Tag: Travel

Montana

“Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below” MorningBeck                                         img_2247img_2208

From the time I was 12 years old and had watched, “A River Runs Through it” and witnessed so many other films covering Montana, my heart yearned deeply to witness this beauty that so many call, “God’s Country”. Trust me when I say, this IS God’s Country. If you are looking to find solace from the everyday torment of work, politics, drama, social media and anything else that may be causing you stress, this is the place to go. When we entered Montana my heart beat heavily. With eager eyes and my head smushed against the van’s glass window my need to jump out of the van and experience the air and everything that was Montana grew rapidly and without ceasing. I begged dad to stop the van and so he did. I stepped out onto the road that quickly turned into grass to witness this miracle that God had created. We looked around and my heart swelled.

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There was a stream at every turn and at every other turn people were fly fishing just like what was depicted in “A River Runs Through It”:). Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this as they were so far away that they wouldn’t show up in the picture had I actually taken one. I couldn’t believe how everything I was seeing with my own eyes looked just like what I had seen in movies. You always think that movies make things look better than what they are OR they take away from what they really are. In this case it was everything I thought it would plus more. The beauty of this is unparalleled.

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We even stopped to get some pics of ourselves 🙂

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Oh! Look’s like Miriam has the selfie stick this time! *hehe* 🙂

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Everything looks like an image out of a book. It looks and feels so unreal. It’s just one continuous jaw dropper. And if you’re not convinced wait until you check out my blog post on Glacier National Park!

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As we were driving by the railroad tracks, I felt transported back to the early 1900’s envisioning a time when trains were a steady means of transportation along with the horse and sometimes a car. I could just hear the train’s horn blowing as the passengers leisurely gaze out the window at their surroundings never knowing that there would someday be airplanes, portable telephones and what we have come so desperately to depend on: the internet. Life was more simpler back then and I wonder if sometimes all of this technology we have now really is good for us. It’s something to ponder.

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Dad, forever patiently waiting for me to get every single last picture I could muster. 😉

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To me this is the second most beautiful place on earth. I’ve never grown up in the mountains and never saw real mountains until I went to Washington. Besides the paradise that I grew up in (river & ocean), this would be my other choice in complete equivalence, though different scenery. It truly is God’s country.

Mt. Rainier

“Comin’ down the mountain. One of many children. Everybody has their own opinion…” Mountain SongJane’s Addiction

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Like most fantastic sites to see, Mt. Rainier is coming in hot on the “fantastic sites” meter. Boy what a huge volcanic mountain! I tell you, along with Mount St. Helens this place is just as enormous and wonderous! One thing I noticed after we left, was how mysterious Mt. Rainier is! It’s this huge, gigantic mountain that seems like it has its own personality.

While we’ve been here it feels like I’ve been “chasing” this mountain for weeks now. You can see the mountain from hours away because of how large it is. We can see it here in Aberdeen, which is about 3 hours away. You can definitely see it from Seattle, 2 hours away and so it seems as though in specific spots you can see the peak or part of this amazing wonder. However, at times it has been hidden by fog, clouds or darkness; the one time I got to see it before we actually went to it was on the Bremerton ferry to Seattle (check out Seattle Part 1 to see what I’m talking about). This elusiveness kind of gives it an interesting trait. It’s like it’s playing a game with you and knows you want to see it but won’t come out until it feels sorry for you and only then will it let you glimpse at it. But on the flip side, it seems to be quite visible from every direction – thus giving it it’s elusiveness. It only took a couple of hours to arrive at Mt. Rainier and so, like most of the attractions, there are many pull-offs you can stop at to get out and take pictures. On route you can see that everything is quite rustic: the cabins, houses, food places etc. It’s not only rustic but it’s VERY green! Along the way you can see moss growing on all the trees inside of the forest area. And no, this is not spanish moss.

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Whenever I end up in a spot so beautiful that I have to make an image, I say to myself, “Gosh I want everyone to see this.” And so it goes that I have to show you this beautiful image with the light busting through and hanging over the trees and spilling onto the little walkway.

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That was our first stop coming into Mt. Rainier. Our next stop was directly in the national park. You do have to pay to go through it:

  • Vehicles: $20
    Motorcycles/ Walk-In/Bicycles: $10
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There are four entrances to Mt. Rainier, we went in through the “Paradise” side. It’s not as beautiful as the “Sunrise” side but it was still beautiful…as you can see 🙂

We kept on going until we reached a place where we could have a nice picnic. We had quite the caravan with us; 10 people. But we found a place – a NICE place!

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Here are some of the picnic crew.

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What you DON’T see is that FANTASTIC “Yeti” cooler to the left-hand side of the image. That cooler is the end all, be all to coolers! I highly recommend it. My friend Kelly and her husband Heath have one and swear by it. We do as well. It has kept our food cool for at least 4 days like it was the first day! We haven’t gone longer than 4 days but we will find out when we go camping at the Clearwater if it can keep the cool longer.

