Wildlife in Yellowstone

As promised, I’m posting some pictures of our wildlife sightings while the kids and grandkids were visiting us this summer.  Pretty much all of these photos were taken by Sean, Garrett, Blake or Paige.  The bison were the easiest to get, as they were everywhere.  The most difficult was the wolf.  We got lucky and had two sightings with Sean.  In fact, Sean also sighted a bald eagle, bull elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and black bear.  Only one he missed seeing was a moose.

We had our closest black bear encounter while hiking with Garrett when we came across a mama bear and her cub.  That was pretty scary, but really cool.  Garrett got lucky and snapped some great moose pics, too.  Garrett’s photos also include a bull elk, mule deer, black bears, marmot, bison and the chipmunk.  Blake photographed elk and got some great bison shots.  Paige got the birds and the pretty lakeside shot of the resting elk.

grey wolf

Grey Wolf 2

pronghorn

Black Bear grazing 1

Black Bear grazing 2

We spotted the cub BEFORE we saw his mama!

We spotted the cub BEFORE we saw his mama!

Mama was watching us!

Mama was watching us!

She decided not to worry about us.  Whew!

We almost missed seeing this guy strolling through a meadow.

We almost missed seeing this guy strolling through a meadow.

Bison herd

Shedding the last of the winter coat

Shedding the last of the winter coat

Bison head to head

This guy was walking straight at Blake

This guy was walking straight at Blake

Bison walk down street

Female Moose

Female Moose – Nice shot Garrett!

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Moose bull walk in stream

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Mule Deer in meadow

Mule Deer laying down

Elk

Didn't your mama teach you to chew with your mouth closed?

Didn’t your mama teach you to chew with your mouth closed?

I know just how she feels

I know just how she feels

Elk run the show in Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk run the show in Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk in Mammoth Hot Springs crossing road

Garrett spotted this little Marmot

Garrett spotted this little Marmot

Chipmunk

Elk in field

Elk bull in field

Elk Bull eating

Elk Bull

Bald Eagle in eagle tree

Bird - Heron

Bird

We never did spot any Grizzly Bears out in the wild.  So I’ve included a few pictures from our visits to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and Habitat located in West Yellowstone.  Magnificent animals.

Grizzly Bear Habitat

Grizzly Bear Habitat

Wildlife Habitat Grizzly 2

Enjoying a bath

Enjoying a bath

Wolf in Habitat

Wolf in Habitat

Eagle in Habitat

Eagle in Habitat

 

 

Yellowstone With A Full House and a Full Heart

This past month in Yellowstone National Park has been crazy good!  I’m going to get you caught up on all of our activities with the family.  Once again, I am refraining from posting the wildlife pics and scenery pics.  I will create a separate post for those later.  We saw so many wonderful things!  But this post is about the family fun .. again!

As you may recall from my last post, our grandson Garrett had joined us in the Grand Tetons.  After enjoying a week there, we drove the Bear through Yellowstone to Mammoth Hot Springs at the North entrance to Yellowstone Park.  There were a couple of water events up that way that we wanted to experience.  White water rafting was first on the agenda.  And what fun we had!  Mike and Garrett got the primo seats at the front of the 8-person raft.  You can’t see me in this picture, but I’m right behind Mike.  Our wet ride/workout lastest about 3 hours.  This was Garrett’s first white water raft experience and he loved it.

Rafting the Yellowstone River

Rafting the Yellowstone River

We had also read about the Boiling River.  A short hike took us to this popular stretch on the river where the hot spring joins the cold river.  I took a pass on the whole bathing suit thing, but Mike and Garrett wanted to experience a soak in the Boiling River.  A few inches in one direction and the water is too hot, a few inches the other way and it’s freezing cold.  They found a good spot and enjoyed it as well as could be expected with that many people vying for a spot of their own.

Mike and Garrett take a soak in the Boiling River

Mike and Garrett take a soak in the Boiling River

For the next week, we took many hikes in the Mammoth Hot Springs area and in the Lamar Valley in the northeastern section of Yellowstone.  We got up close and personal with a black bear and her cub and saw lots of other wildlife (pics in a future post).  It was great!  Garrett thought we were trying to kill him with all the tough hiking (but I think he really enjoyed it).

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs  Beautiful Travertine Terraces

Hiking Around Trout Lake

Hiking Around Trout Lake

Slough Creek Trail

Slough Creek Trail

Antlers Found Along The Slough Creek Trail

Antlers Found Along The Slough Creek Trail

07 Northwest Yellowstone

Next we traveled up into Montana for a couple of days, spending a night in Bozeman to wash the RV and do some stocking up for when the rest of the family arrives.  Then we spent a night in the Red Cliffs National Forest Campground on our way back down to Henrys Lake State Park in Island Park, Idaho.  Again, this was to be our base camp for the next 2 weeks when the rest of the family joins us.

We Return To Henrys Lake State Park For Family Visit

We Return To Henrys Lake State Park For A Two Week Family Visit

Plans got adjusted when our granddaughter Paige’s All Star Softball Team made it to the Western Nationals Championship.  Her Moorpark team was having an incredible year going undefeated and winning District.  Then they took 2nd place at State, so we knew that qualifying for National was a given.  Kimberly and Lance took Paige to the week-long event in Sacramento and sent Blake to join his brother Garrett with us until they could get here.  In the end, Paige’s team took 9th place overall out of a softball season that started with 7,100 teams competing!  What a wonderful year she had with a great group of girls!

Moorpark All Star Softball - Paige on the far right

Moorpark All Star Softball Team – Paige on the far right

We drove to Idaho Falls airport to pick up Blake.  The Yellowstone Log Home lumber yard was on the way home so Mike stopped to load up the back of our little SUV with end cuts.  It’s so cheap and the boys love chopping the logs for our campfires.  Most campgrounds sell those little 5 piece bundles for about $5 or $6.  We filled the back of our car for less than $10!

