2018: Year in Review

What a year it’s been. I’m sure I say that every year, but this one has been particularly full of ups and downs.

January: Made lots of small cross stitch samplers for friends and coworkers. Went back into therapy for a few months. Matt helped out with robotics, I did not. Made several trips to the local trampoline park with Lizzie. Started winter ballet class. Took one of our cats, Willie, to the vet to figure out what made him lose lots of weight – turns out he had liver damage which didn’t really have a treatment. (He’s less skinny now but whines all. the. time.)

February: Spent a weekend in Florida to see my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Visited Johnathan Dickinson State Park for the first time since I was a kid. (Finally!) Learned how Instagram Stories works. Spent an entire Sunday by myself in DC.

March: Went on our annual ski trip with friends, probably the last one we’ll ever take to Davis, West Virginia. Threw a St. Patrick’s Day party with decorations Lizzie helped me make. Got a light snow.

April: Lots of letters written – over 50 in total by month’s end. (Note to self: Don’t do this again.)Ate our first dinner of the year out in the porch. Weekend in Shenandoah. Attended the Unicorn Festival.

May: Trip without Lizzie to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Ran out of craft projects while on vacation for the first time ever. Slimmed down my yarn stash quite a bit. Got a horrible eye infection.

June: Weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with family. Lots of trips to the community pool. Saw Sound of Music sing-along. Homemade super hero cape for Lizzie. Switched up anxiety / depression medication – so, so happy I did so. Got new coffee table and side tables for the living room off Reddit, of all places. Found out my dad had a new cancer recurrence and needed to start chemo, after all.

July: Family reunion in Edisto Beach, South Carolina. 13 people in one house for 4 days – whew! Went off dairy, soy, and gluten in attempt for solution to tummy and skin issues.

August: Stopped elimination diet due to horrible abdominal pain. After several tests, found out I have Crohn’s Disease. Spent a weekend in Shenandoah with friends. Start of birthday party season for Lizzie’s friends.

September: Lizzie started Pre-K (and loves it). Spent weekend in Florida for my birthday. Old friend from LA came to visit – went to Harper’s Ferry, National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and National History Museum during his visit. Lizzie took her first ballet class at school. Off to Italy with Lizzie.

October: Italy trip! Shenandoah weekend soon after. Had first colonoscopy and learned of colonic stricture. Found out my mom has breast cancer. Made our own Halloween decorations for the living room. Lizzie dressed up as Ariel (in a store-bought costume she decided she wanted at the last minute), Matt as Prince Charming, and me as a bee. Handed out candy with neighbors on our driveway, taking advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures.

November: Saw a surgeon to talk about stricture repair options; confirm with second surgeon that surgery was only valid course of action. Spent a weekend in NYC for a friend’s 35th birthday. Several cycles of feeling fine for a few days then miserable for a few. Had family and friends to our house for Thanksgiving.

December (so far): Lizzie turned 5! Had a right colectomy and am home, recovering and trying to use it as an excuse to fully relax.

 

How was your year?

Yellowstone, Part IV

Our final days were spent in the area everyone goes to – by Old Faithful. I won’t lie, this was my absolute least favorite part of our trip. It was crowded and you had to really work to get away from people. That said, it was really neat to be able to see the world’s most famous geological feature.

One tip – if you climb to the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn and walk to the newer area, you’ll eventually get to a covered porch. From there, you have an excellent, likely totally private, view of Old Faithful. We discovered it by staying just on the other side of that porch and went back multiple times to watch eruptions.

Prismatic Spring

The Prismatic Springs are a series of, well, springs located just down the road from Old Faithful. They’re famous for the large, multi-colored springs. Yes, it’s crowded and unless you go after the new overlook opens, you can’t get very close. I’d say this is skippable if you’re able to walk the entire 4 mile round-trip to the Morning Glory spring in the Back Basin. Think carefully before visiting.

Prismatic Spring

Prismatic Spring

Back Basin

No more words from me, just lots and lots of photos of gysers from the back-basin, home of Old Faithful.

Back Basin

Back Basin

Mammouth Spring

Just before you exit the park into the town of West Yellowstone is Mammouth Spring. I don’t even know how to describe it, other than out-of-this-world strange.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this little view into this most famous of US National Parks!

Yellowstone, Part II

The second segment of our Yellowtsone visit was based out of the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge area. Much less populated with tourists than other parts of the park, this was the sight of the very first National Park lodge. We stayed in the cabins – you can’t actually stay in the lodge itself, it’s just a restaurant and small gift shop – and enjoyed the less populated area.

From the porch of Roosevelt Lodge

Best Picnic Spot

Just a few miles down the main road from the lodge was this great picnic area. With a very clean composting toilet and plentiful picnic tables, we had our breakfast there eavery morning we were in the area.

Lamar Valley

I’ll admit half the reason I remember the name of this part of the park is I kept thinking of Lavar Burton. I know, not the same name, but it did make the Reading Rainbow theme song get stuck in my head for a few days.

The valley is known for its excellent chances of sighting animals, particularly bison and pronghorn, but occasionally wild swans (yes, really), moose, or other critters.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley (Pronghorn)

Lamar Valley

Tower Fall

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember Tower Falls at all, just that we went there. But, hey, look, a photo I thought to label right after we got back!

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

Matt’s dad and Lizzie walked with us on the short part of the basin train (about 1/2 mile) but left Matt and I do to do the 2 or so mile loop ourselves. It was crowded on the first part of the trail but very quickly thinned out to almost no one after that.

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

One Old Tree

Not far from where we were staying was this petrified tree. It’s not a great thing to see, but certainly worth the short drive.

