Monday, June 29, 2015

Winding Down

Our journey has ended.  We are back home and going back to the daily grind but I wanted to include a few photos an thoughts about the last two days of our trip.

Idaho Falls has a beautiful park and we decided before leaving we should take a family walk through it.  Orion had fun trying to get his picture with every bench and sculpture and tried to convince us a metal topiary moose was real.  It was nice to just enjoy looking at the falls, temple and watch the boys goof around on the shore made of large volcanic rock.

We stopped in Pocatello to eat at a diner called Elmer's that serves a yummy looking German Pancake I might like to come back and try again.  They were good.  They had a fish and chips basket that served not just halibut but salmon and prawns.  Their tarter sauce was home made too.  Loren said it was the best patty melt he'd had all trip too.

When we finally got to Lava Hot Springs, it was 4 pm.  We decided to go to our hotel and get checked in first.  We ended up going to enjoy the hot pools that night as it is open until 11 pm.  Unfortunately thought we tried to make him understand we would just be soaking Orion was angry and bored in just five minutes.  No matter how many times we explained we would be swimming the next day.  So we made the best of it and  enjoyed the hot soak.  I'm not entirely sure what Orion expected when we said a hot spring is like a big hot tub.

Our hotel, the Harkness Hotel, was amazing.  This little gem was opened a year ago in the small town of McCammon, ID.

 The Harkness Hotel the owner told us was once a conglomeration of a bank and apartments, and they are slowly acquiring and converting other spaces in adjoining buildings to enlarge their accommodations.  Our room was the "Gold" room.


They have done it all themselves and have tried to create an upscale luxurious hotel to stay at.  In part I think due to our interest in the hotel itself and it's history, the owner took us around and showed us the other spaces they were working towards converting.  All along giving us the history of each space and some of the treasures they have found in each.  This is definitely a spectacular find at only two hours from Salt Lake, we wish we'd come here instead of the nniversary Inn when we were married.  Loren and I have already talked about going back as a couple.

Orion finally got his swimming in.  He went on three of the four water slides at the Olympic pool with his dad.  We ate at the 78 main Restaurant and had some good burgers before heading back home.  I drove the whole trip except for 12 miles, I am proud of myself.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Day Wireless Withdrawl

Somehow going to Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming I thought the cell service would have been better.  Little did I know or expect T-mobil would have very little presence in Wyoming and a complete absence in the park proper.  "No Service" was a phenomena experienced by all guests great and small and the only wireless was available at the hotel accommodations around the Old Faithful geyser.  Therefore I have not had to the chance to relate any of the goings on of the last few days.

Tuesday was a day full of cowboys, and natural adventures.  We got a late start and ate at a dinner called Granny's Family Dining.  Loren said he was glad we stopped there because we got a good taste of local flavor.  It was amusing to sit there and talk about the culture of the rural west.  Then we went and bought Orion a cowboy hat.  He was so excited.  He tried to convince us to buy him some boots too.  After explaining to him the boots were nearly $100 he finally accepted the inevitable.

We spent most of the day visiting the Buffalo Bill Cody Center which houses five separate museum exhibits.  We looked at the Buffalo Bill exhibit, talking about who he was as a person and a performer.

There was a large replica of a Parker Brothers board game from 1898 called the game of Buffalo Bill.  You have to go around the game board and collect buffalo heads.  Whomever collects ten heads first and makes it back to camp wins the game.  However beware you can get hauled off to the Indian camp and loose two turns!  We were having a fun time playing on the gigantic version they had at the museum, but since it went on until someone collected enough heads we had to stop and let others have a turn too. It was a cool that they even had a video of some of the live performances from the end of the thirty year run of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show.  I would have like to look over all of the stuff there but since we had a bored seven year old we decided to go look at another exhibit fifteen minutes before we left.  He picked the guns and fire arms exhibit.

He got bored of that quickly too but seemed interested in the "knife-guns" where bayonets were being shown on some of the guns from WWI.  (He wanted Poppi to see this photo).