We Put Blake To Work Loading The Firewood

We Put Blake To Work Helping To Load The Firewood

Garrett Carries A Large Stump To The Car

Garrett Carries A Large Stump To The Car

And, we just had to stop at Big Jud’s Diner again.  Blake was confident that he could finish the one-pounder by himself.  He has a terrific appetite, like many 16-year-old boys, but it proved to be more than he could finish.  I’d say he ate about 2/3 of it though and a large basket of french fries!  Garrett knew better, so he and Mike split one.

Blake Tackles The Big Jud One Pound Hamburger

Blake Tackles The Big Jud One Pound Hamburger

We had a surprise for the boys.  Mike had rented a 4-seater ATV for a day.  The original plan was for all the guys to go out on it.  But since Lance was in Sacramento for Paige’s tournament, that left a seat open for me.  Bouncing down dusty roads in a very loud machine isn’t my thing, but I went along to get some video footage and ended up having a pretty good time.  Mike took the first shift behind the wheel and drove us up to the top of Sawtell Mountain (over 10,000 feet) for some great views.  It was COLD up there!  Then he let the boys take turns driving the rest of the day.  Blake has a learners permit to drive, but Garrett is only 13 and this was his first time driving over 10 mph.  He was having a blast tearing down dirt roads doing 40 before Mike slowed him down a little.

 

Blake Behind The Wheel of the ATV

Blake Behind The Wheel of the ATV

At The Top Of Sawtell Mountain

At The Top Of Sawtell Mountain, Blake Pulls On A Sweatshirt

Garrett Takes Us Over A Wooden Bridge

Garrett Takes Us Over A Narrow Wooden Bridge While Mike Holds On!

The town of West Yellowstone was having the Mountain Man Rendezvous that week.  We learned that this is a reenactment of an 1800’s encampment where they all dress in period clothing and sell handmade things.  We walked around ‘Traders Row’, watched a hatchet throwing demonstration and a wood carving demonstration, and bought a few souvenirs.

Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone

Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone

An Antique and Classic Car Show was also taking place in town.  We watched the parade and then admired the cars in the park.  The boys bought raffle tickets to win a classic 1966 mustang convertible.

Classic Car Parade

Classic Car Parade With About 150 Cars

What Are The Odds?

What Are The Odds?

We took a drive over to Earthquake Lake and spent some time in the Visitor Center learning about the tragic night on August 17, 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake caused an 80 million ton landslide on the Madison River creating a new lake that destroyed homes and killed 28 people who were camping along the shore of the Madison River.

Ruins of Homes Destroyed During The Formation of Earthquake Lake

Ruins of Homes Destroyed During The Formation of Earthquake Lake

We spent the rest of the week hiking in the geyser basin and canyon area within Yellowstone Park.  It took Blake a day or two to acclimate to the elevation.  He’s a varsity soccer player and is physically fit.  So he was surprised at how tiring it is when you’re not getting the air you’re used to!

West Yellowstone Rendezvous Ski Trail Hike

West Yellowstone Rendezvous Ski Trail 5 Mile Hike

Fairy Falls 5 Mile Hike

Fairy Falls 5 Mile Hike

Specimen Ridge Trail - 4 Mile Hike Near Tower Falls

Specimen Ridge Trail – 4 Mile Hike Near Tower Falls

Yellowstone Canyon South Rim Trail to Clear Lake 7 Mile Hike

Yellowstone Canyon South Rim Trail to Clear Lake 7 Mile Hike

Hiking Past The Grand Prismatic Spring On Our Way To Fairy Falls

Hiking Past The Grand Prismatic Spring On Our Way To Fairy Falls

Had To See Old Faithful And Then Eat Lunch At The Lodge

Had To See Old Faithful And Then Eat Lunch At The Lodge

Brothers

Brothers

Kimberly, Lance and Paige finally arrive!  We had to cram pack a lot of sightseeing into just a few days.  So we focused on the geysers one day, then the canyons and waterfalls the next day.

Garrett hadn't seen his mom in almost a month!

Garrett hadn’t seen his mom in almost a month!

24 Blake Garrett Paige at Geyser Basin

25 Papa and kids at sign

That's us in the middle of the crowd at Old Faithful

That’s us in the middle of the crowd at Old Faithful … again

Brink of Upper Falls in Yellowstone Canyon

Brink of Upper Falls in Yellowstone Canyon

On another day, we rented a raft to do a float trip on the Snake River.  We were worried that we might get rained on.  We didn’t have any extra days, so we had to take a chance on the weather and fortunately we got lucky.

Float Trip On The Snake River

Float Trip On The Snake River

29 Blake paddles- Paige on front of raft

30 Garrett Papa on Snake River

31 Kim Lance Paige in raft

We also spent an afternoon at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.  It’s a fascinating habitat for grizzly bears, wolfs, eagles, and other raptors.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and Habitat

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and Habitat

Back at the campsite, we enjoyed playing corn hole, building big campfires and cooking pudgie pies.

Blake and Paige Playing Corn Hole

Blake and Paige Playing Corn Hole

Paige Scores!

Paige Makes A Big Toss

34 Kim and Paige - cornhole

Kimberly Scores!

Kimberly Scores!

36 Garrett and Lance - campsite

Garrett’s hair is never this long. He kept begging me to cut his hair. His hair is so thick that it just gets bigger and bigger. Kimberly gave him a haircut as soon as they got home. Hahaha!

