Go to ABC7Chicago.com

abc7chicago.com blogs
Read more ABC7 blogs


- Chicago Traffic

« April 2012 | Main | August 2012 »

July 2012

On The Road to a Virtual Voyage!

I figured a  “Throwback Thursday” would be a most appropriate time to wax nostalgic and invite you to join me on my next virtual vacation!  This weekend I will set off on a wondrous adventure “across the pond”  touring southern England!  As if that weren’t fabulous enough, I’m traveling with my daughter Sara, just the two of us, as her graduation gift before she heads off to college next month! 

  SCAN0468_2 IMG_0363


  During my 25+ years at ABC7, many of you have watched Sara grow up over the years - here’s the nostalgic part - and during that time she has become an incredible traveler! 








She took her first cruise before she was 2 - at 4, she was climbing pyramids in Mexico!

  SCAN0468 SCAN0467
















At 6, Sara accompanied me and my Mom on a trip to Spain - 3 generations in our mother country! At 10, Sara was sightseeing through ancient Greece; at 12 she experienced the glaciers of Alaska!

SCAN0467_2 IMG_0677









                         Alaska july 26 to aug 5 2008 146 (2)


I took her to President Obama’s first inauguration - we explored the holy land together with members of our congregation.

  Inauguration Express 1-20-09 127 IMG_3875









I chaperoned a high school choir trip to Ireland, and back in the states we took road trips to our national parks and the entire stretch of Rt. 66!  Sara’s 18th birthday with a destination party to the “Happiest Place on Earth!”

  IMG_5055 IMG_5450









IMG_8451 IMG_9333









I now invite you to join us on our next adventure, as I share our discoveries in London and many other historic places in the UK.  We arrive at Heathrow Airport Monday August 4th; posts on Facebook and Twitter soon to follow!  As this is an “interactive vacation,” feel free to make suggestions, ask questions or give advice - this is the first time in the UK for both of us!

 https://www.facebook.com/RozVaronABC7   https://twitter.com/rozvaronABC7 

One more thing - a heartfelt thanks to my incredibly understanding husband for giving Sara and I this special bonding time while he stays at home.  Besides, someone has to watch the dogs, right?!


Bon Voyage!




On The Road to Grand Teton

Had I known that I would see so many amazing things in our grand national parks road trip, I would have given myself several more days!  Our last two days were spent in Grand Teton National Park.  On the drive south we witnessed another herd of bison in action.  They were so close we could hear them grunt (I think that's the sound they make)!


This was our day for wildlife sightings!  We took scenic Gull Point Drive adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, and saw a beaver hard at work!


The best photo op just happened upon us when 2 large elk popped out of the forest and began walking along the side of the road!!

IMG_5950                                                               Absolutely amazing!


As we drove south on Highway 89, 191/287, the majestic mountains peak up above the forest, waiting to greet you. 


                                       The snow-capped Tetons are simply breathtaking!


We drove to several overlooks, hoping to see more wildlife.  We saw plenty of bison, a couple of pronghorn, but have yet to spot a moose.  We've made that our mission before we leave!

IMG_5982 IMG_5985










Our last day at Jackson Hole Wyoming brought another first for me - whitewater rafting! The first half was a scenic float along the Snake River.  


We were thrilled to see so many bald eagles, as well as pelicans and other wildlife.

IMG_5995 IMG_6006








IMG_6005 IMG_5998










The second half of the trip - not so tranquil! Eight miles of whitewater rapids!  I have to admit, it was exhilarating!  I can't believe I was ever nervous!  

The best part of the trip came at day's end.  We were telling some of the other folks on the whitewater trip about our mission to find a moose. As fortune would have it, they had seen 2 of these magnificent creatures earlier in the day "this close" to our lodge!  Much to my surprise, the directions they gave us were spot on - and yes, we found our moose!


The pefect ending to a perfect road trip!

On The Road to Mammoth Hot Springs


We covered so much ground today at Yellowstone - it seemed like three days in one!  We hit the road early, heading toward Mammoth Hot Springs.


We drove past waterfalls, wildlife and a petrified tree, dating back to the eocene times!

IMG_5830 IMG_5836










When a chain of volcanoes errupted at this location 50 million years ago, they triggered massive landslides.  The rolling mix of ash, water and dirt covered the forest.  The silica in the lava flow plugged the living cells in the trees creating a "forest of stone."  The locked gate protects the only reaining petrified tree at Yellowstone! As we continued north, we saw several cars parked along the side of the road.  This could mean only one thing - a wildlife sighting!  We were in luck - it turned out to be a mother black bear with 2 cubs!  This was a great area to spot black bears - up the road we were treated to yet another!

