Last night as we were driving into Butte, Montana, we noticed something white up on top of the mountains. I had seen something about Our Lady of the Rockies, so I looked it up and discovered that what we were seeing was a beautiful, 90 feet tall, white statue of a woman. The statue, sitting atop the continental divide, was completed in 1985, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and named Our Lady of the Rockies. The website says that the statue is nondenominational and is in honor of mothers. I started looking into how we could drive up there to take a good look at her, only to discover that it appears that you need to take a private tour bus to the top of the mountain, that it is a two hour drive, and that it costs $20 per person. Oh well. We certainly didn’t have that kind of time. We did stay in a WalMart where we could see her looking over us.
The next day was our drive to the Yellowstone area. We decided to approach Yellowstone from the west entrance. We went south on I-15 first and had the most bizarre experience. While we were going 60 mph down the interstate, we saw a man standing in the middle of our lane up ahead. We honked at him, and Charlie tried to change lanes. However, when we changed lanes, he just got in front of us in that lane too. Charlie finally slammed on his brakes, skidding some, and the man finally stepped out of the lane screaming at us in bad language that he needed a ride. Of course, we didn’t stop, but I felt bad for him, wondering what circumstances he could be experiencing to behave in such a manner. I said a prayer for him as we continued on our way.
We finally got off the interstate and made our way to Yellowstone along some highways. We were driving a lot in the high desert again. I had no idea how much of the West is desert! Whenever we saw any green grass, it was all irrigated. Anyway, we eventually came to an area where we were driving by the beautiful Madison River. I have been so surprised at how fast some of these rivers flow. They look like they would be so much fun to tube or whitewater raft down. Then we saw signs about a Visitors’ Center regarding earthquakes. Since we have studied a lot about earthquakes this year, we pulled in to see what it was all about. It turns out that there had been a major earthquake in that area in August 1959. The earthquake had caused a massive landslide that dammed the river and created Earthquake Lake. We had just been wondering why there were so many dead trees in the river, and I had theorized that something had happened that changed the course of the river. Well, that had been the earthquake. The region was devastated and the earthquake affected Yellowstone National Park too. 28 people were killed. It was amazing to see the landslide that created so many of the problems, and the Visitors’ Center had a wonderful exhibit and moving explaining everything that had happened. We have learned so much to add to our Earth Science this year from seeing volcanoes, canyons, mountains, and earthquakes up close.
After arriving in the town of West Yellowstone, we found a campground that we liked, unhooked the camper, and headed into the park. It was into the evening already, but I wanted to make sure that we received our park map and newspaper so that we could at least get back to the campground and decide what we wanted to do the next day. We drove a little further in and were rewarded by seeing a bison up close as well as bison herds across the river. We were even able to see several bison walk across the river, which the kids absolutely loved. We drove a little further and took a little scenic side road down into the Firehole River Canyon where we were able to see a waterfall from the road and find out the volcanic history of the cliffs around us. The canyon was beautiful! Back to the campground for dinner and bed.
We are so blessed to have these national parks. They are one of the things I believe most people would agree that our government has done right. What a treasure they are for the people of the United States, as well as those around the world. I have been truly amazed at how many foreign languages I have heard on this trip. I pray that many of you will be able to visit some of these gems, especially if they are close to where you live. 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, and during the 2015-2016 school year each family with a fourth grader can receive a free annual National Parks pass which will give them free entrance to any national park or national recreation site for a whole year. That is an $80 value. Get out there and enjoy this wonderful country that God blessed us with!
Isaac, what has been your favorite stop so far?
“The Beach on the Oregon Coast was my favorite.”
What did you do/see there?
The beach we went to is about 20-30min away from the town where The Goonies was filmed, which all the older kids were simply awed by. Some of my siblings and I got into the shallow water and splashed around as well as climbed on as many rocks as we could while the younger kids played in the sand. We also saw only but a million starfish laying around on rocks and in shallow water, then there were like a billion Sea Anemones sitting around where the tide had been only minutes before. It was so cool being able to touch all the different sea life and even just to see all of them. Nathanael supposedly found a whole sand-dollar, but the rest of us don’t believe him. Ryon found an old crab claw about 2-3 inches long which was about 1 ½ – 2 feet deep which he was able to fish out and show everybody. It was quite fragile and broke from Mom not being careful. There was one tidal pool that had shallow water with sand at the bottom that all us little kids thought was quicksand. All the older kids as well as Mom and Dad thought that that was rather funny. I accidently fell into it and I came out soaked and sandy. Ryon as always had to do something stupid, he climbed up at least 20ft on a cliff and then just stopped and looked around before being called down. I think it really was a stupid decision to climb up with sandals on and black sharp things which covered a whole five feet at the base of the cliff. I also climbed up on it but only at the base to cross over to a smaller beach on the other side where we saw several starfish, and where we also found the crab claw, as well as a bunch of Sea Anemones. It was so cool to be able to see waves hit the cliffs and send a spray of water everywhere. The waves were larger than many of the waves that come up on an average day on the East Coast. The waves were however large enough for a large number of surfers to show up, even in such cold water. Most of the beach to our surprise was actually sand while when you got up towards the top of the beach it was rocks. The beach itself was surrounded on either side by HUGE boulders just lying in bunches of hundreds. I think over all this has been quite a beautiful and majestic beach.
Author: The First Man on Mars
Narrated Ideas: Isaac