Garrett Cooks A Pudgie Pie

Garrett Cooks A Pudgie Pie

38 Lance and Kim - campsite

Blake's Doing Some Kind Of Victory Dance

Inside the Bear, we celebrate Kimberly, Paige AND Garrett’s birthdays, play cards, and practice dance steps.  Lots of laughs, lots of fun.

40 Garrett Bday

Paige Learns To Play Cribbage

Paige Learns To Play Cribbage

42 Blake

Kimberly Shows Paige A Dance Move

Kimberly Shows Paige A Dance Move

Garrett Gets It Down

Garrett Gets It Down

Blake's Got His Own Moves

Blake’s Got His Own Moves

Paige Conks Out With Lucy

Paige Conks Out With Lucy

Henrys Lake Sunset

Henrys Lake Sunset

Our wonderful summer in Yellowstone with all the family visits has come to an end.  The kids are all home and preparing to start back to school, and we’re heading toward Oregon to get solar panels installed.  I’ll do another post on Yellowstone, however, before I get into all that.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Grand Tetons With Grandson Garrett

Our grandson Garrett flew into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to travel with us for a month.  We  have been so busy having fun that I can’t find time to write about it!  This blog post will only cover the first week of his visit.  I’m so far behind that I just need to get something posted, and since I don’t have much time even now, this story will be told mostly in pictures.  We stayed at the Gros Ventre Campground which is in the Grand Tetons National Park.

Our campsite at Gros Ventre, Loop B, with river running behind us

Our campsite at Gros Ventre, Loop B, with river running behind us

Mike bought several log end pieces from Yellowstone Lumber for Garrett to chop into firewood.  We filled the back of our SUV with 9 logs for less than $10.  We hate buying those little bundles for $5-6 each that only make one campfire.  Plus this gives Garrett a good workout!

Garrett is chopping one of the small logs in this pic (he's just warming up!)

Garrett is chopping one of the small logs in this pic (he’s just warming up!)

Burning The Fruits Of Garrett's Labor!

Burning The Fruit Of Garrett’s Labor!

Mike and I recently purchased a Cornhole Beanbag Toss Game.  Mike got “schooled” by Garrett on how it’s done.  It’s not fair that Garrett is an ace baseball pitcher!  Even though this game is played by tossing the bag underhand, Garrett was still able to humiliate Mike.  Lucy had to be restrained because she got sooooo excited each time the bag was tossed.  She thought we were playing catch with her, I guess!

Lucy Tries To Catch The Bean Bag.

Lucy Tries To Catch The Bean Bag.

Each day we ventured out to explore a new area or experience something unique about the Grand Tetons.

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park

It's So Beautiful Here!

It’s So Beautiful Here!

From Signal Hill

From Signal Hill

Another View From Signal Hill

Another View From Signal Hill

Bicycling to Moose, Wyoming

Bicycling to Moose, Wyoming

Garrett and Mike Bicycling Into Jackson

Garrett and Mike Bicycling Into Jackson

Hiking Around Jenny Lake

Hiking Around Jenny Lake

Hike to Waterfall at Jenny Lake

Hike to Waterfall at Jenny Lake

Hike to Inspiration Point

Hike to Inspiration Point

Walking Lucy Along The Riverfront Trail Near Jackson Hole

Walking Lucy Along The Riverfront Trail Near Jackson Hole

 

Hiked to Phelps Lake on The Death Canyon Trail

Hiked to Phelps Lake on The Death Canyon Trail

This is Garrett's Photo - The One He Is Taking In The Picture Above This One

This is Garrett’s Photo – The One He Is Taking In The Picture Above This One

Bar Stools are Saddles in The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole

Bar Stools are Saddles in The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole

National Museum of Wildlife Art

National Museum of Wildlife Art

We spent hours touring the National Museum of Wildlife Art and would have returned the next day, but we just ran out of time to do everything on our “fun list”.  It is a wonderful museum and I highly recommend visiting it.

Teton Village is a beautifully manicured resort and appears to cater to the wealthy.  But when Mike and I read about the Aerial Tram ride to the top of the mountain, we knew we had to do that!  In addition to hiking around up there, we feasted on the specialty waffles made at Corbet’s Cabin at the summit.  The Tram ticket was also good for a ride on the Teewinot Ski Lift, so we did that one, too.  Later, we took the Bridger Gondola up to The Deck Restaurant for dinner at their outdoor grill.

Teton Village Aerial Tram

Teton Village Aerial Tram

Found Some Snow Hiking At The Top Of The Mountain

Found Some Snow Hiking At The Top Of The Mountain

Garrett and Mike Enjoying The Altitude

Garrett and Mike Enjoying The Altitude

Teewinot Chairlift at Teton Village

Teewinot Chairlift at Teton Village

We were lucky to be in Teton Village on the evening that the Teton Raptor Center was in the Village Commons giving a presentation about their organization with live hawks, falcons, eagles and owls.  Loved it!

Teton Raptor Center Presentation

Teton Raptor Center Presentation

Teton Raptor Center Demonstration

Teton Raptor Center Demonstration

We were looking for an evening of entertainment, so we went to Dornan’s Chuckwagon Dinner in Moose, WY for all-you-can-eat cowboy grub and folksy entertainment.  The musical line-up covered many genres including country western, folk, pop, and reggae.  Entertainers ages ranged from 18 to 88.  Some were really good and a couple of them so bad it made me want to crawl under the table.  It was fun and definitely memorable!

Dornan's Chuckwagon Dinner (drinks, salad and berry cobbler on the other side) - Serve Yourself All You Want

Dornan’s Chuckwagon Dinner (drinks, salad and berry cobbler on the other side) – Serve Yourself All You Want – BBQ ribs, beef stew, cowboy beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and I can’t remember what else.

