Posts Tagged With: Travel

Fall Hike

The chance of enjoying a gorgeous autumnal vision and sipping french press coffee on a cliff overlooking foggy winding river and colorful trees seemed irresistible. We gave in to the urge to return to this hilly, curvy, and scenic trail and hike in the midst of falling leaves. It was early fall in Michigan after all, a beautiful time of the year to go for a hike.

I came to a realization during the trip. The desire to experience nature’s hidden beauties up close demanded the willingness to do some work. For this one, it required a 23-mile hike with a backpack in a forest and sleeping in a tent in torrential rain and thundering sky, that shook the ground beneath the sleeping bag and pad, for two nights. It also asked for the determination to keep going despite the rain and a sunny attitude even when the feet and shoulders started to throb. Still, efforts did pay off.

Manistee River Trail MI 1

Manistee River Trail 2

Manistee River Trail 3

Manistee River Trail 4

Manistee River Trail 5

Manistee River Trail 6

Mushroom Manistee River Trail 7

Manistee River Trail 8

Manistee River Trail 9Manistee River Trail 10

Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Location: Michigan Manistee River Trail

Some of the backpacks: Deuter and Osprey 

Some of the sleeping bags: Lafuma and Sierra Design

Sleeping pads pump by Camp-Tek 

Shoes (waterproof, trail/hiking): Columbia and Merrell

Check out REI for more cool backpacking/hiking gears

Some rain gears: CampmorMarmotOutdoor ResearchMountain HardwareIntegral Designs

Categories: Michigan Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Mystical and Historic East Java

(Touring the Motherland Series)

As part of the Majapahit Empire in the 13th – 16th century, Surabaya and its surrounding area in East Java province has much history to tell. About 35 miles south of Surabaya, nearby Trawas, Mount Penanggungan stands keeping hundreds of historical monuments left by the kingdom. East Javanese in Majapahit era embraced both Hindu-Buddha spirituality and considered the mountain to be sacred. Hence the places of worship built all over Penanggungan. So when my guy and I heard about an archaeological trail being developed on the mountain by University of Surabaya, we immediately signed up for a short day-hike.

The distinct profile of Penanggungan, with its cone shape, rounded summit as the center, and the small hills that looked like they sat symmetrically circling the mountain’s shoulders, made a majestic backdrop. By mid morning, we joined a small group to hike through the woods up to the mountain. The rocky and grassy trail turned muddy and slippery after the rain. It made ascending and descending on the short distance route we chose to be quite challenging. I think all five of us must have slipped at least once (and many times for me!). 

Mount Penanggungan's summit

Mount Penanggungan’s summit

Mount Penanggungan

Going up the mountain

The two ancient ruins we saw, Selo Kelir and Telong Blandong, looked like gigantic terraces that made up one big temple for spiritual ceremonies. The consultant explained that most artifacts at the ancient sites all over the mountain have been stolen. Archaeological theft is such an unfortunate reality and a real challenge in history preservation effort.

Overlooking a stretch of lush green valley, the view from the top of Telong Blandong was nothing short of spectacular. The fog set in as we started to descend slowly. We passed a spring on the way back. The smell of incense burning along the weir added a mystical feel to the experience.

I’ve always been fascinated by Penanggungan ever since I was little. Little did I know that behind its beauty lies mystical and rich cultural history of East Java. Penanggungan’s charm didn’t disappear with the fall of the Majapahit empire. It continues to allure people to admire its magnificence closely on its wild slopes or from afar. Either way is a treat for the soul.

Carved stones that probably used to make up part of the temple.

Carved stones that probably used to make up part of the temple.

Carved stonesPart of the monument Selo Kelir

Some part of the trail has been developed

Some part of the trail has been developed

Locals look for grass in the mountain to sell to cattle owners.

Locals look for grass in the mountain to sell to cattle owners.

