Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Faithful and Yellowstone National Park

On day three we visited Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.  It was the longest, most boring drive you can possibly imagine!  I was soooo excited cuz we were going to FINALLY see some "wildlife", cuz after all, we were driving in Yellowstone National Park where there are bison on every prairie and bears in every wood, right?  Well, I was wrong!  The only wildlife we saw were a couple of deer, which we can see any old time here in Utah!  Oh, I guess we did see some squirrels, but I don't really know if that counts or not.

After a super long drive, we pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our extra cargo (aka. Grandmamma & Granddaddy along with our daughter) at the curb.  My hubby and I then went in search of a parking spot.  Have you ever tried to find a spot and there just simply isn't a spot to be found in this lifetime?  Well, that is exactly what we went through.  You would think that a much visited spot would accommodate the large numbers of vehicles that flock to said attraction by building a large parking garage right?  Wrong!!  We drove for LITERALLY 35 minutes and finally found a spot that we waited another 10 minutes to pull into.  We found that if you are desperate for a spot, you start to stalk anyone who is remotely near a car to see if they are going to jump in and pull away so you can take their place.  A very kind woman in a minivan politely let us know she was leaving so we could do just that.  You gotta love kind people!  
Old Faithful Geyser

We finally made it just in time to see the famous Old Faithful Geyser erupt.  It was amazing!  It was like watching a toddler walk for the first time.  When a toddler starts to walk they get started then fall back down, then get back up and start again then fall back on their little tushy, then when they get the  hang of things they get up again, start running and never stop!  That is how to describe Old Faithful Geyser.


We had time between eruptions so we decided to visit the gift shops and take a walking tour of the other geysers and hot pools that surround Old Faithful.  These pools are so crystal clear and blue it took our breath away!  There was even a rolling river of boiling water that is more that words can describe.

As we sat and waited for the second eruption of Old Faithful, we were privileged to witness the eruption of what we think was the Beehive Geyser.  It shot hot boiling water several feet in the air for at least 7 minutes!  It was beautiful!  

Beehive Geyser
Just as the Beehive Geyser was winding down, Old Faithful was getting started.  As we waited, there was a little boy of about 7 years old behind us chanting the words "Boring, boring, boring..." as his sweet mamma was at her wits end by saying "Now hush!"  (I think I related to both parties in some small manner.)  

As soon as Old Faithful got started it was a little like cheering on a newbie in a sporting activity - "Come on!  You can do it!  Just a little higher!  Wow!  You did it!!!  Once the water was shooting really high in the air, this same little boy changed his declaration on the situation by saying "WOW!  It's sooo beautiful!"  It really touches your heartstrings when even a small boy of about 7 can recognize the beauty that God has put on this earth and put into words what others have trouble describing and expressing.

We met a woman from France who was visiting the United States for three weeks and this just happened to be one of the stops that were made.  I asked her what she thought of America and she said "It's very beautiful.  This is very beautiful."  I think I agree with her! 

After the eruption, we ambled our way back to the van, not eager to fight the crowds to get out of the parking lot.  Along the path, we stopped to take pictures at the signs that said "Old Faithful Geyser" so we could say we had "been there done that".  What we didn't expect was to bump into our "seat mates" from the night before when we went to the Bar J Wranglers.  Because we were nice to them, they remembered us and were willing to take our family picture at the sign!  See, it really does pay to be nice and not act like a snob!

Lewis Falls
On the way home we stopped at Lewis Falls.  It was the second highlight of our trip that day.  We decided to get out and explore the area.  My daughter was really adventuresome and got out onto some fallen trees just to get a picture of the Falls.  We hiked to the top, which was quite the workout for some of us.  My hubby even proceeded to scare a couple of cute little girls, who were with their daddy, by teasing them about "polar bears".  (Ok, polar bears is another story for another time.  Really long story...)

After our little Lewis Falls adventure, we climbed back into the van and found our way back to our temporary home.  And even though we were warned several times by big flashing signs that Moose, Bears and Wolves were in the area, we saw NOTHING!

