Posted in Family Corner, Photography Corner, Places We Visit

Our Alaskan Cruise

Last month my family took our first Alaskan cruise. To describe it in a few words, it was beautiful, enchanting, and charming. This was the first time the kids and I have visited Alaska. We fell in love. Here are the highlights:


Our first port was Juneau. We took a small group whale watching tour guided by a naturalist. It was really fun! The first thing we did was pull up a crab pot and inspect the critters inside. Then onto the whales! We spotted seven different whales and the naturalist and captain knew their names. They tell them apart by their flukes which have different patterns on them. This was a perfect experience for Marissa who plans to become a Marine Biologist. What a glorious day.


Our second port was Skagway. Most of us took two excursions that day, but we split off into different ones in the morning. Zach and I took a photography tour. Marissa and Marcus took a dog sledding tour. And Grandma and Darcie took the Red Onion Saloon and city tour. The Red Onion was a brothel in the Klondike gold rush days. I don’t have pics from their tour, but they sure came back with all sorts of stories to tell us! In fact, it was Darcie’s favorite excursion of all! We all thought that was rather funny.

That afternoon we took the historic White Pass scenic railway as a family. Wow! We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. It was another beautiful and full day in Alaska.

Glacier Bay

The next day we sailed through Glacier Bay National Park. So spectacular, impressive and cold, haha. Half the ship was outside on the upper decks, all bundled up in winter coats and hats. The wind was whipping away and it was freezing, but the views made it worth it. There was a park ranger (or someone like that) aboard who gave us narration all the way through. We all loved Glacier Bay.


Our final Alaskan port was Ketchikan. We took a boat excursion as a family and enjoyed the sights. We saw multiple eagles’ nests, the smallest lighthouse I’ve ever seen, and little islands. It rained on us on the way back to shore, but we didn’t mind because it was all lovely scenery.

And that was our Alaskan cruise in a nutshell! Have you ever visited Alaska or taken an Alaskan cruise? I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for visiting my blog today. 🙂

Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park spans parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and is the first of fifty-eight national parks here in the United States. We visited Yellowstone for a few days last September.

There are several waterfalls and cascades within Yellowstone.


There are all kinds of wildlife in Yellowstone, including elk, buffalo, moose, bears and wolves. We did not see any moose, bears or wolves, although we did visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. But, we did spot an elk in the forest and it was fun to watch the herds of buffalo. Always stay a safe distance from all wildlife, and if you hike in Yellowstone, carry bear spray and know how to use it.


Yellowstone is full of amazing sights! Geysers, mudpots, steam vents…


Old Faithful


We discovered that visiting Yellowstone in September was just as busy as summertime. If you go at a busy time, be patient because driving through Yellowstone gets slow-going and the most popular attractions stay packed with tourists. It wasn’t too crazy, though. We stayed at Stage Coach Inn, in West Yellowstone, and found it to be a nice hotel.

♥ Thanks for re-visiting Yellowstone with me! Have you visited Yellowstone? What is your favorite national park? ♥

Posted in Places We Visit, Utah Corner

Our Visit to Hardware Ranch to See the Elk

Last Saturday we visited Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, located in northern Utah up Blacksmith Fork Canyon. It’s the tail end of elk season there and this has been on my bucket list since December.


This is the view of the meadow from the parking lot. The weather was mild which was nice, and as you can see, there is very little snow here this winter.


And this is the view from the meadow, looking up to the visitor center on the hill there.


The visitor center has restrooms and is the only place where tickets can be purchased for the wagon rides through the elk. Tickets cost $5 for ages 9 and up, $3 per child ages 4-8 (3 and under is free).


The wagons seat quite a few guests and several were running on the day we visited. If there had been snow on the ground, it would have been a wagon-sleigh ride, which we’ve been on before. Our ride was approx. 40 minutes long with lengthy stops for Q&A and photo ops.


These are Rocky Mountain Elk and there are approx. 350 in the meadow this year. That is at least half of what there were last year and it’s always a guess as to how many will return each year because these elk come and go as they please. They will leave for the summer months, retreating back into the mountains.


We sat at the back of the wagon, on both sides. Either way, there are great views. (This is Zach, my eldest.)


You probably know that a male is called a bull, a female a cow, a baby a calf, and a yearling a spike. We were told that only 60% of calves make it to their first year.


♥ Have you ever visited an elk ranch? ♥

Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Virginia City, Montana


On our way to Yellowstone National Park, we stopped to visit Virginia City, Montana. This was once a prospering mining town dating back to 1863 when gold was first discovered in Alder Gulch.


By the following year, this town was brimming with thousands of residents made up of a colorful mix of prospectors, merchants, vigilantes, pioneer families and some noteworthy characters I’ll get to in a minute.


Today, Virginia City is a thriving “ghost town” where visitors can step back into time for a spell. Preservation efforts began in the 1940’s when a couple from Great Falls, Charlie and Sue Bovey, decided to give their personal finances and attention to saving many of the structures.


The whole city is listed as a National Historic Landmark District. Many structures were brought back to life, keeping the original integrity while adding false fronts. Visitors can see what shopping here was once like.


