You may have noticed that the messages from The George Collective slowed down last week - but there's a good reason, I promise. My husband, Jim, and I took some "us" time and went on a road trip.
I love road trips because they are my opportunity to get out in nature. Nature is my church. It's where I go to reconnect with Gaia and to feel refreshed, inspired, and renewed. And Gaia did not disappoint.
Altogether, we drove about 5,000+ miles, visited 9 national parks and several other places of note, drove through 8 states, and wandered from sea level all the way to 12,200+ feet above sea level. And as I always am when I travel, I was awed at Gaia's beauty and variety.
For I truly believe Gaia is a consciousness that creates just as human consciousness does. It's just that Gaia's creativity is in the land, sea, mountains, rivers, lakes, and fauna of the planet. And boy is it diverse. In just the Mountain and Pacific Northwest states, we saw such diversity in landscape.
Day 1 - Prisons, Classic Cars, and Thunderstorms
We drove from our home in Western Washington to Ellensburg, Washington the first night after work since the next morning would be our first full day, traveling to Bozeman. We woke up very early-- like pre-dawn early--and headed east into the Sunrise and into Northern Idaho and Montana.
Our first stop was in Deer Park, MT. The (haunted) Old Montana Prison is there, which was interesting to visit. But the big surprise was one of the most extensive collections of classic cars I've ever seen in the car museum on the prison grounds. I highly recommend it. Turns out I'm a fan of the old-timey hood ornaments.
We arrived in Bozeman, MT amidst dark skies, flashes of lighting, and one of the most sudden and epic rain/hail storms I've ever experienced. It was a real light show, one that was fun to watch from the safety of our hotel room window.
Day 2 - Yellowstone and Grand Tetons
We woke pre-dawn and headed off into the sunrise again, this time to Yellowstone National Park. We were there before there was even an attendant at park gates (they go on duty at 6 AM). Don't worry - we have an annual pass (best $80 we ever spent!) so we paid our way into the park and were there before most people were even out of bed.
In fact, it was our strategy to go to all of the crowded parks pre-dawn so we could do what we wanted and be out of the park before it got crowded. The strategy paid off big time as we were able to experience many things almost completely alone without others around us.
As we entered the park, we were greeted by a herd of grazing buffalo. Then we went to check out the thermal features. Which smelled like sulfur. But...they were also stunningly beautiful, especially in the morning light. The images below were taken in the Porcelain Basin at around 7 AM.
We were out of the park by 9:30 AM, and it was already looking super crowded. We headed to Jackson, WY past the Grand Tetons so we could go in a different entrance the next mornings.
I've been in the Tetons before and absolutely think it is one of the West's most beautiful mountain ranges with its rugged peaks.
We were pretty tired given two pre-dawn wake-ups, so we explored Jackson a little and then went to bed early.
Day 3 - More Tetons, More Yellowstone, and the Rocky Mountains
We were up before dawn the next morning, too, and we headed into Yellowstone via Grand Tetons National Park (you go through Tetons to get to Yellowstone). Our plan was just to drive through the Tetons, but we were immediately captivated by the scenery and spent a little more time in the park taking in the mountains than we anticipated - but it was totally worth it.
We managed to make it into Yellowstone right around 6:15 AM, and the line up was already several cars deep, although nothing like it would be later in the day. We headed first to Old Faithful and sat in the sunlight listening to what sounded like a wild turkey (maybe?) call while we waited for the eruption. Old Faithful was true to her name and right on time. Turns out, there's an app you can use to know when, within about 14 minutes, she's predicted to erupt. We didn't know that - we just lucked out and got there before the crowd but still didn't have to wait long.
What surprised me about Old Faithful is how quiet her eruption actually is. It was peaceful sitting and watching water rise high in the air, propelled by heat in the Earth.
Next we took a gentle hike along a pretty stream and meadow, climbing to the overlook above Grand Prismatic Springs. It was worth the walk to see this beautiful spring with its variegated bands of colors, a totally natural phenomena.
On our way down, we passed a lot of people headed up, so once again we just barely managed to avoid the crowds. From there, we headed to Yellowstone falls and the Yellowstone canyon. It was very crowded there, so after taking it in, we were out of the park by noon and headed to our next destination, Gilette Wyoming.
It seems only appropriate that our visit to Yellowstone ended as it began - with a buffalo.
Day 4 - Devil's Tower and South Dakota
We were once again up and out early - pre-dawn to visit Devil's Tower. Devil's Tower is sacred to the local Indigenous Americans, and June is a sacred month for them, so while the monument was open, it was requested you not divert from paved trails. The trees were filled with prayer bundles.
We were, once again, some of the earliest visitors there and, for a time, had the place practically to ourself.
This is the first location we visited that felt truly sacred and full of special energy. We walked for a while on paved trails, and I sat and sent Reiki to people from there as well. As we descended back to the parking lot, it was starting to fill with people (by 7 AM), so it was time to move on. If you have the opportunity to visit this sacred, healing Indigenous site, I highly recommend it.
From Devil's Tower, we headed to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It's not one of the more crowded National Parks, although it is definitely geologically interesting.
We mostly did a drive through loop of Badlands with a few photo and exploration stops. My favorite moment? Two mountain goats on rocks just off the road.
From Badlands we drove to Mount Rushmore because it was there. It was pretty much what I thought it would be, and extremely crowded, so we weren't there for long. It was actually on our way to the next leg of our trip, so Jim really wanted to stop because, why not?