We saw many performers that night.  They only did 1 or 2 numbers each.

We saw many performers that night. They only did 1 or 2 numbers each.

During our week in Jackson Hole, we also enjoyed lunch at the Snake River Brewing Co., poked around town in the shops and galleries, and ate some yummy handmade ice cream in town.

And, of course, we had to pose for the popular antler arch photo op in Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole, WY

Jackson Hole, WY

Next we’re heading up to Yellowstone National Park.  Planning to stay in Mammoth Hot Springs Campground at the North Entrance.   Cheers!

Cody Wyoming and Buffalo Bill

After our fun visit from Sean, Kailyn and Brady, we headed over to Baker’s Hole National Forest Service campground in Montana just outside of West Yellowstone. Of course, the weather turned perfect and sunny right after the kids left! We snagged a great site and stayed for a couple of days ($14 a night, with electricity, senior rate), enjoying the hiking along the river and on the ski trails in the area. It was very relaxing.

Baker's Hole NFS Campground, West Yellowstone

Baker’s Hole NFS Campground, West Yellowstone

Hiking the Riverside Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Riverside Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Rendezvous Loop Ski Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Rendezvous Loop Ski Trail in West Yellowstone

Next we drove the Bear through Yellowstone Park from the west entrance to the east entrance. We wanted to spend a week or so in Cody, Wyoming and the closest spot we could get was in Wapiti Campground which is another National Forest Service campground. We got an absolutely perfect campsite! We could not believe our luck. Most of the sites are first come-first serve, and fortunately for us our site had become available just before we drove up. This campground, and particularly our site, had everything we desire – electricity, total privacy, no road noise at all, a rushing river behind us, birds singing, a gentle warm breeze rustling through the trees, and no bugs! All this for only $10 a night (senior rate).

Love our campsite at Wapiti NFS Campground near Cody Wyoming

Love our campsite at Wapiti NFS Campground near Cody Wyoming

Hiking along the river behind our campsite

Hiking along the river behind our campsite

Hiking the beautiful  Elk Creek Trail from our campsite at Wapiti

Hiking the beautiful Elk Creek Trail from our campsite at Wapiti

We were about a 30 minute drive away from Cody, but we didn’t mind the distance because the drive was so scenic and pleasant.

Scenic drive into Cody

Scenic drive into Cody.  Beautiful little ranches and farms along the way.

12 Cody WY countryside 2

Huh???

Huh???  Bob?  I should have tried to get the story behind this.

The Buffalo Bill State Park surrounds the reservoir of the Buffalo Bill Dam. The Visitor Center at the Dam had a fascinating video presentation on the colorful history and building of the dam. It was the tallest dam in the world when it was completed in 1910 and is a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

Buffalo Bill State Park on the Reservoir

Buffalo Bill State Park on the Reservoir

Wood debris is cleared from the dam every year

Wood debris is cleared from the dam every year

Buffalo Bill Dam spillway

Buffalo Bill Dam spillway – I was standing on the dam looking down

We made the trip into Cody often and had a great time in this historic western cowboy town. Mike enjoyed the bison steak during our dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House. One of our trips to town coincided with the Independence Day Kids Parade, and Arts and Craft Fair at the park.

A glance at downtown Cody

A glance at downtown Cody

Old Trail Town - the original town site of Cody City with authentic structures

Old Trail Town – the original town site of Cody City with 26 authentic structures

Kids Parade passing Buffalo Bill's Historic Irma Hotel

Kids Parade passing Buffalo Bill’s Historic Irma Hotel

An evening at the Cody Theatre

An evening at the Cody Theatre

Dan Miller's Cowboy Music Revue

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue

We particularly enjoyed the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It took us a full two days to tour this amazing place which is described as the “Smithsonian of the West” and it was time and money well spent. It is actually 5 separate and distinct museums under one roof, with over 50,000 artifacts. We learned all about Bill Cody’s life in the Buffalo Bill Museum. Mike saw the largest collection of firearms in the world in the Cody Firearms Museum. The Whitney Western Art Museum was so much more than amazing art. All the exhibitions and history made each piece come to life. The first museum we toured was the Plains Indian Museum which so beautifully and movingly depicted the lives and legends of the Plains Indian people. The Draper Natural History Museum brought to life the power and beauty of the Yellowstone region. We attended several of the special presentations put on at various times throughout the day. Always a favorite of ours is seeing the live raptor show. We also attended a bear safety and survival presentation, and enjoyed the chuck wagon cooking demo. We heartily recommend visiting the Center of the West if you visit Cody. Just be sure to allow plenty of time to fully appreciate all there is to see here.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Chuck Wagon Cooking Demo

Chuck Wagon Cooking Demo

Making Biscuits and Beans

‘Cookie’ Was Making Biscuits and Beans

Plains Indian Museum

Plains Indian Museum

The Plains Indian Museum was a favorite of mine

The Plains Indian Museum was a favorite of mine

Western Art Museum

Western Art Museum – I love the wildlife art

Frederic Remington's Studio in the Western Art Museum

Frederic Remington’s Studio in the Western Art Museum

The main reason we wanted to be in Cody at this time was for the 95th Annual Cody Stampede Rodeo on July 1-4. This is not to be confused with the nightly amateur rodeo that is put on throughout the summer. The Stampede Rodeo is the real deal. With a $400,000 purse and attracting the top cowboys in the country, it is one of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys of America’s (PRCA) largest rodeos in the nation. I was motivated to get a cowboy hat for this event!

He made my hat fit perfect!!

He made my hat fit perfect!!

