Walking the Land of Thor, Loki, Elves, and a Blonde Goddess Named Sigyn!


When was the last time you made anything with plaster of Paris?

How about in grade school making a dramatically detailed depiction of Iceland? 

Yep! I did ... and it was awesome! My teacher was so jazzed about my masterpiece that she took it to a teacher's conference to show it off! And ...

She dropped it.

Iceland was shattered and so were my childhood dreams of exploring the land of Thor, Loki, elves, and a blonde goddess named Sigyn ... until now!

We're vaxxed, we're packed, we're swabbed straight up the nose, and our itinerary is all prepped in the Wanderlog app (recommended app!).


It's all systems go for an Icelandic TourAlong!

But what will the future bring?

  • Will the Atlantic storm of the century hit the island?
  • Will camper van living be everything it promises to be?
  • Will sky-high prices leave us begging on the cold streets of Reykjavik?
  • Will I meet a blonde goddess named Sigyn?
  • And if I do, will Natalie mind?


Let's find out!

Light the fire and cozy up with a Viking-sized mug of your favorite hot beverage because it's time to TourAlong to the jewel of the North Atlantic!

In the perpetually popular Picture-n-Caption format, let's go to Iceland!

Shall we?




___________________________________________________


NOOOOOO! Kenneth Ferguson!!!!

Someone at Icelandair dropped a wrench and instantly transformed our eight days on the island into seven. I hesitate to point fingers, but I'm pretty sure a butter-fingered mechanic named Kenneth Ferguson was responsible for our unexpected overnight stay at the Doubletree SEA-TAC. Keep looking over your shoulder, Ken! ... now and forever.





Hey! What Are You Doing Here?

This was super cool: Within hours of our arrival, we had a rendezvous at a coffee shop just north of Reykjavik with Natalie's cousin, Whitney (in front) and her girlfriend Melissa. They were near the end of their three week adventure and had some sage advice to share, plus a gas card they hadn't used!

In this photo, do you see my face mask on the table? No, I don't either. That's because it's already on the floor. I eventually retrieved it from the shop's garbage can! I dropped it again at the Saga Museum in Reykjavik near the end of our trip.

BETTER STILL ... Natalie left her purse on the shuttle van that dropped us off at the airport before our return ... you know, the purse with her passport and everything else of value? No, this is not first the time Natalie's left her purse in exactly the wrong place!

We got it back. Thank you Odin!

Odin was our van driver. But wait! Odin's a Norse god too! OMG! Wait a minute! Maybe our driver WAS ODIN and he blessed us with good luck?

OMO!


A Stroll Between Continents

Well this is better!

A brisk walk in the Almannagjá gorge within Þingvellir National Park just north of Reykjavik helped take the edge off a very long night and day of travel.

This is one of several places to see the Mid-Atlantic Rift, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart. It's also the location of the Alþing (pronounced All-Thing). Founded in 930, the Alþing is the world's longest-running, ongoing parliament, taking 
place each June for two weeksoutside.

We should have our politicians meet outside too! And in the far north of Alaska! That would be so awesome! Get business done or you're all going to be politician popsicles! Ah, sweet motivation.

Our first night, at the Skjol campground along the Golden Circle tour route, was our initiation to camper van living as well as Iceland's infamous wind. It was a lot like being in an airplane with nonstop turbulence.

Hey! If this van's a rockin', go ahead and bother knockin'! It's OK ... really ... it's just the wind.





The Rarely Photographed Gullfoss Waterfall!

According to Wikipedia, Iceland has lots of waterfalls. Iceland is rich in folklore too! And Gullfoss, or gold falls, is no exception ... “Once upon a time, a farmer named Gýgur lived at Gýgjarhóll. He had plenty of gold and could not bear the thought of someone else possessing it after his lifetime. To prevent this, he placed the gold in a coffer and threw it into the waterfall.”

I'm not so sure about that, but the falls are pretty impressive!

FUN FACT: At flood stage, the falls could fill an Olympic-sized pool every second!




It's a Camper Van Lifestyle!

A departure from our typical mode of travel—a rental car and lodging—we decided to do the camper van thing. You know, hittin' the road, spreading our wings and flyin' free like a bird!

In this shot, Natalie may be waving hello, but the reality of the cozy-tight confines of the camper van was already setting in: A perpetual human traffic jam sapping the fun right out of FUN!

