Day 3: Geysers and Hot Springs Galore

When we woke up on Friday it was -4° (yes, that’s Fahrenheit). Brr!! We ate breakfast before dawn and asked the receptionist at the hotel’s front desk if he knew when Old Faithful might put on its first daytime show. Based on the last known eruption which had occurred at 6:45AM he recommended that we be ready and waiting outside between 8-8:30. So out we went!

By 8:15 the sun was out and it had warmed up to -2°F. Ha! We were super bundled up and waited with a few brave souls to see the world’s most famous geyser do its thing. Soon enough Old Faithful began shooting a tower of water into the air, creating a brilliant white plume of steam against the perfect blue sky.

Next we headed to Midway Geyser Basin, home of another one of Yellowstone’s most well known sights, Grand Prismatic Spring. Google it and you will see gorgeous images of vivid rainbow colored water that looks like it was photoshopped by mother nature. But unfortunately this was not what we saw on Friday. In the single-digit temperatures the heat from all of the geothermal springs, vents and geysers in Midway had created a frosty, eerie world of fog, steam and ice that obscured most of the colorful attractions. This was pretty cool on its own account, even if we didn’t get to see Grand Prismatic in all its glory!

After leaving Midway Geyser Basin we headed south to Biscuit Basin. Along the way a herd of snowy bison materialized out of the fog. I love this photo of the bison in the snow, so much so that I just ordered a huge canvas of it for our house. (And I’ll share a secret: it’s actually TWO photos stitched together side-by-side!)

The entrance to Biscuit Basin was guarded by another bison who seemed content to hang around and let people from a tour bus get way too close to him as they snapped photos. We skirted around him to access the snow-covered boardwalks of the basin. Biscuit Basin was much less foggy than Midway had been and we soaked in the views of vivid greens, blues and oranges caused by thermophilic bacteria living in the hot springs.

We headed back to Old Faithful to catch its next eruption before venturing into the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin that stretches back behind Old Faithful. As we crossed a bridge over the Firehole River Matt spotted river otters playing in the water. Cool!! They slithered over logs for a few moments before disappearing in the cold dark water. (But not before I got photographic proof that we had seen them!)

Upper Geyser Basin and nearby Black Sand Basin featured spitting geysers and several more colorful hot springs. After having better luck seeing springs at these basins we returned to Midway Geyser Basin a second time with hopes of glimpsing Grand Prismatic, but it was still shrouded by steam and fog. (Granted, it never got warmer than 20° on Friday so I guess it just wasn’t our day to see the spring!)

As we left Old Faithful to head towards Canyon Village for the night we were treated to another great animal sighting. A coyote crossed the road in front of our car and then trotted confidently through the snowy grass right by my open window. What luck! We had now seen moose, elk, bison, otter and coyote and it was only our first full day in Yellowstone.

We reached Canyon Village in the late afternoon. Remembering how the access road to the canyon’s overlooks had been closed the day before, we drove past our lodge to see if South Rim Drive had reopened. It was still very snowy but definitely open! Since we were so close we figured we’d get a sneak peek of the next day’s main attraction. We drove up to the end of South Rim Drive and, after a short but extremely icy walk, we found ourselves at Artist Point taking in a sweeping view of the canyon and the lower falls of the Yellowstone River in the distance. Wow.

Satisfied that we had seen enough for one day, we drove back down the snowy road and checked into Canyon Lodge. Like Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Canyon has no cell service, no TV and no wifi. (Or rather, there is “wifi in the lobby but it’s VERY slow” according to the receptionist… and the lobby was in a completely different building from our room!) So instead of checking emails, Twitter and Facebook Matt and I sat side-by-side together in a booth at dinner and reflected on the trip so far as we scrolled through photos on my iPhone. Not a bad way to end our Friday. 🙂

Next up for Day 4… the Grand Canyon, a bear print (!) and Yellowstone Lake.

Day 1: Pennsylvania to Jackson Hole

On Wednesday, October 9th Matt and I woke up at 4AM and drove to the Philadelphia airport. We parked in long term parking, bypassed the bus stop and power-walked to the terminal (isn’t that how normal people begin their travel days?) before being thoroughly sniffed by an official TSA German Shorthaired Pointer in security.  Eight hours later we were greeted by this view as our plane landed in Jackson, Wyoming.

