17 days 11 states 4,500 miles 1 wedding 2 baby blessings 17 family members in a cabin 11 skeeter bites on Jordyn's legs 2 nasty sunburns 4 historic United States landmarks hundreds of photos thousands of smiles, hugs and laughs equals BEST VACATION EVER!!
It's a Passport to the National Parks of the United States. You get to stamp the Passport book every time you go to a national park. At Yellowstone each Visitor's Center has their own stamp so we've got quite a few Yellowstone stamps...
(not our book... an image found on Google to show the effect...)
So basically the Passport book has started to rule our lives after this trip.
We were heading to Mount Rushmore (Ali & Rusty came along for the ride!) but found out the Battle of Little Big Horn was right on the way and we could get a stamp in our passport so... we had to stop, right?
Our last day in Yellowstone began here at the sign before the West Entrance. Love the bear hanging onto the pole at the left!
First stop was checking out a herd of bison that were grazing on the other side of the river.
P.U.! Bison poo...
When we arrived back at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone a bison was lounging next to the restrooms. Not my ideal hang out spot... You can see how close we were able to get. He was there for quite awhile too.
We hiked the trail down to the Lower Falls where you can get right up to the edge of the waterfall. It was gorgeous and very loud! This and Old Faithful were my favorite sites to visit while here. Just beautiful!
After we finished at Canyon Village the last thing Jordyn and Rusty needed to do to earn their Junior Ranger badges was attend a Ranger-led discussion. It was beginning to rain but Ali and I took the kids to Fishing Bridge to meet a ranger. Because of the weather we were the only ones who turned out. This nice, lovley man did a personalized game show for Jordyn and Rusty. Jordy & I were Team Bears and Ali & Rusty were Team Tatanka (buffalo). It was neck and neck the entire time as we went back and forth answering questions about what we'd learned at Yellowstone. Lots of fun!
We headed back to Fishing Bridge to collect their Junior Ranger badges and the Ranger at the Visitor's Center made a big fuss about presenting the kids with their badges.
Look at those SMILES!
On the edge of Yellowstone Lake. It was very cold water!
Caught a quick picture of this bison swimming across the river. Awesome!
These last two photos are not good quality at all but these two bison were playing around and head-butting each other. They were galloping up and down the hill chasing each other. So fun to witness since most of the time when we saw bison they were lounging or grazing.
I spent some time the week before heading to Yellowstone in Tooele while Bryan was back home in Texas working. One of the things that kept me busy was making t-shirts for the kids to wear when we were finally all together.
Thomas, Maya, Cara, Rusty, Jordyn & Tyson
The whole Family (minus Alissa who wasn't feeling well)!
After our exciting rafting trip we split up and most of the family went back to the cabin to await Jill, Jared & Maya's arrival and get dinner ready. Ali stayed with us as we explored some more of Yellowstone National Park. We drove back through the Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of YNP on our way to the Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center.
There were many, many elk hanging out near the visitors center so we got some great close-up shots.
Cara at the Minerva Terrace.
Jordyn getting another free ride. She spent a lot of time hitching a ride from her sister, aunt or parents...
The hike to the top of Mammoth Hot Springs was the longest we'd been on so far in Yellowstone. It was switchbacks and steep climbs up the boardwalks. By the time we got to the top we were exhausted!
After such a long trip to the top we were kind of let down by the Main Terrace view. I've learned that when it is active the sight is spectacular. The disappointment was probably in part from being so tired from our rafting trip earlier that afternoon...
A mother elk and her babies crossed the road right in front of us!
Before we headed back to the cabin we decided to go check out the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone at Canyon Village. It was spectacular! Look at Jordyn peeking out from underneath the sign. :)
We could see the water fall had a trail down to it but after rafting and Mammoth Hot Springs we didn't have enough energy in the tank and resolved to come back the next day. Here's a random bison we saw on our way out of the park.
Even though the rest of the family left hours before us for the cabin we got home about a half an hour after them. Apparently there was a huge wreck on the West Entrance Road. Super glad we missed that!
After dinner we watched the fireworks in Island Park and did some sparklers together. It was a 4th of July to remember!!