IMG_5848 IMG_5854








The scenery changed dramatically as we approached Mammoth Hot Springs.  About 50 hot springs are concentrated in this area - the average temperature is 160-degrees!  Remember, Yellowstone is sitting  over a volcano - in some spots the magma chamber is only 5 miles from the surface!

IMG_5866 IMG_5861


























As if we hadn't had our fill of hot springs and geysers, we left Mammoth to check out the Norris Geyser Basin, another Yellowstone "hot spot!"  Ranger Dave explained about Yellowstone's last super-volcano, 640-thousand years ago!


We decided to make the Yellowstone loop complete and visit Old Faithful one more time, just to blow off a little steam!


We topped off the evening celebrating my husband's birthday with "Lava Cake" or "Caldera Cake" as they call it here!  The drive back to the lodge at sundown in the rain was a little unerving, but that's all part of the adventure!  

IMG_5907 IMG_5913









Tomorrow our final destination - Grand Teton!



On The Road to Yellowstone National Park

We got an early start today on the road to Old Faithful - less people; more wildlife!  We were not disappointed!  Barely 30 minutes on the road and we happened upon a herd of  bison. 


                                                    It was awe-inspiring.



The biggest clue that animals are approaching - traffic stops!  Good thing, or I would have never gotten this shot!

We continued south, passing the Lower and Upper Geyser Basins.  To see the steam rising from the ground in so many places, so often is almost erie. In fact, there are more geysers at Yellowstone than anywhere in the world!


Of course the most well known geyser in the world is Old Faithful - conveniently, its eruptions are on a schedule!  During our visit Old Faithful was blowing off steam every 90 minutes or so.


 We hiked a couple of miles, taking in the sights (and smells) of the many other geysers and sulphur basins in the area.  










We decided to take the scenic loop back to our lodge.  The Continental Divide crossed the road several times - total tourist photo op!


Once again, the incredible scenery is worth the drive!  The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone offers one of the most beautiful waterfalls we have seen - complete with a rainbow! 












The only thing missing - more wildlife - be careful what you wish for.....


This is one gapers block I can live with!  More Yellowstone tomorrow!





On The Road to Cody Wyoming

It must be the hat.  I’ve found my inner cowgirl, and she’s not leaving any time soon!  

 Our road trip today continues west from Sheridan to Cody Wyoming - destination - the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  We plotted our route and figured it would take close to 4 hours depending on traffic (just kidding - so used to saying that back home!)  As we’re driving, the landscape begins to change, and suddenly we find ourselves driving up through forests and mountains!  We are now in Bighorn National Forest , elevation over 8-thousand feet!  The view is incredible!  The land is a history lesson - rock formations of limestone, dolomite and more dating back 500-million years!  This truly is God’s Country.











We exit Bighorn with a new appreciation of nature’s creations and enter the town of Cody, home of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody, this is the place to do it!  The museum was recently renovated - it’s actually five museums in one, including the original home where William F. Cody spent his early years!



I was most interested in learning more about this legendary figure, so we spent the majority of or time in the Buffalo Bill exhibit.  William Cody was given the moniker as a young man when he was hired as a buffalo hunter to supply meat for the railroad workers and army personal in Kansas.  His skill earned him the nickname, which would be known world-wide.

IMG_5621 IMG_5626


















I was most interested in learning more about this legendary figure, so we spent the majority of our time in the Buffalo Bill exhibit.  William Cody was given his legendary moniker as a young man, when he was hired as a buffalo hunter to supply meat for the railroad workers and army personal in Kansas.  His skill earned him the nickname, which would be known world-wide.  “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” traveled all over the world, including Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893!


I was absolutely delighted to see original footage from 1909/1910 of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” which traveled all over the world!


With a limited schedule, we still made time to visit the other sections of the museum, including the amazing exhibit on the Plaines Indian Peoples, Western Art, Yellowstone Natural History and Firearms.











As my inner Annie Oakley bid a fond farewell to Buffalo Bill, we continued west to Yellowstone. 


Yellowstone National Park was the first to receive this designation in 1872.  It’s easy to see why - its beauty is breathtaking, its historical and geological significance, overwhelming!   No sooner did we enter the park, we were greeted by roaming bison - several of them, along the road, near the geysers, just about everywhere!