The true purpose of Rushmore, however, was so Jim could drive the Needles Highway in Custer State Park. I'll preface this by saying...I have a phobia of unprotected heights. Sol often winding, narrow, high roadways with steep drop-offs scare the crap out of me. However, I also recognize that to see the most beautiful things Gaia has to offer, you also have to sometimes be a little afraid. And so I was. The highway is one of the most cool things I've ever seen, culminating in driving through "the eye of the needle," which is a tall spire of rock with a one-lane tunnel through it.
After you thread the needle, you drop down equally sketchy roads but wind up in perhaps one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Sylvan Lake. We happened to hit it just at dusk. If I had let my fear keep me from traveling the highway, I would have missed seeing this:
Finally, we took a drive past Crazy Horse and then settled into our hotel in Custer just as it was getting dark.
Day 4 - Wind Cave, Rocky Mountains, and Stanley Hotel
You'll probably be shocked to hear that we did not sleep in. We were up at dawn in hopes of possibly getting to Wind Cave National Park early enough to get in on a tour down into the cave. No such luck, but we did get to meet Bob the prairie dog and his thousands of friends and family, so worth the drive and it was on our way anyway.
Instead, we headed into Colorado and had a lovely lunch in Loveland, and then headed up to Estes Park. We were there by 2 PM, so we got checked in, wandered the historic Stanley Hotel to look around, and then headed up into Rocky Mountain National Park for a quick drive.
We took a short loop drive through part of the park and encountered much wildlife, including a herd of Mountain Goats, buffalo, huge elk, and some moose, although they were French so they prefer the spelling Mousse.
We returned to the hotel early and spent a few hours just sitting on the porch smelling lilacs and watching the mountains. It was lovely. After a late dinner, we retired so we could get ready for our drive into the Rockies.
Day 5 - Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods
And in the early pre-dawn we went, out of Estes Park and into the Rocky Mountains (and Rocky Mountain National Park), were we crossed the Continental Divide several times and ascended to our highest point of 12,200+ peak of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was spectacular.
Next, we dropped down into the Denver area, where we visited Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. This place has special significance for me because when I first visited it at the tender age of 22, it was the first time I truly understood that there are places on the planet where the energy is powerfully healing. It was lovely to return all these years (decades) later. The energy remains what I remember it being.
After a drive through of the park with some time for exploration, we headed back towards Loveland Pass, where we once again crossed the continental divide.
From there we headed down to Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods.
After exploring it in the car and on foot, we headed into town for a car wash (lots of bugs), dinner, and a good night's sleep in downtown Colorado Springs.
Day 6 - Million Dollar Highway, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Telluride
Ah the Million Dollar Highway. For Jim, it was the most anticipated part of the trip. For me, the most feared (unprotected heights). It's a highway that runs along the edge of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado - and by edge, I mean clinging to the side of the mountain. It has steep drop offs and plenty of twists and turns. But oh, the views. Totally worth it. You even get to drive over a waterfall.
I'm happy to report that I not only survived, but loved every minute of it. Turns out that the perfect formula for fun is a little bit of fear (or terror) and some breathtaking scenery. Well done, Gaia!
Next, we headed to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This is a lesser known park, but it is beautiful nonetheless.
We did some exploration there before heading into Telluride where we stayed for the night and I once again confronted my fear of heights by riding the gondola to the top of the mountain.
That's right - I went up and over the side of this mountain in a little car dangling from a cable. It was beautiful and so quietly peaceful, you could hear the wind blowing through the tops of the aspens.
That night, to bed early so we could once again get up before the sun.
Day 7 - Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Dead Horse State Park
Mesa Verde is another national park that doesn't get as many visitors as others, but it is one of the cooler national parks. You'll get to see a lot of cliff dwellings, temples, and pueblos created by ancient Anasazi. I highly recommend a visit.
From Mesa Verde, we headed to my favorite state - Utah, which is one of the most beautiful states mile for mile you'll ever see. We drove o Moab with the goal of getting up very early the next morning to visit Arches National Park. Even the drive was breathtaking.
We arrived early enough that we could work in a quick visit to two of Moab's other amazing offerings, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park with its amazing view of the blue potash ponds.
Day 8 - Sunrise at Arches National Park
We woke well before dawn and headed into Arches while it was still dark. We decided to go see the sunrise while sitting underneath the double arch. We were the only people there as the sun rose, so it was silent and absolutely breathtaking (and the energy - wow).
After sunrise, we explored the park until it got too crowded. We were out by noon. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
Day 9 & 10 - The Sprint Home
And then, alas, it was time to make the turn and head for home. We drove from Moab to Park City and spent a nice night there before making a 13-hour drive home the next day where we were greeted by the happy faces of our dogs.
Don't Waste Your Turn
I had a friend who I called Miss Anne, and she used to always say, "Oh my dear, whatever you do, do not waste your turn." Her words have stuck with me, and it's a philosophy I live by.
We are here for a short time in each lifetime, and we are conditioned to believe we must do certain things. But friends, please don't waste your turn. And don't let fear or pain stop you from going, doing, and exploring.
Because the world is full of great beauty. Gaia is a creative genius. Get out and explore, even if it's to a local park or green space. Soak in the energy of the Earth.
Talk to people who are different from you. Ask them about their lives and listen to their experiences without judgment.
Notice not just the big beautiful things like mountains and oceans, but the small beautiful things as well, such as the smell of lilacs or loam, the song of crickets and birds, the whisper of the flapping of butterfly wings or breezes through the treetops, or the beauty of a tree trunk or a wildflower. Be present. Notice. And in doing so, you can be in a space of peace, joy, and inspiration. Gaia has created this for you. Don't waste your turn.