Sunday, September 24, 2017

Grandpa's Hospital Party

We drove right past this fire on our way up to Grandma and Grandpa's house. 
The first weekend of August we decided to support Grandpa at his annual hospital fair, since it is his last before retiring. On the way to their house we drove right past a fire in this huge wheat field. It couldn't have been burning for very long because it looked like the firetrucks were just arriving and getting set. We were amazed to see the flames so close.
I felt so bad for the farmer. 
The Hospital carnival was a lot of fun. There were games, treats, and lots of good food. The boys enjoyed lots of bounce houses, rock climbing, bubble balls, and snowcones. Dax claimed to have four bags of cotton candy, too! Mom and Dad enjoyed the prime rib dinner and free drinks. Then Mom and Dad took turns jousting with the boys and Dax recorded the only strike of the day in big-ball bowling.
Seth loved this dragon bounce house.  
Grandma and Grandpa are so much fun!
Mark decided to give the rock climbing wall a try. 
Dax climbed, too. 
They both did really well!
Dax made it to the top. He is a natural climber! 
The boys were so glad that Grandpa invited us.
We ended up with 3 beach balls because these boys were great water gun shooters. 
It was a serious water gun!
Seth really wanted to joust with Dad.
Dad is an excellent actor!
Seth knocked him right off his feet! 
Grandma got stuck holding Grandpa's brownie for most of the night while he talked with everyone. 
Seth got his hair painted red and blue!
Dax won a prize for getting the only strike!
Seth knocked Mom over, too!
But Mom took Mark out. No way was she going to let him beat her!
On Saturday morning, we went up to the Museum of Idaho. We've been there several times, and the main event is always changing. This time it was Space themed in preparation for the upcoming eclipse. There were a lot of interactive games like packing a space shuttle, designing a colony, and landing a probe. The boys always enjoy the forest rooms at the end, too.
Mark took a nap in an astronaut bed. 
Seth pretended to eat some astronaut food. 
The older boys and Randy took a spin on the astronaut bicycle. 
The Museum of Idaho has a great children's area. Dax loves the hidden caves. 
We had a fun time in the museum.
Seth rang the museum bell! 
Finally, Grandpa took us to Rupe's for lunch. The boys love the burgers and fries, and especially the ice cream. It was a really fun weekend trip. And it was fun to have Grandma and Grandpa all to ourselves!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yosemite Day 7

The last day was seven and a half hours of driving. We stopped in Winnemucca for lunch and Wendover for dinner. Then we made one other stop that was pretty cool. Just west of Elko there is a museum called the California Trail Center. We weren’t planning on stopping for it, but we’d been in the car so long that Dad pulled in anyway.

We were excited that it was free and that it had a Junior Ranger program. The boys immediately got to work learning about the California Trail. One of the major focuses of the museum was the Forty Mile Desert. This is an area out west of Wendover where the Humboldt River disappears into the ground. From that point, there is no water for forty miles, and it took most pioneers two to three days to cross that section. Since there was no good way to carry three days worth of water, especially considering all the people and animals that would be drinking, many people, and even more animals died on this stretch. We also learned about a phrase pioneers would use: Facing the Elephant. This meant facing your most difficult task, or your biggest fear. It had a bunch of quotes from journals using this quote.

There were lots of pioneer games to play.
We explored a big covered wagon.
Seth loves to dress up! 
The boys have collected a lot of Junior Ranger badges this year. 
The museum has some outdoor exhibits, too. We enjoyed our candy sticks next to the wagons.
We had a lot of fun at the California Trails Museum. 
We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for dinner. The food was okay.
Dax thought the salsa was too spicy!
Other than that one fun stop, Dad read books aloud to the boys, and we drove and drove and drove. Though we left Fernley by 10 o’clock, it was after 9 pm when we got in (including the time change). Everybody agreed, though, that this was one of our greatest vacations ever!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Yosemite Day 6

This was our little cabin!
Garbage pickup at Big Trees State Park is promptly at 6 am on Saturday morning. It takes 30 minutes of grinding, groaning, and slamming. The back-up beeping works better than any alarm clock, so there was definitely no sleeping in on this day! All the boys were up clunking around on the wooden floors by 6:15, so there was no reason to stay in bed.