Our conclusion? The camper van lifestyle may be ideal for those young whippersnappers, but a post-trip cost-benefit analysis tells us that next time, we'll go for the car and lodging. Yee-haw!!!




So Here's a Good One ...

Icelanders think tourists stopping along the road to take pictures is a bad idea. Pictured above is a typical southern stretch of Route 1
—the Ring Road circling the island. It's not wide, even by Idaho standards. More importantly, there is NO shoulder!

INSIDER BACKGROUND: It wasn't that long ago that Iceland was largely overlooked as a travel destination. It's windy, rainy and snowy, and exists in twilight half of the year. That changed in 2008 when, in the midst of the global financial crisis, all three Icelandic national banks defaulted on their foreign debt and the currency lost 50% of its value in a week. One remedy to pull the country back up, promoting tourism, was wildly successful. And that's when stopping along the shoulderless roads became a problem.

I tried my best—there were SO MANY TIMES I wanted to stop to take a photo! And sometimes I couldn't contain myself. I was honked at once, I think by a disgruntled airline-mechanic-turned-trucker named Kenneth Ferguson. Hey Ken! Did you get your wrench back?




Getting Soaked!

How about a very large hot tub? If soaking in volcanically heated water is your cup-o-hot-tea, Iceland's a good bet for you! Above, Natalie soaks while basking in the sunshine of a surprisingly windless afternoon at Secret Lagoon. Created in 1891 and known locally as Gamla Laugin, Secret Lagoon is the oldest geothermal swimming pool in Iceland. At $24 per person, and with super clean and super nice facilities, this is a must stop.





Litli Geysir!

The secret weapon of the Secret Lagoon, this litli gal goes off every 10 minutes or so, replacing 100% of the pool's hot water every 24 hours. For Christmas this year, I'm getting everyone a Litli Geysir!





They Live in the Rocks!

This is one place where civilized elves live, though there's plenty of unconfirmed evidence that elves and fairies live throughout the country hiding in rocks. Mentioned in the video, about half of all Icelanders believe in elves and fairies, though they are visible only to psychics and children. As one interviewee put it, "I have never seen elves, no, but I've never seen God either."

Ha! He's got a point there!







Oh Bieber!

Seljalandsfoss is fed by melting water from the ice-capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The fun part is walking behind it ... as long as you have rain gear.

FUN FACT: In 2015, pop star Justin Bieber and his production crew commandeered the falls one day so he could shoot his mediocre music video I'll Show You. Justin's a dandy guy!





Funny Runners

Icelandic sheep are funny runners ... little stick legs shuttling super fast to move their shaggy bodies across a field! And they're plentiful too! There's 1.2 sheep for every human on the island, and a sweater made from their wool costs $200-300! We did not buy sweaters. I DID eat one of their children's legs though, and it was AWESOME! More on that later.





Have I Mentioned It's Windy in Iceland?

It IS!!! Featured here, the guy at the top of Skógafoss took flight just after I snapped the photo. He was never seen again.

Skógafoss is a must stop along the tourist trail and, like Gullfoss, is associated with hidden treasure. Wikipedia says the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall.

More importantly, in Season 8 of the Game of Thrones series, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow fly to this waterfall with her dragons and kiss in front of it. And EVEN MORE importantly, Justin Bieber shut down access to the falls for the shoot of his still mediocre music video I'll Show You. Go Biebs!




How About a Nice Ice Cap?

A distant snow-capped peak? No ... it's a distant ice cap! While Iceland's WAY greener than Greenland, ice caps and glaciers cover 11% of the island. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but if the same were true for the U.S., the ice would cover all of California and Texas! In this image, a small portion of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap presents itself on the horizon.




Swipe and Wipe!

This ultra modern public bathroom—the only building at Dyrholaey Peninsula—was crazy clean! But to use it will set you back $1.50. Coins are accepted, but a credit card is a much easier way to gain admittance to do your business. I suppose you could jump the turnstile, but that would be considered poor form and elves would come out of the bathroom stalls and imprison you in rocks.

FUN FACT: From the moment we left our house in Boise to the moment we drove back up the driveway, we used no paper or coin currency. In Iceland, use of credit cards is the (nearly) universal method of payment! 

FUN TIP: There's no tipping too!





Land Sponge!

