E R done before. For about the last year, Layton has been getting into backpacking. It's kind of worn off on me a little. I have yet to do an overnight backpacking trip, but I've grown to love exploring the outdoors with him. We've taken quite a few day trip to go hiking together. So...this summer we decided to center our vacation around exploring a few National Parks. We took a 9 day trip and traipsed all over the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. It was truly an unforgettable and unbelievable vacation.

The Grand Canyon: The first day we arrived late morning, so we decided to walk around the South Rim trail and just take in the initial view of the Grand Canyon. We spent a few hours taking pictures and then driving along the rim stopping at various lookouts. The Desert View lookout was definitely a highlight of this day for me. It has incredible views of the canyon and the Colorado River. The second day Layton woke me up extremely early because today was the day we were going to hike down into the Canyon taking the Bright Angel trail. This was an amazing hike. We started around 7:30, so the colors reflecting off of the Canyon were totally different than the day before. I carried my own pack, full of my camera equipment and my rain coat. I made sure to bring my trek poles since we'd be making a 3 mile - 2,000 foot descent - into the Canyon, which means we made a 3 mile - 2,000 ascent - back out of the Canyon. It even rained lightly on us as we were making the climb back out of the Canyon. The refreshing rain was nice after a long day of hiking. I was very proud of myself for accomplishing this hike. We ended day to at the Grand Canyon my watching the sunset over Yavapi Point, getting pizza, and heading back to Yavapi Point to view the Canyon by full moon. Layton and I agree that this was probably our favorite thing about the Grand Canyon. It was amazing to see it by full moon light.

We spent a day traveling from Flagstaff to West Yellowston by way of V E R Y scary, tiny, propellor planes. I wish to N E V E R do this again!!

Yellowstone: We stayed 3 nights in West Yellowstone, Montana at a very cute bed and breakfast, driving into the park every morning and spending the entire day there. Our first day in Yellowstone we spent driving around and stopping at various "must-see" sights. We stopped at a place called the Artists' Paint Pots, which had hot springs and mud volcanoes. We also stopped off at a place called Sheepeater's Cliff and we grabbed a few photos of the Golden Gate Waterfall. Our day ended at Mammoth Hot Springs. Here we followed a 2 mile boardwalk that wrapped throughout the hot springs. Our second day in Yellowstone was another hiking day. On the way to the trailhead we stopped off at the Grand Canyon of Yellostone where we saw a few waterfalls. We then drove to the DeLacy trailhead and hiked along the DeLacy Creek trail, which led us to Shosone Lake. This was a gorgeous 6 mile hike that wound us through meadows of wild flowers and lodgepole pines. Granted, I did get 18 mosquito bites on this hike, but it was well worth it. After our hike we drove up to see if we could catch Old Faithful, since we'd missed her by about 5 minutes the night before. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before Old Faithful went off. Our third day in Yellowstone we saw a few fun things on our drive to the Grand Tetons. We saw the Fountain Paint pots, Firehole Drive Geysers, and the Midway Geyser Basin. These are pretty much some of the best geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone. The largest geyser in Yellowstone is in the Midway Geyser Basin.

Grand Tetons: We arrived in the park about mid-day and spent some time taking photos and getting settled into our hotel. Our first full day in the Grand Tetons we spend doing another hike. We woke up early again and drove to Jenny Lake, where we started our hike. This hike wove us around the lake, took us on a detour by Moose Pond, up the side of the mountain by Hidden Falls, up to Inspiration Point, and ultimately through Cascade Canyon. I kept telling Layton, "I can't believe that I'm actually in the middle of two mountains right now!" I was S O proud of myself after this 10 mile hike.

I was very interested in seeing as many wild animals as possible. So here's a list of all of the animals we saw: Trumpeter Swan, Bald Eagle, Elk, Bison (we also saw a herd of about 60 of them), Sandhill Crane, Bull Snake, American Pika, Coyote, White-tailed Jack Rabbit, Moose, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Western Tanager, Golden-mantled Squirrel, Uinta Ground Squirrel, White-crowned Sparrow, Chickadee, Gray Jay, Spring Azure Butterfly, Monarch Butterfly, Canadian Goose, Mallard, American Robin, Common Raven, Golden Eagle, and a Violet-green Swallow

My favorite memories of this trip: Hiking the Bright Angel trail, viewing the Grand Canyon by the light of the full moon, almost being kissed by a Bison through my open car window, being chased by a Moose down the trail and walking through a canyon between a 13,000+ ft. mountain and a 10,000+ mountain ft.

9 days, 3 National Parks, 4 hotels, 7 airplanes, 18 mosquito bites, 2 close encounters with wild animals, 3 day-hikes, 23 miles hiked through the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons, over 800 miles driven, 25 wild animals spotted, THOUSANDS of memories made with my husband = a P R I C E L E S S vacation!!

Check out my Flickr page to view A L L of my photos:

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