Chuck Wagon Dinner

Somehow, Lizzie managed to figure out what it meant that we were going on a chuck wagon dinner our last night in the Roosevelt area. It’s what it sounds like – you take horse-drawn carriages (with 40 of your closest friends with you in said carriage) to a remote area where “cowboys” cook you a chuck wagon-style feast of steak and the fixins’. They sing cowboy songs and tell corny stories. She was excited about the experience and even more excited when it was happening.


(Really, she loved it. This was taken when the temperature had dropped and we hadn’t yet convinced her to put her hoodie on.)


(The wagons)

(Meeting one of the horses, wearing my hat)

(Cowboy songs)

Next time – we wrap things up by Old Faithful

Yellowstone – Pt 1

In June, we spent a total of 7 days in Yellowstone National Park with my in-laws. Because it was such a long trip and the park is so very diverse in its sites, I’ve breaking up the trip into three parts based on where we stayed – Lake Yellowstone, Teddy Roosevelt, Old Faithful

Getting Oriented

Due to the very large size of the part, we broke up our trip by stating three nights at Lake Yellowstone (in the much-cheaper cabins rather than the hotel), two nights the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge cabins, and two nights at the Old Faithful Inn. If you remove the distance we drove from the airport and around Grand Teton – you can see photos from that part of the trip here – we drove nearly 500 miles in the park. While it seems a little strange, I admit, to move three times, it really was all of that unpacking.

Cheapskate Tip – Pack a Cooler

Oh, a big tip before we get started. At the start of our trip, we did a big run to a local Super Walmart and picked up a cooler, breakfast foods (cereal, milk, bagels, cream cheese), lunch foods (bread, lunch meat, chips), and drinks (soda, milk for Lizzie, beer for the adults). Yes, we bought a cooler which we then gave away to a surprised yet happy hotel employee at the end of the trip. It saved us soooo much money eating nearly all of our breakfasts and lunches “from the van,” as Matt’s dad put it.

Teton to Lake Yellowstone

Because the park borders literally touch (northern border of Grand Teton, southern border of Yellowstone), it took us only a few hours to make our way to the Lake Yellowstone area from where we’d stayed the last few nights in Teton.

We started by stopping at the very first of the geyser basins. We had Lizzie in our carrier backpack for this one as we had no clue how she would be about staying on the boardwalks and paying careful attention that no one else, well, knocked her off of them.

(These signs are everyone for a reason!)

(That’s Matt in the blue shirt, with everyone else who was staying carefully back from the elk that was hanging out, having a snack.)

Driving Tour – Girls Only

Our first full day in the area, Matt and his dad went on a photo tour, so his mom, Lizzie, and I did our own tour of the area, driving from the Lake Yellowstone Hotel down to the Canyon area, about an hour if you drove straight there.

Our main stop was at the Mud Springs area, full of gysers and springs full of, well, mud. And, whew, was it smelly!


(This little guy is Moosey who Lizzie was given by an employee for not begging to have her Mom-Mom buy her everything in the gift store. In an attempt to keep her engaged, we took photos of and with him on our drive.)

(Named “Dragons Mouth Spring” because, well, it sounds like a dragon when the water comes rushing out of it)

(Walking with Mom-Mom)

(Required “I made it here!” sign picture)

Matt got us reservations in the cabin area at the Lake because they’re literally right behind the hotel and significantly cheaper. We chose units with en suites as Lizzie was just starting potty training and, well, his parents are late 60s/early 70s.

Artist’s Point

There’s a canyon that’s known as Artist’s Point (or something like that, where did my notes go??) famous for it’s colorful rainbow display that happens a few times a day, when the light is justtt right.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

(I was too busy chasing Lizzie around to get a photo of that magical moment, but the scene was lovely enough with no special colors.)

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

We followed the suggestion from a guidebook and went back the first few places you can park to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. While still crowded, we were able to find a spot after not much driving around.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Next time: Teddy Roosevelt Lodge area
 

 

 

Grand Teton

This blog post was supposed to be about our recent trip to the UK…then I was going through my photos and realized I never posted anything about our trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, back in June. So, now we find ourselves here…Grand Teton.

Grand Teton is located wholly in the state of Wyoming and found justttt south of Yellowstone National Park. We stayed in one of the park’s cabins for three nights which gave us time to explore most of the part’s roads and a bit of its backcountry (via hikes).

The focus of the park is the Tetons themselves, a part of the Rockies with very tall peaks but almost no foothills to speak of. The largest is named, not surprisingly, Grand Teton. They are, in short, breathtaking.

Snake River viewpoint

Ansel Adams took a very famous photo from this overlook of the Snake River. I didn’t even try to re-create it, but took my own photo.

Lakeshore

Matt and Lizzie hanging out at the docks on Jenny Lake, close to where we stayed and just at the end of a parking lot with one of the park’s concession areas.

Trip means I take photos of Matt as he takes photos.

One of the most famous non-natural sites of the park: the old barn which was part of a Mormon settlement that didn’t last particularly long due to the very short growing season and very cold winters.

Along the shores of Jenny Lake

Lizzie walked about a third of our hike from Jenny Lake up to Hidden Falls.

Way back from Hidden Falls

Another Fidden Falls hike view

And, to end my post, some other beautiful views I can’t place…

Visit to Trefriw Wool Mill

(Back in a few days with another installment for the Harvest-a-long because knitting the body of a sweater takes forever and doesn’t need another post.)

While on vacation in Wales, we visited the Trefriw Wool Mill. The ill makes both yarn and traditional Welsh woven fabrics from that wool. They very happily welcome guests to take their own tour of their mill which is entirely powered by hydroelectric power. I won’t beleaguer it with lots of words. Let’s just say I was in heaven and very sad I wasn’t there on a day the shop that sells their wool was open.