You would have thought I was the paparazzi the way I was snapping pictures (and I’m sure you can tell from the images above). It’s the same mountain just different angles. LOL, it was so magnificent I just want no one to miss anything!

Info on the Mountain:

*In Mt. Rainier, 97% of the park is wilderness and is protected from development. It became an official national park in 1899. It’s an active volcano and has repeated eruptions! When it erupts again they say it could be devastating. Geologists also say that Lahars will be the devastation that comes from the eruption (a slew of material looking like wet concrete).

Engineers designed the roads specifically for view and not by how easy it would be. Even though these roads are nice to drive on, it’s because of the winter snow and ice that much of the park is inaccessible. They say that sometimes you can hear the glaciers pop and crack as they move as well as avalanches! Another thing that I thought was pretty neat was that the mountain creates its own weather system. I think that’s clever. I never knew that.*

We finally arrived at the visitors center at “Paradise Inn”.

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This is the final stop to see her in all her glory.

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These signs are plastered all over the picnic tables throughout the entire drive up:

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These are obvious warnings but if you’re unfamiliar, wildlife inhabit this entire national park and so when you picnic, you are not picnicking alone. 😉 Somewhere there is a bear smelling your food like Yogi and wanting to get your “Pic-a-nic Basket!” Just make sure he doesn’t have a sidekick named “Boo Boo” or you may have bigger problems than wildlife.

When you leave the visitors center, just a little ways down there is an area named, “Packwood” where there sits a BEAUTIFUL little waterfall and a nice tall view.

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I thought it was kind of neat how the wind had blown in just one direction that the branches permanently face this way.

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And of course, there is the tallness of everything that really puts you in your place.

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The City by the Bay

 “We’re looking for such different things, it is insane but we wouldn’t want to be the same.” Weightless311

Golden Gate Bridge

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Now that it’s getting down to crunch time, my stomach is twisting around in knots and I’m absolutely about to jump out of my skin! I know it sounds really bad but the closer I get to the end of this semester, the sooner I want it to get here so I can be gone! I shouldn’t rush my life away and I really try to take each day at a time and be thankful but it’s really difficult to to do that when you’re getting ready to go to the West Coast for the first time! I really feel like I’m about to explode! We have exactly 3 weeks and 5 days until we take off so naturally I’m beginning my research of tourist destinations!

San Francisco is our first BIG hit when we get to California. Minus our arriving in Sacramento and driving to Penryn where my cousins live, our first tourist-y place to visit is, “The City by the Bay”. You know, I never knew San Francisco had so many nicknames! They include:

  • Baghdad by the Bay
  • The City
  • The City by the Bay
  • The City That Knows How (archaic)
  • Everybody’s Favorite City
  • Fog City
  • Frisco
  • Golden City
  • The Golden Gate City
  • San Fran
  • Shaky Town

Though I have read of several sites that say locals do not like the nickname, “San Fran”. Haha I don’t know why this is but I suppose we’ll find out. I’ve looked into booking a guided tour by bus and those prices seem quite reasonable. It was around $24.99 for the bus tour that includes stops at: The Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, Lombard Street and several other places. I’m also wanting to go to Marin Headlands which seems like a great place to a get an image.

In the midst of researching touristy places to visit, I tend to feel self conscious about actually being, “touristy”. Part of the reason why my adventures in the past have been so poorly documented was due mainly in part to the sheer embarrassment of looking like a, “Tourist”. I tried to blend in as much as I could but if you think about it, if you’re not from there, you stick out like a sore thumb anyway right? If you’re a tourist, it doesn’t take a camera to differentiate you from locals; looking around at every object and taking in the entirety of this new experience proves that you must be a tourist or either a completely strung out weirdo! A local doesn’t examine it’s surroundings with curiosity and wonderment because he/she lives it everyday and has seen it already. Our touristic tendencies come out in our body motions and facial expressions. That just made me think about how funny that visual really is when you imagine it. But I’m not going to let that stop me from really experiencing everything and having memories of it later. Plus, everyone takes pictures all the time now anyway right?

So here’s what I’d like to know: Are there any other recommendations for San Francisco that we should check out? What are some recommended restaurants? Is there a coffee shop or market that we absolutely must go to?

