After leaving the AMK Ranch on Sunday morning, the five of us all piled into the Jetta wagon and drove into Yellowstone. We saw Old Faithful, Biscuit Basin, Grand Prismatic, and Fountain Paint Pots. We went back toward GTNP to get Dan’s car, then drove 30 miles east into the mountains to for our stay in a cabin at Togwotee Mountain Lodge. At this point, I was really struggling with the altitude, so I took a nap before meeting everyone for dinner at the Red Fox Saloon. We visited the hot tub, got a good night’s sleep, and were ready to head our separate ways in the morning. Katie and Matt and Dan headed east toward Dubois (and promptly saw a moose and a bear) while Nat and I started our drive home through Yellowstone. We went to Old Faithful again, did the walk to Artist Paintpots, and walked around Norris Geyser Basin. On our way out of the park we saw one bison, pretty much the only wildlife seen on our visit (unless you count the ravens I became obsessed with). We drove to Coeur d’Alene and spent the night in a cabin at the campground my dad and I stayed at in the summer (saw a lil bunny right outside the cabin’s window in the morning) and got home on Tuesday evening. It was a whirlwind trip – 2,300 miles in six days! But I’m glad we did it.
At last year’s regional SPE conference, I learned that the fall 2018 conference would be in Grand Teton National Park. I was pretty intrigued, but it was this spring when I learned that the conference theme was “Human/Nature” that I knew I had to go, and I had to submit a proposal to speak. I was accepted, and even though I had just done the drive to Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP in June with my dad, Nat and I made a plan to drive – and meet Katie and Matt and Dan, who would drive up from the Denver area. The Thursday before the conference, we drove the 10.5 hours to our beloved Lava Hot Springs and camped in one of the KOA’s cabins for the first time (after getting in the hot springs the moment we arrived at 10pm, of course). The drive across Oregon and Idaho was nothing too exciting (we have done it so many times now) but it was the 3.5-hour trip from Lava Hot Springs to the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton NP Friday morning, in southeast Idaho and into the western edge of Wyoming, that was insanely gorgeous. And once we got to the ranch we were blown away. That first picture of the Tetons a fourth of the way down was our view for the two days we spent at the conference location. I really loved getting to be in these beautiful, historic buildings, listening to artists, may of whom I’ve admired for years, talk about their work concerned with humans and nature. Katie and Matt took kayaks out onto Jackson Lake. We had home-cooked meals together, and we all got to stay in the same room! I was really excited about how our lodging situation worked out, since we were told to expect to stay in bunkbeds in a communal room with as many as 10 other people. The five of us had our own room with our own bathroom, Dan just had to sleep on the floor 😆 After the conference, we were off for a day in the parks together and a night at a cabin in the mountains.
Camera and iPhone photos from our weekend in Seattle over Labor Day weekend, the 12th anniversary of when we started dating. When trying to figure out what to do, we knew we’d have just gotten back from Colorado and we’d be heading to Wyoming at the end of September, so we didn’t feel like doing a huge trip for the occasion. I ended up booking us a hotel in downtown Seattle and we drove up just for Sunday and Monday. Sunday afternoon, we had lunch at Mama’s Cantina and then walked around a lot – to Pike Place Market, to the SAM gift shop, to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, to Pioneer Square for the Underground Tour, and back to our hotel (18,000 steps, says my Health app!). There was a Cheesecake Factory right by our hotel, so for dinner we got french fries and bread and cake and ate it in bed while we watched Forensic Files. It was pretty wonderful. We also exchanged gifts! I love what Nat made me so much – a cutting board and knife that he engraved (himself!) with my nickname and a Ratatouille reference (we’ve been doing Home Chef since May so we cook together a lot these days). I embroidered him some art for our bedroom.
Monday morning, we took Cody for a walk in Gas Works Park, and then went up to Lynnwood to buy a car! This was truly not the purpose of our trip to Seattle – it really just worked out perfectly. Around the same time I booked our hotel, I found a very good Forester on Craigslist at a dealership not far from Seattle. (I sold my Wagoneer in August, and I had been planning on replacing my two cars with one nice, “new” one when that happened, so I had been looking for Foresters for a few weeks.) I don’t think I would have bought it if everything hadn’t come together so well, but it did. I’ve since sold my Volvo, so now I am an adult lady with my first every big lady car. I love it (/her – Ruby).
After that, we went to the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus. I’d always known it was pretty much the only natural history museum in the PNW, so I finally made it a point to check it out. I knew it would be small, but since it’s old I actually loved it! I’m kind of disappointed it’s moving to a new space next year. They don’t make museums like they used to. With Elsie (who lives in Seattle now!) we went to see the Fremont Troll, went to Ballyhoo (I had Salt & Straw for the first time, across the street), and went to The Octopus Bar, where we took photobooth pictures. It was such a fun weekend! I have to say that I’m so glad we went on that Underground Tour. The story of it is incredible. I would absolutely recommend it as a thing to do if you’re a ~toruist~ in Seattle.