The night before the Rodeo starts is an annual event for only bull riders, called the Bull Stampede. In addition to the announcer providing interesting background info on each rider and bull, this professional arena has a large screen which gave instant replay and final scores after each ride. It was so much fun to get caught up in the moment and cheer like crazy for the cowboys that were from any of my favorite places. And the rodeo clown kept us all laughing throughout the evening. I’m not a big fan of clowns, but this guy was a standup comedian. So funny. The beer might have helped. (Actually, I don’t drink beer. It was Mike’s Hard Lemonade. It works on the funny bone the same way.)

Cody Extreme Bulls!

Cody Extreme Bulls!

The clown's job is dangerous!

The clown’s job is dangerous!

The cowboys autograph your program after the event.

The cowboys sit at a long table and autograph programs after the event.

The opening night of the Stampede Rodeo was even more exciting. They had lots of entertainment – from the emotional opening ceremony with the veterans, police and firefighters, to the horseback drill team and their choreography. At the mid-break we were treated to a performance by the EhCapa Bareback Riders of Idaho. This is a group of kids (looked like mostly girls) ages 8-19 whose style of riding is reminiscent of Native Americans. They ride without saddles or bridles and only control the horse with their legs, voice, and a 1-inch leather strap around the horse’s neck. They wear beautiful handmade Native American clothing. Their performance included choreographed riding and jumping over barriers with up to 16 across. It was beautiful and impressive!

Opening Night of the Cody Stampede Rodeo!

Opening Night of the Cody Stampede Rodeo!

31 Cody Stampede Rodeo

Drill Team entertainment

Drill Team entertainment – This is only a few of the riders that were on the field

EhCapa Bareback Riders (that's Apache spelled backwards)

EhCapa Bareback Riders (that’s Apache spelled backwards) – Many more riders were on the field than what is pictured here.  It was really beautiful!

So glad we scheduled 9 days near Cody.  We could have easily stayed longer. But we needed to get over to Jackson Hole for our 13-yr-old grandson Garrett’s arrival. He will be touring with us for a month, and we’ve so many things on our plan.  Much more fun to follow!

Cheers!

Yellowstone with Sean, Kailyn and Brady

We arrived at Henry’s Lake State Park in Idaho ready for our visit from Sean and our two youngest grandkids Kailyn and Brady. The park is about 15 miles from West Yellowstone, an entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We needed to be at a park where we could have an electric hookup and a reservation. There are many public campgrounds in and around Yellowstone, but many are first come-first serve and most of the reservable sites are booked many months in advance. So we locked this in for their visit even though the sites are closer together than we usually prefer.

Our Campsite The Day Before Sean and Kids Arrive

Our Campsite The Day Before Sean and Kids Arrive

Henry's1 Lake State Park

I don’t know if the weather gods were messing with us or if they conspired to give us something special. In Sean’s all-too-short visit, we got wind, rain, hail, snow, and a sprinkling of sunshine here and there. Not your typical summertime weather! But certainly a fun experience creating a lasting memory. And that’s what is most important to me. We picked them up at the airport in Idaho Falls.

Happy Reunion With Brady, Kailyn, and Sean

Happy Reunion With Brady, Kailyn, and Sean

We had a 2-hour drive from the Idaho Falls airport to the campground, so we stopped for lunch at Big Jud’s Diner in Ashton. They are known for their massive hamburgers and the one pictured below isn’t the biggest one, either! The kids and I opted for other menu items, but Sean and Mike just had to split one of these . Apparently, it was good.

The One-Pound Hamburger at Big Jud's Diner

The One-Pound Hamburger at Big Jud’s Diner

The first order of business after reaching the RV was to light candles on a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Brady and then Kailyn. We always miss their actual birthdays because of our traveling lifestyle. This visit called for cake! I never bake in the RV because I don’t have a standard oven. Our RV is equipped with a convection microwave oven, and I haven’t bothered to learn how to cook in it. However, this need for a cake gave me the motivation to read the manual. Of course, Mike generously offered to be my guinea pig and let me practice making a cake a couple of weeks ago. I learned how easy it is, and my first cake turned out great, as did this one. We put 6 blue candles on one side for Brady’s recent 6th birthday. And we put 10 pink candles on the other side for Kailyn’s upcoming birthday later this summer. Then we lit them separately and sang to them separately so they could each blow out their own candles to make their wishes come true!

Happy Birthday to Brady and Kailyn!

Happy Birthday to Brady and Kailyn!

Since our planned campfire was rained out, we spent the evening playing games. One of our favorites with the kids is a card game called “Killer”. Actually, I don’t know if that is the real name. That’s just what we call it. Since there were 5 of us, the game is played with 5 cards, one of which is the Queen of Spades. Mix up the cards, lay them face down on the table, and each player picks a card without revealing what it is. Whoever draws the Queen of Spades is the killer. The killer’s weapon is a wink. Then you all just look at each other. Only the killer can wink and if you get winked at, you must quietly turn your card face up on the table. You’re dead and you’re out. However, if you see the killer wink at someone else before you get killed, you can call out “I know who the killer is!” If you are right, then you win. If the killer can wink at each person BEFORE someone calls him on it, then the killer wins. If you name a killer and you are wrong then you are out, and the person you called is also out. The killer must be very careful about winking at someone so that no one else will see him do it.

Playing this game is fun for all ages, but a 6-year-old can take some of the stealth out of the game. Whenever Brady would draw the Queen, he would exclaim “Woo-hoo! I’m the killer!!” We had to keep reminding him to keep it a secret. And his wink is none too subtle either. It was all so funny.

Brady Demonstrates His Killer Wink

Brady Demonstrates His Killer Wink

Cards Sean Mike laughingCards - Kailyn Sean laughing

Kailyn 'Takes Out' Sean

Kailyn ‘Takes Out’ Sean

Bedtime routine included a tickle fest to wear them out (after all the sugar), but the kids loved it and could have played like that for hours. We might have been spinning them up rather than wearing them out!

