Skip to content

All The Places We Didn’t Have Time to Describe¬†

Mariah and I have not had enough time or decent Internet service to blog about some of the wonderful places we visited since we left Yellowstone National Park last week.  So to help us keep track of where we have been but not yet written about – here is a summary of our recent itinerary and all of the places we plan to describe as soon as we have the time and a really good internet connection. As you may recall, after we left Yellowstone on Thursday, July 9, we drove to Utah and visited the Dinosaur National Monument. (A post about that experience was published a day or so ago.)   The next day, Friday, July 10, we drove to Mesa Verde, Colorado to visit two exquisite sites. In the late morning we toured Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah. We followed that tour with a late afternoon drive through Arches National Park. The following day, on Saturday, July 11, we toured the Ancestral Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park with a park ranger. That night we drove to Monument Valley, Utah and slept in a more-primitive-than-we-expected Navajo Hogan in Oljato, Utah. On Sunday, July 12, we had an incredible private tour of the Navajo Nation Monument Valley Park.   The night of July 12, (last night), we slept in Kokopelli’s cave in Farmington, New Mexico. (The post about the cave was just published). It is […]

Read More →

About Last Night

San Juan County, New Mexico must be a very tough place to live. During a quick pit stop at their McDonalds (which was the only place that appeared to serve food in town), I was greeted at the door by a formidable, armed, private security guard. Abandoned and dilapidated trailers lined the roads, comprising the majority of the area’s visible housing units. A disgruntled resident expressed their sentiments on a sign affixed atop abandoned real estate. It seemed representative of the community’s mindset. Poverty was rampant. Billboards about domestic abuse resources and the perils of drug addiction outnumbered other advertising. We drove through this unforgiving environment to rendezvous with a woman named Gayle, waiting for us in a parking lot of an abandoned sports facility. I had been in communication with her disembodied voice since January, when I made one of my first overnight reservations for our trip, to reserve the property she managed for last night’s single night’s stay. Mariah, Harry and I met and followed Gayle through a mile or two of back country roads and then several more miles of unpaved, barely passable, Bureau of Land Management dirt excuses for roads. We continued through a series of heavy gates, by signs on barbed wire-laden posts discouraging trespassers. It reminded me of the opening sequence at the start of every classic horror film. It dawned on me sometime shortly after we began driving on the dirt road that […]

Read More →

Dinosaurs Without Chris Pratt

The National Dinosaur Monument is seven miles south of Jensen, Utah. Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, for miles and miles in all directions is dinosaur-focused. The entire region incorporates the word dinosaur or a play on the word dinosaur into the names of virtually all of their shops, products, signage etc. There are dinosaur-themed restaurants, clothing stores, pawn shops, trailer parks, motels, feed stores, liquor stores, bars, souvenir shops, gas stations, and more. You name it, they have it. There is even a small town called Dinosaur. By the time Mariah, Harry and I drove to the National Monument, we were half-expecting an animatronic dinosaur and not much else. The last time I recalled this much hype may have been the hundreds of miles of signage for “South of the Border”, a tourist trap in South Carolina I encountered on a college road trip from Philadelphia to Florida in the late 1970’s.  Much to our relief, the monument was exceedingly cool. After a short shuttle ride from their visitor center, the bones from more than 1,500 dinosaurs dating from the late Jurassic period are visible, in situ, embedded in a massive wall of rock. A two-level exhibit hall was built to enclose the quarry wall, which included specified areas where visitors could actually touch 149 million year old dinosaur bones. It is remarkable to see the partially exposed, jumbled remains of dinosaurs just as they were when they were […]

Read More →

Roadside Shenanigans

Thursday was our longest driving day of the summer. 10 hours in the back seat isn’t too bad, but I imagine driving it was rather difficult. So as to alleviate the discomfort that goes hand in hand with such expansive drives, we made a few very important pit stops, specifically in Idaho and Utah. Among these was the National Oregon California Trail Center. Seeing as the animals at Yellowstone (I’ll post about that later – too many pictures/notions, too few bars of cell service) were too reclusive and/or deadly to take any selfies, these startlingly lifelike REAL animals sufficed. Here we have a bison, a bear, an elk, and some other identifiable western landmarks: the wagon and the teepee.                   

