Over the past three days we've seen desert, great rolling plains, enormous canyons, rushing rivers, and snowcapped mountains. The earth keeps us entertained as the hours roll by behind the wheel, and though I was incredibly thankful for a shower today - I do not feel the least bit road weary.
On Monday night we drove in late on a terrifying, winding road and camped inside of the second largest canyon in the US, Palo Duro. We hammocked that night and a cool perfect breeze kept time with the rhythms of night noises, including the distant early morning howling of some neighborhood coyotes.
We hit the road quickly to try and make it to the Rocky Mountain National Park with time to explore. The landscape changed so quickly it was hard to do anything else than take in our surroundings. Big grass prairie lands turned into green fields with little happy bushes and the straight road ahead could be seen touching the horizon. We made it to the Rocky Mountains with plenty of daylight but a slight storm rolling in. We decided to risk it and drive the Trail Ridge Road, which takes you directly into the Alpine ecosystem on the crest of the mountains. With every half mile the temperature dropped another few degrees, and before we knew it it was no longer 75 and sunny, but 40 and snowy. Enormous snowcapped mountains surrounded us on every side and at times the snow piled twice as high as our vehicle. We crossed rugged terrain and canyons with misty fog caught in the valley. Once we finally reached the summit it felt as if we were on a new, foreign planet. Endless white everywhere and angry clouds kept me totally awestruck.
We camped at the base of the Rockies to our first rough night of sleep. The temperature dropped and my thin pair of long johns left me regretting not packing more winter gear.
The next morning we headed onward through Wyoming in hopes of reaching the Grand Tetons before night fall. This was the strangest and most enchanting part of our trip. Exiting the Rocky Mountains we saw a moose and several Elk, along with some wild turkey, rabbits, and antelope around every turn. Once we passed the great plains the earth was very suddenly covered in a strange assortment of spring and winter - snow laiden prairies turned into a hilly, winding road with melting bodies of water and rushing new rivers all around. It was Narnia, in spring after a long, endless winter. Then suddenly, the horizon broke and in the very shadowing great far off we saw them - the Grand Tetons.
I started to cry. How beautiful and how perfect. They ripped into the skyline and seemed to touch heaven with their sharp peaks. The clouds around the Tetons were so angry while everything else looked like pleasant spring. The closer we got the more majestic they became, and I decided that it was the most terrifying and lovely thing my eyes had ever seen.
We took a dinner break at Jackson Hole, where some outlaws put on a show in the town square. We decided to press onward to Yellowstone, and on our way there was a massive pile up of cars and policemen. We wondered what the commotion was and got out of our car to see what everyone had spotted. There, in a big, lovely meadow was a beautiful black mama bear and her two baby cubs. They were rolling, playing, and running just 200 yards off. It made me endlessly happy.
We camped under the Tetons about an hour outside of Yellowstone, woke up and spent the morning doing very boring and grown up things, like catching up on my Etsy work, doing laundry, and drinking real coffee. I am full of wonder at what the day holds, and feeling so overwhelmingly thankful for this beautiful planet.
Daniel is writing a song that I love and dreamed about while I was sleeping. I am reading, doodling, and writing. All is right with the world.