In August I planned a last minute vacation to Yellowstone. Our itinerary would take us from Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park, then onto Yellowstone with overnight stays at Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the North Entrance near Mammoth Hot Springs and a final night in Bozeman, Montana. But my meticulously planned schedule was almost derailed before it began thanks to the weather. During our layover in Denver I received several text message alerts from Yellowstone NP advising that ALL roads in the park were closing due to winter weather conditions.

I had been monitoring the weather and knew that a snow storm and unusually frigid conditions were forecasted to coincide with our arrival on Wednesday. In preparation Matt and I packed all of our winter layers and mentally braced for the cold. Our plane landed just as the cold front was moving in. It was 35 degrees out as we deplaned directly onto the tarmac. That seemed cold at the time compared to the weather we’d just come from, but 35 degrees sure felt nice later in the week after we experienced REAL cold!

The temperature steadily dropped throughout the afternoon as we wandered around Jackson. We checked out the elk antler arches in the town square, stopped at a warm bakery for super rich hot cocoa and braved the blustery wind on a trek to the Visitor Center.

Before dinner we hopped in our rental car and headed north on Route 191. (The same 191 that runs through Moab!) Seeing other cars stopped along the road we pulled over near the Gros Ventre River and snapped a few photos. Apparently we had JUST missed a female moose and calf. Darn!

As we headed back to the car Matt noticed something on the other side of the road… a bull moose!! He was at least 100 yards away and was slowly making his way through the brush towards the river. As we watched, the moose lazily crossed the river before turning away from us to continue on his evening stroll. Cool!! We had been in Wyoming for less than 12 hours and had already crossed a major animal sighting off our list.

During dinner at the Snake River Brewing Company I realized that we had been up since 2AM Jackson time. No wonder I was tired! When we got back to our hotel I checked the Yellowstone road status one more time – roads were still closed – before collapsing into bed.

Stay tuned for day 2… onto Grand Teton and (maybe???) Yellowstone!

That time Piper met a Porcupine…

Flashback to last Saturday morning. Matt and I are sitting next to an older man in the Emergency Vet’s waiting room watching a nature show on TV. A porcupine appears onscreen and the man says “Have you ever seen a dog that came face to face with a porcupine?? OUCH!” Oh yes, I tell him. In fact, that’s exactly why we’re here!!!

Piper, or Porcupipe, as she may be called from now on, BIT A PORCUPINE on Friday afternoon. Piper is fine and no, I don’t think that she learned not to mess with porcupines in the future!! We were on a hike as part of our annual sojourn to the Hunting Camp, aka Globe Run Rod and Gun Club, a private wilderness retreat located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  As is always the case at Camp, all dogs run free and daily activities include swimming in the lake, hiking, and logging some quality time in the rocking chairs on the front porch. But this year was a liiiittle different, thanks to Piper’s prickly new friend. Continue reading

I won the lottery!

A few weeks ago I entered the lottery for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, a 10 mile point-to-point race that takes place in early May.  And guess what?  I made the cut!! Here’s the email I woke up to on Tuesday morning:

I'm in! Broad Street 2015

Apparently 46,600 runners entered and ‘only’ 40,000 got in. This is a BIG race!

Broad Street is May 3rd, just 3 weeks after my first 10K on April 11th.  The 10K will already be my longest race ever… it’s going to be an exciting spring!

In other news, my renewed focus on improving my 5K speed feels like it’s going really well.  I did a strong 4.5 mile tempo run in a mini snowstorm at Ridley Creek on Saturday, finally returned to The Running Place for a chilly 5 mile group run on Monday and completed a speedy 400-800-1200-1200-800-400 ladder on the treadmill on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday I ran 4 snow-covered miles at Okehocking Preserve and ended the night with this view.  I love it here!

Okehocking Sunset (2/18/15)

Miles since last post: 38.6
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 235.2

Welcome Home, Piper!!

We got a puppy!  Matt and I are thrilled to welcome Piper into our lives and home.  Isn’t she adorable?

