Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Over the summer, we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. It was the first time I’ve ever been and I brought my daughter. We both enjoyed it very much. Read on for photos and deets…

Super-Volcano

Did you know that Yellowstone is actually the largest active super-volcano in North America?

This is actually what fuels all the geysers, hot springs, and other geothermal activity throughout this ecosystem. The good news is, it probably won’t erupt again during our lifetimes, and when it does erupt, it will reverse global warming. The bad news is, when it does erupt again, all life as we know it on North America will be destroyed. Geez.

Geysers and Hot Springs

But due to the active volcanic ecosystem here, there are several geysers and hot springs to view all throughout the park. There are tons of signs everywhere warning visitors not to step off any approved walkways due to risk of burning death, so make sure to follow the rules here!

Some of my personal photos are below:

Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.

Grand Prismatic

Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in the United States, and this one is especially unique due to it’s colors.

I don’t have any personal photos from the Grand Prismatic. This was the last stop of our first day and it was getting quite crowded with people, and I’m not my best self in large crowds. So I didn’t get my camera out and try to angle for a good shot because I was too busy being disgruntled instead. But it was quite fabulous to see in-person, and here’s a good picture of it that I found online.

So if I had to give you any advice, it would be to schedule this stop to be your FIRST stop of the day, and beat the crowds. Because you’ll want to take your time here and enjoy taking your photos in peace and quiet.

Grand Prismatic / Image Source: Grand-Prismatic-Spring-Yellowstone-National-Park-2.jpg (1600×1071) (pre-tend.com)

Old Faithful

Old Faithful is probably the world’s most famous geyser. It’s mostly famous due to the predictability of it’s eruptions. It’s timing is so accurate that you can easily find the daily eruption schedule and you can time your visit to coincide with it.

There are actually larger and more impressive geysers throughout Yellowstone, but due to their unpredictability, they are not as popular. People aren’t very inclined to sit around a smoking hole in the ground and wait for it to erupt, without some sort of expectation of how long their wait could be.

But because Old Faithful is so predictable and famous, it was also very crowded. (See above for how ornery I get in large crowds.) There were alot of seating areas set-up here, as well as a resort hotel in this area, and gift-shops and restaurants. It is definitely a tourist-trap if you enjoy that sort of thing.

I’m not very happy with my personal photos of Old Faithful since I prefer my pics to not have other people in them, but this is the best shot I could get due to the crowd.

Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.

Waterfalls

We spend another day at the park hiking the canyon trails and viewing the waterfalls. These trials are definitely physically challenging since there are elevation changes of hundreds of feet. And not much space to stop for rest if you need to. So just be aware of that before embarking on these canyon trials.

I thought the hiking was difficult, but also worth it to see the waterfalls up-close and personal. My photos won’t do them any justice by far. You’ll definitely want to see them for yourself instead.

Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.

Bison and Wildlife

Yellowstone is also very well-known for the wildlife in the area. Of course, it’s not safe to get close to wildlife ever, and there were a few instances where we were probably too close for our own good. But we were lucky and nothing bad happened! Below are some photos of the wildlife and the bison that we were able to see…

Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.
Yellowstone National Park / Image Source: Pepper V.

Anyhow, I think I’ve left you all with a decent summary of how the trip was. I would recommend a visit and I would enjoy going back in the future.

Have you all visited Yellowstone before? What did you think of it?

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McKamey Manor – World’s Scariest Haunted House

Happy Halloween everyone! This is my most favorite holiday ever! What do you all think of it? And, have you heard of McKamey Manor before?

Now, there are 2 types of haunted houses. The traditional haunted house is one that is claimed to be a hotspot for the supernatural – such as ghosts, poltergeists, demons, etc. The modern haunted house is more of an interactive tour that is meant to scare you via props, music, lighting, smoke, and even actors jumping out at you. To be honest with you, I don’t care much for these modern haunted houses because I HATE the idea of people jumping out to scare me. It’s just not my thing.

Around this time of year, I start to see McKamey Manor pop-up on my local news. It’s a modern haunted house that is located relatively close to me around Nashville TN in the United States. You might’ve heard the controversy about it more than anything else. Apparently, there are very vocal critics that say it’s less of a haunted house experience and more of a kidnapping/torture chamber experience. They’re always petitioning to try to get it shut down for good.

