As I hop back in to family blogging, after a very long, too long, of a time, I decided to start simple and back track to some bigger events. Let’s start here.
We went to Yellowstone in July, 2016. It was our first trip with our new-to-us pop-up camper we bought from our friends Chris and AJ!
Joe and I both enjoy camping and spending time outdoors with our boys and each other. We love exploring and most of all, learning about what God has given us in our “backyard”. I must admit though, my joy comes from joining my boys, Joe included, in these opportunities.
This trip was no exception, as we also got to enjoy it with the rest of Joe’s family!
We left on Saturday July 9th along with our siblings Chris and Rae Ann, their two girls, and Joe’s parents Wayne and JoJo. Our 3 vehicles first headed north and west, to one of my favorite parks, Teddy Rosevelt National Park. I just love the mustangs, buffalo, and the quaint feel to the town. Even the little prairie dogs are kind of cute, though I am not sorry we do not have them here! And I think gopher mounds are a pain?!
What I remember most fondly about that park is my first trip out west to Yellowstone in 2007, with Joe, baby Evan (1.25 years old at the time), my mom, and my sister Chrissy. It was a tough trip, to be completely transparent. We rode a long ways with a baby who needed entertaining, a relationship that needed growing, and a miscarriage that needed healing. And, Evan also became a bit ill and had a fever the last few days of that trip, with it kicking in at Teddy Rosevelt. We stopped there and Joe, Chrissy, and I went horseback riding while my mom took care of Evan. When we were done we came back to him with a fever.
It was important to me to have that experience of horseback riding there. I was craving it. Just earlier in the month I had gone horseback riding right after finding out, via an ultrasound, our second pregnancy was not viable. I had not began the whole process of miscarring until right after this trip. The horseback riding was therapeutic for me.
Also, it was during that 2007 trip in which the 35W bridge collapsed in Minnesota. Not the best memories to have with such an amazing location in this world. But, they are memories none-the-less.
2007 to 2016 sure did fly by. I am sitting her right now feeling very grateful I am not in 2007. That was a very rough year on me, in many ways. However, I realize God has been faithful and used it to keep forming and molding me and my family, just as he is today.
And, just like our previous trips when we camped in TR (we camped there 3 times in tents previously), it stormed in 2016! I admit I was quite frightened. It was one of the worst storms during our stay, and when you have your children involved it brings out a greater fear and vulnerability in us mommas.
Joe held the camper door up while Calvin slept on, thankfully. But Nolan and Evan were not quite as easy going about it. I feigned “calm” for them, though my heart was pounding! And, it set us up to be even more exhausted than we normal are – so nerves were on edge for the next few days. Heck, the rest of the trip. Is a family vacation done any other way?! However, we encountered some never-before Yellowstone trip experiences.
The second night we stayed in Red Lodge. Another favorite place of mine! We had hoped to wake up the next morning and hit the Bear Tooth Mountain, but it was cold on this trip. It snowed, and we could not take that route. Yet, as I said before, God is faithful. We took a different route and saw new, beautiful scenery. And with the campers in tow, it was probably more comfortable for the drivers than the mountain pass.
We ventured through the north edge of Yellowstone and camped just on the north west end, right outside of the park in Gardner. For the next two days we explored the park and even swam in the Boiling River, just south of Gardner, part of the Gardner River. It was a great time in the park for the kids who hadn’t been there or remembered much of it. There is so much to see and learn! And, it is a place that makes Joe happy, so it makes me happy. I love when he is in his element.
On our way back home we camped in the Black Hills and once again visited the Reptile Museum, Keystone, and enjoyed Needles Highway! We even took a rest at a park (Watson City Park I believe) in which we visited on a trip to Glacier we took in 2008 – when I was pregnant with Nolan and Evan needed a break from the car. We went with my siblings Jason and Candy. They, and Joe, went to a gold mine (Big Thunder?) while my mom and I took Evan to play. There he was, right back on that black plastic pipe and hanging from the same monkey bars.
We ended our stay in the Black Hills going horse-back riding again. This time it was awesome because the older kids could come with us. They were able to get an experience that taught them some autonomy and appreciation for horses and the area we were riding them in. I once again couldn’t help but remember how years previously I worried I would never be able to have another child and only felt the pain of loosing that one. And here my rainbow baby, Nolan, was riding his own horse. Again, God is so faithful!
Yellowstone 2016 was a trip to remember. It was so joyful.