Made exclusively from volcanoes popping off as tectonic plates rip apart, Iceland is essentially a gigantic pile of basalt, and some of its surface is a lot like Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument. On the other hand, there are vast expanses of basalt smothered in thick, spongy moss.

Iceland had been successful at keeping people off the moss until ...

Wait for it ...


Yep!

Justin Bieber decided it would be a good idea to roll down a moss slope for his boring music video, I'll Show You!

This, in turn, meant that Bieber-adoring fans/tourists were uncontrollably compelled to roll down slopes of moss and trample other video shoot locations.

Ultimately, the Bieb's actions have resulted in partial closures of several locations.

You're the best, Biebs!








Diamonds in the Rough!

At the outlet of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon, icebergs float into the Atlantic Ocean only to be battered by waves and smashed into mini bergs that wash ashore the black sand beach. Thus, Diamond Beach is a magnet for photographers. Even on an overcast and rainy afternoon, light illuminates these crystal clear pieces of ice. This image I've named "Fish!"




Ice Is Nice!

Our camper van came with a teeny-tiny little ice cube tray with a production volume that was laughable, especially when making mixed drinks. Our afternoon at Diamond Beach took care of that! Pictured above, a vodka tonic with a giant crystal clear glacial ice cube! It was a treat! And no, I did not name this piece of ice. You should never name a piece of ice that you're going to kill by letting it slowly melt.






Troll Stacks!

Not far from the town of Vik along the south coast, the Reynisdrangar sea stacks are a super popular attraction. There's a folk legend about two trolls who tried unsuccessfully to pull a three-mast ship to shore. They can still be heard today, wailing from within the rocks. Well, I didn't hear them, but psychics and children can.

Any rocks jutting from the sea are made even more popular when they're used in film! How about Season 7 of the Game of Thrones, or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and yes, Justin Bieber's crappy music video I'll Show You. Even disgraced airline mechanic Ken Ferguson doesn't like that music video!




Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach!

The tourism promotion people post pictures like this one. Desolate beauty, don't you think? (PHOTO CREDIT: My Best Place)





And Then There's the Reality!

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach's basalt columns are a MUST backdrop for hundreds of posed shots every day. During our visit there was a commercial shoot of some type taking place as well.

INSIDER TIP: Go at low tide so you can walk around the corner, scramble over some boulders, and instantly be where almost no one else goes!





It's Sigyn and Loki! Or Is It Natalie and Todd?

Here's an artist's depiction of us after battling wind, cramped quarters, and narrow roads with the camper van for five long days and nights.

It was high time to drop that 4-wheeled fun-sucking albatross OFF and move on to the final stage of our North Atlantic journey!


 



Toto! We're Not in Kansas Any More!

Nope, this is Reykjavik!

Iceland's bustling metropolis of 233,000 people (68% of the island's population) brings on the modern bohemian lifestyle in a European/Scandinavian sort of way. The city was a bit grungier than I imagined it would be, but everyone seemed to be enjoying what was left of the daylight before winter's long dusk set in.





Hot Dogs! Get Your Hot Dogs!

Believe it or not, Iceland is known for its awesomely tasty tubular meat treats! Here, the kind man at Reykjavik's famous Bæjarins beztu pylsur hot dog stand presents Natalie two of the 1,000-2,000 dogs he sells EVERY DAY! These are the town's best hot dogs!





Hot Dog YUM... Oh Yeah!

A long wiener with finely chopped onion and crispy fried onion bits, then smothered in two sauces, make the Bæjarins beztu pylsur hot dogs the town's best hot dogs! And, as it turns out, "Bæjarins beztu pylsur" translates to "The town's best hot dogs!" GOOGLE IT!

And yes, they are.





Speaking of Wieners!

Immediately after swallowing the town's best tubular meat, we made our way to The Icelandic Phallological Museum. Yep, that's right, a museum about the other kind of wiener!

The museum is surprisingly thorough in its presentation of all things to do with wieners. And, though there's very little focus on the human willy, the most perplexing display involving human males is unquestionably the exhibit of the 2008 silver medal-winning Icelandic National Handball Team's "members" cast in metal.

What committee thought, "Hey, this is a really good idea!"? I guess that's what six-month-long winters can do to mental reasoning.





Just Horsin' Around at the Phallological Museum!

What's provocative here?

Well, these are dried & spiced horse wieners.

Silly me! What else would they be?