A spring

A spring

Water from the spring passing through a weir

Water from the spring passing through a weir

Offerings and incense burning along the weir

Offerings and incense burning along the weir

Other historic places we visited while in Trawas:

Jolotundo Temple: a water spring reservoir dated back to 977 CE. It was said to be King Airlangga's place to meditate. It is also said  that the water from the spring behind the temple to be very clean and has high minerals. Bathing pools are available on the two sides. One side for women and another side for men.

Jolotundo Temple: a water spring reservoir dated back to 977 CE. It was said to be King Airlangga’s place to meditate. It is also said that the water from the spring behind the temple to be very clean and has high minerals. Bathing pools are available on the two sides. One side for women and another side for men.

A giant Buddha statue carved in one stone. Dated back to the Majapahit era (13th-16th century).

Reco Lanang: A giant Buddha statue carved in one stone. Dated back to the Majapahit era (13th-16th century).

From the side

Thanks for reading! Hoped you enjoyed it.

More articles on the archeological trail and East Java’s history from various sources:

Exploring the Ancestor Site (Part 1)

Exploring the Ancestor Site (Part 2)

Memory of Majapahit Kingdom 

A special thanks to Pak Kus and Mas Ronald at UTC

Photos by The Traveling Chili Pepper and friends

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Surabaya

Like most big cities, Surabaya feels packed, busy, and sounds a bit loud. My visit last December changed my point of view about my hometown though. After experiencing the congested Jogjakarta on one of the busiest national holiday weekends—chock full of tourists, jam-packed, and overcrowded… you get the idea—my guy and I were incredibly thankful for and to be back in Surabaya. We let go a sigh of relief when the plane landed at Juanda. Surabaya had never felt so much bigger, roomier, better organized, cleaner, and greener. Isn’t travelling great? I gain a lot from it, including: perspective.

What else can I tell you about my hometown? Ah, yes, Surabaya is a city with good eats. This is the place to be for delicious East Javanese cuisine like sate klopo, sate Madura, soto ayam, and soto Madura. And of course, my must-haves: the thick, spicy, and fragrant petis-based (shrimp paste) dishes: rujak, lontong balap, tahu campur, kupang lontong, sate kerang, and oh so many other. Adjectives I’d use to describe East Javanese cuisine would be the same words I’d use to depict its people: bold and gutsy! The flavors “kick” the taste bud, as a friend puts it.

Founded in 1293, Surabaya, is an old and historic city with a youthful look and modern feel. In a certain section, the city displays its colonial-style houses left by the Dutch. The Arab quarter and Chinatown remain vibrant, reminding everyone of the attractive qualities of this port and trade city to foreign traders since way back when. Other parts of Surabaya are decorated with luxurious shopping malls with brands such as Jimmy Choo as one of its tenants. Competing shopping malls attract Surabayans the same way Chicago’s Lakefront Trail/park draws enthusiastic joggers, bicyclists, and sunbathers in summer months. Local coffee shops multiply rapidly all over you’d think that the whole city must be highly addicted to coffee. City pulse is strong and growth is apparent. Surabaya might be 720 years old but it looks like she’s far from slowing down. 


Next blog entry: the mystical and cultural charm of East Java

Bambu Runcing

Bambu Runcing Monument: was built in memory of the people of Surabaya who fought against the Dutch and British imperialism.

Always crowded

The consistent traffic jam

Hotel Majapahit

Hotel Majapahit (since 1911)

Related readings from various sources: 

Eating Out in Indonesia

Travel to Surabaya

Official Site of the City Government

Sparkling Surabaya

Memory of Majapahit

Surabaya’s Chinatown

Ampel: The Holy Heart of Surabaya

Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Yogyakarta, Central Java

Last Post: Bali Island

Almost every Indonesian I know loves visiting Jogja (short for Jogjakarta. Also known as Yogyakarta or Yogya.) There’s something romantic about this folksy, laid back town that holds such rich history of Java. As a cultural center of Indonesia’s most populated island, Jogja continues to preserve its tradition and uphold its cultural heritage. Tranquility and hospitality, some characteristics identical to the delightful Javanese way of life demonstrate themselves clearly in this town. They seem to send calm vibration to the town’s active streets and people. The people of Jogja are known for being patient and pleasant—traits that might easily separate them from local tourists or newcomers. A fascinating juxtaposition to observe. It’s comforting to feel the strong pulse of Javanese cultural identity in the midst of Indonesia’s growth and changes.