Bedtime Tickles

Bedtime Tickles

We drove into Yellowstone several times during their visit to tour different areas of the park. It is HUGE and there is so much to see. I’m not going to post all the gorgeous scenic pictures or pictures of the many wild animals we saw because there will be lots of time for that in future posts. Mike and I plan to be here all summer. This post is about the grandkids’ visit and that is what I will focus on.

A cold front was passing through this week and I’m so glad the kids brought some warm clothes! They needed them!YNP1-Kailyn and BradyYNP1-KailynYNP2-Canyons - Brady talks to PapaYNP3-Geyser Basin

I let Kailyn use my Panasonic Lumix camera on this trip and she loved taking pictures. Now she wants a camera of her own. (sorry Mommy and Daddy)

YNP5-Wildlife pic of buffalo by Kailyn

Kailyn Takes A Selfie With Brady

Kailyn Takes A Selfie With Brady

YNP4-Kailyn photos geysers

Sean and Kailyn Photograph A Grey Wolf.  Brady Decides To Join Them!

Sean and Kailyn Photograph A Grey Wolf. Brady Decides To Join Them!

Another Selfie

Another Selfie While Brady Catches A Power Nap

We arrived at Old Faithful with time to spare before she was scheduled to blow. So we got lunch in the lodge and then, just as we were heading outside, it started to snow! I few little floaty white things in the air, then more, then more. It really started coming down! So we watched Old Faithful from the deck of the lodge. But Kailyn and Brady couldn’t resist the lure of the snow and had to go out and catch snow flakes on their tongues.

Old Faithful Erupts While It's Snowing!

Old Faithful Erupts While It’s Snowing!

Brady Enjoys The Snow

Brady Enjoys The Snow

Kailyn and Brady Enjoy It Snowing On Them

Kailyn and Brady Enjoy It Snowing On Them

We drove around to the Canyons area of Yellowstone and took a hike down to an overlook of the Upper Falls. The last part of the hike is descending 328 very steep metal stairs down to the platform. It hailed on us and then snowed on us during this hike. The hail was very different. It felt light, like Styrofoam little beads. Not like rocks or ice. The Canyon was incredibly beautiful, even if the stairs were frightening.

Down 328 Steps To The Upper Falls Overlook

Down 328 Steps To The Upper Falls Overlook

That's A Long Way Down!

That’s A Long Way Down!

Kailyn, Sean and Brady at the Upper Falls Overlook

Kailyn, Sean and Brady at the Upper Falls Overlook

Of course, we now had to go back UP all those stairs. Mike’s knees were popping before he even got to the bottom, so we weren’t sure how he would handle the climb back up. Our weak link, however, turned out to be Brady! He acted like he was going to die.

Brady Is Wiped Out After All Those Stairs!

Brady Is Wiped Out After All Those Stairs!

Then when we got to the top he recovered in 2 seconds and once again became Sonic (a cartoon character who is apparently very fast).

All Better!

All Better!

That evening we had tickets to the West Yellowstone Rodeo. It was windy and FREEZING cold, but the kids didn’t care. They had a great time at their first rodeo. It was a family-run, kid-friendly kind of rodeo. I think the cowboys actually jumped off the horses and bulls, rather than get thrown. And none of the ropers successfully roped anything, so all the calves were happy. They just ran out of a chute, got chased across the arena by a rope twirling cowboy, and ran into the chute on the other side. It was nothing like the professional rodeo that we saw in Tucson. But the kids liked the excitement, playing catch with the clown, and dancing to the music.

West Yellowstone Rodeo

West Yellowstone Rodeo

Brady Plays Catch With The Rodeo Clown

Brady Plays Catch With The Rodeo Clown

Kailyn Teaches PaPa Some Hand Jive

Kailyn Teaches PaPa Some Hand Jive

Then they had a special event called the Calf Scramble. All the kids in the audience under 12 yrs old were invited to participate. The kids chase a calf around the arena trying to grab the ribbon on his tail. Guess who won!!!

All The Kids Chase A Calf In the 'Calf Scramble'

All The Kids Chase A Calf In the ‘Calf Scramble’

Kailyn Wins The Ribbon!

Kailyn Wins The Ribbon!

I really should tell the whole story. The ribbon actually fell off the calf’s tail and Kailyn was the first to pick it up. So she kind of won by default. But the really funny part of the story is that Kailyn told me she didn’t even know what she was supposed to do out there. The event was announced and it all happened so fast that she didn’t hear the instruction. So when all the kids started running after the calf, she just ran with them. She thought maybe she was supposed to jump on him and ride him!! When the ribbon fell off the calf’s tail, she heard someone yell “pick it up!” So she did. I laughed so hard when she told me that story! I’m so glad she never caught up with that calf!

Another day at Yellowstone, we took the road through the northern part of the park for lots of wildlife viewing and a hike on the boardwalks in Mammoth Hot Springs. I’ll remind you that I’m not posting the wildlife pics because I have so many of the little munchkins that I must post. But we saw and photographed bison, black bear, grey wolf, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and a bald eagle.YNP16-Kailyn and Brady 2

Brady Watching A Bald Eagle

Brady Watching A Bald Eagle

It Snowed On Us Again!

It Snowed On Us Again!

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

We took the kids to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It is a wonderful not-for-profit wildlife habitat and learning center. We all loved touring the center and seeing up close the beautiful animals which for various reasons cannot be released back to the wild.

