Don't ask me why I am so behind on my posts that 2012 is just now getting its moment to shine. I guess it doesn't matter whether these summer vacation pictures were taken 2 months or 14 months ago--it will all look the same to you. :)
Even though the summer of 2012 will be remembered by me as the busiest, most stressful summer on record, we still made time to spend a few days in one of our favorite corners of this beautiful world. We started our vacation in Jackson Hole, WY. We hit the usual favorites: Billy's Burgers followed by Moo's Creamery. We also spent a glorious hour or two just relaxing in the park.
Paige, Claire, Corinne, and Spencer at the elk-antler archway
Watching the old stage coach round the corner
Over the years this fence has provided these kids with endless entertainment
Nicole, soaking up some rays
A happy daddy
At the cabin with our good friend, Carter.
Our beloved Tetons
After our short stay in Jackson we loaded back up and pulled the trailer to Yellowstone where we stayed the next 3 nights. Our first day there we took the kids to Old Faithful. We got there just in time to find a shady spot and enjoy lunch and Mother Nature's show at the same time.
After the eruption everyone cleared out so the kids went up to the boardwalk for a closer look.
Just as the sun was setting we drove to the Fountain Paint Pots where we were able to get some great views of mud pots and other geysers. It was so pretty in that evening light!
The next day Matt took us for a hike to his "super-secret" fishing spot. We had to walk quite a way off the beaten path out through buffalo ground. I was absolutely sure that we were going to meet up with either a herd of buffalo or a giant bear, but we mostly just saw these pretty wildflowers.
There was a little bit of a trail to follow--sort of.
This picture makes me think of the song "Western Skies" by Chris LeDoux. So beautiful!
Finally we reached our destination and the fishing did not disappoint. Matt spent time with each child helping them cast and try to catch a trout.
Here he is with Corinne
Paige LOVES the fish. She holds them and names them and gives them a little kiss before setting them free again.
Nicole kept at it even after the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in.
We finally had to tell her to reel in and run for cover with us as the rain began to fall. The thing is, there WAS NO COVER! So when we saw lightning not too far off and the storm moving our way, Matt instructed us all to huddle up in the lowest spot we could find--a buffalo wallow. We put the younger three on the inside of our little cluster and tried to keep each other as dry as possible. We were all freezing! I wish I could tell you that I saw it for the adventure that it was and took pictures for our enjoyment later, but I was NOT a happy girl. I was grumpy and made sure Matt knew it. But as we suspected, a summer storm in Yellowstone is a temporary inconvenience and about 20 minutes later we were on our way out. By the time we made it back to the car all of our clothes were dry and we were hot and wishing for the rain again! And my mood was much improved.
These two pictures were taken on our walk back to the car. Yellowstone is SO GORGEOUS!!
That afternoon we drove to the East side of the park to see The Lower Falls and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. They are magnificent and more than a little bit frightening when you have 5 kids and only 2 hands!
From there we drove over to Lamar Valley. This was AMAZING!! We saw so many animals! The weather was perfect. A cold front was moving in which had the animals out and about. Our first animal encounter was with a huge buffalo herd. This is not even a fraction of how many we had to drive through. They were huge and right near our vehicle. It was really fun. We had our windows down and could hear their grunts and snorts.
This momma was pausing to let her calf get a drink.
Shortly after the buffalo we spotted this small herd of antelope running up the hillside
We hadn't gone very far from the antelope when all at once we spotted the Holy Grail of Yellowstone. A real live, in the flesh, GRIZZLY BEAR!! We were so excited I thought a few of us might hyperventilate. We pulled off the road and watched as it walked straight in our direction!
The camera was not even zoomed in for this picture Look at how close it was to our car! And he just kept coming.
He walked almost to the road right behind our car.
Then he STOOD! UP! and looked around.
The moment that he spotted that huge buffalo behind him he literally startled and then turned tail and RAN! It was quite a lesson on the pecking order of the animal kingdom.
He made it clear across the river before he slowed down and looked back. We were SO excited about what we had just seen!
After the grizzly we continued our drive and about 2 miles further up the road there were about a dozen people set up on the side of the road with spotting scopes and huge cameras. We pulled over and got out to see the next attraction. We asked someone what they were looking at and they said, "Someone spotted a wolf around this area a couple of hours ago. We're trying to find it again." So Matt got his spotting scope out of the car and set up the tripod. He looked through the lens for less than 60 seconds before he said, "There it is. Come here, kids. Do you want to see it?" One by one, each of our kids looked through the eyepiece and then voiced excited exclamations, "Cool!" "I see it!" "Wow, a wolf!" It was a struggle to keep a straight face as I watched all of these people around us, who had been searching for who knows how long, leaning in closer and closer trying to see where Matt was looking. I guess it took a hunter to show those environmentalists how to find a wolf. ;)
It was REALLY far away. Even through the spotting scope we could just make it out. We saw it run down a hillside and then cross at a shallow area in the river, then it disappeared into the brush. We packed up our scope and continued on. We were there less than ten minutes and all of us were able to see a gray wolf. We couldn't believe our luck. Heaven was smiling on us that day even if the wolf enthusiasts weren't.
The next day we drove to the north end of the park and enjoyed the sights at Mammoth.
We then drove back to Lamar Valley hoping for even a small repeat of the prior evening. Our first sighting was this golden eagle eating a chipmunk. We watched that for a while then moved on.
And what did we find? But another bear! This black bear wandered around this meadow for some time just munching on plants and entertaining the growing line of cars.
The kids wanted out of the car so they could watch him. So we let them all climb up on top of the suburban.
Our last evening in the park we enjoyed smores around the campfire.
"Show me your best Bear Face!"
Matt and his girls at the junction where the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers join to create the Madison River. One of his favorite spots on Earth!
We met this moose when we stopped for a picnic lunch just outside of Island Park on our drive home from this fabulous, fun vacation.