Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Time--Headed Home

We were ready to head home when the time came.  We'd been away for  two and a half weeks and we were facing a week's drive ahead of us.   We altered our plans a bit and decided to hold off on visiting Glacier National Park.   It was a good decision.  We headed North out of  Gardiner and then turned east.  We were trying to make Teddy Roosevelt National Park on the Western side of North Dakota that evening. 

Pompey's Pillar
 We pretty much just drove that first day, though we did stop at a National Historic Monument called Pompey's Pillar.  I don't think it's the kid of place people make a destination but we saw the sign on the freeway and decided a stretch of our legs was in order.   It was about the Lewis and Clark expedition and was interesting.  Hyrum really liked it.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

 We continued on our way and arrived at the park just before closing time.  We stopped in the Visitor's Center, stamped our passports, purchased our patch and magnet and then as we were preparing to leave, Hyrum had an opportunity to help the Ranger take down the flag.   We made our camp down in the shade of some trees enjoyed some dinner and went to bed.  It was a quick stop and really just a place to sleep but, little did we know the next morning would bring some new perspective.

Wild Horses at TRNP

 North Dakota is no where near the top of my list of beautiful places but I've learned that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places.  Tuesday morning we got up and packed up camp and headed out of the park.  We decided to take come time though to drive a loop though the park.  I really wanted to get on the road home but I am so glad we took this extra time. 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This park is amazing.  The scenery is so interesting and beautiful.  It was like nothing I'd ever seen before.  I can understand how Theodore Roosevelt was so inspired by it.  We saw prairie dogs, wild horses, and bison as well.  This is another unexpected places that begs to be explored further.  It was a really neat places.

White Butte, ND
The next day we drove through North Dakota and stopped for a couple hours at White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota.  Due to little legs and my fear of rattlesnakes on a trail rumored to have them in abundance, the little kids and I stayed at the car while Hyrum, Hannah and Jonathan hike to the top of the butte.   The weather was warm but the car stayed relatively cool in the shadowed parts and we kept ourselves busy with snacks and tidying up a bit.  Hyrum and the kids had a good hike and didn't see any snakes.

Hannah and Jonathan trudging up the butte.
After that we decided a hot meal was in order so we stopped at Arby's and then decided a bed would also be good that night.   Hyrum's, brother's mother-in-law lives just over the Minnesota border so we called her up to see if we could spend a night there.  She was so kind and let us stay the night even though she was heading out of town for a few days.  She even went grocery shopping for our breakfast.  She is a fabulous women, I hope to see again.

Thank you for the beds and showers!
Wednesday we made our way across Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   There we hoped to hike Michigan's highest point the next day.  We camped at a state park and the mosquitoes were terrible.  It had been a really long time since I'd seen mosquitoes as bad as we had here and at Yellowstone.   We didn't spend a whole lot of time outside at our camping spot.

Trail to Mount Arvon, we think.
 Mount Arvon, Michigan's highest point is found (one hopes) amidst a maze of logging roads.  They can change without much warning.  We got a little lost and weren't able to make that highpoint.  We'll get it another time though.

We were really hoping to make it home on Thursday so we made minimal stops and arrived home around 12:30 am.  It was so nice to be home in our beds.  Hyrum was a trooper because he does all the driving and had been at it for a while.  It was great to arrive a few days earlier too so we had some extra time to unwind before appointments and preparing to go back to school and all things that come with Fall and real life.

Wake-Up, We're home.

It was a good trip, busy and hectic at times, but we saw people we love, and some really awesome sights.  I am thankful we could have this time together as a family.  It isn't always easy but I think, as the kids grow, it will make all the difference in our relationships.

Now we're on to planning next summer's adventures. 

