Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Due to technical difficulties and never having time to figure it out, this post is what it is..the first two pictures are just a random thermal feature...


To recap, our adventures have included Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, a train ride in Durango, CO and some new friends! and now onto Yellowstone! Although, honestly, any of the before mentioned places could have been a full vacation on their own, Yellowstone was the original intention. We just saw so many opportunities on the way, so we took advantage of them.

But, Yellowstone! Another really neat thing I have not mentioned so far is that my older kids did (or rather are doing) a History curriculum called "America the Beautiful" and Yellowstone and Mesa Verde National Park were in it! The kids had already studied those places and had their interest piqued! How neat is that? (yeah, I'm a nerd, so what?)
I'm hoping this will help give an idea of what I'm referring to when I mention areas....

Lindsay had a list of 3 things she really wanted to see at Yellowstone so we made sure to include those. You'll see pictures of all 3 in this post!

While driving the final leg of our journey we got some news that was pretty devastating to me-we had all been planning on my grandparents moving here and spending lots of time with them. Their house here was READY for them. All the work had been done. But a little over a month ago my grandma had to be taken to the hospital for her heart (atrial fibrillation and some bad valves and some blockage)....the drs said there was no way she could travel the 900'ish miles from there to here without having open heart surgery. Ok, no problem! But through all of this (and thank God the surgery went well) my grandpa decided he just couldn't that's what I found out. Yes, I know...she's okay and that's what counts. But man was I looking forward to some time with my grandparents and for my kids to get to know them it hurt! And the timing was less than wonderful. Sometimes I think it was BETTER when there were no cell phones. You couldn't get that kind of bad news on vacation. Right? I cry about once a year. Seriously. Just not a crier (not always a good thing, to not be able to cry, ya know?)...I cried for HOURS. Couldn't stop! But was trying to not let my kids see because I didn't want to put a damper on their special time. We had all looked forward to this for MONTHS!

So, driving the last leg, barely able to see through my tears...I saw a MOOSE! (the only one we would see in fact!) I'm more excited about it now than I was then...and we got to our hotel and checked in (Shout out to the Kelly Inn in West Yellowstone, Montana! Great place to stay in my opinion!) was pretty late but it stays light for a long time in Montana in the summer-in case you wondered.

The next morning I just could not pull out of my funk/depression. It seriously felt like my medications weren't working (remember, I deal with depression). The family went to breakfast and I laid in bed. And cried. And then, texting with my best friend and my mom...I managed to, with her help, realize that I needed to pull out of this and do this thing. For my kids. And basically I had to fake it til I could make it. I'm so glad I did! I got in the shower and this is what I found on my bedside table when I got out:

Who can argue with that? So, off we went to the IMAX (Yellowstone was the feature of course! I thought it might be good to see that first and get an idea of what we were seeing/looking for). And then next door to the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center!!!!

This guy was the low man on the totem pole in his pack and for some reason he just seemed so downtrodden. :( We all felt a little sad for him....

We went back to the Center later in the day to see the "feeding" of the wolves. You don't actually see the feeding but they take the wolves out of the enclosure/habitat to feed them and while they're gone the "keepers" come in and enrich the habitat. This is when the wolves were coming back in to their habitat to explore. It was really interesting!

We got really lucky and the day we went was the day of the week that they put live fish in their little stream! We thought maybe the wolves wouldn't care that much but wow! They went to town! Caught them all and ate them!

We finished at the Discovery Center and off we went into the park (yay!)

The first day or two you are pretty impressed with bison...then you have seen enough. LOL

But we loved seeing the mamas and babies. Even bison are cute with their babies!

Annnnnd....OLD FAITHFUL! We waited for quite a while and it was COOOOLD!!! (Apparently Montana doesn't really consider June to be summer!) And the funny thing is, it wasn't nearly as impressive as so many other of the thermal features at the park!? I was a little disappointed because it's the most famous!

Poor Nathan caught something just in time for our trip. :( Poor little guy was pretty miserable...and his cough sounded like he was strangling! We were a little (ok, a lot!) nervous because he has a scary history with croup that gets bad really fast with little warning! He was such a trooper most of the time though...Big brother is covering him up with his own jacket here!
Just to the right of the middle of the picture you can see a "pop" of bubbling mud. It was pretty cool! Hard to capture it in the picture though. :( Below is the description.

Doesn't this look like such a waste-land? Yet in the background you can see the gorgeous evergreens!

We were all set to walk around in the Old Faithful Area and my WONDERFUL husband came up with the idea to rent one of these bike trailer/strollers! It was the BEST idea I think he's ever had!! These two would have been alternately running around scaring me to death and complaining about how tired they were (before again running is that "tired" children have energy to run around making you crazy?) At any rate...this stroller saved us a lot of grief (=best $12 ever spent!!!!)
Is she not one of the cutest things you've ever seen!? She bought a journal in her souvenir shopping and she was writing about her experiences in it while we waited for a geyser to go off. :)

This was one of the things she had her heart set on seeing! The Morning Glory Pool. It was pretty neat. Sadly, all the "orangey-brown" color is from algae growing due to people throwing things into the spring and therefore blocking the hole at the bottom, so the water cools just enough to let algae grow. But, the colors were still gorgeous.