The display tag says they're seasoned with salt, sage, basil, thyme, dill, nutmeg, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram. Do you get the idea the creator of this delicacy might be overcompensating for something through spices? How many more spices can be thrown at a dried jerky horse thingy?

While many fun items were available for purchase in the gift shop, these, thankfully, were not.






Why Stop Writing about Phallic Objects Now!!?

"Is that a cathedral spire in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

No visit to Reykjavik is complete without a stop at the very pointy and prominent Reykjavik (Lutheran) Cathedral

It's actually a very cool work of architecture and, luckily enough, we were able to snap some shots on a sunny afternoon.

The statue in front is of none other than Leif Erikson. Leif's exact place of birth is unknown, but Icelanders are proud to take credit. 






How About an Amusement Ride? You Bet!

FlyOver Iceland is a fly-ride experience that is worth every Korona, really! This amazing flight simulation experience is accentuated by puffs of air and mist hitting your face as you fly and glide through clouds. They even mist in a foul aroma when you fly through the steam of a geothermal feature!

Above, Lilyana (yes, that's her name) is getting two stupid tourists to pretend they're flying for a photo. When exiting the ride, they were presented with the opportunity to purchase the photo which, of course, they did.

OH MAN! I'm glad we didn't fall for that one!
 





Yep! We Fell for That One!

Here we are, flying over the Fagradalsfjall volcano which, contrary to what this image shows, was not in an eruption period during our trip. But man! Look at our coordinated tandem flight technique! If fly-ride experience photo posing was an Olympic sport, we'd be medal contenders! But, if we won, and we were on Team Iceland, I'd certainly be asked to contribute to the Icelandic Phallological Museum. I'd have to decline. I wouldn't want to embarrass the 2008 Iceland handball team.







When you name your restaurant after Loki the Trickster, you'd better have good food ... and they DO! We held out on experiencing authentic Icelandic food until our two days in Reykjavik. In the city, we tasted cod, lamb, meat stew, pizza with Béarnaise sauce (yes!), hot dogs, and ice cream. Funny, but yeah, ice cream's a thing in Iceland and, like the hot dogs, it's a little different in a really good way!

Without a doubt, Kaffi Loki delivered the goods! And at a great price! $80 for two including beer and wine!






Somewhere Out There, There's a Three-Legged Lamb

Delivering the goods? Here you go! My Kaffi Loki dish of lamb shank with a stew was the real deal. There was SO MUCH MEAT on that shank! I hope the farmer is taking that lamb's legs off one at a time ... and only on special occasions.

Now sit back, relax, and let the photo induce your Pavlovian response.








OH COVID! You're SO BORING!

To go to Iceland, we had to be vaccinated AND tested. Once there, it's amazingly safe because their vaccination rate is one of the highest in the world (over 90% have been jabbed at least once). In order to return to the U.S, we had to be tested again. Business was brisk at this Reykjavik testing center, but it was super quick and really a nonevent. Unfortunately, we tested negative. Otherwise, we could have been banished to Iceland forever. I'd take that.






Bonus Shot! Guess Where?

Nope! This isn't Iceland.

It's Greenland from 37,000 feet on a clear and sunny afternoon looking down on the Midgaardgletscher in a region named Schweizerland! The glacial networks that snake through these mountains are mighty impressive, but a few minutes later, they disappeared. Replacing the granite peaks was an unbroken, featureless sheet of ice as far as the eye could see, and from 37,000 feet, the eye can see pretty far!

And get this! ... While Greenland's ice cap contains about 10% of the world's ice, Antarctica contains the other 90% (apparently, according to the USGS, the rest of the ice in all of the remaining glaciers on the world just doesn't add up to much).

It put in perspective why climate scientists are saying it's a really bad idea to let Earth's ice caps melt.

Check out the USGS reference page about this and scroll a little way down the pagethere's a cool image of Iceland using sliders to view the island in summer versus winter!

FUN FACT: Remember how Iceland's ice caps would cover California and Texas? Well, the Antarctic ice cap would smother the contiguous United States AND Mexico! It's THAT BIG!





_______________________________________________________




AHHHHHH! 

Our first trip to Iceland is in the bag and we're literally screaming to go back! 

And nothing will get in our way:
  • Not a bungling airline mechanic named Kenneth Ferguson
  • Not a music video-making poop star named Justin Bieber
  • Not a fun-sucking pandemic named COVID
  • Not even a plaster of Paris model accidentally dropped by a teacher who understood my work ... She's the best.

