After a few days of heavy rain storm, Southern California’s peaks finally received a much-needed helping of fresh powder. It was absolutely breathtaking. Snow truly does beautify everything it touches.
My family and I headed up the mountains early Saturday morning and surprisingly had a smooth ride up. It’s been years since my last visit to Big Bear, and I had a wonderful time with my family bob sledding and having snow ball fights! Regardless of age, snow brings out the inner kid in every one!
The serenity of Montana was restorative. My family and I stayed at a cozy 2-bedroom cabin at Island Park Village Resort, which is located just a few miles away from the Wyoming-Montana state line. Located 22 miles outside the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the resort is a nature lover’s paradise. Surrounded by lush forestry, the area is open to visitors who wish to stay in cabins, tents or RVs.
Island Park Village Resort
Prior to entering the park, we spent a few minutes strolling around their town, which was oh so charming! As a city girl, I find the vibe of small towns so refreshing. The old Chevy pick-up trucks, the friendliness of the locals, the mom and pop’s restaurants… there’s is something about All-American small towns that warm my heart.
Yellowstone has been on the top of my list of national parks to visit, and it was surreal to finally be able to make it happen. Despite the season, the weather felt chilly, perhaps in the low 40 degrees, with slight wind chill.
It was a 2-way road in and out of the park, and merely five minutes upon entering, I noticed cars slowing down. I investigated the cause of the potential traffic, and lo and behold… there was an American bison eating grass on the side of the road!
I could not believe my eyes! I rolled down my windows and was immediately in awe of such majestic beast. It was literally 5 feet away from us! What struck me by surprise was how calm it was. Despite the lines of cars driving beside it, not once did it look up to see all the attention it was receiving from the visitors. It just continued to eat its lunch and do its thing. Little did we know what was ahead of us. A few more miles up the road was a wide open field with hundreds of bison! (the plural form of bison is also bison; English is weird)
It wasn’t long until we started noticing fumes rising from the ground. You know what that means… geysers!
I’ve never experienced being up close and personal with geysers before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The first set of geysers we observed were easily accessible given there was a wooden pathway for the visitors to walk through. Some geysers were only a few feet away that their fumes, with the right wind gust, would blow directly to your face, which to be honest, was quite a unique experience to say the least. The fumes were moist and warm and thick. The smell? Sulfuric. PEE YEW! Aside from the rotten/boiled eggs odor, the geysers were extremely fascinating. There were a few where you can literally see the liquid boiling! The vibrant colors of the hot springs were also a favorite of mine. The bright blues and the tie-dye action of the colorful chemicals were definitely a sight to see.
Of course, a trip to Yellowstone would not be complete without visiting Old Faithful herself. By this time, the weather has been unpredictable, with sporadic rain, snow, and even hail!
Old Faithful Geyser, WY
There was a sign that conveniently indicates each upcoming eruption, and lucky for us, we arrived just in time! A few hundred miles out of Old Faithful were benches where spectators can safely observe the showing. It goes without saying that Old Faithful did not disappoint!
Day #1, June 13, 2014
California – Utah – Idaho – Montana
The journey begins! All of our bags were packed, and we were ready to go. At exactly midnight, we were off to our first stop 400 miles away, Zion National Park, Utah! My mom and dad alternated driving for the next six hours, and as scheduled, we reached the Utah state line just as the sun was rising.
It’s been more than ten years since I’ve been to Utah, and the banded-iron formations were just as majestic as I remembered them to be. Everything was red, from the pavement to the mountains! Talk about being in real-life Carsland!
*Sidenote: During my senior year at UCLA, I took a Geology class where I learned how these red rocks (banded-iron formations) were formed. Basically, the BIFs are sedimentary rocks that resulted from the iron in the ocean reacting with the oxygen being produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. So just imagine, these mountains used to be water! The Earth was literally rusting billions and billions of years ago! Shoutout to Professor Schopf for being such an awesome teacher that I still recall his lessons a year and a half after graduating.
Zion National Park, UT
We didn’t intend to hike or backpack around the park, so our stay at Zion was brief. After fueling up on breakfast, off to Salt Lake City we go!
Our itinerary required us to be at West Yellowstone (Montana) by the end of the day, so Salt Lake City was another quick pit stop. We visited the State Capitol, EnergySolutions Arena (where the Utah Jazz play!), and the Union Pacific Railroad Station.
Idaho? No, Udaho! (sorry, can’t help it)
More driving ensued (by me this time). The further north we went, the colder it got! Eventually, we reached Montana just before the sun went down.
We stayed the night at a cozy 2-bedroom cabin in the middle of the woods. Nature surrounded us, making it a perfect setting to restore our batteries after a long adventure-filled day.