Yellowstone IV | Personal
After a week in the park we were ready to head home. We took the scenic route home through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun road. Another area I had heard about, but never been. What a drive!! Gorgeous at every turn!
Got a picture with the sign as we left.
Stopped at Lake McDonald to see the famous colored rocks.
We also stopped at Trail of the Cedars and walked through the beautiful old growth forest.
I thought the tunnels on the drive were cool.
The Weeping Wall.
The highest point on the drive is at Logan Pass.
We set out to do the Hidden Lake hike. We got about halfway I think, but got bogged down in the snow. We didn't quite make it.
We took a walk down to Sunrift Gorge, that was pretty.
Wild Goose Island.
Boys were ready to go home!
Yellowstone III | Personal
This was probably my favorite area of the park - Geyser Country!! Here is Old Faithful and one of the largest concentrations of geysers in the world. Old Faithful is definitely impressive. Walking the boardwalks of the upper and lower basin was also fantastic!!! We even met real life "geyser gazers". I had read about them in my guide book, but didn't think that was actually a thing, but these guys and gals come out for the "season" (as they call it) and wander the boardwalks every day calling in predictions to the visitor centre. We met a couple guys watching Lion Geyser and they were so interesting to talk to. They thought the geyser was going to erupt in about 10 minutes so we waited there with them. About 10 minutes later a huge roar came from the geyser and I screamed. They laughed and said, oh we should have told you it's called Lion Geyser because it roars just before it erupts.
The boardwalks near the Old Faithful Inn were incredible and riddled with geysers, fumeroles along the river and hot springs. We also checked out the smaller Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin which were also worth the short drive and walk around. We spent a couple of nights here so we also had time for the Midway basin that held the incredible Grand Prismatic.
The first time we saw Old Faithful. It goes about every 90 minutes.
Geysers & springs at Biscuit Basin just a few miles from Old Faithful.
We hustled back to the Upper Geyser Basin to see Daisy Geyser erupt. We missed it and ended up hiding under the benches from a quick downpour.
The Grotto Geyser was in full eruption for quite awhile that day.
Morning Glory was stunning!
This is Giant Geyser. It erupts very rarely, but I guess it did happen a couple days before we arrived.
Castle Geyser putting on a show.
A view of the Old Faithful Inn from the lower geyser basin boardwalks.
Old Faithful from a distance.
Spasmotic Geysers. My husband and youngest son got geysered out, but my oldest walked with me all day watching these incredible geysers. Every one so different.
Casey, one of the geyser gazers we met, told me to check out Grand Geyser that night. He thought it would erupt an hour earlier then predicted and sure enough it did! It was not disappointing!
Walking back to our hotel room we saw Castle geyser again erupt at dusk. This is the view of it from the other side.
Now this is a show stopper! Grand Prismatic!!! Wow! Wow, is all I can say! It was incredible. I only wish we could have seen it from above. There used to be a place you could scramble up to, but they've closed it to turn it into an actual trail. It wasn't open yet when we were there, but if you go definitely check it out. If you google Grand Prismatic images the view from above is incredible.
After getting to Midway Basin to see Grand Prismatic early before it got really busy we drove around Firehole Lake Drive. We took in some of the features and then saw some ladies who looked very much like Geyser Gazers (long cargo pants, vests, radios and bucket hats) staring at Great Fountain. I asked them what they thought and they said they just saw the pool fill up and thought it would erupt in an hour. Good enough for me. We toured around a little more and came back for the show!
We saw White Dome Geyser erupt as we were standing at Grand Fountain.
White Dome just as it finished erupting.
Great Fountain did not disappoint. I took dozens of pictures, but narrowed it down to two here. In the middle of the eruption, White Dome went off again behind it.
Our last stop before heading out of the park was Fountain Paint Pots. There are four main thermal features in the park - geysers, fumaroles, mudpots & hot springs. We saw them all in every country, but this basin held all four in one spot.