Like an iceberg in a glacial lake, we experienced just the tip of what there is to explore and discover on this island; an island that's windy, cold, sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, sometimes warmish, green, icy, hot doggy, mossy, wet, rocky, black sandy, ice creamy, watery, fun, and welcoming!

And maybe there really are elves and trolls living in the rocks. Who's to say?

That's Iceland ...

More TourAlongs are on the way!

Until then ... Ciao!

__________________________________________________


Like the TourAlongWithTodd blog and want to keep up to date? Here are three easy options!

  • Email me at todd@toddchavez.com and I’ll add you to my distribution list or…
  • Enter your email address in the Follow by Email box on the right at the top of this page and follow the simple verification process. This method delivers the blog directly to your inbox.
  • If you have a Blogger account, add my blog to your Blogger Reading List
___________________________________________________


But wait! There's MORE! It's time for the ...

BONUS PHOTO ROUND!

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (PHOTO CREDIT: NATALIE!)


The photos have been culled, cropped, lightly edited, salt and peppered, and are ready for your viewing!



When the album page opens, click the right-facing triangle at the upper right corner to play the slideshow and see the image titles and captions.


Parental Neglect

According to the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, the recipe to raise a child is simple:

  • Combine hot food, dry shelter, pet dogs, braces, a broken nose, the occasional new pair of shoes, and 1 cup milk.
  • Bake the mixture at 98.6°F for 18 years.
  • Let hormones cool for 10 years and ...
  • PRESTO!, you've got a well-rounded human being!
  • Let rest for five minutes before carving and serving.

The cookbook notes that baking time may vary and warns that "adding too many optional ingredients" may spoil the results.

We followed Betty's recipe with great attention, but something wasn't quite right with Simon. There was a vacancy in his eyes, an emptiness in his soul, a weakness in his heart.

Then we realized the magnitude of our parental neglect!!

We missed an ingredient!

We forgot to take Simon to Jellystone National Park!

Eager for a recipe redo, we invited Simon to join us for a week's springtime tour of the world's first national park!


__________________________________________________

Are you all vaxxed up and feeling better about, well, everything!!?

Grab a cup of your favorite nearly post-pandemic beverage and join us on Simon's excellent adventure, Jellystone Completes Me!, presented in the ever popular Picture-n-CaptionTM format.

Let's go!

Shall we?
Pssst ... Don't forget to pack your pick-a-nick basket!


__________________________________________________



The Towering Inferno!

Any trip to Jellystone begins with a stop at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National MonumentWhy? Because it's right on the way AND these two volcanic characters have something in common: Samples sent to 23andME revealed that they share the same hotspot DNA!

Yep! The same giant pool of magma heating Jellystone today also created Craters of the Moon 15,000 to 2,000 years ago. But keep your hardhats on boys and girls because both areas will be volcanically active in the future! Shake it and bake it!

Pictured above: The ever popular hike to the top of Crater's Inferno Cinder Cone.




Take a Left!

It may appear quiet enough, but by mid-May, West Jellystone was bustling during a spell of perfect spring weather. Fast-forward six days and our trip home featured a section of completely iced-over roads. You know what's fun? Driving on solid ice at 35 MPH while keeping an eye on the oncoming semi-trucks!!!

Ah! Springtime in the Rockies ... never a dull moment!

 


Bimodal Eruption Geyser Disorder!

Rarely visited and almost never photographed, Old Faithful blows her top every hour on the hour! 

OH NO SHE DOESN'T!

OH SNAP! She's bimodal! 

A bimodal geyser has long and short eruptions. This, in turn, means the period between eruptions vary because of the time needed to recharge the water chamber lurking below.

Of course, this is scientific nonsense.

In reality, the geysers were made and are operated by the Mole People! The only reason geysers are unpredictable is because these subterranean rodents are really bad at running the boilers that power the geysers! They're not plumbers ... they're BLIND MOLES!

As we raised Simon, we warned him incessantly about the Mole People under his bed. He remains very frightened of them to this day ... as should you.




Hey Brother, Can You Lend Me Hand?

Rule #1: Never throw a severed hand and sugar cubes into geysers or hot springs! Pick one or the other, but NEVER both at the same time!




Umm ... Did You Fart?