I remembered coming to Jogja with my family a few times when I was little and then in another occasion with my junior high classmates on a school field trip. The last time I visited Jogja was 14 years ago. I came with my childhood best friend in Surabaya. Along with her family, we helped her move to attend college in Jogja. So I wasn’t sure what the town would look like when Jeff and I planned to stop by for a weekend in December. What a relief it was to see the town’s familiar scenes. Other than the traffic jam, not much has changed. It still felt like that old romantic Jogja I had remembered from a long time ago.

One thing to note: It might be more enjoyable to visit Jogja during the off-season when it is less crowded. I was told by family and friends that tourists fill up the town during big national holidays like Christmas/New Year and Eid. We were included in that group of people who overcrowded Jogja during the New Year’s Eve long weekend! 🙂

Andong, a traditional form of transportation

Andong or horse carriage, a traditional form of transportation

Malioboro Street

Performing on the always-crowded Malioboro Street

The crowded sidewalks of Malioboro where I managed to shop tons of batik handicrafts.

The crowded sidewalks of Malioboro where I bought lots of batik handicrafts.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, a little bit outside of Jogja.

Borobudur Temple, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, a short distance driving from Jogja.

Inside the stupa

Inside the stupa

A Buddha statue inside of the stupa

A Buddha statue inside of the stupa

The Buddha's teaching carved in stone.

The Buddha’s teaching carved in stone.

More BuddhaBuddha1

StupaThe Buddha

Selling salak fruit

Selling salak fruit

Traditional ceremony celebrating harvest time

Traditional ceremony celebrating harvest time, Kaliurang, outside of Jogja

The volcanic Mount Merapi covered by clouds. Jogja is located close to the volcanic Mount Merapi.

The volcanic Mount Merapi covered by clouds. Jogja is located close to the volcanic Mount Merapi.

The Sultan's Palace of Jogjakarta

At the entrance of the Sultanate Palace of Yogyakarta

Ancient ruins of Tamansari, a bathing complex and water castle of the Sultanate of Jogjakarta

Searching for the ancient ruins of Tamansari, a bathing complex and water castle of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta

Rice field in the rain

Rice field in the rain

Mendut Temple

Mendut Temple, another 9th century Buddhist temple close to Borobudur

Mendut Temple, another 9th century Buddhist temple close to Borobudur

Hoped you enjoyed the read!

Next post: Surabaya and East Java

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Bali Island

It had been too long since my last visit to Bali, or Jogja in Central Java, or to Batu, Malang, or Trawas in East Java. Living 9800 miles away from home certainly has made it harder to visit Indonesia’s cultural gems. With my guy, who is also my best travel partner, we flew back to the motherland this past December. We regrouped with the families and reconnected with our native land. With unwavering travel ambition, we toured Java and Bali and re-immersed ourselves back in the culture. In a little bit over two weeks, we were reminded of the beauty, the comfort, the different faces, realities, and challenges of Indonesia. 

Here’s a glance at a country loaded with cultural diversity and natural beauty. We took pictures of parts of Java and Bali—two islands among thousands in Indonesia’s archipelago. The dissimilarity of ethnic group, language, culture, and cuisine within the nation would easily fascinate anyone. Indonesia’s islands, parts of islands, urban cities, smaller towns, and villages offer different feels and views, you’d be surprised you’re still in the same country. Rich. Rich, I tell you.

I’ll do Java on the next posts. For now, let’s check out:

Bali Island


Thanks for reading!  

