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View Full Version : 4300 miles of love: Yellowstone Tetons Style with LOTS of photos


estherhead
08-19-2008, 03:31 PM
Hopefully this is the right place to post my T.R. I wrote it live while we were living it, so even this is post-trip it will be in the present. I'm going to use my normal TR names from my Disney TR.

Perla: (previously, me!): I chose to be a girl mouse from Cinderella along with my sister as we are two parts to a whole when it comes to planning anything. We adore planning things together. Anything from weddings to kidís parties to vacations to weight loss. Weíre pretty good alone, but together I canít think of a skill weíre missing. Iím crafty & good with my hands, full of enthusiasm & endless ideas. She is organized, practical, clever with the internet, and excellent with a stretching a dollar. We both are full of energy & smart & (thank heavens) weíre both adaptable (since we have 7 kids). Weíre a good team.

Donald Duck (previously Dh): Total Disney-lover. Really up for any vacation I suggest as long as it isnít with crazy people (yes, weíve tried that: choose travel partners with care.) Adores spending time with his three girls, loves swimming. Chose Donald Duck because Donald is a pretty awesome duck, ready for any fun Mickey, Minnie, & Daisy can dream up but he can be a bit cranky. Though on this trip, his inner Donald mostly stayed inner.

Mulan: Our eldest: 7 on this trip. Serious, but loves to laugh. The best helper ever. Bossy, typical older sister. With a heart of gold.

Ariel: Our middle: 6 on this trip. Sunny, sunny person, sings constantly but things hurt her feeling very deeply. She is obsessed with thrill rides. This trip to Yellowstone was for her as she is a huge nature lover & I wanted her to have an outdoor adventure.

Boo: 17 months on this trip &. The most observant baby of all of mine. LOVES animals even more than her sister Ariel. With her powers of observation & her love for animals she was a perfect companion to have on a nature searching trip. She spotted animals before any of us! Even tempered as can be. Good sense of humor.

Added to our trip were my parents:

Dad: 62, entrepeneur, great sense of humor, great cook, great driver. Large wealth of knowledge of all kinds of things (which is helpful.) Notable on this trip was he was having some blood pressure issues and got sick so his energy was very low.

Mom: 62, now retired, adores her grandbabies and was looking forward to getting to know her introverted grand daughters better. Good at crafts, LOVES, LOVES nature. Great at watching kids & entertaining kids.

So that is the crew. We also had Sheila. Our trusty GPS gal. We all rode together in our 2006 Honda Odyssey. I love this van and I love it even more now. Very versatile vehicle. We also had a car top carrier we bought at Sears. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better set up.

OK, are you ready for the beginning of the journal? It's more of a journal than a TR.

Disney Ella
08-29-2008, 06:25 AM
I'm waiting for the rest of it!

estherhead
08-29-2008, 06:57 AM
Glad to see someone's reading! I'll be back to post more soon. My dh & I helped throw a 50th wedding anniv. party for his parents and then we've had a little flood in our basement so I've not had time but after my fantasy football draft tomorrow, I should have time to update. Maybe even today! We'll see...

missstcroix
08-29-2008, 07:24 AM
subscribing.

estherhead
08-29-2008, 07:56 AM
Day Two
July 27th, 2008

You would think after driving 1400 miles I would have some of my journal written. But it is just as difficult to concentrate in a van with your children as it is to concentrate at home with your children. And there is just as much to do. Even as Iím typing there is chaos around me. Boo is playing with Mr. Frog, Ariel is talking to me about who knows what, & Mulan is looking out the window at Donald who is digging through the car frantically because I lost my keys this morning and he lost his phone just now.

That doesnít make this road trip sound very fun, does it? But in truth itís been very fun. And the children have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Even Boo is giggling and laughing and having a grand ole time. She has been an absolute angel. And weíre not even close to the best parts yet.

Friday, the 25th was packing day. My life has been so insane lately at work & arranging a friend's wedding and everything else going on, that we had not packed or cleaned anything. Thursday had been very frustrating as to pack up 5 people for a road trip would require a lot of stuff. And a lot of stuff makes a big mess. Which I wasnít allowed to do because we have a Bible study in our house Thursday evening so I felt like I kind of lost Thursday.

Then on Friday I had invited my best friend over for lunch because she was having a terrible week and I didnít want to leave for two weeks without seeing her. But because I lost Thursday I didnít have everything done and I left the house for a few last minute things & completely forgot about our lunch date. When she called me, she sounded so disappointed she might cry. So in spite of the fact that I had not one thing packed & I felt like everything was in shambles, I met her at her house for a chat. Which ended up working perfectly. The girls simply couldnít tear themselves away so I left them there & got my hair cut and finished up the list. By 3:00 p.m. we were home and truly ready to get packing. Donald met us at home and mayhem commenced.

While it was still daylight, perhaps around 8:00 p.m. we had the car top carrier loaded and were ready to go. I colored my hair and took a shower. Mom and Dad brought there stuff over and by 9:15 I was watching Monk & Psych. By 11:00 p.m. I was asleep.
And by 3:40 a.m. on the 26th I was being awakened by an annoying alarm clock bursting me out of a dead sleep. Donald was asleep on the couch, as was Boo with her butt half hanging off. He awoke very slowly. I woke up the girls & could tell we were never going to make our 4:00 am appointed time. Donald mentioned coffee & I went to make it at 3:56. Finally, (it felt like forever) it was done and by 4:20 we were at Mom & Dadís. We left at 4:30 a.m. in good spirits (though Iím pretty sure Dad was a bit irritated with our late departure time.)

Donald had played with the GPS a bit while we were packing & had added all of our stops for our first day. Weíve taken to calling her Sheila and sometimes we trust her, sometimes we donít. But I will say this, Iíve certainly not looked at the map as much I usually do. Sheila can adjust to whatever speed you are driving so the arrival time on her is completely accurate. I love that. Sometimes when Iím on a driving trip & I print out Mapquest times, I feel like Iím racing to beat the time it says I could get there. Itís like itís a challenge to me to live up to its expectations. But Sheila adjusts. If you stop to use the restroom she simply says, ďRecalculating,Ē and a new arrival time is in place. Itís as if that original time never existed at all. So there is no need to race. And no need to look at a map for general stuff. No expectations. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Sheila will take care of you.

The open road ahead of me (me in the mirror) and our trusty new best friend: Sheila:
http://inlinethumb02.webshots.com/44033/2492995770092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2492995770092107464VPJBRt)

But we did find a few times when following Sheila surely would have been a bad idea, or in our first case, her directions were fine, but not the directions I had intended. Our first stop was at Kickapoo State park in Illinois. I had intended on pulling off at the second exit as it was an easy on, easy off. But I wasnít paying attention & Sheila directed us to the first exit. Fortunately I had printed an accurate Kickapoo state park map off the net (it was not easy to find a Kickapoo map, let me tell ya) and Mom was able to get us to a playground fairly painlessly.

It was nearly 10 a.m. to us (though only 9 in central time) and we stopped for breakfast. Dad pulled out his basket of food (very pretty & quaint, but in my honest opinion, and after the strawberry incident earlier today, not very practical) and his campstove. I pulled out my tablecloth (pretty and practical, thank you very much) which was packed in a Wal-Mart bag (not pretty at all but exceedingly practical) with the paper plates, napkins, and plasticware. Boo & Ariel & Mulan went down the slide over & over again while Donald jumped rope and Mom looked for cicadas. We took a little jaunt into the woods (a very little jaunt) but scared off all the cicadas by being way too loud.

Breakfast was great. Toad in a hole made with sourdough bread served with bacon and fresh berries. I had eaten a Kashi bar earlier and didnít really feel like eating anything so I pretended to eat & Dad fortunately didnít really notice. Donald had two, Mulan gobbled down hers, and Ariel didnít really like it. It really was more of a Mulan breakfast versus an Ariel meal. Then the slide a few more times, a potty break in very old but clean bathrooms, and we were on our way.

Kickapoo picnic:
http://inlinethumb06.webshots.com/15685/2954726050092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2954726050092107464lNVfyT)

Our next stop was supposed to be the Mississippi Valley Welcome Center. Here, yet again, Shiela led us astray. And yet again, I was absorbed in entertaining children & before I knew it we were headed away from our scheduled stop. There were two ways around the city and we went the south way. The Welcome Center was the north way.

So we ďrecalculatedĒ from a map and managed to find a delightful scenic overlook with great facilities, a beautiful overlook of the Mississippi, and low & behold: a playground! There had been some kind of flood even more recently than the actual flood of Iowa of 2008 and there was debris & fallen trees everywhere. And the Mississippi looked so powerful. Dad made us ham & cheese grilled sandwiches with delicious homemade hummus & pita chips. Yummy! Mom & I peed in the woods and then spent time cleaning out the van. Then, we were off again. Kids happy and adults ready to move on. It was a great little park and lunch and it was really easy to get on and off the highway there.

The Mississippi:
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See all the broken trees? It was worse than this looks. But Boo looks unconcerned.
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THe mighty Missouri. It was actually really beautiful but by the time we got out camera out, we had mostly missed the gorgeous part & just got the bridge enterance. Oh well, I remember how pretty it was & that's the important part.
http://inlinethumb27.webshots.com/43802/2011236550092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2011236550092107464RwPLOG)

From there we headed straight to Des Moines where our first mandatory overnight stop was. A La Quinta in Clive. It was nice. $58.00. An indoor pool. And less than a mile to a Rockbottom Brewery and a Barnes and Noble. What more could one family need in a hotel? We went swimming. We filled our bellies with beer, steak, enchiladas, etc. Then we cruised around the Barnes and Noble. And then we CRASHED! Donít forget, my alarm had gone off at 3:40 AM! Zoicks! I went to sleep at 9:00 pm and never woke up once until 6:00 am. It was an amazing nightís sleep. Well deserved after logging over 750 miles in one day.

Day Two:
Which brings us to today! Over 600 miles logged today and in additionÖ

The La Quinta where we stayed had a free breakfast. They had hardboiled eggs and freshly made waffles along with normal continental breakfast things. It was nice, the girls enjoyed the waffles very much, except for Boo who was too busy rushing around with excitement to eat. HYPER! Donald packed up the van and I realized I didnít have my keys. Itís a little scary as now we only have one set and that is not good.

We started off with a five hour drive. The baby fell asleep, I was driving, and Donald played Civ 4. Iíve yet to do anything more than load it & look around. But I think Iíll love it. Anyhow, I was driving & the first 5 hours were painless. I was concentrating on not wasting gasoline which kept me busy keeping my RPM on target & trying to talk to my deaf father over the loud music which was not too successful since I myself am deaf and background noise exacerbates our already challenging communication. But despite giving the second row good laughs, I think he & I did just fine.

We stopped to fill up for gas, giving Sheila a heart attack, and Boo ran around the gas station store like a maniac. Iíve never seen so much squealing in delight at peanuts and Pringles and suckers, etc. The rest of us used the facilities and then we made another unscheduled but well needed stop at Taco Bell. A side note, I had found a book at the library called The Next Exit and it was very helpful. It lists the main highways of every state and then has every exit on those highways with every single thing at each exit. It makes finding an exit with what you desire less of a crap shoot and more of a sure thing. Very helpful.