The geyser basins are wonderful places to enjoy the aromatherapy of hydrogen sulfide! Pictured above, enthusiasts gather to deeply inhale this intoxicating ambrosia resembling an exquisite blend of organic eggs and free-range farts.

Actually, egg farts smell better.




Moo!

Even in May, it's guaranteed you'll hit traffic jams for one of two reasons:
  1. Understandably, bison (very large cattle, but in disguise) decide it's easier to walk on the highway or ...
  2. Photographers with very long lenses are taking pictures of a distant bear!
Our worst traffic jam took 45 minutes to advance 1.5 miles. The cause? Long-lensed photographers who just HAD to get a totally unremarkable image of a bear!

Though I fancy myself as a photographer from time to time, it's too bad the bear wasn't closer ...  much, muchcloser!




Those are Mighty Big Tetons!

The Grand Tetons! How long had it been since I last visited this mountain kingdom? Well, I was young enough that we made many jokes about their French name. Every now and then I still make those jokes. Anyway, they're enormous and pointy!

At this time, please join me in the gutter by reading paragraph three of this Wyoming Magazine post.

A day trip to view Les Grandes Tetons and their soaring 6,000-foot rise above the Snake River plain is a must during any Jellystone adventure. 

Fun Fact: Simon giggled all the way back to our motel. All I had to do was say "Tetons!"





Posers!

Here, cool people with sunglasses pose at the highest road crossing of the Continental Divide in Jellystone.

Fun Fact: Also known as the Great Divide, it's easy to forget that this geographic feature extends from the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska to the Straight of Magellan at the southern tip of South America! 

But what's its total geographic length?

This question was too googleplexing for Google ... (Really, I tried, a lot)

I eventually used a mapping app and came up with a very rough 10,000 miles.

But what is the actual length? You tell me!

OMG! It's time for the first ever ... 21st Century TourAlongWithTodd Challenge!

  • Here's the word problem:

    • If you dropped Simon off at the Seward Peninsula and made him walk barefoot along the very crest of the Great Divide to the tip of South America with only two candy bars - one an Almond Joy and the other a Mounds bar - how many miles would he have walked?

  • Here's the only rule: You have to send me an email citing your source and the number of miles.

  • The first reader to send a plausible and verifiable answer wins something BIG! 




Johnny D'oh!

Johnny didn't learn to read when he was a kid. To Johnny, a warning sign was just a thing with squiggles on it. Johnny's parents didn't love him ... and sadly, Johnny was never seen again.

Today, Johnny's memorialized in this painting entitled Johnny D'oh!, displayed at all of the park's thermal fields.

Simon said he's happy that we made him learn to read because he didn't want to end up like Johnny D'oh!





What a Difference $4 Makes!

Food and travel go hand in hand, and finding culinary gems are part of the fun. Restaurants may be too busy, but we've learned to be wary of those that aren't busy enough! And there's always street vendors to explore. One night we tried an Asian street-side takeout. For $13, I was rewarded with a Styrofoam container featuring white rice, fatty teriyaki chicken, and veggies consisting of two small pieces of broccoli on a bed of cabbage. NOOOOO!

In contrast, the following night we went to The Branch. For $17, I had the best fish and chips ever ... AND was able to substitute the chips and coleslaw with a side Caesar salad and the Veg du Jour. OK, it wasn't really fish and chips any more, but when in doubt, go to The Branch!

Oh! Start your day's sightseeing early so you can hit The Branch's happy hour from 4:00-6:00 and not feel guilty!





All Aboard!

Fun Fact! When you go to The Branch, don't be surprised to see an exquisitely kept Pullman train car as you enter! The Oregon Shortline 1903 was named for the year it was built. Constructed for $16,685, it served as an executive rail car for the vice president of the Union Pacific so he could travel from Salt Lake City to Jellystone in style.

Simon was disappointed that we didn't give him a train like this one when he was a kid. We reminded him that we gave him a Thomas the Tank Engine train, Thomas the Tank Engine books, and he watched the Thomas the Tank Engine TV show ad nauseum!

So yeah, he pretty much had the full experience.

Blogger's Note:
  • Thomas the Tank Engine is nothing! If you want "ad nauseum," imagine watching Gumbie: The Movie every day as we did in Simon's formative years! For months!

  • It didn't matter. This masterpiece of stop-action cinematography had young Simon's seal of approval.

