Yeah Folks, I know. I really need to get it together. Sheesh, I've been talking about blogging long enough already. Who knew it would be such a pain in the tookas to find the time to blog and figure it all out while traveling. Kudos to all you bloggers out there for finding the time.
Alrighty then, on with it. We've been here there and everywhere and here are some photos from the adventures. Started out in Columbia, MO our old, and well-loved, hometown, then moved onto Fort Collins, Colorado where we stopped in for a few days with the Monellos.
We didn't give the Monello family much time to adjust to their new life in Ft. Collins, as they had just joined the community a week before our arrival. Ryan, Mellon, Eli and Ezra were good sports though and included us in all things fun. Mellon and the kids introduced us to all the new sites and finer features of Ft. Collins. Selfless Mellon even gave Jenny and Bryce a chance to take a New Belgium Brewery tour while she babysat all 4 rowdy boys! If you're ever in Ft. Collins, go take the tour. Delish! Ryan took us on a personal tour of Rocky Mountain National Park, teaching us all about the wildlife and park history. Lots of elk viewing! We are lucky to have such good and generous friends. Many thanks to you folks!
On Sunday, we moved on to Laramie, Wyoming to visit more old pals. Renny, Jill and Case McKay hosted us for the afternoon with a lovely cookout and scooter tour (well, a scooter chase, really. Renny (carrying Case) Bryce, and Jenny trying to keep up with the Super-Fly Scooter guys) of Laramie's city parks. After giving Jill plenty to be thankful for with sweet little case sleeping quietly in her arms as our children tore her beautiful home to shreds, we bid good-bye and were off to Landers, Wyoming for some shut-eye.
Our trip to Landers took a bit more time than expected due to gusty thunderstorms that led the fancy schmancy car-top carrier (a large canvas duffel bag rubbermaid markets as a "cartop carrier") to leak all over the passenger and driver aka Bryce and Jenny. Go capillary action! You see, the rain seeped in to the straps which were snugly shut into the front doors of the car and drip, drip, drip. You get it, I'm sure. We made it to Landers, stayed at the Pronghorn Inn and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast compliments of...Costco, or maybe Sam's Club. Yu-uhm.
Finally, onto Teton National Park and to Jenny Lake. Windy day, but it didn't stop us from exploring the lakeside and then taking a boat tour on the "Jenny Leigh" over to the other side of the lake, where we hiked to Inspiration Falls and Inspiration Point (or something like that) which was beautiful. The boys were little mountain goats on all the rocks and were in good spirits after so much car time. We even saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree on our way back to the other side of the lake. When we asked about camping, a kind ranger informed us that it was to be COLD that night (lower than 20 degrees) so we wimped out and got a cabin at Flagg Ranch. Wynne was disappointed and asked us to give the cabin back because it was broken, which meant it didn't have a t.v. in it. He got over it quickly and we were all asleep in a few minutes time. The next morning we were up early and decided to check out the breakfast buffet at the Flagg Ranch Lodge. Breakfast was not good to us. Overpriced and under worth it. This did not deter us from having a great time.
We were in Yellowstone National Park by 9 a.m. where we started the tour with a walk around the West Thumb Basin - a geyser area that drains into the Yellowstone Lake. It was lovely and very steamy in the cold morning. The boys were impressed and in awe of the geysers, and even developed quite a story about dragons and dragon families living beneath the geyser, hence the steam and sulfur aroma. After this, they weren't all that impressed with Old Faithful. I think Bryce and I enjoyed it more than the kids.
The boys really wanted more geysers, and who were we to disappoint, we stopped at Biscuit Basin next, which, in my opinion was the best stop of the trip. From the back of the loop around these active, bubbly geysers we hiked a 2.5 mile loop to Mystic Falls. A great hike for kids as it involved a bit of rock climbing at the end with a view of some amazing falls tucked in the back of a mountain. Wow!
We kept on with the Geyser hoopla for a few more hours and the boys became even more enthralled the natural wonders when a ranger informed us that the entire park is actually on top of an active volcano. Well, that did it. We're lucky the boys left with us. Wynne was hoping for some hot lava the whole time. Took a while to convince them that today was not that day (at least we hoped not.) We set up camp at the Norris Geyser campground and got the last campsite available. Whew, thank goodness.
As we set up camp, we realized, camping in Yellowstone in mid-september means one of two things. You are either a. retired or b. a professional photographer, neither of which happen to drag children along and are far removed from the energies children posess. Can't say all of our neighbors appreciated their lively nature. They did look a bit like a ball of dust blowing through the campground as they wrestled, frisbeed and footballed through campsites not acknowledging the imaginary boundaries that only adults can see (or care to recognize.) We tried to save our neighbors some anxiety by taking a hike around the Norris Geyser Basin which proved to be the best idea ever. We had the whole place to ourselves, enjoyed a spectacular sunset and the boys ran about 2 miles around the place.
The morning left us envious of all of our camper and rv neighbors as it took us lots of swearing and much more time to pack up the rear end and top (mostly the god forsaken roof rack) of the car before taking off the explore the rest of the park by car.
After that we were lucky enough to see some bison near the road and even experienced one walking right in front of our car. Bryce got so excited I thought he was going to lean out of the window to kiss it. We hiked a few loops near the upper and lower falls, saw a the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Henry hiked with me to see the Tower Falls as Wynne slept in the car. We had so much fun driving, exploring and wandering that we didn't pay much attention to the time and made it to Mammoth Falls in time to take some pictures, walk a bit and get on the road to Aunt Shelly and Uncle Chris' house. By this point Wynne was saying "I want to go see Aunt Shelly, right now!" about every minute or so, so we decided to get on with it and headed out of the park and on the road for our long 12 hour drive to Gig Harbor, Washington. Did get to check out the Wheat Montana bakery and Mill on the way and that was well worth it. If you ever find yourself outside Bozeman MT in the middle of just about nowhere, make sure you stop. What a great treat! The grow the wheat, they harvest it, grind it and share it (well, sell it in various forms; flour, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels,etc.) Better than the little red hen.
And a loooong and windy (as in twisty, curvy) drive it was. We made it to the Parrish Palace at around 4:30 a.m. ready for a nap. We were welcomed by Shelly and even sweet Drew woke up to give a round of hugs. What a sweetheart! Our first day in Gig Harbor involved mostly recoup-ing and letting all five boys roll around like a litter of puppies. It had been 9 months since Henry and Wynne had seen Drew (7), Christian (5) and Logan (3) and there was much catching up to do.
So, here we are. We'll be here for a few weeks hopefully enjoying each other's company. We've already been to Kopachuck State Park right here in Gig Harbor, checked out the wetlands area near the Hood Canal, went to the Gig Harbor Farmers Market, home of the best homemade tamales in the northwest and played alot of football in the front yard. Right now your eyes are tired, if you're still with me here, so I will give you a break. There's more to come. If you're still hungry for more there are way to many pictures coming your way. See you soon....
There is more to come, dear readers. But we are new at this blog thing and trying to figure out how to set this page up. On this page, we will be recording our travel diary, dumping a boatload of photos and generally trying to keep our funny stories in order. Stay tuned. . . .