Anyway, from there we followed Sheilaís directions and arrived at our destination unscathed, the Corn Palace. I wasnít sure what I would think of the Corn Palace, but it was an enjoyable break. It is fascinating to see the corn art, especially after our 1000 miles of driving past relentless corn fields. And the inside offered another potty break & a fun little gift shop.

Donald trying to get a good shot of the girls in front of the palace.
http://inlinethumb05.webshots.com/1988/2689602340092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2689602340092107464mPsvQl)

Corn Art, the theme this year is hometown heros, so this is teachers:
http://inlinethumb63.webshots.com/42750/2625005360092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2625005360092107464nqRQcz)

And parents, my favorite:
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Inside the gift shop some buffalo attacked Boo (she looks scared, too!):
http://inlinethumb26.webshots.com/40985/2566492620092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2566492620092107464xaWCWl)

And desire attacked Donald:
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On our way back to the car we made a little stop for homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream from the friendly people in Mitchell:
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We then drove for another three hours to the Badlands. We stopped about two hours in at a little information center where Boo found a puppy to be her friend and Mom found some tour book brochures.

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One thing she found which interested her was a Petrified Garden. So we added that to our to do list (but we didnít tell Sheila) and hopped off on the right exit. We thought we would have a little picnic there and paused briefly to buy some beer first.

When we got to the Petrified Gardens it was a little shanty and there were no picnic grounds. Not only that, but it was 96 degrees out in blazing sun with high humidity, not exactly picnic weather. So we popped the beer into the cooler and went into the strange little building and fenced in garden and hoped for the best. It ended up costing only $25 for all of us and was very enjoyable.

The family who owned it had been collection fossils and petrified would and beautiful rocks since the 1930ís all found in the badlands. It was interesting and quite the little collection, and interestingly displayed. They had all these tacky little hand written signs which ended up being informative.

An actual printed sign:
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Mom & Mulan, I swear it is rock and not a tree, see all the funny signs behind them?:
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From there we made a lovely stop at a prairie dog town. I was a bit nervous about this stop just like I had been about the Petrified Gardens as it looked like holes in the ground and dirt and I was just sure no prairie dogs would come. But Mom & Dad had been there before so we stopped. I went to buy prairie dog unsalted peanuts ($.50 a bag) it turned out to be delightful. Mulan and Ariel started feeding them and they kept getting closer.

http://inlinethumb01.webshots.com/17408/2573049340092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2573049340092107464olJmgC)

When Boo finally figured out what was going on she was in hog (or dog) heaven. At first she followed one dog and when it went down a hole she was very sad and just stayed there waiting for it to come out that hole not realizing the holes were connected to undergrounds tunnels and that the prairie dog was never coming out of that hole again. She simply would not leave that one hole.

Come out little prairie dog, come out.....
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But then she figured out he was never coming back and there were other dogs to be had. She clapped and dance and giggled and squealed. Prairie dogs were the absolute best and she had no desire whatsoever so leave them. Dad had to carry her and when he set her down near the van, she turned right around to go back.

Once we cajoled her into the van we briefly stopped at a dugout prairie house which was interesting to think about but we didnít want to spend much time there.

http://inlinethumb29.webshots.com/43420/2971575370092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2971575370092107464AreOTe)

We were ready to see Badlands. To be honest, I didnít enjoy them as much as I could have. Boo was absolutely exhausted and wrestled with me instead on sleeping so my viewing was obstructed. It was way too hot to take any of the walks to the overlooks. And the girls were not that interested in the badlands so we had to keep yelling at them to turn off their little TVís. It was incredibly beautiful there in the badlands and I think in other circumstances I could have stayed a long time looking at the scenery.

Boo flying over the badlands:
http://inlinethumb41.webshots.com/42536/2480297530092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2480297530092107464TqhCMT)

Mulan a little nervous about the edge of the rock:

http://inlinethumb30.webshots.com/41949/2742928250092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2742928250092107464lmYDhN)

But I was done rather quickly and ready to just go to the hotel. Mom took pity on me and took Boo who screamed and wrestled with her but finally succumbed to sleep and then the badlands were behind us and Wall drug with its omnipresent signs was in front of us.

I actually enjoyed Wall Drug. Mulan & I split up from Donald and Ariel and we took lots of pictures and saw the sights, bought Mulan some hair clips and a puzzle for all the girls, and were back in the car.

http://inlinethumb41.webshots.com/43496/2996112850092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2996112850092107464tkVgDg)

Did you say jackalope?
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Next stop: Watiki water park!!! We knew it was too late for us to swim this day but at least we would be at the same spot for 2 nights. Finally a break from the driving, driving, driving.

Which brings us to the lost phone. Donald found it under the bed in our room. The search and stress had emotionally exhausted him. He had a beer, took a shower, and went to sleep. Things like that are so frustrating as you know for a fact that it canít be lost and yet it is. And youíre too tired to deal with it simply. That phone is his life. Losing it isnít really an option.

After his shower, I showered myself and typed this trip report and now am off to bed. How absolutely luxurious to lay in a soft bed with two warm girls wrapped around each other and ponder over our trip so far.

Itís been lovely to travel 1300 miles with 3 little girls and my parents. It has been. No one feels they must fill dead air so there is companionable silence as well was pleasant conversation. The girls have so many activities there has been no whining at all. And Boo has been very good. Who knew? :hug:

estherhead
08-29-2008, 09:25 AM
Day Three
July 28th, 2008

It’s now 8:32 p.m. Our plan was to be at the water park till 3 p.m., then go to Mammoth Site followed by Mount Rushmore and the laser show at Crazy Horse. I woke up around 6:30 a.m. and laid in bed a bit. It was very nice. Then I got up & went to the breakfast area to get the family coffee and breakfast. It was empty and I grabbed 2 waffles, 4 donuts, 2 coffees, and a yogurt. We chowed down and then by 8:00 am were at the water park. Like at Disney World, the earlier, the better. As we passed the breakfast room there was a huge line, but we were well fed. And the park was empty. We ran up the stairs & rode slides over and over again for an hour. I rode until my legs and arms (carrying the double tube) burned. By 9:00, I was already done. So we told the girls another half hour and that we would come back later. It left us the entire day for sight seeing.

http://inlinethumb60.webshots.com/42427/2369349500092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2369349500092107464ADNwqP)

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Dad had already been to Wally World to get us lunch so we packed up & left by 11:00 a.m. for Mount Rushmore. Unfortunately, we packed up so quickly that we didn’t really pack up at all. We forgot the cooler first of all, which Tim had to run back and get. We forgot a bottle opener. But the worse thing of all we forgot comes later in the story.

We drove the relatively short distance to Mt. Rushmore. There were no picnic grounds so we parked outside the parking garage and found a short wall in the shade. Dad pulled out the camp stove and we had chicken burritos (Mulan had quesadillas) with diet sodas (because we couldn’t open our beers with no bottle opener.) It was very nice except for the irritating Harley Davidsons passing us every once in awhile. They scare Boo to death. So that put a bit of a damper on our peaceful lunch.

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After that we threw a beginning to get cranky Boo into her stroller and we rolled toward the monument. We took the obligatory photo which with the internet seems silly since I could down load one exactly like the one I just took, but still. Inside the museum Mom accidently told the girls that one of the presidents was James Madison and got set straight in no uncertain terms that it was Jefferson. People at Mt. Rushmore are VERY patriotic. And relatively vocal about it. For me Mt. Rushmore was interesting more because of the sculpting & artwork. It is an amazing piece of artwork.

Then we watched the movie which was nice. But Boo had pooped during the quiet and dark of the theater. It was at this point that I realized the important thing I forgot. Her diapers! She really, really didn’t want to sit in her stroller or van in a poopy diaper. Who would? So I decided to do the logical thing. I wiped her tushe with the wipes & wrapped her in paper towels & then put her shorts back on. It was only 1 mile to Keystone so I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have an accident.

We easily found a convenience store and diapers in the right size. Boo was consoled with the paper towel being removed and a real diaper on her bootie. We turned around and headed back past Rushmore on our way to Wind Cave which is the longest cave in America. The ground above the cave was beautiful with antelope and buffalo and prairie dogs. It was so gorgeous. Which ended up being a good thing as Wind Cave ended up being a dead end for us. We had missed the last tour and were going to have to wait 45 minutes for the next one and it was an hour and a half tour. Boo was getting tired and we knew she would not be fun in 2 hours with no stroller in a dark cave. So we listened to a park ranger talk about buffalos and headed to Hot Springs to see the Mammoth Site.

Our drive by viewing of Crazy Horse

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Boo fell asleep about halfway and slept through the entire Mammoth Site tour which was amazing for us, or should I say me. It was the neatest thing! It is a sinkhole from thousands of years ago that mammoth slid into and couldn’t get out of. The bottom filled with limestone which hardened surrounded the dead mammoth with rock & turning them into fossils. When they discovered it they decided to build a building around it and excavate it right there without removing the bones but instead preserving them where they had been found. Very interesting. And confusing as far as earth creation/flood time line. It was confusing with an evolutionary time line too. Quite confusing no matter what time line you place on the earth. And the scientists don’t really even try to put it in a timeline. There is a generic one in place at the beginning but there are really a lot more “maybes” and “possiblys” than “this is when & what happened.”

http://inlinethumb33.webshots.com/36384/2980663410092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2980663410092107464bFRLOy)

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After that we drove back to Rapid City to find a place to eat dinner. It was tricky with all of our desires and restrictions. We really wanted Italian but finally decided to settle on TGI Friday. Well, Donald was in the wrong lane and ended up turning into a mall. The exit was all ripped up in construction so we couldn’t do an easy turn around. To be honest, I was a bit ticked. I was getting really hungry & it felt like we were driving in circles. But Donald insisted that somewhere in the mall parking lot would be something great to eat. He was sure he had spotted a Don Pablo’s so we headed in that direction. But as we got closer: it was an Olive Garden! Perfect.

They told us it was a 20 minute wait which made me sad but there wasn’t a real choice so we settled in to wait. Well, low and behold, we were seated in less than 5 minutes. The soup, the salad, the wine, the pasta, it was all delicious. Mulan was the only one disappointed as they brought completely the wrong meal. She was so hungry she accepted it but really wasn’t happy with it. Chicken fingers are a bit disappointing when you are at Olive Garden.

We moseyed back to the hotel and changed and went back to the water park. I took photos and played with Boo. She enjoyed herself way more this evening than she had this morning. I think to wake up & be thrown into gushing, rushing water is just too much for her. But after a summer day… that was pretty fun. I think she entertained half the place.

Now I am laying in bed watching the Mole. A load of laundry is going which Donald is graciously taking care of.

