Road Tripping our way to Missoula, Montana: May 2015

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Kevin and I recently left Fort Collins, Colorado and made our journey north to Missoula, Montana, where he is now attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.  We took almost the entire month of May to make our way north and made several stops along the way.

Our first visit was to spend some time with my parents in Kansas City, Missouri.  While in Kansas City, my parents took us to the “New Theater Restaurant” dinner theater to see the musical, “Hair!”  We also spent a day touring the National World War I Museum.  This is a must-see when visiting Kansas City.  Plan to spend a full afternoon there.  And no visit to Kansas City is complete without savoring some of their mouth-watering BBQ.  We’ve tried some of the different BBQ restaurants in this area, but this was our first time eating at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue.  Hands down, the best barbecue I’ve ever had.  Now I’m craving some of those burnt-ends!

Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, MO

WWI Museum Kansas City MO

WWI Museum Kansas City, MO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Kansas City we drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where one of my sisters resides.  It was great spending time with her, her husband, one of my nieces, and their adorable new Havenese puppy, Mojito!  After Iowa, we trekked back a bit and headed to Omaha, Nebraska.

In Omaha we spent a few days with one of my other nieces, and I must say that if I were to live in the mid-west, I would pick Omaha.  Omaha has a great downtown area and there always seems to be something fun going on.  I loved walking through the old neighborhoods under the mature trees, and seeing so much GREEN!  After living in Southern California for several years, seeing the vibrant green leaves and grass was exhilarating!  Another plus about Omaha is that my best friend from junior high and high school lives there and I got to spend some time with her.  It was so great to see her; it’s been way too long.

Another Omaha highlight was visiting the “2014 Best Zoo in the World,” according to TripAdvisor.  Really?  Yes, the Henry Doorly Zoo located in Omaha, Nebraska actually beat out the San Diego Zoo.  When my niece informed me of this about a year ago, I scoffed at it.  Honestly, I thought San Diego would have won the honors hands down.  After spending the day at the Henry Doorly Zoo, I can see why it won.  Though a part of the zoo was under renovation when we visited, the exhibits that we did see were the most natural habitats I’ve ever seen at a zoo.  They also had more varieties of animals than other zoos.  Just remember to plug your nose when you venture down into the bat caves!

Gorilla posing with the children

Gorilla posing with the children

Mr. Big sticking his tongue out towards his cubs

Mr. Big sticking his tongue out towards his cubs. Unfortunately, we found out that this beautiful African lion recently died of cancer; he was 15 years old.

From Omaha, we started making our way back up north again and headed to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.  Kevin had never been to either, and if you haven’t been to Mount Rushmore yet, make sure it’s on your bucket list!

Badlands, South Dakota

     Badlands, South Dakota

Mountain Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

From South Dakota, it was on to Bismarck, North Dakota.  I spent part of junior high and all of high school there and had not been back since my 10 year high-school reunion in 1998!  While there, we spent time with some of my high school friends, and I got to show off some of my old haunts to Kevin.  If you ever visit Bismarck, make sure you spend time at the Heritage Center.  It is a state museum and offers some pretty amazing galleries, displays, and interactive exhibits.  Then take a stroll through the capital grounds which used to be a favorite hangout for me and my friends.  One of my dearest friends and I spent some time there one evening and it was just as peaceful and beautiful as it was then.

After my trip down memory lane, we started making our way west, and headed to Yellowstone.  While on our way, we made a short detour for a leisurely drive through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in Medora, ND.  President Roosevelt once said, “I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.”  He was known as the “Conservationist President” and we have him to thank for establishing the U.S. Forest Service, several Federal Bird Reservations, Game Preserves, National Forests and Parks.  The Theodore Roosevelt National Park covers over 70,000 acres.  You will see many varieties of wildlife to include bison, elk, and prairie dogs.  Just be prepared for bison traffic jams!

Teddy Roosevelt's Cabin in the Woods

Teddy Roosevelt’s Cabin in the Woods – Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, ND

 

Where the Buffalo roam

Where the Buffalo (Bison) Roam

Kevin and I love National Parks, so we travelled from one national park to another!  When I was in middle school in Belleville, Illinois, I had a teacher (wish I could remember his name) that planned to visit all of the National Parks in his lifetime.  He even had a map displayed in his classroom with pushpins displaying which parks he had already been to.  I could see Kevin and I doing that someday!  We’ve already been to several and have even tossed around the idea of working at a national park someday.  If you have never been to Yellowstone National Park, you are truly missing out!  From Old Faithful to the boiling waters of the hot springs to wildlife around every corner. Check out our photo gallery for more great pictures!

Midway Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park

Midway Geyser Basin – Yellowstone National Park

Tower Fall located in Hanging Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Tower Fall located in Hanging Valley, Yellowstone National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Yellowstone, we made our final journey up to our new temporary home in Missoula, Montana.  We’ve been here for two months now, and are really enjoying it.  This is another outdoor enthusiasts’ ideal location, and a perfect location for Kevin to hone his photography skills!  Expect a new blog post soon about some of the fun we’re having here in Missoula.

How many National Parks have you been to?  Which one is your favorite?