Yikes, I am way over due posting this, but here is our family road trip to Yellowstone National Park last summer! I had always heard about Yellowstone, but didn't realize how close it really is. We stopped off at our friend's acreage to drop off the dog and we hit the road. After an overnight stay in Great Falls we arrived at the North Entrance of Yellowstone and drove through the beautiful Roosevelt Arch. Yellowstone is divided into "countries" and we hit Mammoth country first. That afternoon we walked the boardwalks and took in the stunning hot spring terraces that are constantly changing due to the travertine that builds up. We spent a night here and then carried on to Norris Basin and Canyon Country the next day. Watch for a couple more posts on this trip.
Walking past Liberty Cap, that of course my boys made fun of.
Then we checked out the upper terraces and it's scalding water.
Sheepeater Cliffs was a stop we made on our way to Norris to have a picnic lunch. Crazy place with 500,000 year old hexagonal basalt columns stacked like building blocks.
After staying a night in Mammoth, we set out the next day for Norris Basin on our way to Canyon Country. This basin was large and had a lot of amazing thermal features.
It was hot!
Our first mudpot. It was roaring and bubbling.
Steamboat Geyser making some noise, but doesn't erupt often and is very unpredictable.
Back to Work | Holidays are over
Costa Rica | Pacific Coast
Last post on my vacation I promise. For the end of our trip we spent 4 nights along the Pacific coast. Through Airmiles I booked us 2 nights at the amazing JW Marriott just south of Tamarindo and then 2 nights at the Playa Flamingo Resort up the coast north. The JW was absolutely beautiful and they gave us an oceanfront room! We spent our days frolicking in the pool and the ocean. Perfect way to end our trip.
Stairs just outside our room leading down to the beach at the JW Marriott.
The JW Marriott pool.
Watching the sunset at the JW Marriott private beach.
The area they serve dinner on the beach.
Hanging out at the pool most of the day.
Checked out the sunset the next night at Playa Avellana a few minutes from our hotel. Great supper at Lola's with our feet in the sand.
My oldest son took a couple shots of my husband and I in the sunset.
Our last two nights were here at the Playa Flamingo.
Spent the day at Playa Conchal. So amazing - the beach is made up of crushed seashells. Beauty of a beach.
After 3 nights in La Fortuna (see previous post) we took to the road and made our way to the Cloud Forest of Monteverde for a couple of days. The road was very rough the closer we got to Monteverde, but it was definitely worth the trip! First order of business was to find the 'Strangler Tree'! This is not a known attraction and when we stopped at the visitor centre on the way in and asked about it they would only refer me to some tours about tree rappelling. In researching the area before our trip I had stumbled upon some forums and blogs of people who had found this tree in the forest, but the directions to find it were sketchy. I have a thing for trees and to be able to climb up the middle of one was irresistible to me. How fascinating that this tree takes over a healthy tree and kills it from the inside leaving this lattice and hollowed out middle. I asked again about it at the cabin we rented and showed our awesome front desk person the pictures I had printed out and brought with me. Turns out he knew exactly where it was and it was only 5 minutes from us. We parked along the side of the road and took the small dirt path into the forest as instructed and after a short walk there it was! My boys weren't keen to climb up, but I climbed as high as possible. I took my big camera with me and couldn't squeeze myself enough through the narrow top without damaging me or the camera, besides my husband was also yelling at me to come down. The climb was wonderous!
We also checked out the Frog Pond. My youngest son and I have a love for frogs so we really enjoyed this place. We saw our favorite Red-Eyed Tree frog again. During the day our guide took him out of his enclosure so we got pretty close again. We went back at night which was a whole different experience to see them more active in the dark. It was fun walking around with flashlights and finding the frogs.
Our second day in Monteverde was high flying. We did an early morning zipline tour with The Original Canopy Tour. They were fantastic and I loved that they took my camera often and got lots of great pictures & videos of us. I had wanted to go with one of the larger zipline companies there that have superman cables, but the more I looked into it I discovered that my youngest would have to go with a guide and would most likely get separated from us. We were very happy with The Original Canopy Tour and it was still adrenaline pumping fun! Besides the 14 cables that we rode, there was a tarzan swing, a monkey drop and climb back up through a small strangler tree and a frightening, swaying ladder. I also loved that the platforms were all built in the treetops and not steel structures. Great fun!