McKamey Manor / Image Source: Click Orlando

McKamey Manor does sell itself on it’s website as an extreme interactive haunted house attraction where “YOU will live your own Horror Movie.” They also affectionally call their participants “their victims”. Sound good to you so far?

Some of the most concerning activities include: 1) The police get called by McKamey Manor ahead of the tour to alert them of the upcoming activities; 2) Neighbors have reported screaming people getting dragged into/out of vans; 3) Participants claim to have been waterboarded; 4) McKamey Manor video-records the entire experience to protect themselves in court; and 5) a 40-page waiver of liability which includes “risk of death” is required.

And, you get $20,000 if you complete it! But… nobody ever has!

You might’ve also seen McKamey Manor on a couple of Netflix shows, such as “Haunters: The Art of the Scare” and the “Dark Tourist” series. Definitely check it out if you tend to enjoy Netflix productions.

So that’s all my scoop about this place. If you ever want to contact them to make your reservations, you can go directly to their website at www.mckameymanor.com. But I would NEVER! Good luck!

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While I’m too scared to ever visit McKamey Manor myself, I did visit a couple other spots which are more traditional haunted locations where the worst thing that could happen to you would be a ghost or two. Doesn’t sound so bad now in comparison does it? 🙂

If you want to check-out my haunted visits, you can view them here: The Bullock Hotel and Leap Castle.

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[Disclosure: the following links are affiliate links where I may earn a commission on any resulting purchase, at no additional cost to you.]

Just in case you are a fan of haunted travel destinations, below is a link to a National Geographic book about the topic. Would make a great gift! 🙂

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Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial

In July, we made our first post-covid flight and visited the Wild West area of the United States, including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

In a previous post linked here, I described our stop in Deadwood South Dakota where we stayed at the haunted Bullock hotel. But this specific post will focus on The Black Hills region of South Dakota, very close to the town of Keystone.

Keystone is actually a very active town to stay and visit. Even without those two attractions in the title, there were so many activities in the area and we did not come close to attending to all of them. Some of our options were…. Ziplining, Gold-Hunting, Cave-Exploring, Helicopter Rides, driving through Bear Country, and riding an authentic Steam Locomotive, among so many more… I would absolutely recommend this visit for a family with children just due to the variety of activities available.

We purposely came here in order to see Mount Rushmore (a lifetime bucket-list item). And we also purposely chose a scenic route through the national park in order to see the distant views of it get closer as we made our approach. It’s pretty amazing to see it from so far away and realize what a landmark it is.

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial / Image Source: Pepper V.

But quite accidentally…. we then found ourselves visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial. I have never heard of this before in my life! But en route to Mount Rushmore, we saw some signs for it and it piqued our curiousity enough that we wanted to check it out. Have any of you all heard of this?! Is this the country’s best-kept secret, or have I been living under a rock (pun intended) this whole time?!

And holy smokes, I’m so glad that we did we stop because this was the highlight of my entire trip for me.

In the same Black Hills area, a few miles away from Mount Rushmore, they are actually carving a statue of Crazy Horse into the mountain in his tribute. Crazy Horse is one of the most famous native American warriers from the Oglala Lakota tribe.

They’ve only completed just his face up to this point, but when they are done… it will be him riding on top of his horse. When this is finished, it will be the largest statue IN THE WORLD. A legit contender for the 8th Wonder of the World. And it’s in South Dakota of all places. Can you believe it?!

Crazy Horse Memorial / Image Source: Pepper V.
Crazy Horse Memorial / Image Source: Pepper V.

Just to give you some perspective on how huge this will be when it’s done… the faces on Mount Rushmore are 60ft tall. Crazy Horse’s face (already completed) is 87ft. And they still have to complete his body and a horse! Below is the design they are planning for this when it is done:

Crazy Horse Memorial / Image Source: The Epoch Times

This was the coolest thing for me to see. They say it will take 30 years to finish it, and I hope that I’m still alive when it is done because I do want to view it with my very own eyes. I’m adding this finished memorial to my lifetime bucket list when I’m finally retired, as this will be amazing!

If you want more info about this memorial, their official website is linked here. One of the most interesting things about this effort, is that they are accepting absolutely ZERO government funding for it. Which makes sense considering WHO they are paying tribute to, as Crazy Horse died fighting against the U.S. government. Seems just. So this is funded by private donations only and the link to their official website above has info on how to contribute if you are so inclined.

Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed my recap of my trip here. If you’ve visited already, how was it for you?

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Deadwood South Dakota and the Haunted Bullock Hotel

Deadwood South Dakota

Sorry I’ve been awol this week everyone but I’ve been on vacay! Still am, actually. Nobody guessed correctly my destination but I’m ready to reveal it now. We’ve been on a Wild West road trip through 3 states: South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Our first stop was Deadwood South Dakota and we stayed at the #1 most haunted location in the entire state, the Bullock Hotel, according to this top 10 list here. We flew into the Rapid City South Dakota airport, and Deadwood was a comfortable 45min drive from there.

And Deadwood was great as far as preserving the history and the stories of the Wild West days. They have several tours and if you want to cover everything you easily can, it’s all jam-packed into about 3 blocks. I heard that they do a daily reenactment too but we missed it unfortunately.

Here are some photos of the small town of Deadwood South Dakota, you may recognize the names of some of it’s most famous residents, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane…

We also stayed the night at the famous Bullock Hotel which is said to be the most haunted location in South Dakota. Apparently, Deadwood had so much lawlessness during those Wild West days that murders and tragic endings were the norm, so there is more than enough material to fuel all the ghost stories.

My only “weird” experience at the Bullock Hotel was that I was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of my hotel keys jingling. They didn’t use card keys, but the older metal keys on a metal keychain instead. And that’s exactly what I heard jingling. It freaked me out, but I didn’t pick up my head to look bc I didn’t want to see anything. So I kept my head buried in the pillow until it stopped. And then it stopped. And that was it.

Lol, too bad I don’t have a better haunting story for you all! But here are photos I took of the hotel and room 320 we spent the night in….

There are actually a couple of ghost tours in Deadwood to choose from. We ended-up chosing to do the ghost tour for the hotel across the street instead, the Fairmont Hotel, because it was featured on an episode on one of my favorite shows “The Dead Files” and I wanted to see it in person. They said it was also on an episode of “Ghost Labs” too but I haven’t seen that one.

It doesn’t look like people can stay overnight at the Fairmont Hotel anymore; it seemed to be a casino and restaurant/bar only now. But they do host the ghost tours on the 2nd and 3rd floors where the guest rooms should be.

I’ll say, the ghost tour would be very valuable even for those of you that aren’t interested in ghosts at all, because 75% of the tour was historical information and characters and context for how the Wild West days used to be. So I learned alot and not much about ghosts actually.

But it was still creepy for those of you that like ghosts too. The only weird thing that happened to me during the ghost tour through the supposedly haunted rooms of the Fairmont Hotel, was that I kept hearing my daughter say something to me, but I could never catch what she was saying, so I would turn and ask her “What did you say?” and she’d look at me strange and answer “I didn’t say anything.” But I swear she said something to me, so I’m quite stumped as to what happened there.

So here are some pics from the ghost tour…

Anyhow, that sums up how my visit to Deadwood South Dakota went. And I enjoyed it very much. I hope you all enjoyed reading about it.

If you’re into the haunted experiences, I’ve also visited a haunted castle in Ireland and you can check it out here.

Until next time…

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The Island of Malta

So I had the opportunity to visit Malta a few years ago, prior to covid of course. It was incredibly lovely, and I wanted to share some photos and tidbits.

For the official scoop on Malta, you can certainly check-out its Wikipedia page here. Otherwise, my casual interpretation of its info will be scattered throughout this post.

Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, very close in proximity to Sicily and Italy. I had a great view of the sea from my hotel. There are small pockets of sandy beach to be found if you are determined, but most of the oceanside is rocky. It is still beautiful however. Some photos from the balcony of my hotel:

Since it is an island, there were impressive marinas as well as some navy ships to see…. Historically, it was considered a critical naval base for many ruling powers such as the Greeks, Romans, and now Europeans – so there is alot of nautical activity almost everywhere you go.

And as you can tell from the buildings in the background, there is historical significance here in Malta worth preserving. And one thing I’ve noticed of this city, is that they’ve kept their historical buildings very well-maintained which adds greatly to the impressiveness.