Next posts: Central and East Java 

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper



Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Returning to Puerto Rico

We returned to Puerto Rico for our friends’ wedding. The bride and groom exchanged their vows on a sweet spot on  San Juan‘s Condado Beach. Witnessed by beloved family, friends, the ocean, the wind, and the sun, the happy couple beamed. They looked like they just stepped out of a fairy tale, breathtakingly beautiful. We were all enchanted.

After two days of wedding fun and catching up with friends, Jeff and I set off to Ponce. Wanting to experience the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, go off the beaten path for a bit, and absorb the local culture, we chose a less straightforward route from San Juan to Ponce. We went west on route 22 and then south on route 10.

We stopped by La Cueva del Indio, an off-the-map cave site by the ocean, in Arecibo area. A woman named Carmen welcomed us as we parked in front of El Coayuco cafe. She gave a brief overview about the cave and told us how to get around the site. According to Carmen, Taino Indian (15th century) used the cave to hide from the Spaniards. We then paid $2 for parking and went on a short hike to the cave. The challenging hike on the cliff’s spiky and rocky surface led to a few magnificent views of the area. The cave itself hid at the bottom of the cliff. It looked like some kind of an entrance to the underworld. A ladder was prepared for those who wanted to see the inside of this small hiding place with an opening to the ocean. Carmen said that the Taino used that opening to swim away from the Spaniards chase. A few petroglyphs covered the walls of the hideout and some bats hung out at the very tall ceiling of the cave. We climbed back up to take in the gorgeous scenery of the ocean and the surrounding beaches. The ocean breeze sure felt nice.  We ended the visit with gulping coco frio that Carmen sold (at $1.50 a coconut) at the cafe. The perfect thirst quencher on such a hot day.

Another off-the-map site we visited was Cueva Ventana on route 10. A short hike inside of the cave would have taken us to a picturesque view of the valley. But as we got close to the mouth of the cave, the sky turned dark and started to growl with thunder and lightning. Not fully equipped with hiking/rain gear we decided to retreat. The minute we reached our car, as if on cue, the rain poured hard and lasted for the whole afternoon.

We continued the trip to Lagos dos Bocas, a merely 10-minute drive from Cueva Ventana, for lunch. I asked a girl, who was waiting around with her family, to tell me about how to get on the ferry to go to the restaurant across the lake. She explained that there were four restaurants we could go to. She also mentioned that this particular line she was in was for El Fogon de Abuela restaurant and that I should get on the wait list. Then she pointed to a guy who has the wait list. This friendly and kind gentleman, Francisco, took down our names and asked us to wait for the ferry. He warned that it might take a while since all of the four restaurants were full and busy. It was Mother’s day after all! (You could also drive to the restaurant. But hey, “When in Rome…”) Thankfully, Jeff and I had a big breakfast to hold us over. Joining all local tourists, mostly families with children, we waited. Meanwhile, the rain continued to fall.

Finally Francisco called our names and the short boat ride took us to El Fogon de Abuela. The restaurant has this open-air but covered seating area with a nice view of the lake and a relaxed ambiance. Jeff ordered a super delicious goat stew and I had my favorite Puerto Rican cuisine: shrimp mofongo. We only heard Spanish conversations that afternoon. I wished I spoke the language so that, at least, I could respond properly to the nice woman who offered me her umbrella. But she also understood and spoke English anyway (as many do in Puerto Rico). In a strange but good way, it felt nice not being able to tune into any conversations for a moment. We simply enjoyed the happy and friendly environment.

After refueling with mofongo and goat stew, we headed south to Ponce. Route 10 became this curvy route 123 passing through small towns such as Utuado and Adjuntas. From the road, the little towns looked like they had these low-hanging clouds, mountains, and valleys as the backdrop. The view reminded us of Tretes in Java. Quaint and beautiful. Each little town we passed seemed to have its own little cafe playing either reggaeton or salsa music. Local patrons sat and enjoyed each other’s company. We crawled slowly on this very narrow and winding two-way road. Thankfully we got a small rental car.