We also drove up to the Selvatura Hanging Bridges and spent an afternoon walking the cloud forest and through the bridges high above the forest canopy. Fantastic, beautiful and serene! I have one more post from our holiday - next up the beach.
Inside the tree!
Took a shot of my husband at the bottom as I climbed up.
The Frog Pond.
133 different species of frogs in Costa Rica.
Ready for some ziplining.
My husband coming down the monkey drop.
The Hanging Bridges at Selvatura.
Thought I would post some of my favorite pictures from our vacation to Costa Rica this past spring break. We had so much fun!! We spent 6 days in the jungle and 4 days at the beach. We flew into Liberia on the new beautiful non-stop Westjet flight, picked up our car rental and drove ourselves to the town of La Fortuna at the base of the Arenal Volcano. So much to do here. We were exhausted the first day from flying through the night and not really sleeping, so we checked out the town, grabbed some supper and we were in bed by 6:30pm! Worked out well since we met Geovani the next morning at 5:30am! The sun comes up at 5:30 in Costa Rica and sets about the same time, so things get going early! We were booked on an animal tour with the knowledgeable and sweet Geovani. He took us through some forests where we learned a lot about the plant life and we saw many animals including the amazing Red-Eyed Tree frog, which we even got to hold! After the tour he took us for a typical Costa Rican breakfast and we parted ways for the afternoon. We relaxed and played at the spectacular Tabacon Hot Springs for the afternoon. My husband hates hot tubs/hot springs, but even he was impressed with this place and all it's waterfalls, lush vegetation & the fabulous brunch. Later in the day we met Geovani again and he took us up close and personal with a sloth and some iguanas, but not before we visited the Red-Eyed Tree frog again!
Our third day in La Fortuna we did a chocolate tour in the morning and went for some adventure in the afternoon. The Rainforest chocolate tour was super interesting. It was cool to see chocolate go from the tree to what we eat. After lunch the guys from Pure Trek picked us up and took us out for some wild and wet fun. We rappelled down 4 waterfalls and did one monkey drop. They call it that fun name, but really they drop you down a wire from a dizzying height. It was terrifying and fantastic. After our time here we drove ourselves to the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde which I'll show you in my next blog post.
Geovani showing up how pepper grows on trees - who knew!
Taking a break and having some of Geovani's home brewed coffee.
Coolest frog ever!
Poison red dart frog - I didn't hold him.
Heard these guys humming all night.
My husband showing the boys a sloth up in the tree.
The Tabacon Hot Springs.
Had to see this frog again!
His feet were so sticky and soft.
Geovani took my phone and captured a video of this adorable creature.
We each took a turn up the ladder to see the sloth.
Ended the day with Iguanas.
Gustavo showing us exactly how chocolate is made.
Best chocolate we've ever had!
Getting all harnessed up for our canyoning trip.
This first rappel was 165 feet and pretty daunting.
So proud of my kids for doing this.
Mighty Five Vacation | Zion, Valley of Fire & Vegas
Mighty Five Vacation | Captiol Reef / Bryce Canyon
Mighty Five Vacation | Moab /Arches / Canyonlands
Here's my second post on our family vacation. After our drive from Page we found a cute little cabin to stay in Moab and made that our base for the next 4 nights. From Moab we visited Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. We had some fun on mountain bikes and did a Hummer ride in Hell's Revenge too! Arches was the first of the 'Mighty Five' that we visited and it didn't disappoint!
This one is called Balanced Rock
Walking up to the Windows
We took the trail behind the windows and had a good view of both of them together.
This was a fun hike in lots of sand to Sand Dune Arch.
Tunnel Arch out on the Devil's Garden Trail.
Some cool trees and driftwood on the Devil's Garden Trail.
It was hot!