Malta has been inhabited since 5900 BC so there are many older sites, monuments, and buildings to view. There definitely is not a shortage of site-seeing here. You’ll be very busy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick description of my Malta trip. I would love to go back sometime soon with my daughter. And I would highly recommend it to others as well. Let me know if you’d like to visit too!

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Thornton’s Pool – Incredible Summer Pool Party Destination

Thornton's Pool

It’s summertime and the kids (me too!) are ready to hit the swimming pools again! We found Thornton’s Pool last summer and everyone loved it.

Thornton’s Pool has been featured on tv and in many articles by now, so you might’ve seen it already on all those extreme pool shows on the television. But here’s a handy link to one such article if you don’t want to search yourself. And if you don’t want to read through all the scoop, here are the highlights:

  1. This pool is physically in someone’s backyard.
  2. It is 500,000 gallons of water.
  3. You can book a pool party here for a donation fee.
  4. Some features to interact with while there: a swing rope, a diving board, a floating platform, and a waterfall display.
  5. It is located in Covington TN. If you’re travelling to visit this, then the closest large city will be Memphis TN for your reference. Otherwise, it’s most convenient for persons that live in the area already – Millington/Covington/Raleigh/Bartlett area of TN.

Here are some of the photos I took while I was there last summer:

Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.
Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.

So, this was a great time and a great destination pool party last summer. And I would highly recommend it. If you want to check it out for yourself, you do need to book a reservation. I think the easiest way to contact them is via their Facebook page.

Have fun!

Summer Pool Party – Shopping Links

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You might have found yourself on this page if you are looking for pool party destinations or maybe even gathering ideas for a pool party. If that’s the case, below are some ideas of items that might be fun to have at your pool party. Enjoy!

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Spontaneous Roadtrip Through Ireland

Roadtrip Through Ireland

My last international trip before Covid shutdown everything was a roadtrip through Ireland. This trip was unique for me as in I had no itinerary except to arrive and depart Dublin at very precise dates/times. But in-between, I had no plans. I rented a car and figured that I would just stop whenever something interested me.

You’ll find several links throughout this post, but none of them are affiliate links. I’ve only included them for your information and for your convenience.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

The first day, I did stay in Dublin just to get a bit acclimated and to recover from the long overnight flight. I didn’t do anything too crazy, just walked around the city and absorbed what I could.

I did stop inside the Library at Trinity College because I am obsessed with history, and especially old books and old libraries. I just love that kind of stuff.

The Roadtrip Through Ireland

Seriously what I enjoy most about such a roadtrip is that I have complete control. I decided to take the country roads instead of the highways. And I end-up with the most amazing scenery as well as the most amazing finds. Here’s some photos of the scenery, and a photo of the inside of a 300+ year old pub named “The Dying Cow” that I never would have found if I tried to plan this trip.

Spike Island, Cork

Spike Island is in the County Cork area of Ireland. You can only arrive there via ferry. It was originally a monastery and later converted into a military fort, and then later converted into a prison where it was one time the world’s largest prison. It’s abandoned now. If you’d like more info of it, you can check out their tourist site. Lol, they even have ghost tours at night! (I was too scared to try).

This was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. There was a ton of historical information provided by a very personable and funny tour guide, and you also had time to yourself to spend however you please on the island. You really could make an entire day of it if you wanted. I was lucky that the weather was nice the day I visited, and I could enjoy the exhibits as well as the terrain at my leisure. And there was a comfortable cafe available for refreshments when necessary too.

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cork

While waiting for the ferry to take me to Spike Island, there was a massive cathedral that you could see from miles around. It was St. Colman’s Cathedral and here is their website. We stepped inside to take a look and it was beautiful. I am obsessed with old churches because of their history and their elaborate structures.

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula

And there’s even beach life in Ireland which I didn’t expect! This was a surprise find just from driving. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very cooperative on this day, but I would definitely enjoy this setting with some sunshine and some extra heat. 🙂

Haunted Leap Castle, Roscrea

And the final day in Ireland was when I stopped at Leap Castle on the drive back to Dublin to catch the flight home. I dedicated an entire post to this specific stop for all the ghost fans…

I hope you all have enjoyed my summary of my roadtrip through Ireland. I’d love to go again because I do enjoy the long scenic drives and the surprises to find along the way.

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