It was late when we got to Ponce. We drove into the historic colonial district and checked into our hotel. Didn’t want to waste a beautiful night, we joined the Ponceños and just hung out at the their town’s main square, Plaza Las Delicias.

The next morning we drove northeast toward Fajardo to catch our East Island Excursion catamaran tour to Culebra island. Ocean fun was next in our itinerary. With all English speaking tourists we snorkeled for a bit at the Luis Pena underwater preserve and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Flamenco beach of Culebra. While in Fajardo, we also caught a night tour to check out the Bioluminescent Bay. It was my first time to kayak…at night…in an ocean bay that illuminated when touched!

We left Fajardo late morning. It was time to return to San Juan and the airport. I tried to stretch our Puerto Rico experience a little longer by asking Jeff to pull up for an early lunch somewhere along highway 3. There were tons of food kiosks along the way. As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 🙂


  • On the part about snorkeling in Culebra, the tour provides snorkeling gear. But we brought our own since we have them. Lunch, snacks, and drinks are provided during the tour.
  • Bring a light rain jacket when traveling to Puerto Rico in May. It’s their rainiest month!
  • The restaurants at Lagos dos Bocas are open during the weekend.
  • A smile and saying “Hi” goes a long way. The Puerto Ricans we met were the friendliest people.

Travel info sources:

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Bright Night

Heavy snow continues to fall on Christmas Eve and blankets Chicago in white. Snowfall seems to mute the loud city noise. Most streets become empty around these hours of the day and time of year. Many have vacated the city to be with families and those in the city seem to be staying inside.

We are the only ones standing at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park tonight. Jeff wants to experiment with his new camera. The park looks silent and empty. The cloud covers part of Chicago’s skyline to the south of us. In the summer time, parks get filled with lush trees and beautiful flowers—it would be green everywhere. But tonight, nothing blocks our view. We spot a fox roaming around the park by itself and a rabbit munching on the other side—it’s great to see other outdoor lovers around.

The overcast sky and snow-covered ground reflect the city lights, creating a bright night. The only sound we hear come from our footsteps on the crunchy snow and the 151 bus that passes through Stockton Drive. Even the air feels calmer and warmer. The city is illuminated, peaceful, and quiet. What a beautiful night…

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

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Categories: Outdoor Living in the City, The Great Outdoor | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Feeling the Old Earth

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

(The adventure in nature begins, Labor Day weekend, September 2010)

The sky’s blue color intensifies as we approach Badlands. The towering walls and small hills that compose the National Park look parched, harsh, and lonely. The sharp contrast with the backdrop is magnificent. I have never seen such beauty.

We hike a short trail through these massive deposits. I touch the rock layers as I walk, trying to feel the earth’s past. I imagine the natural forces that formed and shaped the 65 million year-old fossil beds and wonder what the planet looked like back then. The formations feel like molded dry sand and solid mud. Rough, craggy. The trail takes us up a hill overlooking a flat terrain with miles of smaller formations. I see a group of tourists come out of a bus down the hill, loud and crowded. But up here, it is only the four of us and our shadows.

Badlands is a gateway to our whole adventure out west trip. Its bizarre form, its mesmerizing history of formation, and its gripping human tale lured us. We filled our itinerary with places of natural beauties that we wanted to add to our memory banks.  I think this Badlands experience and its amazing images will continue to be an easy retrieve for us.

All four of us have traveled and experienced almost all of the country’s metropolises and we wanted to experience something new. Curiosity and admiration of nature lead us to a different fashion of travel. Hence the birth of our ambitious eight-day, 3427-mile road trip plan that also includes a series of hiking and backpacking!

Our trip (by Google Map)

I look back to see the hills of Badlands one more time as we drive away toward Black Hills. There in a vast land they stand the test of time. In full surrender to nature’s willful acts and constant change. The wind and rain will continue to erode and transform the small hills of Badlands until there are no more. But until then they remain, quietly holding some secrets of the earth.