Tomorrow: Cody. In 6 hours worth we will go from prairie to foothills to mountains to mountain plateau. Sounds like an interesting 6 hour drive.

estherhead
08-29-2008, 09:25 AM
Double post deleted.

estherhead
08-29-2008, 01:31 PM
Day Five
July 30th

Yesterday was fairly uneventful. OK, so that isnít exactly true. It was just our least pleasantly eventful day so far. We woke up around 7 am and I went to get breakfast while the girls put on bathing suits for their last hurrah down the waterslides. I did a bit of packing and we were there at 8 am ready to splish and splash. I told the girls they had an hour.

When I went back up to the room it looked the same as it had: a mess! But all of us working together managed somehow to pack us up & by 10:30 we were on the road. Ariel had told me sometime during this whole process that she wasnít feeling well and that her tummy felt like it had butterflies in it. I didnít really give it much thought.
But 5 minutes after getting in the car we made a quick stop at Hobby Lobby for more balloons and I heard Ariel say something.

Balloon animals are fun for everyone!
http://inlinethumb30.webshots.com/43933/2320641040092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2320641040092107464PAfyAq)

Truth be told, I have no idea what she said but I knew it was serious from the inflection and started barking orders left & right. The doors flew open, Mulan hurled Arielís shoes at us, and Ariel & I were rushing out of the van. We were out maybe 3 seconds when her entire breakfast came shooting out. We ran to the bathroom, finished the process & cleaned up. I donít think it was butterflies!

Mom & I knew we were in big trouble, being moms we know the intensity in childrenís voices and looks. We had a 6 hour drive up 6,000 feet of mountains. Not good. We stopped for supplies (and I bought more junk food) and we started our journey. Ariel puked off and on all day & Mom & I guiltily littered beautiful mountain roads of Wyoming with Wal-Mart bags of puke. Sorry, Wyoming, but there was no choice. At one point I asked Donald to do something & I guess Mom said she would do it & I didnít hear her so I panicky & loudly said his name again which made him bite my head off. That did NOT make me happy & I tried desperately the next few hours to get over it.

Mom had Ariel lay down with pillows & keep her eyes closed. I think she slept maybe 2 hours, which is a lot better than Boo who simply stayed awake & wrestled with us while we attempted to look for wildlife in the gorgeous scenery. The people here in Wyoming are so friendly itís amazing. They arenít bitter or suspicious of tourists at all. Very welcoming & gracious and we experienced that from the moment we crossed the South Dakota border into Wyoming. Not that South Dakatons were unfriendly but the Wyomingís were SO friendly that it made it seem that way.

Finally, we made it to Cody around 6. It seemed like FOREVER. But it really was 6-7 hours. The hardest of our whole trip. We didnít stop for lunch, we just ate as we went.

I had told the family to expect a sharp downgrade from our hotel choices. The chain hotels and restaurants I had left behind in South Dakota, both because of price and personality. I had researched carefully and was confident in my choices, but they were simply not prepared. My choices forced us to strip away our old Eastern selves and immerse ourselves in the West. Wait till they see the Yellowstone cabins!

http://inlinethumb56.webshots.com/29175/2445503560092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2445503560092107464cijWws)

Anyway, the Big Bear Motel is on the edge of Cody between The Buffalo Bill Museum and the Cody Night Rodeo. It is a family owned place and I got a suite for all of us to stay in together. I was nervous about snoring or Boo crying but last nightís sleep was completely uneventful.

When we were checking in the owner told us a cowboy singer would be there at 7:30 p.m. Dad & Mom ate in the room and had a little silent time. Our family went to a local BBQ joint. It was jam packed and had no air conditioner. It was perfect. The hostess was harried at best and the wait staff worked their butts off. The food was delicious and I actually took photos of it. I tipped over 20% and gave the hostess a tip too. It was worth paying them. They worked hard.

http://inlinethumb01.webshots.com/14464/2119094020092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2119094020092107464Aimmrh)

Then we came back to enjoy the nightly Big Bear antics. There was the ownerís daughter & her horses. The cowboy singer who talked a lot more than sang, but he was good and was the real deal. Originally from Texas he rarely stayed in anyone place longer than a year. When I asked him what had brought him to Wyoming, he said, ďA blonde.Ē So he wasnít a cowboy as in a wrangler of cows, but a person who never settles for sure.

http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/29982/2665226790092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2665226790092107464PQhuWA)

We played on the playground and petted the motel cat. It was relaxing and quickly made me forget the dayís frustrations. Ariel had eaten a big dinner and Iíve heard nothing else from her tummy so Iím not sure what was wrong. Iím hoping it wasnít a bug which will hit someone else as we drive back into more mountains tomorrow.

The owner's horse:
http://inlinethumb26.webshots.com/37593/2378073030092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2378073030092107464jPKSoj)

I did want to add a little note about Harley Davidsonís. I hate them. The Sturgis Bike thing is this coming weekend. I carefully chose our week to avoid it all. But today was a crossover day & lots of them are still in Cody. Tomorrow they will go to South Dakota. The real problem is they are really noisy. Really, really, really noisy. We have these wonderful Adirondack chairs on a porch attached to our room. Weíve spent a big portion of last evening and today sitting here peaceful as can be. Until a Harley goes by. Or two or three. Every few minutes. Kinda ruins the relax factor. So, I now hate them. Not the people who ride them, Iíve yet to meet an unfriendly biker, but the bikes themselves are very unfriendly. And I hate them. Whatís wrong with a Honda bike? Anyone?

KimAshton
08-29-2008, 04:26 PM
I just love this. Looks like you are having a blast. :)

estherhead
08-31-2008, 06:47 PM
subscribing.

I just love this. Looks like you are having a blast. :)

Hi guys! More soon, I promise. Maybe even tonight.

estherhead
09-03-2008, 02:03 PM
Day Six
July 31st, 2008

Itís 6:00 am and Iím laying in bed with Mulan and Boo. Weíre all a little cold as the window a/c is right above our head and blasting. Itíll be a miracle if we donít all get sick as weíre stuffed up for another reason too. Smoke.

When I turned my computer on right now it was absolutely covered in ash as are all surfaces around here. The forest directly to the west is burning, 6 square miles of forest, and the smoke is so strong you canít be outside, or at least you couldnít last night. Weíve yet to see about today. But more on that later.

Yesterday we got up and Dad ran to Wal-Mart to get breakfast things. We had a busy day of touring planned. The girls got up and dressed and went to the playground while the adults sat and lingered over coffee and Dad made breakfast. While we were all putzing about, Donald and Ariel went over to check out a little Trading Post across the road from us. Later in the day, based on their good word, we all ended up going over there as it had a meticulously put together Western village and trains that worked. It was really cool. And all kinds of stuffed animals and other interesting items. Many, many Indian artifacts. People here in the west love the history of the place and there seem to be many private collections that are worth seeing.

Neat stuff:
http://inlinethumb15.webshots.com/43918/2163376900092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2163376900092107464fCgWOd)



We started our day off at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It was a history of the west with a lot of science, guns, and Indians. It was interesting and the girls really enjoyed it. For me, I find the history around here disturbing. Man can be so cruel to both animals and other men. And justify it with all kinds of reasons.

Some stuffed cats:
http://inlinethumb20.webshots.com/43283/2412088300092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2412088300092107464DoegQq)

The pretty gardens:
http://inlinethumb13.webshots.com/43532/2918829160092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2918829160092107464sTbWua)

Trying out a heavy bear coat:
http://inlinethumb14.webshots.com/34893/2184013370092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2184013370092107464OiImTp)

Artwork:
http://inlinethumb37.webshots.com/41892/2516178390092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2516178390092107464MogYju)

Room replicas:
http://inlinethumb40.webshots.com/43623/2828339640092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2828339640092107464XuzVCH)

I forgot to take any photos of the guns but believe me, if you are into guns, this museum is a MUST! I've never seen such a collection in all my life. Huge, huge informative collection.

We then came back to the Big Bear and Dad made mac and cheese and the girls had a swim. Donald had them race up and down the pool and really tuckered them out. Boo looked adorable in her little water wings. I don't have a photo of this. Sorry, wish I did cause she was super cute.

We got ready again and headed to downtown, after a quick stop at Wal-Mart for sleeping bags. We ate at a Mexican place called Zapatoís. It wasnít the best Mexican food Iíve ever had, but it was yummy. Mom and I got strawberry margaritas and the girls got strawberry smoothies. There was a candy store in the restaurant and Boo could see it from her chair. It took a lot of smoothie and chips to keep her seated through the meal.

A little residential sidetrip had us see these:
http://inlinethumb52.webshots.com/43763/2269745600092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2269745600092107464LeUtOV)

After that we did some shopping as we walked back to Irmaís hotel where a gunfight takes place every night. It was a free event and you could tell. After a half hour of advertising their sponsers they finally started and boy was it lame. My little family of playwrites back home could have written that in 5 minutes and made it a lot funnier. Mulan, however, enjoyed it thoroughly, and was sad when I made her leave early. But I had stood their long enough and the family had abandoned us long ago. I wish I had done more shopping and less standing at the lame gunshow. Afterwards Donald & I had a big discussion about how we forget when we are at Disney how lame street entertainment is elsewhere.

The strange cowboys:
http://inlinethumb43.webshots.com/43498/2134407150092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2134407150092107464RsFmnv)

The crowd willing to watch the strange cowboys (they must not go to Disney!):
http://inlinethumb16.webshots.com/43407/2949484010092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2949484010092107464CpexEJ)

We hopped back to the Big Bear to kill some time before the rodeo. Donald and the girls walked to the rodeo and the rest of us took the van so we could make a quick escape. It was about ľ of a mile from our motel, maybe a half.

The view while you walked:
http://inlinethumb26.webshots.com/41561/2356298530092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2356298530092107464VMBaSX)

Lassoing outside the stadium:
http://inlinethumb52.webshots.com/2739/2397772350092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2397772350092107464cNegyT)

I very much enjoyed the rodeo, as did Boo. During the elaborate National Anthem, Donald took her down to see horses up close and personal and a cowboy chitchatted with them, ďThatís a mighty purty smile you got there,Ē he said to Boo. When they were back in their seats with the bucking horses and the calves being chased and roped, Boo couldnít get enough.

http://inlinethumb22.webshots.com/41621/2975502850092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2975502850092107464dpmWlZ)

All the kids got to chase calves, Mulan & Ariel had fun:
http://inlinethumb27.webshots.com/4698/2046152930092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2046152930092107464wsyGgP)

But we left the rodeo early too. Because it was so smoky we couldnít see or breath and Boo kept rubbing her eyes so much I got worried. Not to mention you could see the fire from our seats! The announcers were pretty funny and talked about the smoke and the fire. But as it got thicker and thicker we were just done. So we missed the last half hour, but I do think we got a good taste for it.

What sun?:
http://inlinethumb18.webshots.com/40273/2856888760092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2856888760092107464MKuCRr)

Fire & smoke:
http://inlinethumb01.webshots.com/41792/2631247700092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2631247700092107464BMHBQL)

We came back to the Big Bear and kept the door closed on our room so no smoke would get in. Mom, though, took a computer to find the story on getting into Yellowstone today. It looks like there will be no trouble. Theyíre used to forest fires around here and treat them with respect, but not much mind. I did a load of laundry which required me to keep walking across the yard in the smoke. Which brings us back to the stuffiness and junk inside all our heads. My skin is cracked, my nose hurts, and Iím so thirsty.

