Tuesday, August 27, 2013

wild, wild, west

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I feel like I've missed August.

Here's why:  We went on vacation. Whee!

We piled our family of 5 into our truck, and headed of for places unseen. We met up with my parents and 3 of my nieces for our 2 week tour of the Wild West. We added Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota to our children's states list.

In Nebraska we saw: A small train to ride a local park. We rode it. We saw here Papa was born, and where his grandparents lived.  We saw the world's largest train yard, but only from the ground because the tower was closed. I grabbed a geocache or two.

In Wyoming we saw: Dry flat land. Cheyenne, and the biggest locomotive, ever. Big Boy.  I grabbed a geocache, but really Jude found it. A Mountain range.

Laramie, and a bridge over a train yard, which was right next to the restaurant where we had our dinner. Nathanael was VERY excited to be standing on a bridge, watching trains pass right under us. The bridge shook. The wind from the passing trains whipped our hair around, nearly knocked off ball caps, and would have caused skirts to fly, had there been any skirts to be flown. The smoke from the diesel engines was black and surprised several of us. Drivers honked the horns at the crazy people waving at them from the bridge, and the 4 year old who was nearly jumping out of his shoes from excitement.  We all grabbed a geocache.

Do you detect a train theme here?

More Wyoming: More dry, flat land. I tried to grab a geocache, but subtle was needed, and subtle a crowd-of-10-people-milling-around-a-street-corner is not. Mountains! The Tetons!

We made it into the Jackson area, and spent several days checking out locations in Grand Teton National Park. We saw bison, elk, pronghorn, muledeer.

No bears, despite all the signs telling us bears would practically be crawling all over us/our food.  I grabbed a virtual geocache while the rest of the crew was painting on Lunch Tree Hill.



Wyoming, and Montana: We then moved on into Yellowstone National Park.  Geysers, mudpots, and fumeroles, Oh MY! Although I enjoyed Yellowstone, and would go back, I was a little underwhelmed at most of the hydrothermal features. Nathanael was not impressed with Old Faithful the first time around (he had just woken up) but the second day we saw it, he was much more enthusiastic.

He was especially pleased that we were standing on a real, live, volcano. I really wanted to see Grand Prismatic Spring, but they were working on the boardwalks. Boo. We did see bison and elk. We really wanted to see moose, bears, and wolves. Some people saw wolves. Our truck did not.  We did see moose, though.  I grabbed a few more virtual geocaches, and even a traditional cache in Montana. Woot!   We managed to get Adelle to say "buffaloes,"  but really it sounds like "Bup-a-boes!" And then she proceeded to exclaim "buffaloes" every time we saw bison. Again. Blocking the road. 

Buffaloes! And an unfortunate alignment for nosepicking?
Buffaloes. Blocking the road. Again.
And then, our time (which was still too short) was nearing an end.  It was time to leave the natural wonders of Western Wyoming and start the return home.

More Wyoming, again: We eventually made it over to Devil's Tower, but didn't stay very long.  There was much rock climbing in the time we were there.

South Dakota: Deadwood! We didn't realize how much of a gambling town this would be. Casinos everywhere, even in our little hotel. But we walked Mainstreet Deadwood, saw a model train display, and got some ice cream. We also grabbed a geocache. Gold Mine Tour, panning for gold, driving through the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore! Yup, there it is. It's big. But now that Elizabeth has seen it, she found the humor in a sign she saw, where someone substituted some band's faces onto a picture of the monument.  The Badlands National Park did indeed include bad lands. And Bighorn Sheep! We stopped by the Minuteman Missile historic site, and saw the silo from the ground, but the tours of the launch facility were full. It was still awesome.

And then we headed home. Several days later, we rolled into our driveway. We were done. We were glad to be home. Adelle wandered around the house, playing with whatever she found, glad to be OUT of her seat. Nathanael wanted to make his own geyser (and did with Elizabeth's help - a few squirts of hand soap, and a stream of running water in a cup, and Viola!  A geyser!)

Adelle - "Buffaloes!" Nana, Papa, Anna, J, Go-gan. Splashing in the water. Counting trains with Nathanael. And probably watching the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" pretty much every day while spending hours in the truck. Thank you, inventors of the portable DVD player! (To-wo-wo? Peas!?)

Nathanael: "Going to grand tetons, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, and seeing my Nana and Papa." Nathanael picked up stick pretty much every place we stopped, turning them into swords, guns, arrows, fishing poles and whatever else. His friend Hammy (the puppet hamster) was his constant companion.


Elizabeth: "Yellowstone. Seeing Old Faithful. Going to the Grand Tetons, and staying at Jackson Lake Lodge and getting to paint with Papa."


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