Monday, October 17, 2011

Yellowstone - Always a favorite

The kids had a few days off from school and we hadn't been to Yellowstone yet this year so we had to squeeze it in before the season ended. I did manage to convince Greg not to camp. Twenty degree nights with a baby in a tent never sounds very fun.

We had a great time in our small little room with two beds, a sink, and the shared bathroom down the hall (at least they provided robes). Our kids are getting good at sleeping three kids the short way on the bed, and thankfully, Andrew always volunteers to sleep on the floor. But Natali is getting too tall and one of these days someone is going to call us out for having 7 people in one room. Actually, the room was a lot of fun and we weren't there much because we spent most of our time in the van looking for animals.

Our goal this time was to see wolfs. We did see wolfs through the scopes of kind "wolf watchers" but that just isn't the same for me. Someday we'll really see some. We did see several bears though. I loved watching this mother and cubs swim across the river.
This golden eagle was beautiful. We were even close enough that Emily was reacting to the animal. I loved her excitement. One of her favorite books right now is about a snow leopard (thanks Laura). She gets so animated when she sees pictures of animals - A little Andrew in the making. Speaking of Andrew, this little man hiked nearly 9 miles in one day! He is determined to enjoy every minute in Yellowstone. He and Greg did 5 miles together in on and off snow/rain showers. Meanwhile Natali and Mack earned their Jr. Ranger badges, we toured the visitor center, and hung out in the hotel room.We also took lots of little hikes together and one BIG one. It didn't start out big but I think Greg was secretly hoping it would end big. There was a 4 mile loop. The intention was to just start up the path and then turn around when they were tired. Amazingly, in spite of the 35-40 degree weather, they did really good. By the time they were asking to turn around we figured we were half way so we should just keep going. Kate got a few piggie backs and Natali needed a few pep talks, but they all made it.It was a beautiful hike right along a canyon. Emily didn't complain about her free ride and slept a fair portion of the hike. The last few of the river was so beautiful with the contrasting colors of blue, green, brown, and white. This picture doesn't really capture it. Here are the amazing hikers waiting for Greg to bring the car around. The last 1/2 mile of the loop was down the main road so Greg ran on ahead of us and we only had to wait about 5 minutes before he arrived with the warm van.
Per Natali's request, we did stop to see Old Faithful. However, near the time it was going to erupt it started to snow. Not just a little snow but so much snow that when it did erupt we couldn't even tell it had started. So glad we weren't camping.
On the way home we stopped at Wendy's. Greg bought one frosty to share. The kids were all holding their mouths open and squawking for their turn, especially Emily. It was so funny. I tried to capture it but failed to catch the moment.
Year after year I wait for one of the girls to complain about going to Yellowstone. They spend hours and hours in the car, freeze when they get out, whine about hiking...and yet they still seem to love it. They all seem to recognize the beauty and wonder of the animals, landscape, and geothermal oddities. The hours in the car helps create lasting memories. Like the word of the day. Each day we took turns picking a word, like bear. Each time bear was said we had to roar, but the best was Mack's pick of Elk. Instead of screaming or roaring each time it was said we had to say "stop the car". We saw a ton of elk and it was hilarious to hear the kids chanting "Elk! Stop the car." I want my kids to remember those silly times and the beauties of God's creations. I hope they never grow tired of Yellowstone.

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