This was probably our favorite and most strenuous hike of the day - Delicate Arch. It was quite a climb, then walking around this rock ledge we we were rewarded by such a beautiful view on the other side!
The next day we rented some mountain bikes in town and went out to Dead Horse Point State park. Super fun!
After mountain biking we did the Sunset Hummer Safari with The Moab Tour Company. It was fantastic! Terrifying, but fantastic!
My boys with our driver Casey.
Our last day in Moab we went to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands Park. This was our first short hike up to Mesa Arch.
View through the arch was cool.
The rim at Canyonlands.
Did a hike to this area called Upheaval Dome - a salt uplift or the site of a meteorite crash are the two theories.
I was in awe of this tree growing out of the rock! This is just one of several shots I took of it.
I've got a thing for trees.
The gorgeous view at Dead Horse Point State park.
Mighty Five Vacation | Grand Canyon/ Horseshoe Bend / Antelope Canyon
Italy - Venice two | Personal
Italy - Venice One | Personal
Italy - Florence | Personal
I am sure you are getting sick of my vacation pictures, but bare with me for a couple of more posts. I have never posted this many pictures from a vacation before but Italy really blew me away. Florence was amazing. So rich in art and history. The first few pictures are amazing sculptures we saw just walking around outside at the Piazza della Signoria. Florence is a big city but it felt so safe, classy and beautiful.
My boys inside the Bargello Museum.
The spectacular Duomo of Florence.
We climbed 414 stairs up the bell tower for the view.
Hanging down by the river at sunset.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
The Uffizi Gallery
This is the church Michelangelo grew up in - Santa Croce.
View of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
We loved these Lemon sodas!
Italy - Siena & Tuscany | Personal
Loved Siena! We stayed overnight here and spent the better part of the day exploring the Duomo and the main square called Il Campo. The Duomo was my favorite one of the trip. The inside was a riot of pinstripes, not to mention the library with the ceiling that looks as fresh as the day it was done (1502). We climbed a crazy spiral staircase as well for a wonderful view of Siena. Gianni picked us up again and drove us to Florence with a couple of great stops along the way.
Just walking along and looked up to see this.
I think it's the largest square in Italy and they treat it almost like a beach.
Hilltop castle like place called Monteriggioni where they housed the soldiers during the war.
San Gimignano with it's medieval towers and best Gelato in the world!
Literally won world Gelato championship.
Italy - Orvieto & Tuscany | Personal
After spending some time on the coast we drove inland to Tuscany. We stayed our first night in the coolest place - Orvieto. The town is built on a volcanic tuft and feels completely medieval. Around 5000 people live there and most have their own private underground cave left from centuries ago. We took a funicular up the hill to reach the town and spent the day exploring the ramparts, the duomo and did an underground cave tour. After a day in Orvieto we hired Gianni from Tours around Tuscany. Gianni was absolutely fantastic taking us all over Tuscany to places we would never find on our own. He walked around with us and explained history, politics, local customs, lifestyle, driving habits and even explained the ways of the bidet to us!
Taking the funicular.
The ramparts of Orvieto.
Found a gelato shop pretty quickly. Needed our daily fix.
The Orvieto Duomo was impressive!
Looking down from the town to a villa in the valley.
The next day our first stop was Montepulciano. Another hilltop town.
I am a fan of the Twilight movies (yes I'm really 16 at heart). This is the square where they filmed Bella running to Edward and kissing him under this arch. So of course I made my husband kiss me here!
We went through a winery and Gianni told us how everything worked.
This was the sweet old winemaster who had me taste his wine. Then he kissed me on the cheek and said "Ciao Bella!"
This was the road they filmed the Mercedes commercial on.
We had a wonderful lunch at a traditional Tuscan farmhouse. Everything they served us they grew on the farm.
We went through several more beautiful little villages and vineyards. I loved the windows, the church bells and the big doors.
