Tag Archives: vacation

Wolves and Elk and Moose, Oh My!

Grand Teton National Park

I have just returned from my first vacation in over two years. Planning was a challenge, but so worth it. My husband and I, along with our dear friends, spent nine days exploring Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands and so much more. We began planning early in the year, before any of us was vaccinated, with the idea that if travel was inappropriate or not safe, we would cancel. After learning just a couple of months ago that our guide was unvaccinated, and was not planning to become vaccinated, we scrambled to find a substitute. The result was a memorable adventure that restored my soul and let me breathe in air that can only be found in the widest of open spaces.

Day one found us hiking to the hidden water falls at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Forest. The six-mile trek took us over rocky, hilly terrain around the lake, through forests of Aspen trees just turning to golden yellow. As we made our way, the clear lake reflected the bluest sky I have seen in a long time. By the time we returned to our van, I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready for more. And for the next week and a half we got so much more.

Our visit to Yellowstone began with a drive through the pre-dawn hours to watch the sunrise over Lake Yellowstone. Upon arrival we were greeted by a mother Elk and her baby serenely grazing in the grass while the sun began to peek over the horizon. The air echoed with the early morning cries of Elk waking and greeting each other throughout the park. As daylight broke, we witnessed the herd all around us as they wandered down to find food. Simply magical!

We made our way to perhaps the most famous landmark in Yellowstone: Old Faithful Geyser. A sign let us know when the next eruption was expected, and we wandered around the geysers until just before. As we waited, other geysers spouted plumes of boiling water that had made its way to the surface over thousands of years. Old Faithful did not disappoint, either. The eruption lasted for three minutes, sending plumes of water high into the sky above. The rest of the day was spent viewing geysers and thermal pools throughout the section of park known as, “The Caldera,” the area created by volcanic eruptions over the past 2 million years. Everywhere we looked we could see steam rising from the pools’ bubbling surface. The largest, Grand Prismatic, glowed blue, red, orange, yellow, and green. It felt prehistoric and otherworldly.

Another highlight found us the next day rising even earlier to participate in a wildlife safari. We began in a section of the park known as Lamar Valley, home to wolves, grizzlies, elk, moose, and many other species of animals and birds. Daybreak found us perched on a small hill about a mile and a half from a group of young, sleepy wolves. Once again, the air rang out with their morning howls like a symphony surrounding us. Our guide was equipped with special binoculars and scopes that allowed us to witness the activity from a safe distance, nearly two miles away. We watched as three young wolves frolicked, waiting for an elder to bring them their breakfast. Throughout the day we followed the Valley’s roads as our guide received updates from his network of scouts reporting on the latest sightings. We watched a solitary female moose run through the woods in search of her herd. We saw pronghorns, or antelopes, grazing as they stayed safely away from the wolves. We also witnessed bison during their rutting, or mating, season, fighting with each other to claim their favorite female. Above soared hawks, eagles, and magpies.

Later in the week, we made our way to South Dakota where we viewed the majestic Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and hiked into Badlands National Park. The Badlands was originally home to Oglala Sioux Indians. As homesteaders spread out through the area, the U.S. government stripped the Native people of their land and sent them to reservations. Badlands is the site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. There is, however, much beauty in the area. The rough looking terrain boasts tall spires and pinnacles and is home to the once endangered black footed ferret, which was reintroduced into the wild. The area is also the largest mixed grass prairie in the country. Dramatic and stark, the Badlands was a highlight for me.

There were so many memorable experiences and sights along our journey. What sticks with me the most is the sense of freedom after many months of confinement and restriction. I am awestruck by the beauty to be found in our country and a bit ashamed I have spent so much time exploring the world without ever looking in my own backyard. This trip inspired me to see more, do more, and interact more with the United States. I will always remember the cries of the elk and wolves, the fragrance of pine forests and the feeling of success as I climb a high peak. And while another vacation may be months away, there is much to explore in my own little corner of the world. See you out there!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Exercising My Superpower


This past month has been eventful.  My husband and I celebrated a big anniversary with a Hawaiian vacation that included our three adult children.  The vacation was glorious, but traveling as a family of five adults is a challenge (although I’ll take the challenges over not being together any day of the week).  Added in was a recurrence of bursitis in my left arm that was painful and frustrating.  Our two-week sojourn also included a stay in Los Angeles, a drive up the coast to attend my niece’s wedding and a mad dash back to LAX for the return flight home.  And upon our return, our youngest son is now living with us while he attends graduate school.  Oh, and just before our trip, a leak in our upstairs HVAC resulted in drenched duct work and damage to the ceiling drywall.

