Week 1

Let's Go!

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We made it through the first leg of our trip – Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.  We rolled into Sheridan, WY late and set up camp in the dark.  For our wedding we registered at REI.  We always imagined that we would back pack our way around the world.  Then we had children, and we imagined that we would car camp around the world.  Then they got cold.  So we got a pop up camper.  Not at all something we pictured ourselves in on our wedding day.  Yet, here we are traveling the country.  Back to Sheridan, we camped in a KOA.  First timers.  We cooked outside by ourselves, while everyone else in that place lit up their rigs and fired up their generators.  I’m a person who has learned never to say never.  Just consider my mind totally blown.

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We chose this crazy rinky dink route around Grand Teton and Yellowstone because of driving time…and also one of the kids was dying to see Devil’s Tower National Monument.  So, we said goodbye to Sheridan and made our way to North Eastern Wyoming.  Devil’s Tower is spectacular.  We used our expeditionary learning skills to explore a new to us place.  We observed the “tower”, we wondered how it was formed and then we learned as much as anyone can in a few short hours.  We hiked and thought about Mr. Doug and the belay contract as we heard real life climbers yelling, “On Belay.  Belay On.”

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That night we slept in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which led to the Mammoth Excavation site in Hot Springs.  Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.  Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska.  And a real bed in North Platte.  We budgeted for a hotel/ motel stay every third day so we can shower, launder and shop.  We took Hwy 34 that runs north of I-80 all the way to Malcolm, Nebraska and Aunt Bonnie.  You really see a lot more on the less traveled road.  And more tractors.  And corn.

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Hebgen Lake Earthquake

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The boys collaborated on this post about their visit to Quake Lake in Montana.  

Quake lake is a lake that was formed by an earthquake in 1959.  Our Aunt Katie was working at Old Faithful in Yellowstone. She felt the earthquake from Old Faithful. Quake Lake is approximately 56.4 miles away from where she was. Our Aunt Sara and Grandpa John could feel it from Idaho Falls which is 118 miles away. Earthquakes can be very powerful.

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Quake Lake, Montana

There is a thing that measures the magnitude of an earthquake, it is called the Richter Scale. The Richter Scale rates earthquakes on a scale of 1-10. 1 being least magnitude and 10 being the highest.

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The Hebgen Lake Earthquake was a 7.5. The Nepal earthquake was an 8.1. There was a big difference in the amount of people that got hurt. In Nepal 9,000 people died and 23,000 got injured. But in the Hebgen Lake earthquake 28 people died and 250 got hurt.  There are not as many people in southwest Montana, where Hebgen Lake is, than there were in Nepal.  That’s why there weren’t as many deaths.

Please watch the video below to see a survivor’s account of the Hebgen Lake Earthquake.

Montanada

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We were able to use our location in Idaho as a launchpad for a side trip to Glacier National Park in Montana (and Canada).  The weather in the area has been dry and the fire danger high.  Wildfires have been burning in and around the park for weeks causing roads to close and the air quality to be poor with low visibility.  We (I) considered bagging the trip.  There are countless opportunities to experience nature right where we are, next door to the Tetons and at the foot of Yellowstone.  Glacier continued to dangle that carrot, though, and we loaded up for the ten-hour drive.

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It may have been a risk to drive all that way not knowing what circumstance we would find ourselves in when we got to Glacier.  As we drove towards the northern border, a storm system moved its way south down the Rockies.  A fresh blanket of rain and snow put the fires to rest, and the air was washed clean.  The next morning the peaks around Lake McDonald were crisp and clear when only a week earlier they were hidden behind smoke.  We found the Going to the Sun road closed for the first time of the season, covered for days under six inches of snow and ice.  Going the distance to Glacier proved a risk worth taking and surprised us in ways we hadn’t foreseen.

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As we finalize our plans for the next three months, the test drive to Montana gave us a lot of insight.  Our plans are not rigid, but fluid.  We can’t be limited by the unknown.  And, in fact, our ten-hour trip turned 92 days will be defined by our willingness to push past the hesitation regarding our next destination.

Details – Mileage: 1,483 miles.  Countries visited:  Canada.  States visited:  Idaho, Montana, Wyoming.  National Parks:  Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, Grant-Kohr’s National Monument, Yellowstone National Park.  Animals spotted:  Black Bear, Stellar’s Jay, Pileated Woodpecker (GNP), Moose pair, Bald Eagle, Bison, Elk, Osprey, Downy Woodpecker (YNP).