And weíre yet to see a big, open night sky. Weíre hoping that will happen soon. Iím bound and determined to see the wide open skies of Wyoming and Montana. Today we finally reach our destination: Yellowstone.

roadtripper
09-06-2008, 08:15 AM
Great trip report, with terrific pics! You're getting me excited about ours next summer, to many of the same places. Keep'em coming:thumbsup2 .

estherhead
09-06-2008, 08:13 PM
Great trip report, with terrific pics! You're getting me excited about ours next summer, to many of the same places. Keep'em coming:thumbsup2 .

Thanks! Soooo much fun! You can ask me any questions as I'm always thoroughly reseached before trips (see, I can obsess about things other than Disney!)

More to come soon....

estherhead
09-06-2008, 08:59 PM
We are now in Gardner, Mt after quite the eventful day. We actually managed to get breakfast, pack up, and check out by 8:30 am. The smoke was still thick and we were grateful to be driving away from it. There is a road closure near our hotel tomorrow because of fire so weíll be back in the smoke before long, but all day today was clear, clear skies.

We drove up the Chief Joseph Scenic byway and saw gorgeous views and drove on crazy switchbacks.

http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/31006/2842473820092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2842473820092107464DKnbnK)

http://inlinethumb27.webshots.com/40602/2315575390092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2315575390092107464HJbQVv)

http://inlinethumb53.webshots.com/29300/2186141290092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2186141290092107464aNYGhF)

http://inlinethumb38.webshots.com/33957/2064864240092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2064864240092107464dgzfOc)

We saw the most amazing waterfall at Clarks Creek

http://inlinethumb20.webshots.com/42003/2382806330092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2382806330092107464viQBlG)

and before we knew it, we were in Cooke City, just miles away from Yellowstone. It was a neat little town, population 300 in the summer. Mom found me the turquoise belt I was looking for and I snatched it up. We bought some bug spray, used the porta-potties, and after a 15 minute pause for road construction were back on the road.

http://inlinethumb62.webshots.com/44029/2226616680092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2226616680092107464SSavpU)


Because of the construction all the cars were jammed together & arrived at the gate together. After being delayed so long I was very impatient with the long line. Would I NEVER be allowed in Yellowstone? Dagnab stupid motorcyclists!

But then this very nice lady came up & asked if we had a senior pass already. Well, low & behold we did just happen to this magical pass. She glanced at it & waved us around all the cursed traffic. Yippee!!!! Thanks Mom & Dad! We were in Yellowstone.

http://inlinethumb52.webshots.com/39155/2144382120092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2144382120092107464qtapmU)

Our first site was Soda Butte. It was interesting, but the cool book Yellowstone Treasures which was our guide told us behind it were these neat birds. They were very neat, and we would never have seen then without the book.

http://inlinethumb49.webshots.com/6576/2433481110092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2433481110092107464PgmOBq)

See their nests?
http://inlinethumb27.webshots.com/36314/2871462130092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2871462130092107464UkrRjt)

Not too far up the road we stopped at a picnic area and waded for 1-2 seconds at a time in the frigid water of the creek. Boo stayed in the longest. She didnít seem to mind too much. I think her toes would have frost bite before she freaked out.

http://inlinethumb56.webshots.com/22263/2292078950092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2292078950092107464njfDEx)

Dad made barbeque beef sandwiches and we ate looking out at the creek. Boo ate cold baked beans and got them EVERYWHERE while mixing in a fair mixture of dirt. It was rather disgusting and after we were done, I changed & wiped down her whole body, much to her consternation.

http://inlinethumb07.webshots.com/41542/2999669910092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2999669910092107464OycWca)

The potties there were spotless & odor-free despite being pit toilets. I guess Yellowstone really knows how to do pit toilets.

Half the fun of Yellowstone is looking for animals. I was hesitant to be excited about this part as I donít often have luck at finding animals and rare flowers or birds. Getting excited about such things, in my experience, only leads to disappointment. However, in our first 2 hours in the park, at mid day none-the-less, we managed to see a coyote up close! It crossed the road right in front of us!

http://inlinethumb30.webshots.com/39837/2755129440092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2755129440092107464pifzkR)

We saw lots of buffalo, a pronghorn antelope, and elk. It was pretty cool, but I refuse to get my hopes up for seeing bear. And Iím not going to go out of my way either as that will surely lead to disappointment.

http://inlinethumb18.webshots.com/43345/2334037480092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2334037480092107464NRIcxf)

http://inlinethumb38.webshots.com/36709/2147893420092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2147893420092107464BoRMds)

http://inlinethumb63.webshots.com/40126/2811511090092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2811511090092107464OUFHtW)

http://inlinethumb51.webshots.com/44210/2740805630092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2740805630092107464CAvWpx)

Our real goal for the day was to see the Mammoth Hot Springs, and my secret goal was to get there by 3:00 p.m. for the Fort Yellowstone ranger talk. I didnít share this, though, as I didnít want pressure on any of us. Oddly enough, our timing was perfect. We got there at 2:30, used the facilities and bought the girlís ranger booklets. We looked at the little pamphlet and then sat down for the ranger talk. It was very interesting about how the Fort and Army had to be brought in from keeping settlers and tourists from ruining the park. Had they not, the park would be nothing like it is today.

Our ranger at Fort Yellowstone:
http://inlinethumb37.webshots.com/12452/2976956220092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2976956220092107464RQlloS)

We then went to see the fascinating travertine terraces that neither my words nor our photos will do justice to. Iíll just say it was cool, really cool. Mineral water bubbling from the ground creating hills.

http://inlinethumb08.webshots.com/12295/2574411900092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2574411900092107464qUdOAh)

http://inlinethumb07.webshots.com/6918/2738039830092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2738039830092107464XIzuNx)

http://inlinethumb13.webshots.com/44108/2780768960092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2780768960092107464KcXRUQ)

http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/13803/2287631120092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2287631120092107464DyckEv)

On the way from there to our hotel, I started getting ill and by the time I got into our room I was very dizzy and a bit nauseous. I havenít completely gotten over it & there is an edge to my internal voice. This motel, though, is very nice. The pool was amazing! Donald took the girls to look at it while I was briefly laying down & Boo screamed & screamed when they left, so we very quickly unpacked & headed there. It was lovely, as was the hot, hot shower I took afterward.

We couldnít decide what to eat, but Mom graciously offered to go to Subway. I was more than happy to let her & Donald logged on so I could look at the menu & choose food for all of us. It was delicious. She also did a load of laundry. Who would guess weíd do a load a day? We canít even get away from laundry in Yellowstone!

KimAshton
09-07-2008, 04:16 PM
OMG that is stunningly beautiful.

maryr1oz
09-09-2008, 10:10 PM
Hi,

I am following your trip report with great interest, your photos are magnificent and your kids are gorgeous!

We did a semi-similar trip this time last year, so i'm remembering our trip through your great photos - keep them coming!

Can't wait to hear more about Yellowstone...

:cheer2:

estherhead
09-10-2008, 06:55 AM
OMG that is stunningly beautiful.

Hi,

I am following your trip report with great interest, your photos are magnificent and your kids are gorgeous!

We did a semi-similar trip this time last year, so i'm remembering our trip through your great photos - keep them coming!

Can't wait to hear more about Yellowstone...

:cheer2:

Hi guys! More to come soon!

bethbuchall
09-12-2008, 06:10 PM
I haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but this is great! You went to many of the same places that we did, but in reverse order. It makes me want to write up a TR, too!

We have a 2007 Honda Odyssey and a GPS named Daniel. We also have three kids, though they are older than yours, and I left my parents at home.

estherhead
09-12-2008, 07:40 PM
I haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but this is great! You went to many of the same places that we did, but in reverse order. It makes me want to write up a TR, too!

We have a 2007 Honda Odyssey and a GPS named Daniel. We also have three kids, though they are older than yours, and I left my parents at home.

OMGoodness!!!! Daniel & Sheila could get together & have GPS babies. And give directions in an Elmo voice. :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Next chapter up in a few moments...

estherhead
09-12-2008, 07:58 PM
August 2, 2008

There comes a point in every vacation where things start to blend together and you completely lose track of time. That point came yesterday. It is a lovely point in a vacation. But often it is things going wrong that force you to enter that mode. The point where the plan must me adjusted, where you finally give up the control that makes your life at home work and go with flow of vacation.

Yesterday morning we got up when we got up, early Iím sure as my internal clock has not reset, and Donald & I left the children sleeping while we went for a leisurely breakfast at the little continental place at our hotel. I had coffee and a plain bagel with cream cheese and jelly. We overlooked the hotel ownerís trailer out back & a giant mountain. It was a little odd because teenagers where running the entire place. A girl about 13 was doing all the towels and sheets, a boy around 15 was replenishing the breakfast area and a boy around 17 was checking people out at the front desk. Other than a short glimpse of a woman doing paperwork at a computer, I never saw an adult. Oddly enough, it was one of the cleanest, best run places weíve stayed. I guess teens really do know what they are doing. They sure TELL us they know what theyíre doing, this is just the first time I was convinced.

We packed up and got on the road fairly early. Dad, who had run to the grocery the night before, decided he needed to get more supplies. I ran inside as well to grab some baby wipes (and Iím glad I did as I needed them later) and quickly was back to the car. It felt like Dad was in there FOREVER! But it probably wasnít that long, I was just super anxious to get into the park and get going. And to be honest, as events played out, he didnít need more supplies. We would have had plenty. He is currently making dinner with some of those supplies, though, and because Iím starving I wonít complain about my impatient wait too much.

We stopped at the North Gate to take a photo of our family. Dad took it and stood in the middle of the road to do so. He didnít have his camera set-up right so he stood there a while and it was like a buffalo traffic jam as all the cars paused to let us take our photo. Donít try this at home, kids, Iím sure anywhere else he would have been run over for sure. But people in Gardiner, Mt were willing to wait for the crazy guy to get out of the road.

http://inlinethumb64.webshots.com/41215/2333792190092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2333792190092107464xVjDhq)

We then were at the Ranger gate & Dad waved his magical senior pass and we were waved around the line of cars again. Yeah to the magical senior pass.

We were then on our way to Norris Geyser basin. This was to be our first real sighting of geysers and thermal features. But first we saw something totally unexpected and exciting: a grizzly bear! Right up close to the road. It was so exciting. He/she was eating berries and loving life. We watched for awhile (with all the other motorists) before it got full and lumbered off into the woods. What a way to start a day!