Italy - Positano & Ravello | Personal
Italy - Pompeii | Personal
Italy - Rome 2 | Personal
This post is the second half of our time in Rome. I loved Rome!! It is a gritty, big city with so much going on. It's like nothing I've ever seen. Everywhere we turned there was something crazy old and cool to see. It was amazing to us the history and to see things dating back to years B.C. I understand now why people say it takes a lifetime to see Rome - there is so much there and so much to explore.
On our third day in Rome we went to The Vatican. It was very impressive. I recommend doing it as a tour to skip the ridiculous line and it was also so great to have someone explain the significance of things to us. We hired Roberta from Rome Tours with Kids and she was fabulous and didn't mind me sneaking away to get the staircase shot below.
We were there at 9:00am and no one was on the staircase yet - I was so happy!
Roberta toured us through many halls on our way to the Sistine Chapel. This hall of maps was my favorite. The ceiling was unbelievable!
I think my butt was getting wet or something in this picture.
We went through the Raphael rooms which were fantastic!
This is Raphael's famous painting of the philosophers with Aristotle & Plato in the middle. He put himself in on the right corner with the black beret. He also put Michelangelo in the painting right in the front in the purple robe.
Crazy awesome ceilings.
A beautiful corridor as we left the Sistine Chapel.
Inside St. Peter's Basilica.
This building is nicknamed The Typewriter. It is a war monument to Italy's first king.
Beautiful sculptures on the building.
We took the elevator up the side of the Typewriter for some wonderful views of the city.
Inside the Pantheon with it's great dome.
I took this shot very quickly as we were walking by this couple. I just love how he's looking at her and the whole scene.
Street painter with spray paint and fire in the Piazza Navona.
Beautiful Piazza Navona.
I loved the cobblestone streets of Rome.
We spent the afternoon going through some of the churches near the Pantheon. The cool thing about the churches is the amazing art inside that you can see for free. The statue above on the left is by Michelangelo.
Italy - Rome 1 | Personal
I have been dreaming about traveling to Italy for over 20 years! I still can't believe that it happened. It was amazing and everything I thought it would be and more! So if you have been wondering why my blog has been pretty quiet for the last month I've either been in Italy or working on my pictures from Italy! We were gone for 17 days. We spent the first 5 days in Rome. This post is the first half of our time in Rome.
Our first full day in Rome we had to see the Colosseum!
Walking by the Forum on our way to the Colosseum. Everywhere was something amazing and old.
Wonderful fountains all over Rome with cold fresh water from the underground natural spring.
Roberta who we hired from Rome Tours with Kids who took us through the Colosseum, Palantine Hill & The Forum. She was fabulous. We spent the morning with her again a few days later at The Vatican.
The view of the Colosseum from Palantine Hill
Just a chunk of ancient stone laying around.
After our tour with Roberta we checked out some churches behind the Colosseum. This is San Giovanni of Laterno. This church was the home of the pope before St. Peter's. Every new pope still has to sit in the chair here.
Checked out the Colosseum after supper to see it all lit up at night.
This building is nicknamed the Typewriter and also looked pretty cool at night.
Our second day we wandered around Rome and took in the Borghese Gallery in the morning. Here I am pictured with my beautiful boys at the Spanish Steps.
After lunch we toured the creepy Capuchin Crypt. No pictures allowed so that is my postcard pictured above.
Staying with the creepy theme we went through the Priscilla Catacombs which were pretty fascinating.
The amazing Trevi Fountain!
After a busy wedding season and busy fall full of wonderful family sessions, we took our little family on vacation to San Diego. We did all the parks - Legoland (totally awesome), San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Seaworld and we surprised the kids and drove in for a day at Disneyland. My favorite pictures though are all of the ocean. We don't get to see the ocean very often here in land locked Calgary, so we were in awe of it. I feel that way every time I see the ocean. No matter what we did during the day at the end of it we would always end up back at a beach.
I really don't like birds, but there is something about Pelicans that I just love.
Well Pelicans and Piers!
My oldest boy Jack dragging a massive piece of some kind of seaweed.
Loved Boomer Beach!
This was our favorite spot: Shell beach
Jack took this picture of Cory & I. I told him how to compose the shot and I think he did a brilliant job!