Summer Time--Reunion #4, Yellowstone

Hyrum's grandparents have taken their family to Yellowstone every ten years for a while to commemorate their wedding anniversary.  in 2009, they decided maybe every five years was a better idea so we've now been able to go twice.  This year was great.  The kids enjoyed it and I think they will remember a lot more.  We had some neat experiences and saw some really beautiful sights.  It was our last event before heading home and so was a little more relaxed than the rest of the trip thus far.
Mystic Falls in Yellowstone's Biscuit Basin
The crew
Since we headed there from Island park we arrived in the park much earlier than the rest of the clan.   Our family decided to hike a few miles before checking into our cabin.  It was a good hike with a pretty steep point but we all made it.  I was really surprised by the mosquitoes that attacked us on the way down--it ended up being a portent of what was to come.   At one point we looked behind us and realized we could see Old Faithful erupting in the distance.  The kids thought that was pretty neat. 

Old Faithful Eruption from Mystic Falls Hike

We stayed in the cabins near Old Faithful and that is always fun.  Saturday morning started with family pictures with Grandma and Grandpa and of course the whole group.  This part of the family add up to 60 people.  We were only missing four--all of which are currently serving LDS missions.  Pretty crazy.  in the next few months we'll add three more people to that number with a wedding and two babies.  They are all amazing people too.

We went to Fishing bridge after that and let the kids wade in Yellowstone Lake.  This was the high point for them.   They loved letting the waves crash on their legs.  Next time, we'll go equipped with swimming suits though. 
Wading in Yellowstone Lake.  It was cold.
This boy loves the water.
Sunday we had all day before church meetings that night so we met Hyrum's parents and siblings for a photo-op at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  It dates back to the first year Hyrum's parents went and his mom took a picture with the kids in front of the falls next to a particular pine tree.   Every time we go and re-take the picture with the original 6 and then add in those of us who've have come along through the years.   It's a fun way to document the passage of time.   Afterwards we drove down the road and enjoyed a picnic with everyone. 

Yellowstone Canyon overlook with the cousins.
We headed north while everyone else headed south.  This is where the highlight of this trip happened for me.  Every time I've been to Yellowstone my only wish has been to see a bear and a moose.  We're still working on the moose and that wish has tempered a bit but, I finally got my bear.  We were driving a long and traffic got really backed up.  We expected bison or elk were the culprits but no, there was a black bear enjoying his lunch by the side of the road.   There were plenty of silly people getting way too close but we enjoyed the view from our car. 

Black Bear

View from our drive near Mammoth.
Monday we left bright and early and headed northeast out of the park and stopped at Mammoth.  The kids enjoyed the formations there and it was fun for Hyrum and I to re-visit our honeymoon spots of nine years before. 
The kids at Mammoth Hot Spring formations.
It was a crazy long trip but I'm glad we were able to see all the family we did.  We love all of them and we are glad we can be together forever through the promises of our Heavenly Father.  We also enjoyed seeing so many of His wonderful creations.  I spent more time outside on this trip than I had in a long time and it was lovely.  I am so thankful for this wonderful planet and the beauty that surrounds us if we'll open our eyes a little wider and pause for a little longer. 

Summer Time--Reunion #3, Island Park ID

As our parents families grow we feel a need and desire to spend quality time together since quantity is a bit hard to come by with everyone's busy lives.   Hyrum's brother, Ian, was instrumental in pushing along plans for a reunion with Hyrum's parents and their family.  Plans were made and this summer was the summer.  Timing turned out to be excellent since Brigham had just been married and Ian will be getting married this Fall.  Myself and the little kids got to meet their two newest aunts. 

Science with cornstarch and water
Hyrum's parents rented a fabulous cabin in the woods in Island Park, ID, about 2 hours outside of Yellowstone.  There was a great wrap-around porch the kids loved running on, a great room big enough for us all and a well-stocked kitchen.   Outside there was a swing set, fire pit, horseshoes, and room for outside family games.  There was also a comfy hammock and a basement great for late night card games.

Grandpa made a great Santa!
We spent a few days just hanging out.  We ate good food, played fun and silly games, crafted and just enjoyed each others company.  I look forward to getting to know each of these people better.

Marshmallow wars

Late night nerts.

How many people can we get in the hammock?

Playing ball

More hammock dwellers