This is how close it was:
http://inlinethumb60.webshots.com/15419/2976943070092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2976943070092107464QbZujf)

And with zoom:
http://inlinethumb11.webshots.com/41226/2341801800092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2341801800092107464WOlfTz)
http://inlinethumb03.webshots.com/42690/2759907250092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2759907250092107464XtIPaC)

From there we drove more slowly and saw other animals with our binoculars, though no photos and no real knowledge of what we saw. Lots of buffalo, mainly alone in ditches. We also saw a cool waterfall. The waterfalls out here are so huge and so amazing. So powerful. They really have taken my breath away, and I love waterfalls anyway. We then made a quick stop at Sheepeaterís Cliff to see marmots that supposedly lived there. Unfortunately, we didnít see a single marmot. But the cliffs themselves were very interesting. Black and segmented. I didnít know such formations existed in the U.S. It looked like it belonged in Great Britain (not that I've been there, I just imagine it would look like this.)

http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/34526/2545071360092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2545071360092107464HlPXLs)

http://inlinethumb03.webshots.com/43842/2183702370092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2183702370092107464iyrwJq)

From there we stopped at Norris Geyser basin and made our only ill-advised mistake, which trust me, weíve learned from. Mom wasnít feeling well (she caught a touch of Arielís bug) and stayed in the car with Boo while the rest of us trudged into the woods to see ourselves some thermal features. There were two walks & we did one loop, perhaps ľ mile, with Dad. It was in the blistering sun but very interesting. At the Y in the trail, he turned back to the visitor center to await us while we went to see some more on hot boardwalks. It really wasnít too bad and it had been very interesting so when we got back into the shade we sat down and discussed whether we should see more in the Back Basin. The girlís said no.

Just then, Mom came with Boo in stroller and said she was feeling better so she & Ariel & Donald went to the restrooms and to trade the stroller for the backpack. And this was where we made our fatal error.

We went for it.

It was a mile round trip on hot boardwalks in the heat of the day. It was high noon. At first we went down a long flight of stairs and passed an interesting geyser which was spouting all kinds of water into the air, not going off, but still interesting. At that point we were still clueless and in the shade of pine trees, thinking that this was the life.
We then rounded a corner and turned right. For the first ľ mile things were great, photos were being snapped, etc. But you do know that thermal features are between 198 degrees and over 250 degrees. And it was high noon. And we were on reflective pieces of shiny wood. And weíre at 8,000 feet, much closer to the sun, and very little oxygen. I got burnt, the baby started crying (did I put sunblock on her? Darn it, I couldnít remember), the children were dehydrated (why didnít we bring water?) Mom still wasnít feeling well & was feeling like she had to take care of us. At just over the ĺ mile mark there were no more thermal features, just a long, dusty path back to the flight of stairs that had seemed so innocent when we came down them. Once we got to the top of that, it was another ľ mile back to the van (which weíd left parked in the sun.) By this point I knew I was absolutely fried and any time I spent in the sun was moving me closer to a second degree burn instead of a simple sunburn so I took off speed walking with Mom. Donald picked up the pace as well, though in the back of his mind he knew it was ill-advised.

Photos of Norris:
http://inlinethumb07.webshots.com/28166/2233519740092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2233519740092107464YHHfbJ)

http://inlinethumb52.webshots.com/22579/2526483200092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2526483200092107464uZYOjf)

http://inlinethumb43.webshots.com/41002/2560908480092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2560908480092107464XSMEud)

http://inlinethumb11.webshots.com/26378/2714220370092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2714220370092107464TWfkmP)

Sure enough, Ariel fell twice, the second time badly skinning her knees. There was no choice but to continue our death march to the van in spite of the blood and tears. Dad greeted us & told us he was quickly getting the belly bug. So it was high time to have a break. In the shade.

We rushed to Canyon to see if our cabin was ready and it wasnít. So we then went to a picnic ground & looked for shade. All the great shady spots were all taken so we found a lame spot in half shade and made some rather pitiful peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the back of a spoon that had holes in it so half the peanut butter squirted out the wrong side. No one felt like digging for knives. At this point, the dehydration from being sick & being on a death hike caught up with Ariel and she started feeling shaky & ill. There were no potties so we rushed to a little wooded spot but she couldnít relax. While I was hiding in the woods, Boo took a tumble & bloodied her face. So we yet again popped into the van and rushed back to Canyon to just get some fluids and ice cream in Ariel.

The family went to get ice cream while Ariel and I ran to the closest potty, which was in the registration/information center. She was in there for maybe 15 minutes while I chitchatted up the registration folks & talked them into giving us our cabins. It was maybe 1:00 pm? Maybe 2:00. Iím not sure. Anyway, Ariel didnít feel any better & said her belly was cramping. I knew we needed a room NOW so we headed off to find the family. On the little walk to the ice cream parlor, she threw up multiple times. It is one of those moments when you know you are a true mom. There were people EVERYWHERE, lots & lots of people eating their lunches & shopping and I never gave them a thought. I just had her lean over the edge of the sidewalk & puke in the dirt. Then weíd walk a few more feet & lean again. I wasnít grossed out & it never occurred to me others would be. Too bad for them if they were. Iím a Mom with a sick baby. She was my only concern.

We found the family & bought Ariel a big Sprite & Mom gave her the second half of her sherbet. We drove the short distance to our cabins & we all lay down. Surprisingly, I fell asleep. Sound asleep in the middle of the day which is not my norm at all. But I think the illness & the sunshine just knocked it clear out of me. Donald had been raring to see more Yellowstone when we got to the room, but he, too, was able to fall asleep promptly.

Canyon Cabins (the guy behind Mom & Boo is not with us):
http://inlinethumb25.webshots.com/35608/2417114960092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2417114960092107464qCsXMj)

Boo loved this cabin:
http://inlinethumb12.webshots.com/42123/2177841600092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2177841600092107464PoOsFj)

Elk behind our cabin:
http://inlinethumb38.webshots.com/40805/2342586940092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2342586940092107464hIoWjK)

By 6:30 Dad was completely bed ridden and the rest of us were feeling very well, and ready to see something. We went to grab a tiny bit of dinner and see some of the sights around Canyon. We ate at this 1950ís diner that you wouldnít expect in a wilderness. Neither Mom nor I were really up for eating, but Donald & the girls were able to eat some French fries, some hotdog, and a cheeseburger (I had a few bites, Mom had none.)

http://inlinethumb58.webshots.com/42169/2041931050092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2041931050092107464efErNx)

We then went to see the Lower & Upper waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I was totally unprepared for what we were greeted by. The photos of this area are just so-so in my opinion. I was disappointed when the only rooming we could get was at the Canyon as other than the Grand Canyon, Canyons arenít really my thing. But these two waterfalls and the canyon the cut through are absolutely breathtaking. Donald felt that the shear beauty and majesty of them is greater than Niagra Falls. Iím not sure Iíd go that far as Niagra is so huge, but they are definitely prettier than Niagra. Amazingly, shockingly pretty. Artistís Point has been a highlight we will not soon forget.

We took TONS of photos but I won't bore you. This was the best one:

http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/7915/2192849290092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2192849290092107464nfWbcA)

After this, we filled up our refillable mugs (eat your heart out Disney fans, these are under $4.00 & twice the size as resort mugs!) and headed over to the amphitheater for the nighttime program. I had tried to find out what it would be in case it was something patriotic or evolutionary, but was unable to get any info. I jokingly said, ďWouldnít it be great if it was on the wildlife here?Ē

On the way there, Boo was thrilled to be out of her backpack, where she had spent a lot of the day, and walking by her own power. So excited, in fact, that she wouldnít hold onto Momís hand & came running to me. This was not a good idea on the uneven asphalt and she took a face first tumble. This was her second tumble of the day as in the mayhem of the picnic she had also taken a face first tumble. But this time she would not recover. Donald was not amused with Mom & I and he grabbed her & ran back to the van. We continued on the way to the amphitheater & what did we find? ďThe Wild Side of Yellowstone.Ē It was a powerpoint presentation on Yellowstoneís wildlife.

Once I had them all settled & realized they would enjoy the 45 minute program, I ran back to the van. Boo was screaming & blood was everywhere. This is where the extra wipes really came in handy as Donald had used nearly half of them trying to stop the flow of blood from both lips. No teeth were missing however. Donald was a bit panicky since he had just cleaned up gushing blood for a seemingly endlless amount of time. So I took charge at this point & told him I would drive them back to the cabin & come back for the rest of the family post-program. I guess he was able to entertain Boo pretty well & with Tylenol & medical supplies, he got her taken care of.

I, in the mean time, made it back in time for the entire program which was absolutely lovely. The ranger was in LOVE with Yellowstone & a true outdoorsman. He was so passionate about the animals and his program was great. It kept the girlís interest as well as ours and we were very happy we had come.

We fell into our beds exhausted, despite our afternoon naps, and slept deeply.

bethbuchall
09-12-2008, 08:13 PM
I am loving this TR!!! You have inspired me to start my own on Monday. We didn't do any of the ranger programs while we were there, because there just didn't seem to be enough hours in the day. Some day I will go back and make sure I do some of those programs.

Poor Boo! I am glad that she was ok. I'm also sorry that you all had a touch of sickness while you were traveling.

Also, your pictures are gorgeous!

estherhead
09-12-2008, 08:31 PM
I am loving this TR!!! You have inspired me to start my own on Monday. We didn't do any of the ranger programs while we were there, because there just didn't seem to be enough hours in the day. Some day I will go back and make sure I do some of those programs.

Poor Boo! I am glad that she was ok. I'm also sorry that you all had a touch of sickness while you were traveling.

Also, your pictures are gorgeous!

Oh, please start a TR! I would love it. The ranger programs were great. We really enjoyed them and stay tuned for our Teton experience. AMAZING! A night that will never be repeated.

estherhead
09-14-2008, 08:57 AM
Well, our bellies are full of pasta and grilled chicken and weíre also back from our silly little jaunt to the gift shop. Long story, too boring to share.

Back to our nice evening rest. We had decided to leave our curtains open and awake at dawn to see animals. I donít have a clock on me, so I donít know what time I originally woke up, but it was way too early & I decided the animals werenít worth. The second time I woke up, though, I figured I should rouse the family. We hurriedly threw clothes on, and not even bothering to comb our hair, we leapt into the van. It was 6:30 am.

We went south through Hayden Valley just sure weíd see moose as that is where they supposedly live. But it was not to be. No moose for you. We did see a trumpeter swan and two coyotes, though they were all further away than the animals weíd seen previously so no photos. We also saw lots of other animals weíd already seen and a pelican and blue heron and lots of duck, none of which had we seen earlier. After two hours we were done & made it back to our cabin.

I was feeling not so very good again & laid down to finish the book I had been reading. The girls played, and Donald played Civ 4. At around 10:00 am? Mom came in and said she would stay with Dad & Boo if we wanted to go off & have fun by ourselves. Well you can bet your bottom dollar I did want to leave Boo & have fun by ourselves so we quickly hopped up & ran out the door faster than you can say ďgeyser.Ē Suddenly, I wasnít so tired.

We stopped by the Visitor Center and picked up a Geyser Prediction paper and headed slowly down to the Old Faithful community, stopping to see random things along the way. One thing I knew we had to see was the Artistís Paintpots as it had been Mom & Dadís favorite when they were here & the photos looked amazing. The trail was only 1/3 mile back there so we decided to go for sure. Well guess what? We walked the 1/3 mile and there was a HUGE barricade with HUGE danger signs all over. Now, I certainly like rangers taking care of me & donít want to go somewhere that is now dangerous. But it would have been nice to know before we walked the dusty, trees all burnt to the ground, boring 1/3 of a mile! We were all so irritated (as were the other people on the trail!)