So maybe the drive was ubber boring, but the experience was well worth the travel.  We were able to witness one of God's most amazing creations and that helped us to remember who is really in charge.  The world is so much bigger than any one person.  I know it helped me to step back a pace or two and look more at the big picture.  I am grateful that a loving Heavenly Father has given us such wonders in the world to admire.  It almost makes me wonder what Heaven is going to be like.  I mean, if Earth is this glorious, WOW Heaven!

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park, do.  The drive might be long, but it is peaceful and very, very beautiful.  You might even luck out and see some incredible wildlife along the way, if you do, please let me know!  I'd love to hear your adventures in the "Park".

To Be Continued.....

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bar J Wranglers

After an amazing ride through the wilds of Wyoming, we headed back to our temporary home where we relaxed and got ready for a fun-filled night spent with the Bar J Wranglers.
Bar J Wranglers"Some folks call it a western music show; some call it a stand-up comedy show with masterful cowboy music; others call it the best musical experience in the west.  Call it what you want to - the fact remains - The Bar J Wranglers from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, deliver some of the purest harmony, best musicianship and funniest ranch humor ever seen on stage.  As soon as the Bar J Wranglers take to the stage, listeners leave behind their busy life and settle into a time long ago - a time of the singing cowboy." (as quoted from their website)

The Bar J Wranglers are made up of five super talented cowboys that really know how to bring old cowboy music to life.  In the words of Babe Humphrey... "The difference between Western Music and Country Music is that in Country Music you are wondering who is kissing your wife and in Western Music you are wondering who is kissing your horse."

No matter if you love or hate country music, you will find a soft spot in your heart for these talented cowboys.  You see, my hubby HATES country music.  I grew up with the music and I have a great fondness for this genre of music.  Out of respect for each other, I turn off my country and he turns off his rock music when we are in the same room.  We do play music that we can mutually agree on so it doesn't get too quiet in our home.  Some sort of music is playing almost constantly.  The old cowboy music the Bar J Wranglers perform is one of the mutually agreeable music forms we choose to listen to.  

I have heard them in concert several times in my home state, but nothing compares to the performance they give on their "home turf".

The experience begins with a long wait in line.  You see, when you call to make a reservation, you are not given your seating assignment until that night.  If you want a seat close to the stage, you will want to get in line about two hours before they even open the doors.  Now you are sitting there thinking, "Why on earth would I want to sit in line for 2 hours just to hear some guys sing a song or two?"  Well, the closer you are to the stage, the better the experience.  You see, they not only sing an amazing song, but the facial expressions they use for their humor is what really adds to the show.  The wait in line isn't all that bad either.  

You have the opportunity to meet the most eclectic group of people you will ever have the privilege to rub shoulders with.  We met a young couple who train pack donkeys all over the United States, a real estate executive, a few grandparents that couldn't say enough about their grandchildren, and we even met a gentleman who had been to the Philippines recently, (this made my hubby happy cuz it has been years since he served two years there).  

If you don't have a particular fondness for meeting and talking to strangers - well, if this is the case, you got to reach out of your comfort zone a little more - you can opt to bring some reading material.  There isn't any internet service, so your material will need to be in "hard copy" form.  Speaking from experience, it is more fun to socialize than to lug a heavy book around for hours on end.  Besides, you will most likely be sitting by the person you are staring at for the two hours before the doors open, so just be friendly and say "Hello" so they won't think you are a  snob!  Oh, there are benches put along the side of the "tunnel" so you have a place to rest your weary feet while you wait that long time.


When the doors open you have the chance to order your entree for the evening.  You have your choice of Chicken or Beef (prepared 3 different ways).  Now remember, this is a working cattle ranch, where they heard cattle.  But because people also like the taste of chicken, they started to serve chicken as well.  Rest assured, they are all real cowboys even though they have chickens too.  It's just that none of the cowboys wanted to be known as "chickenboys".  I personally like their chicken.  Hey, what can I say, it's just sooooo goood!

Before the show you are free to explore the grounds.  They have a couple of gift shops where you can purchase odds and ends as well as their music CDs (the music is very well worth the purchase even if you haven't heard them before, just get one, you won't be sorry).  There is a fun train ride that takes you on a short scenic tour of the property.  

