Monday, August 23, 2010

Playing catch-up

It's taken me a while to update my blog with all of the pictures since Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore but I finally found time to do it. Currently I am all settled in Williamsburg and I am already in love with this town. I had my Assistantship Orientation today, New Student Orientation tomorrow, classes start Wednesday and I have a Program Orientation on Friday. Things are going to get pretty hectic from here on out, but in a good way ( I guess it's been pretty hectic since I left Spokane though).

Getting back to my road trip, we visited the Badlands in SD the next day after visiting Mount Rushmore. Oh my word were there a ton of flying, mating grasshoppers!!! I didn't get a picture of any of them because I was too freaked out. Just picture it in your was terrifying. But aside from the insects, the view was amazing and we even saw some antelope and a deer! These are the pictures I took, starting with our drive to the Badlands....

On the way out of the Badlands, we saw a prairie dog petting zoo which was bizarre but so adorable! Did I mention it was right next to the Minuteman Missle National Historic Site? Kind of funny :)

We drove through all of Minnesota and ended up in Onalaska, Wisconsin for the night. Ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse which was directly across from our hotel. Exciting really I know....I got a good laugh when the waiter dropped sauce and said "Man down! No casualties!" That's when you know you have been on the road for too long.

The next morning we drove down through Madison and visited University of Wisconsin-Madison where I found Janio a legitimate cheesehead and some other fun gifts.

Then we drove through part of Illinois and through Indiana, ending up in Springfield, Ohio for the night. Nothing too exciting there I can't remember much since it's been a while and so much has happened since then. I do remember the next day we drove all the way through Ohio and Pennsylvania, ending up at Chris and Molly's house in Lafayette Hill, PA in Philly. It was really great seeing them (hadn't seen them since the wedding May 09) and seeing their house and kitties for the first time. Molly made dinner and Chris brought the essentials: steak and beer. It was such a good meal to have after all of the fast food we ate on the trip (barf). We spent the night there and the next morning we went to Valley Forge. It was really neat to see the history there and explore a little bit more of Philly.

After Valley Forge we ate lunch of Panera Bread and then Mom and I were off to Grammy's house in Bethesda, MD to spend the night. We got to Grammy's around 4:30 and stayed in for dinner which was nice. I always love visiting Grammy's house and am excited I have more chances to do that now, being so close.

The next morning we had brunch with Grammy and Mom Mom, which is always entertaining and it was great to be able to spend time with both of them. It was a fight to the death for paying the bill between the two, but Grammy won with a smooth move behind Mom Mom's back into the waiter's hands. Nicely done haha. (By the way, best BLT I ever had)

After brunch with Grammy and Mom-Mom, Mom and I drove down to Virginia Beach to stay with Uncle Chris and Aunt Ellie and Cousin Megan. On the way down to Virginia Beach we did a little detour around Williamsburg to see where my place was, which made us late for dinner, but it was nice to see it before the moving chaos began. We stayed with Uncle Chris and Aunt Ellie and Megan for a couple of days until the moving company arrived on Wednesday. We ate dinner with them one night right in front of Virginia Beach. The first picture is Uncle Chris and Aunt Ellie and the second is a picture of my Mom, Megan, myself, and Aunt Ellie afterwards, wind blown hair and humidity at full capacity. I dipped my toes in the Atlantic Ocean and according to Uncle Chris, I am now officially an East Coaster again.

This is a picture on the bridge between Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. A ton of military here, this is one of their ships out on the water. I thought the sky looked pretty :)

This is a picture of my building I will be pretty much living in for the next two years. It just opened in June and the inside is really really nice. All of my classes and my assistantship are held in here, so it is quite convenient. The drive is less than 5 minutes from my place too.

Well, I would love to post pictures of my place, but this blog has taken way longer than I thought it would. I will post them soon. Wish me luck at school!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On the road again....

After driving away from the convict jailed in Cody, WY, we headed through Shell Canyon and Bighorn Canyon in the Bighorn National Forest getting over 9,000 ft. Very narrow, windy road but very pretty to drive through. We got some pretty good pictures inside and outside the car. We kept a lookout for Bighorn Sheep, but unfortunately didn't see any. We did see a deer, a couple hawks, and cows of course. As we were winding down the mountain, we noticed signs on the sides of the huge rock cliffs that dated the rocks, most going back to the Triassic period and older.

We also drove through towns with population of 180 or less....not sure if I could ever live in a town that's a little eerie.

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but we probably saw 100,000 motorcyclists on our drive over the past couple of days. The Rock N' Rev 5 day Festival in Sturgis was going on with bands like Alice in Chains and Guns N' Roses playing. The motorcyclists were having a cookout in front of all of the hotels too, including ours. I have never seen so many motorcycles, bandanas, beards, and cut-offs in my life! We saw the majority of them driving to Deadwood, which we only got to drive through since every parking lot was full of motorcycles. This was the best picture I could get while driving through town, doesn't really do it justice... I posted a picture below it from a previous Sturgis rally in Deadwood that paints the picture for you...
After driving through Deadwood, we went to see Mount Rushmore. I had never been before, and neither had my Mom, so it was pretty cool to see. Very hot outside too!

