Thursday, April 25, 2013

BACK IN CANADA!

Oops! Sorry for leaving you hanging like that - just as we were heading back into Canada through snowstorm after snowstorm. A crazy spring - right?!

Well, we made it! We drove right through Montana last Wednesday and Alberta on Thursday to arrive in Marwayne at 5:01pm - just enough time to head out to our new home  - a cabin - set within Jubilee Regional Park.

L O T S of snow! A winter wonderland to be sure. We have great pics but they will have to wait.

We don't have wifi there - no internet at all at the moment - so I couldn't post our pictures of the rest of the trip up - hopefully I'll be able to do that at some point but - when - is a mystery. We called the local internet provider but found out that because we are in a bowl - landscape wise - we can't reach a tower. Some research is definitely needed - or $1,300 for a new tower! Yikes!

Following three days of enjoying our new place and being out of the van, Cassia and I flew to Vancouver Island - to Victoria - to visit with my mom and sister. Ahhh - an escape from the cold to very pleasant spring temperatures here on the West Coast.

I've posted about this trip the two of us take each spring and fall a few times - which is good because I can just link them here. When visiting my mom I use a computer in their building and so I am not able to post pictures - just words.

Victoria is a beautiful city and fun to walk the streets downtown. Today, I enjoyed my solo visit there as Cassia and my mom spent the afternoon together. I took a ton of pictures to show you during my visit last April so you can see them there.


So - here is how it is for us here in Victoria our visit from September 2011 - Island Vacation - and from April 2012 - Cassia and I go to Victoria.


I can't say when we'll be back to the blog ......... ahhhh nothing like living out in the middle of not much - but our park is in a very beautiful and tranquil location - it should be a GREAT summer (as long as it is dry and there are hardly any mosquitos!)

We also have a VERY exciting plan for next winter so I'll have to get back to let you in on that!

Teresa

TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Well, that sure isn't very nice of me to leave you hanging - again! Ok - here is a hint on where we are headed next fall - this is one road we definitely plan to take! We're SO excited we want to leave now!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

HOT SPRINGS STATE PARK

Realizing that there was plenty to keep us busy for the day in Thermopolis, we decided Monday morning to stay for a second night. We were  p r e t t y  comfortable with our huge room and two double beds at the Days Inn - let me tell you! The continental breakfast and guest laundry didn't hurt either.

Our first stop was the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

With two dinosaur fans in the Wood Clan - it was not to be missed.


We decided to walk there from the hotel which was a bit more to take on then we realized. Good thing we dressed for the weather. 

All we had to do from one point was to follow the tracks. Cassia LOVED that of course - here she is comparing her feet to the dinosaurs. Oh - and here is a look at her NEW boots that we did find at Clothes Pony in Ft. Collins.




A very impressive display of fossils upon entry.












Supersaurus vivianae!! Huge at 160 feet long almost one of the longest.


Another view of super vivanae - beside Derek - unfortunately there are a lot of lights in the center.








Cassia was way more interested in riding the dinosaurs then looking at them.






A viewing room.


Fun in the gift shop with mom holding a dinosaur puppet.

Although touted as the #1 Dinosaur Museum in the USA we weren't overly impressed. It is good but not so great - worth a stop if you are going by but not if it's a detour. Cassia is still to young for this kind of museum we soon realized as the skeletons scared her more then anything - guess she needed the skin on them .

Leaving the center we headed back to the Hot Springs State Park - another cool walk along the river. I so wish it had been warmer - the walk is very nice - great with all the colours of the hills in the background and willow and grasses in the foreground.




Along the path beside our hotel is an outlet for the mineral water. Not sure why there wouldn't be a ton of ducks hanging around here - that's where we'd be!




Our first stop was to get a closer look at this mineral fountain.


Amazing to see how it looked when it was first built.







Following some time on the playground, we walked over to the Bath House.


It is hard to believe that entry into a hot spring is free - right?! It is because of a treaty that was signed in 1896 with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians giving the public free access. Nice.


We didn't go in to soak right away - instead we took a tour - you know - a way to get REALLY cold before the heat.


There is an elevated walkway around the pools.


Interesting way to advertise the hot springs - you can actually see it from the other side of town.




We watched this guy land - VERY smart Canadian Goose! His friends headed to the grass - don't know what they were missing I guess. 


Our next stop was the Swinging Bridge.




Me?! I did go across but I am not much of a fan of suspension bridges - especially when someone I know makes it move even more.



The bridge offers a good vantage point of the springs as they fall into the river.














We then stopped in at the Big Spring - the heart of the mineral pools. This is where the water comes up through the ground at 127F. HOT!


Twenty seven different minerals.






Our hands were so cold by this point that we all took turns warming them up in the water - it didn't take long.


The algae and such in the water.

By this time we more then ready to try out the hot spring. The change rooms were very nice - clean and well kept - and warm! 

There is a person on duty to remind you (and ensure I imagine) that you can only stay in for 20 minutes. You have a choice between and indoor and an outdoor pool - we chose the outdoor of course.


It is pretty hot also - 104F. Twenty minutes is all you need - Derek even left a few minutes early. By the time Cassia and I made it back to the change room I had to sit down for a bit also - it really makes you feel weird - out of breath and weak.

We enjoyed hanging around the hotel for the rest of the day - internet and TV time.

