Rowan Travelers tour the West

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 21, 2018

After two years of back-to-back traveling out of country to Ireland and Great Britain, the Rowan Travelers flipped the coin and decided to stay domestic and tour the National Parks of the West for their summer travel adventure.

Twenty-two travelers made their way to Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Park and through Wyoming before finally ending the tour in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As on our other tours, the group was blessed throughout the tour with beautiful weather. The atmosphere was a bit hazy from the summer California wildfires when we first arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota, but the weather was warm and almost humidity free.

I really didn’t know what was in store on this tour. As a kid growing up with John Wayne westerns, Yogi Bear and Jellystone Park, I had somewhat of a tainted idea of what to expect but was pleasantly surprised from the very beginning. The Badlands, initiated our Western visit, providing miles and miles of white cliffs majestically towering above a background of prairie lands.

However, as Rowan Traveler, Joe Edmonds commented, each day had something new and more exciting. Yellowstone National Park was truly an amazing visit, covering more than 2.2 million acres (larger than Delaware and Rhode Island together ) of twisting, winding beauty filled with picturesque waterfalls. The park also includes thousands of acres of lodgepole pines and indigenous wildlife from hundreds of grazing buffaloes to curious prairie dogs staring at camera laden visitors.

Our hotel, The Old Faithful Inn, a circa 1920’s hotel with handcrafted logs as part of the interior architecture, was void of television and internet coverage. One could relax and enjoy the view of steaming geysers during the day and evening.  Old Faithful was true to her name, spewing steam every 90 minutes.

Another interesting aspect of the park was learning that forest fires is a normal occurrence.  In a summer of terrible fires in California, Yellowstone Park seemed to accept forest fires (usually started by lightning) as part of nature necessary for germination of new lodgepole pine seedlings.

This tour was somewhat different than the groups’ previous tours of Ireland and Great Britain. The tour seemed to be a little more relaxed, a gentler tour if you wish, less busy with more time to reflect on the sheer magnitude and beauty of our country.  Our tour guide was amazed at how friendly and happy the Rowan Traveler were each day of the tour. The Rowan Travelers “set the tone” for the entire bus making this adventure special for group.

As I have mentioned before, traveling and discovering new places with friends and family only enriches your travel experience.