Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vacation 2009 - Part 9 Yellowstone National Park

The next morning, we got up early, loaded our stuff (which is no small feat with seven people) and drove to Yellowstone Park. Right before we got to the gates, we saw a moose and her calf just off to the side of the road.
One thing we really noticed on this trip is just how many kinds of beautiful there are. The mountains and lakes are beautiful.The hot springs are beautiful...
Even though they don't smell beautiful.Old Faithful is beautiful.
Even the bison who strolled right past us was beautiful in his own way.The river and canyon are beautiful.It's just beautiful matter what you happen to be looking at.

Vacation 2009 - Part 8

On our last day together, we headed to town for a swim in the city pool, and then went back to do some more shooting. Each of the kids was given a chance to shoot the gun, and they are all still talking about that today! Just look at the concentration in their faces!

Okay, maybe Mango wasn't concentrating to's just so hard for her to stop SMILING!

And then there were the last pictures with a favorite second cousin. Everyone took their turn sitting on her lap to pose for a photo...I'm sure this is not exactly what she had in mind.

Boy, do I miss waking up to this view!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vacation 2009 - Part 7 Exploring

After a very busy and fun week of VBS, I am now determined to finish blogging our vacation adventures (blessings to those of you who are actually still reading!).

After finishing our fossil hunting, we headed further up into the Big Horn mountains. Pictures can in no way do the beauty of the place justice, but I am always determined to try! We got to look at scenes like this all afternoon!
We stopped part of the way up the mountain to try to find a cave to do some spelunking. When we lost the trail, my brother-in-law went off to try to find it again. We waited in a clearing for him to come back. A few minutes into our wait, Random inquired what we would do if a bear came along. We told him that being he'd won the shooting contest that the rest of us were turning to run back to our vehicle and he was to stay there and shoot the bear. :-) He was not amused (okay, only slightly). Luckily, no bear came along (though tracks were spotted), and unfortunately the fire had destroyed the trail enough that we weren't able to go to the cave.
This picture is taken from the clearing where we were standing.

On our way back down from the mountain, we stopped at Shell Falls. The picture can in no way show the tremendous amount of water that was falling. My brother-in-law said he'd never seen the water level that high.

And Aunt C? This pic is for you! :-)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vacation 2009 Part 6 - Fossil Hunting

Monday afternoon, we headed up onto the mountain. Below is a fossilized dinosaur track! There were enough of the tracks that we could follow where they walked!
We also did some actual fossil hunting (on land where it was legal to take the fossils!). The kids found some "devil's toe nails" (sea-shells) and some teeny-tiny fossils called cloynoids (sp?) which are actually tiny coral. I wish you could've been there to watch Mango's eyes get big when she realized exactly where and when those fossils came from. I asked her how she thought sea-shell and coral fossils might end up on top of a mountain. She answered "water", and I asked her to imagine just how much water it would take to cover this big old mountain we were on, and asked her if she knew when that happened. Random helped her out by answering Noah's flood, and I told her that was right - that what she was holding in her hands were most-likely fossils made during the time of Noah's flood. It was a pretty amazing idea to me too!
(By the way, we are well aware that the picture at the top says to stay away from this dangerous cliff and our daughter is standing right there....Have no worry. It was not really dangerous and was taken as a "gift" for one of her cousins!)

Vacation 2009 - Part 5 Shooting

Last Monday morning in Wyoming, Seely and Random got to do something they absolutely LOVE doing - shooting guns with Uncle D. He is a former police officer and really has a gift for being able to teach people how to safely enjoy this sport.
Because he's an avid hunter, he owns a wide variety of guns from small to big, and they get to try pretty much all of them!
And I am sure that Random would like you to know that he won some sort of shooting contest that they held - beating out both his big brother and his uncle (though I am quite sure the details on that are a bit fuzzy!).

Four-wheeling and target shooting....a vacation doesn't get much better than that for teenaged boys!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vacation 2009 - Part 4: 4-wheeling and recovery

After horseback riding, Uncle D took us all out for some 4-wheeling in the Wyoming badlands. It was absolutely gorgeous out there, and the kids all loved it! We found out we have several thrill-addicts in our family!!!Sunday morning we awoke slightly stiff (okay, the adults were anyway!) from the previous day's adventures and headed off to church. We attend a larger-sized church at home, but there is something very special about a small church where everyone knows everyone. The people were very warm and have a genuine passion for making a difference in their community. It was a good reminder to be praying for the smaller churches, their pastors, and the impact they are making in lives, even without a big budget.
Sunday afternoon, we took our sore muscles and headed off to Thermopolis for a long soak in the Hot Springs. We jumped, soaked, and played together for a couple of hours. (That's Random in mid-air!)This is my niece's daughter "A" with Lily and Mango. She and her two sisters spent three of our four Wyoming days with their grandparents and us, and we all really enjoyed our time together. I think I would've brought them home with us, if we only had had room in our vehicle!