By the time we got to Old Faithful, I was just sure that we wouldnít see it, that this would be the one time Old Faithful quit spouting and was no longer faithful. How long can a geyser really be faithful, after all? We hadnít seen a true spouting geyser yet & I was of half a mind that we wouldnít. All the dust & sun had gotten to me.

I was surprised, for some odd reason, by how many people were at the Old Faithful complex. There were three exits! People were absolutely everywhere. Old people with canes, newborn twins in sun bonnets, Canadians & Floridians. Everywhere.

All Donald could think about was peeing & all I could think about was getting to that geyser promptly or we were going to miss the very last time in history Old Faithful would spout. He wisely dropped us right at the geyser where it had been scheduled to go off 20 minutes prior & was yet to be seen. It is supposed to go off every 65-90 minutes. It had last gone off at 10:40 am & as the sweet southern boys sharing my fallen pine tree in the shade shared with me, it was now 12:30. By my quick calculations that is at best 20 minutes late. Just as I suspected, it wasnít going to go off. Ever again. I just knew it.

Donald must have found a parking lot & bathroom and was soon next to us & plopped down in the shade on our lovely pine tree to wait for the tardy Faithful with all other 7,000 or so people from literally all over the world. By this time I figured it was gonna spout as it was making all kinds of gurgling & spurts. We waited another 5 minutes or so & that puppy went sky high. It was neat. Very neat. And I guess I must admit, faithful.

http://inlinethumb47.webshots.com/8494/2797826210092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2797826210092107464NpzFLF)

http://inlinethumb28.webshots.com/40987/2328769840092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2328769840092107464UNZkUk)

http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/33771/2823633610092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2823633610092107464OxKiAA)

My plan was to grab something to eat & then see all the geysers around the Old Faithful area. But first I wanted to look at the next geyser predictions. I ran over to the Visitor Center & beat the crowds and got my info quickly. As I walked out, Donald said, ďDid you find out where the sun spotting is?Ē Well goofy me hadnít asked the ranger that question & I really needed to know. I spun on my heel & headed back in, this all took less than 5 seconds but it had allowed the 7,000,000 people from all over the world to catch up with us.

The gentleman in front of me kept asking the same question 18 times & yet didnít really understand the answer. I was ready to bonk him on the head. It was like the ranger was talking to a five year old who just kept saying, ďWhat did you say?Ē despite looking the ranger dead in the eye. Grrrrr! Why didnít I ask my stupid question before? Finally, I kicked the guy to the curb and found out & we were out of there. We hightailed it to the Old Faithful Inn.

Unfortunately, we didnít know there was a big construction zone & ended up going the long way around. Which allowed all 7,000,000,000 people from all over the world to get in to the Old Faithful Inn before us & form an EXTREMELY long lunch line for what Iím sure would have been very mediocre food. So I got a brainstorm to be a rebel & have ice cream for lunch. Partly this is because all the other good people didnít believe in ice cream before lunch & so there was no line at all. This grand idea also allowed us to snag great seats on the upper balcony outside overlooking Old Faithful, in the shade, none-the-less. It was a glorious luxury. Ice Cream for lunch overlooking the most famous geyser in the world.

I had been looking forward to seeing the Old Faithful Inn ever since we had seen the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World and fallen in love with it. The Inn was the real deal which the Disney version is based on. It was every bit as fabulous as I imagined and I very much enjoyed our ďlunchĒ there. Donald felt the Disney version was more beautiful. Me, I like the real deal. It just smelled right & felt right. Though Iíll admit, Disney did imitate it pretty well.

http://inlinethumb37.webshots.com/42468/2493554260092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2493554260092107464qtVnFc)

http://inlinethumb01.webshots.com/31424/2823210110092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2823210110092107464fzyEZF)

http://inlinethumb48.webshots.com/36975/2552212980092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2552212980092107464SVTnsV)

After that we carried on with our plan to see the Old Faithful walkways & then go look at the sun. But when we hit that boardwalk & looked out over that hot, steaming area with the 7,000,000,000,000 people we quickly decided we just didnít want to. While we were deciding how to kill a half hour, Ariel said she wanted to go to the bathroom. So we went around Old Faithful to the Old Faithful Lodge (as opposed to the Inn) and while Ariel went, Donald grabbed our refillable cups from the van. We filled Ďem up with deliciously cold soda & bought two hot pretzels and made our way over to the sun viewing area. It was early, but they were already set up & no one was there yet so we had a private viewing and chit chat with the astrologers.

I guess the sun has an eleven year cycle (I had no idea) and that we are in the only 6 week time period in the 11 years where no sunspot activity is happening. It was kind of like looking at a bright red light. OK, Iíll admit it, it was EXACTLY like looking at red light since nothing at all was leaping off of it. But at least I learned something & have seen the sun. Iím still glad we did it, even if the sun is being boring. I guess the full eclipse yesterday was about all the excitement old man sun could muster.

Sunscope:

http://inlinethumb04.webshots.com/41923/2969228150092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2969228150092107464ZKqgdP)

As that was happening, Old Faithful went off again behind us so we turned around and caught another great viewing.

We then hopped in the car to go see more geysers, fumaroles, and paintpots. It was all quite interesting and we didnít get too fried or cranky.

http://inlinethumb56.webshots.com/40887/2486893970092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2486893970092107464cbaDrm)

http://inlinethumb58.webshots.com/41913/2791462240092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2791462240092107464hxKyBj)

Then we went to sit in our car and wait for the Grand Fountain Geyser to go off. It spouts every 12 hours & was supposed to go off at 3:30 pm, give or take 2 hours. We got there are 3:00 pm & it certainly had not gone off yet. We sat in the A/C & read our tour books about the boiling water & the little warning spouts & the overflow. We watched the geyser in front of us go off 5 times and I read about the flood & imagined the heavens opening up with rain & the water of the earth spurting up to flood the earth. Itís pretty easy to imagine when you are at Yellowstone. I really donít know what everyoneís problem is with it. Itís still happening now, why couldnít it have happened then? Just bigger. I think perhaps the literal ď7 Days Of CreationĒ that true creationists believe in just makes all the scientists ignore the Bible all together. Since obviously the universe wasnít made in 6 24 hour time periods. But if you believe ďdayĒ means time period then actually the order in the Bible is the right order. So those were my ponderings while I sat there & waited. How did the earth get here? How were mountains created? How did the dinosaurs die? Ya know? Yellowstone just brings out way more questions than answers.

Anyway, right around 4:00 The Grand Fountain Geyser shot 100-150 feet straight up. After sitting there so long with such anticipation & all kinds of little spouts & gurgles, plus the fact that it was totally awesome & took my breath away, I missed taking a picture of that original spout. I guess itís OK because it wouldnít have fit in my camera lens anyway. I did get my senses after a bit & took some photos & video, as did Donald. We also got sprayed which interestingly wasnít hot. I donít know why. It seems like it should be hot, but it wasnít.

What it looked like with no geyser shooting out:
http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/7403/2028351360092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2028351360092107464cgXtvq)

My way too late photos:
http://inlinethumb42.webshots.com/43177/2187752150092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2187752150092107464FcqDGB)

http://inlinethumb09.webshots.com/43912/2824660780092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2824660780092107464hhmLSI)

http://inlinethumb20.webshots.com/44243/2299949590092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2299949590092107464RfzOOk)

It seemed difficult to top that, so we simply drove straight home after that. We were hungry & thirsty & of course, someone needed a potty. As usual. We did see animals on our way, but we just breezed by & shot photos out of the car. I got a pretty good one of two elk.

As noted above, I typed in my journal & Dad made us pasta & we took a silly drive to the main Canyon area.

Tomorrow we drive through the Grand Tetons & go Whitewater rafting. And the next day, we turn home. Hmm. Turn home. When I was ill, I so wanted to just go home, but after our great day today I have mixed feelings. There are still things to see! Things which wonít photograph well. Things that will amaze us. And truth be told, as we told Mulan when she asked when we were coming back here, we arenít coming back here. There are simply too many other amazing things on this earth to see.

bethbuchall
09-15-2008, 01:25 PM
You have some beautiful photos there!

I am so sad that you are heading home soon, but I can't wait to read about the Tetons. We were in the Tetons first (and not for nearly long enough).

I started my TR today, and I am amazed by how long the whole process takes, especially with uploading and adding photos.

We were also disappointed not to see any moose in Yellowstone (or the Tetons). That is what my dd wanted to see the most. We did have a surprise sighting (no picture) on the way from Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore, though.

Maybe Mulan will take her family back one day, and you will be "Mom and Dad" traveling along with them. :goodvibes Dh made a comment while we were on the trip that we'd probably never be back that way again. I told him that we'd be bringing the grandchildren (if there are any) to Yellowstone someday!

estherhead
09-15-2008, 02:48 PM
You have some beautiful photos there!

I am so sad that you are heading home soon, but I can't wait to read about the Tetons. We were in the Tetons first (and not for nearly long enough).

I started my TR today, and I am amazed by how long the whole process takes, especially with uploading and adding photos.

We were also disappointed not to see any moose in Yellowstone (or the Tetons). That is what my dd wanted to see the most. We did have a surprise sighting (no picture) on the way from Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore, though.

Maybe Mulan will take her family back one day, and you will be "Mom and Dad" traveling along with them. :goodvibes Dh made a comment while we were on the trip that we'd probably never be back that way again. I told him that we'd be bringing the grandchildren (if there are any) to Yellowstone someday!


Yes, grandkids. We'd definately do that. Surely with 3 girls I ought to have a least one grandkid, right?

I leave for WDW tomorrow so you'll have to stay in suspense for the end of our trip!

bethbuchall
09-15-2008, 03:01 PM
Have a terrific trip! I don't mind waiting for the final installments, especially since I'll get to read about your WDW trip soon, too!

estherhead
09-24-2008, 08:44 PM
Hi all! We're back from our 4 day jaunt to WDW & I want to post a TR for that but I feel too guilty leaving this one open. I guess that's what happens when you travel so much! Not too bad of a problem, eh?

So here is our next day:

Day Ten
August 4, 2008

Today we turned east. Weíre 60 miles east of the Tetons now, in the sagebrush and cottonwood of Wyoming. Horse country. We just ate breakfast at the Cowboy Cafť in Dubois, Wy. I had found it on TripAdvisor and the reviews were dead on. Lots of food, yummy food, reasonable prices and a nice mix of tourists and locals. We asked the girls waiting on us the shortest way to Cheyenne and they asked the resident Wyoming expert and she said through Casper and that it should take 5 hours. That jives with Mapquest so we are on our way to Casper. Itís 10:20 am.

As I walked to the bear box this morning with my 3 loads of garbage I unexpectedly got tears in my eyes. I really do want to turn home, Iím ready to go home, and yet evidently my heart is not done with our journey yet. It has been a truly lovely journey. The right people, the right place, the right time, and very well planned. Yet another notch in my opinion that a meticulously planned vacation is a good vacation.