 

The Golden Ticket

“Your head will collapse but there’s nothing in it and you’ll ask yourself, ‘Where is my mind?'” Where Is My MindPixies

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Something I have been waiting patiently for, came in the mail today. The flat parcel, addressed by the USPS, lay there waiting for me to open it and sure enough, as I suspect it was my PASSPORT! YAY!!  I’ve been waiting for that thing for forever it feels like. This dear passport gave me the privilege to cross into countries such as Germany in 2005 and Mexico in 2006. I had not needed my passport since then. Wouldn’t luck have it that ironically I would need my passport one month AFTER it had expired. So naturally I renewed it because…guess where we’re visiting while in WA? CANADA! I didn’t mention it before because I wasn’t sure if we would be going, and we’re still not positive but it’s a possibility. The thing I hate about getting a new passport is that I was attached to my old one. I wish they would have ripped out the pages that were stamped so that I might be able to have them as keepsakes to remember my travels 😦 I’m not too upset, though it would have been nice.

The passport really kicked my brain into, “ready mode”. In the midst of presenting the new project my students will be working on for the next 3 weeks (which by the way is an 8 page newsletter), I was suddenly jolted in to the reality that I only have FOUR WEEKS to go before we sail off into the sky (I’m referring to the plane of course). I’m just standing there and all of a sudden I’m somewhat stunned for a second, I lost track of my thoughts, but picked it back up a couple of seconds later. I know my students had to have thought I was a little, “out of it”. Then again, I’m sure they probably think that all the time *hehe*. For those brief seconds, images of my packing a large dark pink roller suitcase and flying Delta to Cali flashed in my head. My vision is somewhat the same each time: I think about getting excited about packing, then checking my luggage and then we’re sitting on the plane waiting for it to take off. Now, some may wonder why my vision is so narrowed. Well, I’ve learned that, for me, it’s best if I just let everything surprise me. If I think too much or build something up too much, I find it spoils things a bit for me (in a small way), so I like to keep the visions down a notch. But MAN! I am REALLY ready to go! It’s like a bucket of water you’re trying to gently and easily pour out, careful not to let the whole thing spill because it’s so heavy that your arms might give way, and then…

WHOOSH…too late. 🙂

The Storyteller

“I tried to go back, as if I could, all spec house and plywood.” CopperlineJames Taylor

I woke up this morning with an agenda. My mother and I planned on attending Greenville’s, “Pirate Festival” located downtown Greenville. I had thought about it for roughly a week before the event was to take place, and contemplated whether or not it would be something I would follow through with. Well, it seemed that I WAS going to go through with this today. I was about to get ready when mom said, “I really don’t feel well.” Knowing that she felt bad, I knew it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. So there wasn’t anything really lost by not attending and I wasn’t trying to put mom through something that was probably going to torture her.

So as I drank my coffee I started thinking about the conversation I had with my cousin Rick via text – by the way I feel like I should add into this that when Rick texts, he uses no commas so it takes a minute to decipher the text lol (I still love him). He lives in a very small town in Illinois called, “Cowden”. The population, last I heard, was around 400. I’m sure that number has grown since 1999. Let me check with the almighty Oracle………okay Google says it’s around 599. So there are roughly 600 people in this small town. The last time I was there, I was only aware of a post office, gas station, band stand and cemetery. Even though it was a small town, I was young and it was new so it has fond memories with me.

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Rick is my mother’s first cousin. Have you ever heard someone say, “That guy is a trip!”? If you have, well, I’m most certain they were speaking of Rick. He’s hilarious. There’s no getting around that. As his reputation holds honest and true, he is funny and can tell a story that is out of this world interesting. He INSISTS he is NOT lying when he comes up with a tall tale that seems flabbergasting. No matter what tale he’s telling, you’re always entertained and it will stay with you forever. Not only are his tales outrageous, but he lives on a quiet little farm that is home to several horses and recently some baby chicks! The most recent news I became privy to was that he and his son Luke put up some fencing for his baby chickens that he purchased.

I’ve been to Illinois three times, and all of those times I stayed in Cowden at Rick’s farm. The first time I was 13 yrs old and attended a family reunion? I’m not entirely sure it was a family reunion but I’m almost positive. The second time I was 16. It was also my first plane ride! I stayed on the farm for around 2 – 3 weeks and it was really great. We rode 4-wheelers and visited people and went places. The third time I visited I was 18. That was even cooler because I was familiar with my surrounding and in a different age bracket so I enjoyed different things like hanging out with other people my age and riding around and doing silly stuff. Since 1999, I haven’t been back. Thinking about that makes it a little sad.

SO…what my parents and I have decided is that we will actually stop in and visit Rick on our way back from WA! YAY!! I’m REALLY excited about that and today I kind of sat back and day dreamed about what we will do when we visit. Will we ride horses? Yes. Will we ride 4-wheelers? Maybe. I’m not sure if he has one, but I’m pretty sure he does. Will we visit people? Yes. Will we enjoy our time with Rick? Absolutely. I’m hoping that we may even get to see Luke and Kim (Rick’s son and daughter in-law). It’s been many years since we’ve all seen each other. I would love to get ahold of those chickens. 🙂 But the one thing I’m most ready for is…

Rick’s story telling. 🙂