The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile All American Road that winds its way through Montana and Wyoming, leading its travellers to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. At 3,337m high, there is some serious elevation – a bag of chip bursting elevation in fact! Starting from around 1,600m in elevation, you start your climb starts in grassy meadows, travelling through switch-backs and steep zigzags, past banks of snow, and skiers blasting past your window.
We flew into Billings Airport, as the closest airport we could find to Yellowstone National Park, that didn’t cost an extremely exorbitant amount (i.e. Jackson Hole). Billings turned out to be a great place to pick up a rental, stock up the car, and find cheap accommodation. I have to provide a recommendation here for the Hilltop Inn. This was the cheapest hotel accommodation in our entire trip, and it provided free breakfast. The room was huge, and to top it off there was a microwave and a fridge so we could self-cater a family dinner (with the help of a hot chicken from Walmart!). Would love it if they didn’t use disposable plastic for EVERYTHING though, a little better for the environment if they used glasses, plates, knives, forks etc instead of the single-use plastic variety – wrapped in another layer of plastic for hygiene.
The Beartooth Highway
We had three amazing All American Roads on our bucket list for our US Trip – the Beartooth Highway, the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the Tioga Pass (technically a National Scenic Byway). Unfortunately for us, a storm took out a key bridge on the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the snow didn’t clear from the Tioga Pass by the time we travelled through in early July – which left only the Beartooth Highway.
Even then, the Beartooth Highway was CLOSED the day before we left Billings. Hubby was devastated, knowing the Big Sur was closed, watching the snow reports daily for the Tioga Pass, and refreshing the Beartooth Highway website hourly for updates to see if it was going to open. In the morning when we were due to leave Billings the hotel staff gave us the good news – it was open. For now. Get moving… We knew we were still hours away from the start of the Highway, but we took the risk. We were very lucky. It was closed again the next day!
It’s Friday and it’s time to celebrate the weekend!! Unfortunately, I’m still doing Dry July so I won’t be seeing in the weekend with the traditional Friday night glass of wine (OK, the reality is it’s probably more like a bottle!)
I’ve been back at work this week after our beautiful holiday in Taupo. Here’s a little snapshot (proper blog to follow shortly):
Miss M and I exploring Taupo whilst Hubby and Miss T are off skiing without us…
I’ve also been a bit quiet on the blogging side. But truth be told, there is a reason for that!
As promised we have headed to Lake Taupo, broken arm, sniffly noses, croaky coughs and all. We will get out there these school holidays and WE WILL HAVE FUN!
Luckily for us, at least the weather was lovely for prawn fishing.
So what is prawn fishing? Well, to start with we are at Huka Prawn Park on the banks of the Waikato River. The Park is a working prawn farm. The tropical prawns are raised in ponds heated with waste geothermal heat (steam) from the geothermal power station next door. They have added the prawn fishing park and other family activities, as well as a restaurant – a platter of prawns and a cold glass of white wine with a view of the river meandering past anybody?
Canada is an absolutely stunning country. It has wide open spaces and turquoise blue lakes, surrounded by the snowy caps of the Rocky Mountains. There are hot springs and local breweries, poutine and bear jams. It is an ideal place to explore and grow as a family.
This itinerary covers the sights, history and culture of Vancouver, and gets you out into the Alps, exploring the lakes and away from the crowds.
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
We have been reading blogs about life on the road, talking to travel bloggers with children, watching Netflix travel programmes made by full-time travel bloggers – and all the while wanting desperately to change our lives.
But there is something holding us back, so many reasons not to go. A sense of security. Two “amazing” jobs. A pension plan. School. A community. Family.
So the question is – do we buy an RV, take the kids out of school, and hit the road, or do we do the “sensible” thing and wait until they leave school – then hubby and I can travel to our hearts’ content? BUT – so far none of our parents has managed to make it to retirement, so why plan for retirement? Wouldn’t it be better to get out there and live NOW?
4,000 miles, 39 days, two children … this trip is amazing. It changes us and brings us together as a family. But it’s not just the positive experiences that do that. It is the journey. And the journey comes with good days and bad. We can plan to the nth degree – but with so many factors outside of our control, travelling cannot be “unicorns and rainbows” all the time.
By day nine on the road, we are exhausted. We have been together for days on end (hint – no “alone time” = grumpy children + grumpy Daddy + grumpy Mummy!). Hubby still hasn’t completely recovered from his flu, and to top it off it has started snowing.
We have no rest days scheduled in our itinerary- today is our day for Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, Moraine Lake and Banff – snowing or not.
“The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page.”
The Icefields Parkway was my reason for visiting Canada (after seeing the photos on a blog!), and it didn’t disappoint.
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93, or ‘Promenade des Glaciers’ in French) is a 230km majestic drive between Jasper and Banff. I have never travelled any other road in the world that has such a diversity of attractions – aquamarine lakes, spectacular mountain ranges, rushing waterfalls, glaciers and wildlife!
Jasper National Park is your destination if you are looking to do a bit of bear spotting. It was by far the best spot to see bears – and we are comparing it with Banff National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite and many more.
The scenery in Jasper is stunning, its surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and at almost every turn there are vistas of blue lakes or rushing rivers, and not to mention the meandering wildlife. Of all the places we visited on this trip, Jasper National Park was my favourite. It is a pity so many visitors go north as far as Banff, or Lake Louise, and miss out on Jasper, and the Icefields Parkway.
Jasper and the Icefield Parkway absolutely blew me away. If you want to talk about a place where your soul feels at ease, where you feel at home, and at peace, Jasper is your destination. The Icefields Parkway is your journey.
I’ve included our favourites from Jasper in this blog, and will follow it with a blog about the Icefields Parkway.
Vancouver is a city of beauty and culture. A city of depth. With two days to spend, it’s a matter of fitting in everything you can – and having comfortable shoes.
We travel as a family to learn and to connect with each other, and the city had plenty of opportunities for this, our favourite being Science World with a load of interactive exhibits for the girls to try on their own or for us to do together as a family.
My own personal favs had to be the beauty and calmness of the waterfront, and eating local delicacies – everywhere!