At The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

At The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - GrizzlyGrizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - Bald EaglesWe stopped for ice cream, which isn’t exactly newsworthy, except for the fact that Sean ordered their special flavor of the day “maple bacon”. Eewww. Bacon ice cream? It was surprisingly tasty, I have to admit.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream!

Maple Bacon Ice Cream!

Finally, we got some sunshine and we could make our campfire! We were eager to try our new Pudgie Pie Irons that Ingrid (Live, Laugh, RV blog) told us about. Oh my gosh, these yummy calorific concoctions are NOT on anyone’s diet plan. We cooked up pizzas, cherry pies, and Oreo s’more pies. Just shoot me now. I can’t even tell you all the bad stuff in them. Then the kids wanted to do regular S’mores, so we did!Henry's4 Campfire cooking

Yum ..  S'Mores

Yum .. S’Mores

Playing With Lucy

Playing With Lucy

So glad you could come visit us! We had such fun!YNP-Yellowstone Sign

 

Quick Trip Home To See The Kids While Mike & Lucy Stay In Utah

We continued our travels northward, moving through Utah.  Stopped for a few days at the lovely Strawberry Bay Reservoir Campground.  We nabbed a great first come-first serve spot on the hill overlooking the lake and had the whole campground to ourselves during the week.

Strawberry Bay Campground

Strawberry Bay Campground

But the place completely filled-up on the weekend.  It’s a popular fishing spot and it was Memorial weekend.  The weather was kind of rainy, but the fisherpeople went fishing anyway.   I felt bad for the folks in tents.

Going Fishing

Going Fishing

One morning we woke up to see a layer of fog on the water.  It burned off pretty quickly, but I thought it looked really cool.

Fog on Strawberry Bay

Fog on Strawberry Bay

We moved over to Jordanelle State Park because I was flying out of Salt Lake City to take a quick trip home to California.  Mike and Lucy needed a comfortable place to hang out while I was gone.  We reserved a nice spot on the lake that was so pretty I was bummed that I wouldn’t be there to enjoy it!

Jordanelle State Park

Jordanelle State Park

Jordanelle State Park is very close to Park City.  When I returned from California, we enjoyed a day walking around town and having lunch on the outside patio for Bandits Grill.  Park City has many dog-friendly outdoor seating eateries which is good news for us because we like to take Lucy with us when we go out.

Park City - Bandits Grill and Bar

Park City – Bandits Grill and Bar

We took a drive to Olympic Village and watched skiers practice jumps and flips.  At the Olympic Park Training Center they land in a pool.  Just before the skier hits the water, it looks like turbo air jets turn on in the pool.  I imagine they do that to help the fully clothed athlete return to the surface of the water.  Then, they go up the ski lift and do it again … soaking wet.  Brrrrrr.

Skiing down the training slope

Skiing down the training slope

Skier mid-flip, turbo jets on in pool

Skier mid-flip, turbo jets on in pool

Skier post-flip, approaching water

Skier post-flip, approaching water

That was fun to watch, but even MORE fun to watch was my grandchildren.  I arranged my trip home to coincide with my granddaughter Kailyn’s school play.  It was a full production of “My son, Pinnochio”, complete with a number of acts, various set changes, an intermission, and a curtain call.  This was Kailyn’s first stage play and she had two solo numbers!  They obviously recognized her talent!

Kailyn

Kailyn sings

Kailyn emerges from the "Perfect Child" machine

Kailyn emerges from the “Perfect Child” machine

My granddaughter Paige made the All Star Softball Team and I was able to attend one of her championship tournaments.  Her Moorpark team was then, and still is, undefeated this season (currently at 25-0).  So exciting to watch these girls play so well.

Paige receiving another tournament trophy

Paige receiving another tournament trophy

Lance and Kimberly with Paige

Lance and Kimberly with Paige

Paige also received the “Spirit Award” this weekend.  That is an honor that is given to one of the players on her team by the opposing team.

Proud dad with his "Spirit Award" winning daughter!

Proud dad with his “Spirit Award” winning daughter!

I must brag a little more because Paige has also received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence (Straight A’s all year), as well as the Gold Award for Physical Fitness from her school.

Presidential Award for Academic Excellent and the Gold Award for Physical Fitness

Presidential Award for Academic Excellent and the Gold Award for Physical Fitness

Lest we forget our handsome boys .. Garrett is also an over-achiever in academics and sports.  I attended one of his baseballs games, which are soooooo fun.  I love watching him pitch.  He’s so good!  He’s also a fantastic hitter.  He was just named for the All Star team (as expected), but he declined so that he could come out to spend 5 weeks traveling with us this summer.  We are very excited about that.  He starts high school next year, so who knows if we’ll ever again get the opportunity to have him all to ourselves for that long.

Garrett gets the sign

Garrett gets the sign

Strike!

Strike!

Our oldest grandson Blake is still handsome as ever.  He’s 16 now!  He’s our soccer player and will be a junior in high school next year.  Oh my gosh, where does the time go.  I snapped this picture of Blake and his girlfriend.  It just occurred to me that she must be really tall because Blake is 6 feet.  I guess I never stood right next to her to make me realize her height.  Lucky girl!

A couple of cuties!

A couple of cuties!

The only picture missing is our littlest grandson Brady.  But I will see him tomorrow when he comes out to visit for a week with sister Kailyn and daddy Sean.  We’ll be touring Yellowstone with them.  Can’t wait!  Hope the rain goes away.

Discover Moab Again and Again – The Adventure Never Ends

And That's A Promise!

We sure love this place.  Two weeks went by in a flash.  We will definitely be returning to Moab on a regular basis.

Our sweet boondocking spot!

Our sweet boondocking spot!