Photos property of Traveling Chili Peppers 

Special thanks to JN, LM, TJ, FW

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Categories: Adventure Out West, Hiking, The Great Outdoor, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Into the Mountain: A Childhood Dream

(Adventure Out West Series)

Towering mountains stand close together like they are guarding something precious behind them. They remind me of city skyline reaching out to the sky, only in a much more incredible magnitude. The peaks look sharp like shark’s teeth chewing off white clouds that try to cover their magnificence look. Birds’ squawks bounce off the grey and rough Teton walls. A moose sneezes as we walk by. The animal glances at us, looking uninterested, then continues feeding itself. We laugh and keep on hiking toward Lake Solitude. Rocky trail demands my attention.  I keep my head down to watch my step. Up the hill is the only way to go. Walking with a 15-pound backpack is definitely not easy, especially in the mountains!

That morning we woke up at Cascade Canyon, up in the mountains.  The sun tried to peak from behind the mountains as we enjoyed breakfast. We had a long hike ahead of us. The five-mile hike we did the day before would be nothing compared to the 11-mile we were about to do. Novices in hiking in the mountains, we overestimated our powers. I know I did.

We spent the night before enjoying dinner and wine under the star-filled sky. The spot we found was nestled in between mountains and close to a creek. Songs of Gilberto Santarosa played from my cellphone mixed with the sound of water flowing from the creek serenaded the night. The stars made the sky glow. I had never seen that many stars in my life and forgot about the arduous hike.

This backcountry trip at the Grand Teton National Park was probably the most challenging part of our 8-day adventure out west. The four of us drove after spending a night at Black Hills, South Dakota, and hiked our way to Harney Peak. We arrived at our cabin at Colter Bay late at night and prepared what’s needed for the backcountry. I was nervous and eager at the same time. The trip was our first backpacking trip in the mountains, home of many bears. I had no idea what kind of terrain we were going into.

Growing up in Surabaya, one of Indonesia’s most populous cities, I remember going to the foothills of Mount Penanggungan just outside of the city with my family in the weekends. My parents love the fresh and cool mountain air. We would stay at a local hotel, swim, and hang out together. I’d always plead with my dad to go up into the mountain. He’d say that we are already in the mountain.  I would argue that I could still see the mountain, so I knew we were not up there yet. I was so intrigued. There was something mystical yet majestic, about these mountains, especially the ones in Indonesia as they sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire. I was always so fascinated by these earth’s towers and their magnitude.

The grueling terrain finally takes us to Lake Solitude. The water stands perfectly still, giving the mountains, clouds, sky, and birds a chance to see their reflections. Silence radiates and echoes all over.  The rocky and rugged panorama of the surrounding gets softened by the quiet body of water. The scene dwarfs us. I think I could spend hours here, just to sit and stare at the beauty. But a few minutes later I am reminded that we all still have to walk for another eight miles back to Jenny Lake and catch a boat to go back to our cabin. I don’t remember how long Jeff carries my backpack as we descend  but I do remember wanting to cry and call it quit. I think I may have satisfied my childhood dream of going into the mountains. It is very tough. But I would do it again.

Photos property of Traveling Chili Pepper

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Categories: Adventure Out West, Hiking, The Great Outdoor, Travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Yellowstone: Blow Off Some Steam

I woke up startled. Something brushed against our tent. It happened again and I struggled to sit up while still being wrapped up inside of my new sleeping bag. Jeff was sound asleep. I tried to see where the noise came from. For a minute I thought it was the grizzly we had been warned about. But then I saw it! Chunks of snow slid down our tent creating a loud noise. With a sigh of relief I lay back down and tried to ignore the cold. The temperature had gone down to 34 degrees that night, it was only early September. Just as I drifted back to sleep I heard the wolf howling.  Then, a painful and high-pitch wail of some other animal followed right after. The excruciating cry went for a while. The sounds of nature and the serenade by wildlife did not soothe me to sleep that night.

