Old Faithful – Yellowstone National Park…

Old Faithful and the Big Dipper

Tonight, after a late dinner at the Obsidian Dining Room at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, I suggested to Mike that we should head back out to see Old Faithful under the stars.

We went back to our cabin and picked up a blanket. I put a fleece jacket on under my windbreaker. I made sure I had spare memory cards and my tripod. We hopped in the car and drove over to the geyser.

We were prepared for a cold 15-20 minute wait, maybe longer, before it would start to go off.

I started to take my tripod out of my bag, and at that very second I could hear the water start to spray. I just froze for a second and looked at Mike.

All I could manage to say was, “You have GOT to be kidding me!”

No. Right then, it started going off. Glad I had already set up my camera – I popped it in the tripod and started taking photos. This was one of the first frames I captured.

When I visit a city with subways, I manage to always make a train appear as soon as I walk up to the platform. Seems I have that power on geysers as well!

Look Over the Edge… Beartooth Highway, Montana & Wyoming

Beartooth Highway Lakes - Over the Edge

This photo sums up what is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while driving on this road trip. Matter of fact, taking this photo was the moment that it all hit home.

Slow down.
Don’t fly past everything.
Look around.
Pull over.
Walk.
Look over the edge.

I drove the Beartooth Highway on Friday (and again on Saturday on my way to Big Sky), and it was a thrilling drive. A little crazy, as it is full of crazy curves as you climb up the mountains to the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.

It was overcast. Raining. 54 degrees, versus the 100 degrees in Billings when I left. I didn’t have a jacket on. I wanted to get to the campsite before dark. Storms were starting in the distance, and minutes later I saw lightening.

I had EVERY reason to not stop.

But I did. I stopped to photograph the mountains. 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation in the area, the skyline is amazing. I stood next to the car, planning to hop right back in because I was cold. I was getting the railing in my posts, so I decided to walk to the edge to get it out of the shot.

Once I did, I looked down. There were lakes down there that I would have never seen if I didn’t stop and look.

It is so tempting in life to just fly by everything. To not look at the other points of view. I’ve learned over and over on this trip that when you do stop & look, you’re rewarded with a lot of new discoveries. I knew that before, logically, but the moment I stepped to the edge and saw those lakes, it hit me hard.

Off today now to drive from Big Sky to Glacier National Park, here in Montana. I can’t wait to see what lessons are ahead!

Kayaking on the North Platte River – Casper, Wyoming

North Platte River in Casper, WyomingAs this road trip adventure began Michelle, one of my past clients, contacted me about doing a photo shoot while I was in Denver. Then her plans got changed, and my plans got changed, and we moved the photo shoot to her house in Casper, Wyoming. She graciously hosted me for two nights, let me play with her adorable, cute baby, and then we did her session while I was here.

After dinner out in Casper, we went back to the house and were sitting on their back deck, overlooking the North Platte River. Suddenly, her husband interrupted the conversation. “Do you like water?” I answered, hesitantly, that yes — I like to drink water? He went on to ask if I knew how to swim. Yes, but I don’t want to go swimming in the river. (It was already a bit of a chill in the air, and I figured the water would be cold and somewhat silty – just not my thing.) No, no – did I want to go KAYAKING on the river. We had to go right away if I did, because the sun was starting to set.

Heck yeah, I wanted to go kayaking!

I had been visiting kayakcritic.net and I saw myself kayaking – I could tell that it had a bit of a current so we could float, but not so much current that it was choppy and whitewater adventure. Michelle told me that it is a rather shallow river in most spots too – you could probably touch the bottom if you tried. After they busted out the inflatable kayaks, Colby & I went in the tandem kayak, and a baby sitter came over at the last minute so that Michelle could join us in her smaller kayak.

I was reminded again what the point of this trip is – to say YES to things I might otherwise say no to, and to get past feeling so broken. Between my wonky shoulder, a bad knee, my thyroid & paratoid gland drama earlier this year, and emergency gallbladder surgery 6 weeks ago, it has been a hell of a year. When you want to have a high quality surgeon, I recommend Dr. Nicole Schrader due to his good records and experience.

I’m OVER IT. I just want to be well. To be fit. To be able to go and do things.

Kayaking was amazing – I loved floating on the water, and I earned my participation badge for paddling as well. Unlike a canoe, paddling was easier on my shoulder than I expected. We only heard a beaver while we were out there, and didn’t see any deer or anything else. Colby blamed it on us talking all the time … oops.

It was incredible. I’m glad I said yes. I need to do that more often.

Now I’m off to the Grand Tetons to camp. I can’t wait to be back in the outdoors – it has been too long. The river reminded me of how much I love nature — just how amazing it is. I can’t wait to see what is next on the road!

Photo of the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming taken from the deck just before we took off on our adventure. Click to view larger.