Calamity Jane once lived in Virginia City.


Founder of Bozeman, Montana, and the Bozeman Trail, John Bozeman, who was a prospector and a merchant, brought miners to Virginia City.


Gunfighter, Jack Slade, who co-founded the Pony Express, was lynched in Virginia City.


My favorite story, and I don’t have a photo of the building, was of Sarah Bickford. She was an African American woman, born into slavery, who married a white farmer/miner and together they ran the Virginia City Waterworks. When her husband passed away, Sarah owned two-thirds of the company. She took a corresponding business course, bought the remaining third of the company, and became the first woman in Montana and likely the first African American woman to own a utility company in the U.S. She was well liked in her community.

♥ And that was our visit to Virginia City, Montana. Have you ever been there? Or have you visited another ghost town? I’d love to hear about it! ♥


Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Earthquake Lake

View of Quake Lake from the visitor center. From this distance it looks like any other lake.

Earthquake Lake, nicknamed Quake Lake, is located in Montana on US hwy 287. This past September, David, Marcus and I stopped at the visitor center on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

Visitors can hike a short distance from the visitor center to the memorial boulder.

This lake has a tragic backstory. In August of 1959, an earthquake caused a major landslide which also blocked the Madison River. Can you imagine witnessing this 3,000 ton boulder flowing along the slide? Apparently it was studied and found that it had not rolled, nor had it fallen in a tumble sort of way.


While some people made it to safety on the night of the earthquake, 28 people who were camping or living in the area at the time, lost their lives. Some of their stories are told at the visitor center through displays and a movie.

We were fascinated by this rock wall near the memorial boulder.


All around the lake, “ghost trees” poke out.

This lake is excellent for fishing and we did see a couple fishermen among the tops of the trees (sounds funny doesn’t it?). I was wondering if they ever got snagged or how difficult it was to row out and cast.

♥ Have you ever visited or fished Earthquake Lake? Stay tuned for photos of our visit to Yellowstone National Park. ♥

Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Island Park, Idaho

Located on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park’s west entrance, Island Park is a lovely destination for fishing and nature walks. We always stay at Mack’s Inn, in one of their cabins or rooms. If you go to Mack’s Inn in the summer months, you can float the river and catch a dinner show at Mack’s Inn Playhouse. We have enjoyed both in years past. This time we were here in September, just after dropping Marissa girl off for her fall semester at BYU-Idaho. (By we I mean Marcus, David and myself.)

That’s my husband sitting there as Marcus and I walked to Johnny Sack Cabin.

One of the most scenic spots to visit within Island Park is Big Springs.


The water at Big Springs is rather fascinating.


An historic site at Big Springs is Johnny Sack Cabin. I’ll let you read the history for yourself and I did not take any photos inside, but it truly is a workmanship. Marcus and I enjoyed the walk up to it and our self-guided inside tour.


This cute little water-mill nearby matches Johnny Sack Cabin.


To see a few other photos I took while at Big Springs and around Island Park, check out this post.

♥ Have you ever visited Island Park and Big Springs? Stay tune for photos from our visit to Earthquake Lake and Yellowstone National Park. ♥

Posted in Places We Visit

Places to Visit- Boston

This is in Minute Man Park, which is absolutely lovely.

After visiting NYC and Philadelphia, we visited Boston. I loved Boston! Actually, our first stop was Minute Man National Historic Park which is situated a little outside of Boston, in Lexington, Lincoln and Concord.

My allergies started up the first day there! It must’ve been the blossoms.

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Inside the Minute Man Trail visitor center. Make sure you see the Road to Revolution show.


This is a replica of Old North Bridge, where “the shot heard round the world” happened.

After spending the morning in Minute Man Park, we headed to Boston where we started on The Freedom Trail. This was a fabulous end to our history trip.

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Bunker Hill Monument


The Freedom Trail runs through the heart of Boston and there are 16 historic sites to see along the way.

The USS Constitution

We walked right on board the USS Constitution, which was dry-docked. We even toured the lower deck. There was a security check before boarding. Adults had to show some I.D. such as a driver’s license, and all bags were inspected.

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Copp’s Hill Burying Ground


Old North Church where two lanterns gave a signal from the steeple in one of the American Revolution’s famous moments.

Old North Church is the oldest standing church in Boston and is an Episcopal church today. Visitors are strongly encouraged to give a donation.

Inside Old North Church there are traditional pew boxes, such as this one.


Monument of Paul Revere on his horse.

Paul Revere’s house

There was a small fee to enter Paul Revere’s house and no photography is allowed inside. Definitely worth the tour!

The Freedom Trail is marked the entire way by this red-brick path.

Old State House is now a charming children’s museum with gift shop.

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In 1776, the people of Boston heard The Declaration of Independence read from this balcony.

We did not get to finish The Freedom Trail, but what we did see was wonderful and I hope someday to return. ♥ Have you ever walked The Freedom Trail? If so, what was your favorite part? Marcus’ favorite was the USS Constitution. I think my favorite was Paul Revere’s house. ♥