Friday | Picture of the Week | Week 42

I L-O-V-E this picture and I am so happy to finally share with you and hope that you fall in love just as much as I have. I took this in Grand Teton National Park and still can’t get over the beautiful colors and serene setting. It makes me want to buckle up my cutest pair of boots, put on a long flowy dress, hop on one of those horses and ride around while yelling “Yeeehaw” and singing “For purple mountain majesties: Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee”!  

Happy Friday!

Friday | Picture of the Week | Week 38

With so many pictures from our trip it is impossible to pick a picture of the week, but I decided on this one from Lower Canyon Falls in Yellowstone. The canyon lit up by the sun was breathtaking!!! This was the view from the brink of the Lower Canyon Falls facing east.

We happened upon this part of the park as the last part of our day unwound, and Mrs. I-want-to-do-and-see-it-all insisted that we had to go check out the canyon because we would not want to come back to this region once we went back to camp (all features are at least 40 minutes away from each and this particular one was about an hour from our camp at Grant Village). Turns out, we came upon this feature at the perfect time of day (5pm-ish) because the sun was setting behind us, thus illuminating the canyon walls in the most brilliant golden yellow. I promise you, the canyon really is that colorful and beautiful in person – no extra Photoshop tricks there!

This was the view from Inspiration Point facing back (west) at the Lower Canyon Falls. We were standing right below that sun flare on the right.

My dear friends, THAT on the left is the edge of the waterfall. and on the RIGHT is my intelligent husband.  I will never understand why he must walk down, off the path mind you, to stand so close to the edge!  There is nothing right there that you can’t see from the safety of the path located above! 

And this is the brink of Lower Canyon Falls. As with most waterfalls, they leave you awe struck as to how they can continually dump so much water over the edge, year after year after year. Lower Canyon falls did not disappoint and was WELL worth the 20 minute hike down to the edge.

Neither of us wanted to step away from this beautiful site, but we knew we had an hour drive back to camp and had to begin making dinner. Ryan loved watching the water fall over the edge of the cliff and I am pretty sure I could have let him stand there all day doing so.

That is one happy husband!


Word of the Day: Geothermal Features

Want to know the quickest way to sound smart and like a total Yellowstone local? Use the term geothermal in a sentence when referring to natural occurrences such as Old Faithful, hot springs, or other various unearthly things such as mud pots and other geysers.  Little fact, because we are full of knowledge about these smelly, weird, and slightly creepy features, Yellowstone has over 10,000 thermal features! These pictures are from the Mammoth Hot Springs which are located at the north end of the park. 

The National park service states, “Geyserland, fairyland, wonderland–through the years, all have been used to describe the natural wonder and magic of this unique park that contains more geothermal features than any other place on earth.” Fairyland? Wonderland? Not sure those are accurate descriptions of these guys, as I spent the day with my nose covered and laughing because I couldn’t believe how BAD it smelled. I continued to tell Ryan this is one big fart being released by the Earth. Everywhere you look, Earth farts were occurring – and more than one at time, so you can imagine something as big as the Earth releasing this “excess air” and how bad it would smell. Sulfur mixed with rottenness equals smel-ly! 

We weren’t sure what to think of these things. They were cool, but, not that pretty, yet we kept taking pictures of them. They were mysterious and intriguing because it’s as if we were seeing the crust of the Earth. I guess we were just fascinated by them as neither of had every seen anything like it before. This was copied from the National Park Services website regarding the Mammoth Hot Springs:

“Water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of dissolved calcium carbonate. At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white rock of the terraces. Due to the rapid rate of deposition, these features constantly and quickly change.”

The park makes these cool boardwalks so that the millions of visitors every year do not disrupt the natural occurring events, such as the hot springs. 

So there you have it – the weird, creepy, kind of pretty in a un-earthly way Mammoth Hot Springs geothermal feature!

{I’m sure after my description you are all dying to go now – sorry if these are one of your favorite Yellowstone features they just weren’t for us!}

Dear Mr. Grizzly,

Dear Mr. Grizzly,
YOU ARE SCAREY! Next time we stop to admire this view,

please do not sneak up on us, it is not very nice! I know you own the park and all, and millions of people hope to get a glimpse of you every year, but I would appreciate if you would respect my space and not get so close to me because, again, YOU ARE SCAREY! Turning around and finding that you are walking 15ft from us with no car door to protect me and the bear spray safely INSIDE the car is not a comforting feeling.

I am forever grateful that you choose to continue your morning stroll without needing a snack and disappeared into the woods. So I ask, next time I see you, please make sure we are in the car first {yes, that is a picture Ryan took of me after fearfully run/walking to get inside the car}!!

Shannon & Ryan

Whoa – Yellowstone!