While exploring, you have got to try a dutch oven biscuit!  They have a "camp cook" who stands outside and cooks up batch after batch of these delicious, flaky, hot nuggets and you can enjoy one with hot butter and honey.  Yummy!

Time will fly by and pretty soon you will venture into the dining hall where they will serve no less than 600 people that night!  We had purchased a couple of decks of cards and made "friends" with our neighbors across the table and played a rousing game of Nine Square (this game has many different names: Neighbor Game, Golf, 9 Square...).  The people that we played with ended up being the most interesting people ever!  

It was a gentleman and his wife and his sister.  They were from Arizona and had been on a very long vacation.  It turns out that they were going to be on vacation for 3 long months touring the western US while driving their RV.  He was very sociable and easygoing.  I found it a pleasure to talk with him and get to know him a bit better.  He was very quick for a smile and made you laugh at the little things.  The thing I loved most about him was his love for the US.  He told us about some of the experiences he had while serving in the military.  If ever I go to Arizona, I will definitely look this guy up!

Pretty soon you will be stuffing your face with a hot meal that is basically what they would serve on an old time cattle drive.  They serve over 600 people in about 20 minutes!  It is an amazing feat!  And they do this 7 nights a week for 4 months a year every summer!  (I sometimes have trouble feeding 5 people 7 nights a week!)

After your belly is full, you are treated to the best old time cowboy music you have ever heard.  They do traditional trail songs, patriotic song, and they even share a bit of their beliefs with you through song.   They love to laugh!  They do tend to pick on each other a bit, but it is never in meanness and you will find yourself holding your sides because they hurt so bad from laughing so much!  You become so wrapped up in the show that you are almost shocked when the time comes to an end and you look at the clock and realize that you have spent over two hours laughing and listening!

This was a definite highlight of our trip!  It was my hubby's and my third time to visit them at their ranch, and I know it won't be our last.  We got all their autographs and visited with each Wrangler after the show.  They are amazing people in person as well as on stage.  We were even able to meet and visit with Babe Humphrey who told us all about how he met his beautiful bride so many years ago.  

So to all you who want a great night out, and want a taste of what the "old west" was like, take a stroll over to the Bar J Wranglers.  The wait is worth it!

To Be Continued....

Friday, July 22, 2016

Horse Riding

After an incredible night at the Jackson Hole Rodeo, we rested up so we could go for a two hour horseback ride the next morning.

I haven't been on the back of a horse for many a moon, and for my daddy, who is much older than me, it has been even longer!  Now, in fairness, my daddy did grow up on the back of a horse, so it didn't take him long to remember how to make it go.  In his words you just need to know "Giddup!" and "Whoa!"

When we got to Teton Village Trail Rides, they sized us up and asked questions about our various equestrian experience.  My daddy grew up on the back of a horse, but it had been a while, my hubby and daughter were very limited, and I worked on a ranch with horses and also grew up with horses, but I don't like to go fast.  (This is actually a good thing cuz the trail horses don't do anything faster than a slow plod while munching their way back to the stable).  

The next step was to match us up with our rides for the day.  My hubby was on Mae, my daddy was put on Sneezy, and they had mounts for the other members of the group as well, there were seven of us in all.  
It took quite some time for them to place my daughter and I on a horse cuz, well, you see, our legs aren't exactly the longest things in the world.  Don't get me wrong, they touch the ground just the same as everyone else's legs, they just aren't long.  The head wrangler took one look at both of us and said, "Well, you both are short, and it all comes down to the legs anyway.  Well, let's go!"  My daughter was put on a sassy Little Blackie, and I got a beautiful horse that unfortunately I have forgotten the name of, but I will refer to lovingly as Bumps, which was the name of my granddaddy's horse when I was growing up.

When we were all saddled up, we were off for a grand adventure.  It was the most beautiful, quiet ride that I have had.  Our wrangler guide was Miranda, who was absolutely fantastic!  She kept us going, and she pointed out fun facts about the area around us.  She did have to get after a couple of the riders a time or two, but all in all we all had a great time.  