So yesterday was a good day. I donít really feel that it started off too well as it was the only day we had an appointment, a 4:30 appointment in Jackson for Whitewater rafting. Being unaccustomed on this trip to having appointments and being really not sure how long certain mileages would take us, I was nervous. I felt like every little thing was taking forever and I really had trouble relaxing all the way until Jackson.

I also felt all day like I was trying to put Boo to sleep. Mom and I spent all day putting her to sleep only to have something 5 minutes later wake her up. Frustrating.

For everyone else, though, it was probably OK. We started with packing (as always) and that seemed daunting yesterday. When Donald & I awoke and looked around our room it was as if a tornado had gone off. ďDonít worry, it wonít be so bad,Ē I said. He sighed, ďI know. It just looks so bad.Ē

Dad was making toad-in-a-holes for us all, though I just had coffee and a granola bar. I wasnít hungry. Boo was merrily playing and pointing to the people and squirrels and birds. She stood on the porch and waved. ďHi!Ē she shouted over & over. Mom and Dad had had a lovely day with her the day before. Feeding her at regular intervals & putting her down for a real nap in a real bed. And then taking a walk through the woods to the gift shop. She loves gift shops almost as much as nature. She runs around frantically playing with this stuffed animal and that stuffed animal. Yanking out pencils from their holders and generally destroying any area into which she ventures. It takes one adult following her to keep the pandemonium to a minimum.

By the time we had eaten & packed, the ranger station was open & we went to get the girlís ranger badges. They are cute with a little wolf paw on them. The ranger we got had braided pigtails and was very serious about the conditions under which one was allowed the privilege of being granted a badge. They had to answer all kinds of questions and prove their worth. She asked them, once she had deemed them worthy, if they wanted a quiet ceremony or if they wanted an announcement and clapping from everyone in the museum. They, naturally, both chose quiet. We took a photo to commemorate the great moment and we were on our way.

http://inlinethumb34.webshots.com/17889/2426779730092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2426779730092107464RJzknp)

Dad hadnít been with us at Artistís Point before so we stopped to see the falls again. It was still breathtaking, of course, but it was smoky. Too smoky for a great photo op. We did follow a ranger for a bit and she pointed out animal footprints down the steep, dangerous face of the canyon. We looked through Momís binoculars and pondered that. It seemed so ill advised to wander down that wall, but many, many animal steps were there and no animal slidings so they must make it OK.

We hopped back in the car to continue our timed jaunt to Jackson.

We really wanted to see a moose. We were on a Moose Mission. But it was not to be. We did see lots more pelicans and a few trumpeter swans. We saw bison, of course, lots of elk, and a black bear. The black bear sighting was exciting to me as I had seen only grizzlies thus far. But no moose. We were hopeful the entire day and I believe I saw a girl moose at the edge of the woods eating grass. She had a long face and gangly legs but not beautiful antlers and I canít be positive. But she defiantly didnít have a white butt. Of that Iím sure. So maybe I saw a moose. But not the yippee skippee kind of moose sighting I was hoping for. We heard that a lot in the visitor centers. No moose sightings.


THe black bear (cooler in person, not a great shot)
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We paused for a quick look at Mud Volcano which was much more interesting than I was thinking it would be. And then we drove along the coast of the Yellowstone Lake for awhile. Lots of birds and wildlife there. And lots of fishermen, but no boats. You can take boats onto the lake, but for some reason there werenít any. We then went to another thermal feature area right on the shore of Lake Yellowstone. I meant to be there only a short time, but it was more interesting than I had accounted and we saw it thoroughly.

By that time, I was starving, as my coffee and granola bar were long gone. We pulled into Grant Village and headed to the little eating area. I was chasing Boo and Donald ordered and oddly, didnít really order me anything. He order a cheeseburger (for him), chicken tenders, and a hotdog. I made Donald scrape some jalapenos from the burger & ate a bit of that and had some chicken tender and a bite of hotdog. But mostly, I ate french fries. It was good. And Boo made her yummy noises over the hotdog and ketchup. My word does that child love ketchup. The little sitting area in the cafeteria was beautiful and we filled up our refillable mugs twice with our last free pop before we headed to the Tetonís.

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Into the van we all piled again, and headed out of Yellowstone. Goodbye, Yellowstone, with your strange thermal features and your huge herds of bison and your gorgeous canyon.

Next stop: Colter Village. We pulled in and went to check into our tent cabin (it was around 1:00) but the crowd in front of us was very curious and talkative and it seemed like forever before they finally headed out. OUR turn, finally. They had messed up our reservation a bit, but finally (again with the finally) we pulled into our little tent area. In retrospect, we should have set up camp at this point. But at the time we were too concerned with trying to find an empty bear box which never panned out.

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Originally, I had Mom & Dad going with us to Jackson and entertaining themselves, but Boo, who of course wasnít sleeping, was being a pill and they considered staying at Colter while we went on to Jackson. But you werenít allowed to have any food, cosmetics, baby wipes, etc in the tent. And without the van or a bear box, they were basically stranded in the woods with a baby and no supplies. So they opted to go with us. I was happy with this as I always thought they would enjoy Jackson and that perhaps there time there would even being one of the best memories of the trip with Boo.

We took a detour past Jenny Lake and got some great photos of the Tetons.

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The drive to Jackson was a beautiful drive.
And we arrived around 3:30 so we had plenty of time to spare. And we had cell service which was exciting. Donald & I checked into the Jackson Hole White Water place and then we drove around to show Mom & Dad there eating and shopping options. Itís a lovely town. Expensive, but nice.

http://inlinethumb28.webshots.com/21403/2412533600092107464S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2412533600092107464LwzPob)

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Then it was time to check in and change. We actually left early for our trip since all the people going had arrived early. It was about a 25 minute drive on a school bus which felt like forever as I was getting nervous. I just knew the water would be freezing and I really, really didnít want to fall in and be freezing. Mistakenly, I thought there would be some kind of safety program. But no, they just teach you to put on a life preserver and throw you in the boat. My intention was to sit in the middle (where it would be drier) with the girls, but again, it was not to be. There were 12 adults and you need 10 rowers. Looking around at our crew, it was pretty obvious I would be a rower. They put you in your seats & I got sat between the elderly couple & a prima donna and thereby found myself in a position near the front & sure to get absolutely soaked by even the smallest wave. And having to do most of the rowing on our side.

With that, we were off. We had three commands. Row forward. Row backward. Stop. We never used the row backward. Our guide was a very nice guy, about 25, who was a rapids guide May through October & then a skiing guide October through May. He loved his life and had found the perfect little niche. Personable and funny but not imposing, he was a great guide. Our group were fairly pitiful rowers but somehow we managed the river safely. The Snake River was about 55 degrees and 6-10 feet lower than itís highest point of the year. It was level 3 rapids. In May, it is level 5 and they actually pull dead bodies out of the river. We saw people kayaking, and jumping off cliffs, and fishing. He also said they base jump, though it technically isnít high enough.
It was a much more enjoyable experience than I thought it would be. The girls had a fabulous time and not even halfway through Mulan asked if there is any place to raft closer to our house. Donald and Ariel jumped in when there was a little spot for swimming but Ariel only lasted a few seconds and when he asked later if anyone wanted to swim even Donald declined. 55 is pretty cold.

We finished up, loaded up the boats, and drove back to town. The trip back home was much quicker. We changed back into dry clothes and had steak and garlic bread, which the rafting company provided. I had been looking forward to a potato with my steak, it made logical sense to me as that is what I would serve, but I guess Wyoming isnít potato country and they werenít going to ask Idaho to help them out. Itís steak country and you get steak. It was a giant & tasty steak. But no potato, really?

By this point Mom & Dad were back to pick us up and fill us in on their Jackson evening. They had eaten at the Bunnery (recommended by TripAdvisor) and looked at galleries and Coldwater Creek and other stores. Neither had really felt like shopping but they enjoyed watching Boo wave at the people. And they especially enjoyed watching her eat her grilled cheese dipped in ketchup with chocolate milk.

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I had wanted to check out the Bunnery myself. Boo was attached to me, however, as she wanted to register all her complaints at being left behind while we obviously had gone and had fun. So I sent Mom & the girls in to find some pie. Apple crumb, I requested, but anything other than raspberry would do.

They were gone for a long time, which I didnít mind as I was people watching, but Donald felt daylight burning away and he was going to miss his 9:00 pm astronomy appointment. When they did come back they had 3 boxes. Peanut Butter/Chocolate cheesecake. Regular Cheesecake. And a full ľ of an apple crumb pie. It was like itís own planet. We all munched happily as we drove back to Colter Village.

I told Donald to skip the Jenny Lake area and go the other way, but I wasnít really paying attention as I was eating my pie. At some point he started freaking out that we werenít going the right way because we had never entered the Teton park. It was the only time this whole trip where we all panicked and felt lost. We pulled quickly over & grabbed a map and lo & behold, we were just a few miles away from Colter, not at all lost, and it definitely had been shorter. We should have just trusted Sheila. We did enter the park and we almost made the 9:00 appointment. We dropped Donald & the girls, bug sprayed up with shoes, jackets, and blankets in place, at the amphitheater at about 9:05, give or take a minute.

The rest of us headed back to make camp & hopefully put Boo down. It didnít take her long to realize that we were sleeping outside and she just couldnít stop pointing out the little tent window & shouting, ďLook!Ē even though it was nearly dark & there was nothing out there. What there was, however, was an entire family of squirrels living in our tent. That, combined with the other families laughing, playing guitar, and having fun, was enough for Boo to put in a full protest. So Mom & I headed over to the amphitheater too, Boo in her Ergo. Call us bad parents, to take a toddler out at 10:00 pm but there was no way I was staying in a tent with squirrels and a totally awake baby.

When we got there it was completely empty so we followed the sound of the voices to a field. I had little LED lamps on my ballcap and as I got to the field I shut them off. This was no place for lights. It was National Astronomy Day and it only happens once a year. And we were there. There were maybe 10? telescopes and a lot of knowledge people with laser pointers pointing out all kinds of interesting things. There is no way to explain exactly what this was like, and Iím definitely not capable of imparting all that knowledge in this trip report.

Iíll just tell you what I saw, my personal highlights. I learned that the North Star and Sagittarius are the axles of the sky and that the whole sky spins around them, thus the reason the North Star is so good for navigation. I also learned that many stars we see with our naked eye are actually 2 or 3 stars spinning around each other, including a three star cluster in the handle of the big dipper.

We looked at Jupiter & saw 2 defined bands as well as the spot on the lower band and the 4 moons. They were a lot brighter than I had been expecting. I saw 4 shooting stars. And a whole bunch of other stuff. Itís just too hard to describe. But it was cool. Truly super cool. TOTALLY SUPER COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After that we went back to our tent and hunkered down for the night. The squirrels settled and we were able to get some shut eye. Boo and I slept in one sleeping bag on the air mattress and the mattress was comfortable, but sharing the sleeping bag was not so great. It was hard to keep little Boo warm. It was about 45 degrees and her little arms kept getting cold. And the sleeping bag on the air mattress was slippery and we kept sliding all over. We did manage to get some sleep, I think she may even have slept well.