After an 8-hour drive from Glacier National Park, we had finally arrived and were greeted by this unexpected, inspiring rock archway with an inscription that reads: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” – by far the best National Park entrance we’ve seen yet. Here is an excerpt from the travel journal, as accounted by Ryan:

“Neither Shan nor I printed our our plan so we didn’t really remember if we were supposed to stay in Glacier on 9/5 or drive to Yellowstone. Excited to see what was next, we drove to Yellowstone. Throughout the trip Shan and I developed a driving system: (1) I pack the car, organize, and clean all the compartments; (2) Shan & Ry alternate 2-hour driving shifts; (3) While I drive Shan pulls out ALL the camera gear, video camera and snacks and then fills the passenger footwell and all compartments; (4) While Shan drives Ryan puts away everything Shan pulls out. The system works well for us.

The GPS charted our path from Glacier to Yellowstone, a VERY LONG path. The first couple hundred miles were the most beautiful. Shan and I talked about how it was sort of a shame that we had to spend the whole day driving…but in reality it was not a shame at all. I love doing long drives with Shan, we always have fun and we got to spend a lot of time together.”

We were greeted by several of Yellowstone’s most well known residents – the elk, buffalo, wolves, and grizzlies.

Um, seriously these guys are huge and not to be messed with! While they get incredibly close to the car and don’t appear to be afraid, all it would take is one head butt and the car door would be crushed. Despite what people said, this scene just never got old!

At times, these bison, buffalo, tatonka, went on like this for miles and miles – it was the most peaceful sight. Looking out over the valley and seeing these natural creatures gave a calming sense that this is how the world is supposed to work. 

And then, THIS – this is what NOT to do – get out of car to film the bison with your iPad! Real winner there!

All was good and well, until Mr. Grizzly came along to say hi… be continued.

Friday | Picture of the Week | Week 37

Something I was really hoping to do while spending our time at Glacier National Park was to get a night time picture of one of the lakes. One evening, after cleaning up dinner, we headed down to the lake armed with a tripod, bear bell, flashlight, bear spray, and a remote for the camera. Since, we were deep in bear country we could never be to prepared and the bear bell and bear spray became part of the daily packing routine {yes, I am a HUGE chicken and would not let us go anywhere with out even though this may have been a bit over the top being that we were not back country camping or anything crazy like that}.

The shore line of the lake was pitch black, so Ryan was on bear watch while I fiddle with the camera and tripod. We took turns alternating between playing photographer and attending to the bear watch.  We spent about fifteen minutes down at the shore before deciding, we got what we needed now lets book it outta here and back to safety. {Safety for me consisted of our nylon, totally bear proof, impenetrable tent! HA!  Whatever, somehow it eased my mind. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me mentality}.

I love the reflection of the moon over the water and am so happy that I was able to “sack up” enough to get this picture and thankfully, no bears were seen this night!


Sights of the West

As Ryan posted earlier this week, we are heading across the west on a National Park tour to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. We have driven over 2,500 miles {and aren’t even finished yet}, we have seen some of the most beautiful sights American has to offer. I can’t get over how breathtaking the farm lands of the western states are. No matter where we looked we saw patina wooden barns lit up by the golden grass and big beautiful clouds creating the ceiling to a picture perfect America.

This was taken somewhere near Cedar Springs, Utah. As we drove through, the clouds kept building looking more and more magical every hour that passed. Seeing the “big sky” of the west was something I was excited for so I was very happy when these clouds appeared! 

We left Salt Lake City at 3am so we cruised through most of Idaho in the dark but we were still able to see a bit of its all American farm lands. It seemed as if the more north we drove the nicer the people were. Ryan took this picture in the early morning hours while crossing through Idaho. 

I can’t wait to find out what we will see next on the rest of our journey!


Savoring Summer

Summer, please don’t go! I love you toooooo much and will hang on to every last ray of sunshine that you use to warm my skin with! I will kick off my sandals and treasure the grass under my feet and the freedom of walking barefoot on the beach. I will joy in the last of the 4/$1.00 corn on the cob at the grocery store and the smell of meat on the barbecue. I will take in and savor every last piece of what you have left to give, until the cool breeze will soon force me to put on a jacket and long pants and prepare for the looming winter blast. Yes, I will. I promise, I will.


Friday | Picture of the Week | Week 12

Anyone know the name of this plant? Heck for all I know, this could even be a weed. I remember the day my Mom told me the yellow dandelions we carefully picked from the backyard and brought to her were really weeds. Each time bringing them to her in small bundles with our little hands and proud smiles.  She would find a little vase and carefully place them in water so they would last an extra two hours.  How did we not know that those were WEEDS?  More importantly, how did she not have the heart to tell us to stop bringing these WEEDS into her house?

Weed or no weed? I guess it doesn’t really matter because I still love the soft velvety texture and the creamy, muted tones of this plant and imagine somewhere kids are bringing these leaves to their Mom to show their love in the only way they know how…



Friday | Picture of the Week | Week 3

This picture of the week business is much harder than I thought. I find Friday’s are just coming quicker and quicker and it’s only week 3! Since the days are still so short if I don’t photograph a picture on the weekend I am subject to photographing indoors or at night.

This picture of the tulips, a sweet present from Ry, was taken on our dining room table with no flash only our hideous, industrial, it-came-with-the-apartment ceiling light.  I used our favorite Nikkor 35mm lens at f/4, 1/50, ISO 1600.

Happy weekend to all!