Thank you for all your sweet words regarding our visit to the Ingalls Homestead. It was a really special field trip and I'm so happy we got to go.
I have been so slow at blogging these days. Mostly, I think life is just so very full. By the time I make my rounds around my real world people and places, this virtual hobby of mine oftentimes takes a seat in the way back. Also, this summer, the house is not settled and quiet (ie: kid in bed, fast asleep) until 8:30ish and by that point, I just don't have it in me to sit at the computer and write or fuss with uploading photos. Lastly, I am really work on showing up only if I have something to chat about and not because I feel like I need to put another post out there.
The Bad Lands were spooky! "How in the world," I kept asking myself. I definitely had never seen a landscape like it before. Byron and Beatrix loved it!! I was perfectly content just driving right through! I long for life, any life, you see.
And then, well, we just had to stop in at Mount Rushmore!
We camped in Custer State Park which is right in the heart of the Black Hills. Such a pretty area of South Dakota! We were all pleasantly surprised by the lushness, the stunning mountain lakes, and the exquisite rock formations. We would have definitely loved to have more time to explore there and we hope to return soon.
From there, we headed into Wyoming and then up to Montana. Travelling through the West (any part of the West) is pretty mind blowing to me. From Texas all the way up northward for hundreds and hundreds of miles there is nothing but sky and plains or high desert mountains. It's such spectacular country and so humbling. To think of the many, many people who traversed this land by foot, by horse, or wagon. I can never quite understand the determination and the strength that must have been required. To move, to hope, to perservere, to survive...
We spent three days in Yellowstone National Park. It was so beautiful! We got to see numerous buffalo, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and elk. We did not see any bears (which I have mixed feelings about) or wolves!
On our first morning there, Beatrix was able to attend a young naturalist class taught by one of the park rangers. What a cool setting for a nature class, right?! The irony of this story is that the class was held right at the entrance of the park where the post office, visitor center, and administrative buildings are located and throughout the entire class there was a jackhammer pounding in the background due to renovations that were happening in one of the nearby buildings. So, the park ranger kept apologizing for the noise while she tried to talk over the construction. We all still enjoyed! And check out the wolf pelt in her hands!
We enjoyed a couple of the easier hikes (5 year old and out of shape mama friendly). I found myself in the land of wildflower meadows. Oh my, that is my happy spot indeed!
Some of my happy memories from our time there include:
~ hiking down a mountain through a hail storm! The hail started out nice and petite, but actually quickly evolved into large hail before all was said and done. The ponchos were pulled out of the backpack. We three had to huddle undle the canopy of a tree for a few minutes. Beatrix was a bit frantic since she has a new fear of storms! We were pretty soaked by the time we made it down. No worries, though, the trailhead was at one of the big lodges. Sitting on the lodge front porch, sipping hot coffee, watching the storm finish up was the perfect way to end that hike. Beatrix got to have a carton of chocolate milk and eat hailstones so all was right in her world too.
~ Bea...galloping along the trails, singing Simple Gifts, over and over. She was a real trooper!!
~ This hike. What a fun and beautiful hike through meadows that were once woods before the big fire of 1989. The weather was crisp and cool. The views, the quiet, the stillness, the three of us ... it was a pinch-me moment. Too gorgeous for words.
~ Bea's enthusiasm for hydrothermic activity was pretty darling too! Upon seeing the rainbow springs, boiling mud, and rock vents letting out steam, she declared that this all was "AWESOME!"
She insisted that we tolerate the amusement park crowds and watch Old Faithful blow. We did. It was pretty cool! She LOVED it!!
While in Montana, we stayed in a renovated schoolhouse just north of Yellowstone right across the border in Montana.
The owner, Sarah, refurbished it, salvaging most of the logs and timber and then finished it in the most earthy and warm manner. The cabin was rustic yet modern -- perfectly Montana-ish and was definitely one of the nicer places we've ever stayed at while vacationing!
I love travelling with Beatrix. Byron and I joked with each other at one point how we really hoped that we were imprinting something good for the girl because, sure, there where moments full of whining and complaining and goodness, that gets old. But after being on the road for a couple of days, we all felt settled into the rhythm of travelling. She made a nest for herself in the backseat out of pillows, blankets, pencils, markers, and audiobooks while Byron and I took turns being behind the wheel. It was then that I was accutely aware that these memories we made of rest-stop picnics, campsite orientations, visitor centers, gas station fill ups, and days and days of just being together in the car watching the world go by are memories that will stay with her, hopefully forever. This is it...we are her crazy family!