There was a time when we were so caught up in the atmosphere that my daughter and I started singing really old cowboy songs.  Ya know, songs that the cowboys would sing along the long and dusty cattle drive trails.  I'm sure that the other riders thought we were half crazy, and they wouldn't be too far off, but hey, we were having fun!

The mountains were majestic, the prairie was peaceful, the brook babbled....well, you get the general idea.  We came to a huge barn that was equipped with it's very own, state of the art, outdoor plumbing!  Seriously, this barn was amazing!  Miranda told us that this barn is actually used for many weddings.  I believe it too cuz it oozes of "Old West" charm.  

We even got to see a mamma owl and two baby owlets.  Even though they were babies, they were HUGE!  They just sat there on a fallen tree and stared at the passersby.


The time passed by quickly and without incident.  That is until we got back to the stable and had to then dismount said horses and say "goodbye, thanks for the ride."  Everyone was able to make a somewhat graceful dismount, without too much trouble in regaining their "land legs".  Everyone, that is, except for me.  If you will remember from way back in my earlier posts, I mentioned that I don't reach the 5 foot mark on the measuring stick.  This is good, and bad.  In this case, it wasn't the best!

You see, when you mount and dismount a horse, you do so from the left side of the horse.  I don't know why it is always the left side, that's just how it's done.  You place your left foot in the left stirrup then swing your right foot over, settle yourself into the saddle and place your right foot into the right stirrup.  Pretty slick on the mounting part, especially if you have a mounting block involved!  Not so slick on the dismount though when said mounting block is absent!  You dismount said horse the opposite of how you mounted.  Unless you are me.

When it was my turn to dismount "Bumps", I looked down at the young wrangler, swung my right leg over the saddle and asked "Ok, now what?"  I was literally stuck 6 feet in the air on top of a horse.  This young wrangler then looked at me with his sparkling baby blues and dimples and said, "Now you just reach around with your back leg and reach for the ground. Simple."  Yeah, right.

Here is where the problem lies.  I was stuck on top of a horse that stood at least 6 feet tall from the dirt to the top of its back.  I have SHORT legs, remember, I am LESS than 5 feet tall.  My left foot was sitting at chest level of this young wrangler, which just happened to be about 5 feet off the ground.  (If you need, just close your eyes and picture this situation.  Go ahead, laugh.  You won't hurt my feelings, cuz that is what I am doing right now, laughing!!)  

I took one look at this wrangler and said "OhhhKaaay" then proceeded to "reach" for the ground with my right foot.  Well, I couldn't let myself fall, and after all, the wrangler was assigned to help me off my horse, so I used him for support.  There was no other way around it!  I was reaching with my back leg for the ground while holding onto this poor wrangler's shoulder for support, all the while dragging him closer to the ground than I know he wanted to be.  I was literally doing the splits in midair, trying so hard not to fall on my backside, with my left foot in the stirrup and my right leg reaching for the ground.  I did feel a tiny bit bad, but what else was I gonna do?  Fall on my rear?  I think NOT!  

When I did finally make it safely to the ground, with both feet planted firmly there, the young wrangler straightened up, a broad smile on his face, and as diplomatically as possible said, "Wow, I didn't realize how, uh, short you really were."  (He even used hand jesters in an up and down motion to emphasize this point.)  We both had a great laugh, and I staggered toward the rest of the group that was trying like the dickens to not laugh and cause more of a scene than what I just caused.

This was a definite grand experience to remember.  It would have been funnier if we had got my dismount on video, but sometimes the imagination is better than any video you can watch. 

If you are ever in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area and want to go for an incredible ride, book a tour with Teton Village Trail Rides, you will not be disappointed!  We are already planning a trip back in two years for when my baby is old enough to ride!

To Be Continued......

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jackson Rodeo

After a super fun time shopping in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we headed back to our comfy cabin for some amazing french toast with huckleberry syrup.  After dinner it was off to the rodeo!