Mom made breakfast of waffles and bacon while the boys played baseball with sticks and pinecones. Dad stayed in bed a little longer, but finally he gave in and started loading the car. We wanted to do some fun things at Big Trees before beginning our drive toward home. We started at the North Grove hike. The trailhead is at the Visitor’s Center, and it runs a mile and a half in and out of a grove of about 100 giant sequoias. We loved looking for the trees and reading about them in the trail guide. We saw a deer just off the trail, as well as many, many squirrels. The sequoias were so amazing, though. It is hard to describe them to someone who hasn’t seen them. Their trunks are absolutely straight and no branches stick out for the first thirty or forty feet. The big ones are at more than twenty feet in diameter. The bark is surprisingly soft and feels almost hollow if you knock gently on it. Many of the trees have some portion of the bark burned away, because there have been plenty of fires in the last thousand years, which is their typical lifespan. At the top, the sequoias have a few branches, each as large as a regular tree, but they don’t spread out too far. They kind of bunch around the massive trunk like a halo. Every tree seemed to be more impressive than the last.
It's difficult to photograph the sequoias.
The boys were amazed that the tree grew from these cones.
The grove is almost a spiritual experience.
The boys crawled in this fairly small tree.
Mom and Dad posed in the shadow of these two large trees.
There are many kinds of trees mixed in with the sequoias.
Seth had a great time on the trail.
This deer was in the grove in the early morning.
The trees almost feel like cardboard.
Dax enjoyed the grove more than anyone.
We made it around the loop just in time for the Junior Ranger programs, which are all ranger led. Mark and Dax were in the 7-13 group with about a dozen other kids, but Seth was the only 3-6 kid in his group. Mom and Dad mostly stayed with him as he sang and acted out songs, banged the seeds out of a sequoia cone, and did a little craft. Mark and Dax learned about reptiles, and enjoyed a game of chasing after pom-poms with cold- and warm-blooded creatures. They earned a badge for their efforts.
Even though Seth was a class of one, the ranger was fun.
He dressed up as a tree and had many creatures "living" on him.
Those are sequoia seeds in Seth's hand.
Seth loved knocking the seeds out of the cone.
Mark and Dax had a great time, too.
Dax and Mark had a race after resources to survive!
Next we had lunch at a picnic table in the big trees and then went into the Visitor’s Center. There were some fun displays, and Mom got a shirt to remind her of her return to Big Trees. By that time, it was a little after lunch, and we were in no hurry to start our drive so we decided to drive down to the South Grove and check it out.
We love picnics!
We knew the South Grove was much bigger and also more spread out, but we didn’t know that we’d have to hike a mile to get to the start of the grove. Still, the boys all voted to go, so we started down the trail. It was much hotter and there was less shade on this hike, but we told stories and talked, as we tramped up the dusty trail. When we finally reached the grove, we were dirty and sweaty, but we enjoyed a few of the sequoias. We probably walked a half mile into the grove before turning around and heading back. We probably should have done more, but we were pretty worn out.
It was a beautiful hike, which included a fun bridge.
The boys were great hikers.
The trees don't look that big in pictures, but they are.
This tree had been burned out by fire.
The boys all crowded into the crack in the burned out tree.
This is the best picture for showing the size of the sequoias.
The drive home from Big Trees is between eleven and twelve hours, so we had planned to do four hours back to Fernley, Nevada and then finish the last seven or eight on Saturday. On the map, it looked like driving up highway 4 was the way to go, but it was only 140 miles from Big Trees to Fernley. We couldn’t figure out how that worked out to four hours, though. Of course, we were crossing over the Sierra Nevadas, and the road was a very steep, windy one lane path. The sign, which we refused to believe, said there was a 28% grade! We’d never seen anything like that. As we drove over the pass, it certainly seemed to be true, and the 30 miles over Ebbet’s pass took well more than an hour. The only wildlife we saw was a marmot, but Dax and Seth slept most of the way. When we got over the pass, we started seeing signs for wild mustangs. We were pretty excited, and we saw several herds of horses, but it was impossible to tell if they were mustangs or quarter horses, so we’re not sure if we saw any or not.
There were mustang signs everywhere.
We saw this beautiful rainbow when we stopped for dinner. 

After arriving in Fernley we grabbed dinner and checked in at our hotel. It was getting late, but we decided to let the boys go to the pool to wash all that dust off. They had a great time and held about twenty biggest splash competitions as we had the pool all to ourselves. Then we gave them showers anyway. Now we just have to get across Nevada tomorrow!

No matter where we go, they just want to get in the pool.
It wasn't a nice clean pool, but they weren't nice clean boys!
The hot tub was ice cold, and the pool was nearly as bad.
But that didn't matter uch to them. They were just happy to be out of the car.

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