We then embarked on our two day long Yellowstone adventure.  We were fortunate to see a lot of bison not long after entering the park.  We saw and recorded one near some heavy construction equipment grazing, and later stopped top observe one that walked around our car so close I could have reached out and touched it if my window had been down.  We got to see cows with their calves on two occasions (one of which caused an hour long traffic jam) and several elk and geese.  We were given a wildlife bingo sheet at the park gate and Orion had a good time going through and marking off the animals as we saw them.  By the end though Orion confessed that he was fine with not seeing any more bison for a while.

Since Orion had forgotten his Sea World dolphin plushie dubbed "Splashy" we promised him we would buy him a stuffed animal when we go to the park.  He went straight for the bison and decided to christen his new friend "Buffally" (boo-fah-lee).  I can only attribute this latest name trend to his recent interest in Pokemon games and cards as he continued to explain in some detail that his new toy was a new evolution for one of the Pokemon in his book.  I told him he was just like his Uncle Laursen, but that my brother had named his toy "Charger."

We camped in the park and were pleased to find out that this was Orion's first experience really camping.  He had never roasted hot dogs or made tin foil dinners, or even slept in a sleeping bag except in a house.  It was a privilege to give Orion so many firsts.  Since this is our second big trip as a family there were definitely some ground rules that had to be set and some learning to be done.  We are constantly growing as a family and as parents.

We go to visit the mud volcanoes (the Dragon's lair is for Grandma Black) and the Artist's Paint Pots.

Orion said he liked the viscous paint pots the best with their gloopy sound and throwing mud several feet in the air.

We had fun joking about how stinky but invitingly relaxing some of the hot springs looked.  It was fun to se all of the hydrothermal attractions of the central park.

Our crowning visit was for seeing Old Faithful erupt.  Orion said in the end so far it has been his favorite part of the trip.  We were amazed how many people were there and speculated on whether the walkways had been moved since Loren and I had visited the park last.

It has been a full two days.  We got to see so much wild beauty and amazing human ingenuity.  The Yellowstone Inn was amazing!  So now exhausted and finally clean I bid you good night from Idaho Falls.  Tomorrow is a new day with new adventures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dinosaur Digs

Today we went to the dinosaur museum and tour here in Thermopolis Wyoming.  The only Archaeopteryx fossil and most intact specimen outside of Europe is located there.  It was for the most part really fun, though I think Orion got bored towards the end.  A seven year old that has only been to one or two museums outside of the interactive "Children's Museum" can tend to have a shorter attention span.  In fact at the beginning of the visit when going through the early pre-dinosaur fossils he was acting very upset and kept running ahead.  After about of really bad grimaces and a stern talking to we were able to for the most part make the most of the visit.  

The highlight for Loren and I was to get to go on the tour with an actual paleontology professor.  It was really cool to see the active dig sites he took us to and ask questions.  He said true scientists have an open mind and can re-evaluate their own hypothesis when new data is discovered and introduced to the scientific community. He also said that paleontology is not a science of known and concrete facts and scenarios based on random speculation but on the hard facts that can be seen and produced through the evidence in the fossil records.  It was very enlightening.

We discovered that through a spectroanalysis they have been able to look at the chemical record left behind in the fossil record of the archaeopteryx feathers the coloration of the animal was similar to that of the common magpie.  It's amazing how far science has come that through technology we can measure and observe minute indicators to create a more complete picture of what an animal from millions of years ago looked like.

Later We attended Orion's first rodeo, in Cody, Wyoming.  I think he was super wiggly from the museum and the drive afterwards to Cody.  He said he enjoyed it.  
We are looking forward to going to the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum tomorrow and looking at all the amazing cowboy stuff.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Driving Marathon

So for the first time in my adult life I have driven outside of the state as the driver.  I drove the whole way from Bountiful, Utah, to Thermopolis, Wyoming.  Granted the fact that we were obligated to take my vehicle probably had somewhat to do with it.  I feel like I've hit some kind of obligatory benchmark in adulthood though it's been somewhat delayed compared to my peers.  It was fun, but I miss getting to enjoy the scenery more.  My husband says that's one of the drawbacks to being the driver.  We stopped and got the obligatory ice cream cone at the Little America, and ended up driving the last hour in the complete dark.  Thankfully the only deer we saw were the dead ones we saw along the road during the day.  In all I'd say it was a very fulfilling day for me an my family.