Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

For the Fourth of July weekend, we decided to go camping near Yellowstone Park just outside of West Yellowstone, where I grew up.

We had a great time looking through the town, showing the kids where I lived and played, went to school and looking for the tricky tree (which is no longer there, bummer).

This October will mark 20 years since my family moved from West Yellowstone, MT to San Jose, CA and the growth of that small town sure shows it. The last time I was there we saw much of the growth, but even in the two years since that visit, a HUGE time share complex has been added. There was also a McDonald's. Growing up we had the D & R drive-in (no longer there) and the Dairy Queen (still there and looks the same!). I even looked for the Bargain Depot which was a trinket store in an old train car. This was the place I bought a pair of black leather pants that I actually wore. (What was I thinking?) We stopped along Canyon Blvd where the first two stop lights were installed the summer before we moved. Along Canyon are the majority of the tourist shops, diners, and other small town attractions. Sydney happened to be the only child without a hat for the weekend, so she and I jumped out really quick to buy one before heading into the park. Later that night when I was looking at the receipt, sure enough we had gone into the Bargain Depot.

We showed them the school I went to which has since been converted into more shops and a new school was built in what we called the New Addition or Madison Addition.

We then took the kids into Yellowstone National Park for some fun sights and not so fun smells. Just as we were approaching Norris Geyser Basin, Jason and I rolled the windows down for the unsuspecting passengers in the back. Austin was sure he would not be getting out of the car since it smelled so bad. I actually thought the smell was pretty tame compared to my childhood memories of the stinky sulfur emanating from the geysers and fumerals.

We hiked in a little ways to Artist Paint Pots to see the beautifully colored pools and the hot mud pots. We were glad to have bug repellent because the eraser size mosquitoes were out in force.
We also made the long hike down to the rim of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. A hike I was not looking forward to but was pressured by The Dad to come anyway. Lucky for me, Kelsey stopped holding hands on the narrow steep trail and had to sit out the rest of the hike. At the end of the hike, The Dad turned to Allynn and said, "Now, when you come back here with your husband and he insists that you take this hike, you tell him that there are other look-out points and that you have already done this hike." I tried to warn him.That night the town had a parade and fireworks to celebrate the holiday. Unfortunately we didn't make it out of the park in time for the parade and we didn't make it to the fireworks either. When we came back to our campsite for dinner, we discovered it had rained during the day and all the sleeping bags and blankets got soaked. We spent the evening drying everything so we would be ready for bed. So - we listened to the fireworks and saw a few done by the ranchers next door.

The next day we went back into the park and hurried into Old Faithful. There we hiked around the different paths and watched Old Faithful erupt. Then it was time to get back into the van for the long ride home. We didn't see very many animals.
  • Maybe 5 Bison - although the kids did get to experience
        • A Bison-jam when the Bison is on the road walking like he is the only thing around and cars have to wait for him to get out of the way.
        • Poser Bison - who sits right on the side of the road and looks from camera to camera helping each tourist get the best face shot.

  • One bald eagle sitting near the nest.

  • Several Elk - but not the huge herds I remember as a kid. Mammoth Hot springs had a small heard sitting on a grassy island which caused a traffic jam.

  • One white wolf that was scared off by another kid yelling, "Hey I just saw a white wolf!"

  • No moose.

  • No bears. We were so disappointed. Then four days later Aunt Julie saw several bears. We will just have to go again and look harder.
All in all, we had a great time and will go again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hoover Dam

Our next trip took us down to Arizona for Jason's graduation from the University of Phoenix.

We drove down to Las Vegas where we met up with Jason's parents, then headed south. We decided to cram as much into the trip as possible, so we first went to Hoover Dam. We were not able to stop for a tour, but we did get out for a minute (so HOT!) to look around and take some pictures.
They are in the process of building a new bridge to remove trafic from driving over the dam, I believe for security reasons.


