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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
We 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.
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!