Friday, July 31, 2015

Yellowstone Vacation Recap (with pictures!!!)

We're back!
If you haven't seen on my Instagram, I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park two weeks ago.  After a killer week back at work and our awesome Demo Day (congratulations to my awesome students on graduating!!), I've finally got some time to upload some photos and share a bit!

The first thing I tell people when they ask how the trip was is this:
"So, this was my vacation with my in-laws, and let me tell you, the Suttons vacation hard core."  Guys, there was hiking or white water rafting on the agenda every day, sometimes more than one hikes!  Thankfully, the ten of us split into "gung ho" and "relaxed" groups, which meant I still got to have a good time after wearing myself out on day one with our hike to Bunsen Peak.

I will say, I got to see an entirely different side to Yellowstone than I had during my visit in 2010.  My family had done a lot of the easier walks and sightseeing, but with my in-laws, I saw the park from mountain tops and valley lows.  It was beautiful.  Great expanses of the outdoors with no skyscrapers in sight and everyone visiting was there to enjoy it.  It did my city-living soul a lot of good.

Old Faithful
Looking down from Upper Falls
Mud Volcano

There were ten of us from the Sutton family on this trip. We all stayed at a house in Gardiner, which is a small town outside of the north side of the park. There's not much in Gardiner, but we did check out The Flying Pig for some white water rafting, and Caleb and I visited The Lighthouse restaurant for a date night during our week with the family. The staff at The Flying Pig was excellent, and thanks to a lazier river than usual, we had a pretty relaxed trip down the Yellowstone River. There were a few rapids, and we all got wet, but nothing that made me nervous. The Lighthouse restaurant was the most charming version of kitsch I've ever encountered.  All the food was delicious (I'd go back for more), but the nautical paraphernalia in the land-locked state of Montana, the perky foreign staff, and the mix of soundtrack pieces floating over the speakers made for a very quirky date.  Nothing like chowing down on truffle macaroni and cheese to the tunes of early 2000's Enya.

Driving into Gardiner
A little library in the small town of Gardiner

Even though it's off centered and crooked, I love this picture I took of an elk through a telescope.
My favorite hike of the trip was a short trip into the Gallatin forest.  It wasn't far from where we were staying; we didn't even have to enter the park.  We'd been told there was an abandoned mine and a one-room schoolhouse by the gentleman we were renting the house from.  One morning, all the girls on the trip headed out in a van to see what we could find.  We ended up seeing different broken down remnants of the mine, but we also found a secluded brook that was shrouded in shade.  All the green and serenity was in stark contrast to the heavy hikes and rocks in the park.  The brook also reminded me a lot of the Smokies and Appalachians, and I realized that maybe that's why this part of our stay was my favorite.
Gallatin National Forest
Our girls trip to Gallatin

Over all, it was a thoroughly exhausting and fulfilling trip. We returned sunburned, sore, and completely depleted of all energy, but it was worth it. We had a blast, we laughed a lot, and got to enjoy creation's most glorious canvases. It was very, very hard to return back to our apartment in downtown Atlanta after being around so much calm and beauty.

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