Today we had a leisurely morning not leaving Thermopolis until 10:30am - just before our 11:00am check out time. We had a GREAT stay at the Days Inn and highly recommend it - the staff was friendly and nice enough to reduce our room rate to $76/night and the rooms were very clean.

Tonight we are Billings MT - I'll post the photos from our trip up as soon as I can. Once we leave here in the morning I'm not sure when we will have internet again since our next stop is Marwayne, Alberta - our home for the summer. We'll need to figure out the internet when we arrive.

Tomorrow is BORDER DAY! It's been a long time Canada - it will be good to see you again!

Teresa

TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: We were speaking with a brother and sister during our breakfast this morning. They had visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody yesterday and said it was a 'must see'. Sadly, we won't be able to make it there this year - maybe one day. Have you been?

























Monday, April 15, 2013

THE ROAD TO THERMOPOLIS

Sunday morning at exit 272 we woke to this.....


Snow - but not as much as we feared. 

BUT STILL WINDY!!!!

video

We weren't sure what to do - make a break or stay another day - and night, to let the winds die down. 


By 9:30ish the clouds moved off leaving blue sky - wind or not we decided to hit the road - at least we could see where we were going - right?!

Back on I80 heading west. Overnight I had made a plan to head back to Cheyenne and go up I25 - at least with all the bad weather we'd be on the interstate - I was worried that the secondary roads up to Thermopolis wouldn't be plowed.


In the end we decided to continue on to Rawlins - after all - our last weather report in Laramie had showed that Casper wasn't much better off.


We almost couldn't believe our eyes! Where is the snow?!!!! This is only about 10 minutes into our ride!!! Yup - we had spent the night in a pass - a pass that collected snow. Sheesh!


Still high winds which we either had to drive into or have on our side - Derek had to hold strong - but at least it wasn't snowing! This is the road north of Rawlins - we had actually stop at McDonald's in Rawlins to check the weather - it was hard to tell exactly what was going on - so we continued.


We were on the 789/287 heading north - snow but still not so much. BUT amazing scenery.


We took this route to Sweetwater Station. Not much there except a really nice rest area. We were turning here to head up the 135 to Riverton.


Pretty neat that Sweetwater Station is on the Oregon Trail - I've read many Oregon Trail books.


A bit of history - yup - not a lot to see in this part of Wyoming - beautiful nonetheless.


It's a really GREAT ride from Sweetwater to Riverton - we were really impressed. We were never quite sure for the whole day weather we would get snow or blue sky - it was constantly changing.


From the rest area we could see a sign alerting travellers on the 135 that in 11 miles there was a 'steep grade'. For some reason Derek and I assumed it was a steep 'up' grade. We sat and thought for a moment. Since there was a fellow coming out of the restrooms, Derek went and asked him about it. He assured us we would be fine - just put it in low gear he said. Ok - so we continued on.

Well - here is the 'steep grade' - it's DOWN! Steep alright - 9% - I don't know that we have done that steep before - I was so glad we didn't have to go UP it in this wind.




We stopped in Riverton for gas and continued on the 26 north. This photo was taken just as we were approaching the northern end of the Boysen State Park north of Shoshoni. It sure looked like we were headed into the mountains to get to Thermopolis.


But before we took on that, we turned off the highway into a camping area along the Boysen Reservoir. 


The road winds down for a few miles to a really nice campground. You can camp there now for $17 per night but nothing is open. I bet it is really popular in the summer.


We had a pretty cold look around but nice to be up and around after hours of driving.




We continued north - not far now to Thermopolis - our destination for the evening.


Amazing already - just wait and see!


The dam.


Amazing ride - Wind River Canyon - a scenic byway!


We saw another campground and decided to take another look.


Also very nice, quite a few along this stretch.


We followed the road at the end of the campground up to the dam - just to take a look.


As we were going up this van was coming down. Derek stopped and we talked to the driver for a few minutes - funny - he had the same hair do as Derek. They are from Seattle and have been up to Alaska and down to California with their cool rig - again - racks we dream of.




Tunnels - three of them - up ahead. Always popular with the Wood Clan.




It turns out that this 10 mile strip that starts 4 miles south of Thermopolis is a scenic byway and considered one of the most beautiful drives in Wyoming. Take a look - but take my word for it - the drive is AMAZING - the pictures don't even touch the shear magic of this route. What we can't figure out is why our map doesn't have the green dots along this route!






















Just as we were nearing the end - look what was starting to happen!


Yup - snow!


WoW! What timing - we were sure glad that we made it through the canyon and were able to see it without the blowing snow.


In a few minutes we were pulling into Thermopolis - and look - no more snow!


And blue sky.


A quick look at downtown - we'll be back.


The Hot Springs State Park - our destination. 

There is no camping at the HSSP - we knew that. Originally our plan would have been to stealth camp but really - with all the cold and such - a hotel sounded like a much better plan.

So - we are here at the Days Inn at the State Park - right across the park from the free hot springs bath house. We arrived last night with the intention of staying for one night - but with all there was to see today around town we booked in for a second night. 

From here it's a push to our home for the summer, so we thought we would live large for a couple of days first. Ahhhhh more hot springs.

Teresa

TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Next post I'll fill you in on why we decided to stop in Thermopolis - for now here is the link to their website so you can get a head start.





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