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The Vacation Post

September 1, 2011

This has taken far too long to post, but I crashed for two days after vacation and then had to get right into some data analysis and setting up of logistics for the next round of data collection which will begin this Sunday. Thankfully, that is the only talk of work you will hear in the rest of this post!

The Monday morning I left for St. Louis I was incredibly nervous. Flights out of Riverton, WY are notoriously problematic. There are far too many equipment problems, staff shortages, and weather issues to contend with which leads to delayed flights and then missed connecting flights in Denver. However, I am happy to say, I made it into St. Louis without a single hitch and even landed a few minutes early. I was greeted at the St. Louis airport by Aaron with flowers in hand which was the perfect start to a wonderful vacation. My five days in STL were filled with baking, eating, visiting with friends, a few work related meetings, and playing with kitties. It was a whirlwind of activity, but it felt so good to be home and see some (but not all) of the people I miss so much.

That Saturday, Aaron and I set out for our Great Western Vacation. Our goal on the first day was to hit Sioux Falls, SD. We saw this little gem at a gas station/fireworks store in western Missouri.

A sausage gravy dispenser at a combo gas station/fireworks store - nothing about this is right

This leg of the trip took about 2 hours longer given road closures in Iowa due to the massive and truly devastating flooding. But we arrived to our campgrounds…Jellystone Campgrounds, which was a crowded and loud experience – we escaped unscathed. The next day started our real adventures – We hit the Badlands! This place is truly like another planet, as Aaron said you could clearly picture Captain Kirk fighting a man in a giant green, rubber suit in the Badlands.

Kirk vs. Gorn

We spent several hours scrambling around and doing some minor exploring. Here are some pictures of what we saw, and really they do not give you any idea of the scope and uniqueness of this place.

Me scrambling

Aaron being silly

Once we completed our little trip to Mars, we continued on to the Black Hills. I adore the Black Hills despite the gut wrenching disappointment that is Deadwood, I find this part of the country to be gorgeous and tranquil. We camped out at the Sylvan Lake campgrounds which I would recommend to EVERYONE for one reason and one reason only – the lake! Aaron and I did the typical visit to Rushmore.

This was followed by an absolutely amazing candlelight tour of Wind Cave. Sorry, no pictures of that since we literally saw the cave by candle in a bucket, but I would tell anyone who can do such a tour to do such a tour. We got back to our camp and decided to go to the lake for a swim. The water was perfect, there were boulders sticking up around the lake that could be climbed and become great spots to jump back into the water. This picture is not mine, since camera + water = bad, but it gives you an idea of the beauty we swam in.

The spaces in were big enough for us to swim in between the rocks which was really neat but also really creepy.

Sadly, we had to leave the Black Hills, but for bigger adventures. We hit Devil’s Tower on our way to Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is truly a place everyone should visit. I cannot even begin to describe everything we saw there, and I am not going to try – it would be far too long of a post. It just seems that a place such as this should not exist. There is wildlife, large lakes, rivers, mountains, grassy plains, a huge canyon, water falls, thermally active waste lands, hot springs, burbling pools of mud, steam vents, and geysers – all in one place. We experience these moments of peace and tranquility, and then you seem a violent steam vent and are reminded that you are currently standing on an active volcano. It was a fantastic and surreal experience. I kind of can’t wait to go again and do more exploring. Here are some of the highlights.

Mud Volcano

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls - the best picture I have ever taken

The vast, thermally active wasteland that is Norris Geyser Basin. This is the Black Growler Steam Vent in the foreground. This was probably our favorite place to visit

Palette Spring of the Mammoth Hot Springs

Silex Spring from Fountain Paint Pot Basin

Giant Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin (where Old Faithful is) this is the largest geyser in the park but very unpredictable

Baby buffalo - look at that red coloring!

A adult buffalo posing

Alas, vacation did have to end, and it did in Lander. But not before a drive through the Grand Tetons.

Aaron got a tour of the town and of Riverton, but had to leave this past Sunday. After all that, it really does make it tough to get back to work. I just keep remembering only 3.5 months left to go!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kay permalink
    September 2, 2011 9:32 pm

    Cara-What a beautiful description of a marvelous experience! So jealous. You will never forget it, I’m sure.

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