Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Our Last Week of Block Leave

This was Jacob's last week of block leave, or the leave he gets before going to Iraq. Don't worry he doesn't leave until the end of August, but still we tried to take as much advantage of opportunities for memory making for us all.
We are hiking around Milford Lake, about ten minutes or so from our house.
Mary Emma loves being in the backpack. She is like this the whole time.

On a hot summer's day, who could resist the temptation?

Trying to get gas in Kanopolis, a tiny town not even off a highway.
While driving around town, we saw this.

At Mushroom Rock State Park

Mushroom Rock State Park gave us the perfect opportunity to finally photograph the kids on the hay bales we literally see everywhere.

Hiking at Wilson Lake State Park

Swimming at Wilson Lake State Park.
We sure had fun this week, and now we are planning for Jacob's R & R while he is in Iraq. That's the thing about the Army, he isn't home for dinner every night, or home every day in fact, but when he's home, he's home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

We had a great vacation this year. Long and tiring, but fun.
We started off our journey going through Nebraska to see Chimney Rock. There was a huge storm coming, but we managed to see it right before the storm hit.
We also decided that this was a good time to feed Mary Emma. So Jacob was feeding her dinner, and the kids were playing about 15 feet away, when out of the grass came the hugest snake I have ever seen. Hyrum started to cry, and Camilla was oblivious to it until she almost stepped on it. We couldn't get to the kids, the snake was between us and them, and we didn't want to frighten it by getting any closer than we were, when a sweet old lady traveling with some friends was able to guide our kids to safety. It was not a rattle snake but was at least four to five feet long. After that we all left.

The motel was the highlight of the trip for Hyrum. He kept wanting to go back to the hotel. As you can see, he isn't the only one glad to be out of the car seat.

Well we have seen enough bison this trip to last for a lifetime. This buffalo at Wind Cave National Park just decided to walk out right in front on us.

Wind Cave is known for it's boxwork, and here is an example.

This was the first cave Jacob or I had ever been in and we really enjoyed ourselves. Maybe spelunking could become our new hobby ;)

Needles Highway is really cool. Lots of cool stuff to drive by and lots of cool stuff to drive through.

Along Needles Highway we took a climbing break.

Crazy Horse

Here we are at Badlands National Park, on some crazy hike that ironically I picked. Let's just say I spent most of the hike sliding around on my bottom.

The kids loved the hike though; once again it included a lot of climbing.

When Mary's had it, she's had it.

Jewel Cave National Monument, was beautiful, but freezing, and we lost the kid's jackets somewhere along the way. (Not in the cave, but somewhere else)

Jewel Cave National Monument Nature Trail.

At Mount Rushmore. We got there at 9:00 pm for the lighting, and the place was packed; but then they all started to leave in droves. Finally we were able to take our family picture without anyone else in it.

Police officers in North Dakota are mannequins in broken down cars on the sides of the highway in towns of populations of less than 400 people. Seriously we never saw one real police officer in North Dakota.

At the badlands of North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This was one of the best National Parks we have been to because, it wasn't crowded, and it was beautiful.

We saw wild horses, bison, and prairie dogs.

And a happy baby finally getting out of her car seat.

And wildflowers all over the place.

And another snake! This one wasn't as big, wasn't a rattler either, but it slithered right out in front of me this time. You can see it in the grass.

We didn't get to go through the Bismarck North Dakota Temple as planned, but we did see it. I think we even woke the temple president because someone was eyeing us through the drapes across the street.

Apparently you can't go to North Dakota without posing by the world's biggest buffalo, or in other words a huge fiberglass eyesore.

Whenever I see poison Ivy I will think of Minnesota. I have never seen so much of the nasty stuff in my life. Here we are giving the kids a lesson in knowing what it looks like.

Minnesota, the land o' lakes and rivers.

And wildflowers.

And humid greenery.

And toads. I caught him myself, and managed to stay out of the poison ivy doing it.

At Pipestone National Monument working on Junior Ranger booklets.

Pipestone was incredible. Well worth visiting.

Seriously this ranks as one of the most beautiful hikes I have even been on.

Mary loves hiking too.

The oracle. Can you see it?

Mary Emma got a Junior Ranger badge too.

This was our last stop off before home, just two hours away. Mary had to eat, so we stopped at a park. Consequently, Camilla managed to lose this little necklace she had bought at Pipestone National Monument a few hours earlier. We searched and searched but to no avail. So, our trip ended in tears and heartache, but other than that we had a good time. Also, this now makes 29 states that Jacob and I have been to.