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Abilene, Texas

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Abilene, Texas may now be known as the storybook capital of America, but the city is so much more. In 1881 when lots began being sold and cattlemen began shipping cattle on the Texas and Pacific Railway, a thriving city was born. Shortly thereafter, Abilene was named county seat of Taylor County, having won a vote to move it from Buffalo Gap. Today, Abilene is home to three universities, satellite campuses of a junior college and a technical college, as well as Dyess Air Force Base. Located 150 miles west of Fort Worth on I-20, Abilene is a can’t miss stop on a West Texas road trip. We highly recommend staying over for a day or two to experience this wonderful, historic city.

On the beaten path…

Frontier Texas!

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Located at 625 N 1st Street. This is a multimedia museum unlike any other we have ever seen, and we loved it. Go to learn about the history of West Texas from the people who settled the area. Exceptional western heritage exhibits, videos, and holograms. Yes, holograms, and they are amazing! Beautiful building, lovely grounds, and a nice gift shop, too. Open Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 6:00 and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00. Adults $10.00, Seniors/Military $7.00, Students/Teachers $6.00, Children (3-12) $5.00, Ages 2 and under are free.

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Flying Buffalo Herd at Frontier Texas

The Grace Museum

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The Grace Museum is an art and history museum that includes a hands-on children’s museum area. The building was originally the Hotel Grace, built in 1909. We happened to visit on a free admission day, but we would have gladly paid the $6.00 per adult fee for the art exhibits alone. Located at 102 Cypress Street, The Grace Museum is open 10:00 – 5:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

Storybook Sculptures

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The Lorax in Everman Park

Storybook sculptures can be found all over downtown Abilene. Dr. Seuss characters, among others, can be seen in Everman Park (across the street from The Grace Museum) and more at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden (1008 N. 6th Street). Kids and adults of all ages will love these whimsical characters! Click here for a Storybook Adventure Guide: Abilene Storybook Adventure. While visiting downtown Abilene, be sure to check out the NCCIL (National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature) located at 102 Cedar Street for weekly children’s activities, an illustration gallery, and a children’s bookstore. The NCCIL (aka the nickel) is open 10:00 – 4:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

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Characters emerge straight out of the pages of a storybook! This fabulous sculpture in Everman Park is called “Childhood’s Great Adventure”

Abilene Zoological Park

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Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Seven

 

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Peeking through the trees at the Grand Teton Mountains

→Note: this is the seventh post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

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We would be remiss if we did not mention that Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s next door neighbor to the south. The John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is the route between West Thumb (Yellowstone) and the northern tip of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton). The scenic parkway is twenty-seven miles long, but the road (US Hwy 191) continues another forty or so miles to Jackson, Wyoming, winding through the park along the Snake River. Teton Park Road is the one to take for the most scenic parts of the park. The park road begins at Jackson Lake Junction, running for approximately twenty miles, then joins US Hwy 191 at Moose Junction.

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Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

  • Website link: Grand Teton National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for one week pass
  • Accommodations include: lodges, cabins, dude ranch, tent camping, backcountry camping, RV campground, restaurants (hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants also available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Hiking, biking, scenic drives, wildlife, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, (downhill skiing and other winter sports available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • When to go: anytime, but check the website as well as road reports for closures during winter months

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Since this is our final Yellowstone post, we thought we would list some tips for visiting this spectacular park:

  • Don’t rush. Plan to spend several days, if not a week or more, just to see the major attractions of the park. The park is so big it would take months (or years, even) to cover the majority of its almost 3,500 square miles.
  • Make park campground and hotel/lodge reservations well in advance of your trip. These sites book months in advance. Over four million people visited the park in 2017!
  • RV sites in Yellowstone can be small and difficult to maneuver, especially for longer rigs. There are many RV parks outside the park.
  • IMG_0350The wildlife in Yellowstone (and Grand Teton) is wild! The park service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other large animals. And, never feed the wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Animals that get used to being fed by humans don’t continue to thrive in the wild.
  • Hike with a group. Bears are more likely to attack a lone traveler than to approach a group. Hikers might want to consider carrying bear spray.
  • Stay on the boardwalks and designated trails in geyser areas. People have been killed because they did not follow the rules.
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Colorful thermophiles at the edge of boiling Excelsior Geyser
  • Our last and most important tip is to plan, plan, plan before you go. Research the park’s website, watch online videos, and read blogs! Decide on everything you want to see and do while you’re there and write it down. We make a detailed itinerary for every trip. Yes, itineraries take time (and we don’t always stick to them), but it beats arriving at a destination and not having a clue about where to go, where to eat, and what to do.

Below are a few more pictures of beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

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Thank you for joining us on our Yellowstone National Park adventure. We hope that by posting our trips we are inspiring you to plan your own adventures to the places we have visited and loved. Become a follower, or simply like our page. Follow us on Facebook. Leave us a comment. Tell us about your own travels. Come back often to see more great road trip destinations, and tell your friends about us!

We leave this post with a picture of a vintage 1936 National Park Bus. Eight of these refurbished tour buses operate in the park today.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Two

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Porcelain Basin

→Note: this is the second post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Norris Area and Canyon Village Area

First Stop: Norris Area

From the west park entrance, drive 14 miles east to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction, continue east/northeast past Gibbon Falls, then north past Artist Paintpots to Norris. It is approximately 14 miles from Madison Junction to Norris.

Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest thermal area of Yellowstone National Park, is home to the elusive Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat Geyser has erupted recently, but sometimes remains dormant for years.

Take the three-quarter mile Porcelain Basin Trail (boardwalk) to see geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, steam vents, boiling water, and bubbling mud pots. Below are some of our favorite pictures from Porcelain Basin.

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Certain bacteria thrive in the boiling hot waters of Yellowstone National Park. These brilliant green thermophiles make an artistic display.
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Holy smokes!
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Steam vents and pristine water

The Norris area is also home to The Norris Geyser Basin Museum. The structure has a breezeway that straddles the path leading to the Porcelain Basin Terrace Overlook. Construction on the building began in 1929, and the museum is now a National Historic Landmark. This is a can’t-miss feature of the area.

Another can’t-miss feature of the Norris area is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Originally the Norris Soldier Station, the building has seen many changes over the years, including a total rebuild using original materials and the original floor plan. Stop in to see the exhibits and watch a short film about the history of the National Park Service.

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Museum of the National Park Ranger

Travel tip: the steam emitted by Yellowstone’s geysers and vents smells like sulphur. This odor can linger on clothes and in hair.

Now on to the Canyon Village area of the park.

From Norris Junction go east 12 miles to Canyon Village.

Second stop: Canyon Village

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Coyote in a meadow between Norris and Canyon Village

Stop in at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. Several points along the road as well as trails offer exceptional views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. Artists Point is a popular viewpoint. While listening to the roaring power of the falling water, hike (stairs) to the brink of Lower Falls and see them crash 309 feet down into the river canyon below. This area has several hiking trails. Check the website above for details.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
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Lower Falls – taller than Niagara Falls!
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Near the brink of Lower Falls

Yellowstone – Part Two is a wrap! We are going to end this post with the grizzly bear sculpture in front of the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana. Come back next week for Part Three. We will be posting more exciting sections of Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for joining us!

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A visit to the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone is a great introduction to your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to watch the film about the 1988 forest fires.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part One

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  • Website: Yellowstone National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for a seven day pass
  • RV, tent, and backcountry camping
  • Lodges and restaurants in the park
  • Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife/bird watching, hydrothermal features, etc.
  • Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing in the winter, and less crowds
  • When to go: anytime. Most crowded during the summer months. We recommend September.

→Note: this is the first post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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Forest fire? Nope, just some early morning thermal activity.

Hands down, Yellowstone is our favorite national park. Although we haven’t visited all of them yet, we can’t imagine anything topping this gem. Every aspect of the park, from the flora and the fauna to the rivers and the waterfalls to the mountains and the unique thermal features, is breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Yellowstone in the early fall, but we would love to go back for every season.

Yellowstone is 320 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, which has the closest major airport, so that is where we begin our trip. If time permits, we recommend spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link: Salt Lake City

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

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Bonus stop: Idaho Falls, Idaho. We spent the first night of our trip in Idaho Falls. A walk along the river in the city’s greenbelt/riverwalk area was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a day of travel. The city offers several parks, museums, and shopping.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: Sandpiper Restaurant, 750 Lindsay Blvd.

*There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls: 3 hours. (The scenery is gorgeous!)

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: while driving north of Idaho Falls, look east to see the Grand Tetons on the horizon in Grand Teton National Park. There is a pull out along US Highway 20 with signs that tell about the mountains (how they got their name) and offers a good photo op. At Ashton, you will enter the beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

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*Recommended hotel in West Yellowstone: Kelly Inn – 104 S Canyon St., West Yellowstone, Montana – (800) 259-4672.

*There are many options for tent and RV camping in West Yellowstone as well as in the park.

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is huge! It takes a lot of driving and several days just to hit the highlights of the park.  However, the roads basically make an easily navigable figure eight shape (Upper Loop and Lower Loop), and with the help of the park map everything is easy to find.

Travel tip: each section of the park that we’re going to cover has either a Visitor Center and Museum, Visitor Education Center, or an Information Station. Take advantage of these excellent resources. The park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Now on to Madison. Since we stayed in West Yellowstone, we entered the west entrance of the park and drove 14 miles (about 30 minutes) to and through the Madison area of the park every day.  The scenery along the Madison River provided us something new each day, whether it was steam rising from the river due to the chilly morning air or animals starting their day in the meadows.

First stop: Madison Area

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Elk along the edge of the river
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Steam rising from the river

The route we’re taking in this post goes from the west park entrance to the Madison area and then north toward Norris Geyser Basin. It covers less than a quarter of the Lower Loop road which is 96 miles long.

Travel tip: traffic comes to a halt when animals are on the roadways. They have the right of way! Observe speed limits, and be prepared for delays when traveling through the park. Animals on the side of the road cause traffic jams, too, because everyone (including us) wants a picture. Remember that it is illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.

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This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
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Gibbon Falls from the scenic pull-out

Travel tip: Pull-outs for park features such as waterfalls and other points of interest can be very crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Use caution when driving in and around these areas.

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Second stop: Artist Paintpots 

This area makes for a nice little hike and showcases some interesting features. Fumaroles (cracks or openings in the earth where a volcano let’s off steam and gasses), steamy water, and bubbling mud are some of the features that can be seen here.

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That’s going to do it for Yellowstone – Part One. Stop by next week for an exciting Part Two as we cover more of this extraordinary park. Thanks so much for traveling with us! We will close this post with a beautiful view of Mount Holmes.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019