By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
My wife, Val, and I returned this past weekend from a vacation out west. The days away from home gave us the opportunity to visit family, relax, discover and be inspired.
We toured the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the site of Custer’s Last Stand, and the Caverns in the Lewis & Clark Cavern State Park near Three Forks, Montana. Recalling what our cavern tour guide told us, stalactites are formations that hold tight to the top of the cavern, and stalagmites are formations that come up from the floor and might one day reach the top.
We relaxed in the Bozeman Hot Springs in Bozeman, Montana, and then travelled down to Big Sky, where we sat outdoors and enjoyed the Appalachian sounds of The Black Lillies, a band from Knoxville, Tennessee. The mountains and setting sun provided a remarkably beautiful backdrop.
We hiked through beautiful fields of wild flowers in full bloom up to a mountain lake that sat at the base of the Spanish Peaks. A snow field sat a short distance from the other side of the lake.
We canoed with Val’s sister and brother-in-law down the Teton River in Idaho, praying that the moose that were in the grass on the shoreline would leave us alone.
We spent the better portion of two days in Yellowstone National Park. I must not have been paying a whole lot of attention in school because my perception of this national park, created in 1872 as the world’s first national park, was that it was home to Old Faithful and a place to camp and see loads of wild life. I had no clue that Yellowstone is a fairyland of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles. The park covers 3,472 square miles and is primarily located in Wyoming but extends into Idaho and Montana. It contains the world’s largest collection of geysers and the planet’s most diverse collection of geothermal features.
We sat on the porch of Buffalo Bill’s Restaurant & Saloon in Cody, Wyoming, tapping our toes to some good ole boys playing country and western music and watching in awe as an intense full-arching double rainbow formed in the sky.
For me, the most inspiring moment came during our visit to the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park. We hiked up the Lake Creek Trail from the nature center to Phelps Lake. The distance one way is roughly 1.5 miles, and the hike while not hard is not easy. It requires moderate effort. The altitude ranges from 6,400 to more than 6,600 feet.
Among the folks we met when we arrived at the scenic spot overlooking Phelps Lake and the Teton Mountains was a family from Austin, Texas. Dad, who is 85 years of age, apparently had been sitting long enough. “I have my second wind,” he proclaimed. He was ready for the hike back down to the parking lot that was just beyond the nature center. Dad and his son walked with their arms locked together because of some problems Dad had with his vision.
This certainly didn’t seem to slow Dad down. They always were just behind us as we walked at a pretty good clip the 1.5 miles back from the lake.
I thought how fortunate it would be for me to be able to follow in his footsteps 25 years from now after I have celebrated my 85th birthday.
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