After Mount Rushmore we headed to our hotel in Rapid City, SD and grabbed dinner at the local Boston's (had no idea there were any outside of Canada or the Northwest). We treated ourselves to some brownie dessert too...yum!!!

The next morning I saw on the news that they found charred dead bodies in a motel in Rapid death following us?....Will post soon about the Badlands.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And the road trip begins...

Before I begin blogging about Yellowstone, I want to start at the beginning of the trip. This is my Mom and I in Spokane before the road trip began...and before we would inevitably strangle each other (out of love of course...)First drive was through Idaho, which went by a lot quicker than I expected. It was really pretty and I'm kicking myself for not picking up a few potatoes....and I can't believe I never went and visited while I was in Spokane...oh well...I was only there for less than 2 months. This is a picture of our drive in Idaho my mom attempted to take while going across a bridge with her in the passenger seat...

After Idaho, Montana came up really quickly and it is soooo gorgeous! I love the wide open spaces (I hope that song is now stuck in everyone's head) and the big sky. So relaxing. I miss it already.

We drove to Missoula for lunch, making a few pit stops on the way. In Missoula we came across this gentle giant and I melted....

He was whining and whimpering and I felt the urge to steal him away and cuddle him forever. But alas, we had to move on. Mom took control of my Civic and I almost had a heart attack since it was the first time someone really drove my car. It turned out to be OK....but I took over about 30 minutes later haha. Then we hit a really big storm- lightning, high winds, pouring down rain....So we decided to take cover in an Applebee's (shout out to Marc!) and experienced the lightning storm in a safer way.... After that we still hit some storms but I didn't feel like I was going to fly off the road while being electrocuted in the process. We headed towards our destination for the day... Gardiner, MT...
There are more dead animal pictures...but I think you get the point. It was a room of death...and it was also where we ate breakfast. Awesome. Good fluffy scrambled eggs though, I will give them that. The night of our stay there we learned about the killers who escaped from prison in Arizona and killed a couple in New Mexico on the loose in Yellowstone National Park....extremely dangerous and armed. Bonnie and Clyde type of scary. We were staying 3 miles outside of the park, so they could have easily walked through that town or driven through the country highway that we drove up on that was right next to our hotel. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep and it was awful. I woke up at 5 AM panicked and wanted to get the show on the road. My mom wasn't letting down on going to the park, so we ended up leaving for the park at 7 AM...and I'm glad we did...SO gorgeous!

After driving through the first part of the park, we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs. Very cool looking but surrounded by you can imagine what it smelled like. Found these drawings at a geyser....I could not stop laughing. Best warning signs EVER
We saw plenty of geysers and smelled plenty of sulphur. Pretty amazing how bubbling hot they are. We saw a TON of buffalo/bison so I was really excited about that. One walked up right next to my car, so close I could reach out and touch him...but I didn't. As you can see in the picture above, you have to STAY SAFE! STAY AWAY! I really just think he wanted to play though ;) Here are a few of the many pictures I took of them.

We also saw a bear and her cubs, but the park ranger was telling all of the cars to keep moving so we couldn't get a good picture of them. Apparently there are about 500 bears in Yellowstone , and we saw 3...good enough for me! You can see them in the middle of the picture...

Other animals we saw were caribou, moose, eagle, pelican, elk, osprey and her babies...and I think that was it for Yellowstone animals....I wish I could have seen a wolf!

Aside from the animals we saw, we also visited the good ole' Old Faithful. That was exciting for 5 seconds. But, like Mom said, one thing off the bucket list.

We stopped by the Lower Falls and some other amazing landscapes...

Overall, Yellowstone was pretty cool and we did a good job for only being there one day. The only thing that would have made it better is if A. there were no killers on the loose and B. it wasn't stormy.
As we were driving down and around a mountain towards the East Entrance of the park, we hit some crazy weather with rain, hail, snow, rainbows (double rainbow!), lightning, and thunder....but we survived!! Here are some pictures I was able to take during the stormy weather from inside the car...

After leaving the park, we ended up in Cody, WY that night, right down the block from where the killer who was captured was locked up in the local jail. Can't seem to get away from those guys. We had dinner at a local Italian restaurant which felt a bit ridiculous with country music blasting out on the main strip and people wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats...but oh my god was the lasagna and tiramisu amazing.
The next day (the day I finish writing this) we headed for Mount Rushmore, which I will blog about soon....but sleep is awaiting me in Rapid City, SD....Wisconsin tomorrow.