Jul 31, 2018

Climbing Independence Rock

As we were leaving Martin's Cove, my sweetie commented that he had always wanted to see Independence Rock. "How far is it?" I asked.

"We passed it already," he replied
"Let's turn around!"

So back to Independence Rock we went and it wasn't far; just a few miles. My sweetie teased the kids about going on another hike around it, but he shouldn't have because instead of going around it, they decided to go UP it!

It wasn't long before they were about 3/4 of the way from the top. Baby Doll and I decided we wanted to climb too and when we were about 1/3 of the way, my sweetie asked us to stop and just enjoy the view from where we were. The others decided they had to get to the top so they pretended not to hear.

Honestly, the getting up wasn't that hard; it was the getting down! Baby Doll and I basically slid down on our back sides except that every once in a while I lifted myself into a crab walk and she didn't. By the time we were at the bottom, she had several holes in the seat of her shorts.

It wasn't long before the big kids came back down, complaining the entire time that no one had taken their pictures when they were shouting and waving from the top. At least we got one pic of Crafty on top and one of Sport that he won't let me put on the blog...it must have messed up his hair...

Jul 30, 2018

Pioneer Day at Martin's Cove

If you live in Utah, you have 2 holidays to celebrate in July. One is Independence Day on the 4th and the second one is Pioneer Day on the 24th. In the past, we have had some fun celebrations on the 24th with pioneer games, dutch oven dinners, and even square dances!

 This year we were on vacation and we were driving toward home on the long road through Wyoming. We stopped for ice cream and dinner at the Little America and then got back in the van. We had one other planned stop at a museum, but we were wondering if we would even get there before it closed.

That's when my sweetie spotted the signs for Martin's Cove. Now if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will recognize this name, but briefly for those who don't, Martin's Cove was a place in Wyoming where some of the handcart companies had to wait out the cold weather until they were rescued by the saints from Salt Lake City.

We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Pioneer Day than to tour Martin's Cove and then try our hand at pushing/pulling a handcart. Some of our kids have had this opportunity before, but Crafty was the only one with us who had ever been on trek. To make it more difficult, the kids practiced pulling each other.

And of course we had to have a women's pull.

The kids were all good sports and we enjoyed our time at Martin's Cove. Happy Pioneer Day!

Jul 29, 2018

Devils Tower

As I mentioned yesterday, after we left the Badlands, we still had many miles to go before we finally found our hotel rooms in Casper, Wyoming. Our next stop was Devils Tower and since the kids had been doing a fair amount of complaining, we had to take them on another hike.

This one led all the way around the base of the tower, just a little over a mile. The hike was a bit steep at first, but then it leveled out and the views of the valley surrounding the tower were beautiful!

My sweetie couldn't risk taking a few pictures, and my kids couldn't risk striking a pose even when the lens wasn't pointed at them.

When we finally reached the end of the trail, I agreed to let the kids visit the gift shop. Curly couldn't resist spending his hard-earned dollars on a tiny Lego piece, and I couldn't resist buying them another patch so I could sew it to their scout vests.

Jul 28, 2018


Monday morning was checkout in Rapid City, but we still had so many things we wanted to see and do! At the top of the list was the Minuteman Missile site. It is run by the National Park Service and has a rather small visitor's center. We were fascinated with some of the displays and for the first time, I felt like I understood the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We also stopped by a missile silo that is no longer functional, giving us a chance to appreciate the size and structure of the actual missiles.

Then we were off to the Badlands. I had never seen mountains quite like these before and the kids were super excited to strap on their fanny packs and take a short hike right over the tops of these boulders. I was a bit more cautious, but right there with them.

My biggest regret about this trip was that we never got enough time to really see all we wanted to see at any given area. We could have spent the entire day exploring the Badlands, but we had hotel rooms already lined up and our vacation had an absolute ending because the two youngest kids started school on Wednesday.

Jul 27, 2018

Introducing Skittles

I still have a few more stories about our trip to tell you, but I know you are all wondering how our youngest grandson is faring. If you remember, our new little one is a Rainbow Baby, born slightly less than a year after we lost our sweet angel baby, Calder. Beauty and The Beast came up with the perfect blog name for Bossy and Gamer's new baby... Skittles. (Gamer wanted a combination of his and Bossy's names, but since that came out "Gassy," we decided he couldn't choose.)

So Teach and I went down to the hospital today to visit Bossy and Skittles. Bossy has been officially released, but the hospital has graciously offered to house her so she can be close to her little one who is still in the NICU. She has to take care of her own food and clothing and such, but she can stay for free, which is nice.

Skittles has had some trouble growing. When he tries to swallow, it makes his heart rate go crazy, so he is receiving most of his nourishment through a feeding tube filled with Bossy's breast milk. He also has a small hole in his heart that they are hoping will close up by itself so they don't have to do surgery.

Bossy loves being with her baby, but she worries about her other boys. We are doing our best to help them get where they need to go, but it was rough while we were out of town. Skittles is so cute; he looks just like Burrito did at this age. He is even wrapped up like one!

Jul 26, 2018

Crazy Horse

When we first started telling people we were going to South Dakota, several of them told us we couldn't miss Crazy Horse. It was not something I had even heard of before, but I thought we had better check it out. The monument wasn't far from Mt. Rushmore, so we decided to drive over.

