Paul, Clara, and I went glamping (aka glamorous camping - more about that later) a couple weeks ago in Island Park, Idaho. I have many memories of camping there every summer as a kid - memories of fishing off a bridge for trout using cheese and marshmallows and worms as bait, of sitting around the campfire listening my grandpa play his harmonica while stuffing myself as full of s'mores as I possibly could and smugly watching my brother burn his marshmallows while mine were always perfectly golden and melted through, of reading the "The Work & the Glory" books in a camp chair or in my grandparents' trailer, of floating the Buffalo River, of riding bikes and hiking and going to the Playmill Theater and seeing bison and bears and smelling sulphurus hot springs in Yellowstone. It was always one of my favorite parts of the summer.
We got in on Tuesday and drove to Island Park (about 4 1/2 hours north of Salt Lake City and just outside Yellowstone National Park) on Wednesday. We stopped at the Idaho sign since this was a state Clara had never been to. Actually, she added three new states to her list of travel experiences - Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The other reason we stopped at the border of Utah and Idaho was because Paul's great-great-great-grandpa is buried there and we wanted to check out his grave marker. First we had to crawl through a barbed wire fence to get to it. I include this picture only because it is SO Idaho to me: the emptiness, the vast fields, the grey-brown squatty mountains and the sagebrush.
The funny story associated with this ancestor, Hugh Moon, is that he really, really, really wanted to be buried in Utah. But he was living in Idaho when he died. So his body was taken down to the border and buried in a spot that everyone thought was on the Utah side except that they missed the mark by about 10 feet. So great-great-great-grandpa Moon was actually buried in Idaho. There was a grave marker just a little ways away from him for an unrelated woman and I wonder if her burial there was under a similar request.
We discovered that Paul does in fact descend from a polygamist - his great-great-great-grandma was Jennatt Nicol (the third wife) and she was 22 years younger than Hugh (not uncommon for the time and place even if that is a huge age difference today). I know that we have friends and followers who read this blog who are not members of our church and I know that there are many, many misconceptions about polygamy, which I won't address here but you are welcome to click here to read a little about the history of polygamy and its practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We made a pit-stop in Rexburg, Idaho to see the new temple there and say hi to our beekeeping friends, the Millers, who were driving back from North Dakota where they have spent the summer harvesting honey. The new temple is very beautiful.
Ginny & I took turns taking pics of each others' families in a beautiful wheat field just across from the temple. I love these golden-white fields and have always wanted to take a picture in one of them. Clara is currently very into the game of holding holdings and jumping, if you can't tell from this photo. I love her wee belly-button.
Jason, Ginny, and their boys, Ollie and Max. Ginny looks way too good for roadtripping it and I felt like such a frump next to her.
We eventually made it to the Buffalo Campground at Island Park and set up our tent before going down to the river with my sister and her family. It is so beautiful there, especially in the evenings when the light filters warm and golden through the leaves and the river slips quietly past. We have seen moose down here before, but not this trip.
Paul had an incident when he tried lighting the fire or moving a log around in the fire or something and he accidentally burned all the hair off the underside of his arm. It was super gross and smelled awful but we were all laughing about it so I took a photo of my hairy (although not as hairy as usual) beast.
We started every night with Clara in the pack-n-play and put her in double layers of pajamas and covered her with blankets but she ended up in between us on the air mattress snuggling up to Paul for warmth both nights (usually when she kicked off her blankets and woke up cold around 4:00 a.m.) She is a great little camper though and I think that when we go camping next year she will be in her own sleeping bag and do even better.
Clara LOVES her cousins and I think everybody had fun watching them interact. My mom found this little picnic table that was just the right size for the girls and they ate their meals here. We only had one incident where Clara tipped off it backwards, which was sad, but otherwise she sat up really well like such a big girl. Food is kind of a big part of camping for my family and we enjoyed wonderful breakfasts of ham & egg sandwiches on english muffins, whole wheat pancakes, and lots and lots of fruit.
On Thursday we drove into Yellowstone National Park and went to see Old Faithful. We ate a picnic lunch on some logs outside while we waited and watched a little film in the visitors center about the volcanic activity the creates the geysers.
Clara was fascinated by the height of the rustic Yellowstone Lodge. The Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite is fancier but the Yellowstone Lodge has such rustic old charm that you can't help but be amazed by it.
This picture is SO typical of Clara these days - she runs and runs and runs all day long and she is fast, too. While she runs she squeals.
Since Clarabelle is so skinny, I sometimes have to modify her clothing by using safety pins to get it to fit properly. I would just use smaller sizes where they fit her waist or shoulders better but then her pants end up hitting around her knees or her shirts are all too short to cover her little belly. You can see the safety pin in her pants waist here where she is climbing over a fallen log.
We drove and drove and drove that day. Clara took both her naps in the car and was pretty good until the very end when she started getting really hungry for dinner. At that point I let her have her first sucker ever - a cherry tootsie pop - and she was in heaven for the rest of the drive. We stopped to look at mountain goats and did a super short walk/hike to see Tower Falls.
We ate dinner in West Yellowstone (a little town outside of Yellowstone National Park) where we had delicious pizza and mac & cheese at a saloon restaurant place (that was plenty family friendly). While everyone was waiting to be seated, Paul, Clara and I had our pictures taken in true Wild West fashion. Clara was NOT happy about the little dress they put over her regular clothes or the whole photo shoot until I handed her a pistol. Then she made a sober little face and bravely sat through the process. I wore a saloon girl outfit (albeit the more conservative variety with sleeves rather than the lacy corset that was originally proferred) and Paul was a cowboy.