We stayed in Surprise, Arizona. We arrived early enough in the afternoon and it was 115 degrees that swimming was in order. Once everyone was suited up and covered in sunblock, we headed down to the pool. We had just arrived no 40 minuets earlier and the weather was calm and dry. The air was beautiful until we stepped out to get in the pool. A huge wind storm blew, and blew. I thought for sure there was a fire, but it was just a wall of sand and dirt coming right at us. I have never experienced anything like that before. Kelsey was done quickly, but The Dad and big Kidlets stayed until the pool closed. (I wish I had a picture - Think of Hildago or the Mummy)

(OK - not this bad, but you kind of get the idea!)

The next day was graduation in Glendale, AZ at the University of Phoenix stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play football.

The ceremony was great!! The Keynote speaker and the student speaker were perfect! (short and sweet). Then we watched as Jason walked across the stage to get the rolled up piece of paper that tells you to pay any outstanding balances and order your diploma. It was so fun.

Masters in Information Systems

Then for a treat, Papa took us all to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. This was fun since we had been listening to the book during all of our traveling. The best part for me was coming out of the movie and Sydney started talking about all the stuff that was missing from the movie that was in the book. She does not like to read. I hope this gave her insight to the wonderful world of reading.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Grand Canyon

The drive home from Arizona was much longer than the drive there. In the spirit of cramming as much as we could into three days, we drove home through the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I had never been there before. The area before the Grand Canyon was beautiful forest. So green. I had not expected that. The road through the National Park is lined with tall pine trees. Then after parking the car, we walked to the look out points and see the canyon. So beautiful. We wondered if the lines on the rock walls were from water levels dropping. It took us a good two and a half hours to drive the 25 miles through the park.

After two stops, however, Kelsey was not allowed out of the car again because she was too busy, wouldn't hold hands, and was sticking her body through the guard rails. She was not happy. After we fed her at one stop, she fell asleep.
After the park, we followed the road through the reservation to Lake Powell. We didn't get to stop there, but would like to plan a trip to go back. The whole area was to beautiful.

Needless to say, we had a fun trip. We were exhausted when we finally made it home Monday morning at 4 am. The Dad was glad he had the whole day off to recuperate from all the excitement.

This next weekend The Dad and The Boy are headed to Father and Sons camp out. Then the next weekend is camping with the Alger family at Fish Lake. Then school will start. This summer sure has flown by.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I am trying to catch up - IN BETWEEN

Between Memorial Day and the last day of school, the kids and I were able to go to Hollister for a quick weekend to spend time with Mema and Papa. We drove over the hill (Donner Pass) Friday night, and managed to make pretty good time. Saturday we got up, had breakfast, and headed to the beach. The sky was overcast and a little chilly but we went anyway.

We went to Pajaro Dunnes straight west of Watsonville. I was cold, but the kidlets were in the water (at least up to their ankles). KeeKee at one point tried to walk across a small pool of water, tripped and fell in face first. When she stood up, her major concern was that her shirt got wet. She didn't seem to be bothered that she was also covered in sand.

Everyone had a good time. The seagulls were lined up along the shore waiting for the waves to come in. At first I didn't understand what they were doing, but with each wave, small creatures were floating right in as a seagull snack wave. Allynn managed to find a live sand dollar. That was neat. And Austin found two clams. Both children decided they need to bring these creatures home with them. In the car on the way home, Austin was holding one of the clams when it started to open. You should have heard the squeal that came out of his mouth. I almost had to pull over to calm him down. He was sure it was dead when he picked it up. They put the clam back in the water. Then it looked like it was sticking its tonge out. That was a fun adveture.

Then we went to Castroville for fried atichoke hearts and the Giant Artichoke. So yummy!!!

Then back to Hollister where we all went to see UP! (squirrel!). Then Sunday morning it was time to get back to Reno for the last three days of school.

We had a great time and hope to go again one more time this summer!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Updating the Wells

I decided that since I have a final paper due on Sunday that now would be a good time to update our blog.

Since the last blog post; my brother got married; we went to West Yellowstone; Jason finished his master; we went to Arizona for graduation; and have hung out in the house and at the pool.

We are waiting for the pictures from the wedding.

I have pictures of our trip to Yellowstone.

We have graduation pictures with a stop over at the Grand Canyon.

I will have to get those downloaded so I can share them with all.