June 19, 2014

National Park Road Trip 2014: Van Camping

We learned that four months out is way too late to plan to sleep in cabins in Yellowstone--they are all booked.  Campsites, however, are available.  Our problem?  Tent camping and I are not friends.  So, Mr. Cool got to work on turning our van into a serviceable camper--at least for sleeping!
He built Lincoln a sleeping platform in the back of the van.
We would sleep on a full mattress filling up the rest of the back--which worked pretty well, although there was a bit of a slant.
All our stuff (not all here, in this pic) was crammed up front.
Lincoln slept the best!  It wasn't a perfect set-up--tweaks are needed.  Or we just need a real camper!

Our campsite, however, was perfect--Madison campground.  Just a short walk away from the Madison River--
And a magical place where our picky eater ate a fire-toasted hot dog with pleasure!
It was a great adventure!
Our little camping home!

A note:  bison wandered through the campsites one afternoon, but the good pictures are all on Mr. Cool's phone--I will try to add one later!

June 18, 2014

National Park Road Trip 2014: Yellowstone Highlights

Mr. Cool had visited Yellowstone the summer he turned 7, and I hadn't been since I was 10.  We were surprised by the new stuff, and the memories that came flooding back--we hope the same for Lincoln in his future visits.
The boys wait for Old Faithful.  We were able to see it erupt twice!
We really explored a lot of the thermal features--and Lincoln loved the paint pots, especially Artist's Paint Pots .  He sat and watched it for over ten minutes!
Mr. Cool and I loved the brilliantly colored thermal pools, although Lincoln didn't love the smell!
Grand Prismatic Spring was my favorite.

We saw loads of bison--always neat and imposing to see in person.

June 16, 2014

National Park Road Trip 2014: Grand Teton Highlights

Neither Mark or had a big memory of Grand Teton from our childhood trips, so the sudden pop of mountains as we drove north from Jackson took our breath away.
Our first stop was Jenny Lake, where Lincoln experienced his first boat ride across the lake to our Hidden Falls hike.
We loved the small Episcopal Chapel with amazing views--what a place to worship!
I would probably struggle with paying attention to sermons!

Our cute little cabin at Colter Bay was our base for exploring Jackson Lake.
Our beautiful hike on the Lakeshore Trail took us all around Jackson Lake--and all by our little family's self!
We toured some other views across Jenny Lake--stunning.
And in our afternoons and evenings, Lincoln was able to indulge in his favorite lake pastime--throwing rocks!  And I was able to knit and soak on the grandeur of these amazing mountains!
We loved Grand Teton, and can't wait to go back!

June 13, 2014

National Park Trip 2014: Junior Ranger

Now that he's 5, our small boy could work toward junior ranger badges--and it was one of the most fun parts of our trip! The first thing we got him on our trip was a junior ranger hat:
And he became an expert at spotting animals and making sure we put things in the trash.
Mr. Cool may have gotten a hat too!

In Yellowstone, the program was a lot more intense, but Lincoln worked hard to earn his geyser badge.
He worked on it at the junior ranger station before attending a ranger talk.
We heard a talk on how grizzly bears communicate while buffalo roamed by.
He worked on it at our campsite while I wrote postcards.
And he even accessorized his hat to help with his investigations:
It was so much fun to help him and encourage him to learn and write and color and explore!

June 12, 2014

National Park Road Trip 2014: Top Waterfalls

Who am I kidding?  They were all magnificent!  If waterfalls are your thing, head to Grand Teton National PRk and Yellowstone National Park!
Hidden Falls--Grand Teton. This was a crazy hike--wading through snow and slipping on muddy rocks next to a snow-melt swollen creek.
Keplar Cascades--Yellowstone.  Right off the road when you enter through the South Entrance.
Gibbon Falls--Yellowstone. I loved how this waterfall was so broad, with both a slow trickling waterfall and a fast rushing one.
Firehole Falls--Yellowstone. In a beautiful canyon on a lovely drive.
Mystic Falls--Yellowstone. Another crazy hike--rainy and cool and in a bear-frequented trail--and we were the first hikers.  I may have approached panic attack!

Upper Falls on the Yellowstone River--not the major one, but gorgeous--and we had it all to ourselves to watch rainbows.

Now it's time for the big one--Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River!
Lincoln at the Brink of the Falls--intense!
Lookout Point--full view--really brought home how amazing it was to stand near the edge!
Through the trees at Artist's Point . . .
The inspiring money shot at Artist's Point. 
We listened to a great sermon by Tim Keller about how we, as followers of Christ, should interact with nature--and one concept stood out:  the waterfall (or any natural thing) is praising God through being as created, so we should let the waterfall be the waterfall.  I rejoiced this trip in letting the waterfall be its own beautiful created splashing self.

Five Already?!

So, we had a Lego Party!
Mr. Cool helped with creating a ton of little Legos for decoration!
Lincoln helped color the minifigs!
We all worked to decorate the sidewalk before the party!
We played games, then ate Lego cakes and marshmallow minifig pops!
Lincoln had a marvelous time, but I felt overwhelmed by the fact that I am now mother to five-year-old!  He is now a little person--his personality continues to come out--and school is next!  I am excited to see the growth as he learns and grows--and I'm excited to spend the summer building Legos!