I thought it would be fun to compare the picture Paul and I took 8 years ago at the same place when Paul dressed as an outlaw and I was a prim & proper lady (a much better look for me I think):
What is a camping trip without a few boo-boos? I love my niece, Emma's, hair. It is a fiery as her personality.
This is little Lily. I call her Lils and she is just three months younger than Clara. She started walking this trip and she has just the sweetest, happiest personality.
Clara had a great time walking all around the campsite. She would point out flowers and pick up rocks and climb in and out of the tent. I was worried about her being interested in the fire but she was really good and left it alone. Clara especially liked sitting in the little camp chair that grandma Cece brought for her.
Paul got to do quite a bit of fishing on this trip while Clara and I stayed at camp playing. One day he and my dad fished the Gallatin River and Paul sent me a photo of my dad that he took with his iPhone, which is very "A River Runs Through It" in my opinion.
Paul also took this photo of the one that didn't get away (har-har):
Clara and I drove out to watch him fish the Madison River in Montana one day while everybody else was napping or making dinner. It was another beautiful spot. I tease Paul about fishing but he knows that I think it is so cute that he has a hobby (or is it a sport?) that he loves so much and obsesses over. Paul geeks out over all things fly-fishing and he is a total snob about using bait or lures instead of flies. He was chatting up the owner of a local fly-fishing store this trip and I sidled up to him and asked if he got the worms he needed for the next day, just to torment him in front of another fly-fishermen and you should have seen the look Paul of annoyance Paul gave me before he realized that I was being hilarious.
I am fairly sure that Clara will grow up to be a fly-fisherwoman.
After fishing, but before dinner, we stopped at the Mountain Man Festival that we had driven past a few times and checked out the furs that were for sale. Clara touched the bear claws.
And we put this ridiculous little hat on her. Or maybe it is not a hat and just a pelt that is the perfect size for her little noggin'.
Paul wore a badger hat and a buffalo coat and made a truly intimidating mountain man growl for me. If he is really going to play this part, though, he better do something about his footwear and shorts.
At one point, I asked one of the "mountain men" who was operating one of the pelt booths whether they ever have any problem with PETA activists. He cocked his head and gave me a funny look before gruffly stating "We don't have those kind of people around here. They are all out in California." Bahaha - serves me right for asking what was apparently a dumb question, right?
Paul, my dad and I even tried our hand at hatchet throwing. We were all able to make them stick, but only I stuck my very first throw.
We ate dutch oven dinners twice - once we had lasagna and once we had tinfoil dinners (except we just cooked it all in the dutch oven together rather than in tinfoil in the fire). There was also dutch oven peach cobbler for dessert two nights.
So remember how I said this was "glamping"? Well, it is because I cannot honestly call it camping when your base camp is a swanky new trailer. My parents just retired a couple of weeks ago and one of the first things they did was look at fifth-wheelers to vacation in. There were some hiccups figuring out how to work all the bells and whistles on the trailer, but it was nice having a warm place to bath and change the little girls when they needed it and to have a kitchen with a stove and sink and oven for making meals. But it is definitely the glamorous life having a trailer when you are camping because it meant that there was a place where you could go for air conditioning when it got too hot outside and there is even a little faux fireplace that blows warm air to sit in front of in the morning if the campfire just wasn't cutting it.
Meanwhile, Paul, Clara and I shacked up in my parents' old tent (which is actually really spacious and fun and Clara totally loved being in it and playing on the air mattress).
Paul is a master grasshopper catcher. I don't know how he does it but you can see the grasshopper sitting on this plant and Clara gazing at it intently wondering whether to swat it.
Clara enjoyed eating watermelon while sitting on Grandpa Russ' lap. These are my grandparents - Lewis & Vivian. My grandma has Alzheimers and is doing okay but asked me probably 50 times how old Clara is. She also apparently thinks that Clara is Native American and went on and on about the Indians on the reservation near where she grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho, which was both interesting and sad at the same time. She also tends to ask who Clara belongs to and when I tell her she is mine my grandma exclaims, "Oh, she is? Wonderful!" I love my grandma. She also was convinced that my youngest niece, Lily, is a boy and couldn't ever remember otherwise.
I dragged Jennie and her family down to the river one night when the lighting was so, so rich and beautiful so I could take their pictures even though they were dusty from hiking. I read a tip on Pinterest that you ask a child to laugh for a photo you get a much more natural and happy expression than if you ask them to say cheese (which results in a very forced smile). It worked well with Emma, whose little bent leg pose is too perfect for words.
One final highlight of the trip was Clara's first time eating roasted marshmallows. She was tired and not interested at first, but once she got a little bit of the gooey treat in her mouth she was pretty impressed.
This picture says it all - head tilted back, marshmallow smeared across her lips and chin, sighing a contented "yummmmmmm..." That's my girl.
Oh s'mores, how I love you. Incidentally, since I am now an adult and can do whatever I please*, I put SIX rectangles of chocolate on each s'more, not just three, because that is how I like 'em and I only eat them once or maybe twice a year while camping, so don't judge. (*I know there are obvious physical consequences but I choose to ignore them for purposes of enjoying my s'mores indulgence.)
Once again, sorry about the length of this post. I realized about 1/3 of the way through that it was way too long and I should have split it up, but by then I already had all my pictures loaded and didn't want to bother going through that again.