The four of us drove from Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park in the morning. After the grueling hike we did at Grand Teton, we decided to just drive from one point of interest to the next at Yellowstone. No one objected. We were tired, cold, and far away from the comforts of our own apartments.

Yellowstone felt like the perfect place to end our eight-day road trip adventure out West. The Park found a way to sum up the purpose of this rather ambitious travel. With its collection of geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and steam vents, the world’s first national park seems to be housing quite a few spots for the earth to literally…blow off steam. One such spot is the Old Faithful Geyser that lets out pressure (on average) every 90 minutes. For first timers at Yellowstone, the Old Faithful seemed to be a must see. We joined the large gathering crowd at the outskirts of the geyser, waiting patiently to see it shoots out boiling water to the sky. As I waited, I imagined that maybe a long time ago, when human beings were closer to the earth and the universe, the very act of waiting for water to burst out of the ground was made to be some sort of a ritual. I wondered what myths were told to explain this one special behavior of the planet. The geyser finally erupted. The high-pressured water found its way out of the vent and into the air, captured by hundreds of cameras for about three minutes.

The Park, larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, offers many objects for visitors to marvel. Tourists, from all over the world, fill the winding road hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife taking refuge in the grand mountains and valleys. Canyon, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and forests seemed to be telling visitors that wildlife is their main priority—that people are just simply guests here.

A bison walked slowly on the side of the road ignoring its surrounding. Theo stopped the car at a safe distance so that Fifi could take pictures of the animal. Jeff got out of the car and captured the scene with his video camera. I followed Jeff and stared at the bison, it started to cross the road toward our car. We jumped back into the car and drove away, fast. The conversation about our encounter with the bison stopped when we spotted a black bear across the river. We joined other motorists who stopped to watch at the incredibly adorable looking animal as it moved slowly and quietly from behind tall trees to the river. The bear though seemed to show no interest in people, attention, or cameras and head back to the woods to find some peace and quiet. We spotted more wildlife as we drove all over the park, all had the same expression of pure bliss.

When we got to the Artist Point, I wanted nothing but stare in silence at the overwhelming beauty. Giant canyon with yellow walls guarded the massive Yellowstone waterfalls. The water rushed and ran for miles and hitting gigantic rocks along the way like telling them to get out of the way. The dramatic view created a peaceful but fierce and forceful scene at the same time. I was captivated.

Nature’s magnificence distracted us from feeling cold on that rainy day. The sun would pop out once in a while to decorate the hills and valleys with rainbow. The rain turned into snow as the evening came. We struggled to keep our eyes open at dinner at Grant Village Dining Room Restaurant though I don’t think any of us slept well that night. We rose up with the sun and saw the snow-covered mountains, trees, and …tents. The morning revealed another greatness of nature—its ability to change the look of the landscape overnight.

I felt the wind blew with quite a force like it was trying to escape from the trap of the canyon at Inspiration Point, the last spot we visited before we head back home. The observation point was down more than the 50 narrow steps, overlooking the upstream and downstream of the canyon. Surrounded by nature’s sounds, colors, shapes, and feelings, I stood in awe.

In the words of Nathaniel P. Langford, 1870, one of the first explorers to record his impressions of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (Print source: Canyon Area Trail Guide, Yellowstone National Park)

“The place where I obtained the best and most terrible view of the canyon was a narrow projecting point situated two to three miles below the lower fall. Standing there or rather lying there for greater safety, I thought how utterly impossible it would be to describe to another the sensations inspired by such a presence. As I took in the scene, I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread exposure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even comprehend the mighty architecture of nature.”



This entry is part of the Eight Day Road Trip Adventure Out West. Coming Up: Entries on Grand Teton, Black Hills, and Badlands!

Special thanks to TJ, FW, JN

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Photos property of Traveling Chili Pepper


Categories: Adventure Out West, The Great Outdoor, Travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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