They took a free picture for us in the visitor's center.
My sweetie was skeptical at first, grousing about the $30 entry fee, but by the time we left, I think even he was convinced that this was an amazing place and a real labor of love for many people. This monument is only partially finished and it will be another century before the image on the mountain becomes its final shape because they don't accept government money and the site is self-sufficient.

On the bus
Our favorite part was the bus ride that took us much nearer the work on the mountain. Our driver was full of stories and extra information we didn't get at the visitor's center. We also toured the museum and we were treated to a concert with a Native American flavor. 

I know I had a great time and if we ever get back there, I hope the weather is good so we can watch the laser light show on the mountain. That would definitely be amazing!

Jul 25, 2018

Mt. Rushmore

We got up early on Sunday and went to church at a local ward in Rapid City. After returning to our hotel room to change out of our nice clothes, we decided to hit the road and see some of God's beautiful creations. Our first drive was into the Black Hills with an eventual stop at Mt. Rushmore.


It was crazy busy, but we managed to spend some time in the visitor center and complete the Jr. Ranger Program with the 3 youngest. We hiked the trail that got us a little closer to the monument and the kids were disappointed that part of it was shut down for maintenance.

We also joined a group watching as the rangers escorted a couple of men off the upper part of the mountain. I'm not sure how they got past security in the first place, but it was pretty exciting watching how the rangers closed in on them until there were forced to come down.

Jul 22, 2018

Broncos Stadium Tour

Saturday was a travel day and we got in late, so sorry I didn't post for you. We only made one major stop in Denver and we used that time to do something my guys have always wanted to do... tour the Broncos Stadium.

We had 3 good hours of travel to put in before we got to Denver and our appointment was at 1:00. I figured we had an hour to spare and we would be fine, but construction and an unexpected potty stop for Baby Doll had us showing up with less than 5 minutes before our 90-minute tour started.

It was interesting to see all of the behind-the-scenes places although I was disappointed that we didn't get to see the locker rooms. I would have liked to go clear up to the top of the stadium too, just to get a feel for those "cheap" seats. Not that any of the seats are particularly cheap. Our guide went over all the prices for us and I was amazed that people would pay so much money just to watch a football game.

After leaving Denver, we drove the rest of the way to Rapid City. There was a severe thunderstorm warning and flash flooding issued, but fortunately all we saw was a little rain. It did slow us down though and we didn't roll into the parking lot until nearly midnight. We put over 600 miles on the van, but in some ways, it seemed like much more.

Jul 21, 2018

Riding the Colorado

Today was the day we have been both dreading and looking forward to... Sport was going to earn his Whitewater merit badge while our family rafted the Colorado River with the Mild to Wild Rafting company in Moab. I had never been whitewater rafting before, but some of the kids have and they were excited for another opportunity.

We arrived at the pick up spot at 8:00 am, were fitted with life jackets, and climbed into a big van. Our guide was named Dillon and he seemed to know everything there is to know about a river and a bunch of other things too for that matter.

It took us about half an hour to get to the drop off point and then another 15 minutes or so of safety instructions before we finally climbed in and set off. Most of us were on the big raft, but we also had a 2-man kayak that we needed for some of the scouting requirements. Sport and Crafty got to be pretty proficient with it by the end of the day.

The Colorado is pretty mild, and just right for our maiden voyage. We had the entire day to spend on the water and Dillon was happy to let us hop out and swim or surf the wave with the boat, or even float the rapids without a boat at all. Everything we did was so fun and the kids just kept wanting more.

We had lunch on a little beach and headed back out on the water. Crafty and Sport were able to take the kayak over the rapids and we didn't have a single person thrown from either craft. At 3:30 we finally pulled the raft up onto the beach so that it could be loaded. The kids were sunburned (because they never listen to me) and covered with sand as we climbed the steps to the big bus that would take us back to our vehicle.

A quick stop for gas and we were on the road again, this time landing for the night in Parachute, Colorado. Tomorrow we will be heading through Denver and up into Rapid City. It's mostly a travel day, but I'm sure we can have some fun along the way.

Jul 19, 2018


We had so much fun today!

Baby Doll grinds corn at the Fremont Indian State Park

After separating from the rest of our girl scouts and kids, we took off in the big van with our 5 youngest to enjoy a few more days of our vacation. Our first stop with the Fremont Indian State Park. We had been there before, but not for many years and most of the kids couldn't remember it.

After the museum, they convinced us to go on a rather terrifying little hike over some huge rocks, but it was fun to get to the top of the world and see all the sights. After we made our way down from the mountain, the kids all went down into the pithouse before we climbed back in the van and got on the road.

As we made our way toward Moab, we decided since we had a 4th grader and could get in free, we would drive through Arches National Park. This prompted a quick hike up to see the Delicate Arch from the viewpoint although that was not the stop I was hoping for.

It was nearly 8:00 when we finally got to the Sand Dune Arch which has been my favorite since I was little. The kids had never been there before that they could remember and it was so fun to play in the sand for half an hour before the setting sun forced us to climb back in the van and finally make our way to Moab.

The kids jumped in the pool for a quick swim while I ran to Wendy's for supper. We have an early start tomorrow, so we are trying to get them all in bed although that is always a trick in a nice hotel room with all-night cable.

More tomorrow...