If you want to know why they have to put fences around these thermal features..people have jumped into them and DIED. We bought a book called "Death in Yellowstone" while we were there and it describes the stupidity that people exhibit! I can't believe that people are dumb enough to jump into BOILING water. And then they're surprised when they...die!
No words needed, huh? Just beautimous!
See the steam? That water was probably beyond frigid, yet there was a hot spring off to the side of it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yellowstone or Bust!

The much anticipated day finally came! Our original plans were to leave on the first leg of our journey at around 12:30 or 1 pm...but we left at about 5:30am! When does that happen!? Who leaves AHEAD of schedule for any trip!? I know. It's astounding! Amazing! Nothing short of miraculous!!
First stop? Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)!

Our View at dinner-we opted to eat outside from our ice chest rather than what smelled like mediocre cafeteria food....

waiting waiting waiting for the bats to fly out...they never really did...just trickled out

Because we got such a great start and were half a day ahead of schedule...we had some down time the next morning at our hotel. The kids were super happy about this: swimming!!!! Before getting on the road to Durango, CO! One thing that just amazed us was the changing scenery. Where we live it's pretty monotonous. And flat. But on this trip (northwest) the scenery was ever changing! Literally, you would look down and when you looked up 2 minutes later, it was completely different!

We loved the beauty of God's world that we were able to see from our (dirty) van windows.
We got into Durango at a decent time-remember, we were AHEAD OF SCHEDULE (really, who does that happen to?) We went to eat at a place called Old Tymer's Cafe. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice. We tried some locally brewed cream soda :) Durango is a very old fashioned feeling town...
Old Tymer's Cafe-Durango, CO

Then, finally!!!! What Nathan had been waiting for for months!!!! I had the tickets months in advance and unfortunately I forgot that a 3 year old has no sense of time and understanding that something is a ways off...I got so excited about taking my little guy on a choo choo train...but at last! The day arrived!

The ride up had me facing some of my fears...I"m terrified of being up high in a situation like a bridge or you  know, on a cliff! There was a lot of looking down and cringing! But I made myself look out because the view was gorgeous! Some of the time I didn't even take pictures because the camera just couldn't even come close to capturing what I was seeing. It almost cheapened it. Poor Harold got a cinder in his eye not too long before the ride up the mountain ended. Very painful! When we got off of the train we were in the cutest little town called Silverton. It's an old mining town kind of up on a mountain!Very cute. I was told that only around 400 people live there year round.

We were told by the front desk clerk at the hotel that we should eat lunch at a place called Handlebars. It was an old time saloon type of place and we ate Elk and Bison (well, some of us did. Lindsay ate yard bird-aka chicken...). Elk is pretty good. They said it was a little gamey but I didn't really think it was. It was super lean though. We had a few minutes to knock around the town and then had to rush back to the train (that was my only complaint! Not enough time in Silverton for my liking! I now wish there had been an option to spend the afternoon and evening there and ride back in the morning!). I did manage (while the rest of my family was boarding the train) to get some of the fudge that I saw advertised the minute we got off of the train! Yuuuummmmmm!

Worst moment?? When the train is coming back into town at the end...apparently they have a town tradition of the people playing/swimming/tubing in the river to MOON the train!!! **GASP** We saw boy bottoms and girl bottoms and bottoms of bottoms. And there was NOTHING I could do.

That evening we were able to let the kids swim a bit (too cold for my liking)! And we made some new friends. Another family was down by the pool and we talked to them for a while and thanks to Facebook...voila! Friends! :)

This is blurry because the little girl in the picture didn't want her picture taken...she had a consequence. She had to write "if it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it" 11 times. Even on vacation, rules matter!
Very cautious little boy...he almost drowned on our mini-vacay to Florida! He was cautious before that and had one little aberration and now he's back to cautious!
much happier! Done writing!
the view! Look at the view!!!!
After the swimming, we went to walk around Durango and find something to eat-love the little old town square feel of downtown Durango! I saw a place where they take your old fashioned pictures (you know, the old saloon type pics with dress-up clothes and guns and parasols and stuff??) But, second gasp was almost $100!!!!??? Yeah, nevermind. We need to eat on this trip too.

Pizza. We ate pizza. The places I had chosen on had too long of a wait so we went to a little place that, while not the most awesome pizza ever, had great customer service. They helped us figure out what to feed our little guy who is dairy free. That gives them an A in my book! The kids didn't seem to mind it too much either!

The next morning, it was "ON THE ROAD AGAIN" (Insert nasally voice a la Willie Nelson)...and onto our main destination!!!!

Yellowstone National Park!!!!!

Actually we were staying one block outside of Yellowstone Park in a little town called West Yellowstone.  I have decided that a second installment is going to be necessary because I've been back almost a week and this is as far as I've gotten!

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