  • I dare you to watch Gumbie: The Movie in its entirety. I DOUBLE DOG DARE you!




Let's Kickbox This Motel Back to the Stone Age! 

Caught on tape in our room at Three Bear Lodge, Simon and Natalie are midway through a 20-minute kickboxing workout courtesy of an app on Simon's phone. Though asked to join in, I had the common sense to stick with my review of the day's photos accompanied with a vodka tonic. Besides, I didn't want to show them up with my finely tuned Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kicks!

For a kick-ass review of Chuck Norris' kicking skills, take a moment to view this brief presentation of "Chuck Norris Kicks Everything!"

I guarantee this will be the best four minutes of your day!

You're welcome!




How Much for the Doggie in the Window?

As a way to encourage domestic travel in the era of COVID, Cruise America now includes a dog with every rental. You can even give your pup any name you'd like! Of course, Cruise America dogs really don't care what they're named. Their only interest is in what food you have and how soon they can eat it.

On one Cruise America camper, the dog was winking at me. Really. That weirded me out.
 



What can I say? Mammoth Hot Springs are cool! Built over time by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, these travertine (a form of limestone) terraces are colored by algae that thrive in the spring's very hot water.

Yes, of course I knew all of this without having to look it up on Wikipedia. 


  



You'll Never See Another Shot Like This!

Lower Jellystone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Jellystone expose over 1,000 feet of volcanic debris and flows deposited from the last eruption of the Jellystone caldera. A super volcano, Jellystone's dramatic geologic life is difficult to comprehend. The catastrophic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1981 ejected 1/4 of a cubic mile of debris into the air and across the landscape. Pretty impressive! Until you consider Jellystone. 

The graphic below speaks volumes. Mt. St. Helens was a tiny burp!

When will the Jellystone blow its top next? According to the USGS, it's not overdue. So yes, you can plan a safe trip to Jellystone any time. Or course, there are plenty of earthquakes to look forward to!







Step to the Right ... a Little More ... a Little Bit More ...

Though mom was nervous as Simon walked onto this narrow rock peninsula to take a photo, at least he wasn't taking a selfie ... which hasn't gone so well for others in similar situations.

On this hike, from Artist Point to Point Sublime, the trail takes you precariously near the canyon rim at times (four feet?) and is even more exciting when hiking on slushy snow! 



I'm Hungry! And Your Face Is My Nap-Time Snack!

No wolves were harmed in capturing this image at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Jellystone. The center's a cool stop and the $15 admission fee in support of the Center is well worth it. They've got several of these cuddly pups, a bunch of grizzly, a new aquatic center, and an expansion of the bear habitat is underway.

The Center isn't a zoo. It's a research facility that hosts animals that would have otherwise been put down ... as in "You stupid bear! You're an ugly dork!" or "Hey wolf! Your mamma was a chihuahua!"

Fun Fact: Container manufacturers pay the Center top dollar to have their products "road tested" by the bears. Each container is filled with rancid meat and then placed in the bear habitat to see how long it takes the bears to get the yummy prize inside.




Mission Accomplished!

In one short week, Jellystone completed Simon's childhood. He's all grown up! And for us, the long dark shadow of parental neglect has finally begun to recede.

Above, Simon's relaxed, debonair, and cool-cool casual as he poses with the giant teddy bear at the Center's gift shop. So Happy!

Well ... until the tantrum that ensued after we told him he couldn't take the teddy bear home. So much wailing and so many tears!

_______________________________________________________


There you have it! Another Jellystone adventure is in the bag, but not to be forgotten.

More TourAlongs are on the way!

Until then ... Ciao!
__________________________________________________

Like the TourAlongWithTodd blog and want to keep up to date? Here are three easy options!

  • Email me at todd@toddchavez.com and I’ll add you to my distribution list or…
  • Enter your email address in the Follow by Email box on the right at the top of this page and follow the simple verification process. This method delivers the blog directly to your inbox.
  • If you have a Blogger account, add my blog to your Blogger Reading List
___________________________________________________


But wait! There's MORE! It's time for the ...

BONUS PHOTO ROUND!


Photos Anyone?

The photos have been culled, cropped, lightly edited, and are ready for your viewing! Just hop over here to view the album!

When the album page opens, click the right-facing triangle at the upper right corner to play the slide show and see the image titles and captions.