Monday, July 6, 2009

2009 Vacation - Part 3: Horseback Riding

On Saturday, after discovering we'd somehow lost one of Mango's tennis shoes (which we have since found at home!), we headed off to some of the neighbors to do a little bit of horseback riding. Lily and Mango were so excited and had been looking forward to this for a very long time! We were joined by my niece's daughters, who had an extra pair of riding boots for Mango, and just had a wonderful afternoon together.

Here, Lily and Mango wait by Major while Uncle D went to catch Molly, who apparently had decided she didn't want to be ridden that day, and went to the very back of the pasture!

Once the three horses were saddled up, the kids got on and we set off for a little stroll. Monkey is on Nickel and was soon joined by Lily.

Mango and her second cousin E rode on Molly; while Random rode on Major. I don't think Mango stopped smiling the entire ride!
And of course there were darling farm kittens to play with. And though we had only gone to the neighbors to ride, cold lemonade, delicious brownies, and very enjoyable conversation were waiting at the picnic table when we all returned. It was a great afternoon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vacation 2009- Part 2 The Big Horns

After spending the night in Wall, we loaded up and drove to see Mt. Rushmore . It is always an incredible sight, and I wish we had more time to just sit and gaze (but kids who are anxious to see their aunt and uncle don't sit and gaze so well!).

In case you are wondering what they are doing, they are posing like the 4 heads on Mt. Rushmore. Yes, we had spent too much time in the hot vehicle by this point!

Later, we went inside the Visitor's Center and met one of the men who had actually helped carve Mt. Rushmore. He was a rather crotchety old man, but it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity, and he did agree to a picture (even though he's not looking at the camera!).

Afterwards, we left the Black Hills area and headed into Wyoming, and over the Big Horn Mountains. It is an absolutely gorgeous drive, and perhaps has become one of my favorite places. It was quite cloudy as we ascended that day, but I think that made it only more beautiful.

There was still a little bit of snow at the top, and the temperature was a cool 42 degrees Fahrenheit...a very pleasant change from the 95+ degrees down below. We descended into Ten Sleep, Wyoming, a small town at the base of the Big Horns, where they still ride their horses in the street (and talk on their cell phones at the same time).We arrived in the town of Basin, around 5:30 Friday evening, and were warmly welcomed by two of the most genuinely hospitable people anyone could ever be lucky enough to know. We spent the evening getting settled, and catching up, and I believe there was some gun-shooting and 4- wheeler riding going on as well!

Wyoming is really a beautiful place. I love seeing the antelope eating on the sides of the road as we drive around (we have yet to see them actually "play" inspite of what the famous song says!).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vacation 2009 - Part 1

I will probably bore most of you with the posts I plan to write over these next few days, but being the blog is meant to be a record of our family life, as well as a way for distant friends and family to stay in touch, you will have to bear with me. :-)

We left for Wyoming Wednesday afternoon and drove several hours, spending the night in Mitchell, South Dakota...Yes...the home of the world-famous (ha) Corn Palace.

The next morning, the children were so excited to see it again that they could barely corntain themselves! Did you know that the earchitecture is so amaizing that if Corn Palace burned down, it would be a complete corntastrophe? Yes, we know the jokes are corny, and after hearing them several times we were downright earitated with the kids. We even threatened to send them to the corner :-).
Seriously, Seely and Random have a routine of corn jokes that will make even the most sour person smile eventually (and then plead for them to be quiet!). While the Corn Palace is not really all that exciting, it is located across from some of the first western souvenir shops where the kids had the opportunity to spend some of their money from Grandma! Monkey picked out a toy gun and a plastic snake and was quite pleased with his purchases!

Later that day, we visited the Badlands National Park. Last year, all five of the kids chose the visit to this park as one of their favorite things, so it was one of the things we said we'd do again on our way out to Basin.
It truly is a place of incredible beauty, and if you ever get out to the Black Hills area, I strongly encourage you to take the time to drive through. Pictures can not do it justice!
We spent Thursday night in Wall, South Dakota....again, giving the kids a chance to spend some of their souvenir money. Being we visited Wall last year, we knew the best spot to shop for souvenirs in there, and were in and out within half an hour, which has to be some sort of record for a family of seven!
The animal above, for the un-initiated, is a jackalope. It can only be hunted on February 30th and 31st. Yep, you read that right. Licenses can be purchased in Wall Drug. :-)