After a quick weekend in KC, I headed out to my Great Aunt Bonnie's in Eminence, MO for a couple days. She lives back in the woods near Jacks Fork River.
Monday, she showed me around Eminence, going to Alley Mill and Spring, Rocky Falls, and Blue Spring, which are either a State Park, National Park, or part of the Missouri Conservation. They were incredible and a complete surprise to find in Missouri. It gets confusing about who controls what land down there, but it's beautiful nonetheless. Ended the night with dinner at the Mexican restaurant in Eminence.
On Tuesday, we headed up to Round Spring, Echo Bluffs, and ending at Current River State Park. It was again a day full of beautiful parks, even if I got stung by a wasp, it was still enjoyable. We ended the day with stops at a couple of the shops in Eminence and then a trip to one of her friends' woodcarving shops. Of course had to get ice cream before headed back to the house for the night where she made me try a pawpaw which was... strange, but good!
After some convincing, on Wednesday morning we decided to go kayaking on the Jacks Fork. It was quite an adventure, taking several trips to town to get kayaks and then switching trucks, then getting life jackets, BUT we made it successfully from Alley Spring to Bonnie's gravel bar without any issues!
It was a really great couple of days getting to see parts of the state I hadn't been to and getting to hang with an awesome lady.
Headed to Rapid City SD on Tuesday morning. I made it early afternoon Tuesday and walked around the downtown area. It was hard to decide where to have lunch because there were so many cute restaurants and shops! I landed at Harriett and Oak, a cafe/coffee shop, where I had a really good turkey sandwich and iced coffee.
On Wednesday, I headed out to Mount Rushmore... Unfortunately, it was a rainy and foggy morning, so I did not get a GREAT glimpse at the monument. I got about a 2-4 minute clearing in the 4 hours I was there. The picture I got of the monument is below... I was able to make out about 2 of the 4 faces. Good thing the parking pass is valid for a year!
After Mount Rushmore, I went out to Custer State park and the Black Hills National Forest. It. Was. Beautiful. I would have hiked more than I did, but the weather was not ideal. I drove out of the park on the Needles Highway which had incredible needle shaped rock formations.
The last stop, before heading to KC for the weekend, was a drive through the Badlands on Thursday morning. The park is about an hour east of Rapid City, so it was the first stop on my way out of town. It was beautiful and the weather was a lot more cooperative.
Next stops aren't too exciting, but will continue updating as life happens!
After the adventure of Yellowstone, I was in Billings, Montana for a couple days. I got in late Saturday evening, to a very loud next door neighbor to my hotel, which caused for an exhausted Hannah to not sleep very well. Looking back... I should have gone next door and made friends, but I like sleep.
So, to preface, there isn't a TON to do in Billings, which led to a much needed, relaxing trip. I spent Sunday walking around downtown. I got breakfast at a really cute coffee shop, avocado toast and vanilla latte - YUM! The coffee shop had a small art gallery attached which had a display of art up by local artists - lots of cowboys. After that small gallery, I decided to go to the larger local art museum, Yellowstone Art Museum. It's a smaller museum, but had a ton of really interesting pieces. They also had a bridal expo going on, so it was pretty busy. I ended the day at Moss Mansion, a "mansion" of the Moss family completed in 1903. It. Was. Awesome. I'm obsessed with it. So many details in the design work, but also a very progressive style of interiors for that time period. Mixing Buddha statues, Moorish arches, and a stain glass window of Shakespeare.
On Monday, I got a later start than I normally would like, but I let myself enjoy it! I went to another coffee shop downtown for breakfast. I walked around there a bit more, hitting the three thrifts stores I could find, a fair trade shop, and a book store. After that, I went to Pictograph Cave State Park and walked around. It was a small state park with two (maybe 3?) caves, one with visible pictographs in it, which were incredible. I took the scenic route back before getting a late lunch at a cute cafe, it had it's only greenhouse area in it.
Headed to Rapid City fairly early the morning!
My second stop was Jackson Hole, WY. I got there Thursday afternoon with enough time to wander around the downtown area and have a delicious milkshake from Jackson Drug, a burger joint in an old drug store. It was a relatively small town square area, with a TON of cute shops and restaurants, but it was almost hard to enjoy because of how heavy the traffic was. Still a pleasant afternoon.
On Friday, I spent most of the day at Grand Teton National Park. I am DEFINITELY out of shape, but man did the hike feel good. It was a cooler day, started off rainy, so I did not expect to get as gross and sweaty as I did... BUT it was worth it. So gorgeous. Definitely a great national park to visit if you're looking for something smaller and easier to manage as it had a ton of signs and the visitor centers were incredibly helpful.
On my way out of Jackson Hole Saturday morning, I stopped in Yellowstone... Like you can just pop in and out of Yellowstone... Ha! No.
I left my hotel around 4:45 Saturday morning and was half way to Old Faithful in Yellowstone when the sun rose. Definitely worth getting up that early. I beat the crowds to Old Faithful and walked up about 3 minutes before she erupted. Stunning. I walked through the Upper Geyser Basin and saw a bunch of smaller geysers and hot springs. It smelled like sulfur and I had a close encounter with a bison, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
After Upper Geyser Basin, I made my way over to the Midway Geyser Basin and saw the Grand Prismatic Spring. It's Yellowstone's largest hot spring and definitely draws a crowd because of its beauty.
I slowly made my way toward the North entrance the rest of the day. Stopping at the little pull-offs/overlooks. Stopping at Gibbon Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall flowing into the Gibbon River. I walked back to my car only to notice I was trapped in by a tour bus... So I spent quite a bit of time at the falls. No complaints though!
I continued north, stopping at Roaring Mountain for a bit before heading to Mammoth Hot Springs. I didn't have the chance to make it up to Canary Spring, but I roamed the lower terrace hot springs for awhile before grabbing some food for the road. I'm really glad with what I did at Yellowstone, but I definitely felt I missed SO much of the park. The crowds/traffic pick up around 9:30/10a.m., so it really just got frustrating to see anything after then. If I get the chance to return, I'd like to camp and hike a lot more to try and see more of the splendor.
Next headed north to Billings, MT for a couple days!
First stop - Laramie, Wyoming!
I arrived in Laramie on Sunday after a pit stop in Kearney, NE Saturday night. First things first, this no humidity weather is FANTASTIC and second, my allergies are not as bad... haha. Honestly, Wyoming, what I've seen of it so far, is beautiful. The wide open fields, the peaks of the Laramie mountains, and the blue sky is incredible.
Yesterday was a pretty chill day spent hanging with a friend here. We roamed the University of Wyoming campus for a bit before heading to Sweet Melissa, a vegetarian cafe, for lunch. It was pretty delicious. Of course, had to hit up a cute ice cream parlor, Big Dipper, for dessert.
Today, I headed out to Vedauwoo, a part of the Medicine Bow National Forest. It's an area of rock formations, actually granite formations, that lies between Laramie and Cheyenne. It was incredible. I went earlier in the day, so while the sun was still warm, the actual temperature wasn't bad yet. Also, being a Tuesday it was like I was alone in the park. I walked part of the Turtle Rock Loop and Vedauwoo Glen trails and it was not difficult at all for my out-of-shape self. I also stopped by the Ames monument, monument erected for the Ames brothers by the Union Pacific Railroad. Ended my afternoon walking the Laramie River Greenbelt trail, which is a trail/park area along a small river.
Last day in Laramie tomorrow before heading up to Yellowstone area on Thursday!