Hard to leave - but we had to check in to our lodge!  Along the way we made one more stop, to admire the beauty and sheer force of the rapids along the Yellowstone River.


More amazing sites and sounds from Yellowstone tomorrow!






On The Road to Jewel Cave

Today we said "Goodbye" to South Dakota, as we hit the road heading west to Sheridan Wyoming - a one night stopping point on the way to Yellowstone National Park.

We decided to do a little sightseeing along the way, and since this is a National Park road trip, we stopped to visit the first cave given National Park status!


Jewel Cave is 161 miles long, and still growing, as it is still being explored!  Our tour took us 300 feet below the surface, through many caverns and up and down 700 stairs!

IMG_5536When prospector brothers Frank and Albert Michaud made the discovery in 1900, they found a small cave with sparkling "crystals", thus the name "Jewel Cave."  The "crystals" turned out to be sparkling calcite, which is worth - you guessed it - nothing!  The brothers tried but failed to make the cave a tourist attraction, but the underground wonder had attracted national attention; in 1908 it become part of the National Park System to protect its extrordinary beauty.

IMG_5538 IMG_5539










It wasn't until an expedition in 1959 by renowned rock climbers Herb and Jan Conn, that a bigger discovery was made.  Over the next 21 years the couple discovered 65 miles of this wonderous cave!  The mystery continues, however, as experts believe the 161 known miles of Jewel Cave make up only 5% of what lies beneath the Black Hills!

IMG_5544 IMG_5566










Another 4 hours on the road through the Great Plains of Wyoming!  Tomorrow we discover Cody and the world of Buffalo Bill!


On The Road to Mt. Rushmore

Today we visit an American treasure!


Mt. Rushmore began as an idea to bring sightseers to the west in the early 1900's - it ended up as so much more!

We took the park ranger tour to get the skinny on the monument.  Gutzon Borglum was the sculpture who created this amazing work of art, but he was not the first choice!  Chicago artist Lorado Taft (you may remember his Black Hawk Statue from my "One Tank Trip" to Oregon Illinois) was originally asked by historian Doane Robinson to create this masterpiece, but Taft declined due to ailing health.


Borglum chose Mt. Rushmore for the site of his mountain carving because the broad granite wall faced southeast and would receive maximum sunlight, and because granite was a sturdy matieral that would withold the tets of time.  In fact, the estimated erosion rate of Mt. Rushmore is 1 inch every 10-thousand years!  Spot on Mr. Borglum!

Construction began in 1927 - it took 14 years and nearly 1-million dollars to complete.  Actually, it's not really complete!  The original design was to show each president from head to waist, but construction was stopped in 1941 due to lack of funding and America's entry into World War II.

 You may also notice that Lincoln's head is not quite complete - it's missing an ear!

IMG_5453Borglum's son Lincoln (named after said president) supervised the completion of the heads after his father's death in 1941, but decided against having another artist add on to or change the original work, so it was left as it we know it today.

IMG_5438After taking pictures of Mt. Rushmore from every angle imaginable, we took a break and a scenic drive along Needles Highway in nearby Custer State Park - destination, the "eye of the needle!


We rounded out the day by returning to Mt. Rushmore for the evening light show featuring a patriotic film, "Freedom - America's Lasting Legacy," and a tribute to all the service men and women who were in attendance at the evening's show.  IMG_5529


A very moving experience that will stay with me for many years to come.  Tomorrow we head west to Wyoming!



On The Road to the Heartland

I love to travel!  Of course, if you've been following my "On The Road" blogs, you already know that.  My last couple of trips took me overseas in two different continents - I decided my summer vacation would be right here in the good old US of A - visiting states and landmarks that I've never seen before. Join me on my roadtrip to the national parks!


Custer State Park is just south of Mt. Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  There are miles and miles of scenic trails throughout the 71-thousand acre park.  We came across lots of pronghorns (similar to an antelope), the fastest land animals in North America -although they stood pretty still for my camera!


We also came across prairie dogs, a wild turkey and a few high flying hawks.  We did not see any bison, probably the wrong time of day, but we did encounter some very friendly burros!


We stopped for a delightful lunch at the Blue Bell Lodge and yes,they serve bison burgers!


We continued winding our way through the park, the roads nestled between the tall ponderosa pines. The views are breathtaking, as the elevation is over 5-thousand feet!


The most magnificent site appears as we go through a narrow, one lane tunnel.  As you drive out of the tunnel, you see in the distance Mt. Rushmore.  "O beautiful, for spacious skies...."  Tomorrow we visit this incredible American icon.