East – the beginning

We stayed in Pennsylvania a couple nights ago. We were greeted with a beautiful, long awaited thunderstorm, lush green trees and all of the wild sunflowers bursting with their bright yellow faces.

Feels like home already.

There’s just something about the east that is so comforting and homey that the other parts of the US don’t have. It may not have crazy unique parks or landmarks, but it is beautiful. We drove up and down and side to side looking for our ‘home,’ and all along it was right above us somewhere on the east side. We’re being as patient as we possibly can to finally discover our home. I am absolutely aching inside to decorate it. Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse.

I’ve also been craving pizza and twizzlers. I’ve resisted for a good amount of time, but I don’t know how much longer I can last under the pressure. When the body wants something, it almost always gets what it wants sooner or later. (PS I’m not some health food snob, but after sitting for hours on hours every day I start to feel frumpy and try to eat healthy to combat that. But lets be honest…there’s just something about road trips and junk food that go so well together.)

UPDATE- I have satisfied my junk food craving with a full, delicious meal from Wendy’s. best decision in a very long time.

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CHICAGO

We walked SO much, so so much. We were only there for four days and we went to museums every. single. day. And these aren’t those small museums you can check off your list after an hour, no.. these museums are ginormous. We went to the Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Alder’s Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and still managed to walk around downtown a bit to see the Bean, Picasso’s Statue, and all of the hustle and bustle. There was this super great deal going on where you could buy the CityPass, which included passes to 5 museums/attractions for half off! So we totally snatched that up.

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The Field Museum was unnnnbbeeeelivable. SO many things to see. We were there for six hours and still only managed to see about 80%, and we were walking and looking at stuff the entire time. I’m not even one to get all hyped up on history and I really enjoyed this museum.

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Art Institute of Chicago was freakin’ sweet as well. My favorites were the Impressionism/Modern/Post-Modern sections, but they had so much more than that. From Greek pottery to Middle Aged suits of armor to Salvador Dali. Even James enjoyed it!

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Museum of Science and Industry was off the chain. If you’re a Floridian and went to MOSI as a kid… well, this place totally blows MOSI out of the water into another space continuum. This thing had it all- submarine, actual airplane, tornado maker, 3D model that showed you what your actual heartbeat looked like.. (my favorite,) and a ton of other cool stuff. If I lived there with kids I would definitely be a regular visitor.

Alder’s Planetarium. Space. Really cool, they have cool short movies/lectures about the universe and planets and stars and galaxies and dark matter. They also have a lot of little rooms dedicated to certain aspects of space; planets, asteroids, moon landing, etc. This museum wasn’t as big as the previous three, and I was honestly getting kind of tired of walking, so it wasn’t my favorite but we still had fun.

Shedd Aquarium was huge! We went here after we finished the Planetarium because it was our last day and we had already been to various aquariums in other states, but it was still really fun. We weren’t able to see everything, but from what we did see it was a really nice museum. They even had belugas and dolphins! If you decide to visit Chicago and want to see the aquarium, I would recommend dedicating an entire day because it will take that long.

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Willis tower was awesome, the main attraction was the Skydeck…. standing in a glass room over Chicago… 1,353 ft in the air. The sun was behind some clouds so we got to see these really pretty sun rays shining all over Chicago. It was a bit cloudy that day so we weren’t able to see the other states as people say you can, but I’m still really glad we were able to do it. And no, it’s not that terrifying unless you have a really really really bad fear of heights.

I was also able in Chicago to expose James to some delicious Polish food!! He loved it. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience a famous chicago hot dog… next time.

Yellowstone National Park

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Veni, Vidi, Vici.

We came, we saw, we conquered.

Okay so lemme get straight to it:

Pro #1– Awesome, awesome wildlife. We saw bear, elk, deer, bison, various birds of prey, sandhill cranes, swans, chipmunks, the whole lot of ‘em. The majority of what we did while in Yellowstone was drive around looking for wildlife to photograph and stalk.

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We saw SO many bison, they were definitely the most abundant- On our second day we came across a humongous herd in a field. We sat there for about two hours watching and waiting for something cool to happen. Between the huge busloads of asian tourists taking too close of pictures with the bison (who are known to maul people for no apparent reason) we saw two males fight! That was cool. We also happened to chance upon them going through some pre-mating ritual thing which was a bit weird, but hey, that’s nature. These bison came up so close… like five feet away close. And if you’ve ever been near one- those things are big. like mac-daddy big. Their bodies are a bit funny with HUGE heads and upper body, and teeny tiny legs. I kinda got bored with them after awhile because they’re slow and not the most exciting to watch.

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Bear! Grizzly bear!! He (or she) was down the hill a long way away digging up something in the mud, people suspected it to be digging for an old carcass or a ground squirrel. This thing was putting all of its might and soul into that digging. But it unfortunately ended up with nothing. So after about an hour of watching (there were a lot of people watching the bear, including five rangers) the bear decides that he wants to come UP the hill… towards the humans. The rangers told everyone to keep moving back and get into our cars. The bear actually managed to come up the hill, cross over the field, pass behind our very own truck and over the road to the other pasture. That was a big highlight because, in case you didn’t already know, bears are cool.

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We also saw four buck, one doe, and two fawns! They’re so pretty. So graceful and elegant, I love them. Two of the four buck we saw got spooked by something and started running…. then hopping down the beach! Hopping! Like Bambi! It was so unbelievably adorable and I was giggling about it for too long after.

Elk of course are great. Saw a good amount of females, but unfortunately no males! I was so hoping to see a large herd of them out in a field all grazing and beautiful with the sun setting behind them. But alas, it was a dream that did not come true.

Birds were everywhere! Hawks, osprey, geese, swans, etc. James got some really great shots of a hawk staring right down at him with its wings completely spread open. It is absolutely marvelous.

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Pro #2– The geysers were bazar, especially the Prismatic Geyser. It was like a big, bubbling, steaming hole full of rainbow water. However, once we saw that one, all of the other geysers, mud volcanoes, and hot springs definitely weren’t as impressive. (Plus all of the others smelled like rotten eggs, that sulfur can really stink up the joint.) I guess that counts as a con, but ah c’est la vie.

Pro #3– Because Yellowstone is such a huge park, they had a pretty adequate grocery store, multiple RV and automotive repair shops, and a post office! The post office was especially appreciated because I could ship in James’ gift! He had his birthday during our stay. I could also get in some new essential oils from Doterra because I’m positively hooked on that stuff.

And now… dun dun duuuuuuuunnnnnn:

Con #1 (the only one)- Hiking was ‘mehhhhhh.’ There was a big fire some time ago so a lot of the trees were dead. Like a ton. There were some new ones sprouting up but there definitely wasn’t that woodsy feel. A lot of the trees were cut down too so amongst the tall, grey, lanky dead trees, the ground was covered in more dead trees. For a park that big it’s a wonder why the trail upkeep isn’t all that great. The view as well wasn’t what we were expecting. It was pretty, but we didn’t really think it was spectacular worthy. Maybe because we’ve been to Yosemite and that place…. is just too big and beautiful for words.

And there ya have it. I would of course recommend Yellowstone to anyone thinking of visiting because it is beautiful and a fun adventure, and you should see as many National Parks as possible because you live in this country you should enjoy the beauty it has to offer! *takes a deep inhale because that was a mouthful*

If, however, someone asked whether they should visit Yellowstone or Yosemite… I would without a doubt say Yosemite. I would say that to every park when compared with Yosemite. It just has that breathless, captivating feel that cannot be matched.