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A Trip out West

Grand Teton National ParkGrand Teton National Park

A bit of a warning, this post has absolutely nothing to do with quilting. I just returned from an amazing, nearly 2 week vacation out west and I cannot help myself. I must share photos and stories. :) Last summer after coming home from a trip to Disney World, my husband and I decided we wanted to plan a trip for our family that was a bit more authentic. Nothing against Disney, our kids love it there and we’ve always had a good time, but we were searching for something a bit more “real” this time, if that makes sense. So I went online and started researching Yellowstone National Park. It didn’t take me long to realize people plan their trips to Yellowstone WAY in advance. Like two years in advance! Some of the lodging was already booked, even 12 months ahead of time. So I started booking various hotels and getting a plan in place. Well 2 weeks ago, the time was finally here!

Old Faithful at sunset
Old Faithful at sunset

Our plan was to drive out (20+ hours!) from Chicago to Jackson, Wyoming, taking 2 days for the drive. (We used Jackson as our base camp for the start of our trip at Grand Teton National Park.) With about 3-1/2 hours left on the first day of driving, we hit a big storm in western Nebraska. There was a heavy rain…then suddenly some little hail…then lightening. A lot of lightening. Which struck our car. While we were driving on I-80. There was a flash of light and a big noise, and then I think every light on our dash lit up. Every gauge except the speedometer died. The air conditioning died. The power steering failed. The car could still drive, but was definitely messed up. But fortunately, we were all ok.

Fairy Falls hike, Yellowstone National Park
Fairy Falls hike, Yellowstone National Park

We made it to a gas station to check things out and once we turned the car off, we couldn’t turn it back on. We couldn’t even get it out of Drive or Neutral and into Park! (Fixed that after some looking on the internet). It was a bit overwhelming and scary and stressful. We started making tons of phone calls to try to coordinate help, and I have to give a huge thanks to the Subaru dealer in Cheyenne for coordinating a flat bed tow truck to drive 2-1/2 hours to come get us and our car, and bring us all to Cheyenne (yes, I rode 2-1/2 hours in a tow truck with my family) to get the car repaired. So…a bit unexpected beginning to our trip. We left our car there to be repaired and picked up a rental for the rest of the trip. I’m not exactly a go-with-the-flow type person so this really tested my limits. :)

Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming

So we did eventually make it to Jackson, Wyoming, which is such a great city. My kids are 5 and 7, so one of the goals when planning this trip was to make it fun for them too. In Jackson we went to our first rodeo, a “shootout“, and did a float trip in the Snake River. They had a blast!

Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming

We also spent a few days exploring Grand Teton National Park. SO beautiful. Coming from Illinois, the scenery with the rivers and mountains and wildflowers and animals…it leaves you speechless.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

I tried to keep our hikes with the kids around 1-3 miles roundtrip, keeping in mind a lot of the trails involving elevation gains/stairs/rocks/etc. We took a ferry across Jenny Lake and did a hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. A bit scary at the end, but the kids did great. We saw a marmot and two moose while we were there.

Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park
Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park

We had some great wildlife viewing in Grand Teton as well, seeing a lot of bison up close (from our car).

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

Spring means lots of babies!

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

After a few days in Jackson, we drove north to Yellowstone.

North Entrance, Yellowstone National Park
North Entrance, Yellowstone National Park

There was stayed in the park, a few nights at the Old Faithful Inn (West Wing Frontside room) and a few nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Frontier Cabins. I mention the room types because if you ever plan a trip to Yellowstone, I highly recommend both. It’s hard to book online in a national park lodge, not quite sure what to expect. With young kids, we wanted a toilet and shower in our room, not a shared situation. So these were perfect! And the cabins we selected in Mammoth was recently renovated and very nice.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

We spent the first part of our time in Yellowstone exploring the southern half of the park (geyser country). I guess I didn’t realize JUST how many geyers and other geothermal features there were in the park! More than I could count!

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Probably our most challenging hike was down Uncle Tom’s Trail in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Not because of length, but due to the amount of stairs and elevation. Our lungs just are not used to that thin air!

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Uncle Tom’s Trail, Yellowstone National Park

View of the stairs from the other side of the canyon.

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Uncle Tom’s Trail, Yellowstone National Park

The falls – amazing!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park

We saw tons of animals. My daughter kept a list, which included bald eagles, bison, elk, moose, 7 black bears (including 3 cubs!), coyote, hawks, marmots, osprey, pronghorn…lots more I’m forgetting I’m sure!

Black Bear, Yellowstone National Park
Black Bear, Yellowstone National Park

Moose, Yellowstone National Park
Moose, Yellowstone National Park

Hilarious Bison, Yellowstone National Park
Hilarious Bison, Yellowstone National Park

Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Elk, Yellowstone National Park

Coyote, Grand Teton National Park
Coyote, Grand Teton National Park

Keeping with the “make-it-fun-for-the-kids” theme, we did a wagon cookout dinner.

Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park

They loved riding out in the park on the wagons and eating some great grilled food.

Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park

Leaving was really hard. It was so great to be surrounded my such natural beauty and also be away from the distractions and technology of the world at home.

Hiking at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
Hiking at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

We drove by Mount Rushmore on the way home, before heading back to Cheyenne to pick up my fixed car.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

I added several new places to my list of states I’ve visited: Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. All beautiful in their own unique ways! If you are looking for an amazing vacation and love the outdoors, I hope I’ve given you an idea of somewhere new to see. It wasn’t too horribly crowded yet (early June), but I hear July and August are quite packed as that is the busiest season in the parks.

So, as I mentioned, I’ve been away from technology for about 2 weeks. I’m working on catching up, but I have a lot of emails to get through. Please be patient if you need information from me – I will get to you! :) And hopefully back to the sewing machine this week as well!

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Summer Sparkle Quilt Along ~ Week 3

Summer Sparkle Quilt Along with Fresh Lemons Quilts

Just a friendly reminder that today is the third and final week of my Summer Sparkle Quilt Along over at Bernina’s We All Sew blog. Today we will talk about sewing your blocks together and wavy line quilting.

Summer Sparkle Quilt Along with Fresh Lemons Quilts

The Summer Sparkle Quilt Along schedule is below:

June 2nd / Week 1Fabric Requirements and Cutting
June 9th / Week 2Block Assembly
June 16th / Week 3Quilt Top Assembly and Quilting

If you’ve been quilting along, I would love to see your finished project. If you have just been watching and thinking about it, the quilt along will be online waiting for you when you are ready.

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Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter ~ Blog Hop!

Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today's Quilter

Welcome to today’s stop on Cheryl Sleboda’s Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter blog hop! I am lucky enough to know Cheryl through the Naperville Modern Quilt Guild. When she asked me to be part of her blog hop, I jumped at the chance. Cheryl is not only fun and kind, she is incredibly talented and motivating.

Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today's Quilter

Cheryl has just released a new video, Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter. (Available as a DVD or digital download.) When I think of smocking, I tend to think of the dresses I wore when I was young.

Fresh Lemons Quilts
Me in a smocked dress…mid 1980′s :)

Cheryl really has taken this classic technique and many others, and put her modern spin on them. I’ve seen her work in person, it’s really amazing!

Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today's Quilter

Take your next sewing project to new heights by adding an unexpected twist–fabric manipulation! Learn the basics and beyond of vintage sewing techniques that can transform your quilts from flat to fabulous. Award-winning quilter and heirloom sewing expert Cheryl Sleboda takes the mystery out of smocking, pintucks, pleats, and gathers, and will soon have you applying these simple and effective techniques to your own quilts and home décor projects.
After an overview of the history, tools, and materials used in dimensional sewing, Cheryl deftly describes and demonstrates each technique. Her shortcuts and tips simplify the most mystifying designs into easy-to-follow steps. Imagine creating smocked inserts for a sampler quilt, or a charming vintage-inspired pillow with a contemporary flair. Soon you’ll be creating your own dimensional designs using the time-tested methods demonstrated on this video.

Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today's Quilter

If you’ve ever thought about adding texture to your quilts and projects, or just want to add another skill to your bag of tools, I highly recommend checking out Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter.

You can follow the blog hop on the below websites. :)

June 9 – Susan Brubaker Knapp – http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/
June 10 – Maddie Kertay – http://www.badassquilterssociety.com/
June 11 – Faith Jones – Me!
June 12 – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgedtextilesstudio.com/blog/
June 13 – Julie Creus – http://www.latodera.com/blog

June 16 – Catherine Redford – http://catherineredford.com/
June 17 – Megan Dougherty – http://thebitchystitcher.com/
June 18 – Pokey Bolton – http://pokeysponderings.com/
June 19 – Jamie Fingal – http://www.jamiefingaldesigns.com/
June 20 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://muppin.com/wordpress/index.php/blog/

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Summer Sparkle Quilt Along ~ Week 2

Summer Sparkle Quilt Along with Fresh Lemons Quilts

Just a friendly reminder that today is the second week of my Summer Sparkle Quilt Along over at Bernina’s We All Sew blog. Today you will start making your blocks.

Summer Sparkle Quilt Along with Fresh Lemons Quilts

The Summer Sparkle Quilt Along schedule is below:

June 2nd / Week 1Fabric Requirements and Cutting
June 9th / Week 2Block Assembly
June 16th / Week 3Quilt Top Assembly and Quilting

I hope you will come over and check it out!

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