Our new GSP puppy Piper

Piper is a two month old German Shorthaired Pointer.  Yesterday Matt and I drove from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to pick Piper up from her breeder, Alliwood Shorthairs, and we just made it home from our 1750 mile round trip this afternoon.  We drove there in about 14 hours, stopped for a few hours in a Chicago-area hotel with Piper (not easy with a little pup!), before getting back on the road at about 2:15am this morning.  Needless to say, we are exhausted and should probably be sleeping right now… but I want to share a few more photos of our goofy, happy, snuggly new family member first!!

We are looking forward to enjoying many adventures with Piper!  (The first of which starts tonight… housebreaking!)  🙂

Our new puppy Piper

Wedding Flowers!

It’s time for another wedding-related post and this week I’d like to share some photos of the gorgeous flower arrangements that our florist, Toni Ogborn, put together for our wedding a few months ago.  Aren’t the pinks, oranges, greens and succulents beautiful together?

Wedding Bouquet - bright pink dahlias, pale garden roses and peach roses with a blue ribbon

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that back in April I posted about painting my own blue mason jars for our wedding.  That’s one of my jars in the photo above… it looks pretty real, right?  🙂  If you take a look at that older post you’ll also see my wedding flower inspiration photo.  I knew that I wanted my wedding flowers to look just like the bouquet in that photo so I gave a copy of the photo to Toni and asked her to make something similar.  I think she did a perfect job!!

I loved my bouquet!

I liked my bouquet so much that I brought it home the day after the wedding and used it as the centerpiece on our kitchen table until we left for our honeymoon.  Here’s a closer look at the flowers and colors in my bouquet:

Wedding Bouquet Flowers_2

My bridesmaids each had bouquets that were wrapped in blue ribbon to match their dresses.  I love how bright and bold the flowers were!

Wedding Bouquets - pinks, peaches, succulents with aqua dresses

Our reception was in a barn so we opted for long tables with burlap runners and lots of small floral arrangements in blue mason jars and quilted jelly jars.  These arrangements were simpler, more rustic versions of our bouquets and featured soft garden roses, crazy snap dragons, peach-colored roses and hot pink dahlias.

Wedding Flower Centerpiece - Colorful Flowers in Blue Mason JarWedding Flower Arrangements in Mason Jars on Long Tables

If you’re getting married in the western Philadelphia suburbs and you are interested in talking to Toni Ogborn about doing your wedding flowers please feel free to send me an e-mail at anne.elizabeth.mcmanus (at) gmail.com and I will be happy to put you in touch with her.  I loved the flowers that Toni put together for my wedding and I highly recommend her work!  🙂

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Please note:  All photos in the post with the exception of the “closer look” at my bouquet were taken by Melissa Hassey of Melissa Hassey Photography.  The closer look photo was taken by me with my iPhone the morning after the wedding.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #2 – the Perks of a Winery Wedding
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

The Perks of a Winery Wedding (Wedding Photo of the Week)

One of my favorite moments of our wedding day was when Matt and I slipped away from our reception and spent a little time together in Grace Winery’s vineyard at sunset.  Our photographer, Melissa Hassey, captured the moment through the grape vines:

Matt and Annie in the Vineyard

Getting married at a winery had some awesome perks.  We attended wine tastings, our friends relaxed in the vineyard sipping wine before our wedding started, and, of course, everyone enjoyed drinking the locally made wines at the reception!

Matt and I shared bottles of Grace Winery’s 2012 Pinot Gris (pictured above left) with our bridal party before the ceremony.  This freshly bottled Pinot Gris was light, refreshing and perfect for a warm June afternoon.  We also served Grace Winery’s oaky 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (my personal favorite) and a sweet and slightly smoky 2012 red that was so new it didn’t yet have an official name!

Grace Winery is about 3 miles from our house and they have tastings every weekend so we look forward to trying new vintages in the future!  We’ll definitely have to get a bottle or two for our first anniversary next June.  🙂

Annie and Matt in the Vineyard

If you ever find yourself in Philadelphia’s western suburbs yearning for a glass of wine make sure to check out Grace Winery!  Their tasting room is open nearly every weekend and the barn, vineyard, and surrounding farmlands are beautiful.  Grace Winery at Sweetwater Farm, 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342; 610-459-4711.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

All photographs in this post were taken by Melissa Hassey Photography.