I’m not complaining!  Well, actually, I’ve done a ton of complaining to my husband.  Thankfully he has very broad shoulders and has kept his cool.  Staying cool in the face of my emotional storms is one of his super powers.  And in the midst of the chaos, well maybe after some of it has passed, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a partner with truly superhuman patience.  In fact, sweetie, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), thank you.

And this week is my birthday, so there’s that.  I always feel a little melancholy around this time.  Every birthday since my parents passed is another reminder of what I’ve missed sharing with them.  I was so fortunate to have the kind of parents many kids long for.  They weren’t perfect by any means, but they were perfect for me.  They were my first teachers, my protectors and my biggest cheerleaders.  They loved me unconditionally and completely and they showed me how to do the same with my children.

Is there a lesson in all that has happened this past month?  I’m not sure.  Since last week, there have been three more mass shootings with little outrage coming from our nation’s lawmakers.  The erratic weather patterns around the world further highlight the threat to our planet.  And unstable and dangerous dictators in foreign countries threaten our nation’s democracy and safety.

One of my super powers is my ability to remain positive and optimistic in the face of life’s difficulties.  Right now, my powers aren’t as strong as they usually are.  But I will offer this: all of the current challenges we face are proof of our humanity.  What distinguishes us from other life forms and from machines is our resilience in the face of pain and tragedy and our ability to learn and grow from our mistakes and the misdeeds of others.  I am hopeful that our common humanity will give us the strength we all need to work together to find solutions and to honor our differences.  I believe it is our ability to love that elevates us and allows us to see the humanity in each other.

And when I feel really down, I head out to my summer garden and revel in nature’s creations and take pride in my accomplishments there.  This year, my sunflowers haven’t worked out as I’d like.  But I’ve had a bumper crop of squash, peppers and cucumbers.  Tomatoes are still going strong and I’m anxiously awaiting some eggplants to ripen.  More lessons learned.


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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In the Middle of Nowhere

Letchworth State ParkLetchworth State Park is in upstate New York in the middle of nowhere. It can only be reached via secondary roads from Rochester or Buffalo.  I first visited the park on a school field trip.

I love the park because I’m a history buff and there’s plenty of history in the park.  On our school trip we visited the pioneer and Seneca Indian museum and the restored Seneca Council House. Near the Council House we saw the statue of a truly remarkable woman named Mary Jemison.

Mary’s family emigrated from Ireland in the early 1700’s. After her family died in a frontier raid, a common occurrence in those days, she was adopted by the Seneca tribe. At the time of her adoption into the tribe Mary was about 15 years old. She spent the rest of her life as a member of the tribe and her descendants can still be found among them.

Mary farmed land that is now within the borders of the park.  Traces of her life and farm remain, including a log home built for one of her daughters. Mary is buried in the park near the land she used to farm.

Of course, not everyone cares about history as I do. So if history is not your thing, there’s plenty of natural beauty on display in the park.  The primary natural attraction is the waterfalls on the Genesee River.  The river is shallow but it narrows into a deep gorge that descends through a series of three waterfalls. At the lower falls, a stone bridge spans the river gorge allowing a wonderful view upstream of the middle falls.

If you ever find yourself in the middle of nowhere near Buffalo or Rochester, consider taking a side trip to Letchworth State Park. You can eat lunch at the Glen Iris Inn, formerly the home of William P. Letchworth who donated the park land. Then take a stroll to the nearby historical and natural sights in the park.  It’ll be worth the trip, I promise!

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