High winds prevented us from extending the slide-outs when we arrived.  But that’s ok because we appreciate that it is the high winds that have created this beautiful landscape.  It comes with the territory.  And, of course, the rain.  We need that, too.

Looks Like We're Going To Get Rained On

Uh-oh.  Looks Like We’re Going To Get Rain

After two days of rain, we were sitting in mud.  We didn’t dare try to drive anywhere until the ground hardened.  However, a little mud didn’t discourage the jeeps and ATVs.  They loved it.  We were a little concerned that the road out to the highway would be so rutted from those spin-outs and such that we would have a problem driving on it, but once it was dry it was fine.

We're Not Going Anywhere Yet

We’re Not Going Anywhere Yet

I loved that we were treated to another full moon during our stay.03 Full Moon in Moab

But getting out and DOING stuff is why we wanted to come back here.  We had a long list of things to do, so when the ground was dry, we got busy!

We took a scenic drive to Canyonlands National Park, Needles Overlook and got snowed on!  Ended up eating our picnic lunch in the car.  Then, on a sunny day, we drove up to Canyonlands National Park, Islands In The Sky District for several great hikes.  We did Murphy’s Trail, Upheaval Dome and Shafers Overlook. The views from the trails just take your breath away.

Canyonlands National Park - Murphys Trail

Canyonlands National Park – Murphy Point Overlook

Shafer Overlook

Shafer Overlook, Canyonlands National Park

Several blog commenters encouraged us to do the Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park, so we put that one on the list.  It was tougher than I expected!  It was only 3 miles round trip but lots of climbing, mostly on slickrock, which I really like.  In case you don’t know this, slickrock is not slippery.  Quite the contrary.  It’s fun to feel completely sure-footed at such incredibly steep angles.  Your rubber soles just stick to it!  And it absolutely was a wonderful hike.  Thanks to all who recommended it.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Ute Indian Rock Art, circa 1620 A.D.

Ute Indian Rock Art, circa 1650-1850 A.D. along the Delicate Arch Trail

Dead Horse Point State Park is another area we were eager to hike.  Lucy could go with us on this day.  We completed the East Rim and West Rim Trails logging 5 easy miles around this high-in-the-sky State Park.  Dead Horse Point State Park is next to Canyonlands National Park.  We got another dose of those breathtaking views with the Colorado River below.

Dead Horse Point at the Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point at the Dead Horse Point State Park

Yikes!  Don't get too close to the edge!

Yikes! Don’t get too close to the edge!

My very favorite hike was the Hidden Valley Trail.  I’m not sure why it was my favorite.  It may have been that the weather that day was perfect — the sun was shining, the mountains were snow-capped, the air was fresh, the wildflowers were blooming, the previous rain encouraged greenery to spout out of every nook and cranny, the moon and stars were in alignment, and my hormones must have been in perfect balance.  Whatever it was, I was euphoric the entire time!

Hidden Valley Trail - That's our car way down below.

Hidden Valley Trail – That’s our car way down below off Rimrock Road

The hike begins by ascending a series of steep switchbacks up to the top of Moab Rim.  This is where you enter Hidden Valley.  I loved finding this valley in the sky!

Crossing the first half of Hidden Valley.

Crossing the first half of Hidden Valley.

We stopped for lunch at the low pass before continuing to the Moab Rim Trail.

Lunch break along the Hidden Valley Trail

Lunch break along the Hidden Valley Trail

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

Down those steep switchbacks and back to the car.  Beautiful hike!

Down those steep switchbacks to the car on the flatland below.  Beautiful hike!

After getting a taste of bicycling while we were in Colorado National Monument, we were eager to bike the Moab Canyon Pathway.  We started at Lions Park and bicycled a nice, flat 5 miles along the Colorado River before taking the pedestrian/bike bridge across the river and began snaking our way up through the gorgeous red rock canyon, past Arches National Park, where we really started climbing.  We turned around at Hwy 313 and enjoyed the mostly downhill return trip.  Total mileage was a little over 23 miles.

Bicycling Along The Colorado River

Bicycling Along The Colorado River

An easy ride along the river

A Beautiful Ride Along The River

7% Grade!  Going down was more fun than going up this hill!

7% Grade! Going down was more fun than going up this hill!

We were so happy when Ingrid and Al (Live, Laugh, RV blog) came back to Moab and joined us for a few days.  We all picked up right where we left off and enjoyed hiking, campfires, food, drink, stories and lots of laughter.  Lucy was giddy with excitement at the arrival of her BFF Ingrid.  Every morning after her breakfast, she would run outside and wait at Ingrid’s door.

Ingrid!  Can You Come Out To Play With Me?

Ingrid! Can You Come Out To Play With Me?

Little did Ingrid know, when she took this picture of a colorful tent while we were out walking, that Al and Mike would have to help this clueless group of kids after they seriously dug their car into the deep soft sand and got stuck.  Al’s Ford F-250 truck handled the job easily.  Mike had a line that was leftover from our sailing days which they used, so both of the guys had male-grunting rights for contributing to the rescue.  Arrr, Arrr, Arrr.

Deep, Soft, Sand Proved To Be A Problem For These Campers

Deep, Soft, Sand Proved To Be A Problem For These Campers

Good Times!

Good Times!

There are so, so, so many more things to do on our Moab list.  We will return, again and again.  Love this place!

Downtown Moab

Downtown Moab

Currently, we are at Strawberry Bay Reservoir, heading to Jordanelle State Park near Salt Lake City next week.  I’ll be flying to California for a week and will leave Lucy and Mike to fend for themselves while I’m gone.  I can’t wait to see all the kids, and get my personal maintenance taken care of .. dermatologist, esthetician, hairstylist, dental hygienist, herbalist, etc.  It’s a lot of work at my age!