Thursday, June 27, 2013

Roadtrip to Yellowstown National Park--part 1

We decided to take a roadtrip to Yellowstone Park this summer...

There were many miles to cover before reaching that point!

Snacks and road trip activities were gathered...bags were packed, mini van was rented, housesitters (my mom for the first week and a friend of mine for the second half) were arranged. 

Here are the highlights of the places we stopped at along the way...

We set out on our journey on a Thursday (June 27)

Usually, the view from the passenger seat looked a little something like this!  

The first day was a loooong drive (I think we covered about 860 miles that day)
We drove through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois (where we stayed in Peoria that night)

One thing that was great about driving out was that we got to see different parts of the country that we wouldn't have been able to see if we had flown.  (Ranges, prairies, Indian reservations, etc)

The next day, we went to Carthage Jail which was just on the outskirts of Nauvoo.
It was very humbling to see the room where Joseph and Hiram were killed in--
We watched a video presentation about all that happened there...

...and then we drove into the town of Nauvoo where we went on a horse drawn wagon ride through the countryside and heard interesting stories about the early saints and what their life was like living in Nauvoo.

Then it was onto South Dakota where we visited the Corn Palace and the Badlands...

I get thirsty just looking at this!

Along the way we stumbled upon an old homestead  (made out of sod!) that once belonged to he Smith family)--They were settlers who took advantage of the Homestead Act...

The Homestead Act of 1862 forever changed the landscape, culture, and history of the American West. Passage of the act meant that anyone over the age of 21, including women and former slaves, could apply for 160 acres of land. In order to “prove up,” or secure ownership of the land, the applicant had to build a house, grow crops, make improvements to the land and live on it for five years.

FYI...the visitors center had pioneer dresses and bonnets for the kids to wear while they were going through the tour...
(This wasn't something that we packed!)

This little sod house was so sturdy and cozy.  One part of the house was actually a section of a cabin that had been abandoned by another family.  It felt so insulated and cool considering the outside temp was in the 90's...

The chicken coop!  (sigh)

It's amazing to me that every single piece of equipment was made by hand.  I marveled at their sense of industry and thrift!

We all fell in love with the prairie dogs, (there were hundreds of prairie dog colonies around).  It was interesting to find out, though, that to the early settlers, these guys were more than just a nuisance.  They would dig holes in random places which, if accidentally stepped in, could break an ankle or cripple a horse.
They were also destructive to their gardens as there was no really good way to keep them from digging under the fence.

We ended the day with a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.  It was interesting, but as we had already had a long day, we were anxious to eat and get to a hotel.  It's not like there's a whole lot to see there, anyway...

One feature we looked for in our hotels each night was a pool.  It gave the kids a chance to get the wiggles out and gave me a chance to relax and decompress without them.  Brian was a real trooper to take one for the team on this!

Each night, we had the kids take turns as to which two would sleep in the bed together.  By far, the best combination was Jake and Reilly in the bed and Ellie set up with a pallot on the floor.  (As you can see from the picture above, this sleeping arrangement was never a winning combo).  Ellie is a super rough sleeper, so when it was her turn to share the bed, we tried creating pillow forts to keep her at bay. One morning, after she had had her turn sleeping on the floor, we found her under the air conditioning unit and completely off of her bed roll.  I still laugh when I think back to that!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day--2013

Our ward's primary made the most hilarious gift for the fathers this year...

Each child decorated a tie with a medley of er...umm..."embellishments".  The dads had to wear all the ties that were made for them.  Some dads had on more than 5!  I'm sure Brian is glad that Jake is in primary.  One less tie to wrangle with....

So funny!