Read More →

About Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park exceeded all of Mariah, Harry and my highest expectations and overwhelmed all of our senses. Our three day visit was surprising, exciting, awe-inspiring, gratifying, educational and comforting. It also made me feel wildly fortunate and patriotic. Yes, definitely. Patriotic.  Being at Yellowstone reminded me of every yellow-bordered National Geographic magazine that ever arrived in our mailbox wrapped in plastic. It brought back my memory of nature posters stapled to the immense cork bulletin boards in my science classes. My parents brought my three older siblings and me to Yellowstone in the 1960’s. I remember sitting in the backward facing third seat of our car, squished next to our luggage, watching the scenery recede as we drove around the park. I also remember my dad’s hand firmly gripping mine as we walked along the boardwalks along the geyser basins. It was wonderful to return as an adult and a parent. I said a little thank you to my father for keeping me out of harm’s way during my previous visit.  Like almost every one of their 3 million annual visitors, we saw just a fraction of the park. We drove most of the 142 mile grand loop, a figure eight that brings visitors near to the majority of the park’s well known features. The sheer size of the park is difficult to comprehend. The park contains 2.2 million acres. 99% of this area is completely pristine, undisturbed wilderness. […]

Read More →

Advanced Preparation

(Mariah and I are looking forward to posting about Yellowstone in the next few days. We need more bandwidth than we have to upload our images.) My favorite puzzles when I was very young were the wooden ones cut out into distinct shapes with small knobs on each of the pieces. The round knobs made it easier for my little fingers to grasp and insert the correct pieces into the corresponding cut out spaces. The preponderance of these puzzles were farm-themed. They were intended to help me and my toddler colleagues (I assume I had colleagues from an early age) develop fine motor skills and a vocabulary of nouns which none of my fellow suburban Philadelphia playmates required for our daily routines. Today, fifty plus years later, Harry, Mariah and I left Yellowstone in the morning and drove more than 450 miles from Wyoming through Idaho, back into Wyoming, and finally into Utah.  Despite never having been in Idaho or Utah before, I found myself very much at home because of my prior experience with those knobby wooden puzzles. Horses?  Yes.  Goats?  Check.  Cows?  Okey-dokey.  Sheep?  Gotcha.  Hay?  Right here.  Farm Equipment?  Definitely.  Chickens?  Oh yeah.  Railroad Crossing?  No worries.   Let’s hear it for early childhood education.                       

Read More →

Keepin’ it real at Rushmore

In 8th grade art class, I was given an opportunity to make a clay bust of a popular, influential figure. This was supposed to take a few months, yet I somehow dragged in on for a full year and then never got around to glazing and painting it. To this day the small statue I made (of Lady Gaga, because who else?) stands unfinished on a table in my house. Considering the effort, focus, and time this took, I can only imagine how the creators of Mt Rushmore felt. It took 14 years to carve this momentous monument, and the artistry, finesse, and dedication that it took is a lasting testament to the American Dream. Rushmore was beyond stunning, and though no picture can do it justice, there are several below. We also had the opportunity to view a museum describing the tools and toils of the sculptors and workers, which shed new light on the creation of this monument and all that was required for it to reach fruition.           

Read More →

Yellowstone Disconnect

We are visiting Yellowstone National Park for just three days. We will only see an incredibly small fraction of its 2.2 million acres. During our too short stay we will be virtually without wireless internet service. Once we have reluctantly returned to civilization, we will post about our adventures again. 

Read More →

National Park Service Crush

Mariah and I really missed Harry during the three and a half weeks we were traveling without him. Now that Harry has joined us, he has relieved Mariah from the arduous task of unpacking our car every evening and repacking it each morning. As for me, after driving thousands of miles myself, it is blissful to sit back and relax in the passenger’s seat. He has even installed a rooftop car carrier that gives us a little bit of much needed breathing room in the car. However, there is one small unexpected complication with which Mariah and I have to contend. Evidently, Harry thinks we are all in a spaghetti western. He has adopted a B movie western accent, insists on calling me “lil’ darlin’ ” and feels the need to use the word “butte” every few sentences. As in, “Look a there lil’ darlin’, now that’s a right fine large butte there in the distance”. There are no signs this behavior will abate anytime soon. (A photograph of a butte is included below for your viewing pleasure).  Today we traveled to two remarkable national monuments. So we don’t replicate information, Mariah asked to blog about Mount Rushmore and I offered to blog about The Devil’s Tower National Monument. Both sites were fascinating and ample reward for the long drives to their locations. I have to admit that I have become something of a National Park Service Groupie. My crush […]

Read More →

Correction – Read Me Instead

My oh my. A rough draft of my previous post was sent out inadvertently. (The photographs were not even attached.) Please forget you received it and read the post in its final form on the website instead. Damn. Please go to: https://arewethereyet2k15.com/2015/07/05/without-the-elmers-glue/ Sorry about that!                            

Read More →