Donald:
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Boo & I:
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The light woke us, but really it was the squirrels that forced us out of bed. They simply were furious at us for existing and made all kinds of noise chattering & yelling & scurrying up & down the wall near Mulanís head.

We didn't need this, thank goodness. Doesn't it look scary?

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We cleaned the van & reconfigured the seats for our ride home. We packed & I fed Boo pie & water.

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It didnít take long & we were off. I had picked the Cowboy Cafť (mentioned earlier) and figured weíd be there around nine, or even earlier. But there was a LOT of road construction and it was closer to 9:30 10 oíclock before we got there. That was pretty rough to start our 26 hour (driving time only) journey home with delays from construction and with no coffee. But we did make it.

Weíre now out of the mountains, but still hours from being out of Wyoming. Boring, boring scenery is ahead of us today. There are currently antelope & cattle & lots of horses on rocky, sagebrush covered ground out my window. But within the next 5 hour it will give way to corn.

Donald & the girls are watching the Backyardigans and Mom is listening to magazines. Dad is driving. Weíll probably stop for lunch in the next two hours. Nebraska here we come.

estherhead
09-24-2008, 09:03 PM
Day Eleven
August 5, 2008

Weíre in a kind of yucky Super 8 right now. We lost an hour somewhere along the drive & my family is really feeling it. Iíve got the ďgoing home adrenalineĒ so I woke at 6:30 am despite that hour. But Iíve been up, showered, packed, & breakfasted now for over an hour & the fam is still sleeping. Iíve tried to make as much noise as possible but to no avail. Donald is at least up & watching TV & Mulan is stirring now as I type this. Come on, guys! Get up!

We still have 16 hours of driving till home & yesterday felt pretty intense so weíre going to stay over another night, even though Dad doesnít want to. Weíre forcing him by pulling the baby card as Boo is sincerely not going to make it that whole way in one day. She is a good traveler, but she doesnít sleep well in the car & weíre not really eating consistently.

Weíre in Lexington, Nebraska. There is not a lot to recommend Lexington, only that it is on the interstate. Iíve found the state of Nebraska rather scary. It is super poor, but the scary part is how far apart the towns are. There just arenít people who live here. It makes me want to escape. Kansas is flat & boring, which I wonít say about Nebraska. The scenery is fairly interesting. Antelope, deer, interesting rock formations.

Day Twelve
August 6, 2008

Weíre HOME!!!!! Home, home, home! Today was our hardest day. It was only 7.5 hours worth of driving, but it seemed so hard because we were done with vacation & just wanted to be at our house. It was so funny, this morning in the van, even before the being in the van, the entire mood of the van was different. It went from laughter & vacation to serious & quiet & well, perhaps even a bit cranky.

Yesterday I didnít finish my journal. But I feel it is super important to this trip report. We had planned on going to St. Louis to the Arch but we realized it was faster to go to Hannibal. It was scarier as the road didnít look as nice as the interstate, but it would cut an hour off our trip. So we decided to tour Mark Twainís hometown instead of St. Louis. Off we went.

The day went well and the highway ended up being a genuine shortcut, a nice 4 lane highway (mostly) with little traffic and perfectly straight with a nice, high speed limit. I was driving. We stopped to go potty and I said I was done driving. It was a sunny day and we were roughly a half hour away from our destination. Donald took over.

Within 5 minutes it had started to rain. Within 15 minutes, it was pouring. We had a powwow and decided to just drive to our hotel in Springfield, Il and have a nice dinner & go shopping. Hannibal wouldnít be very fun in the driving rain. Within 30 minutes after that, we were in strange clouds & started to see twisters come out of the clouds to the south. Not being from the wide, open spaces of the Midwest, Iíd never seen a tornado before, or even these kinds of clouds. It was so weird and scary. People were under the overpasses waiting it out. And there were rainbows under the clouds, which was also a strange phenomenon. Donald driving. Instead of 75 mph, we were going about 35 & even that felt terrifying. Thank God, Boo was asleep.

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Finally the tornado clouds stopped & we thought we were a bit out of danger. But instead we found ourselves in a lightening storm like Iíve never been in. The lightening would hit the ground and the thunder was simultaneous, no delay at all. It would strike on the right, then the left, and then right in front of us. Adding this to not being able to see anything it made for a very, very frightening drive to Springfield. Mulan & Ariel were on my lap, wrapped around me. Ariel started crying & said she just wanted to be home. I tried to read them a story, but the noises outside were deafening & the fear in the adults was palpable. Children are no fools.

We finally got to our hotel & checked in. We only had a king bed in our room & they were completely full so we couldnít move. The girls were going to have to sleep on the floor. Donald was so frazzled he couldnít talk & was a mess. I told him he needed a nice dinner but he didnít want to go to a restaurant with Boo. We sat in the room a little while as I couldnít really think of a solution & he was not fit to make decisions or talk, really.

Finally he said, ďWhere are we going?Ē I just hate that. Telling me my solutions are terrible & then dumping the problem on my anyway, after telling me I wouldnít be able to solve it! GrrrÖ.

Anyway, there was a Joannís Fabric right next to our hotel & I wanted to pick up some fabric for a wedding I was helping friends with so I dropped Donald & the girls off at Smokey Bones & took Boo to Joannís where she merrily ran around like a fool. I got the fabric & some scrapbooking stuff & we headed over the restaurant. Donald had ordered a drink & appetizers & was watching baseball. I chased Boo around as we were in our own little corner so I knew it wouldnít bother anyone. By the end of the meal, he was calmer.

But this morning he was cranky again. Itís 8:25 pm now, we got home at 5:00 pm & he is just now settling & being calm & happy & ready to live again.

Did I mention it was a scary storm?

The van is empty & clean. Tomorrow Iíll need to do laundry & grocery shop & prepare for the week. And clean up the rest of the stuff. We canít find our cat. The house has some fleas. And I have lots of work piled up. But weíre HOME!!!! And home feels great.

My conclusions to the whole thing are:

Our family was amazing at cross country travel. It went smoothly, we didnít lose any cameras & even my keys are being sent home to me from the Rockbottom Brewery: at no expense to me, may I add. Having Mom & Dad with us was very nice & helpful. I wish Dad felt better & I hope he really does work at the treadmill thing. I think he should just bite the bullet & buy one. They could take the bed out of the toy room & put a TV on the wall with a treadmill and he could just make it part of his daily regime. Just like taking a pill.

Planning, as always, is key for our familyís enjoyment. Even beach vacations go better, hitting the road goes better, Disney goes better. Planning, planning, planning. I wish it werenít true, but it simply is. There were so few arguments; I mean really, really few. Almost none. A lack of impromptu decisions, and everyone knowing what is going to happen actually allows us more freedom as if someone doesnít want to do the plan, they donít have to but they know what the plan is, they know what they are turning down before it ever happens. To me, this is valuable beyond belief.

This was a cheap vacation. Just over $2000.00. Half what our Disney vacation will be this year. And still fabulous. So before this trip, I was thinking we wouldnít take many vacations after this year, especially since Boo will move from babyhood to being in the terrible twos within the next few months. But I think weíll be able to take vacations, just closer to home & cheaper. Not spending lots of money didnít take away from our enjoyment & I feel like we really spent it on the things that gave us the most bang for our buck: like the whitewater rafting & the Watiki park.

OK. Thatís it. This was a great trip. With great people.

I'll tell you my post-post trip thoughts next.

estherhead
09-24-2008, 09:12 PM
First, our cat never did make an appearance. She was very ill before we left but still nursing a baby so she couldn't take medicine. I'm pretty sure she's dead. Fortunately she left us her baby who we love. Otherwise it would have been too sad.

OK, as for the trip. In retrospect I absolutely loved this trip. Next year we won't be taking a Disney trip as we want to spend our time & money exploring the world. I think my girls are old enough to handle it, obviously, and Donald and I both had a great time.

My dad is feeling a lot better. A lot of his issues were because of the flu. But he still is the slowest walker on earth. We will be taking trips with him & Mom but we'll also have to do trips without him if they are heavy on walking. It's a bummer as we blend beautifully together and as I pointed out, didn't have a negative word to say. It's hard to find people that travel that well together. I wish he'd ride a scooter, but there is no stinkin' way he ever would.

So that's it. It was amazing. I love my hubbie, love my parents, and love my adorable girls.

bethbuchall
09-26-2008, 06:46 AM
What a great TR! I am so glad that you had such a wonderful trip. Now I want to go back and experience some of the things that you did. Except for that horrible storm. I am so glad that I didn't have to drive through anything like that. You also made me even happier that we scrapped the Nebraska route and went through Colorado Springs.

I can't wait to read about your WDW trip, too! And then wherever you take us next year.

jessica52877
11-21-2008, 09:59 PM
I am really enjoying this report and gotta finish up in the morning! Thanks for writing it.

estherhead
11-22-2008, 07:44 AM
What a great TR! I am so glad that you had such a wonderful trip. Now I want to go back and experience some of the things that you did. Except for that horrible storm. I am so glad that I didn't have to drive through anything like that. You also made me even happier that we scrapped the Nebraska route and went through Colorado Springs.

I can't wait to read about your WDW trip, too! And then wherever you take us next year.

Thanks! This is the second time I've been through Nebraska. It was prettier than I remembered when I was a kid. But it still is completely empty of people. I find that a little scary. I'm a country girl, but not 100 miles from the next house kind of country girl!

We leave for Disney in 5 days! So it'll be comin' soon.

I am really enjoying this report and gotta finish up in the morning! Thanks for writing it.

Thanks! It was such a great trip that I just had to write about it. Thanks for the kind words.

Plantlady
11-22-2008, 10:32 AM
We did Yellowstone (and about 10 other NP) two summers ago. Your trip report brought back lots of lovely memories.

Even, though, I have to disagree about Kansas being flat and boring, as I live here. :) It is just a different kind of beauty. :lovestruc

estherhead
11-22-2008, 10:55 AM
We did Yellowstone (and about 10 other NP) two summers ago. Your trip report brought back lots of lovely memories.

Even, though, I have to disagree about Kansas being flat and boring, as I live here. :) It is just a different kind of beauty. :lovestruc

10 NP's in one trip??? That sounds great. We have WDW coming up & then we're going to take a break from it till the baby (now 21 months) is 4 or 5. For the next few years we want to explore the NP's here in the east. And maybe a little bit in California. We're saving up some airline miles so we can fly out there free & then we have friends we can stay with. I just :love: :love: :love: nature, ya know?

Sorry for my Kansas comments. I live in Ohio so I hear negativity about driving through it all the time! And I adore it here. But the interstates that go through Ohio & Kansas are through some pretty boring scenery. :rotfl:

Plantlady
11-22-2008, 12:31 PM
Sorry for my Kansas comments. I live in Ohio so I hear negativity about driving through it all the time! And I adore it here. But the interstates that go through Ohio & Kansas are through some pretty boring scenery. :rotfl:

I'll have to get back to you on Ohio, we'll be driving through there this summer. :)

I know, Kansas looks boring at first, I'll admit it too.