In Jackson Hole they have the most amazing rodeo ever.  Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 pm you are treated to the heart of the West and Rodeo at its best!  There will be times when Pro Rodeo Riders are in attendance and have a chance to show their stuff.  What gets to me every time is the determination of the men and women who risk their lives on the back of thousands of pounds of animal, get bucked off time after time, and yet they still manage to climb back on top of these animals.  That takes extreme courage to do this.  I am amazed every time!!

Because we went to the Rodeo on July 4th, we were treated to an extra special flag ceremony.  The Rodeo Royality came riding out on their horses flying the American Flag to the tune of "God Bless the USA".  There wasn't a dry eye in the entire arena.  The grace, confidence and pride with which those girls rode with those flags was awe inspiring to say the least.  It made me super proud to be an American and to be living where I live in this day and age.  It also helped to remind everyone in attendance why we have the freedoms that we have.
Click here to see video

Then it was on to see the Bull Riding, Bareback Riding, Steer Roping, Barrel Racing and Mutton Busting!  

Image result for rodeo picturesBull Riding and Bareback Riding are the same sport with different animals.  One includes a Bull that can be ornerier than Satan himself and the other includes a Horse with a disposition not much nicer than Satan's son.  The goal is to hang on for dear life to a rope that is tied around a thousand pound animal while it is furiously bucking and trying to remove the cinch that is tied on its flank.  (You would buck too if you had a cinch tightened to your flank!)  The goal of the cowboy, or girl, is to hang on for 8 seconds.  Let me tell you, it is the longest 8 seconds of that person's life!  No matter how long they stay on the animal, they have to dismount the same way - they have to get bucked off.  What is so amazing is every time they get bucked off, they may or may not get hurt, but even if they DO get hurt, they climb back on that feisty animal and give it another go.
Image result for cowboy courage quotes 
It makes you kinda wonder about what type of person you are.  Do you jump back up on the back of life's situations even though they may buck you off?  or do you just throw the towel in cuz life is just too hard?  If you are the one to throw the towel in, you better find yourself a cowboy, or girl, and become friends, cuz they will tell you to "Cowboy Up, and move on.  Get back in that saddle and hold on for dear life!"

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Steer Roping is a team sport where you have one person who ropes the horns of the steer and the other person ropes the two hind legs of the steer.  It seems simple, but it is super difficult!  It is sort of like trying to corral a toddler at a park - you tell them it is time to go home and they run like the wind and feel like they have been greased in butter when you get close enough to catch them.  

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Barrel Racing is where a cowboy girl (yes, this is the proper term for a cowgirl) runs her horse at neck breaking speeds around three barrels to see who can get the fastest time.  While racing around the barrels she, or the horse, cannot touch any part of the barrel.  In this sport, the cowboy girl starts as young as age 6.  It was pretty amazing to watch the itty bitty girls ride their first rodeo.  There was even a woman about my age (advanced in years but young at heart) who did a great job!

Image result for rodeo picturesYou may be scratching your head about the Mutton Busting.  This is "bull riding" for the little tikes who want an early start into the rodeo world.  They get their "cowboy gear" on and strap themselves to the back of a sheep.  The sheep doesn't want to be ridden and starts to jump and run.  That little cowboy needs to hold on for dear life and make the best of the ride.

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No matter which part of the rodeo these amazing athletes participate in, they are very courageous!  Let's not forget the brave Rodeo Wranglers (aka - rodeo clowns).  They are the people who keep the cowboys safe after being thrown from the animals by distracting said animals and directing them back to the stock shoots.  These men are down-right crazy at times by teasing the animals.  (It makes me wish I had a Rodeo Wrangler at my home when things get crazy around here with the kids.)

We had an incredible time cheering for the cowboys and girls in their respective areas.  I had to close my eyes at times and ask "is he OK?" but things were just as fun as I remembered they were 100 years ago!  I can't wait to go back!  I have included a short video of some of the rides that happened that night.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  It will even give you just a bit of insight into how to "Cowboy Up" when life throws you from its back!  I hope you can be the one to climb back on and say "I'm ready to ride....again!"
Click here to view a glimpse of the Jackson Hole Rodeo